Deer Me! Council Mulls Urban Archery

Jeremy Aldrich -- December 8th, 2009

The Harrisonburg City Council tonight considered a plan to allow urban archery within city limits.  The draft ordinance (on pages 160-162 of the Council Agenda Packet) would allow deer hunters to discharge archery equipment from private property, but requires hunters to be licensed, to only hunt during appropriate seasons, and to use stands elevated at least ten feet off the ground.  A public hearing will be scheduled for early next year.

36 Responses to “Deer Me! Council Mulls Urban Archery”

  1. Who within the city limits owns property with a tree stand and a wooded area large enough to make this worth authorizing? Who is requesting this?

  2. republitarian says:

    Big friggin’ mistake!!!!!!!!!

  3. Lowell Fulk says:

    Well golly gee, isn’t that what a public hearing is meant to determine? Like what the public has to say about the issue? Could the two of you kinda calm down long enough to let the citizens of Harrisonburg, who I love and trust, to contemplate this situation?………

  4. BANDIT says:

    …is friggin’ a Christian word? Where does it derive from?

  5. BANDIT says:

    Sorry but, is friggin’ part of your “homeschooling” vocabulary?

  6. JGFitzgerald says:

    “Deer me” is a fairly obvious pun for this topic. I would have hoped for something more arch. But I’ll bow out now, before a language teacher shows me the arrow of my ways. By the way, the word questioned above derives from the frig leaves found on some pre-Renaissance sculptures.

  7. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Nice one, Joe.

    Seriously, though. I don’t see a problem with people discharging arrows to try to hit a deer on their own property, but then what? Usually then the deer is going to run off into a wooded area and you’re not supposed to follow them right away so their adrenaline doesn’t kick in. The deer runs off into a park, and runs near joggers or folks just out for a walk before the deer dies and then the hunter goes in twenty or thirty minutes later and drags a bloody carcass (no four-wheelers) across the park to get it back to their property for field dressing?

    As I understand the current approach, SWAT team members go into parks when they’re closed and shoot the deer with rifles so they die quickly, then discard the carcasses before the parks reopen…less messy and less likely to bother non-hunters.

    I just don’t know any part of town where urban archery is not likely to involve the hunters needing to go onto public land to retrieve the deer. I don’t want to see a trail of blood across the golf course or see some guy dragging a deer across a schoolyard as kids get off the busses.

  8. republitarian says:

    “frigging’ is also slang for “no duh”…look it up.

    Jeremy brings up the largest problem. Arrows can take longer to do their damage, which means longer tracking. I’m sure some animal rights do-gooder will love having a deer with an arrow in it running through their yard and dying right in front of their 10 year old.

  9. Janet says:

    Yeah..lets give permission to a bunch of redneck..drunken hunters to roam the city with bows and arrows. If they miss the deer…where is that arrow going??? Let me know if this law is passed…I’m going to stay inside my house!!

  10. Dany Fleming says:

    Deer roam through my yard everyday. I live adjacent to a private 10-acre wooded lot, owned by an old bow-hunter, that’s a prime haven and route for dozens of deer.

    Can anyone explain to me why this policy would not put my 2 young children and the other neighborhood kids who play in our backyard at incredible risk of an “errant” arrow or wounded deer?

  11. Emmy says:

    I’m guessing none of you hunt?

    While I can’t honestly say I’m a huge fan of hunting, I have two children who are learning the ropes of it and an ex-husband who is a very good and responsible hunter. I also know that when deer populations are controlled it becomes a really big problem.

    Having a hearing to discuss options is a very good idea and if done correctly this doesn’t have to cause any of the scenarios described above.

  12. Janet, it’s unnecessary and unfair to make the assumption that just because you have a bow, you’re a drunken redneck. How does that help the discussion?

  13. Dany Fleming says:

    Emmy – The 10-acre lot attached to me is 50 yards wide and filled with deer. I’m honestly trying to understand what could possibly be “done correctly” that would prevent my kids from an errant arrow or wounded deer?

    If this is about population control, isn’t the current plan better and safer ways? Can someone present the case for safe bow-hunting?

  14. Emmy says:

    My ex bow hunts all the time and hits the deer. Shooting a deer with a bow is not all that different than shooting it with a gun if you know what you’re doing. So this doesn’t have to be as dangerous as you’re making it sound.

    But, like Lowell said, this is still open for discussion, it isn’t a done deal.

  15. Josh says:

    I’ve seen folks practicing their archery skills in Harrisonburg apartment complexes’ green space. :)

    I wonder if that’s legal? Maybe apartment complexes need to include more activities in their residential contracts…

  16. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Miriam Dickler points out that the season would not follow the “urban archery season” in the link, but would be a shorter time frame as specified in the draft. Thanks for the clarification Miriam!

  17. eso says:

    The requirement under this law is for hunting from a 10+ foot stand. That is so you are shooting at a downward angle. That means missed arrows go down into the ground, not out and into other property. While bows are not toys, arrows don’t have the range a stray bullet does. I seriously don’t see any problems with it.

    Instead of paying the city swat team to do it, you have private individuals doing it for free. They will use the meat or donate it to a local food bank. It seems like a win-win to me.

