Antonin Scalia: Hunter

By author of The Duck Blog

Supreme Court Justice Was an Advocate for Outdoorsmen

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was an avid hunter. Photo © Matt Lindler, National Wild Turkey Federation

Americans lost more than a great jurist and patriot when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died recently. We also said goodbye to an avid outdoorsman and hunting advocate.

Scalia, 79, died of natural causes in his sleep Feb. 13 during a quail hunting trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch in southwestern Texas. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Scalia had arrived at the ranch about noon Feb. 12 and joined other guests on a successful quail hunt. Ranch owner John Poindexter told the Times that Scalia did not hunt but was “out on the property, looking at it. … He got off the truck once and seemed to enjoy himself.”

Scalia also enjoyed many other types of hunting. The Times mentioned that he’d taken a pheasant hunting trip in 2001 and a duck hunting trip in 2004. Mandy Harling, Hunting Heritage programs director at the National Wild Turkey Federation, said on her Facebook page that she and her husband, Jonathan, had once arranged a turkey hunt for Scalia in Edgefield, S.C.

“He told several funny stories that night, including one about taking Justice (Elena) Kagan hunting,” she wrote.

In a 2013 article in The Atlantic, Kagan described the hunting trip she and Scalia had taken to Wyoming in Fall 2012, during which Kagan shot a deer.

“I shoot birds with him … two or three times a year now," Kagan said in the article. “He said to me, ‘It's time for big-game hunting.' And we actually went out to Wyoming this past fall to shoot deer and antelope. Uh, and we did."

In an interview with New York magazine, Scalia described how he’d become a hunter.

“You know, it may be genetic,” he said in the article. “My grandfather — my namesake, his name is Antonino — he was an avid hunter. He used to disappear for a week — his family would be very upset — because he’d be off in the hills of Sicily, hunting. My last memories of him were — we had a bungalow, which he had built out on Long Island, back in the days when Long Island was really the country. I went in the woods hunting rabbits with him —  there’s a photo of me holding a rabbit and his 12-gauge shotgun.”

Scalia also told the magazine that his eldest son had married a girl from Louisiana, whose father was an avid hunter.

“I got in with them, and I got into goose hunting, duck hunting, redfish fishing — it has been a great addition to my later years,” he said in the story. “It gets me outside the Beltway with people of the sort I had never known before. They could live in the woods. Give ’em a gun, they could survive in the woods on their own.”

Matt Lindler, editor of Turkey Country and JAKES magazines, and photo director for the NWTF, summed up the feelings of grateful sportsmen everywhere on his Facebook page.

“May the turkeys gobble at all of your calls and strut all the way to your setup in heaven, Justice Scalia,” he wrote.