Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance Betrays Hunters

It appeared as of last week that this might be the year Virginia finally did away with its draconian ban on Sunday hunting: A bipartisan Sunday hunting bill was introduced to the senate by a northern Virginia Democrat; a pro-hunting governor was in office; and a new study found that allowing hunting on Sundays would bring $296 million and 3,927 jobs to the state.

Unfortunately the bill died in committee and Virginia will remain one of only six states that ban Sunday hunting. I can swallow that (though I don't have to like it), but here's the part of the story that's infuriating: The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance (VHDA) turned out for the senate committee hearing and testified against Sunday hunting!

In doing so the VHDA made hunters appear divided on the issue (which the media quickly jumped on) and their argument--namely that Sunday hunting would raise anti-hunting sentiment--is practically an apology for hunting, a suggestion our sport is inherently offensive and therefore we should limit the public's exposure to it. Not only is that highly insulting, but states that have recently overturned Sunday-hunting bans such as New York, Michigan and Ohio prove it simply isn't true.

It's important to note that the VHDA consists mainly of hunters who pursue deer and bears with dogs. Of all sportsmen, they ought to understand the danger of divisiveness. Anti-hunting groups have made banning the use of dogs for hunting big game a top priority, attacking it in Maine, Vermont and elsewhere. Those who hunt big game with dogs need the support of fellow sportsmen if their sport is to survive, but throwing us under the bus in regards to Sunday hunting is no way to earn it.

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30 Responses to Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance Betrays Hunters

Aaron wrote:
January 26, 2015

The Virginia landowners group is an effort to unite landowners as a unified voice to protect private property rights. We are growing a representation of any and all hunting and non hunting landowners that want to be involved in the discussion. This is a page dedicated to property rights issues particularly related to hunting, we support hunting, but do not exclude other property rights issues.

Corey Beazley wrote:
January 13, 2015

I will agree that there are some bad apples in every area. As a member of a hunt club that uses dogs my entire life, we as a club know where other usually still hunt on their land or allow others to do so, and we do not hunt that area intentionally. not to say that if a deer is coming to a boundary, they may cross onto other land. 'Why did'nt they shoot it on their land' you may wonder? Just like Mat said earlier, I teach my children (Boys & Girls) how to hunt safe. maybe that shot wasn't safe to take it at the boundary. try having a better relationship with those that hunt around your property and work together. one reason for tracking collars are not to follow the deer, but to make sure the dogs do not go onto your land. since it is such a skill, I hope you manage your wildlife by planting food plots, don't shoot small bucks, and help eliminate predators. I know out hunt club does all three

Matt wrote:
January 03, 2015

I am a life long hunter and rabidly defensive of hunting rights BUT hunting deer with dogs in Virginia needs to go or at least needs to be dramatically regulated. For instance, like other states that allow deer hunting dogs have done, Virginia needs to at least require minimum contiguous acreage (3000 acres) for a club to hunt deer with dogs. Not only are these clubs that run their dogs on small tracts and posted property pissing off non hunter and land owners, they are pissing off all the other hunters that choose to 'still' hunt for deer. As a still hunter, I spend months preparing with my young son, teaching him game trails and sign, picking just the right spot to set up (on my own private posted property) only to have our hunt end within minutes of opening morning as packs of dogs move through my set up and my entire 200 acres. Almost immediately making the deer nocturnal and as a result another young person loses interest in hunting. Now to make matters worse, we have an exploding coyote population and an unprecedented number of rabies cases. I have tried to trap and set snares for them only to have the dog hunters gripe when their dogs get caught up in my sets and have found dog hunters sneaking on to my property molesting my trap line. It's my property, I pay the taxes on it, I am legally trapping and hunting on it only to have them try to take my trapping rights away also. I have heard it over and over... 'my dogs can't read posted signs' and 'I can't control where my dogs go'........ well if that the case, if they can't control or be responsible for their dogs, their property, then the deer hunting with dogs needs to go!! It is not my responsibility to provide and pay for their entertainment while they sit in their vehicles along the hard road with tracking collars to know where the deer are going and their CB radios. My 200 acres has 90 acres of woods. those woods are in the middle of 1500 acres of cleared tilled land. The dog hunters surround my place staying just off of the property line and release their dogs. There is nothing accidental about it. It is purposeful and malicious legal poaching of my property. The game warden recently told me that this issue comes up in the legislature every year and the law makers continually treat it like the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Its time to call them out and force their hands to stop this blatant abuse of land owners rights!

