Sunday Hunting Authorizations – A Growing Theme in the Northeast

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

  • Across the northeast region, efforts to authorize Sunday hunting opportunities seem to be picking up steam.
  • Over the past year, states such as Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts have made headlines in their efforts to either lessen or remove this outdated and unnecessary barrier to entry.
  • Sunday hunting is prohibited and/or limited in a total of ten states: Maine and Massachusetts (outright bans), Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia (restrictions but allow it in some form).
  • For decades, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has advocated for Sunday hunting authorizations, highlighting the numerous benefits that the states are likely to experience, such as increased conservation funding, support for local economies, and increased respect for landowner rights.

Why it Matters: The inability to hunt on Sundays is a foreign idea in most states across the country, but in ten states in the northeastern and southeastern regions, it is a reality. Prohibitions and restrictions on Sunday hunting result in a wide swath of detriments to the states’ sporting communities and the local economies. Many individuals are unable to head afield during the normal work week due to conflicts with jobs, school, and extra-curricular activities, and are thereby forced to make a cost-benefit decision when considering purchasing a hunting license. An additional day to hunt would mean more dollars spent by hunters in restaurants, hotels, gas stations and stores throughout the state, boosting the state’s economy. Relatedly, allowing farmers and other landowners to diversify their income sources by allowing an additional day of hunting on their land could provide a capital influx to rural economies that are hardest hit by the recent pandemic.

The past decade has brought several advancements in the lessening and/or removal of Sunday hunting restrictions in states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Despite being only a few weeks into the new year, 2022 has already provided its fair share of Sunday hunting-related policies throughout the northeast, highlighting the ever-growing sentiments from the public with permitting seven days of hunting.

In Maine, sportsmen and women patiently wait for the results of a survey that was conducted on the Mainers’ sentiments towards Sunday hunting. Following the enactment of LD 1033, which required the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to form a stakeholder group for the purpose of further examining the issue, a detailed survey was conducted to gauge where residents fell in terms of supporting or opposing Sunday hunting. CSF took part in these meetings and worked with all parties in drafting the survey questions. At this point in time, the survey results have yet to be announced.

Sunday hunting in Maryland is permitted on a county-by-county basis, but several legislators have sought to add their counties to the growing list that authorizes it for all “game bird and game mammal seasons” on each Sunday. Thus far, CSF has submitted letters of support to increase opportunities in Somerset County and Queen Anne’s County, though more opportunities to engage in support of additional counties will likely be forthcoming throughout regular sessions.

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker included the removal of Sunday hunting restrictions for archery on deer in his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget. Only a few weeks prior, CSF submitted a letter of support for four Sunday hunting bills to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and weighed-in during the Committee’s hearing.

CSF will continue to advocate for the removal of Sunday hunting restrictions wherever they may exist. Updates on these issues will be provided as they are made available.

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