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OPINION: Covid hunters

by Devin Houston | August 4, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

Joe aimed his customized JM Special dart gun, taking care not to spook his quarry. He and his partner, Bill, had tracked the target for several days, looking for the right opportunity to complete their task. Ideally, the take-down would occur in a secluded area to create as minor a disturbance as possible among the rest of the population. Luckily, the object of their hunt settled onto an isolated bench in a nearby park after purchasing a latte. Few others were in the area during this time of day. Joe whispered into his microphone, letting Bill know he was ready. Holding his breath, Joe squeezed the trigger, the satisfying whisper of the CO2 cartridge answering his action.

"I got him, Bill; he's heading toward you!" Before he got the last word out, Joe saw Bill running to intercept the target. Bill tackled the large fellow, pinning him to the ground as Joe ran up. "You've just been given your first vaccine shot for Covid-19, Mr. Connelly. Here's your vaccination card. You should schedule a second shot with your doctor in three weeks. If you don't, we'll be back." With that said, Joe high-fived Bill, gathered the dart from the target's arm, and headed back to their truck. Mr. Connelly, now upright and shaking, yelled at their backs: "I'll sue you #@%* bastards!" Bill turned and yelled back, "Been there, done that! Ain't worked yet."

Bill and Joe are just two members of the fastest-growing new sport to hit the country: hunting down and administering Covid shots to those who refuse to get vaccinated voluntarily. In an unprecedented move, the Biden administration pushed through an executive order to allow licensed hunters to go after the unvaccinated. Republicans initially opposed the order, but they quickly backed down when the National Rifle Association and other hunting organizations announced their approval for the program. "Hunting humans has always been the ultimate dream for a hunter," gushed Colt Remington, a leading advocate for hunter's rights. "Now we can legally hunt humans and help humanity survive the pandemic. It's the ultimate catch-and-release program!"

While strict rules apply to the hunting of the unvaccinated, skeptics are uneasy over the ethics of the program. The ACLU filed several suits against the government to stop the hunts but, to date, all were tossed from the courts on national security grounds. Mr. Remington stated that no person had been seriously injured from being hunted, other than minor bruises and scratches, and strict laws protect the targets from undue embarrassment or harm. The guns are the same used by animal conservationists and do not fire bullets, only special darts containing the vaccine. Hunting is allowed in public areas during daylight hours; hunters cannot enter private homes or workplaces. Hunters are liable for any injury to those hunted, undergo special training, and need special licenses. "There is a ton of paperwork and regulations involved to get the license, but it's worth it to be able to track down the most intelligent animal on the planet," said Joe. Bill laughed. "Most intelligent? I don't know; if they were, they would already be vaxxed. Nevertheless, a lot of our targets were easy to capture. I've hunted deer that were more of a challenge."

But the targeted are taking steps to protect themselves. "Yes, there are some dangers to the hunters now that the sport has gained traction. However, the unvaccinated are exercising their Second Amendment rights. Many are carrying concealed weapons to defend themselves, arguing that they cannot determine the difference between a vaccine hunter and an ordinary criminal intent on harm, and have the right to stand their ground," according to an attorney who wished to remain anonymous. "It's only a matter of time before a hunter is injured or killed, but those I've warned say the risks add more excitement to the adventure."

When asked about the dangers, Joe acknowledged that it was a concern. "Deer and elk don't carry guns or knives, and the dead ones can't hit you with an antler or hoof. But any hunt has risks." The program ultimately benefits the targets, but most see the hunt as an affront to their freedom of choice. According to Mr. Connelly, interviewed after his take-down, he will not hesitate to inflict damage on any hunter who tries to vaccinate him. "They got me once," he muttered as he bought another latte to replace that lost in the hunt. "I'll be more aware from now on. No way they're going to get me again." When informed of Connelly's statement, Bill grinned. "Hey, whatever, Bro! We're just bringing immunity to the herd!"

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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