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High Tech Hunting Peters Out

In early 2005, a new innovation came to our attention. Augmented Reality hunting. John Underwood, an estimator for a bodyshop in San Antonio, Texas, USA, invested $10,000 to build a platform for a rifle and camera that can be remotely aimed on his 330-acre (133-hectare) southwest Texas ranch by anyone on the Internet anywhere in the world.

Designed to enable disabled hunting, the technology has been co-opted (some would say perverted) for internet-based hunts, allowing people to kill animals from the safety of their homes via a web-based flash interface.

The Live-Shot Setup
The Live-Shot Setup

Target practice with a .22 rifle was the first to be set up, followed shortly after with other guns, in other dug outs, allowing people to shoot at a wide range of creatures:

* Aoudad (Barbary Sheep)
* Blackbuck Antelope
* Sheep (Corsican, Mouflon, and crosses)
* Wild Hog
* as well as axis, fallow, and red stag "on a limited basis"

Texas officials, not quite sure what to make of Underwood'stechnology, began looking at amending existing hunting laws, to counter the danger of internet-controlled guns parvading around the countryside, shooting anything they fancied.

"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."

Berger had 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 proposed a rule that anyone hunting animals covered by state law must be physically on site when they shoot. It came up for public discussion in January 2006 and failed. There is currently no law in Texas, that says you must physically be in Texas when you hunt.

A search for, and similarly domain spellings came up fruitless in November 2006. As far as we were able to determine, the Live Shot internet exercise has petered out, presumably due to lack of demand. However, the technology is valuable to people who cannot actually physically get up and shoot - the wheelchair bound, or the frail, for example.

Similar technology to Live Shoot is being employed by the US Military currently, in the form of the SWORDS.

A SWORDS and control system
A SWORDS and control system

The SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems) were originally deployed in Iraq combat, a month before Live Shot went active. Basically an autonomous, all terrain vehicle, the SWORDS unit, cuts across open terrain, with a laser sight rifle strapped on top of it (other models carry rockets or mortars, but they are not really suitable for hunting). When it sights a possible target, it radios back a request to fire to its operator, who examines the video link, and OKs or nays it.

Adapting and simplifying this technology, giving the remote user basically radio control over all movements of the vehicle, firing the gun when they see something worth blasting, could open up hunting to the disabled. Collection made easier by the GPS of the unit itself.

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