On Wednesday, March 15, a coalition of guides and hunters known as Maine Hunters United for Sunday Hunting (MHUSH) announced its endorsement of a bill that would allow for some forms of Sunday hunting in the Pine Tree State. Currently, Maine is one of a small handful of states—all along the Eastern Seaboard—that prohibit or otherwise restrict hunting on Sundays. If passed and signed into law, LR 1561 would permit Mainers to hunt with a bow or a crossbow on Sundays, so long as they pay a $31 fee to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Jared Bornstein is the Executive Director of Maine Hunters United for Sunday Hunting. He helped craft the bill and has been at the forefront of multiple challenges to Maine’s longstanding ban on Sunday hunting over the years.
Bornstein told Field & Stream that Maine’s Sunday hunting ban is one of the most antiquated hunting regulations in the country. “Our law actually came from Massachusetts back when we were a colony of the Puritans down there,” he said. “Maine and Massachusetts laws are the most longstanding and oldest blue laws in the country, and it’s been a fight to change them.”
Like Maine, Massachusetts enforces a complete prohibition on hunting on Sundays. Other states with full or partial bans include: South Carolina, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. But the so-called Blue Laws are gradually fading away as more and more hunters like Bornstein stand up to challenge them.
Most of the opposition that Bornstein has encountered during his campaign to legalize Sunday hunting in Maine has come from people who argue that private lande owners deserve a day of reprieve from hunting activities. In Maine, liberal land access laws provide hunters with a high degree of access of private property.
But Bornstein said that that argument is a straw man. “The reason we have these liberal access laws is because Maine is 95 percent privately-owned,” he said. “And it’s all timber company land. The timber companies don’t care about people hunting on Sundays. They have land all over the place. They have land in New Hampshire and Vermont, and both of those states allow Sunday hunting. It’s a fake argument made up by people who don’t want times to change.”
Bornstein and MHUSH are also suing the state in a bid to get the ban overturned at the judicial level. That lawsuit is on the docket of the Maine Supreme Court, Bornstein said, and he believes that LR 1561 could see a hearing as early as April. “This bill polls really well,” he said. “Seventy-three percent of the state either likes it or doesn’t care—so I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t pass.”