The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Sarah Palin locked, loaded and (eventually) on target

December 6, 2010 |  1:44 pm

SarahPalinsAlaskaSarah Palin blasted away at a caribou on Sunday night’s episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” One wag suspected that, when she missed her first shots at the beast, America's most famous huntin' gal would blame President Obama, or perhaps Katie Couric.

Not so fast, smart alecks! It turns out Palin had an excuse for missing her first shots, and the Big Picture's resident hunting authority confirms it was a perfectly good one.

Palin’s show on cable channel TLC centers around her adventures with her family last summer in Alaska. She has fished for halibut and salmon and, in the most recent show, flown to the far north of her state to stalk caribou with her father, Charles “Chuck” Heath and friend Steve Becker.

On the second day of their hunt, Dad scopes out a caribou walking along a ridgeline. Sarah takes aim and fires. And fires again. And fires again. The animal startles but seems no more alarmed than it would shrugging off a horse fly.

Palin  then switches from her weapon — apparently the one her father described earlier in the show as a “varmint gun” — to Becker’s rifle. She steadies the barrell across the back of a backpack and “blam!” the caribou falls in a heap.

“There ya go, baby. There ya go!” Sarah’s daddy says triumphantly. Becker offers a high-five. The group then skins the caribou and slices off slabs of meat to bring home to Wasilla.

On the way back to camp, Palin tells her father: “I’m going to bet you $5 your scope is off." He promises to fire the gun at a target to prove it’s true. But when Papa Bear takes aim at a plate, he doesn't make contact.

The most experienced hunter the Big Picture knows informs us that the former Alaska  governor’s explanation makes sense. “It’s easy to knock a scope out of alignment,” says Steve Foster, a former Alaskan who flew bush planes and bagged plenty of game while living in the 49th state, “especially when you’re traveling as far as they traveled and flying in bush planes.”

As with previous episodes of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” reactions to the episode may tell more about the audience than they do about Palin. The ostensibly apolitical program has the former Alaska governor expounding rigorously on favorite themes — stressing family values, self-sufficiency, freedom and gun rights.

Her message will go over well with many viewers and make other wince. “Maybe they didn't drug the caribou enough?” speculated one commenter after Palin missed the mark.

Palin assured viewers Sunday night that in the far wilds of her home state, the hunting is more than a fair fight. “We don’t have the advantage,” she said. “The animals have the advantage”

-- James Rainey

Photo: Sarah Palin stands by the family boat in Dillingham, Alaska, on July 2, 2010, in a scene from "Sarah Palin's Alaska." Credit: Gilles Mingasson / TLC/Associated Press

 

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