By Brett Stayton, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator
On June 20, Senate Bill 198, championed by the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, passed through the House Committee on Agriculture with a unanimous vote of 7-0.
If enacted, SB 198 would eliminate the present restrictions on private-land deer hunting on Sundays while also granting the Delaware Department of Natural Recourses and Environmental Control (DNREC) the authority to regulate additional Sunday hunting opportunities on public lands throughout the state.
The bill was unanimously reported out of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Energy on June 6 and was subsequently voted out of the Senate chamber on June 7 by a margin of 17-2. Caucus Co-Chairs remain optimistic that the bill will continue to move forward before the end of session and Governor John Carney, a Member of the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus, is expected to sign the bill should it make it to his desk.
“Hunters are the fabric of many of Delaware’s families and communities, and they play a critical role in conservation for our state; however, outdated laws prevent them from the simple, beneficial activity of going out and hunting deer on Sundays. I sponsored Senate Bill 198 so that we can update that law for the benefit of our families and our environment,” said Caucus Co-Chair Senator Bruce Ennis.
In 2016, the Caucus successfully advanced legislation that lifted the prohibition of Sunday hunting for deer in the state and opened up five specific Sundays for hunting on private lands and on select areas of public land regulated by the DNREC. The current allotment of Sunday hunting opportunities only allows for muzzleloader and shotgun hunting, while the new legislation would open up all Sundays during archery season and some additional Sundays during shotgun and muzzleloader season.
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- Improve hunter and target shooter involvement in regulatory and legislative processes. (11.84%)
- Enact or expand temporary hunter education deferral programs (apprentice license programs, multiyear options, programs for all first-time hunters regardless of age, and programs promoting hunting of multiple game species). (11.84%)
- Offer shooting sports and hunter education as school activities and recreation programs. (64.08%)
- Link existing programming into family-oriented organizations (such as churches and home-school groups) where participants will have the social support to continue. (12.24%)