Outdoors writer wants county to legalize rifles for deer hunting

Posted 12 December 2016 at 12:41 pm


I have been writing an outdoor column for the past 13 years, first for The Journal-Register in Medina and now The Lake Country Pennysaver.

I have a college education in wildlife management and forestry and have been a hunter, trapper, fisherman and nature photographer for over 65 years. I have built a number of rifles and have done a lot of long-range rifle shooting and have taken over a hundred deer in my lifetime.

Recently the Orleans Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs has started an effort to have the rifle legalized for deer hunting in Orleans County, the same as 41 out of the 62 counties in NYS have already done. I have long wondered why we have been shotgun-only for deer hunting in NYS because I have always known that the rifle is a safer weapon.

After many studies and much research by other states, including the U.S. Army, NYS is finally realizing that the rifle is safer and is allowing rifles to be use for deer hunting in a good portion of the State. The resolution to change over to rifles has been given to the individual counties.

The reasons the rifle is safer involves many things. First the shotgun slug is heavy and the large bullet is very prone to ricochets, something a rifle bullet is not. Yes, a rifle bullet will shoot farther than a shotgun slug if pointed in an elevated position but deer hunters shoot parallel with the ground and with much lesser chance of ricochets. The rifle bullet in reality will actually not travel as far as the shotgun slug.

Second most shotguns are semi-auto or pump guns which give them the ability to fire multiple shots rapidly. In the excitement of a fleeing deer many hunters “empty the gun” at them, often in their excitement not taking notice of what is in the background (an accident waiting to happen).

Rifles are usually bolt actions and the hunter knows he must make the first shot count – by the time he reloads the deer will probably be gone, therefore mostly eliminating that “empty that gun” attitude (much safer).

Third, center-fire rifles have been legal for fox, coyote and woodchuck hunting in Orleans County for many years with no instances. Hand guns have also been legal in our County for over 30 years for deer hunting and the most popular deer handgun calibers are center-fire like the .243, 30-30 and 7mm-08.  There has not been a single hunting accident involving them in our county.

All the counties (41) that have switched over to rifles for deer hunting have been pleased with the results and none have considered reversing that decision.

So, although it seems the shotgun slug is a safer weapon for deer hunting in reality it is not. On Dec. 21 at 4 p.m. the resolution to legalize rifles for Orleans County will be presented to our legislators at the the Orleans County Legislature Office at 3 South Main Street, Suite 2, Courthouse Square in Albion. It would be very helpful if you were able to attend this presentation to show your support and even make a statement either written or oral.

Douglas H. Domedion