Last year, the buzz was all about whether or not Sunday hunting was finally going to be legalized in Pennsylvania. But after the controversy this subject has generated for decades, it seems as if it was quietly relegated to the back burner.
One group, however is determined not to let this issue just fade away. A grassroots sportsmen's coalition called Hunters United for Sunday Hunting is preparing to take the battle to the courts rather than the legislature.
The group expects to sign a contract with an attorney within a few weeks, with the intention of going to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with its case no later than July to re-establish hunting as a constitutional right and abolish the Sunday hunting ban at the same time, said Kathy Davis of Speers in Washington County, one of the group's volunteers. That is our goal.
The was also the goal of the National Rifle Association, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation and others last year when they put on a major push to convince state lawmakers to pass a bill that would have allowed the Pennsylvania Game Commission to decide if and when to include Sundays in hunting seasons. But the bill never even came up for a vote.
The group is optimistic long-standing law and some more recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions make this the perfect time to take on the Sunday hunting ban. The fight will be expensive, though. The group estimates it will need $70,000 to $150,000 to wage a legal battle. So it is asking sportsmen to foot the bill. We want this to be a grassroots movement, and we want every Joe Hunter who contributes to have as much say as the next, whether they contribute $5 or $500, Davis said.
The group collected more than $7,000 in its first two weeks. That's enough to get started, and Davis and her fellow volunteers hope the suit will succeed where proposed legislation failed.
It's incredible to me that this issue should be such a long-standing, expensive proposition. I am personally in favor of Sunday hunting even though I probably will seldom if ever, actually go hunting on Sunday. That's not because I have anything against the practice of hunting on Sunday, it's that I have other priorities for my Sunday, namely, attending church where I play the organ for services and teach a Bible class on Sunday mornings.
This is a personal preference, however, and I don't try to legislate that to other folks. In fact, just last week, our pastor canceled Sunday evening services so that church members could celebrate the Memorial Day with family.
Since I have no family in the area, I would have gone hunting that afternoon and evening if Sunday hunting was legal. The freedom to own firearms and go hunting are among those freedoms soldiers have fought for for generations.
A little gobbler talk
I did go spring gobbler hunting on Monday, Memorial Day, and had a great time watching turkeys walk by me all day long. About 7 a.m., three turkeys fed leisurely by my blind within 10 feet and never saw me. One of them had about a five-inch beard and I was sorely tempted to take him but I didn't.
I knew of the really big gobblers that frequent that area so I elected to hold off and take my chances that one of them would walk by but no such luck. It was OK, however, I had earlier bagged the largest gobbler I've ever taken in Pennsylvania, a 22- pound beauty and so it was enough.
Two of my main hunting buddies both took gobblers late in the season. My buddy, Joanie Haidle, bagged a gobbler last Tuesday morning and my buddy Charlie Dix from the Poconos bagged one on Memorial Day.
The bunch I hunt with has a motto - Persistence! We do not give up until the last hour of the last day and that worked for them this year. As an update, I will tell you that the three ladies from the area that go turkey hunting - myself, Joanie and Teresa Patterson of Duncansville -- each bagged a gobbler this spring, making it three years n a row that each of us has accomplished this feat and in all three years, we each did it while hunting alone.
Although we hunt with each other during the season, we seem to have better luck when we are by ourselves. I have a theory about why that is and I will share that with you one day.