It was astonishing this morning to watch the feed of the Facebook group "Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All." I'm not sure anyone actually killed a deer. All I saw were pictures of tree stands, sunrises, compound bows, crossbows, and long bows. And the word "Thanks." Thanks primarily to the group's de facto head Matt O'Brien, but thanks to everyone who called their legislators, wrote emails, kept up to date on slanderous and untrue editorial articles ghost-written by the opposition to a free day in the woods.
What was notable, in addition to the complete lack of police or media reports of conflicts with this army of hunters across the Commonwealth, was the lack of attention paid by our staunch opposition. Several organizations claimed to be so pointedly concerned about public safety - the safety of all Virginians, they said - that they had to spend thousands of dollars (often, based in government-funded offices like the Virginia Horse Council) warning legislators and the public of this imminent travesty - of skies blackened with arrows, dog walkers whalloped by crossbow bolts, and pedestrians (because uninvited pedestrians always need to be walking across private, posted property at 6:15am, right?) gored by expanding hunting points.
After many years and tens of thousands of dollars spent lobbying against a landowner's right to harvest game on his or her own property on Sunday, these organizations lost. And they lost loudly, predicting, as one dullard legislator did, volleys of arrows from "powerful enough bows" zinging across property lines throughout the Commonwealth. So with all this grave concern for other users of private property (why are other people using private property without permission while the owner and his or her family and friends are legally hunting?), surely these organizations took to the airwaves and the internet to warn the collective public about the killer arrows coming from hidden treestands throughout the Commonwealth today. Right? Because all of the commotion, the fake newspaper articles written by lobbyists, the complaints from "non-hunters" whose names could never be verified, and the anti-hunters in general, this commotion, it had to be real - coming from a real place of fear. So, let's see the public warnings that these groups (the unique alliance of anti-hunters, anti-farmers, farm lobbyists, and hound lobbyists...good luck figuring that out) obviously must have been publishing to make sure the quite certain menace of private land Sunday hunting does not injure or maim any person or non-game animal:
Humane Society of Virginia (HSUS - VA) website - news page: No update on Sunday hunting
HSUS-VA Facebook Page - Recently Deleted before Sunday hunting began
Virginia Farm Bureau website - news page: No update on Sunday hunting
Virginia Farm Bureau Facebook Page - No update on Sunday hunting
Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance - news page: No update on Sunday hunting
Virginia Horse Council -news page: No update on Sunday hunting
Virginia Horse Council Facebook page - No update on Sunday hunting
Just Say No to Sunday Hunting in Virginia Facebook page - No update on Sunday hunting
Wow. All the publications, the phone calls, the automatically generated email messages from anti-hunters in other states....all of that combined reflected what these organizations told legislators was a very legitimate fear of public safety, not at all a war of ideas or rights for "who gets to use the woods on Sunday."
And yet, they are silent. They are silent because they know there is no public menace. They are silent because they know that bringing their losing issue up again will just invite those who dare to think for themselves to dig up their dire predictions of bloody horror, and compare them to the idyllic peace that was, and is still, Sunday in Virginia.