Angry Tlellian takes aim at pit lampers

  • Apr. 15, 2015 2:00 p.m.

Citing gun blasts in the middle of the night, deer carcasses in his driveway and escalating confrontations with armed youth, a Tlell man is pushing the police and community leaders to help him stop, once and for all, the pit-lampers shooting along his little stretch of highway.Brendan Hunt, his wife Marylynne Hunt and their two sons live on a parcel of land a few dozen metres inland from the highway, just north of St. Mary’s Spring, and in close proximity to two other homes. Nearby a dirt road leads a short distance to a piece of crown land, Gravel Pit No. 2003, which has long been a popular destination for target shooters, but over the past few years has also been luring a high number of deer hunters.To the north of the gravel pit, a thin line of trees disguise the open field on the other side leading directly to the Hunts’ back porch 700 metres distant. They worry the pit-lampers, unaware of his and his neighbours houses, will one day inadvertently arch a bullet through someone’s window.”I can handle a shotgun blast,” Mrs. Hunt says. “I know their range and they aren’t much of a threat. But when you hear a high powered rifle go off at three in the morning, that’s a whole different story.”Which is exactly what happened last year. Fearing a rifle shot sounded much closer than normal, Mr. Hunt jumped from bed and searched his property, finding a freshly killed deer down his driveway next to five teenagers, all armed. They left without incident. Police later interviewed the suspects, but no charges were laid.”I know that a lot of people who do this are doing it because they’re hungry. It’s subsistence hunting and I’m not against that. But I’m worried about our safety … My kids and their friends ride bikes on the highway and stuff. Pit lampers have shone lights on them,” said Hunt.He claims his neighbours have on at least one occasion jumped into the highway ditch, startled by nearby gun shots. Mr. Hunt fears for the worst because the shooters aren’t always in a cautious state of mind, hunting out of necessity, but drinking alcohol and shooting recklessly at targets. Mr. Hunt wants to see a more comprehensive approach to the issue to educate youth about the dangers of pit lamping, and even designate areas where it can be done safely away from residential zones.”Pit lamping is a big issue. There’s pretty much houses all along the 110 kilometres of paved highway. Although it’s technically illegal, people are still going to do it. So if they’re going to do it, let’s acknowledge that and move it onto the backroads.”Recently, on a night of heavy shooting at the gravel pit near his home, Mr. Hunt jumped in his car to confront whomever he found at the site. But when he arrived he saw no one, only their rifles leaning against the locked gate. Out of frustration, he says, he clubbed the sights with a piece of wood and waited to have a word with their owners. Although no violence ensued, he admits the eventual confrontation could have easily got out of hand.”I know it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I was protecting myself by doing that [to their sights]. If they can’t shoot their guns, I don’t have to worry about getting shot.”The RCMP has been in regular contact with Mr. Hunt over the incident, and the pit-lamping issue in general. “It’s not just Brendan, and it’s not just an issue for the police, but conservation as well-they’ve been dealing with it over the past few years, lots of complaints of people going out and shooting late in the night,” RCMP Queen Charlotte Sgt.Scott Hromadnik said.”We’ve been working in conjuntion with Conservation … I’ve been here for three years and it’s always been an issue.”The law allows for hunting near highways as long as the shooting takes place 15 metres away from the centre line, and is pointed in the opposite direction. However, it is illegal to hunt at night.Sgt. Hromadnik added the police take all complaints of seriously, urging the public to report illegal activity.That’s comforting for Mr. Hunt, but he’s sceptical enforcement can beat a more proactive approach.”Even if someone has to be gently urged Â… someone has to take ownership of the issue,” he said. “I’m the person living on the highway where everyone wants to come shoot, and I’m sick and tired of chasing idiot heads with guns away from my house.”

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