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"Hindsights"

Looking back at:

Deer Hunting
with JFK and LBJ

By Michael Barr
Michael Barr
It seemed only natural that a visit to Gillespie County by the guy about to become the most powerful man in the free world coincided with the opening of deer season although I do have trouble seeing John Fitzgerald Kennedy of Massachusetts sitting in a Hill Country deer blind dressed in camo soaked in Buck Bomb.

Kennedy was young, handsome, charismatic, Harvard-educated and a member of one of America's wealthiest East Coast families. He was friends with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin. Peter Lawford was his brother-in-law. There were rumors he had Marilyn Monroe's phone number in his rolodex.

I always believed JFK's idea of an outdoor sport was drinking Dom Perignon on his yacht off Hyannis Port.

In November 1960 Kennedy had just been elected president of the United States. He and his running mate Lyndon Johnson beat Republicans Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge in a close election on November 8.

John Kennedy was a political rock star to much of the world, but Gillespie County wasn't impressed. The county voted Republican down the line. Even Lyndon Johnson couldn't swing the county for the Democrats.

Stonewall was the only Gillespie County precinct to vote for Kennedy/Johnson - the first time in history Stonewall supported the Democratic ticket.

Kennedy was on his way to go slumming in West Palm Beach when he accepted an invitation from Lyndon and Lady Bird to make an overnight stop in Stonewall. Jackie Kennedy was in Washington, 9 months pregnant with John Kennedy Jr.

JFK may have agreed to the visit to try and dispel Washington gossip that LBJ and the Kennedys got along like the Suttons and the Taylors.
JFK and LBJ
JFK and LBJ
wikipedia
The plane carrying the president-elect arrived at Bergstrom AFB in Austin at 5:55 pm on Wednesday November 16, 1960. LBJ, Lady Bird, Texas Gov. Price Daniel and Senator Ralph Yarborough met the plane. It was the first face-to-face meeting between Kennedy and Johnson since the election.

At Bergstrom the group boarded a Lockheed Lodestar for the short flight to the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall. A large group of reporters, including Art Kowert of the Fredericksburg Standard, was at the ranch when the plane landed. Norman J. Deitel of the Fredericksburg Radio-Post was scheduled to be there but "was unable to get away that afternoon as our paper had not gone to press and we were unable to complete our paper until that evening."

Secret Service and ranch security held the press behind barriers until the plane landed. Then things got a little crazy. Art Kowert, unaccustomed to the frenzy of the national press corps wrote "newsmen went on a worse stampede than any herd of cattle we've ever seen."

Lyndon and Lady Bird immediately escorted Kennedy to a nearby hangar where a group of Johnson's neighbors from Stonewall and Blanco County waited. Simon Burg presented Kennedy with a "Stetson 100" hat, size 7 & 1/2, and a leather carrying case.

It was like someone handed Kennedy an invitation to Fidel Castro's birthday party. An Austin American-Statesman reporter wrote that JFK "held the hat like it had a bomb in it."

Some members of the press urged the president-elect to put it on, but Kennedy, not wanting his hair mussed, refused.

By that time it was black dark but Johnson insisted on a road trip along the Pedernales River. Johnson showed Kennedy the Johnson family cemetery, the house where LBJ was born and the schoolhouse where Johnson first attended classes.

That evening Gov. Daniel, Senator Yarborough and Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey joined Kennedy and the Johnsons for dinner at the LBJ Ranch. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn was supposed to be there but stormy weather over the Hill Country prevented him from flying in.

Bright and early the next morning Johnson took Kennedy on the president-elect's first deer hunt. Kennedy killed 2 bucks: a 6 pointer and an 8 pointer. LBJ also killed 2 bucks but the number of points was not reported.

I guess deer hunting is like golf. If you shoot a better score than the boss, you better not brag about it.

Michael Barr
"Hindsights" April 15, 2020 Column

Sources:
"Kennedy Guest at LBJ Ranch Thursday," Fredericksburg Standard, November 23, 1960.
"President-Elect John F. Kennedy Visits at LBJ Ranch; Work Conference Follows; Both Shoot A Pair Of Bucks," Harper Herald, November 25, 1960.
"Security Couldn't Stop Kennedy," San Antonio Light, November 17, 1960.


"Hindsights" by Michael Barr

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