AVON – The Deer Management Committee appeared before the Village Board to request a change to a village ordinance that would allow the discharge of bows and crossbows within Village limits.
Don Mastin, head of the Deer Committee, and a few committee members came prepared with a ‘list of tasks that must be completed before deer harvesting can begin,’ which includes making an exception to the existing rule that no bow or crossbow may be discharged within Village limits.
“We want to get the deer harvesting program in place before the beginning of the 2018 deer season so that deer committee members can enjoy their own hunting season before we start the harvesting program at the end of the 2018 deer season,” said Mastin. “We can’t really go to the landowners and talk about this seriously, be able to get on their land, look to see where are the good places to do the harvesting until we have this statute changed.”
The ordinance change would only allow discharge of bows and crossbows for participants in the Deer Management Committee’s plan. The plan is to set up select hunters over bait stations who will shoot deer at night with the assistance of headlamps and/or lights on their bows or crossbows. The Village Board agreed to set a public hearing on the ordinance modification, which would allow the discharge of bows and crossbows for the purposes of specially authorized deer control.
Mayor Thomas Freeman asked Mastin if the Committee considered an in-season deer hunt rather than waiting until traditional deer seasons were over and committee members already had a chance to take deer.
“We just felt that an in-season hunt was unlikely to be successful,” said Committee member Kevin Allen. “It would have been another element that the committee would have to tackle completely separate from the cull. It would diminish our resources to focus on what we believe to be a more successful strategy. I know I did and I think others felt that deciding who would be allowed to do an in-season hunt and who would not be allowed is an unreasonable task for some of us. I was completely unwilling to decide who should be able to hunt in-season and who shouldn’t.
‘The main reason [I was unwilling to decide this] is for the greed of the antlers,” continued Allen, holding up a large shed antler. “This is a small buck antler I found in the Village, one of the small ones. There would be significant greed for the antlers in the Village and only a select few would actually be allowed to participate in it. The greed for the antlers would forego the approach to reduce the herd. The hunters that would hunt in the Village, we believe, being a hunter myself, I know it would be my strategy to seek these deer instead of those that are truly doing the harm to the Village.
‘That combined with the more visible presence that the hunters would have,” continued Allen. “You’d have hunters during the school day, at all times of the day, going in and out of their hunting locations, you’d have the same risk of wounded deer approaching properties in a hunting situation where you won’t have as good of control over the hunters. In the program, we’re going to have complete control over the hunters, as the Village would and the Committee would. We just felt that those things combined in total really made it uncountable for us to agree to it.”
“In the results of the survey we sent out, we had a lot of comments and again, one of the very prevalent comments was, and I’m kind of paraphrasing, ‘we don’t want this turning into a hunter’s Mecca,” said Deer Management Committee Chuck Kanty. “During a regular season hunt there’s more likelihood that we’ll have more hunters around and it kind of get to look like it’s a privileged hunt for a select few. […] I’ve had a number of people come to me saying they’re definitely in favor of an out of season hunt, during the winter, at nighttime, say ‘no way would I support one during the hunting season.’ […] I think a lot of people want something to be done, I think we all do, whether you’re a hunter or not. But they also don’t want to necessarily see what’s going on. They don’t want to see perhaps a wounded deer, where when it happens at night during winter months, less people around, less likely to have somebody walking through the woods at 10 o’clock at night than you would on a summer night. I truly think that people want something to happen but they don’t want to see it and I think our plan kind of takes care of that. I’m not saying we’re trying to hide it from the people. I think that over bait, and I’m not a hunter so I’m just speaking in layman’s terms here, if you have the deer coming to a feeding station, you can definitely set up your shot to make sure you have a more accurate, more humane kill. And definitely safer. The last thing we want is, say the hunter is all set to take something and here comes some kids out of school and they’re making noise and the deer turns and you miss and you’ve got a wounded deer running across the Village, which could create also during hunting hours more likelihood of car-deer accidents, who knows?”
The Committee would like the Village to designate where it is appropriate to field dress the deer and to approve a $4,500 budget for the purchase of nine mechanical deer feeders, trail cameras, ladder stands, possibly ground blinds, hay bale backstops, and corn for bait.
“We’re in favor of your out of season hunt, don’t get me wrong,” said Freeman. “I think some of the facts you were throwing around, Chuck, are not accurate, because I read those surveys and many comments that I saw didn’t want that. The in-season hunt would be completely controlled and it would open up more area for hunting. […] But that can be addressed. I would hope that with the implementation of the out-of-season hunt that the consideration of an in-season hunt, under a controlled circumstance, with selected hunters that are approved and are allowed by review.”
“The other thing is, we’re thinking that once we get this out-of-season hunt started and perfected, it may be very well that we would take and do an in-season and an out-of-season. We just prefer right now to do the outer season because we don’t think we have the visibility of the people in terms of what we’re doing with the deer.”
The Committee’s membership has declined since its inception in 2016.
“We do have a couple of our members that have resigned and a couple of them that weren’t participating at all and so we dropped them off the Committee,” said Mastin.
A representative of the DEC is reviewing the Committee’s plan. The DEC will ultimately have the authority to grant or deny a special permit allowing the harvest of deer out of season in the Village.
The hunting ordinance modification will be based on the Village of Trumansburg, NY’s Deer Management Program for 2014, available here.