The state’s most influential Sunday hunting proponent made it clear recently that he intends to have the state’s ban removed next year.
And unlike most other backers of Sunday hunting who say — either honestly or strategically — that the effort isn’t related to deer hunting, he made it clear that for him, it is.
Speaking in a panel discussion about Sunday hunting on WITF public radio’s public affairs show Smart Talk on Nov. 29, Sen. Dan Laughlin expressed confidence that the Sunday hunting ban will be overturned in 2019.
The Erie County Republican – who sponsored Senate Bill 1202 back in June to remove the prohibition on Sunday hunting – said he will introduce it again in January.
“I am hoping to get this done in the next legislative session,” he said. “I believe that there is room for compromise, but I think I have enough votes to get this moving.”
Senate Bill 1202 would allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to decide which Sundays to incorporate into existing seasons.
It would also – in a move meant to appease landowners, namely Pennsylvania Farm Bureau members – increase the fines for trespassing and allow game wardens to enforce those laws.
Some backers of expanded Sunday hunting have claimed – or pretended – the effort will not affect deer hunting, in an effort to avoid alienating deer hunters unhappy with lower deer numbers in places. But Sen. Laughlin indicated that he believes it’s all about deer hunting.
And he also wants to see deer season open on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“My brother and I have a hunting camp and we have adult children, and just last year five of them would have purchased hunting licenses if they would have been able to hunt the weekend after Thanksgiving,” he said. “But unfortunately, Sunday afternoon and/or Monday they all had to leave to go back to college and where they live now. So I know personally the amount of license sales that are being lost because of not being able to hunt on both days of the weekend.”
The writing is on the wall – it is just a matter of time until changes are made, Laughlin said.
“I believe firmly that the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving should be the first two days of the rifle deer-hunting season. I think that would help a lot with hunting license sales.”
In his comments on Smart Talk, Laughlin emphasized that he believes overturning the state’s ban on Sunday hunting is related to fairness and liberty. There are a lot of private landowners who would like to hunt on their own properties, and they should be able to, he said.
And, he added, there are many people who have helped purchase the game lands with their hunting license dollars who want the right to hunt on them on Sunday.
“This is about personal rights and personal freedoms. Hunters are the only ones in this state who are not allowed to do something on Sunday that they want to do. That needs to change.”