Weighing pros, cons of Sunday hunting

Commentary

As this horrid, wet summer drones on, so does the ever-present debate over whether or not to allow Sunday hunting. The question seems never to die and never to be settled.

The hunter’s main assertion is easy to understand. Sunday would give them another day to be in the fields and woods because work schedules and family obligations often leave a hunter little time to enjoy his outdoor pursuit.

Land owners, however, see Sunday hunting as just another day for people to be using their land. Over the years, many hunters have worn out their welcomes with private landowners by mistreating their land. Littering, obstructing a farmer’s rights-of-way with vehicles, poaching, making ruts in fields and farm lanes in bad weather, and so on, does not endear them to the landowners.

Also, we are told there are thousands of people who like to just hike, go bird-watching, horseback riding and other non hunting pursuits without the fear of being accidentally mistaken for game and shot.

Various solutions have been offered: open Sunday hunting on State Game Lands only; leave the decision on this one to the Game Commission only and leave legislators out of it; charge nonhunters a fee to use Game Lands and on and on.

Remember that State Game Lands are purchased by hunter’s license money. No money from any government fund plays any part in this, therefore those who want to use the lands for free have no real skin in the game. They have no right to be trying to keep hunters from using the land they purchased and then wanting special favors for free. Perhaps.

These groups respond that they are not anti-hunting groups, just folks who would like one day to use the forests and fields without a fear of conflicting with hunters.

Also suggested in this fray is that the penalty for trespassing be charged as a primary offense instead of a secondary offense (as it is now) and would give game wardens more power to enforce it. If Sunday hunting for deer and turkeys is approved, there can be no doubt that the incidents of trespassing on private property would increase.

Ask most Pennsylvania hunters about what has happened to the whitetail deer population in the Commonwealth, and you’ll get an ear full. Most will treat your ears to a discourse on how the Game Commission has botched the deer management program and that there are “just no deer” in the big woods anymore. Not every hunter agrees with that conclusion, but many do. Trespassing would no doubt increase on private lands on Sundays if this should be allowed.

Would the Game Commission be able to hire more law enforcement officers to police this extra hunting day? Or would present officers have to work seven days per week?

So the main issue of whether or not we should have hunting open on Sundays seems like a simple proposition. But it is always the fringe that is as tangled as a toddler’s hair.

Goose hunting drawing

Goose hunters in the 2018-19 license year again must apply online or in person to enter the drawing to hunt from goose blinds at Middle Creek and Pymatuning Wildlife Management areas.

Applicants can apply online by visiting the Goose Blind Application link on the Waterfowl Hunting and Conservation page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

Those who do not have internet access can fill out the electronic application in person at the following locations: Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center, 100 Museum Road, Stevens, PA, 17578; Pennsylvania Game Commission Northwest Regional Office, 1509 Pittsburgh Road, Franklin, PA, 16323; and Pennsylvania Game Commission Headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA, 17110-9797.

An individual may apply to only one area per year. The electronic application must contain the applicant’s 2018-19 hunting license customer identification number. Applications are not accepted by telephone or through U.S. Mail. Applications will be accepted electronically through Sept. 1.

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