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OUTDOORS: State considering hunting proposals

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board is meeting in Richmond Wednesday morning to receive staff recommendations and public comments regarding amendments to all hunting and trapping regulations except for those regarding foxhound training preserves.

Staff proposed changes and public comments related to “fox pens,” which are relatively large, fenced enclosures where hounds are trained to chase foxes, were heard Tuesday. People for and against the practice reportedly filled the room.

Following staff presentations and public comments today, the board will vote on which regulation amendments to propose. Another public comment period, from April 2–May 31, will follow.

Among the many recommendations for changes are adjustments to the number of days next season when it would be legal to harvest antlerless deer. Somewhat surprisingly, the DGIF staff recommends both King George and Stafford counties retain either-sex deer harvest all season long.

King George saw one of the steepest drops of any Virginia county from 2011 to 2012, with the deer kill falling 35 percent. Stafford’s declined by 25 percent. Both counties’ deer populations were likely hit hard with an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease. 

Hunter confusion may come when the King George and Stafford recommendation is compared to recommendations for reduced doe harvest days for Caroline, Spotsylvania and Essex counties. These counties also saw reductions in the deer kill, although less than King George and Stafford.

Staff recommendations are available on the DGIF website, People can share comments online through the website, by email or the U.S. Postal Service, or at any of eight public-input sessions across the state. A final opportunity to comment comes June 13, when the board meets to take final action on the proposals.


A North Carolina Senate bill that would allow Sunday hunting on private land by the landowner or by others with written landowner permission seems to have traction.

The bill survived the first reading before the full Senate, then was assigned to a committee. The House of Delegates’ committee or subcommittee level is where the Sunday-hunting bills in Virginia usually get scuttled.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which is similar to DGIF’s board, adopted a resolution last week supporting the bill. Familiar issues such as economic impact and additional opportunities for youngsters and adults with school, sports and work limitations were part of the rationale.

North Carolina already allows bow hunting and falconry on private lands on Sunday. Maryland is increasingly relaxing Sunday hunting provisions, county by county. Pennsylvania is the only nearby state with a near-complete ban, supported by the Farm Bureau. A group there, Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, has been raising money to mount a legal challenge.

Interestingly, in North Carolina, military installations are exempt from any state prohibitions on Sunday hunting. The state’s website notes that, “The Military installations under the exclusive control of the federal government may allow hunting on Sundays with any legal method of take during open seasons.”

The DGIF board passed a similar resolution endorsing Sunday hunting, but it hasn’t carried much sway in the General Assembly. For those in the pro-Sunday hunting circles, a one-liner by “M.A.S.H”’s Hawkeye Pierce character describing the Army seems to translate well to Virginia: 200 years of tradition unspoiled by modern progress.


William A. “Tony” Knight, the man who changed the face of muzzleloader hunting in America, died Monday in Des Moines, Iowa at age 67.

Army veteran Knight transformed muzzleloader hunting from the old Flintlock style rifle to the modern in-line design where the ignition source, a number 11 percussion cap, was in alignment with the powder charge. This resulted in faster, more reliable firing. Combined with rifled barrels and improved bullet designs, muzzleloaders became mainstream.

A Knight rifle was often many hunters’ first muzzleloader back in the 1990s. My first smokepole was a Knight Wolverine, an inexpensive yet highly accurate product.

Knight sold the company to Pradco Outdoor Brands, but the brand faced increasingly creative and competent opposition from other manufacturers and tough sales during the recession. The company was again sold but remains a market contender with 8 models currently in the lineup.

Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at

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