How many decades has the debate over Sunday hunting raged? It's boiling again right now so I thought I'd share my two cents worth on the subject. So many folks have asked my opinion, so here goes.
A few years ago I heard a Game Commissioner tell a crowd that allowing Sunday hunting is important to the survival of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. I was surprised to hear it stated like that. The issue of Sunday hunting is important to hunters and so, of course, to the Game Commission. But vital to the agency's survival? How so?
The hunter base is diminishing, for various reasons, but one reason, according to that Commissioner, is that Pennsylvania's hunters are flocking to hunt in other states where they do allow hunting on Sunday. Persons who work on Sunday and young people who have sports and other club activities on Saturdays can't hunt on Sundays. So the interest in hunting is not growing at the pace it did say fifty years ago.
Many hunters blame the Game commission for this restriction but actually the issue of whether or not to hunt Sundays is a legislative issue, not a decision for the Game Commission to make. Just as the question of a license fee increase comes from the legislature so does the issue of whether or not we can hunt Sundays. The Game Commission has voted to give its approval for Sunday hunting but they cannot just implement it. It has to be granted by the state legislature.
One more interesting fact on the issue: landowners north of Route 80 are largely in favor of Sunday hunting while those south of Route 80 are largely against it. It has to do with the amount of agricultural land available to hunters in those areas. At any rate, it is probable that this time, the issue of Sunday hunting will not go away until it is settled.
A hundred years ago, no doubt the issue of hunting on Sunday was objected to on religious grounds. All other kinds of "Blue Laws" were in effect then. Most citizens agreed with and observed those laws.
Rural churches did not want hunters running dogs and shooting near their grounds during service times and that is understandable. A century ago most churches were in rural settings. That is not so today.
As for the morality of hunting Sunday, well that is for each and every person to decide for himself. Morality cannot be legislated. Is it wrong to go hunting on Sunday but OK to watch the Steelers on Sunday? Who is to say?
The farmer's groups are the most vocal against Sunday hunting. The say they want their land to be free at least one day a week so they can enjoy hiking, riding horses or whatever on their own land. This is certainly their right and they can post their land against Sunday hunting if they wish. They can allow hunting other days and post against Sunday. Some declare they will post their land against all hunting if Sunday hunting is approved. They can do that but it accomplishes very little except to satisfy an inner desire for revenge.
There are still millions of acres of State Game Lands and State Forest lands that can be utilized. Frankly, I personally do not think there will be the huge horde of hunters out on Sundays.
Many, like myself, do have a higher priority for Sunday mornings and evenings. As much as I love to hunt, I will not forgo teaching my class and playing the organ for church services.
Will hunting take a priority over tailgating and football games? I doubt it. As for animals needing a day of rest- which has actually been suggested, that is, in my opinion, ludicrous. Animals rest every night and frankly, most days too as they lie up in thick stuff while hunters parade around looking for them. Aside from opening day when animals are shafted around the woods a good bit, animals get plenty of "rest" during all the days thereafter as they are masters at hiding from hunters.
It seems to me that every group's opinion is based simply on their own interests. The Game Commission wants to attract more hunters, Farmers want their own land kept private and the National Rifle Association, who supports Sunday hunting, sees an advancement for purchasing firearms and ammunition and not wanting to offend hunters, who are their main base after all.
Frankly, I have my personal doubts about the huge numbers I saw published as to how many millions of dollars and thousands of jobs that Sunday hunting would add to the state's coffers by Sunday hunters.
Frankly, I see this whole issue as the same situation that has happened any and every time the Game Commission has instituted a change: tradition. We just do not want to change.
One more thing
Last week I had a senior moment and told you the Allegheny Mountain Local Chapter of the Turkey Federation was having its fund raising banquet this Friday evening. The correct day is Saturday, Aug. 13. All other information was correct.