FRACKVILLE – One of the best – perhaps the very best – things about being old is having been around to have seen and heard the best bands.
One of the worse things is dealing with one’s peers who refuse to change their minds about the need for Pennsylvania legislators to give the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to expand Sunday hunting. Some of their reasons for such stubbornness are truly embarrassing for anyone who calls themselves a conservationist or sportsman.
Clearly, the topper being their argument – which they apparently believe, just as some once believed the world was flat – is that the animals-need-a-day-of-rest. Obviously, while some of us seniors have been watching programs on channels such as The Animal Planet, National Geographic and Discovery, others have formed their opinions about nature and animals in the wild by popping it their VHS copies of “Bambi” on a regular basis.
Recently, Harold Daub, a representative of Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, presented a program presenting the facts supporting expanded Sunday hunting at a meeting of the Schuylkill County Sportsmen’s Association at South End Field and Stream. Overall, he delivered a positive message on the growing support that is coming from state legislators, sportsmen’s organizations, private citizens and state agencies – including the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“According to Dr. Matthew Schnupp, who is director of the Bureau of Wildlife Management for the Game Commission, telemetry studies show that the daily activities of wildlife are less influenced by the presence of hunters in their habitats than we sometimes think,” Daub said. “In particular, the studies focused on deer, which are always the primary game species mentioned.
“Statistically, there is no difference in the amount of deer movement that occurs on Sundays as compared to other days. In short, there is no scientific evidence that a “day-of-rest” theory has any benefit to game populations.”
Expanded Sunday hunting is supported by the major conservation organizations in Pennsylvania, including the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, of which the SCSA is a member.
Forget about the positive economic impact it will have on countless businesses – and the negative impact it will have on our boarding states of New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey, who all attract Pennsylvanians because of Sunday hunting – and only focus on the need of expanded hunting opportunities to perpetuate our lifestyle.
Then there are those who accept that in Pennsylvania we can attend stock car races, sporting events and concerts, play golf, go fishing or even steak off to a “gentlemen’s” club on Sundays without being considered a heathen. When it comes to hunting on a Sunday, however, those who equate church attendance and being a person of faith are out of touch or, as one of those “best” bands The Rolling Stones sang, “Out of Time.”
Rev. Dr. Nathan Minnich, Pastor of Salem Lutheran Church, Elizabethville, has spent a great deal of time studying the relationship between observing one’s Sabbath and pursuing recreational activities. He has been unable to find any Biblically supported response to the issue of hunting on a Sunday, neither commanding nor forbidding God’s commandment to rest -- even for beasts of labor – as it is widely understood as protection from being forced to work on a day set aside for rest, which further confuses the issue as many describe hunting as recreation not work.
“Finding time to spend with those we love, support, guide, and live among can be increasingly difficult in our modern rush of life,” Rev. Minnich said. “Regaining that fellowship is vital to our own well being and I think vital to our faith.
“It can be during the most casual and restful of times, shared with those we love, when we might find Sabbath rest for our souls, but the noble quest of honoring a Sabbath should be one that each of us strives to accomplish, according to our own faith, family, and spiritual needs. Herein lays my primary concern, as defining Sabbath is nearly impossible if it is intended to apply to all people, and in this particular case, all Pennsylvanians, as any attempt at defining such a day by the state would violate the separation that must exist for people’s religion and their government in this country.
“For the approximately 291,1401 Jewish people living in our Commonwealth that time set aside for rest begins at sundown on Friday and ends at the appearance of the first three stars of the Saturday evening. Where is the argument for the protection of this most ancient and succinct definition of Sabbath?”
Daub, who is a veteran hunter-trapper education instructor, said he most baffled by those who volunteer and support events such as youth field day, but are opposed to expanded hunting opportunities on a Sunday for those youth whose school activities – from music to sports – often are scheduled Monday to Saturday. What is most insulting are those who claim youth are being “used” by those who support additional hunting opportunities on Sunday.
That claim, however, shows home completely out of touch those opponents are with today’s youth. Earlier this year, Peyton Nuske, a senior at Pine Grove and a member
Of the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation wrote a letter of support to HUSH detailing how the council unanimously is in favor of expanded Sunday hunting.
“I am writing to you on behalf of the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation to express our support for Sunday hunting in our state,” Nuske wrote. “The Youth Council unanimously voted to support Sunday Hunting, and recently asked Senator (Patrick) Stefano, Chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, to assist with the passage of Senate Bill 453 and House Bill 71 which will repeal the ban on Sunday hunting.
“The prohibition of Sunday hunting is an old “blue law” left on the books in just a handful of states (Maine and Massachusetts) including ours. It is perfectly acceptable if some landowners do not want Sunday hunting on their own property, but it is not right to deny a landowner the right to hunt on Sunday on his or her own land, nor should the landowner’s friends and relatives be denied the privilege of hunting on that property.
“In a sense everyone who purchases a hunting license in Pennsylvania is a landowner because State Game Lands are purchased with the revenues from hunting license sales. Most hunters are willing to share State Game Lands with non-hunters, but they do not appreciate being told that they cannot hunt on Sunday on land that they helped to purchase.”
This year at the Schuylkill County Fair the Schuylkill County Sportsmen’s Advisory Board had petition forms available for those who supported expanded Sunday hunting. A total of 55 signatures were obtained and forwarded to the PFSC headquarters – as well as the 22 signatures that supported an increase in the cost of hunting and fishing licenses.
Daub said the next HUSH presentation called “It’s About Time” will be Sunday, Sept. 30, from 1-4 p.m., at PGC headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg. Clubs and organization that would like to schedule an appearance by Daub can contact him by email at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"