Don’t like the use of hounds when hunting deer, rabbit or bear? That’s OK.
Don’t like hunting of any kind? That’s OK, too.
But I’ll tell ‘ya what’s not OK – to shoot or kill of innocent dog out for a day with its buddies and owners living a centuries-old southern tradition.
It’s criminal in fact, and a felony if the dog is killed. The exception is if there is proof that the hound was attacking humans, pets or livestock on their own property.
Shorty isn’t that kind of beagle. Friendly as a house pet, he just enjoys a day in the woods.
Unfortunately, the five-year-old’s hunting days are likely to be over.
He was shot about midday Saturday while the Old Carolina Road Hunt Club was hunting on property it has leased in the Blackwater area of southern Virginia Beach. The buckshot that hit him shattered parts of his left front leg and it had to be amputated. A few inches to the right and Shorty was have been killed.
Owner Charlie Grimstead, members of his hunt club and hunters throughout the state who have heard about the incident are livid. They want justice for Shorty, an affectionate dog who is surprising his owner, family and the vet who worked on him with his determination and heart.
With the exception of a hard lesson that squatting is how a three-legged dog pees, he’s getting around pretty good.
“He cocked his leg to go to the bathroom and because he was then only on two legs, he fell over,” said Grimstead, breaking a loving smile in between tears.
“Why would somebody to this to an innocent dog.”
The reasons are extremely deep and difficult for many to understand.
During a hunt, dogs are leased and head into the woods to get a scent lock on a deer. When they jump one, the chase is on and hopefully the deer runs in front of tree stands where hunters are waiting to make a harvest.
In the hunting world, the howls of dogs on the run is one of the greatest things ever.
The clubs who do things the right way – and Old Carolina Road very much appears to be one such group – meet with surrounding landowners and do everything they can to keep peace with their neighbors. They hold community fundraisers and take care of those in need.
These are extremely tight-knit groups.
Over the last few decades, as older landowners head to the big farm in the sky, their offspring are selling off the rural properties to developers – many of whom break the farms up into 5- to 10-acre or more “farmettes.”
People that no longer want to live in the crime-filled crazy world that is the now find country life appealing.
This is where conflict sometimes begins. They don’t want dogs or hunters on their property and should be entitled to that. Under current Virginia law, hunters are allowed to go on a property to retrieve their dogs without landowner permission. Landowners also are not allowed to prevent a hunt from continuing through their property.
So it’s easy to see where conflict can brew up.
But that’s why clubs like Old Carolina Road annually meet with neighbors to discuss any problems and address how they can be fixed.
Then there are the clubs with rogue members who have bad attitudes and landowners who are stubborn to the ways of their new surroundings.
Arguments have ensued and dogs have been killed.
It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs and one that threatens the very foundation of hunting. But when you look at the world and all of the crap that’s going on, is it really a surprise?
But killing, or trying to kill an innocent dog? No, sorry, that’s going way way too far.
Kevin Mills and Kenny Franklin were hunting with the club and heard the shots. Mills got out of his stand and saw that the dog was Shorty and put a call out on the radio. Franklin says he saw the perp fall in a ditch between his stand and Mills’.
Club members are pretty sure they know who the shooter was. City law enforcement and conservation police from the state are investigating.
Club members want justice for Shorty. And although they enjoy a relative calm hunting area, they don’t like the way things are going. Last year, one of Grimstead’s hounds was dragged from its kennel and killed. Investigators wrote off the incident as a kennel fight. Grimstead knows better.
Both times, he contemplated quitting the sport, but changed his mind. He loves his dogs and the experience of the sport.
Right now, though, he keeps Shorty as close to him as possible and this week gave him several minutes of reassuring baby talk as the dog chewed on a new bone in a truck cab.
He knows the future is gonna be tough on his beagle, especially next fall when Shorty will experience the angst of not being able to join his kennel mates on a hunt.
And he’ll no doubt be praying they don’t meet with the same fate he did.
Rewards are piling up for any information that leads to charges in the case, and we’ll be following the progress closely.