Steven Christian, “Internet Hunting II,” Hunter Alert!, February 2006.
“Had this new [Internet hunting] technology been available then, I would have been able to share one last hunt with [my father]; a memory that would be with him and with me today.”
In this viewpoint, Steven Christian discusses what he views as a positive role for Internet hunting. Christian asserts that Internet hunting can be conducted in an ethical manner for individuals with disabilities to allow them to hunt. However, the author notes that the technology should be tightly regulated to prevent misuse and abuse. Steven Christian is a hunter, an engineer, and past president of the Maryland Sportsmen’s Association.
As you read, consider the following questions:
What situation does Christian describe that could result in a need for hunting over the Internet?
What does Christian feel hunters cherish the most about their experiences?
Why might Homeland Security become involved in the issue of Internet hunting, according to Christian?
There was this guy I know that hunted all ‘cross the US, Canada, Mexico, South America and even Africa. One day he was riding his ATV [all-terrain vehicle] and it rolled, with him on it, down a steep embankment. His friend, riding on another ATV, used his cell phone to call 911 because his friend was unable to move. They were in a remote woods and it took quite awhile for the paramedics to arrive on scene. After assessing the injured rider, they decided to call in a Medevac helicopter medical transport service to transport the injured person.
On arrival at the hospital’s emergency trauma unit, they stabilized and discovered massive internal injuries to the spleen, ribs, head, neck and back. Once stabilized, and [after] having surgery, he was finally moved to a stepdown unit for intensive care until further assessment and other possible surgeries could be decided.
Sometime later, the final diagnosis was delivered—he was now a quadriplegic. An avid hunter just days earlier, in a matter of moments … he lost the ability to participate in one of the most enjoyable activities of his life. Sure, he would always have the memories, but never again could he trek into the woods with the hope of taking venison for his freezer or enjoy the anticipation of his quarry coming within shooting range. Even if he could be helped into the woods and he could make the decision of whether to shoot or let the animal walk on by, he could not hold or even fire the rifle.
OK, you have hopefully read through this far, now bear with me a little longer. Along comes this injured man’s friend that was riding ATVs with him on that fateful day. He has been studying how he could bring back the enjoyment of hunting to his friend. The injured man’s friend is a computer geek and has hooked up a rifle to a remote control aiming unit, placed it on his farm along a fence row near one of his corn fields where he knows deer travel. Unfortunately, his injured friend’s internal organs require controlled and intensive monitoring, and he cannot make the trip to the location on his friend’s farm. Does this stop his friend from still trying to help him enjoy a hunt? Nope, he goes back to the keyboard and figures out how to hook everything up from his computer to an Internet connection. His next trip to the injured friend’s home hospital bed, he brings in a computer and tells his buddy that he has a surprise for him tomorrow. In the meantime, he works with his friend to enable him to use the joystick mouse on the computer to start up the computer and surf the Internet. You guessed it—he took his friend on a hunt the next morning via the Internet!
Granted, the above is fictional (at least to me) but I know Medevac personnel that have seen similar trauma cases, my wife is a nurse in a trauma stepdown unit and it is a real and heart-wrenching experience for them. But to the injured person it now becomes a new way of life devoid of a large part of who he is. What is not fictional is the exact capability to take a person such as in the fictional story above on a hunt.
This scenario is not the norm for hunters, but the memories of our hunt and the feeling of anticipation and the ultimate decision at the moment of truth have not changed. After all, these are the things most hunters cherish about hunting. The only thing missing above was physically being there—a medical and physical impossibility in the above case.
What is not fictional to me is the death of my own father. It was a slow lingering unwinnable battle with ALS [the progressive motor neuron disease Amyotroptic Lateral Sclerosis]. He was not an avid hunter but would always tell me that he would have liked to have gone on some of my hunts. Had this new technology been available then, I would have been able to share one last hunt with him—a memory that would be with him and with me today and to the day I die.
Now, how does all of this meld with the situation I find myself in today? The anti-hunting crowd has taken the possibility of the above fictional story and turned hunters’ heads with screams of “animal cruelty” rhetoric and even invoked threats of terrorists from the use of such technology.
First off, I think the above scenario does not portray the visions of animal cruelty or even unfair hunting practices that some hunters are being misled to believe under the rules of Fair Chase.
Secondly, the smokescreen of terrorists using this technology feeds on fears that combine to further cast a black eye on hunters. That the Congressional Resolution (H.R. 1558) [a 2006 bill to prohibit computer-assisted remote hunting] is in the Committee on Homeland Security should tell you that technology will always be misused where it serves a military purpose. This technology is no different, but between you and me it has been around long before it was adapted to hunting; remember the film Day of the Jackal? Ask any military professional and they will tell you that similar technology has been in use for years; we have even seen it on the evening news.
But let me get back to the situation at hand.
Do I support the endeavor of the gentleman that started his business [Internet-based remote hunting] that opened up this whole can of worms? No! Why?, Because he is in it at a cost much higher than I think is reasonable, did not limit it to people such as I described above, and I don’t think his heart is in the same place as mine. However, the free market has a way of setting a selling price that people are willing to pay and I don’t think his price is going to keep him in business very long.
Do I support the adaptation of the technology for persons with afflictions, illnesses and disabilities that prevent them from continuing or even learning to hunt? Yes! I think I have already covered the why.
Do I support regulations on the use of this technology? Yes! This application of technology needs to be as tightly regulated as other hunting practices. Users of this technology should be certified on both sides of the screen; the person behind the mouse should have to meet stringent requirements from a medical standpoint, and the person behind the remotely activated rifle should have to meet stringent business and hunting guidelines.
Do I believe that the anti-hunting crowd would accept such regulations? No way, no how! Because it is not the technology they want to stop; it is hunting they want to stop—any way they can, and they seem to have blinded the vast majority of sportsmen into helping them. However, I will not be led down their path of misrepresentation and fear-mongering to support their overall agenda. I just hope that some sportsmen and proclaimed sportsmen’s organizations come to their senses as well.