State Sued Over Deer Dog Hunts In The Blackwater Forest

November 13, 2014

A retired U.S. Air Force pilot and National Rifle Association member wants the state to stop hunters from using dogs to track down deer around his Panhandle property.

Claiming they have been threatened by hunters and that dogs chasing deer can scare rescued horses, William Daws, Jr., and his wife, Ouida Gershon, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Leon County circuit court against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The lawsuit seeks to stop deer-dog hunting in the portion of the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area where they have lived since 2005.

Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the agency, said Wednesday she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Daws, a hunter who spent 23 years in the Air Force, including combat service in Vietnam, isn’t seeking to outlaw the deer-dog practice in Florida, just around his section of the management area where he and a number of other people live. Such hunts are allowed 44 days a year.

“If they close it to deer-dog hunting, hunting is still allowed,” said David Theriaque, the attorney for the couple. “It’s not as if you’re closing the wildlife management area to hunting. It’s just that this particular form of hunting would be banned.”

Deer-dog hunters use canines to trail deer through the woods. The dogs are unleashed when deer tracks are found or when hunters are within areas deer are known to frequent. The hunters typically follow in pickup trucks to where the dogs are expected to round up the deer for shooting.

The state commission was advised by staff at the Sept. 10 meeting in Kissimmee that closing more areas to hunting with dogs is possible, “however, interest in hunting with dogs remains extremely high.”

A total of 155 permits were approved for the 2014-2015 season.

In seeking both a temporary and permanent injunction to halt the state agency from allowing the hunts to occur in their section of Blackwater, which runs up to the Florida-Alabama border, Daws and his wife are asking for at least $15,000 in damages, claiming the state agency’s issuance of permits to deer-dog hunters has deprived them of their constitutional rights as property owners.

“They are hunters, they support hunters,” Theriaque said. “It really boils down to they have bought land and the state is allowing people to run their dogs through. The state can stop this in a heartbeat by saying we can close deer-dog hunting in that portion of Blackwater.”

The 191,651-acre Blackwater area in Okaloosa County and Santa Rosa counties consists of public land that is interspersed with a number of privately owned properties.

In 2005, the commission reduced the allowed space within Blackwater for deer-dog hunting from 78,172 acres to 19,589 acres, while also closing a number of roads to the hunters.

According to the lawsuit, the couple has sought changes to deer-dog hunting for four years as efforts to protect rescue animals they care for on the property has resulted in being “harassed, bullied, and threatened by deer-dog hunters, including deer-dog hunters firing their guns over the heads of the Daws.”

“They don’t leave their property during daylight hours,” when it’s deer-dog season, Theriaque said. “What happens is the deer jump over the fence, or they’re already on the property, and dogs and houses don’t mix well, especially dogs that are in hot pursuit of deer.”

In an affidavit last week, William Daws said the ongoing conflict with deer-dog hunters has resulted in verbal threats, the couple’s mailbox being shot, threats to tear down fencing, and derogatory graffiti written in the road in front of the their home.

The commission has acknowledged complaints from area homeowners, and the agency has sought to reduce conflicts between homeowners and hunters.

In September the commission approved a change that would require dogs used for pursuing or hunting deer, fox or coyote within permissible areas of Blackwater to be equipped with devices that include Global Positioning Systems and behavior correctional capabilities, in other words shock collars, to keep them within allowed hunting grounds. However, because costs for the receivers and collars can run $650 to $1,100, the rule doesn’t go into effect for two years.

Daws and Gershon argue in the lawsuit that control devices aren’t completely reliable for dogs that are running leash free as “it is well established that dogs cannot read ‘No Trespassing’ signs.”

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida


89 Responses to “State Sued Over Deer Dog Hunts In The Blackwater Forest”

  1. sarge on October 19th, 2016 10:25 am

    Wait, it’s ok to break the law, anybody has the right to break the law! anybody has the right to use a defense,”I have been doing this for years , so that gives me the right to break the law”, right TRESPASSING is a heritage given right . SOUNDS like “we been breaking the law up here for years and we have the right to do this if you don’t like us breaking the law up here you shouldn’t have moved up here”. HUNTING was allowed for a man to feed his family. It’s a sport now It’s bragging rights so a hunter can puff out his or her chest and say’”I killed a deer”Say its I like to hear dogs run the deer .Not everybody that stand or still hunts over corns or hunts over a greenfield, Doghunting nor still/stand hunting is easy , BUT we are missing the issue,TRESPASSING, if I come in or on your property and I am doing anything you don’t cater to, then you have the landowners right to say NO to it. YOUR right if you own the land , doesn’t matter where the land is. “well this was going on before they moved up here” doesn’t provide a valid legal defense my rights as a property owner are actually a more valid and legal defense than we been doing this for generations as to either side breaking the law to further their point of view ,THEN they should be held accountable for their actions. THINK TRESPASSING is not LEGAL anywhere. Anybody can legally own land anywhere they find and its affordable for purchase, it is not legal anywhere to trespass on a landowners property w/out written and notarized permission in your hand, all a landowner in our urban (cities)has to say is NO don’t want you on my land. and you have to leave , SR county does not have a leash law , but if your dog TRESPASSES , youcan be held responsible, TRESPASS is the issue and it is an issue anywhere in the UNITED STATES

  2. kem sellers on January 19th, 2016 8:11 am

    I have only live here where the dog hunt area is for a short time..the dogs run all over us..i have horses too,,they don’t like the dogs rather..the dog hunters and very rude,,they call us names,threaten us,to shoot our horses,they speed,dump trash out,drink beer,and they lie..this is what I know about them..and I don’t like it…stop the dog hunting,,

  3. Lee on December 29th, 2014 11:48 am

    As someone who actually hunts in this area and have since i was a little boy, and actually lived two miles past the where the daws live right in the middle of the dog hunting section. I never had aproblem with any hunters around my property. The problem is that they were told about the dog hunting area by several people before purchasing land and most of the hunters in that area have went as far as posting signs saying no hunting or shooting before the daws property and around several areas on cleveland rd and cotton rd. bottom line is they bought property after being warned now want to complain about the area

  4. lena on November 17th, 2014 6:06 pm

    Where I’m from in Mississippi, dogs that cross private property get shot. Be thankful the city slickers are only suing.

