Sunday hunting. To some, it conjures up memories of days afield with kids who have a once-a-week reprieve from school and sports. To others, it is yet another signal that America is moving away from being a society that encourages us to spend time at church and at home on Sunday. Funny thing is, there’s no geographical relationship between Sunday hunting and church involvement, as some of the most spiritually conservative states (Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi) allow Sunday hunting, and some of the states least dominated by churchgoers, like New Jersey and Maine, still have Sunday hunting bans in place. Personally, I believe that God is a little more put off by human activities like genocide, murder, pedophilia (especially when protected by churches), and global drug and arms trafficking, than he is by a parent taking their child out in the woods on Sunday to stalk a rabbit. So now you know where I stand.
From a purely logical standpoint, the Sunday hunting ban no longer holds much merit because other activities involving willful animal harvest – including commercial and recreational fishing, crabbing, lobstering, clamming, and shrimping…to say nothing of commercial slaughtering ….are permitted on Sunday in every state, and indeed, opponents of Sunday hunting participate in these activities. To say that hunting is different simply because it involves a lead bullet instead of a steel bolt (cattle and hogs), steel hook (fishing), or neckbreaking (chickens) is pretty silly. But we’re talking people, property rights, gun rights and religion.........not logic. So let's move on.
History of the Sunday hunting ban
|She hast shot a rabbit on sunday, |
and thusly, is a witch.
Witch, thou shalt be hanged!
So why does it matter?
Honestly, in the 31 states that have no Sunday hunting ban, and the additional 12 that have some sort of Sunday hunting provisions in at least some part of the state, it hasn’t mattered. Game populations have not collapsed. Churches have not gone unattended, or been forced into foreclosure. Conflicts with non-hunters have not escalated in any way. We know that much to be true.
But the studies of existing Sunday hunting programs don’t show a remarkable increase in recruitment or revenue as a direct, simple result of Sunday hunting. Again – we’re talking people, not logic. Again - has Sunday hunting really mattered? I haven't read any research that dramatically says, "YES!" either positively or negatively.
Those agencies, groups, and hunters most in favor of Sunday hunting point to endless, exhaustive studies that show the potential for increased out-of-state license and stamp sales, travel bookings, and increased hunter recruitment. They are (rightly) nervous about the aging of “the average hunter,” and unlike most of the public, they know that hunters and anglers pay for conservation, both through licenses and taxes, as well as through memberships and donations to conservation organizations. Poor hunter recruitment is bad news, and these folks want to pull out all the stops – one of which is Sunday hunting.
Some professional hunting guides oppose Sunday hunting because it could lead to a reduction in the total length of the hunting season (number of hunting days), which is bad business (you can only guide so many hunters per day, after all, and if everyone's hunting on sunday, then nobody's hunting on monday).
For the public, 90% of whom do not hunt, it’s a confusing issue that might conjure up more fear of firearms injuries……if the general public spent much time outdoors at all. For most of them, hunting and fishing remain very foreign activities in which they have never, and will never, participate. Truly a sad state of affairs.
I know the proponents of expanded Sunday hunting love to talk about all the great things that “could” happen, but the realistic bottom line is that none of the negative impacts and few of the positive impacts have been realized. In the next two posts on this topic, we’ll discuss how the pro and anti-Sunday groups figure into the debate, and where it’s likely to lead in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia – both of whose state wildlife agencies endorsed Sunday hunting for the first time in 2011, but where the Sunday hunting ban still stands anyway.
In the process, I will probably piss everyone off, but hopefully will leave you with some thoughts about the real reasons behind the Sunday hunting debate, and where it’s likely to head in the next several years.
|Taking turkeys to the slaughterhouse on sunday = Just Fine|
Hunting turkeys on sunday = $350 Fine