It’s a credit to the benefit of perseverance when you have a goal and see it through. The droves of newspapers and naysayers proclaiming it couldn’t be done made it only that much sweeter. The first step was taken recently in Pennsylvania toward total overturning of an antiquated law banning hunting of popular game animals on Sundays. Senate Bill 147 made it through the state legislature to land at the pen of Governor Tom Wolf who signed into law the ability to pursue all game animals on a Sunday for the first time in well over a century.
The law allows three Sundays to be legally hunted starting in 2020. One during the archery season, one during rifle season and one to be determined by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Some may say it’s not enough, but it’s a major step forward towards being able to hunt every Sunday.
In all of the interviews, articles, town halls, camp kitchens and smoke-filled bars the debate would circle around painting the blame equally about why hunting wasn’t allowed on Sundays. The politicians, the hikers, the farm bureau and the game commission all were among the accused. Some suspected a surreptitious plot to keep hunters out of the woods for one reason or another. Farmers feared for safety and solace on a single day to rest. Hikers saw their free pass in danger of disappearing for several months of the year.
Whatever the reason, the law that kept hunters out of the woods became a self-fulfilling prophecy seeing generations leave the sport altogether in recent years. The cost of time was too high for one day afield. Many present-day hunters in the commonwealth simply couldn’t justify a license for such little return.
This stands as a shining example of compromise and how great things can be accomplished with conversation. The past few years saw many hunters raise awareness as to the benefits of expanding hunting opportunities both tangibly and intangibly. Everybody involved wanted something, and when the original introduction of the bill sought a complete overturn of the ban get little political support something rare and unique happened in today’s world, a compromise was proposed.
Instead of pushing for all Sundays Sen. Dan Laughlin of Erie asked simply for three. The compromise was enough to sweeten a pot filled with many other benefits for landowners including the strictest trespassing enforcement seen to date. The bill gained support and steam as it moved into and through both the state senate and the house of representatives. Elected official’s office phones and inboxes were flooded by voter support. Responses changed to those voters from “constituency concerns” to “you can count on my vote.”
Pennsylvania hunters should enjoy the victory and be proud of what they’ve achieved. A herculean effort is being rewarded for every hunter in the commonwealth no matter where we hunt, who we hunt with, or how expensive your camo and equipment are because we’re all pursuing the same game. Whether you know it or not we’ve also been rewarded with an equal responsibility. The eyes of the opposition have been fixed on three Sundays in 2020 craving for us to make a mistake.
It’s possible that you’ll be confronted out there. Maybe even baited into breaking the law. It’s important to stay the responsible, calm and ethical steward of the land and animals that you’ve been, without a doubt now more than ever. This is a gift that we’ve never had before, make sure to cherish it.