Like the breaking of a new dawn, Cabela's Hunting sims arrive with an almost soothing regularity. As other franchises whither and die, Cabela punts out another hunting game every year, sometimes twice.
The hunting company's videogame franchise output totals some 39 games in a 12 year period on multiple platforms, yet their highest all time score on MetaCritic is just 68 (for Dangerous Hunts 2009.)
Their frequency would suggest that somewhere there is a market for them. Somewhere in the backwoods. But we've never met anyone who claims to have bought one. Which begs the question - who the f*** is?
Here's our possible suggestions:
Gamekeeper training schools
Above: Camo, plus shades, plus woods, plus guns, equals DUDE
We're looking at this from a purely practical, training perspective here. Like pilots use a flight simulator before they're allowed to fly a 747 across the Atlantic, we assume gamekeepers have to learn what to do when confronted by a rabid porcupine before
they actually head out into the wilds for real.
However, we'd bet a training school would prefer a more practical, on-the-job approach. After all, while a Cabela's game might teach you that the only solution to a risky encounter with a startled jack-rabbit is to kill it dead, the bit about holding and aiming a gun in a perilous, life-threatening situation can't be taught effectively through the medium of joypad.
Is it the Gamekeeper training schools buying it? Unlikely. They've got no time for games. They've got trees to protect.
People who used to go foxhunting
Above: Sadly not all fox hunters walk around with their tatties out
Technically, fox-hunting (an eccentric UK hunting tradition) is illegal..
To most people, bar the extremist anti-hunt activists, foxhunting is just plain stupid: you can't eat a fox, the animal is ripped apart by hounds at the end of the hunt so there's no tangible 'trophy', the costume the hunters wear is bright red (pointless camouflage in a landscape which is mostly brown, green and grey) and the suggested reason for chasing down foxes is that they worry the hunter's sheep and chickens. In which case surely it would be fairer to arm the sheep and the chickens.
Anyway, it's far from us to pass judgement on the morals of bloodsports here, but it's possible since the banning that UK hunt fanatics are living out fantasies via a game of Cabela's Big Game Hunter or suchlike.
Is it the people who used to go fox hunting buying it? Come off it. They still go out hunting even though it's banned. Who's going to stop them?
Above: Ted Nugent, hero to other Teds, villain to gays, vegetarians and drunks
For anyone uninitiated, Ted is an American guitarist who has strong views about hunting and the rights of animals. The quote which sums him up best is, when asked about the rights of animals he said: "I’m stymied to come up with anything funnier than people who think animals have rights. Just stick an arrow through their lungs."
While we're not suggesting that Ted is responsible for the purchase of every single copy of Cabela's games, it's likely there are plenty of less famous Teds, who together form a posse of Teds, whose number is significant enough to keep Cabela in monkey skin boots.
Is it Ted Nugent buying it? Nah. He's got his own hunting game that he'd be compelled to buy. But the posse of other Teds, is a definite YES.
People that like hunting already
Above: One of the perils of hunting. Getting a savaging off a wolf
This seems to obvious, but consider this - if you had a real gun, a real wood and some real animals to slay, why would you sit in your log cabin doing it on your Wii?
That would be like owning a garage of supercars and then playing Gran Turismo instead of going out for a Sunday drive in your Ferrari.
We're told there is nothing like sitting in a tree for 17 hours staring down a gun sight at a grain feeder 10 meters away. A grain feeder surrounded by replica stoats, doused with stoat pheromones. And you in the tree waiting for a very foolish real-life stoat to show up so you can shoot out its confused little brain.
That's the THRILL of hunting.
Or being driven to the mouth of a cave that has a lion in it and throwing in hand grenades until it's DEFINITELY dead and then having your picture taken with a bit of its bloodied mane. That's got to be the pinnacle of one's existence.
Is it people that like hunting already buying it? No. They get to do it for real.
People that hate animals
We're getting desperate now. But something we heard the other day on TV got us thinking - someone once said Vegetarianism isn't about loving animals, it's about hating vegetables. So maybe if you have a pathological hatred of animals, shooting them in a controlled, fantasy environment could be considered therapeutic. Over, say, kicking pandas.
Above: "F*** off panda, you slow f***ing f***. It's your fault you going f***ing extinct"
Is it people that hate animals buying it? No. And anyway, we're sure one of the main justifications used for hunting animals is that you love them, and in some way by shooting them you are showing HOW MUCH you love them. Unless you're Ted Nugent.
Wii-owners who are fed up of family games
Since the launch of the Wii, Cabela has branched out into casual territory - bundling a bright orange plastic rifle with games like the recent Cabela's Monster Buck Hunter.
Although we have literature to prove that hunting is a family pursuit in many places in the world, and weapons are something to smile and be happy about - we're not sure how this would go down in some households. Especially those with girls going through the vegetarian stages of their teens.
Above: We keep this in the desk drawer at work for when we have kids to teach about shotguns
But maybe that's imposing our own namby-pamby, liberal world view on the poor people who live with the constant threat of coyote attack on their doorstep.
Is it Wii owners who are fed up of family games buying it? Possibly. As long as you kill a deer, fairly, and then make it into a nice venison stew in Cooking Mama.
Ill-informed summation: It's mostly people like Ted Nugent who buy Cabela's games.
So - have you ever bought a Cabela's game? Can you enlighten us with what makes them a worthwhile purchase? We're desperate to find out. Tell us on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below.