County legislators vote yes on rifles for deer hunting

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 February 2017 at 9:48 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: County Legislator Fred Miller states his concerns about rifle hunting for deer. Sheriff Randy Bower is in back. Miller cast the lone nay vote about the issue.

ALBION – Orleans County legislators today voted to allow rifles for deer and bear hunting, a vote that wasn’t unanimous.

County Legislator Fred Miller, D-Albion, said he has heard from many in the community who don’t want rifles to be used for hunting deer. Miller owns a hardware store in downtown Albion, and he said many people have come in to share their concerns about allowing rifles in a county with such flat terrain.

Miller also said he has personal experience getting hit by another hunter’s stray shot. About 40 years ago, Miller was out with his dog on Allen Road, near the end of Clinton Street, when he was hit by pellets from pheasant hunters. Miller said he was hit in the face and leg, and his dog also was hurt.

Members of sportsmen clubs attended Legislature meetings in December and January, asking the county to support rifles for big game hunting. (Rifles have been allowed for small game, such as woodchucks, foxes, crows and coyotes.) The sportsmen presented a petition signed by about 500 people, supporting rifles.

There are 62 counties in New York State, and 41 allow rifles for deer and bear, legislators were told.

Legislator Don Allport, R-Gaines, said he was strongly in favor of rifles, noting the 41 other counties support it. Allport also said today’s hunters make safety a priority.

“It’s not like 20 years ago when it was a big party in the woods,” Allport said.

Miller said after the meeting he would have liked more time for the Legislature to consider the issue. Miller said he wasn’t swayed by so many counties backing the measure. He said nearby Monroe, Niagara and Erie counties don’t allow rifles for deer and bears.

“Let’s not rush into it just because other counties are doing it,” Miller said.

Michael Van Durme, a retired chief conservation officer for Region 8 of the DEC, told legislators last month that rifles are much safer than shotguns for hunting.

“I can tell you rifles rounds for white-tailed deer are safer than shotguns,” he told legislators. “As far as a rifle round going long range and hitting people, it just doesn’t happen.”

Sportsmen insisted rifles are safer, because hunters tend to take only one shot with a rifle because they use scope and have better accuracy.

The issue now goes to the State Legislature to enact legislation to allow rifles for big game hunting in Orleans County.

Return to top