IW to reconsider rifle ban

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors have scheduled a Jan. 20 public hearing on whether to amend the county code to allow the hunting of deer and bear with rifles.

According to County Attorney Bobby Jones, state law prohibits the use of a rifle of any caliber for the hunting of bear or deer in six localities, including Isle of Wight, unless those localities “opt in” by passing a local ordinance permitting it.

The county’s current ordinance allows .44 caliber or larger muzzleloading rifles for the hunting of all game — except for deer and bear — and further mandates that the type of ammunition used contains at least 75 grains of black powder or Pyrodex. Violation is currently listed as a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

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The proposed ordinance change would allow the use of .23 caliber or larger rifles for the hunting of deer and bear, and rescind the caliber and ammunition restrictions. Instead, it would state that hunters are required to follow all state laws and regulations — allowing the ordinance to stay current even if Virginia’s hunting rules change.

It would further allow rifles of .22 caliber or larger for the hunting of groundhogs, coyotes and all other game, bird and nuisance animals.

“This came about as a request from some citizens,” Jones said.

Several county residents had brought the matter up during the public comment period at board meetings last year.

Per the draft ordinance, hunters who use rifles would be required to use an elevated stand located 10 feet above the ground, and keep their weapons unloaded except when in the stand. In accordance with state law, permanently disabled hunters would be exempted from the tree-stand requirements.

Editor’s note: A previously published version of this story incorrectly stated that the revised ordinance would permit hunting deer and bear with muzzleloading rifles. Muzzleloading rifles are already permitted. The changes pertain to other types of rifles, but would be made in Section 12-10, “Hunting with Muzzleloading Rifles,” in the county’s code.