This fall, the World Hunting Association, a new competitive league, will feature 10 hunters in a deer-hunting tournament ... not shooting bullets at anything. In an attempt to lure viewers who may be turned off by gore, the association's planners have dubbed this competition "nonlethal"--meaning that hunters will shoot tranquilizer darts from bows, guns and blowguns, and veterinarians will be on site to attend to the deer after they are hit. "It sits better with the public," says WHA founder David Farbman. "Hunting's not just about the kill."
That's a matter of debate. The National Rifle Association has pronounced the scheme "not hunting," says Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman, because it runs afoul of hunting ethics. Hunting is about the kill, Arulandam contends, and not about wounding animals with nonlethal darts. "They can possibly injure the animal," he says. "In hunting you are supposed to bring down your animal in the most humane way possible." This "catch and release" hunting has also been condemned by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Karl Zainitzer, one of the hunters who has signed on to compete, doesn't have a problem with the unconventional premise. "People that would never go hunting will now turn this hunting tour on," he says. (Deals are in the works to televise it this fall.) Farbman is similarly unfazed. If this competition doesn't win the hearts and minds of nonhunting fans, he has some other ideas up his sleeve, including donating money to charity and launching a program to feed the hungry--with venison.