    (No, I’m not a hunter.)

  18. eso says:

    According to Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at (sidebar)
    and (urban archery section, see specific exception )

    It is legal for CCW permit holders to carry a handgun when bowhunting. The purposed city draft law needs to be clarified to be clearly state this so it isn’t invalidated by state law.

  19. Jamie Smith says:

    I wonder if Bucky “I’m just giving back to the community” Berry has a bow! He could fill up a lot of trucks with deer. Hunger in the ‘burg will be a thing of the past.

  20. republitarian says:

    You only have to give back if you’ve taken something…….

  21. BANDIT says:

    How about trapping the deer and taking them out to the National Forrest?….they do that with other animals.

  22. Emmy says:

    The problem with that is that there are still too many. They will come back.

  23. Joe Ebslap says:

    Clearly the best way to control the deer population is to hit them with motor vehicles.

  24. seth says:

    initially, i kind of thought it best to let the swat team take care of this, but then a friend of mine pointed out that it isn’t as if they go out and kill many deer in a single outing (i’d be interested to know exactly what kind of results they get). if it’s true that they’re taking a ton of time hunting each individual deer (not a hunter, so i’m not totally familiar with what goes into killing one of these things), then i think it might be helpful to look at the numbers in terms of what we spend vs what we’re getting (we should be doing that anyway, and i’m kind of surprised it hasn’t been part of the conversation from the start). my gut still kind of says that razor sharp projectiles flying through the city aren’t the best idea, but i’m interested to see what they work out on this.

  25. john says:

    I live on the western border of the city next to 2+ acre wooded area that currently houses two huge bucks, several very large does and not surprisingly fawns every spring. I plant only those plants which deer supposedly find unattractive. I can attest to the fact that if 4 -8 deer sample a newly planted flower, shrub or tree and determine they don’t have a taste for the plant, the plant will not survive. I use repellents, hair, hang irish spring soap and my neighbors all have dogs. This fall a buck broke off a tree planted last year. The buck also horned another tree completely that was also planted last year. The tree broken off may come back from the roots, the horned tree because of the variety is unlikely to do so. I do not hunt, but i can assure you that if the ordinance is passed, i intend to start and i have talked with a number of hunters that are looking forward to taking the trophy bucks in my backyard.

  26. linz says:

    However, population control comes from killing does, not trophy bucks. I don’t want to see that get lost in the ordinance because hunters are itching to take down a trophy buck they’ve had their eye on for years. At some point it ceases to be a sport.

  27. Emmy says:

    I do agree with that Linz.

  28. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Two of the towns that allow urban archery (Christiansburg and Richlands) restrict it to antlerless deer all year long. This makes sense to me if the main purpose of allowing urban archery is to control the deer population.

    Another question came up when discussing this with family: how will hunters finish off deer that don’t die quickly? Usually a hunter has the following options:
    1. Leave it to die for a long time (hours even). If the deer has gone onto someone else’s land or a public park this is a problem.
    2. Shoot it with a pistol. Not legal in the city.
    3. Shoot it with another arrow through the heart. Gonna get bloody, then you’re dragging a bloody carcass around.
    4. Stab it with a knife. Even bloodier.

  29. seth says:

    5. rear naked choke, bloodless and silent
    6. electrocution, also bloodless, but potentially unpleasant odor
    7. lethal injection, bloodless, silent, legal in most states

    have a good weekend guys

  30. Seth, are you joking? Are any of those techniques actually used in hunting deer in Virginia?

  31. rogers3 says:

    Lynchburg has allowed bow hunting for over 3 years with. There have been no incidents of stray arrows hitting children or pets, as one would expect with close range hunting. You never hear about a bow hunter that takes a shot at something he “thought”was a deer.

  32. BANDIT says:

    Videos Deer management program
    The City of Fargo established a deer management program in 2006 to address problems created by a growing herd of deer within city limits.
    The program allows a controlled archery deer hunt each year in limited areas of the city.

    Hunters who participate in the deer management program must complete a training class offered each year by the Fargo Police Department.
    After taking the classes, participants can apply for a bow hunting permit.

    Areas where hunting is allowed
    Fargo Police worked with the Fargo Park District and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to determine where archery hunting would be allowed under the deer management program. Criteria used in selecting these locations were:

    •Potential deer holding habitat
    •Proximity to occupied dwellings
    •Deer herd numbers ascertained from an aerial survey
    •Private property access
    •Public property access
    •Potential for civilian interaction during the archery season
    Police wanted to select areas that kept archers and citizens as far apart as possible and areas that made it likely that archers would be successful in their deer-hunting efforts.

    Up to 30 people can hunt in north Fargo, and 15 spots are authorized for south Fargo. If there are more applicants than spots available, a lottery will be held to select the hunters.

  33. Jamie Smith says:

    Listen Harriasonburgers and you shall hear, the council has left chickens and gone to deer,

    Tree stands will rise, arrows will fly,
    Trucks will be filled by Bucky and Kai.

    At the Starvation Army Ted Byrd will make stew,
    And Carolyn Frank will be there too!

