SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — It’s been 13 years since the West Virginia Legislature authorized Sunday hunting in West Virginia. The legislation was approved in 2001 with the condition voters in individual counties could put the measure on the election ballot and vote to close Sunday hunting in their county. The next election it happened in all but 14 West Virginia counties.
But attitudes about the idea are changing. Virginia’s General Assembly recently voted to repeal the longtime restriction on Sunday hunting there statewide. Cory Boothe of Summersville saw the change in West Virginia.
“People are surprised that other states have Sunday hunting. They assume no hunts on Sunday and don’t even realize 14 counties in West Virginia have Sunday hunting,” he said in an appearance on Ram Trucks West Virginia Outdoors. “It’s definitely an awareness campaign since they don’t realize we had it statewide in 2001 with nobody being shot and really no incidents at all.”
Boothe started his grassroots drive to return the idea to the ballot in West Virginia. He was successful in adding the question to the May primary ballot in Braxton, Calhoun, Gilmer, Lewis, Nicholas, Webster, and Wirt Counties.
“We had to get five percent of registered voters to sign a petition,” he said. “We got that in seven counties and now the drive is to get the word out.”
The law would allow for hunting on Sunday, but only on private land. Boothe said he thinks the reason the measure was unsuccessful the first time around was a lack of understanding. But he believes much has changed in more than a decade.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “I see a lot of people standing up for it as personal property rights. I think a lot of people are also starting to see that church and Sunday hunting can coexist with each other.”
Time will tell if Boothe’s assessment is correct. He’ll use the time between now and May reaching as many people as possible in the seven county areas.
“One thing we noticed while getting the signatures, a lot of sportsmen aren’t registered to vote,” he said. “We are working to get those people to get registered to vote so they can show up in May.”
He added others have joined him in the effort.
“We have every state that touches us, except Pennsylvania, now have Sunday hunting,” he said. “States like Ohio allowed it about 15 years ago and found out it adds the economy. It’s safe, it gets people outdoors, and a lot of these doom and gloom issues people had feared if they got Sunday hunting, just didn’t happen.”