The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 29, 2013

Don Steese's Outdoors column: Debate heats up

By Don Steese
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — Last week the group calling itself “Hunters United for Sunday Hunting” officially announced it’s long-anticipated lawsuit to end the prohibition of Sunday hunting here in Pennsylvania.

If successful, the Keystone State would join 42 other states that allow hunting on Sundays.

“We’re taking the last route available to hunters, the courts. Not because hunters enjoy litigation, but because they have exhausted their legislative and executive branch possibilities over the last fifteen years,” said Kathy Davis, founding president of HUSH. “All of us involved in the legal challenge strongly support the Pennsylvania Game Commission and its future success; PGC’s role in this suit is a simple, unfortunate, formality,” Davis said.

Those opposed to Sunday hunting usually cite religion, fear of land being posted and safety factors, also there are those who simply think Sunday hunting would further decimate an already depleted deer herd.  

“I am talking to God on a mountain or out in the woods hunting and fishing as much as when I am in a house of worship,” says Josh First, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “I am a person of strong religious faith and observance, a political activist who advocates for including Biblical values in public policy, and I see absolutely no conflict between Sunday hunting and religion, in fact they are mutually supportive,” says First, a lifelong hunter, trapper and fisherman from central Pennsylvania who enjoys Sunday hunting in New York.

“Hunting culture and hunters are the kind of people that people of faith naturally support. If you want more traditional values, then support hunting generally, and specifically Sunday hunting; it’s the biggest hunter recruitment tool available,” First says.

Actually, the arguments against Sunday hunting can be rather easily refuted, but it’s been an extremely emotional issue here in Pennsylvania, and I’m sure it will continue to be just that. We’ll see where this lawsuit takes us on the issue, but many constitutional scholars seem to feel that once challenged, Pennsylvania’s ban on Sunday hunting will indeed be deemed unconstitutional. I guess time will tell.

I’ve spent the last couple weeks in Florida, my granddaughter having been enrolled in a marine biology summer camp down here. Pap was elected to bring her to what they call the Treasure Coast and see that she got to classes each day.

I haven’t done any fishing but there sure is enough of it around here, both the fresh and saltwater varieties. I just heard about a guy who landed a 10-pound-plus largemouth in a small lake in the middle of a housing development. That’s a dandy bucketmouth in my book!

Deer and hog hunting are the big hunting sports down here. The only birds I’m seeing with regularity are sandhill cranes and white ibis. They seem to be everywhere.

I did see one flock of wild turkeys though, and I’m certain there are a lot more of them around. By the way, nearly every day we’ve been here it’s been hotter in Pennsylvania than it has been down here, plus it’s rained for at least an hour or so nearly every day.

I thought they called this the “Sunshine” State? At least that’s what they call it in the travel brochures!

n Email comments to