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Sunday Hunting - Some great news from amid the turmoil

Today (March 13, 2020), it seems like a crazy time to be alive.  The world is gripped by mass hysteria and cancellations in an effort to “kick the can” down the road or “flatten the curve” with regards to Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19.  We’ve seen nearly all major sports leagues suspended, Schools, Stores, and events around the globe have been closed or postponed, they even shut down Disney World.  We don’t want to focus on all of that however, because today was a great day for those of us who love the Outdoors in New Brunswick.

In the Fall of 2019 Honourable Mike Holland, Minister for Natural Resource & Energy Development in New Brunswick, introduced Bill 19, an act to amend the Fish & Wildlife Act.  In essence, this bill provides hunters with an additional 8 or 9 days (depending on the year) of available time to hunt each year, by allowing SUNDAY hunting between Thanksgiving and the end of December. 

Today, that bill received 3rd reading in the house and passed easily.  We spoke to Minister Holland, who advised that the process now only requires Royal Ascent (which SHOULD happen by March 31st EDIT: On March 17th, Royal Ascent was completed and the law is now official) and it will be officially in place for the fall of 2020 and beyond.  We, along with most other hunters, want to shout it from the mountain tops!  No longer do we need to pull our children from school to pass along our hunting traditions or hope for good weather on Saturdays.   

“It is with a great sense of satisfaction that I was able to see seven day a week hunting expanded here in New Brunswick.  As the Minister of Natural Resources for the province, I will always work to enhance our hunting heritage and outdoor lifestyle.  This is an example of the hunting community speaking and their government listening.” – Honourable Mike Holland

Just this past fall Wayne’s son Hunter, currently attending college, was able to harvest his first ever Whitetail.  He was able to do this on a Sunday because of the 3 Sundays currently available.  Increasing the amount of opportunities he has hunt means that he can spend more of his extremely limited time hunting with his father, not worrying about missing school.  Deer Season will be mostly unaffected, but he can now get out more often and hunt for upland birds, or varying hare, or even ducks and geese.  Our hunting heritage will more easily be passed on because of this law change.

Hunter with his first whitetail deer. A great young buck

In order to be fair, we want to point out that there are a group of very vocal outdoorspeople who are not pleased with the change.  A group calling themselves Quiet Forests New Brunswick (QNB) has drawn a lot of media attention, even managing to get 2580 signatures on a change.org petition calling for this bill to end.  They contend, regardless of the facts, that they are unsafe in the woods with Hunters and will effectively be locked out of Fall in New Brunswick when this bill is finalized.  In a letter sent to the New Brunswick Wildlife Federation, they state:
“The Outdoor Community Owns 10 Sundays and 0 Saturdays, The Hunter Community Owns 3 Sundays and 13 Saturdays”. 

We’d like to draw your attention to this term of ownership.  We as hunters, hikers, photographers, outdoorspeople in general do not “own” any days of the year, nor are we an exclusive group.  We do not appreciate this divisive message they are sending.  We are members of many social media groups and love to share our passions for anything that helps to get us to appreciate nature, however you like to do it.  There’s no “us” or “them”, there’s only “we”.  We want to get everyone outdoors, and this fear mongering about noise or safety with very little basis in reality is dangerous.  Does this group want to ban ATV drivers, Boaters, Radios in “their woods” or on “their days”?  Or do they expect us to believe that none of them ever hike the woods any other day of the week, all of which have allowed hunting?  My wife is not a big-time hunter, but we still spend most of the fall spending our time in the woods, whether we have a gun around us or not.  Being a Hunter does not exclude us from being members of the Outdoor Community, and being a non-hunter certainly doesn’t prevent us from enjoying nature.

During a recent press conference they held, parts of which were aired on Global News, they’ve even gone so far as to say “If the love of the outdoors and nature, and the thrill of the sport of hunting is not passed on to the younger generation, they will sit happily in front of their electronic devices and not know what they are missing”.   Is this the message they’re really trying to send our children?  “Don’t worry about going outside, just look at pictures of trees on that iPad of yours.”

Let’s be clear, this change isn’t a game changer for any outdoor loving person regardless of which side of the fence you are on.  Previously, hunters could be in the woods actively hunting for about 315 days out of the year, and with this change we will be able to hunt on about 326.  Don’t be exclusionary, invite your friends and family on hikes, invite them to watch birds, photograph nature, or just come along for a great ATV ride.  As Red Green always said: “We’re all in this together”

2020-03-13 14:41:10

 

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