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Hunters will have to remain idle on Sundays

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

You can put your guns away Saturday night. There won't be hunting on Sundays.

The two lawmakers who have been championing House Bill 1760, which would have removed the state's prohibition on Sunday hunting and allowed the Pennsylvania Game Commission to include the day in hunting seasons when and where it saw fit, say those efforts have died a quiet death.

Rep. John Evans, the Crawford County Republican who chairs the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee, and Rep. Ed Staback, the Lackawanna County Democrat who is minority chairman, agreed this week that their bill seems down for the count.

"Right now, to be honest with you, it's pretty much on hold," said Evans, prime sponsor of the bill.

"I don't know that it's on its last legs, but it certainly has stalled," Staback agreed.

They offered different reasons for that.

Evans said the problem has been a lack of vocal support from hunters who want Sunday hunting. Sportsmen were told early on that if they wanted the bill to pass, they needed to speak up, he said. Instead, he suggested, too many stayed quiet, perhaps assuming the bill was going to pass.

That's proved to be a terrible mistake, he said.

"We haven't heard the necessary level of support from people who want us to move this in that direction. It's never really materialized," Evans said.

"If that changes, if the support develops, we'll revisit it. But we have to represent the people in our districts."

Staback said opposition to the bill from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau was to blame for its struggles. It was unwilling to compromise on any level, and that was enough to keep lawmakers -- who court farmers and hunters equally -- on the fence.

"That's what it boiled down to, in my view. If the Farm Bureau had just taken a neutral stance, this would have sailed through," Staback said.

The bill is not dead, both agreed. Lawmakers will be in session through late September.

But with things as they are, and this being an election year, the bill's prospects don't look bright, they added.

Sunday hunting's future going forward is even murkier. Evans and Staback are retiring at the end of the year. If the issue is to have a chance to ever resurface, it's going to need a new champion.

"Whether someone will be willing to pick up that torch and run with it after the experience we did time will tell," Staback said.

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