Virginia Sunday Hunting Measure Sent to Governor

Virginia Sunday Hunting Measure Sent to Governor

Hunters in the Commonwealth of Virginia are one step closer to seeing their Sunday hunting opportunities greatly expanded, thanks to the recent House passage of Senate Bill 8 (SB 8). The measure now heads to the desk of new Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who will make the final decision on the legislation.

The measure, which passed with a vote of 69-28, would expand hunting opportunities in Virginia by allowing Sunday hunting on public lands. It also would keep the prohibition against hunting within 200 yards of a place of worship on Sundays.

“One of the biggest challenges that hunters face today is access to land,” NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action noted in a story on its website this week announcing passage of the measure. “Our modern lifestyles of work and school essentially mean that most working adults and their children can only hunt on the weekends.”

In effect, Sunday hunting laws cut hunting opportunity by about 50 percent for many hunters who don’t have access to private land and have a weekday job. Consider that if Saturday and Sunday are their only days to hunt, and the law forbids them to do so on Sunday, their season is basically cut in half.

That’s somewhat unfair, especially when considering Virginia’s ban on Sunday hunting on public lands. As this NRA website regularly shares, hunters and gun owners fund conservation efforts and maintenance of state public hunting land through hunting license fees and excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment thanks to the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937—most often referred to as the Pittman–Robertson Act (P-R)—and the same holds true for Virginia hunters.

In fact, hunters and other gun owners are among the foremost supporters of sound wildlife management and conservation practices in the United States. According to a U.S. Department of Interior news release from February, its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $25.5 billion in apportionments for state wildlife conservation and recreation projects since the P-R Act was signed into law and is distributing a record $1.5 billion to state wildlife agencies for 2022. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $8.5 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues that have led to dramatic increases in populations of game species including deer, elk, antelope, turkeys and waterfowl. As this NRA website shares, such funding continues to highlight America’s strong recreation economy and the importance of hunting, shooting sports and fishing to wildlife conservation efforts.

Of course, license fees and federal excise tax revenues aren’t the only way commonwealth hunters do more than their fair share for the state. Virginia Hunters Who Care, part of the nationwide Hunters for the Hungry movement, has been donating venison for use in feeding less fortunate citizens for the last 30 years. In that time, it has selflessly provided more than 28 million quarter-pound servings to feed hungry Virginians.

And according to VHWC Projects Coordinator Gary Arrington, many of the recipients of those much-needed meals are among the neediest in the state.

“Nearly 1 million emergency meals are served in the state each month, and nearly 50 percent of those receiving meat through the program are children and the elderly,” Arrington said.

According to the Sunday Hunting Coalition, which has been fighting for Sunday hunting for years and includes hunter-backed groups such as the NRA, National Shooting Sports Foundation and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, expanding Sunday hunting in the commonwealth could add nearly $300 million to Virginia’s economy and support nearly 4,000 new jobs. It’s all up to Gov. Youngkin at this point.

About the Author
Freelance writer 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, previously serving as editor of the NRA’s America’s First Freedom.