Hunters queue up to shoot live animals over the internet.
There will be no thrill of the chase and the quarry will stand little chance, even from 5,000 miles away. Britons, however, are clamouring to sign up for the latest internet entertainment: hunting and shooting a real animal with the click of a mouse.
More than 300 people, including Scots, Londoners and other would-be marksmen from Australia to Peru, have put down money for a live game shoot. They will be able to see the view through the gun's sights on their computer screens and use the mouse to train the rifle on the target. A mouse click will operate the trigger. Catalina goats, Barbary sheep, fallow deer, red stags and blackbuck antelope are among the exotic species available for the remote hunts, which take place in Texas.
Britain is one of the target countries for the man behind the venture, John Lockwood, a car body repair estimator in San Antonio, Texas. His internet site is the first dedicated to what critics have branded "pay-per-view slaughter".
He said: "The system is designed for people who can't hunt the old-fashioned way, such as the handicapped, those in a country that doesn't allow hunting or armed forces overseas. It's a service." Howard Giles, 30, was the first person to shoot a real animal on the internet, using a 30.06 telescopic rifle rigged up in a shed on Mr Lockwood's ranch and linked to the worldwide web.
"I was real nervous about it," said Mr Giles. "I was sitting in my home office about 45 miles away, just waiting." After an hour, a solitary wild hog wandered from the undergrowth about 60 yards from the shed.
"You can easily get a range of about 100 yards and I was just waiting for it to get clear of the trees and brush so I could get a good, clear shot."
Mr Giles clicked the mouse, the rifle fired and the hog was hit in the neck. "He didn't die right away but there was no way he was going to make it," he said. "So the most humane thing was for John to run out and finish him off."
The hog's head is now being reconstructed, stuffed and mounted on a plaque so that Mr Giles, who had not hunted for four years before the internet shoot, has a trophy to commemorate his feat.
Legislators in Texas and other American states have already moved to ban the new practice and even hunting organisations have condemned it.
British groups are also appalled. "This is absolutely despicable," said Simon Clarke, a spokesman for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. "It takes away all the elements of fieldcraft and respect for quarry." The RSPCA expressed "grave concerns". The next internet hunt is scheduled for April 9. Dale Hagberg, 38, from Indiana, who has been paralysed from the chin down for 18 years, will use a joystick operated by his mouth to shoot at a blackbuck antelope.
"I'm very excited," said Mr Hagberg, speaking with the help of his father Bob, 68, who can interpret his murmurs. "The last time I was hunting was just before I was injured in a diving accident. I'll move the gun with my lips and when I'm ready to shoot, I'll puff. I decided on a blackbuck antelope because they're really pretty and they're also good to eat. I was a real outdoors guy but never thought I'd be able to hunt again."
The cost of killing an animal over the internet is just $15 (Â£ a month for membership and $150 (Â£80) for an hour-long hunt. The necessary hunting licence can be obtained online, along with taxidermy services.
Previously, only virtual hunting via sites such as fantasyhunt.com, in which big game in Africa is "shot" with a camera, have been on offer, but Mr Lockwood insists that real hunting on the internet is safe and carefully controlled. "You have to register beforehand and someone will be there to take the safety catch off."
Damn! I was doing so well; moving tactically. keeping my arcs covered etc. I brought down the first buffty, patrolled forward, brought down one coming from the left with a snap-shot, span round and dropped the third Ginger Beer as he lunged out of the undergrowth, moved forward into the next clearing and another one erupted out of the rough- swung smoothly around and raised my weapon- and heard "Deadman's click" I now have a hoop like a stamped-upon blood orange......