Of the 11 states in America that place restrictions on Sunday hunting, Virginia has some of the most rigid regulations. Now, hunters are voicing their optimism after a bill seeking to lift the Sunday hunting ban passed a major hurdle. On Wednesday the Virginia House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill and sent it to the full house for consideration.

“This is our best shot in years of making real progress,” said Sunday hunting advocate Matt O’Brien, who founded the online group Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All.

The bill, HB 1237, is not the complete eradication of the Sunday hunting ban that many hunters wanted, but it is a compromise that many sportsmen say they prefer over current restrictions. If passed into law the bill will allow Virginians to hunt on private land during Sundays with the written permission of landowners. Of course, hunters are still subject to all other restrictions imposed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and two further caveats were added: no hunting can occur within 200 yards of a house of worship and deer hunters are prohibited from using hounds.

Still, O’Brien claims it is a big win.

“This is historical for Virginia and for private property rights in the state,” he told The Virginian-Pilot. “Opening Sundays to hunting has overwhelming support across Virginia and the House of Delegates recognized that.”

Also supporting the bill is the Sunday Hunting Coalition, a collection of sportsmen’s associations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation. Others, like Safari Club International, have considered filing a lawsuit against the ban on the grounds of its constitutionality.

Perhaps the most encouraging new voice, however, is support for the bill from the state’s own DGIF. For years the department has remained silent on the matter, but recently passed a resolution to lift the Sunday ban.

Opponents of the ban say it is one of the many remainders of the religious “blue laws” from the 1800s, and serves no place in a modern society. Hunters who can only hunt during the weekend due to work say the ban can be frustrating, as it essentially eliminates half of their hunting time.

The ban is not without supporters, however, especially from landowners and farmers who fear the bill would lead to trespassing. Hikers also say that the presence of hunters make them feel uneasy. Hunters counter these arguments by saying that Sunday hunting is allowed in many states with little to effect.

Indeed, other states are also keeping an eye on Virginia’s Sunday hunting bill. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action branch hailed the bill as a “big win” when it passed committee on Wednesday, encouraging members in the state to write to delegates. Notable hunter and musician Ted Nugent also chimed in on the issue, saying that it was “insane” that such laws still exist.

“I urge in the strongest of terms that these states eliminate these bizarre Sunday hunting bans immediately,” Nugent wrote on his Facebook page, adding that the laws were “downright un-American.”

Efforts in nearby states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts and others also seek to overturn their own Sunday hunting bans.

Image from RTD Photography on the flickr Creative Commons

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2 thoughts on “Virginia Sunday Hunting Bill is Source of Optimism for Hunters

  1. whats wrong with these people voting no or do they not have common sense.just look at the deer being killed onbeing in the roads,the expense of fixing the vehicles and people. the state now pay out of a slumping economy and deer hunting brings in revenue to the areas that desperatly need it. there are many their lives that could be saved from deer being eaten. people are going hungary when they could be getting this much needed nourishment from deer proessed. let the hunter kill them and donate to organizations such as hunters for the hunaeryand there are many other places these processed deer can be donated. cars are being demolished because of deer in the roads .they dont no its sunday. but come monday the state pays to have these road killed deer picked up and pay to dispose of what could have fed many people,people who desperately need this nourshiment.there are many soup kitchens that feed thousands put the meat where the good lord wanted it. feeding people!!! rather than deer killing people let the people kill the deer ,not just to be killed but used to save people ,cars ,insurance pay bundlees every year to have car fixed ,people fixed from deer collisions.they where put here for a reason to be eaten and use this god made nourshiment to those thousands that go to bed hungary when they could be using what is costing tax payers millionns to clean up off the roads to fill their bellies. i eat deer meat ,its low fat and very good if fixed correctly. the indians share deer to the pilgrims and they were glad to eat it on thanksgiving. so let us thank the lord for this resource and use it! people pay big bucks for steaks from cattle, thats meat right. some people don’t have the money like others and pay for ahundred dollar meal but those that need it will surely thank the big man that supplies it<i vote yes yes yes for feeding the people,saving lives of people and using the money wasted picking up dead deer off the road and using it wisely.i didn't even get to the crops lost by farmers to deer. DO YOU WANT YOUR FAMILY MEMBER KILLED BY DEER! Of course not but the next one killed by deer on the road could be you or a family member. come onpeople get your heads out of your a . lets use our resources wisely!!!!

  2. Gary, the problem is that the people who claim to be against it are actually guys who already do plenty of hunting and chasing bears on Sunday but don’t want YOU to hunt on Sunday. That’s the bottom line. They want you out of the woods so they can do as they please (even if it’s your woods). Thank goodness other Virginians are seeing that these guys are full of baloney – you can’t be against sunday hunting if you’re FOR your own Sunday hunting. Big old dummies.

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