Cheney Cited For Breaking Hunting Law

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney delivers a speech on Iraq and the War on Terror to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2005 in New York.
The firestorm was continuing over Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting companion. The White House was playing down the incident, even but questions persist about the delay in releasing information about the shooting to the public.

Cheney has been given a warning citation for breaking Texas hunting law. He and the man he shot apparently failed to buy a $7 stamp allowing them to shoot upland game birds.

The warning came from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department after it investigated Cheney's accidental shooting Saturday of a fellow quail hunter on the private Armstrong Ranch in the south part of the state.

The department found the accident was caused by a "hunter's judgment factor" when Cheney sprayed another hunter, prominent Republican attorney Harry Whittington, while aiming at flying birds.

Cheney, an experienced hunter, has not commented publicly about the accident. His office said Monday night in a statement that Cheney had a $125 nonresident hunting license and has sent a $7 check to cover the cost of the stamp. "The staff asked for all permits needed, but was not informed of the $7 upland game bird stamp requirement," the statement said.

Whittington also received a warning for failing to have the stamp. A department spokesman said warnings are being issued in most cases because the stamp requirement only went into effect five months ago and many hunters aren't aware of it.

Cheney apparently did not see Whittington, and the vice president accidentally hit him in the face, neck and chest with bird shot.

Whittington was in stable condition at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and was moved from intensive care to a "step-down unit" Monday. Doctors decided to leave several birdshot pellets lodged in his skin rather than try to remove them.

The White House was bombarded with questions Monday about why it took nearly 24 hours to even acknowledge the shooting.

President Bush knew Saturday evening that Cheney had accidentally shot a hunting companion, but the information wasn't made public until the next day — by a private citizen.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said the vice president's staff was focused on making sure that Whittington was receiving adequate medical care.