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Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

The hunting and the snark -- Sarah Palin shoots caribou. I'm unimpressed.

By Alexandra Petri

The Palin familyGilles MingassonGetty Images.JPG(The Palin Family, Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images)

Oscar Wilde called "the English country gentleman galloping after a fox -- the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable." I am not calling Sarah Palin "unspeakable," or the apparently "tiny" -- according to Piper Palin -- caribou she shot "uneatable," but who knows what Wilde would have done had he been in my position.

I apologize for writing about Sarah Palin again. But Sarah Palin's Alaska is like a serialized TLC version of The Ring. If you watch it, it consumes you from within unless you pass it on to others.

Besides, this week Sarah Palin shot a caribou. I don't know much about the size of caribou, other than what I've learned from playing Buck Hunter, but Piper Palin seems unimpressed, and Piper would know. I like Piper. She is a straight shooter, unlike, apparently, her mother -- who claims that it was some sort of problem with the sights.

But hunting is a peculiar pastime. It's the true oldest profession, the one thing that binds cavemen, English gentry, and the protagonists of the TLC series Bama Belles. Hunting is a Lifestyle Sport, a pursuit that comes with its own noun. You don't hunt. You are a Hunter. Only a few other activities fall into this category -- there are Runners and Cyclists, Swimmers and Tree-Huggers. But play basketball in your spare time, and you aren't a basketball player. What you probably are is President Obama.

Hunting reminds you of your place on the great scale of being. If you aren't the Hunter, you're the Hunted, unless you're The Camera Crew or The Guy Who Got Out Of His Car To Relieve Himself And Wound Up In The Middle Of This.

Personally, I know little about hunting. I blame this on having read "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers at a young age and getting the notion that hunting was supposed to involve naturalism and squalor and wistfulness and some confusing anecdotes about deaf-mutes. To me, dressing an elk means putting it in a sweater. I once went skeet shooting and barely managed to wound the skeet. Have you ever been charged at by a wounded skeet, half-mad and blind with pain? It's an experience.

The closest I've come to the full flavor of the hunt is the day I spent wandering around Manhattan without a cell phone. I have to assume this is fundamentally the same: at the end of the day I was sweaty and uncomfortable, my feet ached, and I had strong opinions about the Second Amendment. I also had to wrestle an elk to death, but that was just because I wound up at a trendy restaurant on the Lower East Side that specialized in "DIY raw food."

Still, watching Sarah Palin and a woman she described as the authentic http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/27/what-does-mama-grizzly-really-mean.htmlMama Grizzly, out in the wilderness supporting themselves with their rifles, I began to worry. The real Mama Grizzly lived alone in a place where her nearest neighbors were 120 miles to the northeast. This woman had been bitten by a bear! She had sewn her own head back together! It was only when Sarah Palin's plane floated up into the sky that she began to cry and cry. "When Sarah, Chuck, and Becker leave, I won't be seeing anybody for nine months," she said. "It's very hard to see your friends leave." Sarah Palin was the only person she'd seen in nine months? Who did she think she was, the mainstream media?

Still, as I watched Sarah dress the tiny caribou, I began to be terrified. (Piper: "It reeks! What is that, Grandpa?" Grandpa: "That's a tiny caribou. Your mom shot a tiny one.") Had I gone soft?

If someone left me out in the wild for three days, I would be completely unable to defend myself. My only hope would be that a caribou had recently gone through a bad breakup that left it emotionally vulnerable, and that I could maybe get close enough to fatally depress it with my general demeanor. Something similar seemed to have happened to Sarah Palin's caribou, which just stood there as she fired off round after round. "There's another shot!" it seemed to think. "Ah, life! I suppose I could move to the left. Ah, death! She couldn't hit an elephant at this distance! Sunrise, sunset!"

It's not that I don't hunt. I'm not a vegetarian -- which, according to a bumper sticker glimpsed on the series, is an old Indian word for bad hunter. I have been job-hunting, bargain-hunting, and apartment-hunting. I played Oregon Trail for years and shot a lot of pixelated squirrels, moose, and bears, but I could never carry more than 200 pounds of food back to the wagon. Sometimes I have difficulty finding words in the dictionary because they wade through streams of silent consonants to throw me off their tracks. That's got to count for something! And apartments can be very dangerous if you only manage to wound them.

