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Sunday hunting in Pa. sure to drum up debate

July 14, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Rodney Egolf of Mercersburg, Pa., buys a hunting license Thursday from Keystone Country Store's Robert Grago. Egolf said he's against Pennsylvania possibly allowing hunting on Sundays, saying "that's a day for us and the animals both to rest."
By Jennifer Fitch/Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A Franklin County, Pa., lawmaker who chairs the Pennsylvania Senate Game and Fisheries Committee said he expects to ask his fellow committee members to vote on lifting a 138-year ban on Sunday hunting in the state.

While state Sen. Richard Alloway doesn't personally support allowing hunting on Sundays, he said he made a promise to allow the committee members to be heard.

Before the Pennsylvania General Assembly started its summer break two weeks ago, Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, said he talked to his game and fisheries counterpart from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. State Rep. John Evans, who chairs that committee, supports removing the ban and allowing the game commission to decide appropriate uses for Sunday hunting.

Alloway said he told Evans, R-Crawford/Erie, that if the House passes a bill allowing Sunday hunting, he'd bring it up for discussion and a vote in the Senate committee.

"I'm not going to use my position as chairman to block the bill," Alloway said.

Supporters of Sunday hunting say the ban is the last of Pennsylvania's so-called "blue laws" that at one time barred retail stores from opening on Sundays and prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays, according to the Associated Press.

"There has been a momentum in the House of Representatives to get a Sunday hunting bill passed in the House. They've been holding hearings to get input," Alloway said.

The senator said he was surprised by the Pennsylvania Game Commission taking its own vote because of the controversy surrounding the issue. He said that division is evidenced by the game commission resolution passing 4-3.

Sportsmen are not unanimous in their views on the matter, Alloway said.

"Most of my friends hunt and all of my relatives. I've spoken to them, and it's mixed. They're not (necessarily) excited about the opportunity to hunt on Sundays," Alloway said.

Reasons for remaining with the status quo include tradition and the need for a day off, Alloway said. Also, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau opposes the idea, he said.

Charlie Johnson, 70, started hunting when he was 12 years old. The St. Thomas, Pa., resident said he's fairly neutral on the Sunday hunting issue, but allowing the extra day of hunting would give him more time to enjoy the activity with his grandson.

"I don't have any objection to it," he said.

Devin Flasher, 15, hunts in Bedford, Pa., and said Sunday hunting isn't a concern to him.

"I don't really care one way or another," said Flasher, of Mercersburg, Pa.

Ryan Wagaman, 24, of Mercersburg, said Sunday hunting could benefit people like himself, whose time off from work is often limited to weekends.

"I think it would be good," he said.

St. Thomas resident Dwaine Brechbill, 60, said he's opposed to hunting being allowed on Sundays.

"It's a time for worship, not a time to hunt," he said.

Keystone Country Store owner Bill Zeger said customers were talking about Sunday hunting as they purchased hunting licenses over the weekend.

"Everybody I talked to is 100 percent for it," said Zeger, whose store is in Fort Loudon, Pa.

Butch and Sandy Miller of Fort Loudon purchased their hunting licenses Thursday evening.

"I think (Sunday hunting) is a personal choice. Legalize it and make it everyone's decision," said Sandy Miller, 44.

Her husband said he grew up in New York state and continues to hunt there, where Sunday hunting is allowed. He said seven days of hunting could minimize the impact to the forest on any given day.

"There are not as many hunters in the woods at the same time," Butch Miller said.

Based on reporting by The (Allentown) Morning Call, the Associated Press reported 43 other states allow Sunday hunting, which has been banned in Pennsylvania since 1873.

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