MATTHEWS – Some local residents in Sardis Plantation spoke out recently against an application submitted to Matthews Board of Commissioners to allow bow hunting on the grounds surrounding a local bed and breakfast.
The proposal, which was denied by the board at its Monday, Sept. 23, meeting, is one of only a few applications the board and Matthews Police Department receives each year, Police Chief Rob Hunter said. But while only a few applications are received, Hunter wants to make it clear to Matthews’ residents that discharging of a firearm in town, whether practice or play, is strictly prohibited without first going through the permit process.
“Even if it’s just an educational moment, a parent and son doing a small bow and arrow in their own backyard – we just want to make sure it’s done safely,” Hunter said.
Commissioners did approve a permit for bow hunting at 101 Charing Cross Drive, where the property owner will conduct both practice and hunting. The same applicant submitted an application for 803 Elizabeth Lane, home of 803 Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast, but the application was denied after residents plead to commissioners not to endanger neighborhood kids and to keep their deer friends, who are known to chomp on flowers and shrubs, out of harm’s way.
“We are very passionate about our deer in Sardis Plantation. Our neighborhood was built around the beauty of nature,” Barbara Dement, a local resident, said at the meeting.
“I do not want to be traumatized or my daughter to be traumatized by a wounded deer in my yard,” another resident said. “There are other, more
human ways to deal with over deer population.”
A town ordinance about the use of weapons in town limits was updated about five years ago, Hunter said, that further defined “firearms” by adding bow and arrow and crossbows to the mix along with “any weapon which will propel a projectile by the use of explosive action.” The change came after police heard reports of residents using the bow weapons without any control or oversight, Hunter added.
Now, an application form also goes with that ordinance that asks applicants to define the type of weapon and the purpose of its use and details on where and when the weapon will be used. From there, Matthews police conduct an investigation, calling for criminal background checks, site inspections and addressing any safety inspections or concerns.
If police find the use of the weapon can be done in a safe manner, the application goes before the board of commissioners, where they ultimately decide to approve or deny, many times after hearing questions or concerns from other residents.
Last year, Hunter said the town had about three permitted locations for weapon use, in each case with a bow and arrow for the purpose of deer hunting. General patrol officers are made aware of the permits and the department does routine inspections to make sure permit holders are following rules and regulations.
Hunter said the department sometimes receives reports from residents of injured or dead animals on their properties that could stem from improper use of weapons.
“Sometimes we hear way after the fact that people have found, in particular, deer that have been shot,” Hunter said. “If we’re able to determine who is doing it or whom it is coming from, they will be criminally charged.”
Hunter urges residents to immediately report any suspicious sightings of injured or dead animals or people using weapons without a permit to Matthews police.
“If you see something, please just let us know,” he said.