On March 9, the bipartisan and bicameral Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus), chaired by Senators Bruce Ennis and Brian Pettyjohn, and Representatives Jeff Spiegelman and William Carson, hosted their second meeting of the 2016 legislative session to discuss Sunday hunting in the First State. The meeting was attended by several legislators interested in learning more about increasing hunting opportunities for the state’s sportsmen’s community.
Rep. Carson distributed a draft bill for consideration which would provide for private land, deer-only hunting across the state. Several issues were addressed at the meeting, including the tremendous economic impact that Sunday hunting would have on the state’s economy as well as the ability for the excessive deer population to handle an additional day of hunting. Rep. Carson finalized the draft bill and introduced Delaware House Bill 289 on March 16. The bill was sponsored by all four Caucus Co-Chairs as well as several other members of the Caucus.
Rep. Carson commented on the need for Sunday hunting in Delaware: “Hunting is a lot more than a recreational activity for sportsmen. It is also a family activity where parents and children go hunting together and kids learn how to hunt and about the etiquette of hunting. However, many families and sportsmen have events going on during Saturdays, and weekdays are out due to work and school. Opening up another weekend day for them to hunt will give them more of an opportunity to take part in these activities.”
Jake McGuigan from the National Shooting Sports Foundation also presented, outlining the benefits of Sunday hunting on behalf of the Sunday Hunting Coalition. The Sunday Hunting Coalition is comprised of leaders from the conservation community working together throughout the remaining 11 states that restrict or ban Sunday hunting.
Also providing valuable input at the meeting was Director David Saveikis and Robert Hossler from the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator Alana Barricks, and representatives from the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, Delaware Surf Fishing, National Rifle Association, and Safari Club International.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?