Southampton supervisors, farmers oppose Sunday hunting

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, January 25, 2012

COURTLAND—Virginia Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm advocacy group, continues to oppose Sunday hunting, as do some members of the Southampton County Farm Bureau as well as the Southampton County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors on Monday voted 7-0 on a resolution to oppose hunting seven days a week. Supervisor Bruce Phillips on Tuesday delivered the resolution to lawmakers in Richmond. Also on the board of directors for the Southampton County Farm Bureau, Phillips opposes Sunday hunting.

“I think that both on a religious basis, and we have too many country churches,” Phillips said. “We don’t want dogs running through the yard and people shooting. It’s a day of rest, and we are a Christian community.”

He also favors giving those who don’t hunt a day in the woods without gunfire.

The state Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee last week voted 11-4 to allow Sunday hunting on private lands with landowners’ permission. The full Senate will vote soon on the bill, and similar House of Delegates bills also will be heard in subcommittee.

Sen. Harry Blevins, a Republican from Chesapeake, who represents portions of Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, serves on the agriculture committee. He favored lifting the ban.

Larry Fowler, vice president of Southampton County Farm Bureau, is also opposed to Sunday hunting.

“I come from the old school,” said Fowler, a chemical salesman from Newsoms who serves the agricultural community and is a member of Newsoms Hunt Club. “I think that one, you don’t want people shooting when (others are) in church, or near a cemetery. Sunday is a time to worship and a quiet time.”

Chris Simms, another director for the Southampton County Farm Bureau, agrees.

“I’m a big hunter myself and I grew up hunting,” said Simms, a Sedley-area farmer. “Sunday was a day of rest, not just from the church standpoint, but also from the standpoint that’s a day for me to go into the woods and not have to worry about anyone else taking a shot.”

Virginia is one of 11 states that prohibit hunting on Sundays.

“Virginia Farm Bureau Federation opposes hunting on Sunday,” said Wilmer Stoneman, associate director of governmental relations.

“People are trying to couch this as a private property issue, but if it is, then you should be able to hunt and fish on private property 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, not just on Sundays.”

For decades, Farm Bureau members in Virginia have discussed and voted in favor of opposing Sunday hunting, Stoneman said. In policy discussions among elected representatives of the organization, members cited faith-based beliefs as well as the ability of horse owners and riders and landowners to use the outdoors one day a week without worrying about hunters.