Stemming back to the land of the frontier and the early settlers that conquered the wilderness, making the nation what it is today, the United States has always had a notable fondness towards the great outdoors. With our friends from across the pond undergoing their highly anticipated election, we thought it best to look back upon some of the United States’ biggest advocates of the sporting life and in particular, hunting.
What better place to commence than with the United States’ first president, George Washington. As an avid waterfowler and fox hunter, it is believed that he owned a number of hunting dogs owing to his leisurely activities. His love for these animals was so great it is rumoured that during the American Revolution, he called for a ceasefire when he spotted a dog wandering the battleground. Under the impression that the canine belonged to the British General William Howe, rather than do the dog any misfortune, he ordered for it to be cleaned and returned. Even with Washington’s army of revolutionaries taking heavy casualties and suffering a subsequent loss, this tale truly documents the unprecedented bond that he felt towards these animals.
Although our next choice does not feature on Mount Rushmore, Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th president of the US, and was an obsessive when it came to the outdoors. With a passion for both shooting and fishing, he frequently documented his indulgence of what was “the most alluring and satisfying of all recreations”. He believed that true hunters and fishermen were born and not manufactured, owing to an inherent instinct to perform these tasks. Despite his non-discriminatory stance on what he hunted, Cleveland was a strong believer in sustainable methods, calling out those who were too greedy or cruel in their methods that would damage both habitat and sport alike.
Dwight D Eisenhower:
In a similar fashion to Cleveland, Eisenhower was also a renowned hunter and angler in his own right. His love for open fields meant his hobbies were strictly limited to a combination hunting, fishing, and golf – highlighting their unique ability to focus one’s mind on a singular task for a prolonged period. From an early age he would walk for miles to fish, later moving onto hunting birds. His dedication to the military is well-documented, serving as Supreme Commander during crucial moments such as the invasions of France and Germany. It is lesser known however, that during a day off in the war, he reverted back to his old ways and spent it hunting for partridge in North Africa.
Next in our notable selections comes arguably the most famous president in terms of their sporting activity, Theodore Roosevelt. His deep-rooted appreciation for the great outdoors was developed from an early age, travelling far and wide to ease his struggles with asthma. Years later he would play a fundamental part in the protection of the United States’ wildlife via the formation of the United States Forestry Service, protecting more than 230 million acres of land. Roosevelt would openly speak about his love for hunting and its part in nature, falling in love with “the free, self-reliant, adventurous life”, a belief that still applies to several American communities today and highlights the crucial relationship between sport and conservation.
As the most recent president out of our selections, Jimmy Carter still managed to embody the free-wheeling huntsman lifestyle that is synonymous with the US. Initially making a living as a peanut farmer in Georgia, a fishing rod or rifle was never further than an arm’s reach during childhood. This trend would continue throughout his life, collecting multiple types of firearms; despite taking the least amount of vacation in his tenure as president, most of his days off would be spent shooting with his family and friends, indicative of the importance such activities are to him.