Sunday Hunting Not Everywhere

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By: Dr. Dave Samuel

Most people who get on this website can hunt on Sunday. In fact, everywhere other than the East coast, Sunday hunting has been allowed for years. But if you live in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia you cannot hunt on Sundays. Add in Maryland where you can only hunt on two Sundays during the deer season. I guess that is better than nothing. Add in North Carolina where you can only hunt on Federal installations on Sunday. Add in South Carolina where you can Sunday hunt only on private land.

Then there is my own West Virginia where the state legislature bowed to the state Farm Bureau who opposed Sunday hunting and passed a really convoluted Sunday law wherein each county decides. If the county passes a referendum, then there is no Sunday hunting. Presently you can hunt on Sundays in only 14 of our 55 counties. Not in the county where I live.

As I write this there is a battle to open Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, the Farm Bureau is fighting it. Yes, the same farmers that complain about deer damage all the time. Almost every year in most states, the state Farm Bureau is rattling around the state capitals lobbying for (1) more compensation for deer damage, or (2) more deer killed. Yet, every year when there is an attempt to get Sunday hunting in the above limited states, the Farm Bureau is there to stop it.

I find their complaints a shallow given that any landowner can control who comes on their lands. Post the farm if you don’t want hunters there, on any day of the week. What about the farmers who want hunters there to lower deer numbers? They don’t count because their own Farm Bureau opposes Sunday hunting. What about the hunters who own land and want to hunt on Sunday? The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says you don’t count.

Author took this nice Ohio buck on a Sunday hunt.

One argument you always hear when any of the above restricted states try to get Sunday hunting is that non hunters deserve the chance to use public land without being disturbed on one day per week. OK, then do what South Carolina did. Open Sunday hunting on private land only.

Opponents (actually anti hunters) talk about how Sunday hunting will wipe out wildlife. Yea, right. Managing wildlife is the responsibility of our state wildlife agencies, and they do a great job. Are we to believe that in states where you can’t hunt on Sunday, they only do a good job six days a week? Silliness.

Evan Heusinkveld, Director of State Services for the U. S. Sportsmen’s Alliance recently wrote a great article on the Pennsylvania situation. He noted that several studies done in the past five years show the economic benefits from Sunday hunting. One was done by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. It showed that Sunday hunting would create 5,300 new jobs and bring $629 million to the state. Hmmm. Just this week the present federal administration loaned a solar company around $700 billion that would create 55 full time jobs. The cost to us for this deal is around $20 million per job. Sounds like the Pennsylvania deal is much better, with very little effort.

Another study done two years ago stated that there would be 8,200 jobs created with $764 million added to the Pennsylvania economy with Sunday hunting. And the U. S. Sportsmen’s Alliance just did it’s own study showing 7,200 more jobs created from Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania.

It’s interesting to note that other states had concerns about Sunday hunting. New York, Ohio, and Michigan all started with limitations on their Sunday hunting, but within a few years they opened up Sunday hunting everywhere in the state. Why did that happen? Because the fears expressed by some farmers, urban citizens, and others, just did not happen.

Analyze the situations in each of the above limited states, and the reasons for not allowing Sunday hunting make little sense. It’s time for state lawmakers to help the hard working citizens who have to work six days a week. It’s time for state lawmakers to help the economies of their states. It is time for state lawmakers to take the control of deer management away from the Farm Bureau and give it to the state wildlife agency and other private landowners. The question isn’t if this will happen. The question is when will this happen. With the state of our economy, now would be a good time.