It broke first on social media (of course), then Julian Walker with the Virginian Pilot was the first I saw from Virginia’s mainstream media to have it: Gov. Terry McAulife signed one of two bills allowing Sunday hunting on private property.
The Democrat approved a bill from Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, allowing sportsmen to hunt game, such as deer, bears and wild birds, on that day if on private property with permission.
As of Wednesday, he hadn’t signed similar legislation from Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Russel County, but an administration official said he will do so soon.
McAuliffe also plans to ceremonially sign both bills at a later date.
The fate of Virginia’s last Blue Law is in the hands of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and if he follows through on promises, Virginia hunters stand to benefit.
House Bill 1237, patroned by Del. Todd Gilbert (R-15th District) passed the General Assembly last month. A similar bill, Senate Bill 154, passed the General Assembly on Friday. The bills are identical and give hunters the right to hunt whitetail deer on Sundays on private property throughout the state. Hunting would be prohibited, however, within 200 yards of a house of worship.
“Virginia has such a strong hunting heritage that we thought this would be a great opportunity to attempt to reverse the trend (of dwindling hunter numbers),” Gilbert told the Capital News Service. “The high-powered rifle season for deer is only two weeks long. So if you’re a hardworking person, you really only have two Saturday’s in which to engage in that activity all year. This would simply give you a couple extra days to enjoy a sport you love and be able to put food on the table.”
“Pretty sure there will be no debate or amendment attempt, the puppy’s tail is tucked,” said Sunday hunting proponent Matt O’Brien on the “Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting For All” Facebook page before the Senate bill hit the House floor on Friday.
McAuliffe has previously indicated that he would sign either of the bills if they came before him.