Does this make me any less a Mama Grizzly? Probably.

Still, being a writer is something like being a hunter. It's a solitary craft with its own attached noun. Flaubert used to sit at his desk for hours staking out "le mot juste"; the right phrase can be as elusive and deadly as a white wolf. And sometimes you can sit there for hours tramping through the muck and all you manage to hunt down is an undersized caribou.

And Sarah Palin is a challenging quarry. Do you rain epithets at her and hope she startles and heads for cover? Or do you bide your time and then, when the moment comes, go for the jugular? I can't tell. And no one else seems to be able to either.

Maybe we've found the most dangerous game. And next week she's camping with Kate Gosselin.

By Alexandra Petri  | December 6, 2010; 12:53 PM ET
Categories:  Petri, Reality? Television  | Tags:  Sarah Palin, The Palins, hunting  
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Next: December is Enough Awareness Month

Comments

Your article is totally Lame on all accounts. You don't get it. Sarah has no jugular. She goes for them, and you'll never find hers. I think Sarah had it right the rifle she had had bad sights. Now if she missed with Becker's rifle you had an argument. It took her just one shot with that rifle. Besides the whole scenario fits perfect for Sarah. "Don't Retreat!, Reload". A President ain't worth his salt unless he brings down real game. Lecturers and writers talk about it. Leaders do it. I'm impressed, she's got my vote.

Posted by: DMac8889 | December 6, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The author's very politically biased review and remarks of Palin's Alaska as usual show indicate the liberal's contempt for anything remarkable and meaningful done by Palin.

I have never been to Alaska and Palin has shown us so much of Alaska already that we may plan to go there next summer. It looks beautiful.

Her family and their rural based, hunting and gathering, life style have reminded me that not EVERYONE yet in America shops for their food at a Super WalMart. And not EVERYONE sits at home watching TV like Alexandrai Petri - the writer of the review must do. And not everyone has a McDonalds to get lunch at. And not EVERYONE can hail a cab or take a train into work or to wherever they need to go. Palin needs to take airplane rides to the places she needs to go.

AND not everyone has a reporter/book writer renting the home next us so eh can spy and snoop and document what we do for his new (expected to be nasty) book about us.

Palin is a remarkable person who lives in a beautiful part of the nation - which she once governed - and lives a remarkably clean and tought life.

Posted by: demalite | December 6, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Alexandra, as funny as this piece is, the comments are even funnier. Irony like that is truly priceless.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 6, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Alexandra, do you even have a clue?
Stupid liberals....LOL

Posted by: idesign | December 6, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

What does Palin read? What philosophies guide her thinking---and please, do not include the Constitution, for that is principle; just what and who is Palin---meaningless chatter that will surely fade. No real substance---we do not need another "real hunter" in the While House...America has moved past Teddy Roosevelt's days.

Posted by: fairness3 | December 6, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

witty and enjoyable article! i do so like the way your mind works...

"But Sarah Palin's Alaska is like a serialized TLC version of The Ring. If you watch it, it consumes you from within unless you pass it on to others."

~~ now that is hilarious!!!

Posted by: bamagirl2 | December 6, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

It is fun to seen a blatant liberal anti-gun person trying to define someone who lives in Alaska. People in Alaska hunt,
fish and enjoy the fruits of the land. It is still the last true Amrican wilderness left. As for Sarah and the Caribu if you had paid attention the gun was droped while inpursuit of the animinal. it was enough to mess up the sights. When she used her Husbands gun, one shot and down the animinal went. She helped skin and pack the animinal back to the plane. Piper
like most kids doesn't like a lot of food
that is put on the table when it is raw but I would bet she would dig in when it was cooked and on the table. If you live in the city the most violent animinal you might see would be a squirrel in central park or a crack head on the sidewalk. Her show is primarely a teavelog about Alaskans and thier way of life as seen from a cross section of the state.

Posted by: jmsmaxwell | December 6, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Really quite a pathetic artile. You went after a Mama Grizzly and ended up not even getting a Mama Mouse. I figure most democrats are nervous because if Palin gets the nomination, she's going to subject 0bama to the Full Halibut Treatment. Since you watch the show, you'll know what I mean.

