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State may allow hunting on 3 Sundays

Sunday hunting — traditionally not allowed in the state — is getting closer and closer to becoming an opportunity for hunters across Pennsylvania. A bill allowing hunting on three specific Sundays passed the committee vote and is heading before the general assembly for a vote, according to Mike Steingraber, game warden supervisor with the game commission’s Northcentral Region.

Proceeding with the changes with this bill has caused an uproar between citizens who want the accessibility Sunday hunting allows, and those who don’t agree with changes to tradition.

“It’s not tradition in Pennsylvania. In most states it’s (hunting) allowed,” Steingraber said. “Any kind of change to the norm is going to draw controversy.”

He added that though this bill has been voted out of committee, is supported by legislature, and has been moved to the House, there is still time for this bill to be changed.

“The legislative leadership supports it because they see it as an opportunity for sportsmen to have more time to hunt,” Steingraber said. “Ultimately it is their call. When they introduce a bill it often changes. There’s still time for it to change.”

State Representative, Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said this bill has been going on for almost 10 years.

“It has been in the works for a very long time, for at least eight years, we are one of two states that does not allow some sort of Sunday hunting,” he said. He added that neighboring states like New York and Ohio have even become destinations for Pennsylvania hunters to go for Sunday hunting.

Everett said Sunday hunting used to be a part of what used to be called “the blue laws,” which all were appealed besides Sunday hunting. These laws, according to Everett, used to ensure that stores were closed, sports weren’t being played and no one was hunting on Sunday’s, for religious reasons.

“There are many hunters who are in favor of it and the main reasons are some say because of their work schedules and kids sports schedule Sunday is the only day they can get out,” he continued. “There are many hunters and citizens against it and their predominant reason is they should have one day to hike, bird watch, all the other things in the woods without fear.”

Everett also added that farmers have typically been opposed to the bill as hunting has caused many trespassing issues with hunters being on properties without permission. This bill has had amendments to that in order to ensure that the laws surrounding trespassing are enforced, not only by the Game Commission, but by state police.

He also added that this will not take effect until the 2020 hunting season, two of the Sundays for hunting will be in conjunction with deer and rifle while the last one will be in conjunction with deer and bear seasons.

“I voted for it,” Everett said. “I’ve seen that once it went into effect, it has not been a big deal. I am happy to make the vote and put it behind us and focus on other issues.”

Father and son, Clifton Vaughn Strayer I and Clifton Vaughn Strayer II, have been hunting almost a combined total of 60 years in the Oval area.

“I have been hunting for 18 years,” Strayer II said.

“I was 10 when I started hunting,” Strayer I added. “I have been hunting for 40 years.”

The two hunt during white-tail, bear, turkey and small game seasons.

“We do pretty much everything,” Strayer II said.

The two are pro-hunting on Sunday as it opens more opportunities for the youth to get out into nature, but understand that there is opposition on the subject.

“A pro would be getting more people involved in hunting,” Strayer I said. “There are fewer and fewer kids that hunt and there is no school and there is usually no work. The religious aspect is primarily the con.”

Pennsylvania State Grange does not agree with said vote, as they said it was a “short-sighted” way of handling the slide in hunting licenses and other issues regarding hunting according to their public statement.

The organization said they believe that, “while Sunday hunting is hailed as a panacea to end the decade-old slide in hunting licenses, proponents have never documented that claim.”

The Grange sees the problems as, “deeper than simply adding Sundays.”

Other issues include, “a cultural shift, less young people being familiar with recreational hunting, and other causes need to be explored by an independent body like the PA Legislative Budget & Finance Committee before there is a legislative rush to judgement about the solution.

“Grange membership includes many avid hunters and we support their activities while recognizing the need to look more deeply into how longer-term solutions into the decline of hunting license sales can and should be made.”

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