  5. Hound lover on November 16th, 2014 8:40 pm

    Let me take a few minutes to educate you a all about the plight of the coonhound. I understand that hunting laws are protected. But it is criminal how most IRRESPONSIBLE hunters treat their dogs. Hounds are treated like inanimate throw away objects. Very few hunting hounds have had any vetting whatsoever, to include neutering or spaying. These hunters find it more “economical” to release the hounds from the boxes on the back of their trucks at the end if hunting season, into the woods to fend for themselves. They would rather do this than feed the dogs until next season. Leaving them to starve to death or found as strays and picked up by animal control and taken to the animal shelter where they haven’t a prayer to be adopted. Only the pit bull breed is euthanized more than the coonhound. BUT these are the lucky ones. Those that aren’t earning their keep with their keen hunting skills, are usually shot. It sickens me that these beautiful, breathing, soulful, loving creatures are treated like they are simply objects.
    I work tirelessly with a coonhound rescue trying to save as many hounds as possible from the hands of such cruelty. But there are simply too many that are abandoned, abused and thrown away that we can’t keep up. These magnificent creatures make wonderful and loyal companions. I have rescued 4 of my own and always have several that I foster. There may be responsible hunters that treat their hounds well and provide vet care and actually feed them…. I just haven’t ever known one.

  6. Bill on November 16th, 2014 3:43 pm

    I am not a dog hunter and I don’t disapprove of dog hunting. It’s the method they use that creates a problem, like turning dogs loose on one side of private land and 3 or 4 truck loads race to the other side to shoot the deer flushed out of the private land. Dog hunters can’t deny this. This method of hunting doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood. That being said, dog hunting is a worthy sport that could be saved by the fl legislators. They have been aware of this problem for a long time and have done nothing to help preserve the sport. Unfortunately, the laws that have been broken were mostly by dogs and it’s in the hands of the courts and they make judgements based on law so the dog hunters will lose every time. You can hang devices on dogs till they drop but it will never stop them from crossing property lines. So dog hunters demand the legislators who are supposed to work for you do so and save your sport.

  7. David on November 16th, 2014 7:26 am

    I stand corrected! Hunting is protected as a right in Florida by legislative act (F.S. 379.104). However, here’s where those devilish details come In. The ‘right to hunt’ is subject to “general law” and the Florida Constitution Section 9 Article 4 (the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). Which means, they can tell us when, where, and how we can hunt. And, they must not violate other laws in doing so.
    Therein rests the basis for the pending lawsuit, which as best as I can tell, alleges that FWCC is allowing dog hunting while knowing that it will violate the property rights of citizens. The Constitution does not give them the authority to do that.
    So it still comes down to the fact that no one has the right to allow their hunting dogs to trespass! “we can’t help it, dogs can’t read” excuses don’t count.

  8. R. T. on November 15th, 2014 9:54 pm

    I feel at this time, that I reply to comments being made. What is not being seen is that this is not about the Daws. This is about a group of 42 private land owners within the Blackwater WMA that is backing this lawsuit to the fullest along with the Daws. And after they win their lawsuit, then we all get to file. Because, you can’t continue to break the law and expect to get away with it. Land owners are fed up with being run over . p s and some body was right we will win this too . Dog hunting in black water is over now get u some of that .

  9. James on November 15th, 2014 6:19 pm

    Actually. ..anonymous you interjected your opinion as fact then at the bottom you seem to say well you dont actually know…Well try a simple Google search or call your local FWC office…Not only is it a Constitutional Right to hunt and fish as well..but it is against the law to Harass or impede a legal hunter or fisher man from hunting fishing or taking of any legal game…Been down this road before …There are actually a lot of laws and constitutional rights specific to hunters ..These are just some …if you dispute my knowledge on the subject ..I will accept your oppinion. I have my own ..I stated that everyone has their oppinion but you can’t state facts and have people with no clue of the laws and facts believe you know what your talking about… I am on both sides of this fence as a property owner I want some of the same things they want..As for the dogs…if youve never dog hunted you have no clue how much money is involved in dog hunting thousands in food and vet care tracking systems and collars dog boxes training…You Would Be Extremely Hard Pressed to find anybody who dog Hunts who even remotely wants this to happen…We have been forced to this small area by FWC and these same scenario s year after year…BETWEEN ESC RIVER MANAGEMENT LAND AND BLACK WATER Management land hundreds of thousands of acres have been taken in the past twenty years and is now left this small section of useable land….. and like I said this will never END WE Have lost year after Year.

  10. David on November 15th, 2014 1:44 pm

    Awful lot of comments suggesting that everybody else get their facts right. So, here’s a couple of facts.
    1. Every property owner has the right to use their property commensurate with the laws of Florida and the U. S. Constitution. Including the right to ‘exclude’.
    2. Florida law: FAC 68A-12.007 (2) specifically addresses the use of hunting dogs. “No person, owning, h having the care of, or using any dog, shall permit such dog to trail,pursue or molest wildlife on the lands of another person without written permission”…..
    So….for those who complain about losing their ‘right’ to hunt, another fact. Hunting is a privelege not a right! If you can’t control your dogs keep them in the box.

  11. Anonymous on November 15th, 2014 1:32 pm

    Actually James, Sasha is not the uneducated one you are! It is not a constitutional right to hunt, to bear arms yes, but NOT to hunt. Hunting is a privilege, much like that of driving a car, that requires a license that can be revoked at any time by government agencies when deemed appropriate. However it is a right for a landowner to be able to enjoy and live on their property without violation from State sanctioned activities according to the 5th amendment. This amendment says that the government may not deprive citizens of “life, liberty, or property” without due process of law. By allowing dog hunters to trespass onto private property the State is depriving the Daw’s from their property. Unless I am mistaken I do NOT believe that the amendment reads the government cannot deprive a citizen from hunting.

