Hunters in the Commonwealth of Virginia are celebrating after an antiquated ban on Sunday hunting was lifted once and for all.
As anticipated by Sunday hunting advocates, Senate Bill 8 was signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on April 5, 2022.
The passage of SB8 will allow hunting every Sunday on public lands throughout Virginia, removing the last vestiges of a stubborn “blue law” that can be traced back to colonial times.
“Gov. Youngkin’s signing of SB8 signifies a strong bipartisan victory for all Virginia hunters,” Isaac Weintz, a board member of the Capital Region Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, told MeatEater. “The passage of this bill is the culmination of years of hard work from BHA and our partners in conservation. Our hope is that Virginia can be an example for other states in their efforts to advocate for Sunday hunting on public lands.”
Virginia’s recent success is part of a broader movement to do away with Sunday hunting prohibitions across the country.
In South Carolina, a similar bill just passed the House of Representatives yesterday, April 6, with a vote of 65 yeas and 38 nays.
HB 4614 will now move to the South Carolina Senate. If approved there and eventually signed by Gov. Henry McMaster, that bill would legalize Sunday hunting and direct the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to draft regulations that provide full weekend hunting opportunities on wildlife management areas.
Currently, Sunday hunting is permitted only on private lands in South Carolina. There are more than 260,000 acres of public WMA lands across the Palmetto State that could open to hunting all week.
“We were really tickled that we were able to have some influence on this thing as it went through the Agricultural Committee and eventually passed the House,” South Carolina BHA Chairman Glen Adcock told MeatEater. “BHA national really helped us out with some action alerts, so we were able to get a lot of emails into a lot of inboxes, but we understand that we still have work to do inside the Senate.”
Adcock went on to say that he believes there is already some support for Sunday hunting in the South Carolina Senate, and that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the bill being approved by that legislative body as well.
Elsewhere, an effort to relax the Sunday hunting ban in Maine stalled back in mid-March when the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife voted against a bill. It would have permitted hunting on Sundays in select northern portions of the state and within the boundaries of the White Mountain National Forest.
In Pennsylvania, hunting for most species is restricted to just three Sundays a month, but Senate Bill 607 would grant the Pennsylvania Game Commission authority to repeal those restrictions completely if the agency sees fit. Many Pennsylvanian hunters are hopeful to see the bill advance.
Other states with some type of Sunday hunting restriction still on the books include Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. North Carolina just overturned their Sunday hunting ban in August 2021.
You can stay abreast of all efforts to legalize Sunday hunting and lend your support to the cause by monitoring the action tab at howlforwildlife.org.