Rob writes a weekly outdoors column and covers energy, environmental and nuclear issues (and lots of other topics) for the metro section. He has been an avid angler and hunter ever since he realized he had neither the aptitude nor the desire to take up golf. He has been a full-time journalist for 28 years, including 11 years as bureau chief in Columbia County. Before joining The Chronicle, he worked at newspapers in Columbia, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla. He has edited or authored three reference books on antique fishing tackle; and his freelance work has appeared in Field & Stream, Gray’s Sporting Journal and Georgia Outdoor News. He lives in Evans.
Posted January 14, 2011 12:03 pm - Updated January 14, 2011 12:12 pm

Only in Georgia: Internet-controlled shotguns linked to web cams on food plot

Log on. Zoom in. Bang.


It sounds like something from a science fiction movie.


Creepy as the concept might be, someone actually built an Internet-controlled network of web-accessible cameras and shotguns aimed into a food plot on a Georgia Power Company right-of-way last fall.


A utility contractor encountered the setup, snapped a few photos and reported the odd apparatus to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, which in turn notified the U.S. Office of Homeland Security.


By the time officers returned to the south Georgia site, however, the equipment had been removed.


According to a bulletin from the Georgia Information Sharing & Analysis Center, "three shotguns were set up on a platform and linked to a web-accessible camera system that allows the guns to be fired via an internet connection."


A second, identical system was found on the other side of the right-of-way, for a total of six shotguns.


The expensive Benelli shotguns appear to be chambered for 3-inch shells and fitted with magazine extension tubes that increase their capacity from five to as many as eight rounds. Such a system, if fully operational, could direct substantial - and deadly - firepower.


The bulletin, circulated by the Office of Homeland Security, went on to say that the guns were trained toward a food plot, and that their likely intent was for hunting in an area known to be infested with feral hogs.


"At this time there is no evidence to suggest that such equipment was established for any purpose other than illegal hunting activity," the bulletin said. "However, the apparatus could be used for more nefarious activity that would be of direct concern to the Law Enforcement and Public Safety communities."


As you might suspect, there is more to this unusual story, first reported this week by Georgia Outdoor News.


You can read the complete account  - and the updated results of the investigation -  in our outdoors column, coming Sunday in The Augusta Chronicle.