The time is now to end deer hunting with dogs

Published 12:24 pm Thursday, March 3, 2016

Recently, there were two opinion columns in The Farmville Herald that spoke to the sport of deer hunting with dogs (“Keep hunting with dogs legal,” Feb. 5, and “Hunting with dogs is ‘a way of life,’”Feb. 19).

They addressed, at some length, both the love of dogs and the love of the sport by the men and women who support this activity.

I have now lived in Central Virginia for the past 10 years, and my experience has been much different.

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In those 10 years, not a year has gone by that at the end of deer season abandoned deer dogs weren’t running loose on my property, on highways or in parking lots. These “sportsmen” who leave dogs behind no longer need them, and apparently find it less costly to turn them out to whatever fate, which is often being run over and killed.

If you pick up one of these dogs and take it to an SPCA, you will no doubt find the shelter filled with deer dogs abandoned or simply dropped off in the middle of the night. These dogs are guilty of no offense other than that their usefulness has ended.

There was a time when Central Virginia was populated by large estates with large tracts of land where dogs could run all day without trespassing.

Today these tracts — with very few exceptions — have been broken up into smaller farms or housing developments. That makes it impossible to release dogs without having them trespass on neighboring properties where they often run through gardens or flowerbeds.

If there happens to be a still deer hunt ongoing, the dogs disrupt and end any hunting on that property for least a day or two.

Almost always, in my case, when my son and grandson visit for a weekend of deer hunting, their hunt is ruined. In addition to disrupting and spoiling our hunt, we have yet to receive so much as a “by your leave,” much less an apology, from these “sportsmen” whose actions show them to be less than.

I suspect there are dog hunters who do take excellent care of and love their dogs, but from what I have witnessed they are few.

To be sure, there are also some large estates still left in Virginia where you can hunt all day with dogs — but again, too few.

Like many things now gone past us, it is time to end deer hunting with dogs, as much to protect the dogs as for the above-mentioned reasons.      

Leonard Picotte is a Prince Edward resident and a retired senior naval officer. His email address is