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Bush neighbor takes aim at 'doves'

Shotgun blasts startle anti-war protesters

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Land owner Larry Mattlage looks out from his ranch across the street from the anti-war protesters' camp.

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George W. Bush
Texas
Iraq

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- Anti-war protesters outside President Bush's ranch here were startled Sunday by gunshots fired by a Texas rancher frustrated by the group's presence.

"Well, I'm getting ready for dove season," Larry Mattlage, 62, told reporters of the shots fired around 10 a.m. (11 a.m. EDT). Asked if there was an underlying message to the shots, which he fired harmlessly into the air, Mattlage told a reporter, "Figure it out for yourself."

The protesters are led by Cindy Sheehan, a California woman whose son was killed in Iraq, and who has vowed to remain outside of Bush's ranch until the president meets with her. She and other anti-war protesters set up a makeshift camp in Crawford more than a week ago.

"Would you want someone invading your house for a long time and blocking your view and blocking your road?" asked Mattlage, a six-year resident of Crawford who said he had originally been sympathetic to the protesters' cause.

"They as American citizens have a right to march, to protest."

But throngs of anti-war protesters have parked on his land and set up portable bathrooms on the rural road that runs by his property. At times, the protesters, their numbers swollen by crowds of reporters, have blocked the road, he said.

"I just want them to pack the damn tents and go where they came from," Mattlage said. "They made their point and everybody understands it."

McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch said Mattlage had broken no laws.

"He's on his property, so he's fine," he said. "Everybody needs to use restraint in this situation ... This is a situation that has taken all these folks by storm."

Sheehan said protesters have been "good neighbors" to the people living near Bush's ranch.

"If the neighbor is tired of having us here, he should talk to his other neighbor, George Bush, and ask George Bush to come out and meet with me, and then we'll leave," she said.

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