By Kara Hartman, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Growing up in the state of Pennsylvania has allowed me to develop an overwhelming passion for the outdoors over the years. This passion has continued to mature as I have grown into a professional adult. Contrary to the way most individuals are introduced to hunting, not a single person in my family is a hunter. In fact, many of my family members did not understand hunting or opposed the sport at the time I acquired an interest.
My curiosity in the outdoors, specifically hunting, developed at the age of 15 when I began to learn as much as possible about what was then a foreign hobby. This abrupt interest in hunting began the day I helped trail my first deer that was shot on my family’s 200-acre property. Since that day, I have completely inundated myself in everything and anything regarding the outdoors, from hunting to fishing to recreational shooting. Despite this immersion, I continuously found myself asking the question: “Why CAN’T I hunt on Sundays?”
The Sunday hunting restriction is an obsolete blue law, originally designed to restrict many activities on Sundays due to religious beliefs and to encourage church attendance. There are only 11 states that presently have restrictions on Sunday hunting; and, unfortunately, my home state of Pennsylvania is one of the few remaining states which has a nearly complete ban, with the exception of certain nuisance species. This unnecessary hunting restriction presents quite a few problems.
The two primary obstacles that prevent hunters from spending time afield are a lack of access, and a lack of opportunity to hunt. The average person, like myself, works a typical 9-5 job in which most of their time during the week is invested in their work and/or their commute. That said, most hunters have limited time available to hunt during the week. Therefore, the typical two-day weekend is the only time to get afield. However, family obligations during the weekend for both children and their parents make it extremely difficult to find time for outdoor activities, including hunting. Unfortunately, because of these outdated blue laws, only Saturdays can be utilized for hunting on the weekend. These laws not only limit current hunters, but are making it harder to recruit new hunters to carry on the hunting tradition.
Hunters and anglers contribute billions of dollars to the conservation of fish and wildlife through both license fees and excise tax on sporting equipment through the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). The ASCF is a “user-pays, public benefits” structure, and sportsmen and women are the sole backbone of this program. Without hunters and anglers, the future of our wildlife will be detrimentally compromised. Allowing Sunday hunting across the region will not only benefit present-day hunters but it will also benefit future generations who have yet to have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.
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- Facilitating voter registration at the time of hunting/fishing license purchase (5.56%)
- Addressing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer populations (12.96%)
- Increasing public access to private lands (24.07%)
- Granting more fish and wildlife management authority to the states (39.81%)
- Other (17.59%)