Statewide Sunday hunting to begin

The long prohibition of Sunday hunting is over. On March 29, Gov. Jim Justice signed into law Senate Bill 451. This bill will allow Sunday hunting on public lands in the state.

I was talking with West Virginia Division of Natural Resources officials at the Elkins Operations Center this past Monday, and they informed me this new law will go into effect on July 1. This bill passed both houses of the Legislature by huge margins.

This is something I have wanted to see for a long time. From the time I was a teenager, I have bitterly detested the law that prohibited someone from going hunting because it was Sunday.

Last year, Gov. Justice signed a bill that permitted Sunday hunting on private acreage as long as the hunter had written permission from the landowner. This will open more than 1.5 million acres of land for Sundry hunting. It will also provide a few additional hunting days each year and at the same time make West Virginia more attractive for out-of-state hunters.

Now, what does this mean in the long run? In the past, hunters were most likely to drive through West Virginia and go into another state where they could hunt for the entire weekend. West Virginia was losing tens of thousands of dollars each weekend, because visitors were prohibited from going hunting on Sunday.

The new law will provide additional hunting recreation not only for visitors, but residents as well. The result will be more revenue for many of the rural towns and villages throughout the state. Economically, this will help small businesses. It can also help introduce more youth to the noble sport of hunting. This has to be a big step in the right direction.

With the nation’s Interstate Highway System, West Virginia lies within an eight-hour drive of approximately 70 percent of the nations population. This allowance of the Sunday hunting is going to open up more than one million acres of national forest, 71,000 acres of state forest and about 380,000 acres of state wildlife management areas.

This week, I have talked with some of my hunting friends about this subject. The opinions are quite mixed. Some don’t want any hunting on Sunday, whether it be on private or public land. A few don’t mind being able to Sunday hunt on public land but don’t want it on private land.

I was talking with one landowner a few days ago, and he told me that he would not cut the grass or even work in the garden on Sunday. Naturally, he does not want anyone hunting on his land on Sunday. I really don’t have any problem with this because it is his land. He has the right to allow who can hunt on his land and when they can or cannot hunt. At the same time, this person has no objection with anyone being able to hunt on public acreage on Sunday.

Then there are the working people who say this is an outstanding idea. One person said, if the weather is terrible on Saturday but good on Sunday, they would be able to go hunting. This is the way I have felt about this issue for several years.

I was informed that the people who are working on the pipeline that is going through this area are working six days a week and as much as 12 hours a day.

This new law will naturally be beneficial for any of these people who would like to go hunting.

I know if I was working those kind of hours, I would most likely be using Sunday to sleep at least 10 hours out of the 24 It has been a long time since I have worked more than eight hours a day, and it really saps the energy out of anyone who does. However, I would not mind if I were that young again.

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