  12. James on November 15th, 2014 12:17 pm

    Everyone is due their opinions….!!! I Have my own ..Hunting laws have changed year after year ..gun laws change year after year…Hunting land is lessened year after year…But there Is something that doesn’t change….The Fact that Year after Year hunters will loose ..Its been enough and it won’t stop with the Daws..Chris Gauthier is correct this is a new breed of dog hunters and GPS collars dont lie..Liars do….!!!!! And poor dear uneducated sasha hunting is In fact a RIGHT..not a a privilege. .unless your a convicted felon it is indeed a RIGHT..same as the right to eat… you some research its a constitutional right….Sasha is the kind of people we can’t win against.oppinionated and uneducated as well as a non hunter…!!!!

  13. CW on November 15th, 2014 9:22 am

    “, let us not paint all dog hunters with the Ignorant red neck, or trailer trash label. ”

    Well, that’s how most of the comments here make it appear to be, especially when you hear things like “Yankee city slickers need to move”.

  14. lc on November 15th, 2014 8:32 am

    This property was purchased from Willie Jones in 2000. Mr. Jones farmed his piece of property.

    I own horses and dogs. The dogs do not chase my horses and the horses ignore the dogs.

    There was a fence built by the hunter’s to keep the dogs off of the property, but this was not good enough. She wanted the fenced modified. Please be sure and get all of the facts!

  15. J . R. escambia on November 14th, 2014 9:53 pm

    at one time several years ago I was an avid dog hunter, and really enjoyed it. As time passed on it became quite obvious that as the huntable land acreage steadily declined, dog hunting would be, by land loss alone, necessarily steadily cut back, and eventually eliminated. The Daws are good people and are only asking to be undisturbed by the hunters and their dogs.However, let us not paint all dog hunters with the Ignorant red neck, or trailer trash label. Many are good sportsmen and good neighbors. Just believe this will be worked out to everyone#s satisfaction.

  16. Daniel on November 14th, 2014 3:04 pm

    I cant help but to read peoples comments and just shake my head in disapproval of their ignorance. You read this article and hear stories and have painted an image of what you think to be true. Have little or no knowledge except from the people doing all the crying. What you don’t hear is the other side of the story. The story that says this same family has been a threat to not only the dog hunters, but also their dogs. You don’t hear of how the dog hunters have bent over backwards spend countless amounts of money trying to satisfy this family which has in fact moved to an area that this has been going on in for years. You don’t hear about this family catching dogs that don’t belong to them and ripping off their collars so that the owners couldn’t find their dogs. You don’t hear about the fence placed around the property by dog hunters trying to keep the peace. You don’t hear about this family trying to run off hunters in the states woods around their land. The dog hunters and law enforcement has both tried and tired again to do everything possible to make this family happy. It cannot be done. Please try to be more open minded instead of making ignorant comments that is effecting so many peoples rights. Which you should also be considering fighting for. Their are many things on this planet I don’t agree with. But it doesn’t mean I should force everyone else not to be able to do it. This same thing happened to God in our schools.

  17. perdido fisherman on November 14th, 2014 2:20 pm

    I bet all of ya’ll complaining about this couple would feel the same way they do if it was your property being violated and don’t tell me you would welcome a bunch of strangers running dogs or doing anything else on your land. This couple could be sued if one of these hunters is injured on thier land, ya’ll know you wouldn’t want that responsibility either. It’s THIER land, not Black water managements land.

  18. Hunter on November 14th, 2014 12:32 pm

    Here is a solution I would suggest.

    (Eminent domain)The property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties, who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, to economic development.

    Just take the land from the Daws problem solved.

  19. jeeperman on November 14th, 2014 7:35 am

    I have read comments on other sites posting this same article.
    According to others, the 63 acres that are owned by the Daws has been in the same family way before the state bought property to create Blackwater Forest.
    A man leaves the homestead and joins the Air Force, retires an comes home to live on his families land the rest of his life.
    To me he is entitled to do so without others ragging on about he should move back to where he came from or he should not have bought a property located there.

  20. Eric on November 14th, 2014 7:05 am

    I’m almost 100% sure that the dog hunters wouldn’t be threatening the family unless they were threatening to kill their dogs. I dog hunt in blackwater and in other locations and it’s common place to receive a threat in response to the threats made against our deer dogs. I’m not talking death threats or anything crazy but justified legal action would be sought out. Dogs purposely turned loose on private land is dead wrong but dogs can’t read that sign posted on that tree and we do our best to keep them off of other people’s private land. Not to mention as stated in previous comments they should have researched the area before moving there. Dog Hunting In that area was there long before they even thought of moving to that location

  21. Jane on November 14th, 2014 3:36 am

    If you are running your dogs on someone’s private property and then threatening them, let me ask you this: how would you feel if they did that to you and your family? It is not about “city people” moving to the country. It is not as if they could move horses into the city. It is about trespassing on other people’s property and causing damage, and when they object you threaten them. This is happening to several families in this area. So next time you run your dogs onto someone’s property, please stop to think how you would feel if someone did that to you?

  22. Anonymous on November 13th, 2014 11:55 pm

    Ok first off there is plenty of land in town where this ignorant couple can take their rescue animals and live in peace. The hunters are NOT casting their dogs on her property like y’all are making it sound. They just end up there sometimes. Noone wants to go near their home intentionally. Most of the hunters have grown up here and been hunting this land since childhood she’s been here 9 years and causing trouble for 9 years it’s time for them to either deal with the way things are and have always been or move.

  23. adam on November 13th, 2014 9:59 pm

    I think these people are pure idiots they sit on the back of there property waiting for dogs to come across when they do they will catch them and call FWC and we the hunters get the big fines. So wish they would go back where they came from.

  24. Bim on November 13th, 2014 9:56 pm

    I hear a lot of stuff about the city dwellers moving to the forest and and complaining about the dog hunters. Well the truth is many of us have lived here for years and tolerated these weekend warriors coming to the Forest in the name of hunting to play havoc with there bubba trucks and half starved hounds. Most of them are suburbanites from the local surrounding cities. This is the 21st century and laws and times change so get used to Change and stop crying and suck it up

  25. Bill on November 13th, 2014 8:48 pm

    This was not about who was here first, it’s about the legal rights of property owners. If I bought property near an airport I shouldn’t complain about the noise but if they keep landing in my backyard I would have a complaint.
    If dog hunters wanted to hunt the property involved they should have bought it when it was on the market. Squatters rights don’t apply in a democracy.
    I have been hunting in BMA before most of these dog hunters were born but that doesn’t give me the right to trample on anyone’s legal rights.
    There is plenty of land in BMA for the dog hunters in areas with little or no private property owners. Why can’t these areas be opened?

