Time to End the Sunday Hunting Ban

Virginia remains one of a handful of states that still bans hunting on Sundays. In an attempt to lift the ban, outdoor groups, retailers and gun rights organizations have come together under the umbrella of the Virginia Sunday Hunting Coalition. The group has the obligatory page for emailing one’s legislators, which can be effective (but much more so if directed to your particular General Assembly members). But the real interest is in the bills filed on the matter.

in the House we have…

HB 369 would lift the ban on privately-owned land (yes, you aren’t allowed to hunt on Sundays on your own land).

HB 921 would allow only licensed hunters to hunt on Sundays.

HB 989 is a general repeal of the Sunday hunting ban.

HB 1002 would repeal the ban only in Fauquier, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

In the Senate…

SB 151 is a general repeal of the Sunday ban and…

SB 173 would end the ban for private property owners and those hunting, with written permission, on private property.

This should be an easy one, particularly for those who believe in private property rights. It’s made easier by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries endorsing the ban’s end , with the understanding that, if approved, “…this action will affect a much broader stakeholder group than just hunters, and the Board will engage these groups in dialogue before passing any new regulations.”

So what’s been the hang-up in getting the ban lifted. It could be as simple as inertia. But as Ken Perrotte wrote last year, the opposition to lifting the ban is quite strong:

Behind the scenes, lobbyists pound home messages. Blog and forum websites detail unsurprising opposition from the Humane Society of the United States (one of the world’s most avowed anti-hunting outfits).

An HSUS appeal to birdwatchers beseeches them to preserve one day a week to enjoy nature in peace, as well as announces efforts to form the Coalition to Preserve Safe Sunday Recreation. It appears some horseback riding and bicycling groups also oppose Sunday hunting.

Perrotte’s column is worth reading in full to see the odd reasons why some want to keep the ban. My favorite is this one:

The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance outlines opposition mainly on religious grounds, while simultaneously supporting legislative changes to allow training bear hounds at night, even on Sunday! No rest for the bears, it appears?

I guess not.

It’s also interesting to note that one of the keenest proponents of lifting the ban is Democratic Sen. Chap Petersen, as is Sen. Phil Puckett. Here’s hoping that Republicans, who, we are repeatedly told, value both gun and private property rights, join them in ending a ban that runs counter to both of these foundational concepts.

  • William Jackson

    This is long overdue. It is an absurd outdated blue law.

  • It is time for the last blue law to go away and for Virginians to be given the freedom and liberty to choose what we do with our Sunday. We should be allowed to choose whether or not to participate in an activity on the 7th day that is legal and safe the other 6 days.

    The law change the Virginians are seeking would not say “You MUST hunt on Sunday.”.

    A grass roots effort has grown on facebook with almost 3,000 members. Please come and join in on the effort:

  • Bill Goose

    Bob McDonnell and Gary Byler litigated this issue in 1990 in Virginia Beach District Court. Byler’s client challenged the constitutionality of the prohibition and the judge ruled that it was constitutional. Of course the current issue is not constitutionality, but rather whether the rules should be changed. Research in that case showed that there are a set number of hunting days per season and if Sunday is included, then the season may be shortened. I am sure another factor is that more hunters have off from work on Sunday, but this would mean more game killed on Sunday and may cause an adjustment of the hunting season. This is a separate issue from the Blue Laws.

  • Bill Goose

    One more thing, on Sunday morning when all the hunting is going on, folks are suppose to be in church, not out hunting.

  • MD Russ

    Let me guess: there is a .9 correlation between the Sons of Confederate Veterans who want to display the Confederate flag and the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance who opposes hunting on Sundays on religious grounds. Am I close?

    BTW, I am rather shocked that Chap Petersen is supporting this repeal. He is a certified gun-grabber who voted to kill the Castle Doctrine bill in committee in the last GA session.

  • Actually the DGIF manages the herd on tags. We are each given a set number of tags that are based on where in the state the deer is harvested. If you get your allotted # of tags in the first 3 days of your season it is over, at least until you go and buy more bonus doe tags.

    It is a common fallacy that the number of days controls the harvest.

  • MD Russ

    Bill Goose,

    Really? Is attending church on Sunday morning the law in Virginia now?

  • Steve Vaughan

    If you people at Brearing Drift keep posting stuff I agree with, someone’s reputation is going to suffer.