rob wrote:
January 19, 2014

I know that Trevors is an old comment, but FYI dog hunters do have the right to retrieve their dogs. They do not have the right to come onto your property in a vehicle and may not have a loaded weapon while doing it without you permission. Next time you catch them on your property with a vehicle call your Conservation Police Officer. It would be a good idea to contact your CPO now and invite them to your property and establish a relationship with your CPO. Also if you catch anyone on your property you can request their hunting lic. and you can get their name and address if the CPO is busy. They have to give it to you or that is another misdemeanor.

Joe Pike wrote:
January 04, 2014

As a Virginia landowner, I can tell you this problem is out of hand. Fat rednecks racing up and down dirt roads in pickup trucks and they call it 'sport'. Got tired of having every Cletus and Billy Bob drive down my driveway to look for their dogs so I put a locked gate at the end (they are far too lazy too walk half a mile). Took care of the dog problem by purchasing two livestock guardian dogs. Taught them where the property lines are and that's it - there is no further training required. The Kuvasz weighs 200 and the Caucasian Ovcharka goes 220. They shred every stray dog that strays onto the property. Found six collars this past season alone. They are excellent at keeping out two legged predators as well. The best part - they are only dogs doing what they were bred to do. ; )

Trevor wrote:
February 10, 2013

The dog hunting thing has really gotten out of hand in Virginia especially since the invention of tracking collars and now that every dog hunter has a jacked up 4x4 pickup with big mud tires on it. They drive down the road with their antenna and figure out that the dog with the tracking collar is somewhere on my thousand acre farm so they completely ignore my "no trespassing" signs throw the truck in 4x4 and run all over my farm looking for their dog, rutting my fields and tearing up my farm roads in the process. Then if you catch them they say "Oh I have the right to legally come on your property to get my dawgs" Back in the day they used to park the damn trucks down at the crossroads and call the dogs. Now they just drive wherever they please and landowners have no legal recourse to stop them and they have simply HAD ENOUGH of this! I am not opposed to dog hunting but I would totally support a ban on those tracking collars, which are the main cause of the problems. I don't have a problem with someone walking onto my property to get their dog but I do have a problem with them running a four wheel drive truck all over my place and rutting up my fields and farm roads that I then have to spend money to repair. I hunt with dogs and I have never used tracking collars. When I am done hunting I just lay an old worn out hunting coat of mine out near where I turned them out. Usually the next morning when I go back out there any of the dogs that I couldn't catch are asleep on the old coat.

Gabriela wrote:
January 24, 2013

Just back again putting in my two cents worth.It seem i have a htinnug story for every thing i guess. It was about twenty years ago ,a htinnug buddy and his girl freind all went htinnug with me . Back then you did not see many women htinnug . We all got in my truck in the morning early. ,I was surprized to see the little gal packing such big gun . I think it was a 303 british army sporter enfeild . Off we went down the logging , when we stopped the truck to take a pee , When me and buddy were out of hearing range ,I ask him can his girlfreind shoot that big gun , his reply was I dont know .Well off we went down the road again. All of sudden here runs some doe deer across the road and a very big 5 5 whitetail buck. my coffee hit the floor along with its container,I got my truck stopped .My buddy I and hopping around getting buck fever bad ,yet the little Gal remained comm and in collected mamer went to side and ahead of the truck put a bullet quickly into here gun and shot the buck, down it went . Well we were, some what shocked my buddy and I . So asked the Gal , did she get nervous. no she said , no time too. But I do feel like I,m going to puke now , after a minute our two she was ok. Off we went to see the downed buck ,125 yards later at here buck , the buck took the bullet right behind shoulder great shot . She said, that this was here first buck ,so I ask were she learned to shot like that .She said here grandfather taught her on his farm shooting tin cans ,were as she pulled out a knife ask for help gutting the deer.Granpa told me you got to clean your own game please give me a hand. Well I tell youI have seen alot things ,but she was something ,the little lady with the big gun! My Buddy did marry her ,and there still out there htinnug every year. Ha Ha .

