Instant gratification for the urban cowboy - use a mouse to kill a deer
Remote hunting may thrill the trigger-happy but animal lovers despise the concept
Spare a thought for the world's deer.
As the evolution of man's arsenal of weapons continues - from sticks and stones and bows and arrows to today's James Bond-style laser-sighted hunting rifles - the fate of our dear four-legged friends has never been very good.
Now things have taken a turn for the worse.
Thanks to a new website, trigger-happy hunters can fire a gun on a ranch in Texas from the comfort of, well, anywhere.
Feeling stressed in the office?
Want to fire off a few rounds on the train home?
Log on to www.live-shot.com for instant gratification.
'Technology has affected hunting since the beginning of mankind - if it had not, we would all still be running naked, using our bare hands to kill to survive,' Live-shot's founder and proprietor John Lockwood said in an e-mail.
Mr Lockwood said the inspiration for Live-shot came from another website that allows members to take photos of wild animals using cameras hooked up to the internet.
For someone who killed his first deer at the age of nine, replacing the camera with a gun was the logical next step.
The entire set-up - with Ruger 10/22 rifle, Dell computer and cameras - costs about US$12,000.
Using their mouse, users aim and fire the gun with somebody from Live-shot in position to override the firing mechanism if necessary.
The website offers paper target practice, but Mr Lockwood said he planned to offer live hunting once his ranch in Rocksprings, San Antonio had a high-speed internet connection.
The plan had caused a storm of protest among people who objected to the idea of remote hunting, Mr Lockwood said.
National Public Radio reported this month that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was looking at ways to prohibit the use of remote- controlled weapons in hunting.
But Mr Lockwood claimed the protestors were discriminating against would-be hunters who might never have the chance to go on a live hunt.
'They are trying to deny the opportunity to have an experience to someone who does not have the same abilities as them,' Mr Lockwood said.
'You have to realise that it is not some loaded gun sitting there waiting for someone to access it and shoot.
'There is a very specific process for getting control on the computer, and the person on site ultimately decides if and when a shot can occur,' he said.
'In a hunting situation, the electrical safety is always on until the on-site person is sure the gun is aimed into the [animal's] vitals, the animal is in a position for a clean kill, and that it is unlikely that it will move in the next few seconds - just like any guide would when their client is right next to them.'
For online adventurers, the price of membership is US$14.95 a month, plus US$5.95 for each shooting session.
This is cheaper than a trip to Cambodia or membership at one of Hong Kong's gun clubs, which begins at $30,000.
But clicking a mouse is unlikely to make you a marksman, and users are responsible for their own recoil and sound effects.