CFFO: Sunday Gun Hunting

By Richard Blyleven

The county of Haldimand, where I live, has not had Sunday gun hunting for 64 years. The reasons Sunday gun hunting was stopped in 1953 is not totally clear. I suspect the debate then wasn’t much different from the arguments we have today over the same issues.

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Nowadays our county is in the minority when it comes to gun hunting on Sunday. When you look at the map of Ontario counties that permit Sunday gun hunting, it seems almost every county has Sunday gun hunting but ours. On closer look there are still some exceptions in a few counties and municipalities that do not permit Sunday gun hunting. Crossbow hunting is permitted on Sunday of course, its gun hunting you cannot do.

Twice over the last 10 years a delegation of local residents has gone to the Haldimand

County Council to ask to have the 1953 decision reversed. Both times council has reverted the discussion back to its Agricultural Advisory Committee, which is a committee of council that deals with agriculture related issues. Since hunting is done out in the country and on farmland, it falls right into this committee’s mandate. I am currently sitting as chair on this committee, and the two times recently that this matter came to the table led to very lively and robust discussions and debates.

Those arguing in favour of Sunday gun hunting point out that families with parents who work during the week are then able to be together hunting all weekend. Sunday hunting would also extend by two days the two week fall deer hunting season. The spin-off in tourism this extra hunting time would create would benefit local restaurants and bed and breakfasts from all the hunters coming into the area. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, for example, has been actively promoting Sunday gun hunting across Ontario.

On the other hand, those against the idea are worried about trespassing by hunters out all weekend. Also, families would be afraid to go for Sunday walks on their own land during hunting season. Finally, those opposed also argue that Sunday is the Lord’s day, and that game animals should have a day of rest as well as hunters.

Arguments went both ways but in the end the Haldimand Agriculture Advisory Committee made a recommendation to the Council to keep that one day a week where hunting with guns is not permitted, even though it will mean we are just one of a few counties and municipalities in Ontario that still do not allow Sunday gun hunting. We feel the majority of our residents want to keep it this way.