If passed, Sunday hunting can’t happen until next year
HARRISBURG — Passing the state House of Representatives Oct. 29 by a 144-54 vote, legislation that would provide expanded Sunday hunting opportunities in Pennsylvania appears likely to become law soon.
But the Pennsylvania Game Commission wants hunters to know Senate Bill 147 has not been passed in final form yet, and even if it passes the state Senate a second time and is signed into law, it will not take effect until 90 days after passage.
That means the bill, which would permit hunting on three Sundays — one within the archery deer season, one within the firearms deer season, and one on another Sunday selected by the Game Commission — will not provide additional Sunday hunting opportunity in 2019.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill Nov. 18, after the Nov. 16 close of the first segment of the statewide archery deer season. Even if the bill passes the Senate Nov. 18 and quickly is signed into law, the early archery and firearms deer seasons will have come and gone before the 90-day wait is over, and it’s likely the late archery season will have ended, too.
However, the Game Commission still would be able to choose one Sunday for hunting in 2020, either in the spring turkey season or another open season.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said the vote was a monumental step forward for Pennsylvania’s hunters, who currently are prohibited by state law from hunting anything but foxes, coyotes and crows on Sundays during open seasons. But at this time, he said, it’s important hunters understand that steps remain in the process and additional Sunday hunting won’t occur in 2019.
“Many hunters are excited about the new Sunday hunting opportunities Senate Bill 147 would provide, and you can count me as part of that group,” Burhans said. “But the process takes time.
“There’s every reason, however, to believe Senate Bill 147 soon will become law,” Burhans said. “And the Game Commission will be doing its part to implement additional Sunday hunting opportunities as soon as it can.”