New Sunday hunting law



Sunday hunting in Maine or not? I can think of few other more tenacious outdoor issues that have been so perennially debated over the years, yet never resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. Even hunters themselves have been divided over this issue. There have always been compelling arguments on both sides of the question.

Personally, I have never had a problem with “a day of rest” at deer camp, even when I was a 50-hour-a-week working man. And yet I understand where Sunday hunting advocates are coming from.

So, what’s the answer, the solution?

To their everlasting credit, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the state Legislature took this hot potato in hand and did what any responsible stakeholders should do. They sought as much well-documented information and public opinion as possible before proceeding with Sunday hunting legislation.

The findings of an in-depth survey, which was farmed out to an independent research agency, underscored how Mainers harbor vastly contrasting views on the question of Sunday hunting. Within the survey, there are varying views and nuanced arguments expressed by Maine citizens. Boiled down, hunters, by a wide margin, support Sunday hunting. And the geographical demographic is clear cut: urban and southern Maine residents oppose it; rural and northern Mainers support it.

Relying heavily on the data, the state Legislature has put forward a Sunday hunting bill that seems to have legs. LD 2014 has come out of committee favorably and reportedly has a good chance of enactment. If passed, it will allow Sunday hunting of all game north of an east/west line that compromises Route 9 and Route 2. It will allow private landowners anywhere in Maine to Sunday hunt on their own land. Additionally, with written permission of the landowner, others may also Sunday hunt on private land.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, which is largely supportive of the bill, is hedging on one aspect: the language of the bill that allows Sunday hunting on any private land with written permission of the landowner. SAM spokesman David Trahan views this as a precursor to the dreaded reverse posting, which sportsmen see as akin to the plague.

One argument being invoked by advocates of the Sunday hunt is this: “Maine is only one of two states in the nation that doesn’t allow some form of Sunday hunting.”

Does this really hold any water, one way or the other?

Sunday hunting in Maine does seem to be close to becoming law. The north/south demarcation seems to be a sensible and practical compromise that accommodates public opinion on both sides of the fence.

The public will get a chance to weigh in before it becomes law.

V. Paul Reynolds

Columnist at Ellsworth American
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected]

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