January 24, 2014
Of the 11 states in America that place restrictions on Sunday hunting, Virginia has some of the most rigid regulations. Now, hunters are voicing their optimism after a bill seeking to lift the Sunday hunting ban passed a major hurdle. On Wednesday the Virginia House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill and sent it to the full house for consideration.
“This is our best shot in years of making real progress,” said Sunday hunting advocate Matt O’Brien, who founded the online group Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All.
The bill, HB 1237, is not the complete eradication of the Sunday hunting ban that many hunters wanted, but it is a compromise that many sportsmen say they prefer over current restrictions. If passed into law the bill will allow Virginians to hunt on private land during Sundays with the written permission of landowners. Of course, hunters are still subject to all other restrictions imposed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) and two further caveats were added: no hunting can occur within 200 yards of a house of worship and deer hunters are prohibited from using hounds.
Still, O’Brien claims it is a big win.
“This is historical for Virginia and for private property rights in the state,” he told The Virginian-Pilot. “Opening Sundays to hunting has overwhelming support across Virginia and the House of Delegates recognized that.”
Also supporting the bill is the Sunday Hunting Coalition, a collection of sportsmen’s associations such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation. Others, like Safari Club International, have considered filing a lawsuit against the ban on the grounds of its constitutionality.