A group of local hunters packed into the committee room of the Old Courthouse on Monday to back a proposal to allow hunting of big game in Genesee County with rifles.
All but a handful of counties in New York have amended their laws to allow rifles for big game hunting.
In Genesee County, that means deer, and occasionally (when the DEC allows it), bear.
Legislators Robert Bausch and Ed DeJaneiro asked to have the proposal tabled because they felt they hadn't yet had enough time to study it nor get feedback from constituents.
DeJaneiro said he was always told as a kid that rifles weren't allowed in Genesee County because with all the flat land, there was no way to stop a bullet.
Jack Taylor, one of several members of SCOPE at the meeting, dispelled some of that myth.
First, he said, Genesee County isn't as flat as some might think. He suggested looking now Main Street in the city, people tend to believe the street is flat, but there's actually dips and rises.
Second, because hunters with a rifle know the power of the weapon in their hands, they're also a lot more careful than some might be with shotguns.
"If you have the mentality this is a rifle this will go a long ways, it makes you a more responsible of a shooter," Taylor said.
Also, rifle projectiles are not has likely to ricochet, because they break about on impact, than a lot of projectiles used in shotgun shells today.
Taylor told the story of a hunter in Wyoming County who fired a shotgun at a deer and the copper bullet hit a tree and bounced back and hit the hunter's uncle.
That wouldn't happen with a rifle bullett, he said.
He said the DEC has found that hunting safety has actually improved in counties that have changed their laws to allow for big game hunting with rifles.
"Just so everyone knows, this is an option, not a mandate," said Tim Grooms. "Some hunters are interested in this because we want a more accurate shot. For one thing, there's the issue of the cost of ammunition today. We pay $3 to $5 for a shotgun slug and might fire several, but it's $1 for a rifle bullet and we'll fire just one. It's a whole better scenario. We hunt with fewer shots and it's better for the deer."
In order the the law to be changed, the Legislature must pass a resolution asking the State Legislature to amend the county's local law.
A bill can't be introduced in Albany until January. That gives the local legislators some time to get more familiar with the issue and get feedback from constituents.
The Public Service Committee will take the issue up again at it's Oct. 14 meeting.