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Hunting angers residents
Game warden cautions hunters to stay within the limits of the law.

Date published: 1/31/2006

By JODI BIZAR

Residents living along Brooke Road have had it with deer hunters firing at night and from their vehicles or using spotlights.

Hunting at night or using lights to hunt deer is against the law, state officials say.

Capt. Dabney Watts with the local office of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said the precise figures on illegal hunting were not available, but there didn't seem to be an increase this past season, which ended earlier this month.

"It happens in every part of the state," he said. "Some people just have a general disregard for the rules."

He said the unfortunate part of the situation is that the vast majority of hunters obey the law, but those who don't give the sport a bad reputation.

He said hunting at night or from a vehicle is dangerous, and that's why it's illegal.

Furthermore, he said, "You've got an unfair advantage when you do it that way, and there's a possibility that something could happen."

But hunters living in the Brooke area say some might be inclined to violate the law because it's easier to get the big deer at night, especially if you're using a vehicle and lights.

They say they call the Stafford County Sheriff's Office and the game warden, but the violators usually get away.

Watts admits it's often hard to catch violators, but they do get caught. And when they do, they are subject to fines, jail time and a loss of hunting privileges, and can even have their weapons seized.

Hunting violations are crimes ranging from Class 2 to Class 4 misdemeanors, Watts said.

He encouraged residents to report such violations, saying that if an incident happens after 5 p.m. people should call 800/237-5712.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries investigates such incidents, and also tries to catch people by putting up fake deer in areas where they get reports. State employees stake out the areas to see if hunters show up at night. They have been able to catch people in the act.

Deer-hunting season ran from the third week in November through Jan. 7 in this area.

State officials say more 200,000 licenses are issued each year, and the deer population appears to be healthy.

Hunting is permitted on private property with the owner's OK and on certain public hunting lands.

To reach JODI BIZAR: 540/374-5000, ext. 5627
Email: jbizar@freelancestar.com