Bagging a bird

John McCaslin
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Posted: Nov 25, 2005 9:05 AM

Did you shoot your Thanksgiving turkey this year?

Word is more wild turkeys are to be had in North America - and more Americans are hunting them.

The National Wild Turkey Federation says with Thanksgiving upon us, there's no better time to celebrate the comeback of the wild turkey. As recently as the early 1900s, it says, turkeys like certain other wildlife "teetered on the brink of extinction."

In those years, the wild turkey population in North America hovered around 30,000. But now, thanks to federal and state conservation measures, wild turkeys have steadily increased in number and expanded their range.

"Today, wildlife biologists estimate that close to 7 million wild turkeys roam the fields and forests of North America making it perhaps the greatest conservation success story of the 20th century," says the NWTF.

Meanwhile, after a downward spiral, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports the number of paid hunting license holders in America is rising. The number of resident licenses, tags, permits and stamps issued in 2004 increased 4.1 percent over 2003 to 33.1 million, while the nonresident quantity posted at more than 3 million, a jump of 5.6 percent over 2003.

Currently, hunting license holders represent about 5 percent of the U.S. population, far less than the 16.8 million - just over 9 percent of the U.S. population - of the mid-1980s, when hunting numbers peaked in America.

SLICED SCOOTER

"Don't let George Bush pardon this turkey." - Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, referring to former White House senior aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and rumors buzzing around Washington that the president will pardon him and others involved in the CIA leak case.

THANKSGIVING

Lord, we ask of you a boon:
To bless our guests this noon.
We're so grateful they
Could come today -
And have to leave real soon!

- F.R. Duplantier

YOU THERE, BILL?

"Is there any chance your source was Bill Casey being channeled from the dead?" - One of 15 questions political observer Arianna Huffington says she would like to ask Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who now claims he, too, was told by a source of Valerie Plame's CIA connection. Woodward came under scrutiny for his so-called deathbed interview with former CIA Director William J. Casey, a conversation several investigative journalists claim he fabricated.

GOING PLACES

So E.D. Hill, popular morning host of "Fox & Friends" on the Fox News Channel, what political intrigue is in store for readers of your new book, "Going Places"?

"Sen. George Allen tells how the lessons he learned while working as a cowboy on a Nevada ranch taught him to handle battles as a senator," Hill tells The Beltway Beat.

Besides the Virginia Republican, she recalls how the father of Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, reacted when his son brought home a "C" on his report card, and explains why the father of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee thought his son was crazy to go into politics.

She also divulges the "lion of liberalism" that pushed former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger into his diplomatic career, and the precise "words" that changed the life of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld - words that shape his strategies today.

Then there is the "secret Zen" of fellow Fox host Bill O'Reilly.

"I was shocked at the raw, even uncomfortable details so many people shared. I'm not sure they'll ever talk to me again," says Hill, although she believes that "everything you need to know about a person can be learned from the advice that changed their life."

Charities benefit from all proceeds of "Going Places," which Mrs. Hill will personally inscribe through www.hillfriends.com.

POWERFUL WORDS

It was former Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, an early proponent of the Republican Party, who declared: "No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense."

For that reason, said Chase, born in 1808, "The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coin."

Those words are being recalled today in the hallowed hallways of Congress now that Michael Newdow, who filed a lawsuit to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, is out to remove "In God We Trust" from all U.S. currency.

Were that to happen, says Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Virginia Republican, Capitol Hill lawmakers might as well grab chisels and start chipping away at the wall above the speaker's dais in the House chamber, as well as the entrance to the Senate chamber, where the words are prominently engraved.

"The Founding Fathers believed devotedly that there was a God and that the unalienable rights of man were rooted in Him, a belief clearly evidenced in their writings, from the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution itself," she says, countering Newdow's intentions with a resolution of her own supporting the four words that are the national motto of the United States.

FERRY PRESERVATION

Hats off to Congress for removing at least one costly earmark from the newly passed transportation bill; namely, the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere."

The $223 million earmark for a bridge connecting Ketchikan, Alaska, to a nearby island of only 50 residents became a "symbol of excess" in the opinion of Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican and a leading waste watchdog on Capitol Hill.

"We've managed to remove one earmark," he says, "but we've still got over 5,800 earmarks to go." And that's just in the transportation bill.

FIRE AND FEURY

More than 250 politicos, ambassadors and business leaders strolled past fire-eaters and into the Ritz Carlton-Georgetown to welcome Chef Terence Feury, formerly of Philadelphia's acclaimed Striped Bass, to the nation's capital.

Famous for its towering smokestack - Georgetown's old incinerator - the Ritz is effectively restarting its Fahrenheit restaurant. And given how difficult it was to book a table at the Striped Bass, what can Ritz restaurant-goers choose from on Feury's Fahrenheit menu?

"My style of cooking is to see that natural flavors are pronounced, but never overdone or overworked," the chef says. "It is vital to present fresh seasonal ingredients, adjusting the menu from season to season, while supporting our local farmers and food purveyors."


WINE AND WACO?

The White House made it known that the "first lady of the press office" - Jill McClellan - accompanied her husband, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan, aboard Air Force One en route to Waco, Texas, as the couple this week celebrates their second wedding anniversary.

"They were planning to drive to Austin tonight in lieu of a romantic getaway at the Waco Hilton," the White House pool report notes.