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The Sportsman's Corner

Sunday Hunting Unlikely


October 10, 2019

When Pennsylvania's State Senate passed its version of a bill to allow hunting on Sundays, it appeared that limited Sunday hunting was going to be permitted in Pennsylvania. The bill allowed three days of Sunday hunting, including one in the traditional rifle deer season. Then the bill was moved to the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee where passage seemed likely.

However, SB 147, which would allow this limited hunting, ran into a significant roadblock in committee. The bill would strengthen trespass laws, instituting tougher penalties for violators, and would allow game wardens to enforce the laws, according to an article in the September 27 issue of "Pennsylvania Outdoor News." The new trespass provision states that hunters must have written permission to hunt on private properties on Sundays. This is something that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau asked to have included in the bill, which is certainly a reasonable request. The nearby states of Ohio and Virginia require hunters to have written permission to hunt on private properties at any time. I know hunters who hunt in both states. They tell me that this is not a problem in either state.

The problem is that a number of legislators do not view this as appropriate. One, Rep. Bill Kortz (D) of Allegheny County, said that it creates "two separate systems" for hunting on private land: one where written permission is required on Sundays but not the other six days. According to "Outdoor News," various legislators voiced the opinion that they would vote on SB 147 in the way their constituents advocate. In other words, whichever group, those in favor of or those opposed to the bill making the most "noise" will determine these legislators' votes. By Sept. 27, there appeared to be a stalemate regarding the vote.

According to an earlier article by John Hayes in the Sept. 12 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, perhaps a crucial nail in the coffin for SB 147 was, ironically, driven in by the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists during his testimony in favor of Sunday hunting when he asked, "Is the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau going to bully you, as legislators, into playing their game of running out the clock?"

He also had harsh words for the Pennsylvania Trails Association, which opposes the bill.

His comments about the Farm Bureau reportedly upset a number of legislators.

An internet posting reported that committee member Rep. Justin Walsh (R-Westmoreland) noted that SB 147 now "... did not appear to have the votes to get out of committee."


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