A local ordinance that allows the sale of drone hunting licenses in Deer Trail, Colo. has been garnering media attention since it was drafted, and with just over a month to go until residents vote on it, the licenses that would permit buyers to shoot down drones in local airspace are selling as word continues to get out.
In a response to the issue of digital surveillance and civil liberties in America, Phil Steel of the 500-person town an hour east of Denver wrote an ordinance aimed at preserving Deer Trail's "distinctive way of life that emphasizes independence, freedom, and social/political/economic self-determination." For just $25.00, buyers can shoot down an unmanned aerial vehicle flying at 1,000 feet or below and collect a $100 bounty if he/she is able to provide proof of the license and an identifiable piece of the drone. Read the full text of the ordinance here.
Steel, who has established Professional Drone Hunters, Inc. to sell the licenses, told Examiner today he estimates that at least 150 have been sold so far. That number is up from around 60, which the Denver Post reported earlier this week. Though sales are growing, Steel also says that one of the toughest parts of the new small business is advertising.
"Advertising is hard because you have to spend a bunch of money," Steel said. "It's a complete gamble."
He has advertised on Google and Facebook, but also added that even though people know about the licenses from media attention, they aren't always sure where to purchase them. To that end, Steel has several plans in the works to help develop the brand and help get the word out on Professional Drone Hunters, Inc. Some of those plans include sponsoring drone shooting events, a line of apparel featuring the logo once the funds to buy a trademark are available, and even a tongue-in-cheek drone cookbook featuring recipes with drone parts baked in (don't worry, they can be easily adapted to omit any metal).
Though the FAA has said shooting at drones could be punishable by prosecution or fine, the Deer Trail ordinance will be put to a vote in a special election on Oct. 8. Steel says selling the licenses would essentially be free money for the community and noted that the town would not need to do anything to generate revenue since the sales are already in motion. There has been some vocal opposition within the town that, according to Steel, has only suggested raising taxes as an alternative, but Steel feels the ordinance will pass anyway.