Internet hunting shameful practice

By Ned Cantwell: State Columnist

New Mexico has the darker side of the wild, wild west in a headlock with her stubborn refusal to outlaw the barbarian practice of drugging chickens, strapping razors to their claws and letting them fight to death under the guise of sport.

Cockfighting it’s called.

Could anything be dumber? Well, maybe. Texas is trying to out dumb us. Our neighbor to the east and south is the birthplace of something called Internet hunting.

Here’s how it works. You are crunching numbers, say, in your Los Alamos office and you get this manly urge to get out into those wilds and track yourself a blackbuck antelope, to wait patiently in the chilling dawn for your chance to shoot that sucker. Then you cut that baby up and take the meat home to momma who rewards you with an adoring gaze and otherwise melts in your macho presence.

The problem with that scenario is you’ve got all those numbers to crunch, it can be nasty out in those wilds, and who needs it? A Texas entrepreneur wants you to shoot game without leaving the office.

Yep. Just swivel your chair to the computer, take aim at that wild hog wandering in the Texas hill country brush, click, BANG. A Remington .30.06 rifle blasts the unsuspecting quarry. Don’t worry about the meat. They’ll send it to you, along with any “trophy” involved. You won’t even have to shower afterwards, unless, perhaps, out of pure shame.

According to one report, this virtual hunting service is operational. The Web site seems to suggest “target practice” is online and actual Internet hunting will follow.

One of the fun Web site activities is designed for only the most discerning customers. It is an “I shot OSAMA T-Shirt” for $14.95. Here’s the promo copy: “Purchase one along with your membership and shooting session. Put up to 10 holes into a target printed on the shirt and wear it with pride.” Oh, please. The brain is taking a nap and pride went on vacation.

But there is more. For another $10 you can send the company “your own image of something you’d like to shoot, and we’ll make a custom” T-shirt. Friends, that has ugly written all over it.

Lots of folks are rushing to do something about this whole business of Internet hunting. Writes West Texas newsman Smokey Briggs, who dislikes Internet hunting but hates government regulation, “…the self-righteous of the hunting/sporting community have joined forces with the anti-hunting tree huggers, and the anti-property rights statists of the world.”

Much to Smokey’s chagrin, states all over the place are rushing to outlaw the practice in their jurisdictions. Six states have already banned it and lawmakers in another 19 are sponsoring bills to do the same.

If Texas guv Rick Perry signs a bill this summer, as expected, virtual hunting will die in the state where it was born. We can still kill Osama, of course.

New Mexico has yet to deal with this issue. We should, and quickly, before someone discovers Internet hunting is important to ethnic cultural heritage, the spurious argument used to embrace cockfighting.

The idea of shooting game over a computer is akin to a guy bringing home a string of trout from the fish market after his “fishing trip.” That only makes your hands slimy. Internet hunting makes you feel stinky inside and out.

Ned Cantwell is a syndicated New Mexico columnist. Contact him at: ncantwell@charter.net