Uncategorized

Up in Arms over the Right to Shoot Varmints (Gardens and Guns Indeed!)

GroundhogmorgueThe new police chief in Culpeper, VA thought it would be simple enough to outlaw the kinda dangerous practice of varmint-shooting in people’s suburban back yards, but he hadn’t heard from the Virginia Citizens Defense League yet.  Turns out the right to shoot groundhogs is considered self-defense in some parts, and an armed insurrection broke out in the city council chambers.  In the end, a compromise was reached – outlawing the practice on properties smaller than an acre (after he declared his own affinity for shooting groundhogs).

Source (via Craig at Ellis Hollow.)

Photo via Morguefile.

Posted by on October 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm, in the category Uncategorized.
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16 responses to “Up in Arms over the Right to Shoot Varmints (Gardens and Guns Indeed!)”

  1. gardenmentor says:

    Culpeper? Having spent much of my childhood here, I’m quite familiar with the lay of the land and the gun-totin’ attitude. I can just see the little county seat under attack by my farmin’ cousins insisting on their right to shoot anything from an empty Moonshine bottle (Virginia Lightening is made and legally sold in Culpeper these days) to every critter that threatens their riding-lawnmower-perfect grass ‘scapes. Thanks for the trip down Imagin-memory lane…

  2. greg draiss says:

    I bet the crime rate there is low since many citizens LEGALLY own their guns…..

    The (NRA supporting) TROLL

  3. If I could shoot moles I would, slugs too for that matter, lol! I don’t care about my lawn but the stupid creatures won’t stay out of my garden…gotta draw the line somewhere! They have 10 acres I let them roam in, why do they have to eat my little sliver of land?

  4. In the words of Arlo Guthrie,
    ” I wanna kill, kill, kill. ….
    …. boy, you’re our man. ”

    blind justice .

  5. Dave M says:

    My design practice is based in Culpeper, actually :)

    You know… part of the problem is the dichotomy that has developed in Culpeper. On the one hand, we’re pretty country. The county farm service is still right in downtown, you see lots of John Deere caps and overalls, and many folks are old-school conservative. On the other hand, we have great shops, fine dining, and arguably one of the best wineries in VA right here in the county.

    Anyhow, this is just part of life in central VA. Executive chefs from the DC area retire and open restaurants here; and last year, we had a police pursuit where the cops chased down a drunk- who was riding a horse. To 7-11. You take the bad with the good, I guess.

  6. Armed insurrection? ROFL! Hardly. But nothing wrong with having a good imagination.

  7. Dave M says:

    That’s ok, Philip, we LOVE people coming in from out of town to tell our town council what to do. I live in a historic home in downtown, and my house is twelve feet from my neighbor’s. Under what set of moronic circumstances is it a good idea for him to discharge a firearm so close to me and my family?

  8. Barbara says:

    Why do you have to KILL?
    It (was) their land…

    In most (sane) cities a firearm cannot be discharged. Period.

    I put a few string beans in front of and in the back of the Have-A-Heart, put an old blanket on top once in there, put it in the car and drive 10 miles to a state park to set the ground hogs free.

    I will not breathe fully until mid-December when the wild turkey and deer families are safe. Do you think these fat guys eat their kill? No – the “thrill” of death is what Joe 6-pack-of-Bud savors.

  9. Sailorcurt says:

    Under what set of moronic circumstances is it a good idea for him to discharge a firearm so close to me and my family?

    Any circumstance in which it would endanger your family is already illegal under state law.

    Do you think making it “illegaler” would somehow make you safer?

    Or would this have just been “a good first step?”

    From what I hear about the meeting, there were plenty of Culpeper residents in attendance. Phillip is the President of an organization with thousands of members throughout the State. He would be doing a disservice to those members if he only took an interest in happenings around his personal home.

    You take the bad with the good, I guess.

    The only question is, which do you consider “the bad” and which “the good?”

    Are the John Deere hat and bib-overall wearing residents, who’s families have probably lived there and farmed there for generations “the bad?” Or are the rich, self-righteous city folk who escape the oppressive cities to invade the countryside…and then demand that the country folk change their entire way of life to suit the invaders…”the bad?” I guess it depends on your perspective.

