July 28, 2005 Sticker Buck River Bank Velvet 019 (2)

One topic floating around the Interweb right now: If you are in your stand and all of a sudden deer burst out, chased by a dog or dogs, do you shoot the dogs?

In one discussion I read, a guy said he was having this problem with stray dogs in Penn. years ago. He called the game commission and the people there told them point-blank that if you see a dog chasing deer on your property, not only should you shoot the dog but you have an obligation to do so. They also told the guy that if you shoot a dog, with or without a collar, you have to report it to a game warden within 48 hours. They went on to say that the warden would contact the dog’s owner if it could be determined, and that the owner of the dog may even face charges for letting his dog run loose and harass wildlife.

I can’t verify this, but if true, it must have been some old-school guy at the game department shelling out that advice. I know there are lease laws and prohibitions about letting dogs run wild in many places, but I can’t imagine anybody in a fish and game department these days telling you, “Heck yeah, shoot those dogs!”

Dogs, strays and even pets left loose, chasing and harassing deer is not a new problem. In some areas of the South I’ve hunted, it’s an epidemic really. I used to have this problem with strays a lot where I hunted in Virginia years ago, and no doubt it is frustrating. You feel like killing them. But here, it seems the problem is not nearly as bad as it was. People don’t let strays run loose and breed as much as they once did.

In the threads I‘ve read, a majority of people say they would shoot every damn dog they see chasing a deer…some say they’ve killed many dogs doing it. Shoot, shovel and shut up. I don’t know about that. It’s easy to say macho, blood-thirsty stuff on the Interweb, it’s another thing to actually shoot a dog in the woods.

A good number of people said they could never shoot a dog, even one harassing deer. “Suppose it was some kid’s pet that got loose one day and chased a deer,” one guy wrote. “Why would anybody kill a kid’s pet?” Pet or stray, some people don’t have the heart to shoot a dog.

After thinking about this some, I believe I fall into a small group of people who say they could not and would not shoot a dog UNLESS they were still-hunting or walking to or from a stand, and ran into a barking, snarling dog that was running wild and chasing deer and generally causing havoc, and seemingly not scared of people. “If I really felt threatened and a dog started coming at me, then hell yes, I’d kill it,” one guy wrote. This seems reasonable to me. It’s also why I firmly believe you ought to be able to carry a sidearm while bowhunting for protection.

What would you do? Have a dog(s) chased deer and ruined your hunts? What did you do? Are there any laws on the books in your state that deal with dogs chasing deer?