Back in the '40s Louisiana's Governor Jimmie Davis explained that he was aiming at the left eye of an antelope when, just as he squeezed the trigger, he noticed that the animal's left eye was missing. His bullet, claimed the governor, passed right through the hole and out the other side, leaving the antelope unharmed. Illinois' former Governor Otto Kerner said that the buck he encountered on the prairie was so astonished to see a Democrat that it froze, thus giving Colorado's Governor John Love, a Republican, an easy shot.
Of the many teams that have participated at Lander, no single group has been harder pressed for alibis than the astronauts, who have fielded teams since 1966. Only Wally Schirra, who competed on the Wyoming team in 1964, even came close to scoring. His bullet nicked an antelope in the hoof, giving it an unsolicited hot foot and a rocket start toward the Montana border. Schirra's story was that the animal lifted its foot to scratch its shoulder just as he fired, but this was no more credible than Deke Slayton's claim that his rifle fired before he did. Gordon Cooper, who cited inadequate target shooting opportunities on the moon, hoped that the notoriously poor performances of astronauts vs. antelope "might convince NASA that we need more time for hunting and fishing."
Either NASA was convinced or this year's astronaut team had some prehunt practice, because James Lovell, Joe Engle and Jack Swigert were all on target. For the first time in seven years the astronauts not only scored but won. All three spacemen made perfect one-shots to win the contest and the acclaim.
Governor Winfield Dunn, with an edge of five minutes, broke a tie for second place between his Tennessee team and the International Team, each of which had two antelope. A new category this year, the Voice of the Sportsmen team, consisting of three outdoors writers, downed a single antelope to take fourth place. Governor Stan Hathaway's Wyoming team and Governor Love's Colorado team tied for last place. Each scored zero.
"After all," the governors explained, "as co-hosts, it was the only polite thing to do."