Open On Sundays

posted on May 12, 2015

Legislative measures that would put an end to outdated laws prohibiting hunting on Sundays are under consideration in both Pennsylvania and North Carolina, with an uncertain future for both.

The prohibition on Sunday hunting is an old blue law still left on the books in just a handful of states, and it effectively cuts in half the hunting opportunity for many who rely on weekends to head to the fields and woods in pursuit of a variety of game animals, both large and small.

The North Carolina House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 640, the Outdoor Heritage Act, which would repeal the outdated ban on the use of firearms for hunting on Sundays on private property. Unfortunately, amendments were passed that have watered down the original Sunday hunting provisions supported by the NRA.Research from the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that allowing Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania would generate a total annual economic impact estimated at $764 million and create more than 8,000 jobs.

For starters, this critical pro-hunting bill was amended to exclude Wake and Mecklenburg counties from the Sunday hunting provision. Another amendment would allow any county to adopt a local ordinance prohibiting hunting on Sunday—in effect, making it possible for every county to ban Sunday hunting as of Oct. 1, 2017.  

The bill was further amended to require that hunters must have a minimum distance of 500 yards from a place of worship or accessory structure thereof, and 500 yards from a residence not held by the owner of the land where the hunting is occurring.  

Also in late April, Rep. Frank Farina and Rep. Robert Godshall began circulating a memo for co-sponsorship of an NRA-backed Sunday hunting bill in Pennsylvania. Supporters point to not only expanded opportunity for hunters, but also the economic windfall a repeal of the Sunday hunting ban would bring to the Keystone State.

Research from the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that allowing Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania would generate a total annual economic impact estimated at $764 million and create more than 8,000 jobs. This legislation would also help advance and preserve the Keystone State’s rich hunting traditions, while enhancing biodiversity and wildlife populations.

NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action points out several reasons why Sunday hunting bans should be rolled back, including:

  • States that have recently repealed Sunday hunting prohibitions have had no adverse impact on game populations;
  • The most common reason that hunters stop hunting is lack of hunting opportunity;
  • Sunday hunting helps recruit new hunters;
  • Sunday hunting provides an economic benefit to many rural areas; and
  • Out-of-state license revenues grow as a result of Sunday hunting.

Currently four states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Massachusetts—completely prohibit hunting on Sunday for any wild game, and seven allow limited Sunday hunting. Maryland and West Virginia allow hunting on Sundays in some counties on private land, while South Carolina and Virginia allow Sunday hunting on private land and some public waterways for waterfowl. North Carolina allows Sunday hunting only with archery equipment on private lands and by falconry on public lands. New Jersey allows bow hunting on Sundays for deer on state wildlife management areas and private property, while Pennsylvania allows Sunday hunting for foxes, crows and coyotes.

According to NRA-ILA, all seven of those states have recently taken some steps to allow hunting on Sundays. None of these states has experienced the horror stories predicted by anti-hunting activists, and each continues to have healthy wildlife populations. Additionally, hunters in those states continue to be safe and responsible, church attendance remains unchanged, and landowner-hunter conflicts have not increased.


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