Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Ventura comments anger hunters

St. Paul Gov. Jesse Ventura has taken 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 and
don’t go around making a big deal about the fact they hunted man,”
said Mike Furtman, a Duluth hunter and conservationist. “They don’t
equate shooting someone in defense of your country with hunting
animals. It’s borderline psychotic to make that leap.”

Last Tuesday, Ventura summoned outdoors columnist Dennis
Anderson of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis to his office for an
hour-long dressing down, aided by Ventura’s natural resources
commissioner and other state officials.

In the confrontation, Ventura fell back on his military
background as he lambasted the columnist for questioning his
commitment to conservation.

“And I’ll just tell you this: Until you’ve hunted man, you
haven’t hunted yet,” Ventura told Anderson. “Because you need to
hunt something that can shoot back at you to really classify
yourself as a hunter. You need to understand the feeling of what
it’s like to go into the field and know your opposition can take
you out. Not just go out there and shoot Bambi.”

During his weekly radio show Friday, Ventura said he didn’t mean
to offend anyone with the comments.

“I don’t oppose hunting in any way, shape or form. If that’s
what you enjoy doing, you are free to do it,” Ventura said. “It’s
just those were my personal opinions. I think we’re all entitled to
them and I’m not going to change because I’m a governor.”

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

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

Ventura requested the meeting with Anderson after the columnist
outlined his ideas for citizen’s natural resources commission in an
April 2 article. The story made no specific mention of hunting, but
the columnist said Ventura didn’t understand the importance of the
state’s natural resources.

“I just got irritated with this Dennis Anderson because he
forever 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 somehow
not 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 hunt everything
from deer to ruffed grouse.

“The initial reaction from our members is that they are
insulted,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the
20,000-member Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. “I’m
disappointed. Deer hunting is a passion and way of life for many in
our population. I don’t think the governor understands how deeply
that goes.”

Mike McGinty, executive director of the Minnesota Waterfowl
Association, said he was perplexed by the governor’s remarks.

“Hunting is hunting. It’s not wartime actions,” he said. “I have
had such a hard time with the governor. Sometimes I think he’s
politically astute, and sometimes I think he’s from another

Sen. Bob Lessard of International Falls, an ardent advocate of
hunting and fishing issues and the only legislator who belongs to
Ventura’s Independence Party, was also puzzled by Ventura’s

“This hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m stunned. It’s bizarre,”
Lessard said.

Ventura made a similar remark in his first Playboy magazine
interview in 1999, in which he said he didn’t hunt deer.

“That’s not really hunting,” he told Playboy. “I prefer when the
opposition can shoot back that’s hunting.”

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