  26. KAPN on November 13th, 2014 8:33 pm

    Opening day of dog season is less than two weeks away. Seems to me the Daws filing a lawsuit is a caculated move.

  27. dewey harp on November 13th, 2014 8:02 pm

    i am a neighbor of hers , these people have 65 acres fenced off ,but 300 ft in the back of their property is bob wire which allows the dogs to enter in pursute of deer , which is hard to get to with no road access . we have offerered them to fence this off at our expense , they told every lie in the book that they couldnt , wet lands etc , all lies , they have caught dogs outside their property and had fwc write tickets that dogs was running deer on their property when these were house dogs ,they lost these cases . i have helped these people chase their horses in blackwater and have vidio of their german shepards in my yard which we ran them home . sooner or later people will see these people lie and try to control this forest , and yes where was the complaints 100 years prior to them moving up here ? every neighbor hood has one .

  28. Crystal on November 13th, 2014 7:57 pm

    Wow all I can say to these people suing over dog hunting in blackwater is to go back to whatever you came from!! I live here in blackwater and I have family and friends who dog hunt and it has never bothered anybody till you so called city slickers started moving here in hunting country! Especially dog hunting!! Get over it!! You moved here, you can move back to where you came from! Should have done your research before buying land here! Sorry we ant gonna Stand for this! It’s a tradition here and will stay a tradition here!! Been around for along time so Sell your crap and leave!

  29. Regina on November 13th, 2014 7:50 pm

    I hear the hunters talking about tradition and I have this to say about that. I would like to have the right to start a tradition of having my children and grandchildren at my home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  30. REF on November 13th, 2014 7:39 pm

    This is just a stepping stone to close all hunting yes they have rights as a property owner but the hunters have rights also..They knew about dog hunting in the area long before they moved there and now want people to stop. It’s suppose to be state land not daws state forest..If they approve to close the dog hunting then next it will be still hunting, bow hunting etc. Seems to me a for sale sign in the front yard would be a start to end the problem their facing then they can go to the subdivision and moan about the neighbor parking the car on wrong side of the street.. just my two cents..

  31. ricky lambeth on November 13th, 2014 7:02 pm

    People have been dog deer hunting there for years, so why would these people want to move thereif they dont like it.? …..they are miserable people!!! Who think everybody should be just like them. These kind of people should be spayed and neuterd

  32. Pitiful on November 13th, 2014 6:51 pm

    I have no problem with dog hunting, but as a landowner, I would be pissed if people, dogs and weapons were continually trespassing on my property. You want to hunt,then stay on the reserve. It’s not the land owners fault, blaming the “transplants” is ignorant.
    As a parent of a small child, the owner of dogs and livestock, I am concerned about the safety of my family and animals. Loose dogs that are on the hunt and hunters jacked up on adrenaline is the Last thing I want trampling through my property on a daily basis.
    Again, hunt all you want, just stay within the boundary or move your hunt further in so your dogs don’t run on to private property. And if you still have a problem, go buy your own land and do as you please on it.
    The few hunters who Blame private property owners for your trespassing is what give the whole bunch a bad name.

  33. JOHN D. BODIE on November 13th, 2014 5:43 pm

    Just curious, did these folks know there was dog hunting allowed when they moved there. I used to hunt some but I dont anymore. The deer may have more of a chance to get away with dogs chasing them, other than being ambushed, Lol..Just wondering. I am for whatever is right and I am not quite sure what is….thanks

  34. HW on November 13th, 2014 4:48 pm

    I am not a Hunter but I do own property here in the Blackwater Forest. I have lived here for 23 years and Must comment that numerous times deer dogs have come up at my house. They are starved and, frankly, I am afraid of them. Rabies and disease and starvation seem to be the normal with these dogs. I am guilty of calling someone to come catch them and take them away. I do not want them around my Grandchildren. I am lucky enough to live in an area that does not allow dog hunting but I know what these property owners are going through There is no respect from the Dog Hunters. They will lie and tell the FWC Officers what they want them to hear. They make us out to be the liars. Dog Hunters only make up 3 per cent of the Hunters coming to the Forest to hunt. They have no right to come on private property and do as they please. It belongs to me not to them and they need to understand this. It matters not if they have been doing this for generations, the property belongs to me, me , me.

  35. Ed on November 13th, 2014 4:48 pm

    If every time you turn a dog loose and it goes on private property, where it is not wanted, it causes problems like this for all dog hunters.

  36. Alex on November 13th, 2014 4:45 pm

    Blaming the home owner…better read the hunting come onto my private land with a gun,without my WRITTEN PERMISSION,it is a FELONY,if you survive

  37. BR on November 13th, 2014 4:37 pm

    Deer Dog Hunters harass and threaten me on my property. I am a Hunter and I still hunt on my own property.
    Dog Hunters only make up about 3 percent of the Hunters who come to FWC to hunt. They have no respect for private property owners and our Constitutional Rights. If they wanted to hunt on the land then they had the opportunity to purchase it the same as I did. Now I own it and I demand that they respect my rights.

    FWC needs to put a buffer zone around all private property in the Blackwater Forest. High powered rifles and cross bows being shot around homes and property should be illegal. A stray Bullet can be someone’s life. For personal safety FWC and State of Florida needs to consider who pays the property taxes in this part of Florida. It sure is not the Dog Hunters Associations.

  38. Joe on November 13th, 2014 4:20 pm

    FYI…..The hunters don’t have to purchase the property because they already own it. It belongs to the people of the state of Florida. Those hunting license that the dog hunters and other hunters purchase help the state pay for it.. Some of you anti-hunters really should read the paper more often.

