The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: Was vote on Sunday hunting stacked?
The national news coverage may be all about the upcoming presidential election right now, but one ardent proponent for overturning Virginia’s “Blue Law” that prohibits Sunday hunting has his sights more focused on Virginia’s House of Delegates.
Matt O’Brien is the Tidewater man who created the popular Facebook group Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All, and he’s sounding off about what he perceives as a well-orchestrated killing last February of compromise legislation that could’ve partially overturned the ban.
O’Brien points out that a bipartisan bill from Sen. Ralph Northam, D–6th, overwhelmingly passed in the Virginia Senate before the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee effectively killed it with a vote to table it.
O’Brien theorizes that the subcommittee was intentionally stacked with members who would ensure a ban on Sunday hunting would remain intact.
Many General Assembly watchers did believe it had a reasonable chance of passing the full House of Delegates if it made it to a vote.
What really gripes O’Brien is that the opposition came from House Republicans. He even wrote a short commentary outlining his concern that he is sending to editorial-page editors of newspapers around Virginia, including The Free Lance–Star.
In his commentary, he states that his “blind faith” in the Republic leadership is over.
O’Brien said he is a registered Republican and that a common refrain is: “Hunters are conservatives and tend to vote Republican.
“I am a hunter and a registered Republican, and I am no longer blind. I can now see the local politics; where there is support for hunters, and where there isn’t Republicans should no longer take us for granted,” O’Brien wrote, noting that a 2007 survey of licensed hunters by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries showed 63 percent wanted Sunday hunting.
Speaker of the House Bill Howell, responding via email to me yesterday about O’Brien’s concerns over subcommittee composition, stated, “The Natural Resources Subcommittee was not ‘stacked’ by leadership to kill Sunday hunting. In fact, leadership doesn’t make subcommittee assignments—the Committee Chair does. I note that one of the members [Thomas C. Wright Jr., R–61st] has been a member for several years and [James E.] Edmunds [R–60th] and [Tony O.] Wilt [R–26th] have been on since elected in 2010. Matt Farris was elected in 2012 and was put on the subcommittee [by the Committee Chair].”
Howell, R–28th, of Stafford County, said the information he had showed the bill was laid on the table by a 5–1 vote in the subcommittee.
This could end up being a war of attrition. During the last two General Assembly sessions, the anti-Sunday hunting crowd, including the Farm Bureau Association and the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, seemed to be slightly more effective in working legislators at the “grassroots” level and influencing committee decisions.
But it appears pro-Sunday-hunting advocates aren’t going out with a whimper. A national coalition of organizations is expected to refocus its effort this year on the few remaining states with Sunday hunting bans.
FIRE UP THE ASADO
Labor Day weekend is always one of my favorites. It signals a transition from the usually oppressively hot and humid days of July and August and points the way toward the cooler, crisper days of October.
It is also the traditional start of dove season, but more on that next week.
Fishing transitions as well. Freshwater fishing tends to improve significantly as water temperatures cool. Saltwater anglers bid farewell to cobia in the bay and await the fall return of the big rockfish and the last migrations of the tuna.
Impending cooler days and evenings also get me thinking about sitting around an outdoor fire with family and friends, ideally with something slow-cooking over the barbecue coals. Cooking wild fish and game is a passion of mine, a necessary final link in a process that begins with anticipating and planning a hunting or fishing expedition, having the outdoors experience and carefully handling and processing whatever bounty may have been returned by the effort.
A trip to Argentina a few years ago for waterfowl hunting had me enthralled with their unique style of cooking outdoors over wood fires. The “asado” experience in the field can feature anything from birds to whole sides of beef.
This cooking technique is different from a standard spit or rotisserie often seen at North American outdoor roast events. Meat, usually a whole dressed carcass, is attached to a supporting spit that is angled over a low fire or the glowing, hot pieces of split wood.
Technique is everything, and when done correctly the results are delicious.
I’ve always wanted to try this style of cooking here in Virginia, ideally slow roasting a whole deer. The trouble is you can’t just go down to the local hardware store and buy an Argentine-style asado spit. Working with Bob Ackerman at King George Welding, we designed and he constructed
a spit on Labor Day that should hold anything from a small deer to a 100-pound hog.
Now, if we can hurry up and get a little cooler weather, we’ll give it a test with a young deer—can’t wait to smell that chimichurri sauce.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or e–mail at email@example.com.