She no doubt expected a backlash from the lily-livered animal rights lobby, but when Sarah Palin bundled a TV crew into the back of a truck and ventured forth into the wilds of Alaska to shoot caribou, the very last people she expected to annoy were the members of America's hunting community.
That, however, is exactly what has come to pass after the self-styled "Mamma Grizzly" allowed her weekend-long trip to the Arctic tundra to be beamed into the nation's living rooms. Not only did this week's show portray field-sports in an ugly light, say critics; it also fuelled scepticism about whether she actually knows one end of a rifle from another.
Ms Palin took no fewer than five shots to hit the beast which wandered on to the hillside where she was eating blueberries with her 72-year-old father, Chuck Snr. However it was her lousy field-craft, rather than wonky shooting, which raised the most questions about whether she really ought to call herself a "lifelong hunter".
The Conservative blogosphere, usually a forum for cheerleading on behalf the Palin cause, was awash yesterday with suggestions that her outdoorsy image is an elaborate charade.
"I turned on Sarah Palin's Alaska and she just shot four maybe even five times at a caribou and missed," noted a typical comment on the Fox News host Sean Hannity's website. "Needless to say I'm not impressed with her ability to handle a firearm let alone aim it and hit."
Among the basic items of protocol blithely ignored by Palin as she set off into the wilderness in a Rambo-style headband was her failure to take practice shots, or check the sights of the rifle, which duly turned out to be off-kilter. She failed to carry her own weapon, relying on her elderly father and his companion, Steve, to lug it around. When a beast eventually wandered into range, Ms Palin left Chuck Snr to load the rifle, and discharge spent bullet casings.
"What a joke," wrote one viewer on Palin's Facebook page. "I was a fan before the show. No one who is a true hunter lets others carry their rifle or can't load their own shells. Sarah, you are a phony."..........................................