Big game? Now these hunters can really play

He shot game.

That might as well be the motto of the newest professional sports league: the World Hunting Association.

The league, which will begin operation this fall, will award as much as $600,000 in prize money to hunters who rack up the most points shooting whitetail deer with tranquilizer darts.

"More Americans call hunting their No. 1 passion than the game of golf," said David Farbman, a real estate executive and hunter who will be the league's commissioner and chief operating officer. "Sports fans will fall in love with us."

Farbman says he is currently in negotiation with television networks who might be interested in broadcasting the competition. The first of two 16-day tournaments scheduled for this season is tentatively set for the beginning of October in Gladwin, Mich., at Lost Arrow Ranch.

Farbman already has filled five of the 10 hunter spots.

"We're looking all over the country for professional hunters who are strategic, intelligent and adaptive, and who ideally have been in front of the camera before," he said.

Each hunter's score will be determined based on the size of the deer they shoot. Fans will be able to find out more about the hunters — as well as the deer — through the organization's Web site, which will feature profiles on both.

"A lot of people might root for the buck instead of the hunter," Farbman said.

While the World Hunting Association appeared to get off to a good start from a business standpoint, most of its original named sponsors apparently have withdrawn their support, according to statements distributed by those companies. Meanwhile, the league also intends on branding the apparel of the hunters and cameramen with corporations that pay a sponsorship fee.

Jokes Farbman, "I guess we'll know the WHA is big when we have our first hunter strike."

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