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A Long Overdue Bill for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives are debating allowing the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting. We are the only state left in the United States that does not allow hunting with semi-automatics. If I were to take up hunting, I’d have to resort to an old military bolt action with open sights. I don’t actually own a scoped bolt gun, muzzleloader, or shotgun capable of firing slugs. Now I’m assuming this bill will only legalize semi-autos where it’s legal to hunt with rifles (around here in the Southeast, it’s mostly limited to shotguns (which ironically can be semi-auto), muzzleloaders, and bows).

It looks like there’s two competing bills. It would seem one bill would  allow the use of .223 for hunting coyotes, with six rounds allowed in the magazine while hunting, while the competing bill would allow five rounds, but doesn’t mention species or caliber. Given the increasing problems with coyotes, either bill strikes me as a welcome thing for people living in the more rural parts of the Commonwealth.

I don’t think the Senate should be as much trouble as it has been with our bills last session. Where we had trouble previously is with Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Greenleaf, a C- rated Republican from Montgomery County, bottling up our bills. Since this is a hunting bill, it would go through the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, which is  Chaired by Senator Scavello, who has an A rating and was endorsed by NRA in his last election. Even the minority chair on that committee, Senator Brewster, is A rated and was endorsed in his last election. If we can get this bill to the floor in the Senate, we’ll pass it. The elephant in the room with moving this bill forward is whether we can score a signature from Governor Wolf. Wolf might not want to upset hunters, but so far I he has not impressed me with his political acumen. It’s a good bill to send him, since it’ll make him put his cards on the table.

NRA Upsets Christian Organization over Sunday Hunting

Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League pens an open letter to the NRA, taking umbrage at their promotion of Sunday hunting, particularly NRA’s assertion that opponents are a “small but vocal group,” and “tacitly endorse the view of animal ‘rights’ extremists”. I guess the truth hurts. Take a look at your Sunday hunting ban allies and tell me who they are? This isn’t just about Christian imposing their views on non-Christians. It’s also about Christians imposing their views on other Christians who have a different philosophy on the sabbath.

The Christian Action League is promoting a puritanical view of the Sabbath. I don’t mean that as hyperbole, they literally are. There’s also Continental Sabbatarianism that allows for recreation on the sabbath. So I want to be clear that the Christian Action League is speaking for one view of Christianity, and their view isn’t the only one out there.

These days hunting is more about recreation than labor, since very few hunt because they must. Those that do should be free to settle issues of their own conscience in their own way. We allow a lot of recreational activities on Sundays. Why do we still single this one out? In most states on the sabbath, you can buy and drink alcohol, go to the mall, boat and fish on our waterways, relax on the beach, or go for a hike in the woods. If Christian Action League wants to promote Puritan Sabbatarianism, it is free to do so, but I would argue some consistency is due.

Sexism in (Attacking) the Hunting Culture

It’s a few days old, but I just came across this piece in the WaPo talking about why it is anti-hunting advocates put targets on attractive female hunters.

The article notes that celebrities and anti-hunting advocates don’t attack or issue threats against male hunters at nearly the same rate as they target women or frequently even with the vitriol that they reserve for women.

Ultimately, it comes down to sexism in their movement. Women and guns, oh my! The article quotes a Vanderbilt professor, Kelly Oliver, who said:

“We expect men to be hunters, but we’re surprised when girls are hunting … Whatever we think about hunting the ‘Big Five’ in Africa, it’s clear that we still have issues with women and girls carrying guns and using them.”

Ah, gotta love sexism on the part of the animal rights activists that forces women into a box of pre-selected labels and hobbies just because of their sexual organs. Oh, wait, isn’t that what they often accuse us of doing?

The article does cite another professor who claims it isn’t sexism that motivates these attacks, but they are rooted in other judgements against the women hunters – their race, their socioeconomic status, and even their nationality. However, the second professor doesn’t appear to answer the challenge of why these attacks target female hunters when men share the same types of photos without nearly the level of antagonism. That’s still gender bias at work, even if the people issuing Twitter threats may also have an issue with a hunter’s race or class.

Journalists for Blue Laws

The Express-Times are standing behind New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s blue law that bans hunting on Sunday, originally enforced because you should be in church. They are arguing hunters have to share the great outdoors, which they largely pay for, with other people who don’t pay for it. I am not a hunter, but it’s very important for gun rights in this country to turn around its decline. There are plenty of people on our side who are happy to throw the “fudds” off the lifeboat, but the hunting cultures nonetheless provides a lot of bodies to the gun rights movement, and it’s decline will hurt us at the end of the day. Nearly every other state in the country allows Sunday hunting. There is no reason that New Jersey and Pennsylvania should be among the last states to repeal this blue law.

