by Mark Chesnut - Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Lawmakers in South Carolina are getting on board the movement to greatly increase hunting opportunities by opening public Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lands to hunting on Sundays.
On March 31, the state’s House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee issued a favorable report on House Bill 4614 expanding hunting opportunities by directing the state’s Department of Natural Resources to draft regulations allowing Sunday hunting on state WMA lands owned by the department or leased from the USDA Forest Service by Dec. 31. It also stipulated that the General Assembly review the regulations in the 2023-2024 legislative session. The measure passed the full House last week by a vote of 65-38 and moved to the Senate, but with only a few weeks remaining before the end of the legislative session, the question is whether it will be passed in time.
The National Rifle Association has been working for decades to get lawmakers in various states to open more lands to hunting on Sundays. As the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) has pointed out in the past, many hunters have weekday jobs and tight family schedules, leaving them only weekends to enjoy their favorite pastime. Banning hunting on Sundays cuts that available hunting opportunity by one-half.
“One of the biggest challenges that hunters face today is access to land,” NRA-ILA stated in a release announcing the measure’s success so far. “In addition, our modern lifestyles of work and school essentially mean that most working adults and their children can only hunt on the weekends. Hunters and gun owners fund conservation efforts and maintenance of state public hunting land through hunting license fees and Pittman-Robertson excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. Despite this, Sunday hunting is still not permitted on WMAs in South Carolina, leaving Saturday as the only day for most hunters to be able to get out into the field.”
Consequently, NRA-ILA urges South Carolinians to continue making their voices heard. As hunters witness firsthand, hunting is also a boon to the South Carolina economy as it is in other states. 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 could add some 2,742 new jobs to the state’s economy with wages of nearly $55 million.
In highlighting the NRA’s ongoing efforts to promote Sunday hunting, House approval of the South Carolina measure comes just weeks after Virginia lawmakers passed and sent a broader measure to Gov. Glenn Youngkin for his signature. That legislation, Senate Bill 8, expands hunting opportunities in Virginia by allowing Sunday hunting on public lands while keeping the prohibition against hunting within 200 yards of a place of worship on Sundays. Governor Youngkin signed the measure on April 5 and the law takes effect on July 1.
Stay tuned for more details as the issue unfolds. In the meantime, thank you, NRA, for working for hunters to expand our access to hunting lands and provide more opportunities for us all to enjoy the outdoors.
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.
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