Charles County stops bar owner from holding 'turkey shoot'

A video that has gone viral is leading Charles County residents to ask if the government has gone too far.

Donnie Byroads, who posted the video, is the owner of Ollie's Bar and Grill in La Plata. He says the county shut down an event known as a "turkey shoot" that he planned to hold at the restaurant on Nov. 12.

For those who are not aware, no turkeys are actually shot during a turkey shoot. It is a target practice activity. People line up in a row behind a safety bar and shoot shotguns from a certain distance away - with the goal of hitting the target's bullseye. Factoring in the spread of the pellets, it is more luck than skill.

Each person has their own lane, and a tall, dirt berm behind the targets ensures no stray pellets flying past the designated area.

"Everybody has some sort of a turkey shooting experience around here," explained Byroads.

It is a tradition with deep roots and kitschy prizes.

"Hamburger, steak or a turkey," added Byroads. "Hence the turkey shoot."

He held the restaurant's first turkey shoot on Nov. 5.

"It's definitely not a big moneymaker," said Byroads. "But it is a fun event that people really enjoyed. Not to say that you can't make it somewhat profitable, but no one is getting rich off a turkey shoot."

He was all set to hold another one on Sunday when Charles County put a stop to it.

In Charles County, a turkey shoot is not specifically prohibited, so it falls under the category of "outdoor rifle and pistol ranges, war games, archery ranges or other recreational activities."

The county cites safety and public nuisance concerns that come along with such events, and a special exception is required.

A statement from the county to FOX 5 reads:

"A special exception is required when a negative impact could take place such as noise, traffic, vibration, dust, or visual. For a special exception, the applicant provides written documentation and an oral testimony to demonstrate how the impacts of the use will be handled. This special exception hearing also allows the public an opportunity to testify about their concerns."

In order for Byroads to apply for that special exception, he would have to pay $1,242.80 in fees.

"And that is just to ask the question if it is okay to have it, with no guarantee we will be approved," explained Byroads in a Facebook video he posted announcing the cancellation of the event.

In just three days, that video has received more than 55,000 views and hundreds of comments from people who see this as an example of too much governmental "red tape."