Matthew O'Brien wrote:
July 12, 2012

Sorry you think hunting is work, your perogative. Me personally, it is done on my days off and sometimes that is only 1 day a week. Freedom and liberty, you should give it some consideration sometime.

Clayton wrote:
March 16, 2012

Sundays for relaxation, church, and family. Thats why its illegal. If your a true hunter, one day off your week wont matter if your hunting every other day. Quit bitchin, its tradition

david wrote:
February 20, 2012

Ban fishing? Ok lets ban dogs then get sunday hunting for landowners. Sound fair? Ok

zuni hunter wrote:
February 20, 2012

I never saw anything still hunting once the dogs started running. The deer just go nocturnal. I don't even remember the amount of times my family and I had to slam on the brakes for rouge dogs or truck hunters speeding with their antennas hanging out the window. This is not sportsmanlike. If you guys want to preach tradition. Then get on some horses and run the kings deer around the woods with your tracking devices or just get out of your trucks. I agree with the others when they say its a violation of our property rights when you guys can come on our property without permission to retrieve your dogs. Its a shame because if I shoot game I can't retrieve it off another property without permission. I did not grow up I have va. Where I grew up dog hunting was unheard of and was only done by poachers as a way to cheat and get an easy kill. With the amount of city folks moving out to the country and seeing your way of hunting deer they probably wont like it. Sure you can say... go home or back where you came from but in the end they can vote too and there is a lot more of them coming out this way. Hunt with dogs the right way and preserve your traditions and ill be there to support it but unless it changes I wont do it now. I think some changes should be made to the laws to help. Things like a max number if dogs used by the amount of acreage being hunted. Another is a minimum number of continuous acreage by either one property or multiple props that you have authorization to hunt. Take for instance min of 500a acres to run dogs on. Another would be a max number if dogs that can be in a club based upon the amount of members in it or the amount of hunters in a given hunt. Just ideas but I think they could help.

freedomseeker wrote:
February 02, 2012

I am and avid hunter with and without dogs. This said I do not hunt from the truck with dogs that are bread to run a deer for miles across everyones private property, drop the dogs off at the fence line of private property owners who have worked hard all year planting crops to attract and hold the deer, use radio collars on the dogs and then a tracking system in the truck, as the deer are chased sometimes by a dozen or more trucks who run up and down the road obviously distracted by their pursuit, then at the right moment pull off the side of the road which endangers the public, then get your lazy butt out of your truck and shoot the deer from the roadside. Yes you deer dog hunters are just what I want to instill in my son concerning the fair chase and respect for property required for hunting. What an unbelievable unmitigated joke. And we know most of you are not private property owners with enough land to practice your art of hunting without invading someone elses property. Dogs cant read, right. Ok I blew my cover if you are a deer dog hunter in VA thats your standard line when I catch you poaching. Thats all it is. Theft. This is sport designed in every way to invade the private property of others. Why else would you need so many dogs with collars and the tracking devices in your trucks. I have been and my neighbors have been "tolerating you forever". You have caused more pain and sufferring with your invasion of our poperty rights than you will ever know.I have always wanted to take my sons and daughter hunting on Sundays. Our Monday through Saturdays are consumed with work schools and recreational sports. Sundays are about it for most of us when it comes to hunting. To have the deer dog hunting thieves and poachers take away the right for me to go rabbit and squirrel hunting on a Sunday afternoon is beyond belief. I could only think of one other group that would do such an outrageous thing. That is PETA. Great bedfellows you guys make!

