Jesse Ventura Hunting Remarks Draw Fire

ByABC News

S T.  P A U L, April 6, 2001 -- Gov. Jesse Ventura is taking some hits from

hunters and conservationists for comparing recreational hunting to

"hunting man" in wartime.

"I know dozens of hunters who served their country in war anddon't go around making a big deal about the fact they hunted man,"said Mike Furtman, a Duluth hunter and conservationist. "Theydon't equate shooting someone in defense of your country withhunting animals. It's borderline psychotic to make that leap."

On Tuesday, Ventura summoned outdoors columnist Dennis Andersonof the Star Tribune of Minneapolis to his office for an hourlongdressing down, aided by Ventura's natural resources commissionerand other officials.

In the confrontation, Ventura fell back on his militarybackground as he lambasted the columnist for questioning hiscommitment to conservation.

‘If You Haven’t Hunted Man, You Haven’t Hunted’

"And I'll just tell you this: Until you've hunted man, youhaven't hunted yet," Ventura told Anderson. "Because you need tohunt something that can shoot back at you to really classifyyourself as a hunter. You need to understand the feeling of whatit's like to go into the field and know your opposition can takeyou out. Not just go out there and shoot Bambi."

During his weekly radio show Friday, Ventura said he didn't meanto offend anyone with the comments.

"I don't oppose hunting in any way, shape or form. If that'swhat you enjoy doing, you are free to do it," Ventura said. "It'sjust those were my personal opinions. I think we're all entitled tothem and I'm not going to change because I'm a governor."

Ventura often invokes his background as a Navy SEAL during theVietnam War era but has never revealed what he actually did duringthe war, or whether he saw combat.

Spokesman: Ventura Meant No Harm

On Thursday, Ventura spokesman John Wodele said the governor"meant no harm to anyone or didn't mean to insult anyone. … Inno way did the governor insinuate it as a stab at hunters. It was away for the governor to explain his personal experiences. It's hislife experiences he can call upon most readily."

Ventura requested the meeting with Anderson after the columnistoutlined his ideas for citizen's natural resources commission in anApril 2 article. The story made no specific mention of hunting, butthe columnist said Ventura didn't understand the importance of thestate's natural resources.

"I just got irritated with this Dennis Anderson because heforever takes cheap shots, mostly on my commissioner Al Garber,"Ventura said on the radio show. "He apparently doesn't like Mr.Garber for whatever reasons, so he's always nailing him for somehownot being a conservationist. Just because he doesn't hunt or fish,he's unqualified to run a department, which is totally absurd."

Minnesota has about 500,000 licensed hunters who pursueeverything from deer to ruffed grouse.

Hunter Advocates Insulted, Puzzled

"The initial reaction from our members is that they areinsulted," said Mark Johnson, executive director of the20,000-member Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. "I'mdisappointed. Deer hunting is a passion and way of life for many inour population. I don't think the governor understands how deeplythat goes."

Johnson said some of his members who voted for Ventura "arefinding it harder to support him."

Mike McGinty, executive director of the Minnesota WaterfowlAssociation, said he was perplexed by the governor's remarks.

"Hunting is hunting. It's not wartime actions," he said. "Ihave had such a hard time with the governor. Sometimes I think he'spolitically astute, and sometimes I think he's from anotherplanet."

Sen. Bob Lessard of International Falls, an ardent advocate ofhunting and fishing issues and the only legislator who belongs toVentura's Independence Party, was also puzzled by Ventura'sremarks.

"This hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm stunned," Lessard said."I don't know how you can equate hunting with shooting men."

Ventura made a similar remark in his first Playboy magazineinterview in 1999, in which he said he didn't hunt deer.

"That's not really hunting," he told Playboy. "I prefer whenthe opposition can shoot back — that's hunting."

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