Efforts by some Augusta lawmakers to lift the ban on Sunday hunting in Maine are almost as perennial as lupine and roadside daisies. Skeptics contend that these initiatives have been defeated so often that it is a lost cause. They argue that Maine is not likely to join so many other states that have allowed Sunday hunting.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

As things now stand, a lawsuit to overturn the Sunday hunting ban in court is in limbo awaiting a decision by the Maine Supreme Court to either hear the case, or dismiss it as did the District Court. According to Jaren Bornstein, spokesman for HUSH (Hunters United for Sunday Hunting), the state court is likely to make a decision by this spring.

There is a new amendment to the State Constitution that protects every citizen’s right to “harvest” their own food. The central legal question that has yet to be adjudicated is whether, indeed, “harvest” means hunting wild game. It all boils down to legislative intent. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) has long contended that, yes, the harvest amendment absolutely protects, not only growers and foragers, but the act of hunting for food as well.

This issue really needs to be resolved at the judicial level once and for all. So it is hoped that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court does not abdicate, dismiss the case, and leave the intent question hanging out there for Maine citizens to forever wonder about. In 2021, Maine voters, by a comfortable margin, demonstrated support for a right to foods amendment to the state constitution. They deserve an answer from the folks in the black robes.

In the meantime, according to Bornstein, State Representative Sophia Warren will soon introduce legislation that, if passed, would allow Sunday hunting statewide with bows and crossbows. In the long parade of pro-Sunday hunting legislation, this is a new twist that does get outside the box. Gun hunters will not be pleased; bow hunters will be smiling. The thinking is that with just bow hunters in the Sunday deer woods there will be no rifle reports ringing off the ridges and making Sunday hikers and equestrians nervous.

Of course, if the Maine Supreme Judicial Court supports HUSH’s contention that the Sunday hunting ban is negated by the right to food amendment, then Rep. Warren’s Sunday hunting legislation would no longer matter. On the other hand, if the high court dismisses the lawsuit out of hand, the Sunday hunting debate is likely to continue in the halls of Augusta for years to come.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at vpaulr@tds.net.

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