Landowner rights need to be protected

Published 10:37 am Saturday, March 17, 2012

Landowners should have the say in how the deer herd is managed on their property.

In signing over your rights on written leases, you no longer have a say in controlling the herd. It’s no secret; crop damage from deer is significant.

Most of the hunt clubs have no desire to control the herd. Their desire is to grow and harvest big bucks. Their approach is to allow the smaller bucks to live, increase the number of doe, giving birth to more bucks. This is at your expense. If this is unacceptable to you, read on.

Check deer management numbers; the proof is there.

A number of landowners no longer give in to club pressure and their written leases. Other landowners are drafting their own leases. Don’t give up your rights. Think about how you want the herd managed and make sure it is conducted in regards to your wishes.

There was a time when leasing land to clubs was a terrific way to cover taxes and provide opportunity to others. Since the herd was smaller, you didn’t incur any real expense, and the clubs could grow the herd with little impact on you.

Those times have changed. The herd is now so large that the economic impact can be felt in your pocketbook as well as the county’s tax base.

There are clubs that listen to landowners and conduct their hunts accordingly. I encourage you to seek them out if you are going to permit them, and there are other options.

There is great opportunity for additional revenue in commercializing the herd. Others have done so with great success. With some permitted changes to our hunting laws, this could hold great income potential for you as well as the county.

Do the clubs pay you for the muzzleloader season that the rest of the state enjoys? The answer is “no.” They don’t want it, so we don’t have one.

Maybe we would if the landowners asked them to cover the season anyway. After all, they are the ones who don’t want to hunt it, so why should that impact you?

If your goal is to control the herd, there are many looking for a place to hunt. Obviously safety is a concern, but using the load 000 buckshot and standing less than 100 yards apart along roads lends to accidents too.

You might not get sued, but I’m sure you’re more concerned about the potential loss of life. I’m here to tell you the truth — all hunting involves a level of danger. Shotgun hunting has a higher accident rate than either muzzleloader or rifle.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to give a few safety-conscious hunters, who are interested in putting food on their table, the right to hunt and control your herd? You can do this by starting your own club, which hunts under bylaws written by you, the landowner.

The clubs, who have controlled this since 1976, are saying that our record-book deer are going to be a thing of the past if this is allowed, that the way they hunt is traditional.

Are you going to change the crops that you plant? Will you continue planting peanuts, soybeans and corn? These grow big deer. As long as they are being planted, we are going to have record book deer.

These are the facts. Landowners can put in the leases exactly how many deer are to be taken. There should be no problem with the landowners calling the shots; it is your decision to make.

If the clubs aren’t meeting their end of the bargain, maybe there should be monetary penalties? After all, you will be paying for it.

As for tradition, no one is telling anyone they have to hunt muzzleloader. It is only right for everyone to make their choice.

As a citizen who does not have land to hunt, it concerns me that the clubs have authority over landowner rights. Landowner rights should not be determined by clubs or any private organization.

Our hunting rights are determined by the state. As it stands right now, Sunday hunting on private property will be decided by clubs, not landowners or the state.

When purchasing a hunting license, is it a state or county license? The state owns the game within the state. The state controls the hunting regulations. This is not a permit that the counties and cities issue. They issue those because it is within their rights. It is not within their rights to control hunting.

Let us send up a message: It is time to give the landowners back their rights. When all the citizens, who are tired of this type of control, stand up, we will have the majority and the overwhelming presence to enact change. It is the only way to treat all the landowners of Southampton County.

BOB RUDZIK is a Newsoms resident and can be reached at