Do You *Really* Need to Shoot Deer on Sunday, Too?
Because I live about, oh, 400 yards from state game lands, the first day of deer season here in Pennsylvania is always a shattering experience. It begins at first light, with a "KABOOM!" echoing across the valley. A few minutes later, more gunshots ring out in answer. And so it goes for most of the day. It's like living in Bosnia, circa 1994.
My neighbors and I all spend the week(s) of hunting season looking forward to Sunday, when the gunfire stops and we can go out and walk in the woods without having to put fluorescent orange kevlar vests on the dogs. So I was amazed to learn that Pennsylvania is one of the last states in the Union that bans Sunday hunting.
This seems like an eminently good idea — as I wrote in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed yesterday. But then, I'm not a hunter. I was intrigued to learn, via the Pennsylvania Game Commission, that it helps hunters, too. Adding Sunday hunting would require the game authorities to shorten hunting seasons, restrict bag limits, and could result in private landowners withdrawing their lands from public hunting access programs. Finally, the Game Commission's own surveys have never indicated majority support for the idea—even among hunters.
In fact, banning Sunday hunting such a good idea that the National Rifle Association opposes it. The NRA's relentless, nationwide campaign has succeeded in overturning Sunday hunting bans in New York, among other states. They claim it treats hunters as "second-class citizens," but I fail to see where the Second Amendment guarantees the right of the people to bear arms in the woods on Sundays. It hasn't worked so far in Pennsylvania, in part thanks to opposition from the powerful farmers' lobby, but this state of affairs might not last forever, particularly given the vast power of the NRA — and their tendency to overreach on these things. (They also tend to oppose anti-poaching laws, as they have in PA.)
The truth is that hunting is on the decline. Sunday hunting is not going to bring it back; and for one group of people (whose numbers are shrinking) to demand that the woods be reserved for their use, seven days a week, is the height of selfishness.
The piece is sure to spark debate; it already has, based on my appearance today on KDKA Radio. To anyone who disagrees with me, I'd just say this: Be careful what you wish for.