Legislators continue to hear about allowing rifles for deer hunting
ALBION – Orleans County legislators continue to be pressed to allow rifles for hunting deer and bears.
Several speakers urged the Legislature to support rifles for big game hunting. On Dec. 21, several leaders of the sportsmen’s groups in Orleans stated their support for the measure.
On Wednesday, the former president of SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education) said not all hunters favor allowing rifles for shooting deer and bears.
“I’m not 100 percent in favor of it,” said Emerson “Tinker” Young, the past president of SCOPE. “There’s not enough guys out there with common sense.”
Young said high-powered rifles can send ammunition 1,000 yards. He worries some hunters would empty their rifle shooting at a deer, and those bullets could hit houses.
“There’s a lot of people out for this and I understand what they’re saying,” Young said. “I just wish we could sit down and figure out a way so guys don’t misuse it.”
Doug Piedemonte of Holley said he would support allowing rifles. His house has been hit by slugs fired from shotguns.
Michael Van Durme, a retired chief conservation officer for Region 8 of the DEC, told legislators that rifles are much safer for hunting.
He said there hasn’t been any accidental deaths by hunters using rifles in the past 40 years while they were deer hunting.
Legislator Lynne Johnson asked Van Durme if he misspoke, and he said his statement was true.
Johnson said she heard of a man in Parma hit in the stomach from a long-range rifle round.
Van Durme said that was from someone who was target shooting, not hunting.
Van Durme’s career as a conservation officer included seven years in Orleans. He now manages a consulting company that specializes in hunter and firearms safety.
“I can tell you rifles rounds for white-tailed deer are safer than shotguns,” he said. “As far as a rifle round going long range and hitting people, it just doesn’t happen.”
Sportsmen Club leaders told county legislators that 41 out of 62 counties, including counties with more residents than Orleans, allow rifles for hunting.
The Orleans County Sportsmen Federation last month presented the Legislature with a petition signed by about 500 people, supporting center-fire rifles for deer hunting.
The county allows rifles for small game hunting – woodchucks, foxes, crows and coyotes. Other counties also allow rifles for smaller animals and Van Durme said there hasn’t been any accidental deaths.
“Hunters use rifles for woodchucks and no one has been shot long range,” he said.
Sportsmen insisted the rifles are safer, because hunters tend to take only one shot with a rifle because they use scope and have better accuracy.
Legislators said they will continue to discuss the issue.