Posted: Dec 26, 2007 2:09 PM
When a photo-op isn't a gimmick.

Huckabee Bags a Bird in Iowa

Presidential contender Mike Huckabee bagged a pheasant Wednesday, offering Iowa voters the image of an experienced outdoorsman on the hunt, shotgun blasting and dogs braying.

Just a campaign gambit? "Maybe it will show that I certainly understand the culture of being outdoors," Huckabee said. "It's not something we had to go out and get a primer in. It's very much ordinary to me."

The former Arkansas governor said back home he would be duck hunting on the day after Christmas, but pheasant hunting in Iowa -- eight days before the state's leadoff nominating caucuses -- was a good substitute. He also offered a lecture declaring that hunting is good for wildlife.

"The truth is hunters are the ones who preserve the species," he said, since hunters have an interest in preserving wildlife and their license fees pay for conservation efforts. "In many cases extinction comes from not having some level of hunting. It's the hunters who actually keep the wildlife alive. A lot of people think that when you hunt you're destroying the wildlife."