Hartley: The Drone Mutiny — and its accompanying bounty | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: The Drone Mutiny — and its accompanying bounty

If there’s one question we here at “I’m With Stupid” get asked all the time (there isn’t), it’s definitely “What is your favorite town?” I know this might come as a surprise to some of you, as “Do you actually get paid to write this nonsense?” and “What happened to your hair?” seem like much more logical queries.

In the past, we’ve always had trouble picking a favorite burg. We’re big fans of Telluride; Jackson, Wyo.; Waitsfield, Vt.; Cahuita, Costa Rica; and lots of other places, but as of last week, all those towns will be taking a back seat to what is absolutely our new favorite place on the map: Deer Trail.

If you’ve never heard of Deer Trail, don’t be alarmed; it’s not the sort of place most people know about. In fact, we only learned about it last week despite having apparently driven through Deer Trail on a number of occasions. Of course, on each of those occasions we probably were doing 75 mph, so we conceivably could have missed the entire town if we’d blinked at the wrong time.

There isn’t much to Deer Trail, which is along Interstate 70 on the plains of eastern Colorado, about 54 miles east of Denver. At one time it was an important stop on the Kansas Pacific Railway, but that was a century ago. Since then, the population has dwindled to about 598 hardy souls whose downtown, destroyed by floods in 1965, never was rebuilt fully.

There’s just one small problem with the ordinance: No one in Deer Trail has ever seen a drone flying over the town.

Deer Trail does have one claim to fame, though, as it was the site of the world’s first rodeo, back in 1869. Quaint as that sounds, the rodeo actually has nothing to do with why we love Deer Trail so much. We love it because while plenty of people whine and complain about unmanned aerial drones, Deer Trail intends to do something about them.

Some time in the next few months, the residents of Deer Trail likely will vote on an ordinance that would allow the town to issue licenses to hunt drones and pay a bounty to anyone who shoots one down. The drone-hunting licenses will sell for $25 each, and if you bring in a fuselage or wing with U.S. government markings on it, Deer Trail will pay you $25. Bring in a whole drone, and you could walk away with $100.

There’s just one small problem with the ordinance: No one in Deer Trail has ever seen a drone flying over the town. This isn’t particularly shocking because one can imagine that the U.S. government has little interest in a town that small. However, if the ordinance passes, perhaps the feds will decide they need to pay more attention to Deer Trail, at which point the drones will appear and the fun will begin. It could be a little like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Even if no drones appear, Deer Trail envisions the hunting-license program as a potential money-maker, an economic shot in the arm for a town that probably could use one. As Town Clerk Kim Oldfield noted, “We’re the home of the world’s first rodeo, so we could be the home of the world’s first drone hunt.”

It’s a great idea, and we hope it works out, but unfortunately if it does, it could lead to a whole new set of logistical problems.

Here’s the hypothetical scenario: Let’s say the drone hunt is a big hit and attracts more people to Deer Trail. More people equals a greater need for pizza, so let’s assume a Domino’s will open there in the near future. Domino’s, as you might know or not, has been experimenting with a new system for delivering pizzas with — you guessed it — unmanned aerial drones.

So how can Deer Trail solve this tricky conundrum? One way would be to hold classes that teach drone hunters how to differentiate between U.S. government drones and pizza-delivery drones. We’re guessing that’s not what will happen, though. Something tells us that the people of Deer Trail are likely to blast away at any drones they see and worry about picking buckshot out of their pizzas after the fact.

This could be due to the notion that the frontier spirit is still alive and well in eastern Colorado, or it could be due to the words of Phillip Steel, the Deer Trail resident who drafted the ordinance and said of drones, “If they fly in town, they get shot down.”

How could you not love a town like that?

Todd Hartley has been known to drone on about pizza for hours at a time. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://www.zerobudget.net.

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