The states that ban Sunday hunting could take a hint from Virginia.
For years, Virginia residents have been strongly prohibited on what they could and could not hunt on Sundays. Beyond some fringe hunting of raccoons, the state has long held to an old “Blue Law” that forbade hunters from going after deer or any sort of big game animal on that particular day of the week.
Now however, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed freshly passed bills into law, effectively giving hunters permission to pursue whitetail deer and other wild animals on Sundays, so long as they hunt on private property and avoid spots within a 200 yard radius of churches or other houses of worship. Some lawmakers expect the bill to be expanded in the coming months and years so that hunting on public land is also permitted.
For those in Virginia who only have the opportunity to hunt on weekends, the law change will be a huge victory. However, there are still 10 other states where hunters are not so lucky. In honor of the Virginia law change, we took a look at the other states that have yet to move in the same direction.
View the slideshow to see which states still ban Sunday hunting.
According to Connecticut law, hunting on Sundays is only permitted in situations involving “private licensed shooting preserves” where the owner or operator of the preserve has permission from the town in which his or her property is located. Those found in possession of any hunting equipment (guns, bows, etc.) on a Sunday will currently be cited if found on land that is not licensed as a private shooting preserve.
Legislators proposed a number of new Sunday hunting bills last year, largely focusing on allowing bow hunting on private property. However, the legislation failed to pass, which has become a tradition and a consistent frustration for Connecticut hunters over the years.
Delaware hunters are allowed to “chase red fox in season” on Sundays, but that’s about it. All other forms of Sunday hunting are off limits to Delaware hunters, and the state has made little effort to change that fact. Unlike Connecticut, Virginia, and numerous other states, Delaware has seen no recent legislation that would allow for the hunting of deer and other wild game animals on the second day of the weekend.
No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts,” here; Maine allows absolutely no hunting on Sundays. The ban has stood since 1883, with all legislative attempts to change the status quo – such as a trio of 2011 proposals that would have allowed Sunday hunting in various parts of Maine – have been rejected. There seemed to be a glimmer of hope after that 2011 legislative session, when lawmakers kept alive a proposal that would have allowed private landowners to pay a $25 fee to hunt on their own properties on Sundays. However, nothing ever came of that bill, and Maine remains a “no Sunday hunting” zone.
Not the most open state for Sunday hunting, but certainly not the most closed off either, Maryland has a fairly long list of exceptions to its “No hunting on Sunday” law. For instance, unarmed fox chases are allowed, various counties allow for deer and turkey hunting, and the state has a number of “Regulated Shooting Areas” that allow for the Sunday hunting of captive game birds. In other words, there’s still progress to be made here, but Maryland hunters are better off than some.
Like Maine, Massachusetts is a state with a “no tolerance” policy on Sunday hunting. Despite some vocal protestors of the state policy, very little legislative movement has gone on to change the norms. A USA Today article from last April indicated that Massachusetts lawmakers were in talks to develop new Sunday hunting legislation, but we’ve so far seen no progress.
6. New Jersey
New Jersey has one of the most complex “no Sunday hunting” laws on the books, which frankly begs the question of why the state doesn’t just go all the way and completely open up Sunday hunting. At the moment, Sunday hunting is allowed in a number of weirdly specific situations. For instance, during certain parts of the year, raccoon hunting is permitted “between midnight on Saturday and sunrise on Sunday.” Most types of pheasant, quail, or partridge hunting are also allowed on Sundays, while bow hunters have pretty loose regulations as long as they have the proper licenses and are hunting on private property or within state determined wildlife management units.
7. North Carolina
Forget Sunday hunting in North Carolina…that is, unless you live near a military base. The state allows for any and all types of hunting on military reservations. Last year, legislators made a play to change the “no Sunday hunting” law – which has stood since 1868. However, like every proposal that came before it, that particular bill failed, largely due to opposition from various parties who still believe that hunting somehow infringes on the religious significance of Sundays.
8. South Carolina
As if to add insult to injury for Carolina hunters, South Carolina is hardly more permissive of Sunday hunting than North Carolina is. The state at least allows for small game hunting on Sundays, but deer hunting and other types of big game hunting still seem like pipe dreams.
Like South Carolina, Pennsylvania Sundays aren’t open to deer hunters, though the state does permit hunting of smaller game animals, including foxes, feral pigs, crows, and coyotes. Last year, hunters filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Game Commission over the Sunday hunting ban. The suit was dismissed, but there have still been rumblings in the state government that could bring about a change to the state’s religiously motivated blue laws. Only time will tell.
10. West Virginia
Virginia hunters may just be getting the right to hunt private land on Sundays, but West Virginia hunters have had that right for a while now. Various counties throughout the state have voted to allow Sunday hunting on private property.