Hunting on Sunday has been banned in Massachusetts for more than 300 years. What was once a way of acknowledging the Lord’s day became, over time, a way of enabling both hunters and hikers to enjoy the Commonwealth’s numerous forests and parks. Many hikers feel scared of wandering into the wrong place during hunting season. A ban on Sunday hunting gives them the confidence to hit the trails. In recent years, however, hunters have been pushing for an end to the ban. And last week, a bill to do so was approved by the Massachusetts House. When it comes up for a vote in the Senate, however, senators should vote it down. Better to maintain a policy that evenly balances the interests of hunters and hikers who both want to use the same forests.
The proposed amendment would allow bow and arrow hunting on Sundays during deer season — the last three months of the year. Supporters contend that accidents are rare, and the vast majority of hunters are respectful of hikers. Similar attempts to allow hunting on Sundays, such as one in Connecticut, have been put forward as a way to help control the deer population; but the Massachusetts deer population is relatively stable. Hunting is allowed in most state forests, and on private land unless the landowner posts no-hunting signs. (Some towns only allow hunting with the express permission of the landowner.)
But regardless of how unlikely an accident is, the fear of being caught up in one is still enough to keep some people from walking their dogs, or bringing their children, to the woods. It would be unreasonable for the state to disregard their interests, especially when hunting is allowed on the other six days of the week.