Raymond wrote:
February 02, 2012

this is sad and I'm most discouraged by the lack of knowledge my fellow hunters have. anyone who supports dog hunting for big game is a idiot! Just for case and point you talk about the rut and how dog season starts after the rut that's just ignorant. the rut has no set time and date. fact is dog hunting is ruining the natural breading process. I just this morning saw a mature buck chasing and trying to mount a doe. in FEB what do you think that means... it means hes doing it now because he couldn't when he was suppose to. Dog hunters put so much pressure on the woods all they are doing is running the deer in to the night. wake up hunters when you watch white tale hunting on tv do you see anyone doing it with dogs? were a joke to the rest of the hunting world and we need to change. Get out of your trucks and in to a tree and teach your kids the right way to take a animal. if you want to hear a chase take up fox, rabbit, or coon hunting.

Leslie wrote:
January 28, 2012

As I sit and read this article and all of your posts, I think, what happened to freedom and respect for others? Myself as a Wife, Mother, Nurse, Teacher. I Hunt- Still Hunt and Hunt with Dogs. I tend to find your remarks rude, insensitive and selfish. Hunting with dogs is a sport just the same as all others. We have 9 beagles that are a part of our family. We love them and they love us and they love to hunt the deer. IT IS A SPORT! That we share and spend quality time with our two children. My 8 year old son and my 6 year old daughter still hunt and dog hunt with me, my husband and our hunt club. For you hunters that say dog runners ruin your hunt, get over it, your (our) season starts early. Dog season is limited to what 8 weeks? Still hunting is prime in the rut, in which is when still hunting season begins. It is a fact that in the states that Sunday Hunting was implemented, Dog season was then banned. Now how would you feel for someone to say you can't still hunt wouldn't like it. Hunting with dogs is challenging, takes skill and effort, dog food, vet bills, tracking devices, gas...this does not help the economy??? I see it both ways, you can take all the steps to prepare and still hunt and have the deer stop for you while you take your that cheating? OR, you can have a deer on the run and have the skill of only having a 10 second reaction..Skill? Cheating? Ruining Hunts? You all are selfish...EVERYONE has their opinion, have you ever tried hunting with dogs..Do me a favor and try it before you start mocking it. I tend to cherish both for my family and generations to come. So, I would appreciate those that say we are cheating, or on your "property", we have our rights, freedom, and we do no harm to anyone. We eat the meat that we kill or share it with our community. I live in the country and hunting overpopulated deer keeps them from jumping in the road and killing families, no matter how they are hunted...WE all need to work together.

Mike W wrote:
January 27, 2012

Arkansas Buck Slayer, you can carry your arse back to Arkansas as far as I'm concerned. Don't come up here preachin about what you think is right just because you didn't hunt with dogs down there. It's been a tradition for years up here and if you don't like it then don't do it! You hunt your way and let everyone else hunt theirs. It doesn't matter if you still hunt, man-drive, or hunt with dogs, a dead deer is dead just the same no matter what method you use. Maybe you should join a hunt club and learn to appreciate the sound of a good chase. Personally, I don't hunt with dogs or belong to a club. And while I don't agree with them runnin the roads, I won't begrudge their right to hunt any way they choose.