Hunting Season Prep in DC

Back in 1938, a Texas hunter decided to get ready for his hunting trip by posing for cameras in DC. That Texas hunter was Senator Tom Connally.


The caption from the Library of Congress: Looking forward to a hunting trip in his native state as soon as Congress adjourns this week, Senator Tom Connally, Democrat of Texas, checked his guns and did a little fancy shooting for the benefit of the cameramen at the Capitol today, 6/14/38.

I can’t even fathom how that would go over today.

Suppressors and Hunting

Apparently a lot of anti-gun groups think hunters losing their hearing is just fine. I also like the notion the media is parroting that silencers put Bambi at a disadvantage. That’s because many people graduating from journalism school know about as much about how the world works from that point of view as a raccoon does.

See, bullets fired from hunting rifles travel faster than the speed of sound, meaning if the hunter has any skill, Bambi is mortal before she even knows what hit her. Bullets also make sonic booms, which means suppressing a hunting rifle is more useful for protecting a hunter’s hearing than masking the sound from wildlife. Any wildlife in the vicinity will definitely hear the shot once the supersonic shockwave caused by the bullet reaches their ears.

No Second Amendment Protection for Hunting

A group of hunters tried suing Pennsylvania over the Sunday hunting ban and one of their claims was a Second Amendment protection. Yesterday, a U.S. District judge tossed the lawsuit.

Kane said she could find no proof that courts have extended Second Amendment protections to include recreational hunting.

The hunters raised several other arguments, including religious discrimination, but the judge said the hunters could not prove the Sunday ban violated their religious freedom.

I kind of figured the case would end up dismissed. This has to be handled legislatively, and Virginia is the model for chipping away at it until it the ban finally falls.

Legal Hunting Targeted by Facebook

Facebook locked the admins of a hunting-related page out of putting up new content after they pulled down a perfectly normal hunting photo that didn’t violate any laws or guidelines and claimed that it does not meet community standards.

One of the biggest hurdles Facebook has is not only growing their audience, but keeping the audience it has. Banning perfectly legal photos & pages just because their California staffers don’t like an outdoor tradition seems like it could easily send users running for other social media outlets.

New Attempts to Divide & Conquer

It looks like Mother Jones is investing in a strategy of trying to convince hunters that NRA doesn’t represent them because of one bill that appears to have covered many national land access issues. And, since those access issues might possibly be used by energy companies and some guys who own energy companies in Texas happen to like guns and donate to NRA, CLEARLY the evidence is overwhelming that NRA hates hunters…or something. (Heavy sarcasm in that summary if you couldn’t tell.)

This is a pretty hard sell to make considering that 3/4 of NRA members report that they are hunters, according to NRA President Jim Porter’s report at the recent board meeting. In fact, the organization launched a Hunter Leadership Forum event at this year’s annual meeting that raised more than $2 million for hunting programs at NRA.

So, I would say that the evidence shows NRA is quite connected to the hunting community. Will there be times that legislation is more complex and touches on issues that non-hunting access? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that NRA is “turning…against hunters.” It is also just a bit of a stretch to argue that because NRA accepts some donations from Texas families who own guns and hunt that happen to be in the energy sector that they are now energy industry lobbyists because of one or two bills. This looks like an attempt to try and see if they can pull some of those hunting supporters away from the organization since hunters are clearly such a huge part of the NRA “family.”

Good News for Hunting & Ultimately Guns

I realize that most readers of this blog aren’t hunters. But, if you’re like Sebastian, you may have been invited to go hunting once or twice, but couldn’t give it a try alongside the experienced hunter who invited you because you didn’t pre-plan and sit through an 8+ hour hunter safety course in order to get a license.

Pennsylvania was an early adopter of an apprentice hunting program that allowed experienced hunters to take children out to the woods on a limited license that didn’t require the pre-planning hassle of finding an available hunter ed class. It was wonderful, but it didn’t solve the problem for those who were over 18 and would like to give hunting a try. Recently, the legislature and the Game Commission have set out to fix that problem, and final approval to new regulations is scheduled for April.

It’s great to see some roadblocks to growing the sport coming down, especially when you add in that the Game Commission has been rolling out online hunter ed with only a few hours to do in an actual classroom.

Stories like this don’t just make me think about great news for hunting, but they should get all gun people thinking about barriers to entry for any of their favorite shooting sports and what they can do to help knock them down.

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