Open Up the Present
By Bob Humphrey
Just under 400 years ago a group of folks we now call the Pilgrims left England for the New World out of fear of religious persecution, fleeing rigid doctrines of the Church of England in favor of a simpler faith and less structured forms of worship, more in the manner of early Christians. They were also fleeing a feudal system wherein the lands and waters and all the fish and fowl within and upon them belonged to the nobles.
They brought with them some – at the time very radical – concepts like common ground and fish and wildlife being public property. The latter concept would eventually evolve into the North American model of wildlife conservation, wherein fish and game are considered public property, to be held in trust and managed by public agencies.
They also retained some fairly strict religious observances, like a ban on certain activities including entertainment, leisure and shopping on the Sabbath. These evolved into Blue Laws. As a side note, the “Sabbath Day” is actually Saturday, so we all sort of messed that one up. Among those leisure activities was hunting. I’m not sure why, but for some reason fishing (another form of pursuing wild creatures either for sport or sustenance) was not included.
Today, it is almost universally agreed that Blue Laws are archaic and like stoning and witch burning, have all but been eliminated. You can now go to the mall and shop for a big screen smart tv, buy liquor or stop by the corner bar and watch football on Sunday. And you can go fishing. But you still can’t hunt on Sunday, at least not in Maine and 10 other states. That’s absurd.
And why not?
1) Because that’s just the way it’s always been. Can of worms there. Kids used to ride on different buses and go to different schools because that’s the way it was, but we changed that. Progress.
2) It’s the Sabbath. Nope (see above; that’s Saturday). But it is a day for religion, rest and reflection, right? Right. Over the years I have hunted with many preachers, ministers, deacons and such on Sundays, in other states. They find it gives them an opportunity to find religion, rest and reflection. Besides, a prohibition on Sunday hunting for religious reasons is a direct and flagrant violation of the American doctrine of separation of church and state.
The principle argument against Sunday hunting is that landowners “Just want one day of the week where they can feel safe walking in the woods.” So tell me, who out there goes for a walk in the woods every Sunday? Show of hands… Someone? Anyone? That’s what I thought.
I’m in the woods every day, and I always feel safe.
And really, we’re only talking about four Sundays. Archery season begins the Saturday after Labor Day, but archers must wait until their target is close, very close. Then, they must not only identify that it is in fact a deer, they must pick out a specific spot – the vitals – in which to place their arrow. I’m not aware of a case of mistaken-as-game accidental shooting involving bowhunters, ever, anywhere. There was a case years ago in Massachusetts where one guy shot his hunting buddy in the testicles, but I suspect the guy in the treestand knew exactly what he was shooting at and was just being reckless and stupid.
Upland game seasons, for grouse, woodcock, pheasant and the like begin around October 1. But unless you’re wearing cryptically camouflaged clothing, can shrink yourself down considerably and have the ability to fly, you’re in little danger of being plastered with pellets. And you have even less (less of zero is still zero, but anyway) reason to fear those dangerous duck hunters.
No, the Sunday hunting ban is directed almost entirely toward those who participate in the regular firearms season on deer. Here’s a couple simple, and logical options. You (landowners) could simply yield those four out of 52 Sundays to the hunters. Or if you’re adamant about it, allow hunting on every Sunday except those that occur during the regular firearms season on deer.
The primary reason every attempt at some type of Sunday hunting allowance gets shot down is not direct opposition to the concept. It is fear, based on legitimate threats, that more land would be posted. Hmmm, fear of persecution from a rigid and unreasonable doctrine, prohibition of access to furred and feathered fowl by the landed gentry. Where have I heard that before?
But then again, I’m using logic, which doesn’t really seem to apply here.