Getting Rid of the Sunday Hunting Ban

Alerts from NRA and NSSF this week announced a public meeting of the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee tomorrow to tackle the topic of ending the the blue law that bans Sunday hunting dating back to the 1870s.

The Sunday Hunting Coalition points out that Pennsylvania would see a significant economic boost from expanding the number of days hunters are allowed to take to the fields and woods.

The estimated impacts from a lift on the ban on Sunday hunting are based on responses to surveys of hunters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In these two states, government agencies conducted extensive surveys of hunters in which they were asked to report the number of additional days they would participate in hunting if the Sunday hunting ban were to be lifted. Based on these responses, it is estimated that hunters will participate in, on average, about 22 percent of the additional days made available to them from the lifting of the ban. In other words, if the lifting of restrictions increased the number of hunting days by 10, the average hunter would increase their hunting days by about two.

Specifically, Pennsylvania would likely see a direct economic impact that could create more than 4,400 jobs with wages topping $99 million. Of all the states with Sunday hunting bans or heavy restrictions, Pennsylvania stands to gain the most jobs and economic impact of a repeal of the prohibition.

So, you know, lawmakers who are so desperate for more money and want to be seen as “creating” jobs, this is your chance. Seriously, $99 million more in wages to tax and 4,400 new jobs. That’s just the direct impact, the indirect impact gives us even more jobs and higher wages.

(Similar post with a little more data & background over at

21 thoughts on “Getting Rid of the Sunday Hunting Ban”

  1. My brother moved to Pennsylvania to run the new steel mill they are building near Pittsburgh. He rants about the statist nature of PA–I’m only now beginning to believe him.

  2. I think those numbers are a bit inflated. I’m not a hunter but most public lands (non state game lands) in pa are shared use. It’s nice to have one day a week where I don’t need to run or mt. bike in florescent orange to avoid someone with game fever and an itchy trigger finger.

  3. Maybe your legislators are more pliable than ours. Sunday hunting died in Virginia this past session for about the sixth year in a row. They know the economic benefits – and still they do nothing.

    1. Most legislative battles are multi-year fights. That isn’t surprising, especially when this is basically an issue that divides common constituencies. Take a look at both the Facebook story on it & the NRA story on it for several examples of crazy. Both have people on them who not only oppose Sunday hunting (even though they normally support gun/hunting rights), but they want the government to start shutting down businesses on Sunday in order to enforce their religion on others via a blue law revival.

  4. Sunday hunting bans in Virginia date back to the 17th century. I would not be surprised if Pennsylvania’s ban goes that far back as well. These bans were not specific to hunting: all forms of entertainment were banned on the Lord’s Day, so that everyone would devote themselves to prayer, worship, and reflection.

    1. According to one of the articles I found while researching the Sunday hunting ban, Pennsylvania’s ban on Sunday hunting didn’t exist until 1873. I know that the blue laws applied to many more things than hunting, but hunting is one of the few blue laws that continues to stand.

      Although, from some of the commenters on the Facebook pages, some of our people would like government agents to shut down everything but churches on Sunday. It’s actually a little frightening when one guy argued that the fact that we currently allow businesses to operate and the existence of people who don’t worship on Sunday were reasons we needed the Second Amendment. He was, however, generous in saying that different denominations of Christians are acceptable, but if they do anything on Sundays other than worship God, then they are representative of the downfall of America. I would say that my description is an exaggeration of the opinions I was arguing against yesterday, but it really aren’t much of an exaggeration at all.

  5. “Although, from some of the commenters on the Facebook pages, some of our people would like government agents to shut down everything but churches on Sunday.”

    Wow. I know that blue laws in many parts of New England enjoy significant support from labor unions, but I am always amazed that there are people that think like this. I have generally attended churches that are a bit more fundamentalist in doctrine than I completely agree with–and I have never met anyone like this.

    1. On two different Facebook posts about the Pennsylvania Sunday hunting ban repeal, I found different guys who specifically called for not only maintaining this law, but bringing back more blue laws so that we can’t conduct so much business on Sundays. I’m from rural Oklahoma, and even though the women in my Southern Baptist church were in an uproar that the dress I wore underneath a jacket had thin straps, I’m pretty sure even they would oppose government coming in to shut down the local businesses on Sunday. Sure, I might have been damned to hell for what I was wearing even though my shoulders were covered, but operating a business on Sunday was acceptable. :)

  6. If religion is the issue, then what about Jews, and others who observe the sabbath on Saturday? Should they not allowed to be able to hunt on the weekend?

