Hunting for Bambi – by Joe Oesterle

In  2003, Las Vegas businessman Michael Burdick, set up a website which offered anyone with ten thousand dollars the chance to arm themselves with live ammo and hunt real human beings.

It is more than a tad reminiscent of the classic 1924 short story by Richard Connell, entitled “The Most Dangerous Game,” in which an expert big game hunter, bored with conventional prey, decides humans are the only quarry worthy of his own cunning. The chief difference between that well-known piece of fiction, and Burdick’s website, is author Connell did not have the foresight to depict his hunted protagonist as a naked woman, nor did it ever dawn on the early 20th century essayist to have his marksman use a paintball gun. Michael Burdick did both. promised each hunter would be flown to Las Vegas and given the opportunity to choose between a menu of thirty different naked women. According to the site, these women were all paid volunteers, and ranged in attractiveness between the “girl next door,” to the “perfect 10.” The site also assured the consumer would “chase down (the women) and shoot (them) like dogs.” There was also a liberal amount of sophomoric innuendo and entendre throughout the site as such obviously hilarious double-meaning words like “rack” and “mount” are peppered into almost every other paragraph.

The website grabbed nationwide media awareness shortly after local KLAS newswoman, LuAnne Sorrell broadcasted an on the scene report of an actual “hunt” in progress. The segment garnered such attention that soon it seemed every media outlet including USA Today, NBC News, and the Howard Stern Show had devoted a fair amount of time commenting on the story.

Nevada politicians, most notably Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, were not pleased at the coverage Michael Burdick was bringing to their fair city, “We’re going to prosecute him to the full extent the city can, and do everything we can to make sure he doesn’t do any business in the city from this point forward,” blustered an angry Goodman.

The irony to all this is just like “The Most Dangerous Game,” “Hunting For Bambi” was just a story, or more to the point, a story conceived and executed with the sole purpose of selling DVDs and VHS tapes of the staged hunts.

To this day Burdick refuses to admit any of the hunts were phony, and while the website doesn’t appear to have been updated since 12/22/04, the sub-menus still seem to be accepting applications for both hunters and Bambi dolls. The biggest change in the site since Goodman’s threat to prosecute Burdick has not been the content of the video, but rather the marketing of the product. The tone has changed from reality to satire.

This is an example of the marketing (from before Goodman started looking into criminal charges:

“…without a doubt one of the sickest and most shocking videos ever made. Women are screaming with fear as the Team Bambi hunters track them down and blast them with paintball guns. You’ll also see an actual road kill scene as a semi-truck takes out Bambi on the highway, not to mention fat chicks fighting in the mud, and much, much more.”

Today the tagline is simply, “The most hilarious video ever made.”

The moral of this story is simple. If you have 10,000 extra dollars laying around, you can easily afford to buy a copy of Richard Connell’s thrilling page-turner, and Michael Burdick’s safari-spoof video and be left with more than enough cash in your pocket to strike up a bargain with a pretty good looking girl to do just about anything you want her to do with a paintball. After all, this is Vegas.


2 thoughts on “Hunting for Bambi – by Joe Oesterle

    1. Hey, thanks for checking it out Odette. (watching last week’s LOST as I type this)
      Hard to beat LOST as a writing subject. 😉

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