the deer hunter
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission/Facebook

Pennsylvania is One Step Closer to Lifting the Sunday Hunting Ban

State lawmakers voted 129 to 73 in favor of repealing Pennsylvania's Sunday hunting ban, which has been in place for more than a century.

Pennsylvania lawmakers advanced a bill this week to repeal a century-old law banning hunting on Sundays. The measure passed the state house on Thursday with bipartisan support in a 129 to 73 vote.

Ahead of the vote, Rep. Mandy Steel, a Democrat serving Allegheny County who sponsored the bill, argued that they should end the "archaic prohibition on Sunday hunting" to both open up new opportunities for hunting and other outdoor activities and address the growing deer population.

"Sunday is an opportunity to educate our children about the great American tradition of protecting wild places and the deep connection to the land that comes through responsible and respectful hunting," Steel said in a prepared speech on the House floor.

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Since the bill passed on Thursday, it goes to the state senate next.

The bill to repeal the Sunday hunting ban

Pennsylvania is one of 12 states that maintains a ban on Sunday hunting. Experts say that the law dates back to the late 19th Century. At the time, lawmakers enacted so-called "blue laws" to prohibit activities that would conflict with church services.

Current state law bans hunting on Sundays except for three Sundays a year. Those include one day during deer rifle season, a day during deer archery season, and lawmakers left the third day up for the state Game Commission to decide. If the bill passes, it will authorize Sunday hunting for about five years.

Pennsylvania's deer population

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the state's deer population has grown significantly over the past few years. The commission estimated that the state is home to about 1.5 million deer, which translates to about 32 deer for every square mile of the state.

What caused the rapid growth of the deer population, according to experts, was a lack of predators, which were killed off by humans, and the development of new habitats. However, the growth has also caused a natural imbalance as deer are shifting from the forest and eating farm crops across the state.

Additionally, the number of deer harvested each year has increased as well. For the 2023 season, the commission reported hunters taking an estimated 422,960 deer, up 12% from the year before.