  7. “If religion is the issue, then what about Jews, and others who observe the sabbath on Saturday? Should they not allowed to be able to hunt on the weekend?”

    That is apparently the basis of an ACLU lawsuit some years ago against West Virginia’s Sunday hunting ban.

    1. When I posed the “some people don’t practice on Sunday” issue in a polite way to one of the blue law advocates on Facebook, that’s when he basically said that only Christianity was acceptable. Based on his posts, the fact that some people have differences of faith is a big reason why we need to hold on to the Second Amendment since it is a sign that America is failing. I’m guessing he’s not such a fan of that pesky First Amendment.

  8. “If religion is the issue, then what about Jews, and others who observe the sabbath on Saturday? Should they not allowed to be able to hunt on the weekend?”

    Keep in mind that throughout most of American history, the intersection of “Jews” and “hunter” was close to the null set. It has also been the case that many state laws from the 19th century onward often had exemptions for those who did not accept Sunday at the Sabbath. For many years, the U.S. Postal Service did not deliver mail on Sundays–but in three post offices with large Seventh Day Adventist populations (such as Loma Linda, California) they did Sunday mail delivery instead of Saturday mail delivery.

  9. As a rural landowner, I oppose extensions of Sunday hunting, as do many others I know. The reasons go far beyond the religious tradition. Like public land users, Sunday gives me one day I can work in the woodlot or train dogs without conflict with deer hunters. In a wet year, corn harvest can extend into deer seasons, and Sunday can also be a catch up day for many farmers. About a dozen extended family and neighbors hunt my farm. If I try to do work while they are hunting, it will ruin their hunt.

    Absentee woodlot owners I know use Sunday for other activities, and many will not like this. The Scots Irish Presbyterians of rural western Pennsylvania are declining, but still own acres vastly higher than their demographics. For these two reasons, I suspect Sunday hunting extensions will thus result in closing more private land to hunting. This will make it harder to manage the deer herd than it already had become.

    1. As a private landowner, why do you need to use the force of government to keep other landowners from opening their property to hunt on Sundays? If Sunday hunting were opened, you, as a landowner, would be free to open your property to hunt 6 days of the week. For anyone who violates your rules, they are trespassing and there’s an appropriate use of government force to deal with such lawbreakers. If a landowner that currently allows hunting closes it down just because they now have to option to utilize their land how they see fit all 7 days of the week, then that’s just being petty. Granted, y’all are free to behave that way. Unlike you, I wouldn’t use the force of government to tell you how you must use your land on what days.

      You have every right to restrict access to your land on certain days. Why do you feel that it is the government’s job to enforce a rule that you would like in place for your personal property – and enforce that personal rule on every other landowner in the state who wants to keep their property open to hunting?

  10. HI Bitter,
    To be clear, I did not say I will close my farms to hunting over this. But I know many who will. I do not think it is pettiness to them. Managing trespass and slob hunters in Deer season around here is a part time job, and I would argue from experience there is not an appropriate level of force to deal with such lawbreakers. Some find it easier to ban all hunting than clean up messes and resolve disputes.
    My point is that The Sunday hunting ban serves a legitimate public purpose beyond religion.

    You seem to be arguing this point from libertarian ideology. The management of wildlife, unlike timber, is not strictly a property rights issue. Deer are public property that happen to dwell on my private property. We as members of the Commonwealth make collective decisions on the time, place, and manner to manage this resource. Otherwise, Why have Govt imposed safety zones? Why have lawful shooting hours on private land? Why have seasons?

  11. So trespass is a problem that exists outside of Sunday hunting. Why should people who have limited weekend time to hunt have to pay for that problem? I hate that it can cause lands to be shut off to hunters, but having Sunday to hunt isn’t going to change that problem. We do have law enforcement for those reasons.