  • Bill Goose

    Russ, back in the rural areas where the hunting happens, the roads on Sunday morning are to be used to drive to church. We cannot have hunters clogging the roads and shooting of the guns during church hours. This is not right. In addition, many of the folks that go to church also hunt and they ought not to be hunting when the ought to be at church. I am not saying you have to go to church on Sunday, but what I am saying is that if you don’t go to church on Sunday morning that you shoudn’t be out there hunting.

    Regarding the tags, everyone knows that you don’t use your last tag, you save that until the end of the season. When you shoot the third buck, you use someone else’s tag or one of your extra tags (bought for friends/family who don’t hunt).

  • Bill Goose, So what you are saying is that you would fully support House Bill 989 which removes the prohibition against hunting on Sunday between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and sunset. That would help you avoid your imaginary rural morning traffic jams full of hunters commuting into the woods. LOL!

    In addition, the version of hunting and tags you describe is illegal and unethical. I really hope you are kidding, right?

  • MD Russ


    What utter and complete nonsense. I grew up in the country and have never seen anything close to a traffic problem on Sunday mornings, around churches or anywhere else. As for swapping deer tags, surely you know that violates the spirit if not the letter of the hunting laws. Perhaps you should be in church on Sunday mornings repenting.

  • MBM

    Well written Norm. MD Russ, while I agree with you on Sunday hunting; on the Confederate flag matter you are dead wrong. Perhaps you feel VMI should cease their annual commemoration of New Market Day as well? It is our (those of us from the South) History and there are many things worth celebrating and commemorating.

  • MD Russ


    There is a huge difference between celebrating and commemorating history and displaying symbols of racism. As I commented on the other thread, displaying the Confederate flag came into vogue in the South not after Reconstruction but during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It is nothing more than “code” for white supremacy. BTW, I was born and raised in Virginia in a family that traces our roots back to the colonial period along the Chesapeake Bay and I have ancestors who fought for Virginia both in the Revolution and in the War of Yankee Aggression, so don’t give me that “those of us from the South” crap.

  • William Jackson

    Goose- If you go to church, can you hunt in the afternoon?

  • MD Russ


    Probably not. I suspect Goose is one of those Pentecostal snake-handlers who speak in tongues. They go to church all day long on Sundays.

  • Ending sunday ban will help hunting guides in Va. Most people from out of state look to other states for weekend hunting (and drinking) so they take their dollars with them. Opening sunday will enable Virginia guides to compete with other states and will impact fall and winter tourism. I have many frineds who travel to where they can hunt on sunday and they spend money out of state for the weekend instead of Va.

    Good move, legalize sunday.

  • Whit

    There is room for compromise (locality by locality, no hunting before noon, hunt any six out of seven days) on this, but I detect a bias against rural folks because of their religious beliefs. Can you folks be counted on to deal in good faith on this? Rural folks have to live and work in the areas that will be affected, so shouldn’t their opinions count for something?

  • MD Russ


    The bias is BY rural people because of their religious beliefs, not against them. In the case of Bill Goose, at least, he wants to throw out bogus arguments about traffic and gunfire noise when his real agenda is that he doesn’t think anyone should be out hunting instead of attending church. He is welcomed to follow his own beliefs, but legislating them onto others is undemocratic and un-American. If you think that you should be in church on Sunday instead of hunting, then go to church. But don’t demand that the law dictate the same for everyone.

  • My catholic family attend mass saturday night so sundays are open.. To each his or her own..

  • MBM

    MD Russ, Displaying the Confederate flag did not come into vogue, as you say, in the ’50’s or 60’s. It was popular as soon as it was legal to do so after Reconstruction. During Reconstruction, displays were banned. Veterans were banned from wearing their uniforms unless they replaced the buttons with civilian ones. Eventually the overreaching was scaled back and the proud veterans and sons and daughters of veterans were permitted to display the flag and their uniforms at their many reunions in the 1880’s, 90’s and well into the 20th century. I’m very proud of my three Confederate ancestors and admire their devotion to a cause greater than themselves. I also admire my two Union veteran ancestors equally. Celebrate their devotion to causes greater than themselves; commemorate their sacrifices; Learn from mistakes, but always Remember.

  • Whit Sours

    so MD, you are saying you can’t be counted on to deal in good faith? Surely you can tell that Bill is playing a character and is not serious…. are you going to compromise or just try to roll over those parts of Virginia you don’t understand, if you can marshal the political forces in urban and suburban areas to do so?

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