For President Reagan, today was a day for turkey and duck: clad in a camouflage jacket and trousers and toting a .12 gauge shotgun, he stalked wild turkeys at a ranch near here while turning aside questions about a Justice Department probe of national security adviser Richard V. Allen.
On the second day of his weekend visit to Texas, the president repeatedly brushed away reporters' questions about Allen, who received $1,000 from Japanese journalists in January after they were granted an interview with Reagan's wife, Nancy.
Asked at the ranch whether Allen would keep his job during the investigation, Reagan replied: "I can't comment on that while it's under review."
Reagan and his chief of staff, James A. Baker III, a former Houston lawyer who arranged the turkey hunt, have skirted the controversy while trying to use humor to defuse another major flap over comments made by Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman.
Stockman's comments, which appeared in an Atlantic Monthly article, raised doubts about Reagan's economic program and provoked a furor this week at the White House and Capitol Hill.
At a state Republican Party fund-raising dinner in Houston Friday night that raised nearly $1 million, Baker joked that before he and deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver left the White House, "We turned off the lights, we turned the thermostat and we bound and gagged David Stockman."
Baker summed up his frustration with the mounting controversy over Allen and Stockman: "Did you ever have one of those days when you went into your office and were afraid to say, 'What's new?' "
In his remarks at the dinner, Reagan did not mention the controversy over Stockman. He devoted most of his speech to defending his economic program and reiterated that he is not prepared to change course in the face of mounting unemployment and budget deficits.
"And so immediately someone pushes the panic button and says we should call off the tax cuts or should pass new increases in taxes," Reagan said. "But there's one thing I don't believe we need and one thing I'm against. We're not going to have a tax increase."
Reagan, Baker and Deaver flew this morning from Houston to San Antonio, and then rode a Marine helicopter 65 miles west to a sprawling Texas Hill Country ranch to hunt turkeys.
Reagan planned to stay overnight before returning to Washington Sunday afternoon.
Baker was reared in Texas has hunted wild turkey and other game since he was a boy. Reagan's hunting experience has been limited to shooting rattlesnakes at his ranch in California, according to Larry Speakes, deputy White House press secretary.
"I've never gone turkey hunting before so I'm looking forward to this," Reagan told a group of reporters as he, Baker and Deaver drove off in a jeep.