Tucker Carlson calls from his home in rural Maine. He heads up to those pine forests every summer to escape the humidity of the Washington, D.C., summer. This allows him to do his Fox News show, “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” from a part of the country that can’t even be called “flyover country,” as the few people flying over Maine’s forests, pristine lakes and streams north of the Atlantic Coast are headed to Newfoundland or some other little-populated province in eastern Canada.
“I’ll be on the town green tomorrow running a fly-fishing competition,” says Tucker with the same characteristic enthusiasm that disarms his TV guests every weeknight.
Clearly, he isn’t hiding out in Maine. He is there to be a part of the community. He stays in an area his father used to take him to fish for trout and smallmouth bass and hunt for partridge (ruffed grouse to anyone outside New England) and snowshoe hare (this he does on snowshoes in the Maine winter) in the north country. Tucker continued to take his kids there and to Wyoming and more to give them things their upscale Washington, D.C., community couldn’t.
“The fur from the hare’s feet is ideal for tying emergers,” says Tucker as we talk about hare hunting, and I’m impressed, as he ties his own flies.
We talk about fly-fishing for a while, but I’m curious about how he got started shooting. From watching him debate people like Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)—that failed presidential candidate who wanted to arrest every gun owner who wouldn’t turn in his or her semi-automatic rifle—I knew Tucker clearly has a lot of experience with firearms.
“The Left is waging the first revolution in history that is about overthrowing the middle class. They hate that guns are tools and that millions of normal people own them.”
A1F: How did you get started shooting?
Carlson: I just grew up that way. My father was a U.S. Marine. He had guns for hunting and sport. Shooting and hunting were always a part of our lifestyle. I grew up in California and we moved to Washington, D.C., when I was 15. There were always guns in the house. Too many to name. The gun culture my father gave us was very middle America. I am not saying I grew up with a father in the coal mines. We were well off, but when it came to guns and values, we were exposed to a very rural sort of gun culture.
We always had the place in Maine. We’d hunt partridge in the fall and hare with beagles in the winter. We’d go on pheasant hunts in other places, too. There was always a Labor Day dove shoot. We’d hunt quail down South in the winter—something I still love doing. I’ve hunted birds a lot out West. Chukars are awesome. You really have to earn them. I like being out and walking when I hunt. I like fishing that way, too. I like to walk down small trout streams looking for rising fish.
Hunting and fishing and the outdoors have just always been a part of my life. My bird dogs, spaniels, are at my feet right now.
A1F: What’s your favorite style of shooting?
Carlson: Oh, sporting clays maybe. I have a great range over a river here on this property. I also love shooting bowling pins over on my rifle range. My current obsession is carbines in pistol cartridges. My favorite carbine right now is a Henry. A Beretta 9mm carbine I have, a Cx4 Storm, is a blast to shoot. I have a ton of steel—my favorite is heavy and shaped like a trout.
I have shot steel with a bolt-action chambered in .338 Lapua at 750 yards and all that. Long range is fun, but not really my thing. I shoot skeet with a side-by-side .410. I think the .300 Blackout is just about the coolest cartridge ever at the range, so I have an AR chambered in that cartridge. I like making steel ring.
A1F: Do you collect guns?
Carlson: I am not a gun collector. All my guns are working-class guns. I only have one gun that I spent over $1,000 for. At a dove hunt once, I bought a shotgun for $1,800 from a friend. It’s a light shotgun with a Damascus barrel that I found I could hit anything with, so I had to have it. I just have a hard time spending a lot on guns because I am going to use them hard.
I have a friend who is killer on sporting clays. A while back, he bought this side-by-side Purdey to a range with me. The thing was, it was pouring rain. It’s like a $100,000 shotgun and he was just banging away at clay birds with it in the rain. He is quite the shot, but it was hard to concentrate watching him swing that work of art on that wet day in Maryland.
I’ve been married 28 years. My wife, naturally, wasn’t sure what to get me for my last birthday. So she got me a fitting for a shotgun. She didn’t pay in advance; she just set up the appointment. I took one look at what all that would cost and cancelled it. I don’t need all that, and, anyway, I’d be too afraid to scratch the shotgun or something.
A1F: Do you ever introduce other media members to the shooting sports?
Carlson: A lot of people on my staff shoot now. I take people if they’re interested. I was just over at one of my cabins to see some of my guests. They had a lot of guns on the porch along with boxes of ammo piled everywhere and were having a hell of a time shooting down a range from the back of the cabin. Understanding this constitutional right takes some trigger time.
The first thing is, shooting must be safe; after that, it should be fun.
A1F: You have said that those pushing gun control are really pushing a type of “class warfare;” can you explain?
Carlson: The Left is waging the first revolution in history that is about overthrowing the middle class. They hate that guns are tools and that millions of normal people own them. They hate that guns are also a metaphor for true individual freedom. They don’t like that they can’t tell a gun owner what to do.
A1F: You said the Left “despises the autonomy of an armed population.” This is clearly true, but in your experience, how did this contradiction (the Left says they are for individual freedom, especially of expression, yet they want to disempower people) become a part of the Left’s DNA?
Carlson: I wish I could say this was a rational debate from the Left, but they aren’t thinking clearly enough to clear up their own contradictions. No one on their side is even making a logical argument.
I no longer believe in the good faith of the other side on the gun issue. This is why I don’t have them on all that often to talk about this anymore. I am just bored with hearing their spin. They aren’t really trying to answer the questions. They aren’t really interested in “gun safety.” They are interested in control.
Tucker Carlson’s latest book is Ship of Fools, a witty insider’s critique of the power-hungry elites in Washington, D.C.; people who think they can tell you how to live your life, even as they play by different rules.
My favorite argument with them is “you first.” I want them to disarm first. This includes their body guards. If [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] will give up her walls and armed guards, then I’ll take her arguments seriously. At least then she wouldn’t be a hypocrite.
Look, this hit me at home. Antifa came to my house. They chanted “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night” right outside my home. My wife was home alone at the time. She called the police. Antifa did property damage to my home. One was even heard on video talking about pipe bombs. I have children. Those people are crazy.
A1F: Do you have a concealed-carry permit?
Carlson: Yes, I have a concealed-carry permit in D.C. I have guns in my house there. I’ve registered them in D.C. Leon Spears—he is one of the first people certified by the Metro Police Department as a firearms instructor—helped me with the process. After D.C. opted not to contest a federal appeals court ruling dismantling the District’s almost-complete ban on carrying a handgun, it became possible to legally protect yourself even in our nation’s capital.
After so many years of preventing us from protecting ourselves—remember, before Heller they wouldn’t even let residents have loaded shotguns in their homes—now I have quite a few registered guns in Washington, D.C., and I have a concealed-carry permit. The District can be very dysfunctional, but if you know the right people, you can make things happen fast.
A1F: Are you teaching your children to shoot?
Carlson: Absolutely. My kids have grown up with guns. They shoot. They’ve been very exposed to the outdoors. My son just graduated from college and I told him I’d take him anywhere as a graduation present. He said he wanted to go to Labrador to fly-fish for brook trout. So we’re going in a few days for a 10-day trip. He could have chosen anywhere, and he said he wanted to fish in rural Canada for trout.