Don’t hold your breath waiting for Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania

I don’t think the Sunday-hunting ban will be lifted here, no
matter how much money and resources national groups such as the
National Shooting Sports Foundation or the U.S. Sportsmen’s
Alliance pour into our state. And they say their campaign is
starting now.

Because right or wrong, Sunday hunting looks like it has become
a partisan issue in Pennsylvania. Republicans – led by Sen. Richard
Alloway, chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee – seem
to be closely aligned with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, a group
that vehemently opposes Sunday hunting. The Farm Bureau is ready
for a fight.

And so the bill to allow the Game Commission to permit hunting
on Sundays as it sees fit, recently introduced by Rep. Marc
Gergely, D-Allegheny, will likely go nowhere. Republicans, who now
control the state House, Senate and governorship, are not expected
to allow that measure to even get out of the House Game and
Fisheries Committee.

The national groups, which have vowed to paint Sunday hunting as
an economic issue, are set to contend that allowing full weekends
of hunting in Pennsylvania – as is permitted in most states – will
be worth millions of dollars to the commonwealth. Probably true,
but I bet that benefit will fall on deaf ears here.

The latest debate on Sunday hunting is occurring at a time when
the state’s largest organization representing hunters, the
Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, still has not come
out in favor of it. The federation’s membership continues to be
split on the issue of Sunday hunting.

And many Keystone State hunters who perhaps would not oppose
hunting on Sundays on religious or moral grounds are dead set
against it because they see it as a deer-management negative. With
deer numbers so low, they say, why in the world would we allow
another day of deer harvest?

It is unfortunate that Sunday hunting and deer management have
become entangled. Obviously, if another weekend day of deer hunting
was ever added, seasons and bag limits would have to be adjusted,
Game Commission officials say. But that doesn’t seem to mollify
many. The deer issue remains so toxic.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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