  39. Florida Hunter on November 13th, 2014 4:14 pm

    Why buy property in the Blackwater Wildlife Management Area where dog hunting is allowed if you don’t like it. It is not like they bought the property and then they started allowing dog hunting, the dog hunting was going on long before 2005. This is as ridiculous as filing a law suit to have Hwy 89 closed because I live next to it where cars, trucks, eighteen wheelers, tractors, combines, fire trucks, all run up and down it day and night 365 days a year (not just 44 days). Everyone has a choice of where they live so if you choose to live there you need to deal with it. If you will leave the hunters alone they will leave you alone.

  40. Jason Brown on November 13th, 2014 3:51 pm

    I loved hunting with hounds but people like the daws and this situation are the main reason I don’t anymore. It is a shame this is happening all over again. It troubles me that if these people get their way it could possibly escalate further than the majority of us would like to see and the daws are not bargaining for. I don’t have a dog in this hunt so to say but as a true hunter and outdoorsman I side with the houndsmen. If these people truly want peace they need to stop this nonsense before it is too late. Even a little kitten backed into a corner can cause major damage. It is scary when you start taking a man’s freedom and rights away you don’t exactly know how they will react.

  41. Dakota Babb on November 13th, 2014 3:42 pm

    Mr. Daws harassed me & my dad for walking BEHIND there property saying he didn’t want us hunting back there. It’s state property not Daws property. He has motion cameras he said he seen us on & came through his fence with his dogs to see what we were doing. I’m 21 years old & have bein hunting for as long as I can remember and to see how much things have changed over the years makes me sick. Closing the west side was a mistake. If ALL residents of the land that were allowed to dog hunt on would work with us instead of against us the traditional could stay alive. When you move to that part of NWF you know what goes on up there. You choose to live there. SEDHA has bent over backwards to help all who is willing to let us.

  42. Maggie on November 13th, 2014 3:28 pm

    Landowner near BWSF…. I’m not buying your story. I have lived my whole life in the middle of Blackwater State Forest. These heroic individuals like to “stir the pot.” They harass and taunt the hunters. They have moved to Blackwater State Forest and now they want to complain about Blackwater State Forest. It’s ridiculous and selfish. I’m sure they could find land elsewhere but they love the attention and chaos. The fact he is a veteran has no significance. He fought for freedom just to take away the freedom of others. Because the way he feels is all that matters. Disturbing

  43. Bill on November 13th, 2014 3:14 pm

    It is not about who was here first, it’s about the legal rights of property owners, regardless of when or why they bought it or where they came from. If I bought land next to an airport I should not complain about the noise but if they land an airplane in my back yard I have the right to complain. Property owners have rights By Law not to be trespassed on. Squatters rights don’t apply in a democracy. If the dog hunters wanted to hunt here they should have purchased the land when it was on the market! I was hunting in MBA before most of these dog hunters were born but that doesn’t give me the right to trample on anyone’s rights as property owners. There’s plenty of BMA public land that has very little or no private property so why don’t they just move the hunting area?

  44. Just Saying on November 13th, 2014 2:51 pm

    These particular landowners have done nothing but complain since they purchased their land and moved in. They, like a few others that do nothing but complain …… “their dogs ran through my yard, etc.” , well, my goodness, I wonder if they have complained because the bear, the fox, the deer, etc ran through their yard, I’m just betting they would if they thought they could get away with it.

    Enough of the “woe is me pity party”, pack your bags and leave the forest. The hunters have lost too many priviledges as it is becuase of whinning immature individuals. As far as I’m concerned, the courts should explain to these people that they hunting was there before they were and they can except it or leave. But then I am left to wonder if our courts have any backbone about themselves anymore …… this may prove to be interesting.

    To the courts …. I am not a hunter; however, if you wanted to do what was right ….. you would reopen everything North of Highway 4 to Dog Hunting and everything South of Highway 4 to Still Hunting.

  45. Thomas broxson on November 13th, 2014 2:17 pm

    I’m not a dog hunter I bow hunt an I have been huntin there she doesn’t want any hunting there I had no clue when I started hunting there she started making all kinds of noise I did not mind the noise it ran the deer to us but then she brought her k9 out to us while we was hunting came straight to the tree my buddy was in an was talking to him for about 15 mins he had to ask her to please leave I’m hunting then she went back to her side an started making the noise again so we got down an went a mile down the road an walked back in to the same spot an stuck a deer then went they heard my crossbow when I shot she was very mad an got really loud but we did call fwc and filed reports but it didn’t do any good I wish she would have just talked to me an we would have been willing to compromise with her

  46. Bobby on November 13th, 2014 1:47 pm

    The story starts off with the statement that this gentleman spent 23 years in the air force.defending our freedom but now he wants the powers that be to take that privilege away from us dog hunters. He should be ashamed of his self !!!!!!!!!!

  47. big block on November 13th, 2014 1:37 pm

    I think its a bunch of bull. Why in the hell did they move out there to start with its dog hunting it always has been. An they move in here an think they got the right to get it stopped an wanting money from the state I think the judge should tell them to move or stop worrying about it. There are more dog hunter that do right then there are that dose what they want to dog like turning out on peoples land go out there and stop them if you see them doing it these folks are Yankees an need to move back north sure wish all the old timers where still alive they be in the yard waiting on the deer an them give you your dogs but its over with like that to many people that are stuck up an think they own the woods around them.

  48. Dog-Hunting Lover on November 13th, 2014 1:13 pm

    Hey “Bambi”…… I sure pray that you are a vegetarian and do not eat chicken nor cows … Wanna know how these animals are slaughter??

    It’s called population control!
    Praying for you :)

  49. CD on November 13th, 2014 1:13 pm

    Same situation as the gun range in Gulf Breeze. If ya don’t want deer dogs around your property, then DON’T buy the property. Really folks, it ain’t rocket science. As a lifelong deer hunter, I’ve never used dogs but I don’t oppose those who do. It is a deep seated Florida tradition!

  50. fred johnson on November 13th, 2014 1:13 pm

    I`m a 75 yr. old hunter. I have been a dog hunter all my life.They are complaining about dog hunters, well I will hunt with dogs till the day I die. Their are people complaining about Coyote and bear coming into their yards. Why ?.Because they stopped dog hunting. By the way, I live 3 blocks from a shooting range. The county gave them 20 acres of land. They said if I don`t like it then I can move.

