BOSTON — Mike Prendergast likes spending time outdoors, hiking through the wilderness, sleeping under the stars, and taking aim with his compound bow on white-tailed deer and wild turkey from his perch in a tree.
Working more than 50 hours a week as a welder doesn’t leave much time for hunting. Making it harder, a centuries-old Massachusetts law bans him from hunting on Sundays, usually his only day off work.
“You can go fishing, shopping and buy alcohol on Sundays, but you can’t hunt,” said Prendergast, 35, of Rowley. “Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Lawmakers are considering a repeal of the Sunday ban, the product of a Puritan-era blue law, and sportsmen, including Prendergast, are hopeful that it will finally succeed. Campaigns to repeal the ban have been persistent but short-lived in Massachusetts.
A bill filed by Rep. William Strauss, a South Shore Democrat, would allow bow-and-arrow hunting seven days a week during the state’s bow hunting season, which runs from Oct. 20 to Nov. 29. Another bill, filed by Rep. Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat, would allow rifle or shotgun hunting on Sundays. That legislation also includes provisions to protect pigeons and increases the penalties for “sexual abuse of animals.”
A third, filed by Rep. Anne Gobi, a Democrat from central Massachusetts, would allow bow-and-arrow hunting on Sundays and state holidays.
Opponents of loosening the restrictions, led by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, argue that hunting is allowed every other day, and hikers and bird watchers should be granted at least one day to enjoy the woods without worrying about getting shot or stumbling across a group of armed men dressing a deer carcass.
“It may have started as a blue law, but with less land in the state and more development, there are significant reasons to keep the ban in place,” said Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA. “If anything, the need for the prohibition on Sunday hunting is more important than ever.”