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Va. county to vote on killing deer with rifles in issue typifying scores of initiatives CAMPAIGN 1994

November 06, 1994|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Sun Staff Correspondent

came one to hunt deer with rifles generally. Builder Earl W. Poore collected 500 signatures in support.

"I been hunting close to 45 years," says Mr. Poore, 55. "Fifty percent of the deer you shoot, you don't kill 'em outright. If you shoot 'em with a rifle, it has enough power you get 'em right then. I raised four boys and I taught them how to hunt. The one thing we stress in all the clubs I hunt is safety -- don't shoot because a bush moves."

Hunters jammed a hearing before the Board of Supervisors. But the lawmakers had other considerations.

"We were getting phone calls pro and con," recalls Supervisor John J. Purcell Jr. "When we learned that it was an issue that could be put on the ballot, we thought it fair that the people have a right to speak."

Passed the buck

To the hunters, the supervisors passed the buck.

"The average citizen is powerless to change anything. You can't fight City Hall," says Mr. Harlow, who lives in the western part of the county near Charlottesville. "It's true in the big city. But it's even truer in these little counties."

Throughout Louisa County, the colors of the candidates in Virginia's close Senate race mark the camps. Red lawn signs for incumbent Charles S. Robb. Blue and white for challenger Oliver L. North. On the deer-hunting question, the sides are less clearly drawn.

Wives and mothers of hunters, some men who take their grandsons shooting, even some of those who want to shoot with rifles, question the need for greater firepower.

"We're not killing moose or bear here," says Sherry Brookman, the sister of hunters and a resident of Louisa since 1962. "You don't need that high-powered rifle to hunt deer."

Caused little interest

The discussion largely has been confined to hunt clubs, the sporting goods store and letters to the weekly newspaper. There has been no vocal opposition. No real push by proponents.

A plan to put a bypass in the town of Louisa caused more of a stir, residents say.

"I figure sometimes, you can beat a dead horse to death," Mr. Poore says. "I figure everyone in the county knows it's out there."

If the registered voters in Louisa County turn out Tuesday as they did in the 1992 presidential election, when 86.8 percent voted, the polls will be busy.

"We're not telling you to vote one way or another," Mr. Crebbs recently told his firearms safety class. "We're just telling you to vote."

Without a strong showing by hunters, the rifle question won't have a chance.

But whatever the election outcome, Louisa County hunters will be out in force once deer season opens, the Bowler's Mill Hunt Club among them.

Fanning out over the countryside, the hunters will wait for a Virginia whitetail to leap within range.

"Not always does the deer cooperate," Mr. Crebbs says with a knowing glance. "Then you take what you can get."

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