  51. Dakota Babb on November 13th, 2014 1:12 pm

    SEDHA has done everything possible for these people even taking the time to build a fence around there property. If they don’t like it MOVE. Don’t take away from hundreds of hunters. I want my boys to be able to run dogs when there old enough. I’d rather keep them in the woods then in the streets doin things they shouldn’t, stuff that would get them put away. This is getting rediculous!

  52. curious on November 13th, 2014 1:08 pm

    Why did they buy property bordering a place where dog hunting is allowed? Me, I would love it, start shooting their deer as they run through, or catch dog & take to pound, worse case scenario, in state of Florida, property owners can protect their livestock, so just shoot the dog & call law & humane society, after a few dogs go down, they’ll start catching them. A neighbor shot my brother’s puppy, he said puppy was messing with his livestock, & didn’t even have to give puppy back to my brother & never did.

  53. Joe on November 13th, 2014 12:56 pm

    Bambi….shame on anyone who participates in this ritual.
    Seriously? You should really research the history of the north-American white tail deer in Blackwater . The majority of these deer were brought in for sport and management paid for by tax payer dollars. Due to the fact that Florida Game & Fish doesn’t really manage them anymore, what’s left? These “lovely creatures” are the same vermin that cause the majority of auto accidents in and around the forest. They also eat farmer’s crops and carry disease. They need to be thinned out. If this frivolous lawsuit is NOT thrown out then the locals need to sue the state of Florida. Local farmers, gardeners and numerous insurance companies that have had to pay claims. It doesn’t end there. Leave the dog hunters alone. They pay for their right to hunt.

  54. Bad Boy on November 13th, 2014 12:36 pm

    The Daws are not they only ones that have trouble with dog hunters. All t he land owners in the area have had trouble with them. the dog hunters go crazy when season opens, they don’t care who they run off the road who’s property they run over
    or who they hurt .

    They would cry like a little baby if someone turn a load of dogs loose in their yard,but it’s okay for them to run over other peoples property .

    I thank the hunters are missing the point , they are trespassing they should get a ticket every time there dogs get on other people property.

    Just because they have all ways done it.

    They use to wear diapers too.

  55. Landowner near BWSF on November 13th, 2014 12:24 pm

    I have a heritage too in the BWSF. My family on both sides were original landowners in that community. They did and I “do”enjoy the pristine beauty of that “beautiful part of heaven on earth”. We were not “transplants”, but farmed the land and made our living from it. So don’t talk about your heritage and right to it. A landowner then or now have rights to their property and it doesn’t include a clause for allowing for dogs and hunters.

    However, it seems to me that hunters feel that they have rights that extend beyond the landowners….maybe the equivalent of mineral right… I don’t know. I well remember when I was a little girl, one of our neighbors got beat up by a gang of hunters because he didn’t want them pushing down his fence and trampling through his fields so they could follow their dogs on a deer trail. I also remember the hunters blocking the roads and intimated drivers that needed to pass. Even the school bus drivers weren’t exempt.

    You many say, “That was then and this is now”. I would say, “That’s ridiculous!” If it weren’t for people like the Daw’s and other heroic individuals, there would be no protection at all for the landowners. Thank goodness times are changing. Otherwise, it would be the good old days with all the hunter gangs COMPLETLEY unleashed to do as they pleased again.

    And no, I am not a liberal democrat…of all the nerve!

  56. Hillbilly on November 13th, 2014 12:03 pm

    We’ll a lot been done to make one person happy an she still not if u close dog hunten in black water then were can we hunt the state of Florida say if I put a fence up around my land to keep my dogs off ur land then I can’t run my dogs because that is intrapment for the deer so tell me what to to do I don’t like pouring a bag of corn on the ground an sit all day to shoot one that not fun to me I got in ildeal how about black water give dog hunters land in still hunt areas were there is no land owners to fuss at us instead of doing away with dog hunten an I do have horses to an my dogs run the other way from them happy hunten

  57. bambi on November 13th, 2014 11:24 am

    what a horrific sport to begin with. no wonder the world is the way it is…actions speak louder than words and this action proves no credit to anything except stalkers and killers of defenseless and scared beings who have no rights to anything…..give the deer a gun and bullet proof vest to call it even and fair ….shame on anyone who participates in this ritual.

  58. Dennis HE Wiggins on November 13th, 2014 11:10 am

    I am going to take both sides on this issue.

    First, dog hunting is a sport that has been enjoyed for generations. My grandfather used to take me when I was young. I do not practice it now, nor have I in decades, but I always enjoyed spending time in the woods with him and his dogs. The Dawses should have known what happened in the area around the property when they bought it. At that point they should have made a decision – buy it and live with the “nuisance” or find a property more suitable for what they desired.

    On the other hand, provided they are being honest in their claims, some of the hunters ARE a nuisance. Since it may be quite difficult, maybe even impossible, for the State to cull out the bad hunters, then possibly the only recourse IS to ban dog hunting in the area. I will say emphatically, the FIRST time someone intentionally fires a gun in my direction (over my head) will be the LAST time they fire a gun ANYWHERE. That is too much like a threat to my life for me to wait and see if they will really follow through with it – especially if I am on my own property!

  59. joey on November 13th, 2014 11:09 am

    I hope that the plaintiffs win only because it will curb the abuse of the dogs. I feel that animal rights activists should also get involved with this lawsuit and solve two problems.

  60. jeeperman on November 13th, 2014 10:44 am

    Lets get real.
    Perhaps all members of this SEDHA are saints.
    We all know not all dog hunters are part of or support SEDHA.
    It appears to be a valiant effort to improve their “image” and protect their current hunting privileges.

    When this parcel, surrounded by WMA came up for sale, why did the state not buy it? You have to admit the state shares blame for allowing this situation to develop.

