There’s no doubt about it…the Internet has really changed the way many of us enjoy our lives. From the ease of using directory portals such as Yahoo or Google, to conducting online banking or stock buying, the Internet has literally changed the way many of us live.
But the Internet has had a tremendous impact on outdoorsmen, too. You can book hunts, check on fishing reports, buy your licenses, in effect you can accomplish almost everything leading up to the hunting or fishing trip itself. You can talk with other sportsmen on message boards, follow the migration of waterfowl, view aerial land photos and maps…just about everything you could hope to do short of pulling the trigger or casting a plug.
Today, however, I’m going to focus on two web sites of particular interest to sportsmen. Both of these sites seem to be patterned after the very successful on-line auction site eBay, but these sites perhaps go a bit beyond what is typically allowed on the world’s number one auction site. Still, before we get on to these sites it should be pointed out that eBay is a tremendous resource for almost everything hunting, fishing and the outdoors…but, it has limitations as you will see.
One of the things you cannot purchase on eBay is firearms. To some extent you can buy firearms components, such as magazines, stocks, parts and accessories, but when it gets into purchasing working firearms those are strictly forbidden on eBay. But not on GunBroker.com. This web site has become one of the fastest growing online auction sites, of particular interest to sportsmen and gun aficionados.
Part of the reason that GunBroker.com works is the involvement of your local Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. You see, when you bid and eventually win a firearm if you are not an FFL dealer than you must make arrangements with one to receive the firearm and ultimately complete the paperwork for legal firearms transfer. Click here to enter your zip code to find a willing FFL dealer, if you do not already know one. Likewise, if you plan to sell a firearm you must send the firearm to an FFL dealer whom the buyer of the item has designated. The fee the FFL dealer will charge to make the legal transfer is usually quite reasonable ($20 – $30 additional to your purchase price).
Even if you are not currently in the market for a new gun I find GunBroker.com interesting because it will give you a good idea just how much that family heirloom is actually worth. And if nobody is selling a gun similar to what you have, there are specialized services to look up the gun’s value and even have it appraised, for a nominal fee.
Furthermore, GunBroker.com has much more than just guns. The best way to equate it is like a virtual gun show where you browse the aisles looking at knives, books, war memorabilia, etc. by simply clicking on the mouse. Imagine, you can do all of this from the comforts of your home while sitting in your underwear at the computer.
The second website does not have the proven success as the first, but I give this one an A+ for the concept. HuntMyLand.com is the brainchild of a Michigan sportsman whose dream was to use the internet to connect sportsmen with landowners. Simply stated, the web site’s goal is to give sportsmen the ability to search and make connections with landowners and then bid on those rights in the form of a property license. The land license issued by the landowner can be for a week, a month or even the entire hunting season.
The main problem I see with HuntMyLand.com is the fact it has been operating for over two years and currently (at the time of this writing, anyway) there are no properties being offered up for auction. The web site, however, boasts of over 800 registered users looking for a place to hunt. This tells me that for this concept to succeed the owner of the site, Mr. Mike Bazzle, must place greater effort toward getting landowners involved…and that appears to be what he is doing by advertising in agricultural medias.
I applaud this effort because the day will come when more and more sportsmen will need to find creative ways to open up new tracts of hunting land. On the other hand, many landowners are not opposed to hunting but they would like to be paid for granting these special privileges. This web site could nicely cover both goals. Personally, I see web sites like HuntMyLand.com as a positive step toward making connections between sportsmen and landowners when those opportunities likely would not ordinarily be available.
Finally, as with all online auction sites, I cannot emphasize enough that the buyer needs to beware. If a deal seems too good to be true then its prudent on the buyer to dig a little deeper to discover why. Before you place your bid ask yourself why hasn’t anyone else considered that item to be worthy of your contemplated bid price? Remember, your next deal might just be a steal…but make sure it’s for the buyer and NOT for the seller.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.