March 25, 2024

Sunday Game Bird Hunting One Signature Away from Becoming Law

Article Contact: Kaleigh Leager,

Why It Matters: Caucus-driven Delaware House Bill 271 (HB 271) passed both the House and Senate unanimously and is now awaiting Governor John Carney’s signature for enactment. HB 271 removes game birds from the list of species prohibited from Sunday hunting within the First State. Delaware’s definition of game birds includes waterfowl, rails, wild turkeys, pheasants, quail, chukar, and doves, amongst others. By lifting the current prohibition, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Division of Fish and Wildlife will continue to have the authority to establish and regulate season dates, bag limits and enforcement for the hunting of game birds but will gain the ability to add Sundays to the existing game bird seasons.


  • HB 271 passed the House 37-0 (4 absent) on January 25th and passed the Senate 20-0 (1 absent) on March 19th.
  • CSF provided written and oral testimony in support of the legislation’s passage and enactment.
  • Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member, Representative William Carson, is the primary sponsor of HB 271, with several fellow Caucus members as co-sponsors.
  • Governor John Carney is a member of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus representing the First State and has a long-standing history of supporting pro-sportsmen and women related legislation.
  • Currently, section 712 of Title 7 of the Delaware Code prohibits the hunting of any game birds or game animals (except deer) on Sundays. This Bill eliminates the prohibition against hunting game birds on Sundays. DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife still has authority to establish and regulate season dates, bag limits and enforcement for the hunting of game birds but removes the legislative prohibition for Sunday game bird hunting that is currently in statute.

Sunday hunting bans are one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws that were initially designed to encourage church attendance.  At the time when blue law restrictions were first put in place, other activities that were illegal on a Sunday included opening a store for business, drinking alcoholic beverages, and tilling your fields. Access is a major limiting factor hindering participation in hunting, and restrictions on Sunday hunting provide a temporal-access barrier to youth and others that work or attend school throughout the week and are often involved in extra-curricular activities on Saturdays. The access disparity issue among Delaware’s outdoor community is that the Sunday prohibitions are discriminatory to Delaware’s hunters, while all other outdoor recreationists are not statutorily restricted from engaging in their chosen pursuit on any day of the week.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Senior Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic States Kaleigh Leager submitted a letter of support and testified in person during the Senate Environment, Energy, & Transportation Committee hearing stating that, while HB 271 does not establish a 7-day/week hunting season, it lifts the current standing prohibition on Sunday game bird hunting and will allow DNREC to add Sundays to season dates if they believe it falls within the best interest of conservation, wildlife management, and the sportsmen and women of the First State. Additionally, Leager discussed why the lack of access and opportunity leads to the loss of hunters and comes as a disadvantage when it comes recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts. Following bill passage, CSF then engaged the Governor’s office and encouraged the Governor to sign the bill into law, which will be his 3rd pro-Sunday hunting bill he’ll have signed while in office.

CSF applauds the collective efforts of the Delaware Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, to remove the standing prohibition.  Once the bill is signed, CSF looks forward to working with DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife to ensure that Sunday game bird hunting is thoroughly considered and implemented within the First State.

States Involved:

View All news

Back TO All

In Season


Stay current with the latest news, policy activity and how to get involved.

Sign up for Newsletters


Donate today so we can keep fighting for tomorrow!

Donate Now