  61. Rachel Cooley on November 13th, 2014 10:43 am

    Just like everything else in this world; there are always two sides to EVERY story, and most people only get to hear the side from the one creating/causing the issue and conflict. There has been many things done and compromises made to accommodate to this family for them to not have dogs enter onto their property. I’m sure what this man and his wife won’t tell you is all the “harassing/bullying” actions they have shown to hunters who have gone far out of their way to keep this family happy and safe on their own property. This family needs to be prayed for! I believe this family has had something happen in their life that has cause hatred to dwell in their hearts, and they need to find some control in their life to be able to ruin others to fill that void, They need to let go and let The Lord in…….

  62. stump on November 13th, 2014 9:54 am

    I don’t hunt Blackwater but do know the situation and yes SEDHA and the hunters have bent over backwards to accommodate these people and nothing will satisfy them. If you file a false police report it is against the law so after so many reports that the FWC has filed and found no violations why is haven’t these people been charged with filing a false report.

  63. Dustin Hatfield on November 13th, 2014 9:52 am

    I started dog hunting with my dad when I was a kid, I always loved it. It showed me good times and respect for life and wildlife in the woods. Dog hunting isn’t easy and cruel like most people think. Its hard to kill a moving deer. Much harder than sitting in a shooting house waiting on them to stand still. Dog hunters get a great idea of heard size and quality, and can help manage population. I’m 19 now and I just got my own 2 dogs and I love them and they love what they do. For years people have been trying to close down dog hunting for “messing up their property and making too much noise”. Here’s the thing. You knew it was going on there, its a state forest and one of the last few areas dog hunting is allowed. I never got to hunt the land they closed down to dog hunting a few years ago because I was too young, and it killed me because I had so many memories in those parts of blackwater. Now dog hunters are cramped together and trying their hardest to get along with each other and private property owners because we are scared to death it will be closed down. Fences have been built to try and keep dogs out because horror stories of hunting dogs being pinned down and captured by bigger capture dogs these private property owners own have surfaced. I love my dogs to death and I’m scared every time they come within a hundred acres of these peoples property. I do everything In my power to keep all dogs out of their because I love hunting dogs. These dogs know and love what they do, but they don’t know “hey I’m getting close to a private area.” To them its just fun and being free to run. Its a shame that I have to be scared for my dogs in one of the last few places they can run. I shouldn’t have to worry about showing my kids the beauty of dog hunting in beautiful blackwater not ever happening because it dissapeared. Thank you for your time.

  64. DB on November 13th, 2014 9:50 am

    I have had horses for years a hound will not chase a horse.the horse will chase the dog.I have saw horses that will try and kill a dog or animal if it gets in their territory.

  65. Sasha on November 13th, 2014 9:10 am

    Landowners should not be blamed for buying property in Blackwater. The dog hunters had the opportunity to buy the property as well if they wanted to continue to use it for hunting. Just because you are in a hunting area is no excuse to be trespassed on, harassed, or violated against. These landowners have just as much right to enjoy their passions on their properties. We live in America and everyone person has the right to live on their property in peace. Hunting is not a right, it is a privilege that is being abused.

  66. M in Bratt on November 13th, 2014 9:07 am

    I can’t believe the gall of these dog hunters that somehow believe that they have the God given right to trample all over private property, race up and down the roads, and otherwise make a menace and bullies of themselves in the name of sport. Maybe the real estate code should add “dog hunting in the area” to the list of required disclaimers they must make to perspective property buyers. They now have to declare; termites, lead paint, structural damage, and other pests. Why not have to declare these pests as well.

  67. Chris Gauthier (Bird) on November 13th, 2014 8:57 am

    A new generation of dog hunters has moved in and started helping people in the community around that area as well as neighboring counties in Northwest Florida. Since the founding of SEDHA (South Eastern Dog Hunters Association) A new Breed of Dog Hunters has been born in an effort to keep what we love to do alive.We have become strong and plan on doing more for the communties. We have banned together and started policing ourselves to keep this kind of thing from happening in the future. We are growing and becoming Stronger every day and as we do we are reaching out to property owners all over and working with them.

  68. D hart on November 13th, 2014 8:36 am

    i’m not a dog hunter and I’ve been hearing about people trying to stop dogs running in the states surrounding the south it’s heritage the dogs don’t catch the deer The dogs don’t even Horm the deer sounds like someone moved to the country it wants their peace and quiet but I should have looked into where they purchase landthey’ve only lived there since 2005 dog hunting in that area has been going on way longer than that so one person should have the right to change that when you have many others to enjoy and respect that ,the only time hunters come across people that don’t hunt is when they go looking for them

  69. Phillip Hill on November 13th, 2014 8:33 am

    If he is atrue hunter , then he knew beforehand how hunting was done there. It was his choice to move there.Sounds like another liberal democrat trying to run things his way.

  70. david on November 13th, 2014 8:33 am

    Comments blaming new residents for the problem are as misplaced as is the “we were here first” logic. I’ve lived adjacent to the management area for a very long time and like many neighbors we’ve lived with this ” sport” and the threats, bullying, intimidation, and vandalism for decades! If dog hunters had kept their dogs off private property, there would never been a problem! But, as every dog hunter knows,”dogs can’t read”, so here we are. If you want to blame someone take a good look in the mirror!

  71. Joe on November 13th, 2014 8:16 am

    Here’s an idea… Don’t move to Blackwater Forest and then complain about what goes on there. I am so tired of transplants moving here and trying to change the traditions of this area. If you don’t like it move to one of your other homes. The money for the hunting license is already earmarked for forest expenses and improvements. I have some questions…. Do they have the adequate license to take care of rescued animals? What about the zoning of their property? Perhaps they should be investigated. That’s my suggestion.

  72. Mark Reeves on November 13th, 2014 8:12 am

    I do not dog hunt but I do realize that the dog hunting area has already been reduced to a very small tract. The state FWC is responsible for concentrating all of these hunters into this small area thus causing more problems than there would have been.
    The property owners have the right to sale anytime they want and could likely profit from the fence the Dog Hunters Association built for them! You moved into a dog hunt area….You can move out. I’m sure lots of people would volunteer to help!

  73. MB on November 13th, 2014 8:09 am

    The sad part of this story is before these people had even set the first post in the ground, a wildlife officer that works that area told me that she had told him she was going to put a stop to dog hunting in that area.If its a lie he told it.

