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Some states still have a ban on Sunday hunting

Published: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 7:19 a.m. CDT

It is easy to get wrapped up in our own little world.

Our day-to-day routines become commonplace and we assume what we do in our locale is the same everywhere.

This last week I traveled to North Carolina and was reminded of the vast differences each state deals with in regard to the outdoors.

As we crossed through West Virginia, I noticed many billboards that said, “Vote Yes for Sunday Hunting on Private Land Only. My Land. My Choice!”

The fact that there are still states that ban or place limitations on hunting on a Sunday had escaped my mind.

In Illinois, we can hunt on any day of the week and back when I traveled the country hunting and fishing, I ran into this law only a few times.

As of today, there are 11 states that have restrictions of some sort. Four states ban hunting on Sunday altogether.

They are Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine and Pennsylvania.

Three states allow Sunday hunting on private land; those are South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. West Virginia allows Sunday hunting in certain counties, and Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut allow hunting on Sunday in certain instances.

These regulations can be traced all the way back to colonial times when “blue laws” were commonplace. These laws used commands from the Old Testament to justify suspending commerce and other activities on the Sabbath.

The idea of resting on the Sabbath was taken quite seriously and, at that point in history, hunting was not considered recreational, it was necessary to maintain food for the table.

As the years passed, merchants began to challenge the laws. By 1970, only 25 states still had blue laws. By the next decade, that number had dropped to 13.

While hunters in most states have long forgotten about the Sunday restrictions, these 11 states have been fighting to change the laws for some time. The most used argument for the allowance of Sunday hunting in these states is the economic impact it will have.

According to the Sunday Hunting Coalition, the amount of dollars that would be pumped into local economies would be enormous.

Not only would it allow for the creation of more jobs to staff related hunting industries, it would then trickle down to gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and all sorts of other businesses that benefit from people out-and-about on another day of the week.

The financial impact could be so great, the companies that make up the Sunday Hunting Coalition are some of the biggest names in the industry.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s are the two largest retailers in the outdoors world, and since they have merged as one, their reach is even greater.

Some of the other nonprofit organizations that have jumped into the controversy are Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, The Boone and Crockett Club, the Archery Trade Association, and others. 

I’m sure that the vote in West Virginia is coming up soon. It will be interesting to see what happens. I find it noteworthy that the proposed legislation change is asking to hunt only on private ground, not on state-owned land.

I can see how hunters in these states are adamant about being allowed to hunt on Sundays.

For many people, the weekend is the only time they are able to venture into the outdoors. 

As the last billboard voicing support for Sunday hunting faded in the distance, I thought about the many hours I have spent on Sundays traipsing through the woods and waters.

If Illinois still had that law, my time outdoors would have looked quite different.

As time marches on, lifestyles and cultures adjust.

Laws that have been on the books for generations need to be looked at and possibly altered to reflect the times. Will the Sunday hunting laws in these states change? Time will tell.

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