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OUTDOORS: Sunday hunt debate may sway vote come November

Fall elections are months away and the next Virginia General Assembly sessions further yet. But fur is already flying, figuratively, as Sunday hunting proponents and opponents work the outdoors shows, social media and political traps trying to help anyone without a firm opinion see the issue their way.

The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, which counts many clubs that enjoy deer hunting with hounds among its membership, has allied with the Virginia Farm Bureau to oppose hunting on Sundays.

Many others, such as the Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All coalition, backed by most of the major, national hunting-related associations and major retailers, wonder why their pursuit of happiness is denied on Sundays, even on their own land.

Sunday hunting proponents set up a booth at the Southeastern Guns & Knives show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center last week.

Matt O’Brien, the founder of the 3,264-member Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All Facebook page, said: “Our expressed purpose for the gun show this weekend was to educate the Second Amendment supporting conservative constituents of Speaker [Delegate William] Howell’s district that he is asleep at the switch on the private property issue of Sunday hunting.”

The Sunday hunting blue law prohibition appeared ready to be overturned a couple of years ago when the Senate approved Sunday hunting on private land. In the House of Delegates, though, the measure was scuttled in a scenario that has now played out repeatedly. Sunday hunting proponents blame the House’s Republican leadership for the continual demise.

O’Brien said show attendees gave his group a “warm welcome” that “ranged from those who had no idea that it was in fact the House Republicans who were keeping hunters out of the woods on Sunday to outright enthusiasm that there was a grass-roots effort trying to get our elected representatives to make a change to the last blue law that prevents still hunters from having the freedom to choose to hunt their own property.”

We’ve looked at this issue intensively in recent years and, while Sunday hunting may not be important to landowners with lots of leisure time or flexibility, the prohibition prevents many people from optimum use of their weekends.

Plus, it just seems to contradict any reasonableness test. You can participate in anything else on Sunday except hunting, although proponents for lifting the ban point out you can shoot birds on licensed preserves, hunt raccoons into the early hours of the morning and use hounds to chase bears or foxes on Sunday. 

On this July 4, as we celebrate liberty and freedom, it’s tempting to say the continued ban is un-American.

As O’Brien frequently points out, the law change we seek would not say, “You must hunt on your property on Sunday,” only that the government give Virginians and property owners the freedom to choose.

For more on this perspective, see ing4all. For more on the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance’s opposition, click on the Sunday hunting document at sources.html.


The Virginia Wheelin’ Sportsmen are hosting a Youth Day Deer Hunt for youngsters with disabilities on Sept. 28.

According to Robin Clark, a Wheelin’ Sportsman himself and past president of the Virginia NWTF chapter, the hunt will happen on “prime deer property in Caroline County.” Up to eight participants will hunt in the morning, break for lunch and midday fishing, then hunt again in the afternoon.

Hands-on firearm safety training prior to the hunt under the direct supervision of certified NRA instructors is included, as well as opportunities for familiarization shooting prior to the hunt. Gear, if needed, also can be provided, Clark said.

All applicants must be 15 or younger and have a disability. Adult family members are encouraged to attend. To learn more or apply, contact Clark at Application deadline is Aug. 2.


In last week’s column about the financial impact associated with outdoors recreation in Virginia, I mentioned a bumper sticker that states, “I Hunt, I Fish, I Vote.”

That caught the attention of Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Communications Coordinator Cole Henry. He emailed, “You are correct when you describe the sticker as ‘popular’ as we often see it on the back of many vehicles across the region.”

The slogan and the bumper stickers are signature products of the CSF. The CSF is another excellent organization that works closely with elected leaders in promoting and preserving outdoors traditions through legislation and educational activities. Cole called the economic impact report “a great story to tell” and shared that CSF also has a recent report detailing the benefits of sportsmen’s activities called “America’s Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy.”

For more on CSF, go to


Look for follow-up coverage, including excerpts from winning letters and trip reports from area children who were winners of the 15th annual “Why I Want to Take My Dad Fishing for Father’s Day Contest” in the July 8 Family section of The Free Lance–Star.

Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia Street, Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at

For more on outdoors things to do around Fredericksburg and the region, sign up for The Free Lance–Star’s newest e–newsletter, Mighty Outdoors, at