With the stroke of a pen this week, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin expanded hunting on some 2 million acres of public land in the Commonwealth to include Sunday. 

Youngkin on Tuesday approved Virginia SB 8, which had passed the state House 69-28 last month after clearing the state Senate in a 29-11 vote earlier this year. The law will remove barriers to hunting on Sunday on both public and private land, so long as it takes place more than 200 yards from a place of worship.

The new law will become effective on July 1, 2022, just in time for this Fall's hunting seasons.

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources says it will be "working with public landowners to understand how Sunday hunting will be implemented on their lands," and the information will be posted on the Department’s website, social media channels, and upcoming "Hunting and Trapping in Virginia Digest."

According to the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Virginia's 1.07 million hunters and anglers spend $2.38 billion annually, supporting 39,164 jobs. 


Why was there a ban? 


Dating back to the 1600s, Virginia is one of the few states that has an enduring prohibition on hunting on Sunday, a throwback to the strict religious guidelines in the colonies. 

"The repeal on Sunday hunting on public land restrictions has been a long time on the coming," Mark Oliva, public affairs director with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns.com. "It is a true victory for Virginia’s hunters to be able to access public lands to enjoy and pass along to the next generation their hunting traditions and love of the outdoors." 

NSSF, along with other hunting advocacy groups, has been focused on opening Sunday hunting to the public for years. 

As recently as 2013, no less than 11 states – all part of the original 13 colonies – prohibited hunting on Sunday. But this has been whittled down over the years as Delaware, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – all in Virginia's neck of the woods – have steadily done away with such arbitrary bans. West Virginia also repealed the prohibition against Sunday hunting on public lands in 2018.

Banner image: Hunters in the field with a Ruger American Ranch rifle. (Photo: Ruger)

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