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Pennsylvania to Open Select Sundays for Hunting in 2020

Pennsylvania Sunday Hunting

Pennsylvania hunters will be able to hunt three Sundays in 2020.

The debate over Pennsylvania's blue laws prohibiting hunting on Sundays will likely be discussed even more in the next 12 months after Governor Tom Wolf signed a new Sunday hunting bill.

Senate Bill 147 is a small step as it only opens three Sundays a year to hunting on both public and private lands. Previously, Pennsylvania hunters could only pursue coyotes, crows or foxes on Sunday.

This new bill allows hunters to go after deer or other game.

The three days are one Sunday during firearms deer season and a Sunday during archery deer season. The third open Sunday will be chosen by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. They have not announced what day that will be yet.

While this new law may not seem like a big deal to people in most areas, Sunday hunting is a hot button issue in the Keystone State. Proponents of the law have argued it is necessary as a day of rest for the game animals or that people should spend the day as a day of worship or with their families.

Pennsylvania hunters haven’t had the opportunity to legally hunt most species on a Sunday since the 19th century. That...

Posted by Pennsylvania Game Commission on Wednesday, November 20, 2019

One of the biggest supporters of the Sunday hunting ban has been the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, who has argued an additional day of hunting would put too much strain on farmers and would lead to more instances of trespassing on private property.

For that reason, hunters taking advantage of one of the three Sunday hunting season dates next year will be required to have written permission from the landowner before hunting on a Sunday.

Pennlive.com reports this requirement was tacked on at the last minute. The bill also tightens up trespassing laws, making punishments harsher. The Farm Bureau has long pushed for bigger fines and loss of hunting licenses for repeat offenders.

Other opponents of Sunday hunting including Keystone Trails Association and Sierra Club have made a safety argument. They claim it takes away one day each week for people to pursue hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities.

On the flip side of the coin, there have been several hunting groups like Hunters United for Sunday Hunting working towards the repeal of the state's old blue laws on hunting. Their argument is the old blue laws are hurting hunter retention and participation by taking away hunting opportunities on weekends, often the only time most full-time workers and young people still in school get to go into the woods each week.

Another argument has been that the blue laws are hurting the state economically. A report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated eliminating all Sunday hunting bans could produce another 111,000 and $3.5 billion in wages if all current blue laws on Sunday hunting were eliminated for the minority of states that still have them.

In signing the bill, the Governor remarked on the difficulties of balancing the desires of people on both sides of the argument. Even sportsmen and women are divided on the issue.

"This legislation carefully balances the needs of landowners with an extended opportunity for hunters who work or attend school during weekdays," Wolf said.

On social media, it seems opinions are mixed in reaction to the news with some people praising the move and others chastising it. The law itself doesn't take effect until the 2020 deer hunting season, so we will have to wait to see the response to these three Sundays being opened up next season.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and General Outdoor Youtube Channels

NEXT: ARE BLUE LAWS HURTING HUNTING RETENTION AND PARTICIPATION?

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Pennsylvania to Open Select Sundays for Hunting in 2020