Should Maine Allow Hunting On Sundays?
Maine is one of few states in the country that still prohibits hunting on Sundays. Is it time to do away with this rule?
Hunting is a hugely popular tradition in Maine. It's woven into our heritage. It's also big business in Maine, especially for rural areas that tend to be strained economically. According to an article published by the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Maine is one of 11 states in the country that still bans Sunday hunting. While other states have limitations on Sunday hunting, Maine and Massachusetts are the only states that currently have an outright ban. The rule stems from "blue laws" that restrict or ban certain Sunday activities.
An article from MainePolicy.org nicely breaks down the economic impact hunting has in Maine. They cited a 2011 report, which is still the most recent, from the National Survey of fishing, hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation showing hunting related expenses in Maine totaling $203 million. The article goes on to add that $47 million, of the $203 million, was the sales of guns and ammunition. Those particular purchases are taxed and supports wildlife conservation efforts. Sales of hunting licenses also contribute to those efforts.
Funding for wildlife conservation, however, has dipped in recent years due to a decline in hunting. According to a 2018 NPR article, "only about 5 percent of Americans, 16 years old and older, actually hunt." A decline, they say, of about 50 percent from 50 years ago. These figures are documented in a 2016 report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This downward trend is worsened in Maine partly due to the Sunday hunting prohibition.
Maine has many different hunting seasons, but for example let's look at the deer firearms season. The 2020 season runs from Nov. 2-28, giving hunters a total of 24 days to hunt. Maine residents gain an extra day with our Resident Only Day, and youth hunters can add another on Youth Hunting Day. But not everyone can just hit the woods whenever they feel like it. For those who work a 9-5 job, Monday through Friday, you may only get four Saturdays (5 for Maine residents) to hunt. Four more hunting days could be added to the season, assuming the season would run through Nov. 29 with Sunday hunting.
If we applied this idea to a longer hunting season, the number of hunting days really start to stack up. For an example, the 2020 general bear season would be extended by 12 days of Sunday hunts. The fall ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, and pheasant season gains 14 days. The fall turkey hunt would gain an extra 7 days.
There's an obvious, documented, decline in hunting. Everyone's time is constrained with obligations of everyday life. Will allowing hunting on Sundays in Maine be a cure-all? No, most definitely not. However, we should be making things easier for more people to take part in this form of recreation. An easy step forward is ditching this antiquated law, that does no harm to anyone if erased.