Of all the issues related to hunting, Sunday hunting is once again taking center stage. The Pennsylvania House Game & Fisheries Committee will be holding a public hearing on the controversial topic on September 15 in Northampton. Invited groups will be testifying before the committee both for and against expanding Sunday hunting.
House members John Evans (R) and Ed Staback (D) have introduced HB 1760 pertaining to Sunday hunting. This bill would repeal the ban on Sunday hunting that has been the law since 1873. It would also give authority over Sunday hunting back to the PA Game Commission, where it belongs, as part of its duties to set seasons and bag limits.
Currently, it is legal to hunt only crows, coyotes, and foxes on Sunday. Some would like to see this expanded to deer firearms season, which includes only one Sunday. They argue this would generate the sale of more nonresident licenses, get more people to deer camp, and create new jobs and revenue in the state. Some would like to see groundhog hunting opened on Sundays.
Proponents of Sunday hunting are backed by the Sunday Hunting Coalition, a group of sportsmen’s organizations that are lobbying for the passage of HB 1760.
The main opponents of Sunday hunting are the PA Farm Bureau and the Humane Society of the United States. The fact that these two groups are on the same side of the issue borders on ridiculous. The HSUS is adamantly opposed to any type of hunting, fishing, trapping, and livestock farming. It is the largest animal rights group in the country and has a record of being anti-sportsmen and anti-animal farming.
The Farm Bureau argues that Sunday should be a day of rest, both for landowners and wildlife. Yet these are some of the same people who visit casinos and gas stations, shop at K-Mart, eat in restaurants, and go to Steelers football games on Sunday. Apparently, it’s ok for other people to be made to work on Sundays, but not them.
It isn’t up to the Farm Bureau to tell all landowners what they can do on their own properties on Sunday. If a particular farmer is opposed to Sunday hunting, he should just post his land with signs that state “No Sunday Hunting”. Regardless of what day of the week it is, hunters should always ask permission of the landowner before hunting on any private land. The farmer has a right to say no anytime.
Some outdoor groups are opposed to Sunday hunting on public lands. They say it interferes with their bird watching and hiking. Specifically, they want one day a week when they don’t have to fear for their lives. The truth is, hunting is one the safest sports we have. It is only in liberal Hollywood movies that hunters are stupid slobs and drunken outlaws.
Sunday hunting should be allowed on public lands, especially state game lands. These lands were purchased specifically as public hunting lands and many were paid for by hunters and shooters.
HB 1760 is a good bill. It puts control of hunting back into the hands of the game commission. That doesn’t mean that the commission will immediately open all Sundays to every type of hunting and species. It only means that it will consider the views of all stakeholders and make thoughtful regulations pertaining to Sunday hunting. That could mean only groundhog hunting or deer hunting for only one Sunday during the entire year. It is certainly better to allow the game commission to regulate seasons than the entire General Assembly, most of whom don’t hunt at all. — Roxane Palone