BURGER, WA - In the shadow of Mt. Rainer, Shooting Monkeys in a Pit once again welcomed customers, giving families a chance to fire rifles down into a pit full of foaming, rabid monkeys. "This business was my dad's idea," said owner Granger Hopt. "He was eating frozen waffles when two old sayings clashed in his head: 'More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys' and 'Shooting Fish in a Barrel.' Well, dad thought, 'What if you shot monkeys in a barrel? And what if those monkeys were stuffed full of plague or madness? You don't get that at Six Flags.' The rest is history, except for the lawsuit and some other stuff."
In 2006, a family sued, claiming they were misled by Hopt's sign and subsequently shocked at seeing patrons firing military surplus M-14 rifles - M1 carbines for youngsters under 8 - into a pit filled with howling, vicious monkeys and apes. The suit spawned an injunction closing Hopt's business while the case dragged through court. In late 2009, a judge ruled for Hopt, stating there was no deceit in his sign. "The opposing lawyer claimed our sign could be thought of as a metaphor, thus misleading. But the judge said our advertised activity was explicit and not implied. So everything was cool, except for some federal stuff involving rabid animal importation."
Business was slow the day I attended, with only a scattering of shots, monkey snarls, and excited kids' voices. Hopt pointed out the bullet-pocked Lucite sheets ringing the 14-foot deep pit. "That was my idea," he said proudly. "Before, it was just sandbags and plywood. Monkeys would escape all the time. People would be wheeling around, cranking off shots, trying to pop Jocko before he reached the tree line and spread his ape madness all down the Cascades. But a lot of stray rounds hit the gift shop and concession stand. Once I put in Lucite, none of 'em got out unless it was in a pine box filled with bananas. Just kidding. We don't bury nothing. We burn the bodies over at our other business, Burning Rabid Monkeys in a Pit. People who visit there are a special breed. Pretty tight. They got their own Facebook page." (Photo: Israelly Cool)