Sunday hunting will be legal in Pennsylvania if state lawmakers act favorably on a resolution recently adopted by the state Game Commission. After years of riding the fence on this controversy, the agency supports a measure that's overwhelmingly opposed by those owning 80% of huntable land.
Why did PGC buckle? Probably because the sale of deer hunting permits has been on the downslide. And those permits are "10-pointers" for the commission's cash box. Plus, the agency was pressured by sportmans' groups and the National Rifle Association.
I'm a staunch advocate of the National Rifle Association. But their aim to put a bullet in Pennsylvania's ban on Sunday hunting disrespects landowners. The NRA has joined with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and other heavy-hitters in the hunting/ shooting world to partner in the Sunday Hunting Coalition.
The coalition is targeting 11 states that ban or severely restrict Sunday hunting. Those states include Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, West Virginia and Virginia, plus the Carolinas, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The SHC has spinned reports of $764 million in direct and indirect economic impact and as many as 8,000 jobs. I've not been able to verify any numbers behind those numbers – certainly not in Pennsylvania.
Another dubious claim is that Sunday hunting would increase participation in the sport. When I came to Pennsylvania more than 25 years ago, I quickly learned that buck season was an unofficial workweek holiday observed statewide. Personal days and sick days are still widely taken.
No, deer hunting's decline isn't because Sunday hunting isn't allowed. It's because today's hunters are a lot lazier than yesterday's – or they prefer reveling in Cabela's and Bass Pro.
What's far more important
The bigger issue that Pennsylvania's legislators should consider is this: Landowner rights should always take precedent over hunting rights.
Pennsylvania also has one of the nation's largest rural populations. And these people need to be safe in the out of doors at least one day a week – even if they aren't church goers.
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