Four Eastern States Seeking to Expand Sunday Hunting

Four Eastern States Seeking to Expand Sunday Hunting

Most working-class hunters love the opportunity to hunt both days of the weekend, yet some states still don't allow public hunting on all or some properties. This spring, however, four states that have Sunday hunting restrictions—Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia—are working, or have worked, to expand Sunday hunting opportunities.

As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) pointed out in a recent Action Alert, “Countless hunters stop hunting because of the lack of opportunity and accessible land, as well as time restrictions. Providing an extra day in the field, especially on the weekend, would increase opportunities for those individuals to experience one of America’s oldest traditions, and increase hunter retention.”

In Maine, the Inland fisheries and Wildlife Committee held a hearing on Apr. 21 on several Sunday hunting measures, including Legislative Document 1033. This measure would allow Sunday hunting on private property with written landowner permission. Maine is one of just two states that does not allow any form of hunting on Sundays. This bill would greatly expand hunting opportunities in the Pine Tree State, giving hunters the opportunity for a true weekend outing.

Meanwhile, great strides have been made over the past few years in Pennsylvania. NRA-backed Sunday hunting legislation was signed into law in the Keystone State in November 2019, with NRA’s inaugural NRA-ILA Defender of Hunting award presented to the three key legislators who pressed for opening Sunday hunting at the 2020 Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS) in Harrisburg that February. During the 2020 hunting season, three Sunday hunting dates were added to the season: one during the archery deer season, one during the November bear season and a final Sunday date during the deer rifle season. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is now considering opening more Sundays to hunting. It is exploring adding game species to two of the three Sunday hunting dates for this fall. Under the proposal, hunters would be allowed to pursue several small game species including pheasant, rabbit, grouse, and squirrel among others.

According to NRA-ILA, which is pushing for Sunday hunting in all 50 states, wildlife commissioners in North Carolina are also considering an expansion of Sunday hunting. Despite the North Carolina General Assembly enacting a law to legalize Sunday hunting on public lands in 2017, four hunting seasons have essentially come and gone without allowing Sunday hunting. This year, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is proposing to open 55 of the 92 game land areas to Sunday hunting, which would double opportunities for hunters who work during the week and currently can only hunt on Saturday.

Unfortunately, in Virginia a measure to allow Sunday hunting on public lands was killed in committee earlier this session, with 16 of the 22 members of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee voting against it. It is unfortunate that the committee rejected this bill to expand hunting opportunities for the very people who fund public lands.

NRA-ILA has worked tirelessly for the past several years to increase hunting opportunities on Sundays in states where such antiquated blue laws are still on the books. We’ll keep you posted on the status of these latest NRA-backed attempts to expand legal, regulated hunting.

About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years.