George wrote:
January 19, 2012

I am an avid hunter.The deer dog hunters ruin my season once they start as their dogs run on my land every weekend and they race around with their radios and trucks and shoot. If they start that 7 days a week I will get no rest and no venison.

dbrown wrote:
January 06, 2012

VDHA is woefully misguided. If the #1 argument is that it's the sabbath, then perhaps they should propose legislation to ban golf on Sundays, shopping on Sundays, horseback riding, etc. They are foolish and as many of you mention, only concerned about preserving their own niche of the sport. Disappointing.

mjobrien wrote:
December 05, 2011

@Arkansas buck slayer - You can join the grassroots movement here:

pete wrote:
December 01, 2011

I am not completely opposed to the theory of using dogs for big game. I have been hunting a few times with clubs and only one has done it right (sportsmanlike). What I mean by this is that ALL the hunters exited their vehicles dog pushers and standers and they actually stayed out of their trucks..

Kyle Wintersteen wrote:
October 23, 2011

@ArkBuckSlayer I agree that the VDHA's position on Sunday hunting is very misguided. However, I want to be clear: I do not at all oppose the use of dogs for hunting deer.

Arkansas buck slayer wrote:
October 21, 2011

The VHDA seems to be a selfish group of people who value thier own way and style of cowardly slaughter above the good of "true" hunting. I am not from VA and strongly disagree with the use of dogs for any style of hunting other than ducks. Sunday hunting is a blessing and I would love to see sunday hunting legalized in VA. I rezide in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and haven't been able to find a place to hunt peacefully yet. Hopefully by the time I do sunday hunting will be legalized and dog hunting banned. Any suggestions on how I can join the movement would be greatly appreciated.

Matt O'Brien wrote:
October 03, 2011

The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance (VHDA) is only worried about their brand of hunting. They could care less about anyone other style of hunting in the state, even if it means testifying against hunters and standing with PETA and HSUS. The short sightedness of their leadership is astounding. The majority of hunters want Sunday hunting according to the Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries polls. We'll see how much support they get from PETA when they need it and HSUS really ramps up their anti-hound hunting campaign. If you want to join the effort to lift the Sunday hunting restrictions you can check out the grass roots effort here:

waterfowlman wrote:
April 23, 2011

It seems to me that the Virginia dog hunters could care less about the rest of the states hunters or what the majority of us care about. They are doing an excellent job for PETA and should not cry when their sport soon becomes illegal!

KyleW wrote:
February 11, 2011

@D.L.Thomas: From one Life member to another, thank you for your support of the NRA. I agree that prioritizing one's life is important; however, I believe those priorities are best left to the individual rather than our last remaining government blue laws. If it were up to me, my priorities for Sunday would be attending church in the morning and hunting in the afternoon. Forty-four states say I have the right to do that. Six do not.

D.L. Thomas (Life Member) wrote:
February 10, 2011

I am not at all appalled that they have banned Sunday Hunting. It all depends upon your priorities, doesn't it?

Todd Barnes wrote:
February 07, 2011

It's not only the VaDHA, but but the VDHA (Virginia Deer Hunting Association who taunts 60,000 members). They also have come out against lifting the last Blue Law in the state. What again is so sickening, is that their reason is two fold: The first reason being that the tracts of land they sue to run deer with dogs and hunt on are owned by old religious gentry who control the Farm Bureau in the state. They pressure the FB to lobby against Sunday hunting of any kind. The second reason is that they (VDHA members) use Sunday to recover all the loose dogs that they ran all week after deer. They DO NOT WANT any else in the woods killing the deer that THEY plan to run off of your property while you're working during the week. THIS IS ABSOLUTE FACT. These same people use the excuse that "...the animals need a day of rest..." Ya think?! Especially after you and your club have been chasing them with dogs and your pickups for 6 straight days [er week for three solid months. The scariest thing was watching HSUS, PETA, VaDHA, and the VDHA ALL standing together against Sunday Hunting at the ACNR (Agriculture Chesapeake, and Natural Resources) Committee vote. And let's not forget the Horse Riding lobby who says that they need a day to ride without getting shot. This is insulting as well. The land that most horse riding and fox hunting clubs use is PRIVATE. Since when can a private landowner not limit access to their land at any it Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday?? What it boils down to is that the anti-hunting lobby, religious right, and selfish hunt clubs are all in bed together to prevent our kids and us from hunting. Call it what want, but the Virginia Deer Hunting Association, the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, the Virginia Farm Bureau, HSUS, and PETA are all in bed together for the same reasons....and they are enjoying their relationship to no end.

