From a hunter’s perspective, the opportunity to hunt on Sunday’s sounds like a great idea.
It’s another day of the week to do what I enjoy most, whether that’s busting up a flock or turkeys in the fall, busting the brush with a beagle for rabbits or stillhunting the December woods in pursuit of a buck.
But there’s another perspective to consider — one that leads me to believe that all-out Sunday hunting for every game species and every season is not a great idea.
I truly believe the resource, in this case deer, could withstand being hunted seven days a week. But not with the length of the current seasons and the high rate of participation, which equates to an enormous amount of pressure at certain times of the year.
It would just be too much.
The lawsuit filed recently by Hunters United for Sunday Hunting seeks to put the authority of Sunday hunting in the hands of the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In that case, it would be up to the PGC to determine when and for what species Sunday hunting would be enacted.
The lawsuit doesn’t specifically designate which species could be hunted on Sunday and no one behind the scenes has said deer are the main objective here.
In fact, those involved in the matter have told me they’d like to see Sunday hunting allowed for small game and woodchucks, for example. Some would like to see Sunday hunting on private land only or use it as a means to further expand opportunities for youth hunters.
I wouldn’t mind having Sundays to hunt small game, woodchucks or even fall turkey, for that matter. There isn’t a high level of participation in those seasons right now, so a seventh day to hunt probably wouldn’t impact those species that much.
But the problem I have with the matter is there’s no guarantee that the PGC board, if given the authority, won’t open the deer seasons up to Sunday hunting. That concerns me, especially when it comes to the rifle season.
There are more hunters in the woods on the first day of the rifle deer season than any other time of the year. The second highest-participation day is the first Saturday. Add Sunday to the mix and I bet the hunting pressure would be just as great.
It’s another day that deer will be pushed, driven, road-hunted and pressured.
It’s too much.
My thoughts hold true for the archery and late flintlock seasons. Right now, deer season begins on Oct. 5 with archery, and continues until Jan. 11 with the conclusion of flintlock season. In between, there are about four weeks when the season is closed, and 64 days — including the regular archery, rifle and late muzzleloader seasons — when deer can be hunted. Add in the antlerless season for junior, senior, disabled and active military hunters (Oct. 24-26) and the early muzzleloader season (Oct. 19-26), and that’s 10 more days of deer hunting opportunities.
Yes, I do believe the deer need that one day each week that is devoid of hunting pressure.
Some may argue that deer are always under pressure due to the threat of predation, and that’s true. But why add to it by hunting on Sunday?
It’s also true that the Game Commission can limit the impact to the deer herd by reducing the number of antlerless licenses allocated each year. But when it comes to Sunday hunting, they can limit the number of hunters in the woods and the pressure that results.
There are other concerns with Sunday hunting, namely the impact it will have on private landowners, such as farmers. They’ve been vocal in their opposition and many have said they will post their land is Sunday hunting were allowed.
Is Sunday hunting really worth that risk?
If it is going to become a reality, I can live with limited Sunday hunting for species where hunter participation isn’t that great. Woodchucks and early small game, for example.
But when it comes to deer, the line has to be drawn.