What would you do if your neighbors wanted to ban you from hunting on your own land? A landowner in Lancaster, New York found himself the target of a newly proposed town law that would forbid him from hunting on his property, and he showed up to a recent town hall meeting to defend himself.

“I don’t dictate to the people how they use their yards,” Sean Petronsky told The Buffalo News. “I haven’t broken any laws. They’re definitely trying to take away my right to hunt on my land.”

Petronsky said he bought the land in 2008 and has been hunting deer there since 2014. Sitting in a treestand with his longbow about 30 feet up, he argues that he poses no danger to the townspeople. However, concerned residents point out that the strip of land Petronsky hunts on is 50 feet wide and about 1,000 feet long. Homes border three sides of the densely-wooded property, but Petronsky said that a significant buffer exists between his hunting ground and nearby yards. The land was originally meant to be a road separating houses nearby.

Previously, regulations from the state Department of Environmental Conservation prohibited hunting with longbows within 500 feet of residences, but since that rule was recently changed to just 150 feet, Petronsky said he is well within the law to use a longbow. Residents are now asking the Town Board to pass a new local law to make it illegal to fire a weapon within 500 feet of a residence.

“I don’t think anyone with small kids or animals, or anyone who likes to use their backyard, would want somebody back there with either a longbow, crossbow, firearm, or any type of weapon,” Heather Johnson, who lives on the street bordering Petronksy’s property, told WIVB.

City leaders said they are conflicted on the issue, but clarified that the proposed law is not meant to end hunting in the town.

“Nobody wants to end hunting in the Town of Lancaster, but this one instance is putting us in a position where we have to do something,” Councilman John Abraham Jr. explained.

“It’s well within his rights to hunt on it,” added Town Board member Matthew Walter.

There is also some debate between hunters regarding whether it is ethical—or safe—for Petronsky to take deer on the narrow property. Some bring up the possibility that arrowed deer may end up in nearby yards or on the street, while others question the safety of shooting so close to homes. Many other hunters support Petronsky and say that when shooting downward, there should be little danger to nearby residents. Petronsky himself said he will continue to fight any laws that prohibit him from hunting on his property.

What do you think? Is Petronsky in the right or do the townspeople have a valid point? Let us know in the comments.

Image from Jim Wrigley Photography on the flickr Creative Commons

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  • Ben

    He is entitled to hunt on his property period. The state says 150 feet from a dwelling and he is shooting in a downward angle. Anyone with common sense would know that if you shot and arrow from that height straight down it will not end up in someone’s yard. The program is that these people either feed the deer which is against DEC law or they feel that the deer are pets.

  • NorthernMichiganBoy

    It is unsafe. I agree with concern. I have basically same problem where I live. Downstate people come up and think they are in the “Wildnerness”, they set up lines within 100 feet of my home. Lucky in Michigan we have a 450 foot safety zone. I have no problem calling a CO. Have found several dead or wounded deer on my property thru out the years. I believe this person needs to purchase 40 acres and respect other landowners rights also.

  • NorthernMichiganBoy

    Sound a bit biased Ben, Am not an Anti Hunter. Been hunting probably longer than you, but this is a safety concern. In Michigan if that person did shoot a deer even out of the 450 foot safety zone and the deer ended up on another landowners property, the hunter cannot retrieve that animal unless they have the landowners permission, it is treaspassing in Michigan. Am very experienced in finding deer that some slob hunters let rot in woods versus asking to retrieve it..Think Safety and Hunting Ethics.

    • SouthernMichiganBoy

      It’s not a safety concern, and the 450ft rule is silly for bows especially when hunting from an elevated stand. If you really support hunting, why not give permission for others to retrieve the animal?

      • NorthernMichiganBoy

        SouthernMichiganBoy, don’t you feel a bit silly on your comments. Stop saying or quoting a statement I didn’t state. Evidently our DNR and Legistator thinks it is a safety concern. That’s why we in Michigan have the 450 foot safety zone…Try some decaf!

    • Arrowhead

      I don’t believe a word you say. You are hunter about as much as John Kerry, or Obama. If you were, you would know better than to make the statements that you have. If you were in an elevated stand you would have to be shooting at a squirrel above you for an arrow to be a threat to a home 150 feet away. I am an archer, and a hunter and am well aware of what even a crossbow is capable as far as a ricochet. Also the property is heavily wooded, which means that a tree would stop any arrow shot straight across the ground. You Sir are nothing but a bleeding Liberal, and we all know it!

  • Joe P

    The town people are wrong and seeing them on the local news they are quite ignorant. There was no danger there is no danger. Hysterical broad more worried about a longbow than the real problems in their children’s lives, ignorant parents for one! I guess they need to make the local news to make something out of their dull lives.

  • 57 Stratman

    When did we become a society that feels as though it has the right to tell other folks what they can and cannot do on their own property, especially when it’s within the law??? You people need to mind your own business, and pay attention to what takes place on your property!!! And the town passing any sort of ordinance preventing this gentleman from the lawful pursuit of happiness, and the right to provide himself and his family with food, is most certainly unconstitutional, and therefore illegal, and he should fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

  • Joe

    I am a bow hunter hunting from a tree puts a downward angle on the arrow so there would be little to no threat for neighbors. That being said as long as he is only bow hunting he should have every right to hunt his own property. Deer carry deer ticks that carry Lyme disease these ticks can get in your yard and bite humans not to mention the damage they do from being hit by cars. These town people are complaining to complain they have nothing better to do. It would be different if he was shooting at them with guns. If this community was smart they would commend this man for keeping his neighborhood safe and tick free.

  • Marlin

    He needs to find things about his neighbors that he can petition the city to prohibit, all’s fair in love and war….

    • NorthernMichiganBoy

      I see this thread went downhill, sounds like a few are very bias and maybe have drinking problems.

  • Mike Hollingsworth

    He is entitled to hunt on his property period.

  • badman400

    His rights trump others’ fears. No matter what they think or fear, he has the right. Additionally, he is taking every precaution to be safe. If he were intentionally putting others at risk, that would be different. But as it is he has every right to hunt on his own property no matter what the neighbors think. They should not be allowed to tell him what to do on his property as long as he isn’t infringing on their rights or putting them in danger.

  • Snug

    One of the hats I wore when I worked in industry included establishing cause in industrial accidents . I would be willing to bet that a thorough safety inspection of Heather Johnson’s s property would find at least a dozen hazards more likely to endanger the inhabitants than Mr. Petronsky hunting on his land as described in the article .