There’s something very noticeable in the woods during the first Sunday of the rifle deer season.
After a week of almost constant pressure from the approximately one million hunters pursuing deer, it’s almost like the woods and wildlife take a deep breath on that first Sunday. For that one day, the shooting stops, treestands sit empty and the woods are vacant.
It’s a good break for wildlife.
But it might not last.
The National Rifle Association has an article in its September issue of American Hunter called “Why Pennsylvania Needs Sunday Hunting.”
I won’t speak for the state, but I’ll tell you why Sunday hunting isn’t needed as far as wildlife and hunters are concerned.
There are few issues that divide hunters as much as Sunday hunting. It’s the subject of many debates at deer camp and those who are pro-Sunday hunting do have some valid points.
Still, all the arguments I have heard so far have yet to change my mind.
I’m not for it.
We have almost one million hunters out in the Pennsylvania who can hunt deer statewide for 73 days from Oct. 4 to Jan. 10, including 12 Saturdays.
That’s a lot of time, and a lot of pressure on the deer herd. Aside from the Monday opener of rifle season, the majority of deer hunters are in the woods on Saturday. Considering most people don’t work on Sunday, a similar amount will be in the woods on that day also, adding another high-pressure hunting day to an already lengthy deer season.
That added pressure will not only impact deer, it will affect other wildlife as well that will have to deal with the intrusion for seven days a week.
An extra day of hunting will also require an extra day of enforcement from Wildlife Conservation Officers. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is in no position to hire additional WCO’s beyond what the agency allows for now. Where are the WCO’s going to find the time to patrol on Sunday? Will overtime be available? Is it affordable?
An equally significant impact is the threat from private landowners to post their land if Sunday hunting is allowed.
The biggest threat comes from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and its 44,000 members. The bureau has said if Sunday hunting is allowed, many of its members will close their land to hunting.
That’s serious, considering some of the best hunting is found on farms.
Sunday hunting proponents argue that the extra day to hunt will attract more children to the sport.
All it will do is give those who already buy a license an extra day to hunt.
Getting children involved in hunting goes far beyond being able to do it on a Sunday. The more effective approach is already being taken with mentored youth hunts and special seasons for junior hunters.
There are plenty of hunters who work long hours and long weeks. No doubt Sunday hunting would benefit them, but such measures need to benefit the resource – wildlife, first.
If they don’t then they shouldn’t be implemented.
Convince me how Sunday hunting will benefit deer, turkey, rabbits or pheasants, and you’ll change my opinion on the matter.
If you are undecided about the issue, take a walk in the woods on the first Sunday of rifle deer season and see what things are like.
Just make sure you’re quiet.