The bulk of last week's issue was, of course, dedicated to the massive Best of the Triangle section. But we also ran a story by Thomas Goldsmith looking at the contentious issues surrounding hunting deer with hounds and HB 648, a bill designed to regulate the traditional practice ["That Dog Don't Hunt"].
Roger Hinde writes: "Unfortunately, the experience that many landowners in North Carolina and Virginia experience is a shocking disrespect for their land rights and/or landowners themselves under the guise of tradition or heritage. Both of these arguments are meant to somehow supersede your rights, which you have earned when you paid for your land, and they have not. These 'tradition and heritage' arguments lend themselves well to the Southern ear, but sadly it is without merit or weight in light of the many similar arguments for slavery, Jim Crow laws, or blue laws. Just because it has been our past practice does not grant them rights to this in the future.
"Once the discussion moves from a demand by virtue of past usage to one of who has the superseding legal authority, the dog hunters know that their arguments are without merit. Their only recourse is to now shout and thump their collective chests while trying to intimidate the legislatures with their loud voices but minuscule voting numbers. If they truly want the right to have their dogs to cross anyone else's land, let them negotiate those contracts with full compensation. My bet is that they want it for free and at your expense."
Hunter and commenter DRS, however, argues that "there are some nontruths in this article. The hounds are fit and trim just like any athlete. The hounds could not perform their best if they are not well cared for. Most deer hounds I know of are kept in kennels. There are some that have so much desire to pursue game that it is difficult to keep them in kennels. These hounds may have to be tethered for their own safety. I will also say keeping up with the hounds and working to keep them off property that is not ours is a long way from being a lazy hunter. It is a quite active form of hunting. Every property I hunt and most other people who hunt with dogs lease or own large acreage, usually in the thousands of contiguous acres. GPS and other tools available to us now are used to reduce conflict with adjoining land owners."
"The post by DRS is way out there in terms of being factual," counters Carl Demarais. "There are very few dog hunters east of I-95 hunting property with hundreds, let alone the thousands he mentions, of contiguous acres under their control, as he states. The vast majority of these hunters drop their hounds off on a few acres they may control, then allow the hounds to run all over the private property of others, using the age old adage 'my dog can't read.' This is what pisses off those of us who actually do own our land and manage it all year so we can still hunt and enjoy it, only to have that enjoyment taken away because rogue dog gangs feel they can do whatever they want with another person's land.
"This bill"—referring to HB 648—"was right on the money and a commonsense approach to keeping dogs off property they don't belong on. Contrary to the dog-group hype, it did not make a criminal out of anyone for one offense and simply escalated the charges for repeat offenders, as obviously they are doing it intentionally. That's the dirty little secret the dog gangs don't want you to know. They fully understand they are running dogs all over the private property of others who don't want them there, but as long as current law remains, they have the right to do so."