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Frye: Sunday hunting heats up again

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 8:11 p.m.

A couple of interesting news of note came across the desk recently.

First, did you see what happened in Virginia?

The state legislature there, after a couple of false starts the past few years, legalized hunting on Sundays.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe still has to sign off to make things official, but he has been quoted in various media outlets saying he intends to do so.

The new law will not allow full-blown Sunday hunting all over.

The state's wildlife agency will decide which seasons will include Sundays.

Even then, hunters will be limited to private land and only with the written permission of the landowner.

But it does away with the 19th “blue law” prohibition on hunting.

“(The) vote is a real accomplishment for sportsmen in Virginia, but it is equally a victory for the economy of the commonwealth that will see a more-than-$120 million annual direct economic benefit as the result of hunters going afield on Sundays,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, called the change “great news for Virginia sportsmen as well as the future of gun rights and hunting.”

There are just 10 states left with a “blue law” against Sunday hunting. One of those, of course, is Pennsylvania.

A group known as Hunters United for Sunday Hunting is challenging that in Commonwealth Court. A decision has yet to be rendered.

In the meantime, state Rep. Marc Gergely of Allegheny — who previously tried to get Sunday hunting legalized here — made a point of passing along word of Virginia's decision to the other members of the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee last week.

If you've been around awhile, you remember the hue and cry that went up when the Game Commission put antler restrictions in place.

Well, guess what?

Hunters all over the country are shooting more old bucks than ever.

According to information from the Quality Deer Management Association, 37 percent of the bucks taken nationally by hunters in 2012-13 were yearlings or 1 12 years old. In 1988, 62 percent of harvested bucks were yearlings.

Two of the five states with the lowest harvest of yearling bucks — Kansas and Oklahoma — have no antler restrictions, meaning hunters are choosing to let young bucks walk.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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