For more than a century, hunting on Sunday has been prohibited in Pennsylvania. But recent steps taken by the state senate has a bill in the works, bringing the possibility of limited Sunday hunting closer than ever before.
Senators voted 36 to 14 late last month for a bill that would permit hunting on one Sunday during deer rifle season, one during deer archery season, and on a third day to be determined by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC).
The PGC would ultimately have the final say on which Sundays are chosen, should the bill be passed this year. The bill — Senate Bill 147 — now has to go before the House of Representatives.
“It’s closer than it’s ever been. Just one more step,” said Ryan Furrer, Senior Regional Director and Field Supervisor with the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA).
Furrer, a lifelong hunter and outdoor enthusiast, said both he and QDMA are in favor of the possibility of Sunday hunting.
“One of the biggest and most important reasons we need it is the decline in hunter recruitment. We’re losing hunters faster than we’re replacing them,” he said, explaining that as baby boomers are aging out, millennials are not there in numbers to replace them.
“Any opportunity we have to get them out there or reactivate themselves as hunters is ideal, and those extra days in the woods can really help,” Furrer added.
Over the years, Furrer said he’s heard a number of explanations as to why Sunday hunting shouldn’t be permitted.
“I understand their perspective,” he said. “On public land, hikers and mountain bikers can still be out and about, just like they would any other day of the week.”
“I’ve been in a tree stand when someone has walked past — we’re just sharing the woods with them,” he added.
Furrer also debunked the idea of Sunday hunting potentially leading to exceedingly high harvest numbers.
“It’s all controlled by tag allotments, regardless of how many days there are to hunt,” Furrer said.
He also noted that the additional day of hunting would allow those who work six days a week — or long, extended hours — another chance to hunt.
“Plenty of people work more than five days a week, and they might not bother with a license. But if they could hunt on a Sunday, they should have that opportunity,” he said.
Sunday hunting is currently allowed in a majority of states, including all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states.
Sunday hunting has been banned since 1873, although there are exceptions for crows, foxes and coyotes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.