Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania – the pluses and minuses

Democratic Representative Frank Farina, of Lackawanna County, is introducing yet another bill to allow Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. All past attempts have failed. This bill is supported by a host of organizations, including the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, the National Rifle Association, Hunting Works for Pennsylvania and others.

I was really surprised when the lawsuit to end the ban on Sunday hunting failed, but I am not a judge. The ban is a "blue law," with roots dating back more than a century. Most blue laws have been overturned, and most other states allow more Sunday hunting than what is allowed in the Keystone State. Is there a logical reason to prohibit it? Although my opinion regarding the entire issue wavers, I believe that landowners should be allowed to hunt on their own properties on Sundays.

There is not a logical, legal reason to restrict Sunday hunting, but I hate the smoke and mirrors being used by some proponents of the new bill.

Let's cut through the smoke clouding this issue. If just being allowed to hunt on Sundays is the issue, then it is a non-issue. You can already hunt on Sundays. In Pennsylvania, you can legally hunt coyotes 52 Sundays a year, and you can hunt crows on about 36 Sundays – July 3, 2015, through April 2, 2016, this license year. If you tell me that a law is preventing you from enjoying any hunting on any Sunday with your children, you are misinformed – it is not.

What some people really want is to be able to hunt deer, bears, small game and turkeys on Sundays. If you think that allowing the Sunday hunting of those animals will mean another dozen or so additional days to hunt deer, bears, turkeys  and small game each fall, you will be mistaken. Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists have recommended season lengths based on available game and expected hunting pressure. Adding a high-pressure Sunday hunting day will increase hunting pressure and most likely subtract other days. The ratio will be at least two or three weekdays subtracted for every Sunday gained. This will lessen the hunting opportunity for some.

Please note that about half of Pennsylvania's hunters are opposed to additional Sunday hunting.  That should tell you something. Also consider that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is opposed to expanded Sunday hunting. Its members control thousands of acres of hunting land in Pennsylvania, and some of its members have threatened to post their property if Sunday hunting is expanded.

I am a licensed hunter, and I often choose to hike on game lands or state forest land on Sundays during the spring and fall. I do this to avoid disturbing hunters. Others hike on Sundays because they fear being accidentally shot by hunters. Allowing expanded Sunday hunting will change this parameter, which could result in the loss of support for hunting. People currently neutral to hunting might become anti-hunting as a consequence.

No doubt, expanded Sunday hunting would be good for people who work five or six days a week. It would also be good for students who are in school and might have sports or other extracurricular obligations on Saturdays. Would expanded Sunday hunting help recruit youth into hunting? Probably, although I would like to see the statistics from other states about that. Do other states with more Sunday hunting have a higher percentage of teens who hunt?

Something that really bothers me are false claims. Here's an example – "Allowing hunting on Sundays would add $800 million to the state's economy and create 7,000 jobs."  I would really, really like someone to demonstrate the accuracy of this claim and convince me of its basis through a logical explanation.

Years ago, a new grocery store opened in a nearby community. It was touted as a boost to the economy and a job creator. At the time, my oldest son worked at another nearby grocery store. Their sales decreased by 25 percent when the new store opened. Some employees were laid off, while others had their hours decreased. I suspect that the same thing happened at other food markets. Were jobs truly created for local residents? Did the local economy experience growth as a result?

People have only so much money and, in my opinion, most spend almost all that they make. Please explain to me how expanded Sunday hunting will boost the economy by $800 million. If 100 residents hunt turkeys on a Sunday in November instead of trout fishing, the hunting economy might gain. If it does, then the "fishing economy" probably loses an equal amount. If a dad takes his son hunting grouse instead of spending money for other another kind of recreation, then the hunting economy might gain, but something else might lose.

I am retired and I have little personal stake in this issue. My favorite days to hunt or fish are Monday through Friday. Would I hunt on Sundays if I were allowed? Possibly. However, this isn't an important issue for me. I am happy to schedule other things for Sundays besides hunting.

What I want is for everyone to look closely at all sides of the issue – dissolve the smoke and mirrors – and consider all of the consequences.

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