When it comes to sport hunting in West Virginia, I do not think there is any one issue more controversial among people of our state than the Sunday hunting law. In the early days of the United States, these so-called blue laws highly restricted the activities as to what any citizen could do or could not do on the Sabbath.
Right now, there are organized religions who think that anyone who goes hunting on a Sunday morning needs to be treated like a second-class citizen. These same religions do not think the same of people who just might go fishing, golfing, or picnicking on a Sunday morning. I have detested this law all my life because it clearly violates the ideals and ideologies that have made this nation great.
The vast majority of hunting enthusiasts appear to be in agreement that the largest obstacle to hunting is not being able to recruit new hunters. In today's world of computer technology, many occupations or professions require working six days a week. The only day left to do something they highly enjoy is on a Sunday. But the reason they cannot go hunting is because of this senseless blue law.
This week, I was talking to a friend who owns a large track of acreage in the Montrose area of Randolph County. He seemed to think that he could still go hunting on his own land on Sunday. Well now, surprise, a few years ago Randolph County voted to keep the Sunday hunting law in effect.
According to a natural resources police officer, it does not matter if you own the land, you still cannot hunt anywhere in Randolph County on Sunday. This person and anyone else who pays acreage or property taxes have every right to be angry and/or bitter.
In West Virginia, a person may hunt small game on Sunday on private land in fourteen counties. The hunter must have written permission from the landowner to hunt on Sunday. These counties are: Boone, Brooke, Clay, Hancock, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Wayne, Wetzel, and Wyoming. Most of these counties are located in the northern panhandle or the southern coal fields. The remaining 41 counties are closed to all hunting on Sunday. Some of the counties open to Sunday hunting could change if referendums are placed on future ballots.
Nationwide, there are only seven states that have a ban on sport hunting on Sunday. These states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. All of these states are located on the East coast. Most of the states in the South, Midwest, and the West permit anyone to hunt on Sunday just like any other day of the week.
I don't know how many times I have heard the statement, "the animals need a day off too." This is just senseless talk. Sunday is just another day to wild animals. I have heard others say, "In the fall the only time we can go for a walk in the woods and not have to worry about getting shot is on Sunday." This statement, like the other, has very little validity. It is a well-known fact that a person is safer in the woods or forests at anytime, regardless of what hunting season may or may not be in, than they are driving or riding in a car.
This opposition to Sunday hunting is simply an opposition to the future of sport hunting itself. Sunday hunting has no detrimental effect on game populations. In fact, the 43 states that permit some form of Sunday hunting have very healthy wildlife populations. Being able to go hunting Sunday is an excellent way to introduce new people to this activity. Many young people today have school or athletic obligations throughout the rest of the week. Sunday hunting laws mean that many young people may never have an opportunity to be introduced to this noble sport.