SCI Announces Lawsuit to Recognize Virginia’s Right to Hunt and Drive Repeal of Ban on Sunday Hunting

For Immediate Release

On October 23, 2013, Safari Club International (SCI) filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on Sunday hunting.  The lawsuit argues that the ban is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of Virginia, in particular because of Virginia’s constitutional right to hunt.

“Sunday hunting bans should be a thing of the past,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “Hunters have to work during the week, and young hunters are in school, making weekends the primary time they can hunt.  The unconstitutional ban on Sunday hunting robs hunters of half their potential time afield, and has absolutely no basis in science or conservation.”

Kauffman noted that SCI anticipates debate over proposals to repeal the ban at least in part during the upcoming Virginia 2014 legislative session, and said, “As hunters, we are hopeful that state legislators support the Virginia Constitutional right to hunt and fish and pass meaningful legislation to repeal the ban.  SCI will not formally serve the Commonwealth of Virginia until state legislators have exhausted their efforts in Richmond. The filing of this lawsuit marks our promise to pursue this issue through any and all available means,” Kauffman concluded.

In addition to the constitutional claims, SCI’s suit asserts that Virginia’s purported justification for the ban – to give wildlife a “day of rest” – is not supported by sound scientific or wildlife management principles. This misunderstanding of wildlife ecology was highlighted by Virginia’s Board of Game and Inland Fisheries when it stated , “the Virginia ban on Sunday hunting serves no biological purpose and is counterproductive to matters of game management.”

In polling conducted earlier this year an overwhelming 88.6% of SCI members supported full and/or partial repeal of Virginia’s Sunday hunting ban.

Eliminating the Sunday hunting ban will provide all hunters with an additional day to hunt, will encourage Virginia hunters to stay in state to hunt on Sundays, and will give out-of-state hunters the opportunity to visit Virginia to hunt on Sundays.

Only 11 states, all on the East Coast, currently have some kind of ban or limitation on Sunday hunting.  Opponents of overturning the ban make baseless predictions of dire mayhem, but the existence of Sunday hunting in the vast majority of states proves that these wild predictions have no basis in truth.  SCI hopes that success in Virginia might encourage other states to eliminate their statutory bans or limitations on hunting on Sundays.  Professional wildlife managers should regulate hunting based on sound science and wildlife management principles, not archaic statutes that have no conservation value.


Contact: Nelson Freeman (

One Response to “SCI Announces Lawsuit to Recognize Virginia’s Right to Hunt and Drive Repeal of Ban on Sunday Hunting”
  1. tony rutherford says:

    Virginia doesn’t ban hunting on Sunday, although, by law, Sundays see more restriction with regard to hunting than any other day. Code 29.1-521 declares Sundays in Virginia a “day of rest” for all wild birds and animal life. The code makes hunting or killing wild birds or animals unlawful on Sundays……with a firearm, gun or other weapon. Oddly, the only birds or animals that can’t be legally hunted and killed on Sundays in Virginia are migratory birds. This exception is federally mandated, and Virginia lacks authority to allow migratory bird hunting on Sundays due to other State Sunday hunting restrictions.

    Virginia’s Constitution protects the right to hunt, but at the discretion of the General Assembly. It would seem that a lawsuit to prove Virginia’s Sunday hunting laws are unconstitutional may be quite difficult to win, since Virginia does allow a wide variety of hunting opportunities on Sundays? It would seem that a lawsuit focused on unconstitutionality would force the plaintiff to prove that the General Assembly should not have the power to regulate hunting?

    Perhaps a more effective approach to causing change to Virginia’s Sunday hunting regulations would be to focus on the fact that Sunday hunting is lawful, with a more direct focus on the unreasonable restrictions that are in place just on Sundays?

    Here’s just one example of how twisted Virginia’s Sunday hunting regulations are. Coyotes can not be hunted on Sundays with or without intent to kill. Meaning they can’t be pleasure hunted with hounds, nor can they be pursued by hunters who intend to kill them. But, a coyote can be trapped on Sundays, and legally held live for up to 24 hours. At any time on Sundays, that trapped coyote could be approached by the trapper, and then dispatched (shot in the head and killed). Now if that same trapper was working their traps and saw a coyote free roaming, it would be unlawful to shoot the coyote until it stepped unto and sprung a trap, and was then held by that trap.

    Certainly, firearms discharges are a concern for those that wish to access the outdoors without concern. Virginia licenses about 225,000 to 250,000 hunters, and Virginia is home to about 2,000,000 gun owners. Yet Virginia’s Sunday hunting regulations don’t restrict anyone from recreational shooting on Sundays. It’s always been my experience that I discharged my firearm far more often on Sundays recreationally, than would be the case during any day that I were hunting……with the possible exception of dove hunting?

    Perhaps lifting a ban that doesn’t exist is the correct approach? Perhaps expanding Sunday hunting, or lifting unreasonable restrictions is a better approach?

    At any rate, thanks sincerely for your interest in this matter, and your vow to force a change.


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