Drone hunting: Citizens of Deer Trail to vote October 8 on whether to issue permits, offer bounties

DEER TRAIL, Colo. - This tiny plains town doesn't have much to offer visitors -- a gas station, a bar and a small-time rodeo one weekend a year.

But it is considering a proposal to make itself a national attraction for gun enthusiasts and people skeptical of government surveillance. Citizens on Oct. 8 will vote on whether to issue permits to hunt drones.

The idea of hunting the federal's government drones began as one man's symbolic protest against a surveillance society. But other townspeople embraced the idea as possible magnet for tourism -- and revenue -- in the tiny community of about 550 residents.

If voters approve, Deer Trail would charge $25 for drone hunting licenses, valid for one year.

"They'll sell like hot cakes, and it would be a real drone hunting license," said Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel, who drafted the ordinance. "It could be a huge moneymaker for the town."

The town would offer a $100 bounty reward for shooters who bring in debris from an unmanned aircraft from the U.S. government.

Deer Trail resident David Boyd is one of seven votes on the town board.

"Even if a tiny percentage of people get online (for a) drone license, that's cool. That's a lot of money to a small town like us,"said Boyd. "Could be known for it as well, which probably might be a mixed blessing, but what the heck?"

The ordinance specifies that weapons used for engagement of unmanned aerial vehicles would be limited to "any shotgun, 12 gauge or smaller, having a barrel length of 18 inches or greater."

Drone hunting licenses would be issued without a background investigation, and on an anonymous basis.

Applicants would have to be at least 21 years old and be able to "read and understand English."

Deer Trail Town clerk Kim Oldfield said there's talk of promoting the ordinance as a novelty and possibly hunting drones in a fun-filled festival.

"We’re the home of the world’s first rodeo, so we could home of the world’s first drone hunt," Oldfield said.

The measure has drawn a stern warning from Washington. Officials are considering several regions, including the West, where civilians can use drones on an experimental basis.