  10. Brett Myers says:

    “I will not breathe fully until mid-December when the wild turkey and deer families are safe. Do you think these fat guys eat their kill? No – the “thrill” of death is what Joe 6-pack-of-Bud savors. ”

    That’s a pretty naive assertion. I’ve never met a deer hunter or turkey hunter who didn’t eat what he shot. Deer and turkey (and other non-“big game”) hunts are not trophy hunts. Sure, the hunt can be enjoyable, but no self-respecting hunter wastes a perfectly good kill. That’s just silly.

    And that’s not to mention the need to control the population of these animals (especially deer) in an environment where essentially all their natural predators are gone.

    As a gardener, you really should be a little more aware of the environmental ecology. Like the micro-ecology of your garden, when a part of the system is removed, the system fails. It is an unfortunate fact of our nation’s history, that we removed 99% of the natural top predators from the environment – that is why, now, we have to fulfill that role to keep the system in balance.

  11. Dave M says:

    Riiight, because by identifying that there ARE diverse populations in town I automatically MUST feel that one is good and one is bad. Don’t put words in my mouth, bud. I also love the assumption that if I’m new to the area I must be some rich, latte-drinking aristocrat in a Mercedes SUV. I’m just another pickup-truck driving landscaper- spent all day today on my knees laying a patio. If I had to guess, I’m probably more “Joe the Plumber” than you.

    I don’t think the issue at hand is anyone trying to change someone’s entire way of life. Spare me the “they’re coming to take our guns next” histrionics. It’s not like I’ve heard nightly gunfire since moving here; it’s more updating the laws to reflect the increased density of the town. Laws should change with the times. While it may be funny that it’s illegal to wash a donkey on a public street in Culpeper, that law can probably go away too.

    I have no problem with responsible gun ownership. I enjoy shooting (used to be pretty damn good, in fact) and guns can be effective tools. But just like you wouldn’t divide perennials in a garden using a 20,000 lb excavator because the potential for damage exceeds the potential for good. Same with shooting varmints on a small city lot. For crying out loud, use a trap. It’s not a hard concept.

  12. Mad Tomatl says:

    Oh, please, don’t shoot a deer.

    Ten years ago, there was one or two in our neighborhood, but we seldom saw them because they were well hidden in the understory of our woods, they generally came out only at night, and their damage was negligible.

    Five years ago, there were 5 or 6, and the understory — with its native flowers and shrubs — began to disappear, though we seldom saw the deer, as they still came out mostly at night — to eat more and more of our landscape.

    Now the native flowers are gone from our woods –and most of the rest of understory too, except an occasional greenbrier and old, woody stems of multiflora rose. And we see deer all day long — as they now must come out of the woods to eat because there’s nothing left in the woods for them. We now see from 15 to 20 at a time during the day.

    I’ve caged all our young, under-6-foot natives trees — red maples, white oaks, black gums, dogwoods — to keep them from getting devoured. I’ve girdled their trunks with hardware cloth to keep them from getting rubbed to death. And now the deer have taken to ripping off the cages to get at the young tree leaves — and they’re eating non-native and even “deer-resistant” plants they once ignored.

    Maybe someone who loves to garden less would just give up and plant something made of plastic. Or spray 3 acres of landscape with rotten-egg mix. Or hang a few hundred bars of soap.

    Oh, please, don’t shoot a deer. It may be the one who eats the last green leaf in this neighborhood.

  13. kim says:

    “until all the deer families are safe.”

    All I can say is that it’s far better (and much less cruel) to shoot some and thin the herd than have them starve to death, which does happen in some areas in hard winters. The deer population here in the mid-Atlantic is far greater than it was when Columbus arrived in the Americas because we’ve killed off all the predators. I’m not just a gardener wanting to protect my garden, I’m also an animal lover who can’t stand the thought of an animal starving to death.

