Some PA Farmers Want Sunday Hunting
All Pa. farmers don't oppose Sunday hunting
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Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011 8:53 am
By Jeff Mulhollem | 37 comments
If you have been closely following the debate over expanded Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania, you may think that all the farmers in Pennsylvania oppose lifting the ban.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, which claims to represent 50,000 farm and rural families across the state, is staunchly opposed to any expansion of Sunday hunting here.
According to the Farm Bureau, the overwhelming majority of Keystone State farmers oppose allowing more Sunday hunting. But increasingly we have been hearing from farmers across the state who are quietly saying that is not true.
"Why should the state tell me what I can do on my own land on any given day of the week," said one agricultural producer. "It's my land, and I should control it. I don't need the state to forbid hunting on Sunday on my property. I can handle that myself, if that is my choice.
"As a member of the Farm Bureau, I will not hesitate to tell you that the group is not representing my best interest as a landowner," he added. "I could not be more opposed to the Farm Bureau."
I asked a successful, hard-working and honest farmer I know what he thinks about the situation, and his opinions are revealing. Zeke Summerhill, of Ford City, owns six farms in southern Armstrong County, in three different townships.
On a total of about 480 acres he primarily grows the cash crops corn and soybeans, and also operates a hardwood lumber company fed by the woodlands around his fields. When he finds time (which is not too often these days), he is a serious and skilled hunter and fisherman. And he is a former Farm Bureau board member in Armstrong County.
"The Farm Bureau certainly doesn't speak for me," he said. "When the group's spokesman says 85 percent of farmers are against Sunday hunting, I take issue with their statistics. I don't know any farmers in my county who have been interviewed – and I know quite a few."
Summerhill thinks the threat the Farm Bureau has been promoting – that most farmers who allow public hunting now will post their land against all hunting if Sunday hunting is expanded – is an exaggerated scare tactic.
"I personally don't know a single farmer who will post their land against all hunting," he said. "Now there may be a few who won't allow Sunday hunting."
Summerhill's biggest problem is trespassing and he thinks the state should extend an olive branch to farmers by tying increased enforcement of trespassing laws to allowing expanded Sunday hunting, to get the ban lifted. "The Game Commission should start enforcing trespassing laws," he said.
"In Ohio, hunters must possess a form signed by the landowner to hunt on private property. If the hunter can't produce the signed form, he is charged with trespassing. Ohio Department of Natural Resources officers help enforce trespassing. We should go to that system here."
In past columns I have observed that the Sunday hunting issue has become entangled in the deer-management debate, undermining support for Sunday hunting among sportsmen. Summerhill sees it that way, too, but his take on that may surprise you.
"My land is overrun by deer," he said. "I lost more than $17,000 in crop depredation last year, and I look at Sunday hunting as one more tool to manage deer. We need it."
The man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic. ~Roosevelt