- Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:10
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The Hunter/Landowner Advisory Committee met on Feb. 12 in the sheriff’s office building as their annual follow up to the hunting season to hear of any issues arising between hunters, hunters and landowners and receive reports from the sheriff, animal control and VDGIF Conservation Police Officers (CPO).
Notable attendees included Jim Morgan and Buddy Fines, who work together to serve the community. Sheriff Dempsey was in attendance, Animal Control Officer Kevin Eller gave a report and three Conservation Police Officers were on hand. They included Sgt. Rich Goszka, Senior CPO Frank Spuchesi, who is our regional K-9 Officer with VDGIF, and CPO Josh Jackson.
Also attending and presenting a report on Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) and our local harvest report was VDGIF wildlife biologist Todd Engelmeyer. Jim Hackett of the Virginia Dog Hunters Alliance gave a presentation on his Political Action Committee and their work at the end of the Virginia legislative session.
Sheriff Dempsey shared that overall the complaints about hunters or hunting related incidents went down as did vehicular collisions with deer from the previous year. CPO Jackson took the podium and noted that there were no reported hunting accidents, which was great news.
Animal control followed up with a kudos to hunters, stating that 58 dogs were picked up but only three of those were confirmed hunting dogs. These days hunters are using tracking collars to keep tabs on their dogs and that helps them collect dogs at the end of the hunt. Eller also noted that at the end of April or the beginning of May he expects to hold another rabies clinic.
Buddy Fines noted that Hunter Education classes are numerous in the region and they are filling spots now. Please register online for the classes. You can call him at 775-7294 if need be.
Todd Engelmeyer did a wonderfully informative presentation on the impact of HD in Virginia and particularly to our local herd. His data has not been finalized, but preliminary figures show that King George might have been the hardest hit county in the state. Right now the figures they have tabulated are indicating a 25% - 30% decline in the harvest. The good news is that with some possible reductions in doe days next season the deer herd should bounce back in a few years to previous levels. Watch the regulations to see what changes.
Engelmeyer also encouraged hunters to watch the VDGIF website (www.Huntfishva.com) for proposals coming soon about recruiting hunters and particularly youth hunters. Hunter numbers are declining across America in general and we have to do something about it. It would behoove all of us to participate in passing on our tradition.
Hunters are the strongest and most effective management tool for wildlife there is. Of course we all know that the meat we harvest is much healthier for us to eat than what we can purchase in most instances.
Near the end of the meeting Jim Hackett with the Virginia Dog Hunting Alliance made a pitch for hunters to get involved with his group and stand together to defend hunting against the attacks by Humane Society of the United States. For regular readers you will likely remember a column I did about this group. Although they stage a pretty but false front of helping animals, little to no money reportedly goes to shelters.
Check out how often they have been investigated and had judges rule against them. Much of their money goes to harassing legal animal owners and hunters or paying lawyers to get them out of a jam. Hackett pointed out that none of his people get paid for what they do. He claimed all of donations go to protecting hunting and the use of dogs for hunting. vahda.org
Two issues did come up during the meeting that were immediately addressed. One couple asked what they could do to fight off trespassers on their land. Apparently the trespassers have been caught on camera, they use ATVs and even hunt and shoot on the property. I can relate to the frustration of the couple, as I have had to deal with trespassers several times this hunting season alone. VDGIF CPOs were consulted and many of the hunters to include Jim Morgan, Buddy Fines and Rick Wilks and others, spoke with the landowners offering suggestions. Hopefully the trespassers will be caught soon. CPO Jackson said he would visit the property and make suggestions and hopefully catch them.
Another landowner that said he did not hunt but was inquiring how he could keep trespassers off his property. He stated that he had POSTED his property with the state required silver vertical stripe of paint, but was not satisfied that hunters would be able to see it easily. He had a very good point and many in attendance agreed with him that silver paint on a gray barked tree like a beech would be tough to see, particularly in low light. A comment was made by Morgan to petition our delegate or senator to change the code to use blaze orange paint to mark boundaries and POST land.
Overall the meeting was very cordial and the information shared was encouraging. The hunting season went well and relations between hunters and landowners appeared to be continuing to move in the right direction. The next meeting will take place at the sheriff’s office on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.
Ice Breaker Bass Tournament
The annual Weekend Basser’s Ice Breaker bass tournament at Motts Run is scheduled for Sunday Feb. 24 and Sat. March 9 at Motts Run. The time is 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. The entry fee is $35 per team and $5 going to the big fish. There is a 70% payback and 30% goes to the annual Kids’ Fishing Derby in June. Jon boats will be available to rent. Contact Ray Thomas at 540-898-7542, Dickie Musselman at 540-785-8087 or Steve Tinsley at 540-752-5716.