Cub reporter nabs interview with leaders of Oregon occupation

Cub reporter Monte Kingen, 11, managed to get an interview with Ryan Bundy.

Story highlights

  • 11-year-old Monte Kingen travels 200 miles to quiz members of the Bundy family
  • He managed to get comments from Ryan Bundy

Burns, Oregon (CNN)The ranchers and their allies holed up in an Oregon wildlife refuge largely dodged mainstream reporters' questions at a press conference Thursday, but they allowed quizzing from a sixth-grader.

The youngster got the day's scoop in the ongoing occupation led by members of the Bundy family of Nevada, which earlier made headlines in another faceoff with the federal government in 2014.
On Thursday, 11-year-old Monte Kingen, with his red hair poking out of a black cowboy hat, walked into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside Burns and charmed Ryan Bundy, one of the takeover's leaders.
    Earlier in the day, Bundy and his brother, Ammon, declined to speak with reporters from major media outlets, and a representative with the ranchers spoke only briefly with the members of the media gathered outside the refuge.
    But it was Monte who got the interview of the day with the ranchers leading the siege.
    "Are you moving here forever?" Monte asked, pen poised in left hand to write down notes.
    "Nope," Ryan Bundy answered.
    "Just temporarily?"
    "Yup, we're just here to try to establish some rights and help you guys out, our family wants to help your family."
    To get his exclusive, Monte trekked with his parents more than 200 miles round trip, through the snow-covered high desert dotted with sagebrush and cows.
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    The boy's family helps run 1,200 cattle, and he's writing a piece for his Fields Elementary School newspaper, fittingly called the Desert Rat.
    "Have you had many visitors come and see you?"
    "We have, we had a lot of people like you," Bundy began to say. "Local ranchers, a few people from town and a lot of cameras."
    They both grinned standing in a small circle of media, cameras whirring and clicking.
    "Do you think you are making a impact on locally, statewide and nationwide?"
    "I think pretty much everybody is listening right now, and I'll tell you what, we can't do it for you. You guys are going to have to decide you want your freedom. We'll help you along, but you guys are going to have to decide to be the ones that makes a difference," Ryan Bundy said.
    "OK," Monte countered as he carefully wrote down more notes.
    "We call ourselves the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom," Bundy told the boy.
    "Yup, that's right," Monte nodded.
    Bundy laughed.
    "You got that figured out already. I'm glad."
    The friendly interview stood in stark contrast to the contentious town hall meeting with residents Wednesday, where the occupiers were asked to leave.
    The ranchers' siege is a protest against the federal government and in support of local ranching father and son Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were sent to prison after a government appeal of their sentences for arson on federal lands. The government said the two set fires to cover up their poaching of deer.
    Charmaign Edwards, a close friend of Monte's family, stopped by to listen.
    "I think it's wonderful," Edwards said, alluding to the discussion of land issues and the federal government. "It's good that the kids are getting educated about this from the ground floor because they will have to deal with it later."
    Monte asked Bundy whether he's any good at roping and riding.
    "Some of the other cowboys down there can sure outperform me, but I get a few of them caught."
    "Me too."
    "That's all I have for you right now, thank you."
    Monte then went to work on the story of the day.