Posted by: gatshanson1 | December 6, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

It would have been suspicious, if Sarah Palin had bagged the world record size carribou on a TV show.

Size is for trophy hunters. No hunter bringing home meat to the family would be ashamed by the size of the animal.

Of course, the big prize is the White House.

Governor Palin may not be the best hunter in the world, but picture the Obama family in Alaska. They'd starve, just like America will starve under President Obama.

Governor Palin wouldn't be a good editor of Harvard Law review like Obama, but the 2012 election will be decided by how many Americans think the President's job requires:
(1) being good at running a law review
or
(2) having survival skills and instincts that feed a family.

I'm a lawyer and I'll vote for survival skills. The more people who read Harvard law review the more peoople will agree. Defoinitely not devotedto real world issues. Palin's campaign should circulate copies of Harvard Law Raview before the election.

Of course, the carribou Governor Palin bagged wasn't really the point of the show was it? The main message was: here's a young woman with strong bonds to her father and who learned both skills and values.

As a father of a young college woman (not an IVY), I found that message compelling. So does my daughter.

Posted by: jfv123 | December 6, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Was hunting deer this morning on my property but didn't get a shot. Not even at a little one. Brrrr, really cold. Will go out again very early tomorrow morning Alexandra. You can come along if you like.

Posted by: state82 | December 6, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Your article is totally Lame on all accounts. You don't get it. Sarah has no jugular. She goes for them, and you'll never find hers. I think Sarah had it right the rifle she had had bad sights. Now if she missed with Becker's rifle you had an argument. It took her just one shot with that rifle. Besides the whole scenario fits perfect for Sarah. "Don't Retreat!, Reload". A President ain't worth his salt unless he brings down real game. Lecturers and writers talk about it. Leaders do it. I'm impressed, she's got my vote.

Posted by: DMac8889 | December 6, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

****************************************
you and others like you are the reason for the downfall of The United States...to think such ignorance exists in a land that has the resources to properly educate it's people.

Posted by: kiler616 | December 6, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Weak , as usual.

Posted by: j751 | December 6, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Nice job on the article!

In remote northwestern Wisconsin, people of all political persuasions hunt, fish and harvest. We freeze/can and eat all of the meat, fish,fruit and vegetables. Sarah Palin is right that it is organic. And, the author of the article is correct in saying that hunting is a quiet, solitary activity, like writing.

Posted by: foxtrot1 | December 6, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, boy howdy! Yeah, admittedly a meandering article, but I LOVE the sight of several "red-blooded" 'Mericans using their keyboards to hunt the lowly, pinko, liberal Washington Post columnist. Yup, that's good eatin' there!

As I've often thought whenever Ted Nugent goes on any of his periodic rampages, "good for Ted". Glad he's proven that he could have existed in the 19th century, especially with his trusty semi-automatic rifle. Same goes for you guys - Glad you hunt, hope it makes you happy.

Now go back to your fields full 'o game, and leave governing to those of us who exist in the 21st century. (In case you hadn't noticed, in the real world, the Republican party is planning to introduce the country to one of the concepts that started the Civil War, States Rights. I can't wait)

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | December 6, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

If all systems break down and things are brought to a survival state, people like Sarah Palin will survive. Liberals like the author of this article will starve to death, unless people like Sarah Palin share some Caribou with them.
Liberals like the author of this article rely on people like Sarah Palin to protect them from America's enemies. Liberals like the autor of this article have only two modes: Ruling elites or victims.

Posted by: observer1776 | December 6, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

so you lost the office lottery and got stuck with doing something on St.Sarah today.

Posted by: summicron1 | December 6, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

As someone who does live in Alaska, and has a freezer full of game meat, let's not romanticize Ms. Palin too much. Yes, she shot her food, after cramming into one summer what most people up here spend a lifetime doing. But we have SuperWalMarts here, too, and Fred Meyer and all of those other wonderful convenience stores that everyone else has. We even have gun-toting liberals!

