Sunday hunting considered

Ben Destefan

The ban on Sunday hunting is in the crosshairs of the Pennsylvania Senate.

Last week, the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee approved Senate Bill 147, which would authorize the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow hunting on some Sundays.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

As currently constructed, the Game Commission does not have the power to allow hunting on Sundays. First, legislation must pass to amend one of the state's remaining blue laws which prohibits hunting on Sundays.

The bill is sponsored primarily by Sen. Dan Laughlin, a Republican serving the 49th District in Erie County. It is co-sponsored by Sen. James Brewster, a Democrat who represents the 45th District in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

"This bill is for Pennsylvania’s young people, to get them outdoors when they have more time available and obviously some of our older hunters would like to spend more time in the field as well," Laughlin said. "This is one of only two blue laws remaining in the state of Pennsylvania. You can’t hunt and you can’t buy a car on Sunday in Pennsylvania. This polls well. I know it’s a popular issue among sportsmen and women."

Although the bill must still pass through the Senate and House of Representatives prior to reaching Gov. Tom Wolf for final approval, the introduction of such legislation continues a movement to provide more hunting opportunities across the state.

In late January, the board of game commissioners gave preliminary approval to moving the opening day of rifle deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving rather than the traditional Monday after the holiday.

That change can become official when the commissioners meet in April, and go into effect for the upcoming 2019-20 license season.

As for the potential of Sunday hunting, there are hurdles that must be cleared before the Game Commission could realistically consider the change.

"Until final legislation is adopted, I doubt there would be serious discussion on changes," said Travis Lau, communications director for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. "If legislation is adopted to give the Game Commission regulatory authority to include Sundays as part of seasons, I think there would be interest on part of the agency to provide at least some additional Sunday hunting opportunities as soon as possible. How soon that could happen is hard to answer."