The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 11, 2014

Sunday hunting could be set for change

As of today, there are 14 counties open for Sunday hunting on private lands in West Virginia. The counties are Boone, Brooke, Clay, Hancock, Jefferson, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Wayne, Wetzel and Wyoming counties. Hunters must have written permission of the landowner, and hunting is prohibited on any Sunday preceding the Monday opening of a big game season (deer, bear, turkey or boar).

According to the WVDNR’s web page, the counties may change if referendums are placed on future ballots. Hunters should check with the respective county clerk’s office concerning Sunday hunting.

It appears change may be in the future. Cory Boothe, with a little extra support from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, has been busy trying to tell as many folks as possible that Tuesday, voters in seven counties will get the chance to cast their ballots to allow Sunday hunting on private lands in their home counties. In order to do so, Boothe had to get five percent of a county’s registered voters to sign petitions requesting the initiative to be placed on the ballot. His efforts were successful in Braxton, Calhoun, Gilmer, Lewis, Nicholas, Webster and Wirt counties.  

I have heard and read many perspectives on the topic of whether West Virginia should join the other 43 states that allow hunting on Sunday, and to be honest, I find many of them to be very valid. With hunting being one of our favorite state pastimes, it only makes sense that people feel so strongly about their opinions on the subject. There is not enough space in this column for me to weigh out all the great talking points on both sides of the aisle, and since I don’t live in any of the Sunday hunting prospective counties, I am not sure my opinion matters.

Having said that, no matter what your opinions are on the matter, West Virginia has had Sunday hunting opportunities open in 14 counties for over a decade and it appears there’s a chance to increase the county tally by seven. And the fact that the law for Sunday hunting only applies to private lands and requires written permission from the landowner, the decision to hunt lies solely with the hunter — and the landowner if they’re not the same person.

So, if you are so inclined to hunt on Sunday, that’s your call. If you don’t want people hunting on your land on Sunday, again, that’s your call. Ultimately, the voters in the counties with Sunday hunting on the upcoming ballot will make the choice to determine whether collectively they feel allowing private lands to be open to hunting is a good option for sportsmen and an increased opportunity for hunters to become a greater asset as a management tool for wildlife conservation.  

As for the Sunday hunting debate, I’ll leave that conversation for the barber shop chairs and gun counters across our great state. Besides, there is still plenty of time for me to get completely humiliated by Tom Turkey before the season closes, whether I can go hunt him on Sunday or not.

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