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OUTDOORS: Sunday hunting a step closer to reality

FOR YEARS, proponents of allowing Sunday hunting on private land have believed legislation would be approved if it got to the full House of Delegates instead of being killed in a small subcommittee.

They were right.

Sunday hunting supporters gushed about history being made Tuesday when the full House of Delegates easily advanced Del. C. Todd Gilbert’s legislation by a 71–27 vote.

The vote followed two earlier readings in the House. An apparent last-ditch attempt to scuttle the legislation’s efficacy after the second reading by making any Sunday hunting subject to a locality having to opt in with a local ordinance was rejected.

The bill now “crosses over” to the Virginia Senate. A companion Senate bill, No. 154 by Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, is being addressed today in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

Puckett chairs that committee. His bill currently has 15 other senators and 20 delegates listed as “co-patrons.”

A Sunday hunting bill championed a couple of years ago by then-Senator, now-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam passed the full Senate on a 29–11 vote, only to be scuttled in the aforementioned House subcommittee.

That Natural Resources subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee was roundly known as the place where Sunday hunting bills were sent to die.

Sunday hunting supporters are optimistic that the Senate will again endorse the proposal, but they don’t want to leave anything to chance and encourage other supporters to contact their senators. If Bill 154 passes the Senate and crosses over to the House of Delegates, opponents there, theoretically, get another bite at the apple.

One point is certain, though. Whoever it was in the House of Delegates’ leadership who kept Gilbert’s legislation from first being entertained in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee must be the person who decided this issue needed a fair shake and would be heard by the full committee.

Still, it ain’t over till it’s over, to quote the great Yogi Berra.

For those wanting to follow developments around the state with the initiative, the “Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting for All” Facebook page, now with more than 5,290 members, is a timely resource. Curtis D. Colgate, chairman of the board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is a regular contributor to the page.

Colgate spoke in favor of Sunday hunting when the issue was before the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.

Responding to Facebook users’ questions about what Sunday hunting might mean to hunting seasons, he shared: “The Board will continue to set its seasons the way it always has in the past. We review and/or modify hunting seasons and bag limits every other year; excluding migratory birds, which we review every year. We make changes and tweaks on a routine basis depending on the health of the herd, population concerns,

human/animal conflict, constituent influence and a myriad of other reasons.

“The only seasons readily affected by Sunday hunting are those with federal frameworks that limit what we can do, and those are only for migratory waterfowl and webless migratory birds.”


After last year’s cancellation of the Eastern Outdoors and Sports Show in Harrisburg, Pa., the new “Great American Outdoor Show” is ready to launch Saturday.

The previous show’s promoter, Reed Exhibitions, created a huge kerfuffle when it declared modern sporting rifles and related products would not be permitted at the show. A massive walkout of exhibitors and celebrity guests for seminars followed, ultimately leading to the show’s cancellation and the end of British-owned Reed’s involvement in these types of operations, at least in the United States.

The show had enjoyed a run of over 50 years.

Enter the National Rifle Association. After the huge economic impact hit to the Harrisburg area, NRA took over, modernizing the show, making it bigger and better.

It is the largest consumer outdoor show in the U.S., encompassing 650,000 square feet of indoor floor space, more than 1,000 exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of attendees over nine days. Many hunting and fishing outfitters would book much of their entire seasons with clients contacted during the show.

The NRA has created a new Shooting Sports hall. It joins the Archery, Boats, RVs, Fishing, Outdoor Products and Hunting Outfitter halls.

Multiple, diverse seminars, game calling contests, and a 3D bowhunter challenge are scheduled for each day. Other special events and competitions are scheduled for specific days. An NRA Foundation Banquet is Feb. 7 and Feb. 8 features and NRA Country Presents concert by Brantley Gilbert.

Doors open at 9 a.m. each Saturday and 10 a.m. all other days. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 6–12, $10 for seniors (age 65-plus). A two-day pass is $20. Buying a $35 NRA membership gets a free one-day ticket. The show is at the PA Farm Show Complex, 2300 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg.

For complete details and to buy tickets, go to greatamer

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