Tony Rutherford wrote:
February 04, 2011

What's truly sad is that the vahda has done so much good for the general health of hunting in VA. Yet they continue to divide the different hunter interest groups. They had an excellent opportunity to do more good for hunting overall this past Monday. They chose to turn their backs on the majority of licensed hunters in VA, for the sake of their own minority. I urge you to visit their website, and click on affliates. If you see your hunting organization's name listed, and you disapprove of what they did, demand that it be removed, or at least get the directors of your association to do so. All methods of hunting will face new challenges. I suspect, as many do, the greatest challenges will be related to hunting with hounds. The vahda will need the suppport of the entire hunting community if it hopes to win these battles. I'm not sure how much support they can count on when that time comes. They actually had pledged a position of neutrality towards Sunday hunting legislation. Perhaps they discovered that this bill was going to see support from powerful national organizations, and ignored that pledge? I have to believe that the time will come when they will regret what they did. I urge each of us to question our legislative representatives on why VA continues to see additional Sunday hunting, on a nearly annual basis, yet refuses to provide Sunday hunting opportunities for the hunting majority. VA provides no "day of rest" as is stated in it's hunting regulations, in fact by code and regulation, VA has created a Sunday "day of chase". As much as I enjoy the chase, I'd like to have a choice to hunt in other ways as well.

Joe C wrote:
February 04, 2011

Canibalistic selfish idiots. By far, their fact sheet against Sunday Hunting is the most ignorant I've seen.

Tony Rutherford wrote:
February 04, 2011

I urge all Virginians to become very familiar with all codes that govern hunting, especially 29.1-521, 29.1-516 and 29.1-100. What it seems that few hunters are aware of is that VA offers lawful hunting, and trapping every Sunday, and statewide. With a 2 hour exception for raccoon hunting, all lawful Sunday hunting basically requires dog ownership, or at least dog access, and is chase only in nature. Yes, every Sunday in VA it's lawful to hunt (chase) fox, and raccoon.......there is no ban on Sunday hunting in VA, it's only restricted in a way that excludes the majority of licensed hunters. There are also Sundays where it's lawful to hunt (chase) bear. This seems to explain why a hunting dog organization would oppose a general Sunday hunting bill. They already have access to hunting each, and every Sunday, why would they want competition from the typical hunter? Visit their website and look at the raccoon, fox and bear hunting organization alliances. Their opposition to generalized Sunday hunting would appear to be their way to protect the lawful Sunday hunting that their members have availed themselves to for years. Why does it seem impossible to gain Sunday hunting for most hunters? Yet it seems quite easy for VA to increase Sunday hunting opportunities for only those that chase, and have no intent to take, or kill? The answer lies in 29.1-100. The VDGIF has regulatory from the Commonwealth to allow hunting during closed seasons (Sundays being closed seasons) where there is no intent to take the animal. Basically, by code, and through regulation, Virginia has evolved into a Sunday chase day, for fox, raccoon, and bear. I hope that we all would be supportive of the lawful Sunday hunting that has existed, and continues to see growth. I would also hope that for the benefit of the entire hunting community, we would all support expanding Sunday hunting. It's done nothing but help all other states, and there's no reason it wouldn't do the same in VA.

Super Swamper wrote:
February 03, 2011

VDHA's big ally against Sunday hunting? HSUS. Yup. That's a group that hunters need to get in bed with. Outstanding work, gentlemen. Your dogs will get plenty of rest on sundays (and all other days) after HSUS mounts a campaign to ban hunting big game with dogs in VA. Absolutely brilliant.