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Taking a leaf from costume dramas, Ted Cruz is now wooing supporters on pheasant hunts.

Henry Thomas Alken

When you think pheasants, you might think Henry VIII, four and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie, or the plumed taxidermy of the English country estate line. But no longer! Today, pheasants cropped up in the unlikeliest of places: the Republican primary.  

Representative Steve King, a Republican congressman from western Iowa, endorsed Ted Cruz for president Monday. The New York Times reported that the announcement has been expected ever since the two men bonded on a pheasant hunt last month. King holds an annual hunt to raise cash for his own campaigns. This year the event drew a potpourri of right-wing Republicans—Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum.

Cruz was the center of attention. The Sioux City Journal wrote that “Cruz and King took time to pose next to the several dozen pheasants pinned to a barn wall after the hunt.” Meanwhile, Bobby Jindal “made his way into the lodge and remarked how much he wished he could have joined Cruz and King on the hunt.”

While Cruz and his rivals are a far cry from landed gentry, it sounds like their pheasant hunt included maneuvering worthy of Downton Abbey