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Wake County Homeowners Often Face Unwelcome Visitors -- Hunters

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WAKE COUNTY — Imagine being in your backyard and hearing gunshots. Some people in Wake County do not have to imagine this -- it is a reality. As development spreads into once rural areas, the space between hunters and homeowners has shrunken.

Laura Dorton and her 9-year-old daughter, Rosie, do not venture far from their backyard during hunting season.

"I'm fearful that a stray bullet will come towards us," she says.

Wake County's hunting ordinance allows people to shoot close to homes if they are on their own property or have the permission of the property owner.

"The laws are pretty much unenforceable and written in such a way that it doesn't protect property owners in subdivisions that back up to these open spaces," Dorton says.

When you hear gunshots in the woods, it is hard to tell just how close the shooters are to your home, that is why most people are reluctant to take any chances.

Jim Hudson teaches hunting safety classes. Hudson says hunters like himself should try to alleviate the concerns of homeowners.

"I would hope that responsible hunters would contact the neighboring property owners and let them know what to expect," he says.

Outgoing county commissioner Yevonne Brannon is a big proponent of changing the law. She favors a 1,000-foot buffer zone between hunters and homes.

"If you think about it, it's not very far to have a 1,000-foot barrier between yourself and a bullet," she says. "It is really a miracle that we haven't had someone injured or killed."

County commissioners have agreed to appoint a study commission to look at the current hunting ordinance.

The county's outdoor firing range in Holly Springs opens to the public on Friday. Brannon says this will give shooters more options.