Community Services Manager / Parks and Recreation Manager Chris Linsbeck addressed the members of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at the regular meeting on August 23, 2022 to discuss options for access to the Hunters Lake boat ramp due to complaints about duck hunting on the lake.
The general consensus seemed to focus on law enforcement, rather than restricting access to the lake. No vote was taken during this meeting.
Trouble on Hunters Lake was addressed in 2019 when several residents complained of noise and gunfire from duck hunters on the lake. In March of 2019, the board passed a resolution requesting the FWC to designate the canals of Hunters Lake as bird sanctuaries, thereby prohibiting hunting. Currently hunting is still allowed on the lake and canals.
Linsbeck began by saying, “We cannot regulate any hunting on Hunters Lake.”
The first option is to manually close the boat ramp at a designated time. It’s not recommended by Linsbeck, because the contract for that employee is ending soon. Linsbeck’s second option, solar-powered automatic gates are recommended.
The third option is to close the boat ramp completely during hunting season, leaving it a 24-hour boat ramp for the rest of the year. Option four is to leave the ramp open 24 hours a day all year.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes was the first to state his position, “They’ve been duck hunting in that lake ever since Hernando County was here. Then you get people who move in, and they hear a gun, and … the world is coming to an end. I don’t think we should do anything.”
Adding to that, Dukes said, “Now what we could do, if we had the money … is get it cleaned up enough where we could actually get a good boat into the lake. We had $350,000 at one time, and the commission pulled it back for other reasons, so we never really cleaned up the launch area.”
The commissioners discussed previous complaints from residents of Hunters Lake regarding the hearing of gunfire after dark and fears of projectiles striking their homes. All agreed that the complaints were triggered by irresponsible hunters, and law-abiding hunters should not be restricted from accessing the lake.
Duck hunting is permitted from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after, and no birdshot or projectiles are to enter into private property.