    I do realize that wildlife are managed as a public resource – our hunting regulation system is based on the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. I also am not approaching from a strictly libertarian stance. If I did, my call would be for the entire system to be dismantled. I’m merely arguing that a ban on hunting for one day a week when it is easiest for many hunters to take to the fields is unwise and needs to be repealed. Let landowners make the decisions for themselves. Perhaps they would like to let hunters take over for the weekend and then have a break during the week. My questions get at the heart of why you should ask government to pick that day for everyone.

    Why is there opposition to getting rid of the law that bans landowners from making the choice of how they want to use their lands on which days?

    To be honest, if I had a large area that hunters wanted to use, I’d post it. But, it would be posted with signs that say you may hunt with express permission only. Using today’s technology, I’d set up a Google Voice mailbox/email and tell people to contact me about hunting access. On my own dime so that I could more easily report actual trespassers, I would probably make some kind of card or tag – similar to what Sebastian’s gun club requires of members. You have that tag, you have permission to hunt on my property. You don’t, and the cops are getting called if I spot you.

  12. Bitter,
    I am afraid we are not going to agree on this. My trespass experiences and issues would take to long to post (suffice it to say, the only police are state troopers 40+minutes away, and I own some dense tracts of woods that share a border on larger denser tracts fronting several roads). Among the worst has been slobs trying to evict invited young hunters from my land.

    I genuinely believe expanding Sunday hunting will make trespass issues worse. I will allow this may be part of a larger problem of growing bad behavior among hunters. Perhaps they would do better in church on Sunday than throwing young hunters off my land and leaving behind turds in the middle of my trails…..

    So yes; I have no problem with the government setting a uniform law that sets permissible times and days to hunt. The fact that one of these regulations coincides with the Christian Sabbath meets both a cultural and practical purpose.

  13. Pennsylvania has some of the staffer hunting laws, hunting traditions, and hunters I’ve ever encountered. And that said, I’m with Bitter, Richard.

    If trespass is a problem (as is poaching) it’s gonna happen on a Sunday whether legal or not. those you invite, you can restrict on Sunday. Those who trespass ought to have charges filed against them. Is your land properly posted??

    For me, though, It would make a huge difference in both getting my son out hunting and spending money hunting.

    I travel to Pennsylvania every year to grouse hunt (St Mart’s area). This last year I went on a Monday & Tuesday. I could have also been hunting on Friday and Saturday (driving up Thursday night) but because we couldn’t hunt on Sunday we decided not to leave for the trip till late Sunday night and spend the weekend at home.

    So right there, the Sunday hunting ban was responsible for St Mary’s – a city in desperate need of all the income it can get – losing three additional nights in a hotel along with the associated restaurant meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday). And since we go up with a couple of other guys, you can multiply those purchases by 3.

    We also find ourselves using various other services while up there – veterinary services, grocery stores, hunting/gun shop, gasoline, purchasing souveniers for our wives, etc.

    In total, I’d suspect we each would have spent at least 1200, maybe as much as 1500 in the St Mart’s economy. That may be a small enough overall in the PA economy, but multiplied over many many tourists (we could have also tied in a bear hunt this year or deer hunting) that type of tourism begins to have a real impact.

  14. Countertop-Yes, my land is legally and properly posted: I even sign the placards and include a PO box. Poaching is a completely different matter, and not a major problem on my place.

    While I wish you much success in the field, frankly I don’t give a hoot whether you come to hunt PA. or not. The purpose of hunting is to manage the Commonwealth’s wildlife for the health of its land and residents. If Elk County has to rely on a carload of bird hunters for economic development, things are worse than I thought.

    I am not alone in my Sunday hunting opinion, according to the PA Farm Bureau:

    This is a wedge issue that separates the generally pro- hunting farm community from hunters. Not an issue NRA should be wasting its political capital on.

  15. Although I think businesses should be closed on Sundays, I’ve always been troubled by Blue laws. Why should a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Seventh-day Adventist, or an atheist, or even a Christian that just doesn’t care (and yes, there are even faithful Christians–entire denominations–that don’t believe in practicing the Sabbath) be forced to observe something that they don’t believe in?

    Having said that, richard brought up practical reasons why hunting might be banned on Sunday; although I agree with Bitter, that if trespassing is a problem, it would be better to find technological solutions, rather than legal solutions.

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