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Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: Repealing hunt ban requires better message
Proponents of overturning the Virginia ban on Sunday hunting are already strategizing about how to get this blue-law hangover off the books next year, now that their most promising challenge in years was tabled in a House of Delegates subcommittee Wednesday morning.
Sen. Ralph Northam’s legislation, Senate Bill 464, would have allowed Sunday hunting on private land. It would also have excluded using dogs to hunt for deer, which many Sunday hunting supporters endorsed, given the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance’s strident opposition to lifting the ban.
Northam, apparently, recognizing that his bill was about to be tabled, offered an amendment limiting Sunday hunting to military installations and youth hunters in wildlife management areas.
As many predicted, the sharp knives of the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee effectively killed the measure with a 4–3 vote to table it.
Still, the vote was closer than some expected.
Dels. R. Lee Ware Jr., Thomas C. Wright Jr., James E. Edmunds II and Peter F. Fariss voted to table it. Dels. Tony O. Wilt Jr., Lynwood H. Lewis Jr. and Kenneth R. Plum were the nays. Wilt, according to some General Assembly insiders, had been predicted to be a Sunday hunting opponent.
Writing on the 3,211-member “Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All” Facebook page he started, Matt O’Brien blasted Ware in a posting after the vote, writing: “Delegate Ware (R–Chesterfield, Fluvanna, Goochland, and Powhatan) is the primary reason you will not have the freedom and liberty to choose to hunt on Sunday on your own property or property you lease. Secondary reasons should be directed at the Virginia Farm Bureau and VaHDA Leadership.”
Tyler Meurlin, who attended yesterday’s session, pointed out that a “mere 20-hour public notice was provided in hopes of a quiet and quick killing of our bill.”
Other proponents spoke of requesting the attorney general to review the constitutionality of the ban and the hypocrisy of the House of Delegates in voting to allow hunting of bears, without actually killing or capturing them, to train bear-hunting hounds until 10 p.m. on Sundays.
That legislation, Wilt’s HB 95, has yet to be heard in the Senate.
Interestingly, the ability to sell liquor on Sunday afternoons has passed the House and is now in the Senate.
The deck has appeared stacked in the House committee that routinely gets first crack at any proposed Sunday hunting legislation. The bills never get a chance to be heard in the full body, where the final outcome might be different. Short of committee shakeups, proponents must convince not only the elected officials but fence-sitting citizens in the districts that Sunday hunting won’t be the end of civilized Virginia, as the genteel folk of the fox-and-hounds set and the landed gentry that seem to dominate the Farm Bureau warn.
In other legislative updates, the controversial bill by Sen. Richard Stuart that would have stripped conservation police officers of their ability to stop a person or inspect firearms, coolers, boats or more to determine compliance with laws, rules and regulations without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity was defeated by a 29–15 vote in the Senate.
The legislation, SB 26, made it easily out of the Conservation, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and then squeaked by the Courts of Justice Committee before being voted down.
Stuart’s SB 18, which would have removed authorization for Virginia’s membership in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Compact, was continued to the 2013 session in the Finance Committee after making it out of Conservation, Agriculture and Natural Resources on a 9–6 vote.
A couple of cans were kicked down the road this year and continued to 2013.
Among them were Stuart’s SB 176, which would remove the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ jurisdiction to enforce fishing and boating laws in the waters of Back Bay and the inlets and navigable waters in Tidewater counties and cities.
Another is Wilt’s HB 342, which allows landowners or lessees whose property may be damaged by deer or bear to request that another person or persons be designated to kill such animals upon any written authorization. There are also some fee provisions of this bill that some argue could commercialize wildlife.
TOP BOAT NAMES
On a lighter note, the Boat Owners Association of the United States recently announced the 22nd Annual List of Top Ten Boat Names. They are:
1. Seas the Day
2. Nauti Buoy
4. Dream Weaver
6. Serenity Now
7. Second Wind
8. Liquid Asset
9. Miss Behavin’
10. Blew ByYou
Nauti Buoy, Serenity Now and Blew ByYou are newcomers to the list. Blew ByYou is a parody of an old Roy Orbison song made popular by Linda Ronstadt. Sailboaters are said to like this name. All others have been in the top 10 in some of the previous years.
DROID APP FOR DGIF
The DGIF has partnered with Virginia Interactive to offer an Android version of the Hunt Fish VA mobile app.
The new app is free from the Android Market (market.android.com).
This online tool allows Virginia sportsmen and sportswomen to search a variety of Virginia hunting- and fishing-related information on smartphones.
Users can buy a license through the secure mobile online licensing system; calculate geolocation-based sunrise and sunset times; look up hunting and freshwater regulations, seasons and bag limits; identify fish and check out state records; find boat ramps, wildlife management areas and lakes; and more.
The mobile app for Apple’s iOS devices, downloaded more than 7,000 times so far, was recognized at the 2011 Governor’s Technology Awards, held annually at the commonwealth of Virginia’s Innovative Technology Symposium.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or by email at email@example.com.