By this time next year, Pennsylvania hunters may be permitted to hit the woods on select Sundays in a reasonable resolution to the long-standing issue of Sunday hunting.

On Monday, the state’s Game and Fisheries Committee approved the proposal that would permit Sunday hunting on three Sundays a year — one during deer rifle season, one during deer archery season and another chosen by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The proposal now heads to the full House for consideration.

Pennsylvania, Maine and Massachusetts are the only states that ban Sunday hunting. This latest proposal seems like an equitable response to Sunday hunting in the commonwealth. It allows hunters into the woods during the two most popular hunting seasons of the year — rifle and archery seasons — while leaving the woods clear 49 other Sundays.

The proposal passed the committee 21-4 with four Republicans voting against it. The committee also approved an amendment requiring written permission from landowners to hunt on Sunday, a reasonable motion that got the state’s Farm Bureau to back off its opposition.

There is opposition to lifting a ban that dates back more than 300 years. Some worry it would lead property owners to ban hunting on their land entirely. Others are concerned for the safety of others who want to enjoy the outdoors on the weekends.

In a poll at last month, 75 percent of responders — in a poll with more than 500 votes — opposed Sunday hunting.

We think this latest proposal is something most people, hunters and nonhunters, can support. The number of hunters in Pennsylvania has steadily declined over the past decade, from 665,719 in 2007 to 587,640 in 2017. Perhaps allowing them a few extra days a year in the field helps slow that trend.

Hunters have already picked up an additional day of hunting during the rifle deer season; the rifle deer season begins the Saturday after Thanksgiving rather than its traditional Monday start following the holiday weekend. This proposal permits outdoorsman to hunt at key moments — archery and rifle deer seasons — while leaving 94 percent of Sundays clear for others interested in using Pennsylvania’s wilds for their own enjoyment. 

Seems like a balance Pennsylvanians can support.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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