Massachusetts is one of six states where hunting is completely banned on Sundays. The others are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the National Rifle Association. Another five states restrict Sunday hunting.
Bob Young, a longtime bow hunter from Beverly, says the Sunday ban keeps younger hunters from getting involved in the sport.
“There’s a lot of people who work five days a week, and their kids are involved in youth sports on Saturdays,” he said. “So, the only time to get out with their sons or daughters and teach them about the oldest sport in the world is Sunday, and they can’t do it. It’s sad.”
Dennis Hayden, president of the Massachusetts Bowhunters Association, argues that the Sunday ban is preserved by “a vocal minority” of animal rights groups. He said people seldom get caught in the line of fire — especially from bows and arrows.
“Bow hunting is far less dangerous to non-hunters and hunters alike than any other form of hunting,” he said.
Hayden said bow hunting has gained acceptance as a means of controlling deer populations in rural and even suburban areas, where car collisions and Lyme disease from infected deer ticks are increasingly common.
What’s more, he said, the Sunday ban is chasing away big bucks. Hunters from the Bay State are heading to New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, which allow Sunday hunts, Hayden said.
Massachusetts also uses a portion of revenue from hunting licenses to buy and preserve tracts of open space. The state bought nearly 4,000 acres of land last year using proceeds from its $5 hunting licenses, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But the number of hunting licenses in Massachusetts has been on the decline since 1996, when 98,179 were issued, according to state figures. In 2012, 72,064 were issued.