Ms. Palin's show is a great travelogue, and she's a pretty good tour guide, but please don't take the show for anything more than that. She is doing something she's very good at--understanding what the people want to see and giving it to them, even it's not really a good representation of reality. In Sarah Palin's Alaska, everyone can afford to fly-in hunt and fish, charter boats for halibut, and scale Denali. And that's about as far from reality as she should be from public office.

Posted by: NDAKKatie | December 6, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

S.Palin hunting in Alaska...yeah, so? There is a heavy outdoorsman and outdoorswoman ethic in Alaska and hunting is a common sporting activity.

Probably not a wise point of criticism. Your column just isn't funny. Gratuitous and effete, yes, funny not so much.

Mrs. Palin is a dedicated outdoor athlete and actually looks at home in the series (albeit very shrill and blabby). And for those of us in the Western US, Mrs. Palin's outdoor activities are not odd or eccentric at all.

I would never vote for her, but it would be fun to go hiking or hunting with her family.

Posted by: roboturkey | December 6, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

so you lost the office lottery and got stuck with doing something on St.Sarah today.

Posted by: summicron1 | December 6, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I am confused, even a small female caribou is 170lbs, and a male is 200-400 lbs, so how did a rifle sight make Shara shot a baby Caribou, which I assume is illegal in Alaska, just like shooting a baby deer is most places. If she couldn't see it through the sight, then taking the shoot was extremely bad hunting.

Nothing wrong with hunting, though if Shara is implying she ever was a hunter gather (like some people are in Alaska) she is being very dishonest. As for surviving, I imagine if things break down that far, it will be far, far harder to find things to shoot. Caribou are fairly trivial to find and shoot, its not like she was hunting mountain goats (really hard). I pretty sure Caribou are like Moose in Alaska, its considered more of a harvesting activity than a hunting because it is really easy to get a shoot. There is certainly nothing wrong with killing a Moose or Caribou for food, though its hardly a shooting event in my mind.

Note I could have shoot several Moose with a pistol from my brother's Deck in Anchorage last time I was there, it would have been illegal in the City, but it certainly wasn't hard to get close to the Moose. Without a gun, it would have required a death wish, but it wouldn't have been hard.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | December 6, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Yea, NDAKKatie (at 5:34pm)! People like you renew my hope in America. It's not important whether you live in Alaska or New York City, whether you like to hunt or the opera or basketball in the street. There are sensible people all over, and they are the only hope for the future of this great country!

Posted by: Dan4 | December 6, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I live about 35 miles from the Palins and I have hunted all my life. but if you Palin people think anything about that was real you are blind. I hunt by myself...so who would reload my rifle?

Posted by: DangerouslyLive | December 6, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Petri,

The official name of your column is now "PalinPost." You definitely spoke the truth in this previous column:
===
I have a lot of willpower. Not to boast, but if I had been hanging out with Adam back in the garden days, we might not be in the predicament we're in. But if God had informed me that I could eat absolutely any fruit I wanted as long as I refrained from talking about Sarah Palin -- I don't think I could have held out.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/compost/2010/10/sarah_palin_and_permanent_resi.html

Posted by: divtune | December 6, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Hunting caribou? Really? That's such a cool image for American women. You gotta admire a woman who can bring down big game from time to time to feed her family. lol.

The way Obama charmed the women of America as the eloquently spoken black man with intellect she'll charm the guys of America with her self-reliant, practical, able to do what is necessary all American woman, yet still a woman (you'd be hard pressed to find a guy who doesn't like that image - three words, Xena Warrior Princess). lol.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | December 6, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I THINK SARA PALIN IS DOING GOOD JOB SOME ARE JEALOUIS OF HER AT LEAST SHE COMES FRM A WORKING FAMILY NOT LIKE MOST N OFFICE IN WASHINGTON IM 60 I WOULD BET ON HER TO ANSER PHONE IN MIDDLE OF NIGHT A LEAST SHE WOULD NOT KEEP US IN THE DARK I KNOW I WOULD KEEP MY PROMISE TO ALL MILITARY PERSONAL THIS IS THE MOST CORRUPT GOV IN HISTORY JIMMY

Posted by: jimmymishoe92 | December 6, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

No self respecting, real, authentic hunter would take a rifle from someone else and ask, "Dad, does it kick?" And she would've known that fact and that it wasn't sited correctly because she would have fired it before she shot at that caribou. It was all a such a staged joke. I've hunted before with my husband and I was responsible for my own rifle. Apparently Sarah Palin was only responsible for being there looking like a hunter, without actually having to be one. What a lesson to teach your kids.

