Perdue Pledges Relief for Dog Hunters; Property Rights Issues Spurred a New Law This Year That Put Limits on the Sport

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, The Times-Union

BRUNSWICK -- Hunters upset with limitations on hunting deer with dogs have been promised some relief.

At a Friday night rally attended by more than 500 members of the fledgling Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation, Gov. Sonny Perdue said new bills the hunters should like will be introduced in the legislative session.

Wearing a cap with a small shotgun shell sewn to the crown, Perdue stood in front of an American flag and said the new law will protect dog hunters who respect others' property rights.

Property rights was what spurred the new law this year that dog hunters find so objectionable. Sponsored by state Rep. Bob Lane, D-Statesboro, the law limits hunts with dog to plots of at least 1,000 acres and requires hunters to obtain a permit and display it on all dogs and vehicles used in a hunt. Upon two violations of dog hunting rules, the permit would be suspended for two years.

Perdue arrived early at the rally hosted by Wayne Hutcheson, a founding member of the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation, and was clearly in his element. Wearing boots and a fleece vest, Perdue moved among a crowd sporting camouflage and other warm outdoor gear. A former veterinarian, Perdue shook a lot of hands and visited with some of the champion dogs brought to the rally.

"These folks are organized and committed," Perdue said. "They've got some issues they want to talk about. That's why I'm here to listen."

Hutcheson had hoped for 400 participants but he surpassed that. He had 500 plates for the low-country shrimp boil but had to send out for more.

The federation now has chapters in 24 counties and Hutcheson said he is pushing for 10,000 members, a number that would make it a powerful voice.

Matt Marchant of Hazlehurst brought Lacey, his field trial hunting dog. Together, Lacey and Marchant won $2,500 in a youth field trial championship and a $4,500 college scholarship.

Marchant said Georgia dog hunting laws would inhibit the training of field trial dogs.

"They have to be free, cast out in the wild to hunt in competition. They have to go on their own in the woods to seek game," he said.

Moose Jowers of Blackshear acknowledged there are some renegade hunters who don't respect the property rights of others but said the new law punishes everyone. …