  74. big Dawg's 36 on November 13th, 2014 7:50 am

    This landowner has called the game and fish officers on a daily basis and the officers have found no violations from the hunters The southeastern dog hunters association and the state has worked very close with this landowner to clear right of way and put up fence up around their property at no cost to them The dog hunters(Sedha) have also put up NO SHOOTING ZONES around their property SEDHA has also helped out family’s in Blackwater with cutting firewood, fixing barns, roofs on houses and also donated over 2 tons of dog food to PAWS in Okaloosa county Dog hunting has been going on for generations and SEDHA is 100% committed to help keep this tradition alive and to work with the state and the landowners every way possible to keep this tradition alive for our kids and grandkids

  75. joe on November 13th, 2014 7:43 am

    I was in my stand, on my family own land when a dog hunter come on this private land that is separated by a public road from Blackwater, released multiple dogs and shot into the bushes near my stand I was in, 1/4 mile from road. I was able to hear the shot going thru the bushes… I have dog hunted in the past, it is expensive, and it is dangerous… Now this gives me a bad attitude against the out of date practice of hunting with dogs and their owners…. This is only one example of many of my negative views of released dog hunting …. just my 2 cents….

  76. Jon Boy on November 13th, 2014 7:22 am

    The dog hunters went in and put a fence around her place to keep this from happening last summer and they still ain’t happy they should just be happy with that I have been hunting up there for 7 years.

  77. anonomous on November 13th, 2014 7:21 am

    Half of the things there saying the dog hunters are doing is not true unfortunatly im one of the hunters who have had to put up with the daws for several years its amazing how you dont even have to be huntong near there property and all they have to do is hear a dog way off in the distance and they have certain law enforcement officers on speed dial because its the same ones showing up every single time not only are they showing up there constantly stopping at there gate these particular game wardens and will sit there and talk and talk with the dawses i for one think its retarded ok you sent your investigators up here last year everytime you got a false claim from the dawses stating we had dogs on there property and everytime we were able to prove we never were on the property thanks to global positioning collars and why I have no clue but why didnt they ever do anything to them when they claim those false claims to law enforcement officers

  78. M in Bratt on November 13th, 2014 7:07 am

    I certainly wish Mr. Daws the best of luck with his lawsuit. Anybody that has been in or near the forest where dog hunting is going on knows that dog hunters can be the bullies of the woods. They have no consideration for others when they race around the woods in their trucks trying to get ahead of the chase, and put other drivers lives at risk with their reckless driving. They also have no respect for anybody’s property rights, as they will run their dogs across private property without regard to the owners or their livestock. They think like James R; They shouldn’t have bought property there because I like to run my dogs there. I am for peace and tranquility in the forest, so lets outlaw chasing deer with dogs forever in Fl.

  79. Daniel hardy on November 13th, 2014 6:44 am

    Dog hunting has been a tradition in Florida for generations 99 percent of the people that have a problem with it have moved into dog hunt areas from who knows where. I feel before you move or buy property some where You should know what your moving into. If you don’t like people who enjoy dog hunting don’t move into an area where this takes place. Would you move on a golf course if you didn’t like people that golf?

  80. Pop on November 13th, 2014 6:39 am

    Well said James R.

  81. Jeremy Nolan on November 13th, 2014 6:31 am

    People are so ignorant
    You buy a house by an airport
    and complain aboutt the noise
    Guess what you can do , move yourself back to the city !!
    Stupid People r killing this country

  82. Big Worm on November 13th, 2014 6:28 am

    They should have never bought land and built a house in the middle of a Management Area where it is legal to run dogs. Last time I checked the dogs can not read No Trespassing Signs!!

  83. jeeperman on November 13th, 2014 6:19 am

    Perhaps if it was not for a few rogue dog hunters that harass and threaten them, there would be no lawsuit.
    But then we have those with the only argument of dog hunters have been dog hunting for decades. And if you do not like that, tough, we were here first.
    Factories, treatment plants and airport/combat training operations do pursue and harass adjacent landowners.

  84. country girl on November 13th, 2014 6:14 am

    You hit the nail on the head buddy! City people move to the country then fuss that the tractors are loud or the crop duster is flying too low. That just cracks me up.

  85. Mcdavid on November 13th, 2014 6:07 am

    There’s two sides to every story these people prob was threatening the people’s dogs and messing with them I know some old timers and you mess with their dogs you gonna be in trouble it’s always the city people moving out to the country and crying wolf makes me sick go back to the suburbs

  86. DF on November 13th, 2014 5:57 am

    From what I read in this article, I agree with James R. It appears that the property owners are trying to stop something that was going on there long before they purchased the land.
    I also think the law mentioned that requires the dogs to have tracking collars and shocking collars is ridiculous. Obviously the people coming up with these ideas have no clue. You can’t just shock a dog and expect the dog to know it was shocked because he/she crossed a property line. More than likely, this will end up ruining the hunting dog. From my experience, most hunters use these shocking collars to break the dogs from running the wrong type of game.

  87. 429SCJ on November 13th, 2014 4:28 am

    Man was hunting with dogs long before he began riding horses.

    If this Johnny-Come-Lately does not like the running of dogs, he should have purchased property elsewhere.

  88. c.w. on November 13th, 2014 4:03 am

    Here is another case of someone moving into a area knowing full well what the area allows, and then trying to change it to their liking. These people are starting something they will regret in the long run. Bottom line, if you don’t like what goes on in a area, don’t move there and try to change the world to your liking.

  89. James R on November 13th, 2014 3:10 am

    This is absolutely ludicrous. Dog hunting in the state forest was legal well before this couple purchased land and moved from out of area. To exempt over one hundred hunters from continuing what has been legal for decades due to a few households not performing research and using due diligence prior to purchasing property is ridiculous. This lawsuit is frivolous and should be dismissed. This is no different than a couple buying a home next to a sewage treatment plant and then filing a lawsuit 9-years later against the public works department to have the treatment plant shut down. Or similarly, adults purchasing homes around the Eglin and Hurlbert AF bases and then complaining because of the noise pollution from fighter jets. Why does it seem so many people these days have turned off common sense and opted instead for pure ignorance and narrow mindedness?!

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