Source AP ©

Dick Cheney spends eight hours hunting at private gun club

Vice President Dick Cheney spent about eight hours hunting Monday at a secluded Hudson Valley gun club where well-heeled enthusiasts shoot ducks and pheasants.

It was Cheney's second visit to Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club in Dutchess County, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of New York City. The previous trip was in fall 2001.

Although a heavy police presence kept the media and curious local residents at a distance, Cheney's visit did stir up a bit of controversy when a New York Daily News photographer snapped a picture of a small Confederate flag hanging inside a garage on the hunt club property.

The photo was shown to New York City civil rights activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who issued a statement demanding that the vice president "leave immediately, denounce the club and apologize for going to a club that represents lynching, hate and murder to black people."

Sharpton's statement was issued hours after Cheney departed the club at 3:45 p.m. for a flight out of the Stewart Air National Guard Base. In a statement issued Monday evening, Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said neither Cheney nor anyone on his staff saw such a flag at the hunt club.

It is not clear whether the door of the garage that contained the flag was even open at the time the vice president was in the area.

The flag flap was minor compared with the controversy that arose in 2006 after Cheney peppered attorney Harry Whittington with birdshot while quail hunting in Texas. The vice president was criticized for not immediately going public with the incident.

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