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Board passes resolution against Sunday hunting

“The horse is out of the barn with this. We can adopt a resolution, but,” said ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman Monday evening as the Halifax County Board of Supervisors voted 7-0 to pass a resolution opposing Sunday hunting.

Bowman referred to the foregone conclusion that the General Assembly will approve Sunday hunting, and the governor will sign it into law.

(Absent from the meeting was ED-3 Supervisor Earl Womack who delivered his letter of resignation from the board at the conclusion of Monday night’s meeting.)

The full House of Delegates last week passed HB 1237 by a 71-27 vote, and in spite of an attempt to amend the Sunday hunting bill to add a local
option, the bill has now passed the House and the Senate.  

The Senate Agriculture sub-committee passed their version of the bill, SB 154, last week on a vote of 9-4.  It is also expected to pass the full Senate, and Governor Terry McAuliffe already has stated he will sign the bill into law, according to Del. James Edmunds, who is against the bill and voted no on the legislation saying he is very opposed to allowing hunting on Sundays.

The bill will allow Sunday hunting by repealing the current ban on Sunday hunting on private lands.

It will still require hunters to have written permission from the landowner, and hunting with deer dogs will be prohibited. Hunters also will not be allowed to hunt within 200 yards of a house of worship, according to the bill.

Currently, Virginia is one of six states that ban Sunday hunting.

Numerous hunting groups along with the National Rifle Association support the Sunday hunting legislation.

However, rural lawmakers and the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance political action committee are opposed to the bill.

No public hearing was held before the resolution was adopted; however, several citizens spoke to the issue during the citizen comment portion of the meeting following the vote.

Jeff Grimm chastised the board for not holding a public hearing before adopting the resolution opposing Sunday hunting.

Grimm, who owns 100 acres of land he bought “just to hunt on,” said he doesn’t think hunting on Sunday “is a big deal.”

He strongly suggested public comment should have been allowed before the resolution was adopted.

“Please listen to the people. The people are who put you there, and you’re here to represent the people,” he reminded supervisors.

Odie Lewis of South Boston told supervisors he sees hunting on Sundays on his own private land as “a right,” not a privilege.

“I think I’ve earned that right,” Lewis said, adding, “and I’d like to have the opportunity to comment on it.”

Lewis said, according to Del. James Edmunds, five people to one don’t want Sunday hunting allowed in this county.

“However, the rest of the commonwealth doesn’t feel that way,” he concluded.

Gene Riddle of Halifax, who has been “a hunter all his life,” urged supervisors to give Sunday hunting “some thought.”

Josh Hughes warned supervisors, “The good Lord gave the seventh day for rest, so there’s no need to hunt anything on that day.”

Supervisors adopted the resolution that does not support hunting in any form on Sunday beyond what is currently authorized and urged members of the Virginia General Assembly and Board of Directors of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to oppose any additional laws or regulations that would authorize expanded hunting on Sunday.

In a separate hunting issue Monday evening, ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis asked the board to adopt a resolution limiting the hunting of antlerless deer  “to better preserve the hunting traditions of Halifax County.”

Davis made a motion that would curtail the harvest of antlerless deer and align deer hunting days in a manner similar to Mecklenburg and Charlotte counties.

ED-4 Supervisor Bowman offered a substitute motion that spelled out the number of days to 17 that antlerless deer could be killed.

In recent years, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has permitted an extended 43-day antlerless deer season in Halifax County that exceeds the season in neighboring counties.

The result, according to Davis, has been an excessive harvest of antlerless deer.

The resolution calls on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to review the current deer hunting regulations and harvest in the county and reduce the number of days from 43 to 17 when antlerless deer are permitted to be taken to be consistent with adjacent Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties.

Supervisors voted 4 to 3 to approve the resolution with Bowman, ED-7 Supervisor Lottie Nunn and ED-8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne opposing the motion.

However, before the final vote was taken, citizens attending the meeting sought permission to offer their opinions.

“This is not a public hearing,” said Chairman Tom West.

However, at the urging of Nunn and Claiborne, West opened up the floor for comment.

Lewis spoke urging supervisors to “let hunters take care of the deer problem.”

Bernard Mitzler of Nathalie said most of the deer that can be seen lying along the roadside are does, “so you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Matt Gilliam, a South Boston law enforcement officer, said from a law enforcement perspective, the decline in the number of deer accidents and fatalities can be attributed to the decline in the deer population that has resulted from the 43-day antlerless deer season.

ED-7 Supervisor Nunn suggested the district she represents “has many more deer” than in Davis’ district which is located in the northernmost section of the county.

In other business Monday night, supervisors took the following actions:

Set public hearings to be held on March 3 for the board of supervisors and Feb. 25 for the planning commission on a conditional use permit application filed by Pulliam Motorsports;

W. A. Stratton Construction has made the request to build a proposed race shop for Pulliam Motorsports adjacent to 2103 Alton Post Office Road on the south side of State Route 711, approximately two-tenths of a mile east of its intersection with Mill Pond Road (State Route 701.)

 Approved Virginia International Raceway’s 2014 event schedule;

 Heard a monthly status report from Jay Craddock of the Virginia Department of Transportation who notified supervisors the local VDOT office sent eight trucks to Hampton Roads to help with snow removal last week; 

 Appointed Marilyn Murphy to the Southside Regional Group Home Commission;

 Appointed Margaret Hunt and Andrea McKinney to the improvement council;

 Appointed  ED-5 Supervisor Barry Bank and ED-6 Supervisor Larry Giordano to the Southside Planning District Commission;

 Re-appointed Ronnie Vaughan and Will Solomon to the airport commission;

 Re-appointed Mattie Cowan and Mark Trickey to serve on the planning commission;

 Re-appointed Woody Bane, Harrison Conner and Ed Owens to serve on the recreation commission; and 

 Appointed Barbara Bass to serve on the Halifax County Library Board when a position becomes available.