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Thursday, July 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ron Judd

Non-fatal hunting: It actually does exist

Seattle Times staff columnist

So here's the thing.

Over the past couple of weeks, huddled as we have been around the family swamp cooler in the root cellar of the manse at Escrow Heights, watching the thermometer rise and hearing Al Gore, D-Ozone, cackle in an evil tone in the backs of our minds, it's been tough to get much of anything done.

The upside: It's been a grand opportunity to swallow hard and scrape the first layer off the top of the Big Gore-Tex Northwest Mailbag. To wit:

Q: How come you've never said anything about this new World Hunting Association "competitive hunting" tour? How does it work, and where can I go to stand in line for hours on end just to have the chance to become a lucky ticket-holder?

A: Oh man. You're right.

The truth: When we first heard about this "cutting-edge, non-fatal hunting tour," being experienced traffickers of the absurd, we waited for the obligatory IT WAS ONLY A JOKE news release — which, alas, never came. So here you are:

WHA hunting tour will come to a fine American city near you — or in this case Gladwin, Mich. — in October. The idea is that some of the nation's top, ahem, competitive hunters (yes, we, too are picturing a bunch of Ollie North types stumbling around in Elmer Fudd hats) will be videotaped on "hunting ranches" as they scurry around hiding behind tree stumps, and grunting and belching a lot, in pursuit of white-tail deer and other steely prey.

When they get one in the sights, they'll plunk 'em with — and we could not possibly ever make this up — a tranquilizer dart, which, event organizers point out, "should not" kill the deer.

You get points for the size of the deer you dart, the degree to which your camo gear matches your teeth, etc.

The genius behind this idea is David Farbman, a real-estate executive, who told ESPN.com the following: "More Americans call hunting their No. 1 passion than the game of golf. Sports fans will fall in love with us."

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While he's waiting to feel the love, Farbman might check out the Web for responses from actual hunters. They've flocked in droves to trash the concept. (Important disclaimer: Some of the hunters oppose the tour specifically because the animals are not actually being killed.)

But the sponsoring World Hunting Association is promising big prize money and large TV ratings, and is said to be looking for more venues in which to unleash the fearless men of the dart.

Last-minute update: The AP now reports that one hunter selected for this spectacle is a guy using a wheelchair. You could look this up.

Q: My boss is on vacation this week. If yours left, what would you do with your office time?

A: Virtual wildlife watch. Reader Traci recently alerted us to an excellent critter-cam site, this one keeping a watchful eye on a nest of ospreys on a platform in Lake Washington near Renton. Earlier this week, a lot of folks all around the country were still watching and waiting for the nest's inhabitants, three chicks hatched in early June, to fledge and fly on their own.

You can check out the feed here: www.appart.com/osprey/cam1.asp

Also, we are happy to note, Traci points out that in some photos of the nest seen on other various Web sites, you can plainly identify one of the building materials: strips of Big Blue Tarp!

Q: I share your thoughts about the two hikers killed up off the Mountain Loop Highway. Very tragic. But don't you think it makes a good case for carrying a firearm into the backcountry, as I always have done just for this reason?

A: Uh, no. Since it's much more likely you'll be struck by lightning or fall off a cliff in the mountains than intentionally shot at, I assume you're carrying a good ground rod and parachute, as well.

Q: I'm 12 and have lived in this state all my life. So far, my mom has never seen fit to take me to a county fair. I think she assumes I would be bored or something. Is she right?

A: First off, send me your mom's name and I'll forward it to the proper authorities. There's little excuse for this shameful behavior. What's with your mom, anyway? She must be from Snohomish.

County fairs are as much fun as you can have in this country without having Congress enact special legislation to make it illegal, immoral, or both.

Ron Judd's column appears every Thursday. 206-464-8280 or rjudd@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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