RICHMOND -- Hunters, the National Rifle Association, even the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries testified Monday in favor of Sunday hunting, but in the end, the second of two bills that would have allowed it was shot down by a Senate committee.
A companion bill in the House was rejected last week.
The Senate bill, SB850, received a thumbs-down after legislators heard from landowners, horseback riders and others who said the ban gives them one day a week when they can enjoy the outdoors in peace and safety.
Sportsmen themselves are split on the issue. While the majority argue that Sunday hunting would help control the state's mushrooming deer population, the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, which represents 800 hunt clubs, fears it would contribute to the erosion of the sport's image.
Supporters of the bill vowed to return to Richmond, saying the ban is based on archaic religious restrictions.
"Why is it you can do everything else on a Sunday, including buying liquor, but you can't hunt?" asked Charles Olin, a hunter from Richmond.
I grew up in VA, stated hunting with my dad when I was 6, still live here, and have a dog in this fight. For years I supported no hunting on Sundays. We never did it, and so it was tradition. Plus, all the old-timers would say it gave the landowners and the game a needed one-day break. I said all this on a debate segment on the Whitetail Revolution TV show a few years back and got skewered for it by many hunters.
While I still have mixed feelings, I have changed my tune. The best argument that the Sunday hunting proponents make is that is gives busy parents a much-needed extra day to take their kids hunting. One day a week for kids to hunt is not enough; 4 or 5 Saturdays a year are not enough days for kids to hit the woods, learn, have fun, shoot a few deer, get blood on their hands, and become lifelong hunters. In this day and age, I don't see how you can argue with that.
IMO, the best compromise is to allow some Sunday hunting in some areas during some seasons, especially all the youth hunts (which should be greatly expanded in VA and all states). This is something the VA Game and Fish and the legislators should consider in the next round of negotiations.
BTW, in most of the states where I travel to hunt, when I mention that we can't hunt on Sundays in VA, most people look at me curiously and say, That's crazy man, never heard of such a thing.
Maybe that is a sign of the changing times. comment