TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Texas Officials Wary of Plan to Hunt by Internet

Texas Officials Wary of Plan to Hunt by Internet

Lisa Minter (
Wed, 17 Nov 2004 00:39:18 EST

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Hunters soon may be able to sit at their computers
and blast away at animals on a Texas ranch via the Internet, a
prospect that has state wildlife officials up in arms.

A controversial Web site,, already offers
target practice with a .22 caliber rifle and could soon let hunters
shoot at deer, antelope and wild pigs, site creator John Underwood
said on Tuesday.

Texas officials are not quite sure what to make of Underwood's Web
site, but may tweak existing laws to make sure Internet hunting does
not get out of hand.

"This is the first one I've seen," said Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department wildlife director Mike Berger. "The current state statutes
don't cover this sort of thing."

Underwood, an estimator for a San Antonio, Texas auto body shop, has
invested $10,000 to build a platform for a rifle and camera that
can be remotely aimed on his 330-acre southwest Texas ranch by anyone
on the Internet anywhere in the world.

The idea came last year while viewing another Web site on which
cameras posted in the wild are used to snap photos of animals.

"We were looking at a beautiful white-tail buck and my friend said 'If
you just had a gun for that.' A little light bulb went off in my
head," he said.

Internet hunting could be popular with disabled hunters unable to get
out in the woods or distant hunters who cannot afford a trip to Texas,
Underwood said.

Berger said state law only covers "regulated animals" such as native
deer and birds and cannot prevent Underwood from offering Internet
hunts of "unregulated" animals such as non-native deer that many
ranchers have imported and wild pigs.

He has proposed a rule that will come up for public discussion in
January that anyone hunting animals covered by state law must be
physically on site when they shoot.

Berger expressed reservations about remote control hunting, but noted
that humans have always adopted new technologies to hunt.

"First it was rocks and clubs, then we sharpened it and put
it on a stick. Then there was the bow and arrow, black powder,
smokeless power and optics," Berger said. "Maybe this is the
next technological step out there."

Underwood, 39, said he will offer animal hunting as soon as he gets a
fast Internet connection to his remote ranch that will enable hunters
to aim the rifle quickly at passing animals.

He said an attendant would retrieve shot animals for the shooters, who
could have the heads preserved by a taxidermist. They could also have
the meat processed and shipped home, or donated to animal orphanages.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: What is an 'animal orphanage' as
referred to in the last paragraph of the story? I also wonder what
will happen (when the man gets his high speed internet connection) if
someone logs in, then manipulates the gun in such a way as to cause
injury or death to another hunter. What if he did that in a wilfull
way and used a bogus login to cover his tracks? PAT]

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