Bow hunters in Altavista will now be able to hunt closer to buildings and on the ground during the upcoming hunting season.
Town Council voted unanimously this week to adopt two changes to the town’s Urban Archery Ordinance, now more than 10 years old. The changes allow bow hunters to shoot deer within 100 feet of a building instead of the previously required 100 yards.
Bow hunters also will be allowed to hunt from the ground with the written permission of the property owner, instead of being required to shoot from an elevated tree stand. The change is because of Altavista’s steep topography, which town officials say makes hunting from a ground blind safe.
According to Altavista’s Assistant Town Manager Dan Witt, the urban archer program helps control the deer population to prevent property damage from animals foraging for food.
“The property owners are the ones who really appreciate the hunters limiting the numbers of deer,” Witt said.
In order to further incentivize population control practices by hunters, Witt said the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries expanded the Earn-A-Buck program put in place in the town last year. It now includes all properties instead of just town-owned property. The program requires hunters to kill a doe before they are permitted to take down a buck. All hunters who hunt in the town are required to get permission from the town and sign both a permission slip and a release of liability.
During last year’s hunting season, 13 hunters reportedly killed nine does and two bucks on Altavista property.
“I can report the town had a successful urban archery season during 2016-17,” Witt said in documents provided to Town Council. “I received no complaints from citizens and those archers participating in the program adapted to this new system. I believe the number of deer harvested was reasonable for the size of the parcels and number of hunters.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries enacted the Urban Archery program on residential and commercial property in Virginia in 2002 to curb damage to personal property and vehicles. It is modeled after a successful program in West Virginia.
“Archery deer hunting is an effective, quiet method for harvesting deer in urban settings,” Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outreach Director Lee Walker told The News & Advance. “The urban archery season gives localities a means to reduce deer populations within their limits while at the same time providing hunting recreation.”
Witt said he plans to begin taking names July 1 for hunters interested in participating in the upcoming archery season on town property. Residents and employees of the town will be considered first, and if there are openings residents from Hurt and Campbell County also will be considered. Witt said he expects roughly the same amount of hunters — 13 — to be approved this season as they were last season.
Town property open to bow hunting for deer includes the Green Hill Cemetery, the dead end of 11th Street, property north of the Altavista Water Treatment plant and an additional area along Franklin Avenue, Witt said.