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Gary Hubbell: The Redneck Tree Hugger

Gary HubbellAspen Times Weekly

Have you ever been to a big outdoors show? Theyre held all over the country. One of the premiere shows sticks out in my mind. Imagine a huge convention hall filled to the brim with booths offering African safaris; red stag hunts in New Zealand; driven grouse and pheasant shoots in England; $200,000 paintings of giraffes, elephants, and lions; wildlife-themed Waterford crystal; and Purdey and Holland & Holland shotguns and express rifles priced at more than $300,000.And the guys are lined up with their platinum cards, booking their expeditions and adventures for the upcoming hunting season. The more dangerous the game leopard, lion, elephant, grizzly, cape buffalo the more expensive the hunt. For the guy who has done everything, however, another polar bear hunt might be a little pass. Accordingly, I see an opportunity for a savvy entrepreneur to reach out to the marketplace and provide the ultimate adventure for dangerous game: a Somali pirate hunt.My faithful readers will know that Ive outfitted and guided big game hunts, flyfishing trips, upland bird hunts, and wilderness adventures since 1985, providing quality experiences to the well-heeled public. I sold my outfitting business in 2007, but for this special experience I could be coaxed out of retirement.Were going to need an investor, and even in this time of financial stress, no doubt someone will jump at the chance, because this will be extremely lucrative. The chance of gaining a large return on your investment will be much greater than pounding your hard-earned cash into the stock market or a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme. Look at it this way: If guys are willing to pay $25,000 for a Dall sheep hunt, climbing into the clouds on some drizzly Alaskan peak, or $100,000 for an African safari, shooting some poor helpless kudu and elephant while living in a tent, what will they pay for a luxury cruise off the coast of Somalia hunting real pirates that can actually attack them? Speaking of Madoff, Ive looked into Florida boat repos, and there are yachts by the hundreds, including Madoffs, that can be bought for pennies on the dollar. Were going to buy a big one, 80 to 100 feet, and stock it with fine wine, single-malt Scotch, caviar, prime rib, organic fruits and vegetables, and guns and ammo. Lots of guns, and lots of ammo. Our gourmet chef will provide the menu of a lifetime, and well have a staff of well-trained masseuses on board. They will be very well paid, because theyve got a very important role in this expedition. Theyll be acting as decoys, lounging around on the deck in skimpy bikinis.The adventure will begin in Kenya, where well go to the range with retired Marine sniper instructors, and well do a thorough introduction to long-range shooting and machine gunning. Have you ever wanted to shoot a .338 Lapua Magnum or a .50-caliber Barrett? What about a .50-caliber machine gun? This is your chance. Were also looking for a used Bofors 20-mm cannon, and I think weve got one lined up. Our crew will consist of former Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and Marines with extensive combat experience, and from all indications, there are lots of them just itching to spend a little time reaching out to the Somalis. There is unfinished business over there.From Kenya, well board the yacht and start trolling the Gulf of Aden. Well start about 80 miles out, while most ships try to stay at least 200 miles out. I anticipate the first couple of hunts will be the most productive, as the pirates will simply not believe their good fortune on encountering a luxury yacht with hordes of bikini-clad women lolling around, accompanied by a bunch of Rolex-wearing American businessmen smoking cigars. Theyll do their normal deal of harassing our little ship, coming closer and closer, and maybe theyll rattle off a few rounds with a rusty AK-47. No big deal. Once they fail to come back and theres nothing but an oil slick and some debris to announce their demise, the hunting will get a little tougher. There are no guarantees that the hunts will be successful and that actual pirates will be encountered. However, there are no licenses to purchase and no limits on how many pirates can be bagged. Weve checked with our legal team, and there is no law prohibiting a peaceable ship from defending itself. There is an element of danger, as the pirates might actually connect on a lucky shot or fire an RPG round before one of our sportsmen manages to drop him with a well-placed shot from a sniper rifle.Ive spoken with my friend John, who produces television shows for hunting channels, and he is itching for the chance to shoot a reality show on pirate hunting, so youll be in the American consciousness for a good long while.The window of opportunity on this special adventure is rapidly closing, as corporations are beginning to examine their cargo losses, expensive delays, ransoms and rising insurance rates due to pirate attacks. The logic of shipping, say, a boatload of tanks or a tanker full of oil with no defenses other than a water cannon is completely ridiculous, so theyre starting to put teams of retired military on board, and theyll get to have all the fun. Soon the absurdity of a bunch of skinnies attacking a major merchant ship with an inflatable boat and a few AK-47s will be a distant memory, and we wont have this opportunity again. Book now! Ten years from now, the price of $250,000 per man will seem like a bargain for this truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Gary Hubbell, a western Colorado native, is a location scout for photo shoots and films; a former outfitter and fly-fishing guide; and a ranch real estate broker. You can contact him through his website at aspenranchrealestate.com.

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