  14. I am currently surrounded by hunters and will be until about mid-January I think. I am new to this so it is a bit unnerving to have truckloads of strange men in orange caps and vests parked along the road just outside the drive. A trail that leads far into the woods tracks right along side our property line. The men in trucks are often accompanied by baying hounds with radio tracking collars that are let loose to roam the mountains looking for an assortment of varmints large and small. This is the country, not suburbia, but the same concern exists. Do these men in neon orange accessories pay attention to where the houses are?

    I don’t hunt. I won’t even shoot the varmints that eat the bird food that a certain other person here will target with a vengeful determination. There was only that one accident where he shot the hummingbird feeder. Do the men with hounds have a setback distance from houses before they will open fire?

    I don’t have a problem with the idea of hunting and killing varmints large and small. Humans are predators. It is still part of our nature. I am certainly not going to move to a place and tell people how they should live their lives and what they can and can not do. I make my presence known. I wave to the men with cages in the back of their trucks when I see them parked outside the drive. There is a house up here with people living in it. Don’t shoot here.

    I have been to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website to see what I am up against. Every last critter it seems is regulated by hunting season and bag limits. You need a permit to shoot a possum. You’re kidding me.

    Like any group of people the hunters will be comprised of the ones who follow the law, respect the limits placed on their sport to preserve the game for future generations and to ensure the peace and tranquility of their community. Then there are the ones that like to shoot road signs. The good ones are likely to far outweigh the bad. As long as all them know where the houses are, I can handled being surrounded.

  15. Lisa Albert says:

    I agree with your last statement, Christopher. My cousins grew up on a farm, the same farm my mom grew up on. Hunting was a part of life just as much as getting up in the wee hours to milk the cows. I remember helping pack shotgun shells (the machine fascinated me) when I was old enough to be allowed to help. They hunted but they always practiced gun safety and wise huntsmen skills. I never hunted (they had to get up too danged early for this sleepy head to join in) but I did enjoy doing target practice with them.

    As for the brainless ones, well, I can’t help but recall a phone call that came into the Master Gardener office one day when I was working the phones. It went something like this:

    Caller: “Hey, uh, I’ve got carpenter ants bad! They’re crawling all over the inside of my walls! What do I do?”

    When asked how he knew they were inside his walls, he replied: “Because I can see them through the shotgun holes I shot in the walls trying to kill them!”

    Wow, talk about overkill….

    Barbara, trapping and releasing may not be as kind as you think. Forget that you’re just moving your problem to the state park to become a headache for the park rangers (and it might be illegal, depending on your state laws). You’re adding a groundhog to an area that may not be able to support another animal. I used to think as you do until I talked to local wildlife and pest control agencies and learned more of the big picture. I realized that while it feels good to think we’re sparing its life, it’s not the kindest action if we’re setting it up for starvation or unknowingly releasing a diseased animal into a healthy population. Sometimes the kindest action is a quick, painless death. But shooting within town limits is downright stupid, especially when there are alternatives.

  16. Sailorcurt says:

    [Quote]Riiight, because by identifying that there ARE diverse populations in town I automatically MUST feel that one is good and one is bad. Don’t put words in my mouth, bud.[/Quote]

    That’s funny. I could have sworn that the comment that I was responding to said:

    [Quote]You take the bad with the good, I guess.[/Quote]

    In fact, I quoted that statement in my comment before responding to it.

    Furthermore, you were the first to draw the distinction between…and I’m quoting again here, so if I’m putting words in your mouth, I’m putting your own there:

    [Quote]you see lots of John Deere caps and overalls, and many folks are old-school conservative. On the other hand, we have great shops, fine dining, and arguably one of the best wineries in VA right here in the county.[/Quote]

    and

    [Quote]Executive chefs from the DC area retire and open restaurants here; and last year, we had a police pursuit where the cops chased down a drunk- who was riding a horse. To 7-11.[/Quote]

    Please explain to me how responding to a direct quote and your obvious stereotyping and bigotry is “putting words in your mouth?”

    If you don’t like being stereotyped, perhaps you should avoid engaging in the practice yourself hmm?

    As far as “updating the laws” I actually agree with you. But you failed to even attempt to address the point that these issues are already covered by state law.

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