WASHINGTON – Minnesota’s most conservative Democrat caught up with Minnesota’s most liberal Democrat last weekend to get to know each other better.
They went turkey hunting.
Rep. Collin Peterson, rated “A” by the National Rifle Association, met Rep. Keith Ellison, rated “F” by the National Rifle Association, at 5 a.m. in a field in southern Minnesota to find some gobblers.
Ellison, who also is co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus in the House, had never been hunting. He snagged a jake turkey from about 40 yards away after Peterson successfully instructed him how to use a turkey call.
“Anyone who eats meat would appreciate the fact that this is a free-range wild turkey. It’s better than some turkey that is shut up in a cage its whole life,” Ellison said. “We do eat the turkey. I think it’s very important. I don’t believe in trophy hunting.”
Peterson, who often votes with Republicans, represents the largely rural Seventh Congressional District and has been named multiple times by the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation as the best marksman in Congress.
He did not bag a bird that day. “That’s the way it goes,” Peterson said in his traditional deadpan manner. “Four out of 10 get a bird, the other six don’t.”
The two have been friends since Ellison got elected to Congress in 2007, though they hadn’t ever had abundant one-on-one time, Peterson said.
“That’s actually a lot of what hunting is about,” Peterson said.
The idea was originally Ellison’s. He has a phone screen saver of the sunrise he captured while hanging out with Peterson waiting for the turkeys. “We just sort of kicked it about, everything from family to our love of the outdoors,” Ellison said. “He explained how you work that turkey call thing, and he’s pretty good at doing that. Just stuff like that. He’s good at teaching.”
Peterson said he was impressed with Ellison’s skill — and the fact he asked him to meet at 5 a.m. “and he was on time,” Peterson said.
Ellison might have started a trend.
Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen apparently heard about the trip and now he wants Peterson to take him hunting, too.