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Hearing held on Sunday hunting

January 04, 2002

Hearing held on Sunday hunting



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


Hunters have stalked game on private property in Berkeley County on Sundays since 2001 but the Berkeley County Commissioners could decide next week whether to give voters a say in the matter.

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If the commissioners vote against putting the issue to a countywide referendum, hunting on Sundays during hunting season will continue. If they vote to place the matter on the ballot, voters will decide whether Sunday hunting will continue to be allowed.

More than 30 people turned out Thursday night for a public hearing held by the commissioners on the matter. Only a few speakers spoke in favor of a referendum.

Commissioner John Wright has said he wants Sunday hunting to go to a countywide vote. Commissioners Howard Strauss, the board president, and Robert L. Burkhart would not state their preferences.

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Under state law, hunting on Sunday during hunting season is allowed on private property with the landowner's permission. It is not allowed on public lands on Sundays.

Alma Foley spoke against Sunday hunting, saying hunters have plenty of time to pursue the sport during the week.

"All you men have your time for your quail or deer or to take your boys out. We have one day a week to walk on our property with our family," she said.

Foley said hunters often disregard "no hunting" and "no trespassing" signs.

Raymond Brosius, who said he has been an avid hunter since he was 12, echoed Foley's remarks. He said people need a time when it is safe to walk in the woods, and that Sunday is a day to honor God.

The issue took on religious ramifications with some speakers.

Commissioner Wright, a retired Methodist minister, said he opposes hunting on Sundays because it represents another slide into liberalism for the nation and the state.

Wright said he remembers a time when there were no liquor sales on Sunday, and no gambling, racing or nudist bars.

"It's a dangerous slide toward liberal ways. We need to tighten up. I would not hunt, mow grass or wash my car on Sunday. I only do what you're supposed to do on Sunday," he said.

Robert Eavs said not everybody chooses to go to church on Sundays.

"You can't make people go to church. This is leading up to why I object to a ballot," he said.

"There are too many people inside the city who are not hunters. They would vote it down on religious reasons," Eavs said.

Donald Trumpower, a non-resident who owns property in West Virginia, said 44 states allow Sunday hunting. He said he favors putting the issue on the ballot.

"I'll take my chances," he said.

"They have nine months to walk the woods," Tim Feltner said of those who oppose Sunday hunting. "They can walk on state property. We only have three months to hunt."

Philip Van Dongen said he opposes a ballot.

"Nonhunters will vote no. They will impose their moral values on us. Hunting is extremely wholesome," he said.

C.B. "Butch" Pennington, an announced candidate for a county commission seat, said he was representing the Isaac Walton League of America, which opposes a referendum.

"My personal belief is to let everyone decide," Pennington said.

If it goes on the ballot, sportsmen can organize a campaign promoting Sunday hunting for the referendum.

"They can beat the bushes," he said.

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