Bow hunting season is in full swing. Historically, Chesterfield County has an active hunting community, but while residents are free to hunt private lands within state law, Chesterfield’s public lands have long been forbidden for hunters. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) has begun exploring the feasibility to lift restrictions on bow and waterfowl hunting from stationary blinds in Chesterfield conservations areas. Further discussion will take place at their next meeting on Nov. 1.
Stuart Connock, Chief of Parks, says that the research done so far finds bow hunting will be the easiest for Parks and Rec. to manage.
Supporters of opening public lands say bow hunting is much different from shotgun or rifle hunting. It’s more difficult because most shots are limited to around 50 yards.
“Bow hunting is as real as it gets,” says avid bow hunter Carl Parsons. “Bows have no sights, pins or scopes.”
Parsons, who uses traditional archery, compares it to what Native Americans and early hunters used.
PRAC members have been receiving requests to bow-hunt in the Swift Creek Conservation Area, which sparked the recent considerations.
PRAC is looking to use surrounding localities that allow hunting on public lands as models to explore the possibilities or recreational hunting on county lands. Because Chesterfield doesn’t have Game Wardens, they would need to establish partnerships with groups and clubs to regulate the hunting.
“Considering higher deer populations and shrinking habitats due to development, Chesterfield lands should be hunted,” says Parsons. “But proper regulations should be in place.”
Opponents to opening public lands are worried about safety. They fear that the safety of bystanders could be threatened.
Hunting is currently allowed on state and national conservation areas in Chesterfield during specific times of the year.
Connock says PRAC has put together a special committee to work with Parks and Rec staff to tackle safety and operational concerns. If found feasible, PRAC will hold a public hearing on the possibility of open public lands for hunting.
The special committee is an ad hoc group of parks, risk management, general services and legal representatives.