Ten States Continue to Restrict Sunday Hunting


In Tennessee more than 100,000 people take to the field during the annual dove season, including on Sundays. However in eleven states outdated blue laws continue to restrict Sunday hunting. Fortunately Delaware just changed that. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Try to imagine if the government came to you and by law decreed that they were taking away half of your days to go hunting. No doubt the anti-hunting community would be cheering. Hunters, on the other hand, would be ready to rebel.

Don’t worry. The government isn’t curtailing our hunting right (yet). In fact the government of Delaware is giving hunters twice the hunting time – the weekend warriors at least.

Senate Bill 198 was signed into Delaware law on July 11, removing the existing restrictions on Sunday hunting there. In 2016 the Delaware Caucus passed legislation that lifted the prohibition of Sunday hunting for deer in the state and opened up five specific Sundays for hunting on private lands and on select areas of public land. The new law opens up all Sundays.

In Tennessee and our neighboring states it is difficult to imagine a law restricting our right to hunt on Sunday. For most folks who have to work Monday thru Friday, it would eliminate half of the hunting days available.

Even harder to imagine, however, is that Sunday hunting restrictions remain in effect 10 states.

Sunday hunting bans are one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws that were initially designed to encourage church attendance. At the time when these restrictions were first put in place, other activities that were illegal on Sundays included: opening a store for business, drinking alcoholic beverages, and tilling your fields. Today, most blue laws have been repealed except for restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales and the ban on Sunday hunting in those 10 states.

Upon the lifting of that ban in Delaware Senator Bruce Ennis said, “Hunters are the fabric of many of Delaware’s families and communities, and they play a critical role in conservation for our state; however, outdated laws prevent them from the simple, beneficial activity of going out and hunting deer on Sundays. I sponsored Senate Bill 198 so that we can update that law for the benefit of our families and our environment.”

According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) expanded Sunday hunting opportunities should also “positively impact hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts in the state.”

“The passage of season-long Sunday deer hunting is a long overdue but big step in the right direction for Delaware’s deer hunters, farmers and motorists. The businesses that cater to the hunting community should see an uptick in their revenue as well” said Chip West, President of the Delaware Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association and lifelong farmer.

There is a specific group of federal legislators called the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus with the mission “to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping.”

Virtually every key Tennessee legislator, including Gov. Bill Haslam, is listed as a member of the caucus. Area Tennessee Sen. Mike Bell is also an active participant in the caucus.

Keep those folks in office, or elect others who want to join their ranks.

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