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Deer hunting with dogs heats up Wildlife Commission hearing

A crowd of approximately 200 hunters and outdoorsmen gathered Thursday night at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center for the annual District 6 public hearing on proposed regulation changes, with only one of the 43 proposed changes generating significant commentary.

Proposal G-7, which would prohibit the pursuing or chasing of deer with dogs for the purposes of training or hunting on the Pee Dee River Game Land, produced passionate responses from hunters on both sides of the issue.

Jason Ashe of the Big Dog Hunt Club was one of several who spoke in opposition of the proposed change.

“I can’t get behind eliminating a particular type of hunting altogether,” said Ashe, who proposed that dog hunters and still (deer-stand) hunters come together and work things out.

“Face to face always works better than an arbitrary decision,” he said.

Aaron Wiggins of Rockingham spoke in agreement to Ashe.

“Singling out those who hunt with dogs is not right,” he said. “Don’t just shut it down, let the two groups work it out.”

Several others expressed support of the change, citing problems with the control of hunting dogs.

“I’m not here trying to stop deer hunting with dogs on private land,” said Lynn Clodfelter, who leases land adjacent to the Pee Dee Game Land, “but the problems start when dogs stray onto our land. We have one of two choices…try to catch the dogs and return them to the hunters at the end of the day, or just let them go.”

Anthony Young of Concord agreed with Clodfelter.

“I’ve experienced the same problems,” he said, “and one problem is there is no minimum acreage limitation. We (the land owners) always end up being the bad guy.”

Overall, nine attendees spoke against the proposed change, with five speaking in favor.

Commission Vice Chairman Monty Crump of Rockingham, speaking after the meeting on the G-7 issue, said, “Folks need to understand that our (the commission’s) authority only applies to game lands. Private lands that border game lands are out of our jurisdiction.”

When the floor was opened for general comments, Shane Eudy of Oakboro expressed his concerns with unregulated killing of deer by farmers on private land.

“I find deer carcasses in creeks and streams all the time,” he said, stating that he feels the NCWRC’s estimates of deer population and deer harvests are skewed as a result.

State law, however, allows citizens to kill deer on their own land if the deer are damaging crops or property.

Terry Barbee of Concord asked the commission to consider banning silencers on firearms used for hunting.

“I know for a fact these suppressors are being used for illegal night hunting (of deer),” Barbee said.

Clodfelter suggested banning night hunting for coyotes and hogs from Sept. 1 to Jan. 1 as well as a means to eliminate such poaching.

Billy Mills of Albemarle drew applause when he spoke of the need to involve young people in activities such as hunt clubs, hunter safety classes and wildlife education programs.

“Young people are not hunting as much as they were some time back,” he said, noting programs such as the National Hunter Safety Competition no longer exist.

“We need to work on building interest among middle school and high school students,” he said.

In closing, Commission Chair Gordon Myers announced that a group of NCWRC members are planning to meet with interested stakeholders on the G-7 (dog hunting for deer) issue in late January or early February.

“We don’t have a definite date, site or time set, but this will be announced as soon as we do,” he said.