By Josh Cottrell
Sunday hunting in Maine. It is a popular topic among hunters, especially in the fall. Hunters feel like they are being robbed of a day to be in the woods hunting. Non-hunters believe they are preserving a day to be in the woods not worried about hunters. This topic has been hashed out many times. Why not delve into it again.
I’ve been an avid hunter all my life. Unfortunately I have also been a full time worker all of my life. This is the case for most people. In Maine that means Saturday hunting and maybe a week off if you are fortunate enough to have enough vacation time. I have always said that this is probably what has preserved my marriage. My wife is fairly patient with my hunting but I am not sure that would be the case if I could hunt Sundays as well. Now that our children have grown I think it’s less of an issue. So I may be seeking Sunday hunting a little harder.
As a lot of people know, Maine and Massachusetts are the only 2 states in the country that do not have some sort of Sunday hunting. I do believe that our law is antiquated and in need of some updating. It has been brought up many a time but has instantly been shot down. The large landowners of the North are not in favor. They believe that Sunday hunting will bring additional activity on the roads, causing more wear and tear. Additionally, The Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) is strongly against hunting. They threaten that their members will post their land if Sunday hunting is allowed. 90% of Maine is privately owned, so without some support from these owners Sunday hunting will never happen. There needs to be some sort of compromise.
The argument from the opposing side is that they want a day to enjoy Maine woods without fear of hunters. This is actually a silly argument in that Hunting is one of the safest sports in the world. You are more likely to be injured hiking than to be injured by a hunter. However, we need to be respectful of others so we don’t push. I do spend a lot of time in the woods scouting on Sundays. I do this both locally in Central Maine as well as Northern Maine. In 40 years of hunting, I can count on one hand how many people I run into enjoying the Maine woods on Sundays. In my experience you find people on marked hiking/biking trails on Sundays. Very few people walk into an unmarked section of woods and wander around for enjoyment. I haven’t heard many people talk about the wonderful hike they took through a clearcut over the weekend. As you can see, I am painting the picture that hikers/hunters do not share the same woods typically. I understand this is different in populated areas where expanded archery is popular, these two activities are done in the same areas. I have watched hikers/bikers go by many times while sitting in a treestand. Heck, I remember when expanded first started I sat and watched people play tennis 75 yards away while hunting in Yarmouth. This just shows that people can share the woods without issue.
Maine has a wonderful law where if land is not posted it is open to hunting. Yes, you should ask permission, but it is not required. This is very rare, and we do not want to disturb this if possible. But I do believe that a landowner should be able to do whatever they want with their land. If a person owns land in Maine, the state should not be able to tell them they can’t hunt on their land on Sunday. In this same line of thought why couldn’t individual landowners allow hunting on their property on Sundays.
My proposition and the tack that I think we as hunters should get behind is Landowner written permission to hunt on Sundays. This should address the issues with the big landowners as they can decide if they want the additional revenue of hunters on Sundays. It also should satisfy SWOAM in that their members wouldn’t have to go through the time and expense of posting their land. I am sure that some hunters will bitch about having to get landowner permission or not being able to get landowner permission. I think that this is a small price to pay for the opportunity and a good compromise for all involved. I’m sure many have an opinion on this, so feel free to write into the Sporting Journal with them. Let’s work together to find a solution to this.
Josh Cottrell once wrote an archery column for the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He lives at Pushaw Lake.
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