It’s time to change Sunday hunting ban
Commentary by Mike Roberts 1/29/06
Let’s see, it’s Sunday, so that means there is no fishing, no hiking, no golf, no football, no basketball, no stock car racing, in fact, no sports of any kind including hunting because it’s Sunday.
What’s that? Whattaya mean you can do any of those sports on a Sunday? Well yes, almost any of them, but you still can’t hunt on a Sunday here in Connecticut, not even on private lands other than a hunting preserve. Doesn’t that seem sort of odd?
I mean the days of burning a witch at the stake have supposed to have been outlawed many years ago, yet it seems that we still use an archaic blue law to discriminate against those of us who might want to get into the woods on a Sunday and do some hunting. I turned to Bob Crook of the Coalition of CT Sportsmen (CCS) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for some information on this subject. It was quite interesting.
Did you know that here in Connecticut, we are one of only seven states in the United States that entirely prohibit hunting on a Sunday. The other six are Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey. Four states allow limited Sunday hunting: Maryland allows hunting on two Sundays during deer season, South Carolina allows Sunday hunting on private land only, North Carolina allows Sunday hunting on some federal installations; in 2001 West Virginia enacted legislation that allows Sunday hunting on private, but each county can hold a referendum to ban Sunday hunting, but currently 14 counties allow it.
One of the amazing things is that none of the states that allow Sunday hunting have experienced any of the horror stories that were promised by those opposed to Sunday hunting. The states continue to have healthy wildlife populations and their hunters continue to behave is a safe and responsible manner. And yes, even church attendance remains unchanged by Sunday hunting. Why doesn’t this surprise me?
While I am fortunate enough to be a retiree from the everyday work world, many others are still plugging away on at least a five-day workweek and many others are locked into a six-day workweek leaving them with only Sunday if they should so choose to hunt. Unfortunately while we will take their tax dollars here in Connecticut, we somehow find it hard to allow these same hard-working folks to spend a day in the field hunting, no matter how much they would like to.
Oh, they can go golfing on Sunday, or pay through the nose to see some type of sports being played, and yes they are even allowed to go fishing. But hunting? Forgettaboutit! In essence, when it comes to hunting, hunters are treated like second-class citizens.
My sources tell me that in the early days of America, so-called blue laws restricted many activities on Sunday. In recent years, however, state governments have recognized that the people’s right to choose for themselves what they do, or don’t do on Sunday is more consistent with America’s founding principals. Present day bans on Sunday hunting are the last holdouts of these blue laws, and many hunters are asking why they are being treated differently from their fellow citizens. NOTE: Inquiries about Sunday hunting are the number one topic that sportsmen want to talk about in my travels about the state.
The majority of the hunters agree that the biggest obstacle to hunting, and the biggest obstacle to recruiting new hunters, is lack of access and opportunity to hunt. By restricting Sunday hunting, states are not only limiting opportunities for today’s hunters, but are making it harder to recruit new hunters to carry on our proud heritage. Anti-hunting groups understand this, that’s why they oppose lifting Sunday hunting bans — THEY DON’T WANT A NEW GENERATION OF HUNTERS TO ENTER THE FIELD!
Restrictions on Sunday hunting treat hunters like second-class citizens. Other activities are allowed on Sunday, including fishing, hiking and golf, boxing matches, football, baseball, basketball and the list goes on (with hunting being omitted). By restricting hunting and not other activities, state governments are sending a not so subtle message to hunters and non-hunters alike that there is something wrong with hunting, that it isn’t as legitimate an activity. This message also ignores the fact that hunters contribute billions of dollars to the benefit of wildlife, both through license fees and excise taxes paid on firearms and ammunition.
CCS and the NRA also come up with some compelling reasons why Sunday hunting should be allowed: First off, Sunday hunting has no detrimental effect on wildlife populations in those areas that can sustain them. FACT: many areas in Connecticut are overrun with a deer population that is eating everything in sight. Some towns have hired at great cost to taxpayers, sharpshooters to come in and thin the deer herds. Hunters would be doing the same service while putting money into town business coffers in the form of purchases for their hunting excursions. Allowing Sunday hunting will give our state wildlife agency more flexibility in managing populations. The extra day a week for hunting will give the agencies the ability to increase hunting in areas of overpopulation by encouraging hunters to go afield.
Sunday hunting is an excellent way to recruit new hunters. Many young people have school or athletic obligations on Saturday. Allowing Sunday hunting means that some parents can spend time hunting with their son or daughter, passing on a heritage that is so important to America. With the myriad of activities that compete for the attention of young people today, a restriction on Sunday hunting means that many of them may never take up the sport.
There is no denying the money poured into the economy by the sport of hunting in the form of fuel purchases as well as foods and clothing, but Sunday hunting can also bring in out-of-state dollars especially in increased license fees which will benefit game departments.
Taking into consideration that Connecticut is among the seven states that still prohibit Sunday hunting, I for one think it is time for a change. In fact, it is time to stop treating hunters in Connecticut like second-hand citizens. Hunting is not a sport that is restricted to any special class of people; it’s for everyone who would care to hunt. For the states that already allow Sunday hunting, it’s been proven to be nothing but beneficial to these states in all phases including the wildlife itself.
While I was in the work world, as a hunter, I had been quite fortunate in acquiring time to spend in the field hunting only because I worked for 40 years for a family-run business (The Suzio/York Hill Companies) that understood my passion for hunting and the outdoors, and an wife that knew she had married a hunter. Hunting itself is not all about killing deer or other game. Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing I would rather have for a meal more than some tasty venison, waterfowl or upland game, but for me, hunting goes far beyond that. Hunting gives me time to find my personal beliefs, both as a hunter and as a Christian. It is a time that can only be recorded in the mind of the hunter. No video camera, still photograph, or for that matter, written word can ever really and truly compare with actually being there. It’s just the way it is and Sunday hunting would allow many others to share this experience. To our legislators, Sunday hunting in Connecticut is long overdue; let’s get it done please!
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops and bring them home safe.