Drone-hunting licenses sold for $25 in Deer Trail are not recognized by the Arapahoe County Sheriff

License won't shield hunters from criminal charges

DEER TRAIL, Colo. - Even before residents in Deer Trail vote on whether to approve an ordinance allowing drone-hunting licenses, the man behind the proposal is trying to sell licenses for $25.

Phillip Steel is selling a "Drone Hunting License" online. The license is a certificate with a picture of a drone and the words, "A License To Hunt And Kill Drones Operating Within The Sovereign Airspace Of The Town Of Deer Trail, Colorado."

On the bottom left is a line for a signature of the sovereign Mayor of Deer Trail, along with a witness signature.

On the bottom right is a line to be signed by "the author of the ordinance - Phillip R. Steel."

Also at the bottom is a seal that says "Kill Them All -- Death From Below."

"Is this a scam?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"No, this is not a scam. This is not a license from the town of Deer Trail," said Steel.

He likened the drone-hunting certificate to the NFL licensing products to be sold bearing the logo of the NFL.

"Do people who buy this believe they can come to Deer Trail and start shooting in the air?" asked Zelinger.

"The people who buy this believe that if the federal government spies on them with drones, that no matter where they are, under the Constitution, they can fight back," said Steel. "The license says that it may not be recognized. It says, 'Kill Them All,' then it says, 'Death From Below.' There's tongue in cheek in here."

7NEWS asked the Deer Trail mayor why his signature appears on the document.

"Because it's a novelty," said Deer Trail Mayor Frank Fields. "If I end up losing this job, I can still sign as the sovereign mayor."

"Is it obvious that it's a novelty and not a real license?" asked Zelinger.

"It's not a real license," said Fields.

"Is that obvious?" asked Zelinger.

"Yes, I believe it's obvious, if you read the fine print," said Fields.

Fine print at the bottom of the license states: "License may not be recognized by tyrannical municipal, state or federal governments.

Steel said he had sold about 100 licenses, with most being sold outside of Colorado. He admits only around six have been sold to Deer Trail residents. He said he has broken even on his startup costs and will be donating some money to the town hall.

At a meeting on Tuesday evening, he donated $175 to the town.

7NEWS asked Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson if the licenses could be considered valid if a resident bought one and fired at drones.

Robinson told 7NEWS that he would not recognize the licenses and was under the impression they are being sold as a novelty

In a letter to the Deer Trail Board of Trustees last month, Robinson warned that residents could face criminal charges of reckless endangerment for errant rounds fired and prohibited use of a firearm if the person is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Last month, the Deer Trail Board of Trustees split 3-3 in a vote on a proposed ordinance to allow drone-hunting licenses. Residents of Deer Trail are supposed to decide the issue at the ballot on Oct. 8.

At the meeting Tuesday night, it was revealed the Board of Trustees failed to vote to approve the election date. The town clerk will verify Wednesday morning whether or not that's a technicality or if the trustees must meet again to set and approve an election date.

A special meeting is set for Sept. 18 in case the trustees must meet again to set the date.

Another meeting is taking place at the town hall on Wednesday. Opponents of the drone-hunting ordinance are challenging the validity of the election at a special meeting at 7 p.m.