    But wait, dear friends, not yet may we go deering,
    First, we must have another public hearing!

    Bucky will speak, perhaps Ralph will as well,
    Bowhunters will come with success stories to tell.

    Finally the council will make the momentous decision,
    Some will make statements earning them derision.

    Baugh will pontificate, Wiens will whine, Carolyn will ask questions and Byrd will be fine.

    In the end the vote will be a two to two tie,
    And history repeats, it will be up to Mayor Kai.

    He made a good decision in the case of the hens,
    Let’s just hope Richard doesn’t screw it up again!

  34. Watching the city council meeting now where there will be a public hearing about urban archery. I emailed the council members today with the following message:

    “The general consensus seems to be for allowing urban archery in Harrisonburg. The questions that remain for me are:

    1. What would be the options for deer who don’t die quickly? Bow hunting is not as sure of a kill as rifle hunting, and because the struck deer might have fled to public property or the property of an unwilling neighbor, finishing the deer off and retrieving the carcass might be issues. [In further study after I sent the message, I learned that some wounded deer travel up to 200 yards after struck, meaning that the deer could fall 300 yards from where the hunter shoots (allowing 100 yards for a long-range bow shot). I wonder how many hunters will get permission from every landowner for a fifth of a mile in every direction from where they’re hunting.]

    2. Is this really going to make any dent in the deer population? It seems that many of the hunters who support this measure are eager to capture trophy bucks, which does little for reducing the number of reproducing deer. That is why some cities (like Christiansburg and Richlands) limit urban archery to anterless deer, which I think is worth considering in Harrisonburg. If the purpose is to reduce deer population, then it needs to emphasize hunting does rather than bucks.

    According to a fact sheet from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries: ‘Deer populations can grow rapidly because does breed early (generally at 1 year-old), have twins most years, and continue to breed into old age (often 8-10 years). One buck can breed with many does, so removing bucks impacts populations little. Does control deer populations, so deer population management must focus on does.’

    Good luck and thanks! “

  35. Motion carried as written.

  36. BANDIT says:

    Too Many Deer? Call in the Wolves, Scientists SayUpdated: 5 hours 30 minutes ago
    .Print Text Size E-mail MoreTraci Watson
    (Feb. 1) – Scientists are calling for a formidable new cadre of pest exterminators to prowl America’s national parks: wolves.

    A coalition of researchers has proposed trucking wolves into parks and other wild places to curb booming populations of deer and elk, which upset the natural order by mowing down native vegetation.

    Torsten Silz, AFP / Getty Images
    Using wolves to keep deer and elk populations in check could “help bring ecosystems back into balance,” wildlife biologist David Licht said.
    The researchers argue that even a small number of wolves living in a small park could do a lot of good. They say that fences, birth control and other methods could be used to keep the wolves from spreading outside the park boundaries and eating local sheep, cattle and pets.

    By “using the wolf as a tool,” park managers could “help bring ecosystems back into balance,” says Daniel Licht, a wildlife biologist who leads the scientists advocating this approach. “There would be enormous positive benefits, and they would outweigh the negatives.”

    It’s an odd twist for a species that Americans once tried to eradicate. Bounties for dead wolves were offered as late as the 1960s, and by the early 1970s the wolf had been erased from all but a tiny corner of the contiguous United States. Protected in 1973 under the Endangered Species Act, the wolf has made a gradual comeback.

    Now an animal long regarded as vermin could help eliminate the vermin plaguing national parks and many other wildernesses. Licht points to the ripple of changes at Yellowstone National Park after wolves were imported to the park in 1995. Wolves began chasing the park’s elk, which meant the newly wary elk spent less time snacking. That allowed more willow trees – a favorite elk munchie — to grow, encouraging the comeback of beavers and songbirds. Grizzly and black bears, which feast on the carrion from wolf kills, have also prospered.

    Wolves could help knock many other landscapes into shape, Licht says. He thinks the main obstacle to getting help from wolves is not the wolves. It’s tradition.

    Importing a small number of animals “as a stewardship tool … is counter to 100 years of wildlife management in America,” he says. “It’s going to take a different paradigm” – as well as a fair amount of money to build fences, attach tracking collars and provide contraceptives to keep the wolves from spreading to places where they’re not wanted.

    Others say wolves, which have rebounded so well that they’ve been taken off the endangered species list in many places, are too wily to be managed like sheep.

    “Wolves are going to be wolves, so depending on fencing is probably not a very practical solution,” says Bob Irvin of Defenders of Wildlife, one of the foremost groups advocating wolf restoration. “They are pretty adaptable (at) occupying habitat and also spreading to new habitat.” He worries about trouble in communities, leading to “new hostility toward wolves” if the animals colonize surrounding neighborhoods.

    If wolves broke out of the parks where they were at work, environmentalists would fight to let them continue to spread, fears John Youngberg of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation, which represents ranchers and farmers.

    “On paper this might look like a great idea,” he says. “But … you have too many outside influences, political and human-caused.”

    The scientists’ wolf proposal appears in the February issue of the scientific journal BioScience.
    Filed under: Nation, Science

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