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Ventura Meets His Match: Hunters
by Michael Khoo, Minnesota Public Radio
April 6, 2001
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Gov. Jesse Ventura has apologized for his comparison of deer hunting with his own military career. Earlier this week, Ventura seemed to question the legitimacy of hunting animals that can't defend themselves. But after extended criticism from sporting groups, the governor's backing down.

VENTURA LIT THE FUSE when he said, "until you have hunted man, you haven't hunted yet.". The barb was a reference to the governor's service as a Navy SEAL and his deployment in Southeast Asia. Ventura, who has never discussed details of his tour of duty, said real hunting required a target that could return fire. The comments attracted widespread criticism, prompting the governor to apologize on his weekly radio show.
" I thought it showed a lack of understanding for the sport of deerhunting. The hunting of men and the hunting of wildlife; it's incomprehensible the two would be compared"

- Ryan Bronson
Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association

"I stand corrected. I'm not out to offend the hunters. I think what they do is terrific. It's what they want to do. It's a Minnesota tradition and I'm not doing anything to curtail or stop it, and I never will," he said.

Ryan Bronson of the Minnesota Deer Hunter's Association says he appreciates the governor's apology, but he says he's still puzzled by Ventura's original comparison between combat and recreational hunting.

"It's not even apples and oranges. It's apples and thumbtacks. I thought it showed a lack of understanding for the sport of deerhunting. The hunting of men and the hunting of wildlife; it's incomprehensible the two would be compared," he said.

During Ventura's radio show, caller after caller questioned his support of hunting and fishing rights. 'Jim' of Apple Valley noted outdoorsmen and women form an important constituency.

"A lot of us voted for you because we really felt that you would strongly and unconditionally support the hunters and fishermen and sportswomen and men of Minnesota," he said.

Then there was 'John' of Burnsville, who objected to Ventura's mocking reference to hunters stalking Bambi.

"You're a man of high influence in the state. Hunters are always trying to present an image to the anti-hunters that we're not just a bunch of killers, that we do a lot to preserve our game," he said.

"I'll stand corrected and I'll apologize," Ventura said. "I won't use Bambi and Yogi Bear again. I'll say 'bear' and 'deer.'"

Ventura offered his apology at least three times, but he also took time to explain his analogy between war and sport.

"It's much more difficult to be a hunter when you're also hunted. When you go out and hunt animals, the animals can't shoot back. You're really in no danger," he said.

The original dispute began when Ventura criticized Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson. Ventura says Anderson has unfairly characterized the governor and Natural Resources Commissioner Allen Garber as soft on conservation issues. Bronson, of the Deer Hunters' Association, says Ventura has generally supported outdoor interests, but he says the governor hasn't championed such issues as vigorously as he could.

"If he emerges and takes the opportunity here to be a leader and promote conservation issues and to promote the value of hunting and fishing to the state of Minnesota, I think the comments that the governor made will fade away into the memory of the deer hunters. Actions are more important than words," Bronson said.

Bronson says the MDHA has invited Ventura to its annual State Habitat Banquet later this month. No word yet on whether the governor will accept.