“We’ve bought hundreds of thousands of acres of open space so hunters, hikers and bird watchers all can enjoy the outdoors,” Hayden said. “So, this would provide even more money for the state to preserve land.”
Amy Mahler, a spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife, declined to say if the agency has taken a position on the Sunday hunting ban and wouldn’t comment on the proposed bills. A spokesman for Gov. Deval Patrick did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The Sunday Hunting Coalition — which includes the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Association and retailers including Bass Pro Shops — is lobbying to repeal Sunday hunting bans in states that still have them. But they’ve had few victories.
Last month, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a law giving hunters permission to go after deer and other wild animals on Sundays provided that they hunt on private property and stay 200 yards away from churches and other houses of worship. Some lawmakers have proposed expanding the legislation to allow hunting on public land.
“The economic impact of that is going to be through the roof, and it’s only on private land,” said Jake McGuigan, director of state affairs for the National Shooting Sports Association. “They’re going to have a lot of people coming into the state to go hunting.”
A 2011 study by the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation suggested that Massachusetts would add 527 jobs and create $51 million in economic activity by lifting all restrictions on Sunday hunting. That estimate — based on surveys of hunters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina — assumes those in the Bay State would take advantage of at least one extra Sunday during the deer season.
McGuigan said Massachusetts lawmakers have wrestled similar bills in the past — including legislation allowing shotgun and rifle hunting on Sundays.