Posted by: AverageJane | December 6, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I was puzzled at first that the caribou just stood there, shot after missed shot. If it had been a deer in Upstate NY, where there is a hunter behind every tree, it gets in their DNA that the sound of a rifle shot is the sound of death. And if you miss the first time all you see is their white tail bobbing up and down as they run away.

So either that caribou hasn't been heavily hunted enough to associate the sound of a rifle shot with fear or it was chained at the foot. After watching the show, I would bet on the latter. Her own father admited that he hasn't hunted with her in years.

Posted by: AverageJane | December 6, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I read that the Alaska game dept. said sarah had no hunting license currently (nor for 08, 09)and this trip she made to stock her freezer cost 40,000 dollars in chartered planes. sheesh.

Posted by: republicansaregreedy | December 6, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I accidently caught a glimpse of "Morons Alaska", or whatever it's called.

Quickly, I turned off the set and threw up on my shoes.

Posted by: veerle1 | December 6, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I think Garth Brooks described Sarah Palin best:
(excerpt from Cowboy Cadillac)
...
She's the perfect picture
Of the perfect mixture
'Tween a woman and fine machine

She's a hard work lover
A real tough mother
She's the cover of a magazine
...
Here's the whole song, sung by a Palin supporter:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxOU_FOaB_A

Posted by: divtune | December 6, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

will any real reporters at the post look into whether she has a license to hunt? I mean, a crime may have been committed. plus she didn't have a license to kill that thing.

Posted by: republicansaregreedy | December 6, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

am I the only guy who thinks it is fishy she doesn't have a license to hunt?

Posted by: republicansaregreedy | December 6, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

wow all the folks in alaska must be loaded to afford 40,000 dollars to go hunting! Must come from those free-market celebrated checks they all get from the state oil money.

Posted by: republicansaregreedy | December 6, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

one serious question: If letting the tax cuts expire (as was their design, since they were passed under RECONCILIATION unlike the health reform law) will cause rates to rise and, according to GOP dogma, revenue to go DOWN, doesn't logic dictate that if revenue is going down we are paying less?

Posted by: republicansaregreedy | December 6, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

I have never been to Alaska and Palin has shown us so much of Alaska already that we may plan to go there next summer. It looks beautiful.

Her family and their rural based, hunting and gathering, life style have reminded me that not EVERYONE yet in America shops for their food at a Super WalMart.

Posted by: demalite
________________

Oh jeez. You are the kind of person who either gets eaten by Alaska or sorely disappointed.

Mrs. Palin isn't a hunter gatherer unless it's on camera. She lives in a suburb in a nice, clean split level home that just happens to have its very own rustic media center.

Wasilla has a couple of McDonalds and a WalMart and how much time do you think Annie Oakley spends there anyway?

Remember, what you are seeing is TV. Television. Its edited, tweaked, cut, and pasted just for flatlanders like you. Its not reality.

Go. Go to Alaska. Pretend you're Jack London. Just pay no attention to the strip malls and grocery stores.

Jeez....

Posted by: arancia12 | December 6, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

So either that caribou hasn't been heavily hunted enough to associate the sound of a rifle shot with fear or it was chained at the foot. After watching the show, I would bet on the latter. Her own father admited that he hasn't hunted with her in years.

Posted by: AverageJane

____________________

Jane, my husband and I hunted antelope in Wyoming. They are so stupid they just look around when they hear a shot.

Many are protected too and when they wander off protected land they don't know what a gunshot is.

Posted by: arancia12 | December 6, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I’m prior military with a marksman ribbon, I eat meat but I don’t like seeing animals get shot to make the shooter feel good about themselves. Sara Palin is the biggest poser hunter there ever was. Why is it that white trash just love her so, and want her to be so much? She is just a mall girl that never grew up. I’ve been to Alaska and nobody had that stupid accent that Sarah uses. Did she get it at the same place Ted (pedo) Nugent got his fake accent?

Posted by: kidkolob | December 8, 2010 4:28 AM | Report abuse

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