Want a Drone-Hunting License in Colorado? Get In Line.

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 6 2013 1:51 PM

Want a Drone-Hunting License in Colorado? Get In Line.

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A French hunter waits with his rifle.

Photo by RAYMOND ROIG/AFP/Getty Images

Is it just me, or are things really coming off the rails in Colorado? Earlier this summer, a handful of northern counties got all hyped up on freedom juice and started talking about secession. (The rural counties were reportedly upset over “restrictive gun laws and clean energy mandates.”) Now, a town to the south has been inundated with requests for drone-hunting licenses—and we’re not talking about using flying robots to shoot deer on the ground. Naturally, it doesn’t matter that there’s no such thing as a drone-hunting license.

Here’s how the whole brouhaha began. In June, some dude in Deer Trail, Co., proposed that there should be a town-wide ordinance to shoot down government drones, complete with a $100 bounty should one successfully ground one. (FYI: You’d have to provide a piece of the drone to prove your “kill”.) Despite the fact that the town won’t even vote on the ordinance until October, the story snagged national media attention, which in turn spurred red-blooded Americans everywhere to send Deer Trail a check for $25 (the proposed cost of the license that doesn’t exist). When the town clerk stopped counting, they’d received $19,006.

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In all, Deer Trail received 983 personal checks, which means there are whole lot of Americans who’d like a chance to legally fire guns in the air. It also means some folks apparently put their drone-hunting license on layaway, since 983 x $25 is more than $19,006. (And what’s up with that extra $6?! This isn’t a free-for-all, people. It’s a hypothetical license to hunt robots in the sky. Show some respect.)

For some reason, the buzz-kills over at the Federal Aviation Administration aren’t nearly as excited about the prospect of drone-hunting season. In a strongly worded statement the agency warned, “Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane.” (Subtext: “Do not cuss with us.”)

The agency also appealed to the public’s common sense, arguing drones falling out of the sky could cause damage to property or people on the ground. Honestly, this line of reasoning seems like the least of our concerns in a discussion centered around firing ammunition into the clouds—but just this week a Queens teenager died from wounds inflicted by an out-of-control model helicopter. So I guess the FAA isn’t just trying to rain on our gun bash.

There doesn’t seem to be much chance Deer Trail (or any other town) will actually legalize drone hunting, but that probably won’t stop people from shooting at them. “We do not want drones in town,” said Phillip Steel, the guy who initially proposed the license. “They fly in town, they get shot down.”

Personally, if drone season in Colorado is anything like deer season in Pennsylvania, I’m in. When else do you have an excuse to go on a nature hike with your buddies and eat weird pickled meats out of tins all the while not seeing a single specimen of the thing you’re hunting?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Jason Bittel serves up science for picky eaters on his website, BittelMeThis.com. He lives in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter.