ANNAPOLIS – An attempt to breathe life into a bill allowing Sunday hunting was killed Tuesday by a Senate committee.
“The sentiment seems to be to protect Sunday as a day of recreation,” said Clarence W. Blount, D-Baltimore, chairman of the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee, which rejected the bill.
The legislation was a sharply revised version of a bill that would have permitted open season hunting on Sundays. The original bill was strongly opposed by nature lovers who said Sunday was the only day they felt safe to go into the woods during hunting season. Their objections and others led to the amended version killed Tuesday.
The pared down bill would have permitted Sunday hunting only for archers, only for deer, and only on private property during October and November. It also included a provision calling for a re-evaluation in five years. The bill passed the House on March 28.
“It’s not even a shadow of itself,” said Delegate Ronald Guns, D-Cecil, who co-sponsored the bill. “We’ve tried to be sensitive to those who use the land for other purposes.”
Hunters supporting the bill said many people have to work six days a week, leaving only Sundays free for hunting.
“The Sunday hunting rule is an antiquated blue law,” said Steven Huettner, a research coordinator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. “Horseback riders can go out 52 Sundays out of the year. We have a limited amount of time. What we’re asking for is the opportunity to go out and enjoy our Sundays like everybody else.”
Bow hunting and other woodland recreation are compatible, said Tim Lambert, an electrician from Elkton who supports Sunday hunting.
“There’s no noise and there’s no problem not recognizing a horse at 30 yards,” the distance an arrow usually travels, he said.
Lambert and others hoped that the bill would lead to a more comprehensive Sunday hunting bill down the road.
Bow hunting season runs from September to January. Bow hunters typically shoot prey from elevated tree stands.
Representatives from horse organizations opposed the bill because of safety concerns. They said they often ride on an intricate network of trails that meander across property lines.
“It’s almost impossible to know whose property you’re on at the time,” said Jacquie Cowan, an Anne Arundel County resident and horse enthusiast. “Arrows do not stop at property lines. People don’t always know where the boundary lines are as well.”
She said Sunday is the only day she and others feel safe from hunters in the woods during deer season.
“Six days out of seven we do not ride because some of the properties allow hunting,” she said. “There needs to be a day of the weekend for other people” to enjoy the outdoors.