Thursday, January 8, 2015

Me and My Land

The Maine legislature begins its next session soon and while there are a bunch of wildlife bills being put forward to help keep Maine's wildlife safe and healthy, each year there is one argument that is heard over and over and over again - the desire for Sunday hunting in Maine.

The law has been on the books since the 1800's and there have been bills to try and get it over turned but nothing has worked.  Many people think that the law is outdated, needs to be changed and is costing Maine revenue from hunters who would come here to hunt.

Here are the most common arguments heard for it:
1. People who work Monday-Friday only have Saturday to hunt
2. If you own the land, why can't you hunt on it whenever you want?

I sat in a meeting recently and the guy sitting at the head of the table wanted our group to work towards legislative bills that would 'help the sportsman of Maine." When he said that he wanted to push for Sunday hunting, some around the table nodded.  I said I opposed it.  Why?  Because I don't want to have to worry about other hunters on my land.  I was told that I have a trespassing issue and not a Sunday hunting issue.

Maybe that is true but during the hunting season, Dad or myself are around our properties enough to know if people are trespassing.  We talk with nearby landowners.  This year, we had a HUGE number of trespassers around and kept a close eye on who, if anyone, was around us when we walked into the woods early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Instead of respecting landowner's rights and the need to get permission, we have people who are yelling at me, leaving their tracks in the snow near our treestand and getting more and more brazen when it comes to hunting on other people's property. 

So back to the above points and my counter points:
1. I work a 45 hour work week, sit on two non-profits boards, have an 18 month old and I still take Fridays off each year to be able to hunt.  Maybe others have to take time in the summer for family stuff but there are holidays in Nov (Veterans Day, Thanksgiving) that you could work some days around and get more time in the woods.  You need to prioritize hunting, if you want to.  If I can make it work while breast-feeding, what's your excuse?

Dad and I hugging the tree on our land, that I shot my 10-point buck from.
2. This one is harder because it would be great to sit on some of the land that we own and hunt without worrying about seeing people around us but that is never the case.  There will always be people who think that they can go out hunting, even if they don't own land.  The same issues will come up - trespassing, poaching... nothing changes if you allow some to hunt on Sundays but not all.  Better to know that the only gun shots you should hear are those from a target range.

One more thing that we need to realize.  If we extended deer season (for example) to allow Sundays, then you are adding an additional 4-5 days to the season.  In order to keep the population in check and make sure that we only harvest about 20% of our total population, our overall season would be shortened.  Instead of a four week rifle season, you would be looking at three weeks and possibly cutting the season off before the prime rut.  Then how would you work in muzzle loading season? Would that start early? would you wait a week so those hunters could hit the woods in early December like they usually do? or would the entire deer season be pushed back and not start until mid-Novemeber?

There are so many issues that would come up if we allow Sunday hunting.  Many people don't want to look at the ripples that this would cause. It is not as simple as just allowing people to go out into the woods one more day each week. For over a century Sunday hunting has been illegal in Maine and I am more than ok with it staying that way.








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