Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Sunday hunting into law, allowing Virginia to join the 40 other states that allow hunting on privately owned lands on Sundays.
Sponsored by Delegate Todd Gilbert, and cosponsored by many members of the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, HB 1237 passed the Senate on Feb. 18 (28-11) after clearing the House of Delegates on Jan. 30 (71-27). An identical bill (SB 154) sponsored by Sen. Phillip Puckett also reached the governor’s desk, after passing the Senate on Feb. 10 (29-10) and later the House on Feb.28 (73-24).
With written permission of the landowner, Sunday hunting will now be allowed on private lands throughout Virginia. Waterfowl hunting on public waters will be permitted. Hunting within 200 yards of a place of worship and hunting deer and bear with dogs on Sundays will remain prohibited.
“As an avid sportsman and Chairman of the Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, I’ve been working to repeal the antiquated ban on Sunday hunting in Virginia for several years now and I am honored to have been a part of this year’s successful effort,” said Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Co-Chair of the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. “Allowing Virginians to hunt private property on Sunday will not only have a positive economic benefit in communities across this Commonwealth, it will help usher in a new generation of hunters — young hunters who will carry our state’s great tradition of hunting into the new generation.”
Allowing Sunday hunting will increase the ability of landowners to manage wildlife resources by providing an additional day of hunting opportunities on their lands. Additionally, Sunday hunting will likely improve economic conditions throughout the state of Virginia by including an additional $296 million in economic activity and 4,000 jobs for the state.
Further, this measure will potentially help to increase hunting recruitment and retention and thereby provide critical conservation funding for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by significantly increasing the amount of time most hunters can spend afield as they pass this time-honored tradition down to the next generation.
Sunday hunting restrictions are remnants of the puritanical “blue laws” which were originally designed to encourage church attendance. Through time, the vast majority of the original restrictions on Sunday activities have been repealed, leaving Sunday hunting closures as one of the last remaining examples of the original “blue laws” in the United States today.
Source: Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation