The Good Life: Which Sound Is Better: ‘Boom!’ or ‘Zzzzz…’?

By Denny Bonavita

We hear “Boom!” all day long during Pennsylvania’s two-week deer hunting season in November-December. I contribute on occasion.

Except on Sundays. Ah, Sundays.

In theory, we rural landowners can relax on our porches or stroll leisurely about our farmland without fear of being shot, shot at or otherwise annoyed by hunters. Most Sunday hunting is prohibited, except for hunting coyotes and such. Some people want Pennsylvania to permit Sunday hunting.

In reality, I never sit placidly or stroll leisurely in November-December. It is cold and rainy at that time of year, often with bone-chilling winds. I do bundle up and shiver through deer hunting on Mondays through Saturdays.

On autumnal Sundays, I like to snooze and snore with couch potato dedication instead of freezing while attempting to kill a deer that we can eat in the barbaric, slurp-slurp tradition we relish.

Current state law is a legacy of the “Blue Laws” that, a half-century ago, forbade Pennsylvanians from buying most products on Sundays because the Bible proclaims that day as a “day of rest.”

Modern society repealed most of those “Blue Laws.” Google says they are so named because in post-Colonial America, unbending moralists were described as “blue,” probably because people who get morally uptight risk blue-tinged lips and blue-tinged other body parts.

Some “Blue Laws” vestiges remain, e.g., the Sunday hunting ban and, oddly, a ban on selling cars on Sundays. That latter ban stays in place because dealers and employees of auto dealerships like having Sundays off. They know that if some dealerships are open, all dealerships will be forced to open. That happened with grocery stores, mall stores, etc. when the relevant “Blue Laws” were repealed. Car dealers actually do not want to sell cars on Sundays, however much the rest of us might like to buy cars on Sundays. So the Sunday car-sales ban abides, and car dealer people get to spend Sundays with families. So do those of us who are not thrilled at the prospect of legalized Sunday hunting.

In recent years, the state Game Commission and many (but not all) hunters’ organizations have pushed to open up Sunday hunting – by proclaiming that the Sunday ban is an egregious example of “Big Brother” interfering with individual freedom of choice.

That is true enough, but simplistic. Some governmental limitations on human conduct are life saving. “Big Brother” government also prohibits us from murdering each other. Nobody seems to see that restriction as unreasonable.

The real reason why the Game Commission stirs up hunter groups to shout for “freedom” to hunt on Sundays involves the “American Way,” our capitalistic insistence on keeping bureaucracies alive by giving them more and more money.

The Game Commission is a bureaucracy threatened with shrinkage, if not extinction. A half-century ago, more than a million hunters were afield on the first day of deer season. Today, 25 percent fewer hunters participate: 750,000, according to the Game Commission.

That means less money flowing into the Game Commission, which means fewer jobs can be paid for.

Chronic Wasting Disease, an always-fatal prion-caused infection of deer and elk, threatens to destroy the deer hunting base and, with it, the jobs and power of the Game Commission, because though there have been no recorded cases of humans dying from CWD, the possibility exists.

So to keep itself rolling in money, the Game Commission proclaims “Let us hunt on Sundays!” because it can sell, perhaps, 25 percent more hunting licenses if that day of the week (still a day off work for most of us) is added to hunting seasons.

Opponents include people like me.

I pay lip service to small government. Banning Sunday hunting is “Big Brother” government. I concede that.

But I simply like having a hunter-banned day to snooze on the couch and enjoy the “No Boom!” quiet and absence of the occasional littering, driveway-blocking, sometimes hung over “slob hunters.” For me, snoozing trumps principle every time.

Yet my innate slothfulness does collide with my publicly professed Libertarian “let us do as we wish” principles.

So I have a solution that makes sense, at least to me.

The Game Commission already owns 1.5 million acres of state game land. Another 2.2 million acres is state-owned state forests. Still another 283,000 acres is in state-owned state parks.

Taken together, that nearly 4 million acres amounts to close to 15 percent of all the land in Pennsylvania.

So let’s try Sunday hunting on state-owned lands for a few years.

Of course, the Game Commission will want to “regulate” that hunting by requiring a small, nominal, additional fee for a supplemental Sunday hunting license, much as is now done for turkeys, elk and, for all I know, field mice.

Fine by me. The nearest game lands and state parks are out of “Boom!” hearing range.

Y’inz kin hunt, if y’inz don’t mind hunting in formations akin to Civil War lines of battle.

I kin snoozzzzzzzzzzz…..


Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: