A push for Sunday hunting in W.Va.

For over a decade West Virginia is one of only seven states in the United States that doesn’t allow Sunday hunting statewide. In 2001, hunters had the privilege to hunt on Sunday due to a bill passed that overturned West Virginia’s blue law against Sunday hunting. During the 2001 hunting season, hunters were allowed to hunt on Sundays on private land only for any game species in season except for the Sunday before a big game opener.

However, due to a provision of the bill passed, county commissions were allowed to put the option to vote on a county-by-county basis. In the spring of 2002, 41 county commissions put the Sunday hunting option to vote and all of them voted it down. So currently, Sunday hunting is allowed in 14 counties on private land only in: Boone, Brooke, Clay, Hancock, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Wayne, Wetzel and Wyoming counties and not allowed in the other 41 counties.

For hunters wishing to hunt on Sundays in those 41 counties that don’t have it, the chance has come to once again get the option back up for vote. Nicholas County resident Cory Boothe has had enough and has rallied a statewide petition signing campaign to get the Sunday hunting option back on the ballot in spring 2014.

According to the 2001 law passed, a petition can put the issue back up for vote if 5 percent of the registered voters in each county sign it. The petitions must contain a signature, valid address and the person must be registered to vote in the specified county. The most important thing is that they have to be legible. “If the information provided isn’t legible, the signatures won’t count,” stated Boothe. He believes he already has enough signatures in three counties so far.

“The support has been overwhelming,” stated Boothe, as he isn’t alone in his quest. Opponents of Sunday hunting have made comments that the animals should have a day of rest, that they like having one day a week to enjoy the woods, and so forth. As far as being concerned about the wildlife, they are just that, wild animals.

They have nine months out of the year to “rest” and I’m sure coyotes and other predators don’t let up for one day of the week as well as the numerous vehicles on the road. Deer and other prey species are wild and hardy animals that face danger every day. The point is there’s no rest for wild animals.

Another thing to think about is the economic benefit Sunday hunting would bring to the state. There’s no doubt that the hunting heritage is strong here in West Virginia and it brings millions of dollars to the state each year. Think about what an extra day of hunting would provide. Even more money would be spent in state by the out-of-state hunters as well as the resident hunters that travel within the state to hunt.

You’re talking about extra nights in hotels, more meals at local diners, more gasoline bought, supplies purchased, and so forth. Right now we’re limiting ourselves to one day a week during hunting season where millions of more dollars could be pumped into the state’s economy that needs all the help it can get.

I also think about those fellows that have to work six days a week and Sunday is the only chance they get to hunt. Why shouldn’t the hard-working man be allowed to hunt the family farm, which is private land anyway if he wants to on the only day of the week he can? You’re allowed to fish, golf, work, farm, shoot guns, ride loud motorcycles and even buy beer on Sunday, but you can’t hunt on your own land. That just doesn’t seem right to me.

There are several folks that have moved out of state but still enjoy coming back home to hunt on the private land where they grew up. I know some of these hunters and have heard them say they would come home more during hunting season if they could hunt on Sunday. It would give them an extra day of hunting and make the four hour drive worth it. The way it is now many have to take days off to extend their weekend and for some they don’t have the days to take off limiting their hunting days even more.

Since the landowner is the one paying taxes on the land and Sunday hunting is for private land only, why shouldn’t they be able to hunt during hunting season on one of his days off? After all, the landowner is the one that determines who is allowed and not allowed to be on their land in the first place. If a landowner doesn’t want to allow Sunday hunting, that should be up to them. They should have the choice.

Sunday hunting has been allowed in 14 counties of West Virginia for over 10 years now and there hasn’t been one hunting-related incident documented on that day. Forty-three out of the 50 states don’t have a problem with hunting on Sundays. “In 2002, we got punched in the nose, and we laid on our backs for 10 years. Now it’s time to do something about that,” Boothe said.

For those interested in helping Boothe on his mission, he has set up a Facebook page titled “Allow Sunday Hunting in West Virginia” or you can contact him via email at Sundayhuntingnwv@hotmail.com.

Hampshire County needs 713 signatures for the petition to make the ballot for the spring 2014 election. Jefferson County has been opened to Sunday hunting for 12 years now and is the only county in the Eastern Panhandle that currently allows Sunday hunting.

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