Wild animals & birds; unlawful to hunt on private property and state waters on Sunday, exception. (HB1237)

Introduced By

Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) with support from 34 copatrons, whose average partisan position is:

Those copatrons are Del. Dave Albo (R-Springfield), Del. Rich Anderson (R-Woodbridge), Del. Mark Berg (R-Winchester), Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax), Del. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean), Del. Tag Greason (R-Potomac Falls), Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Salem), Del. Chris Head (R-Roanoke), Del. Tim Hugo (R-Centreville), Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City), Del. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), Del. Manoli Loupassi (R-Richmond), Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), Del. Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), Del. Will Morefield (R-North Tazewell), Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg), Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding), Del. Nick Rush (R-Christiansburg), Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach), Del. Michael Webert (R-Marshall), Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News), Del. Joseph Yost (R-Blacksburg), Sen. Dick Black (R-Leesburg), Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson), Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomac), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke), Sen. Tommy Norment (R-Williamsburg), Sen. Phil Puckett (D-Tazewell), Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Moneta), Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon), Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Hunting on Sundays. Allows hunting on Sundays under certain circumstances. A person may hunt waterfowl, subject to restrictions imposed by the Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and a landowner and his immediate family or a person with written permission may hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including nuisance species, if they hunt on the landowner's property. However, the aforementioned hunting activities cannot occur within 200 yards of a house of worship. The bill prohibits the hunting of deer with dogs on Sunday. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/17/2014Presented and ordered printed 14102270D
01/17/2014Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/21/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB1237)
01/22/2014Reported from Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources with amendment (12-Y 10-N) (see vote tally)
01/23/2014Read first time
01/23/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB1237)
01/24/2014Passed by for the day
01/27/2014Read second time
01/27/2014Floor substitute printed 14104488D-H1 (Fariss)
01/27/2014Substitute by Delegate Fariss rejected 14104488D-H1
01/27/2014Committee amendment rejected
01/27/2014Amendment by Delegate Gilbert agreed to
01/27/2014Pending question ordered
01/27/2014Engrossed by House as amended HB1237E
01/27/2014Printed as engrossed 14102270D-E
01/28/2014Read third time and passed House (71-Y 27-N)
01/28/2014VOTE: PASSAGE (71-Y 27-N) (see vote tally)
01/29/2014Constitutional reading dispensed
01/29/2014Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
02/04/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB1237E)
02/13/2014Reported from Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (11-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2014Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N)
02/18/2014Read third time
02/18/2014Passed Senate (28-Y 11-N)
02/20/2014Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB1237ER)
02/20/2014Impact statement from DPB (HB1237ER)
02/20/2014Signed by Speaker
02/22/2014Signed by President
03/05/2014G Approved by Governor-Chapter 152 (effective 7/1/14)
03/05/2014G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0152)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 38 minutes.


Waldo Jaquith writes:

I love the collection of copatrons on this. I'm feeling really optimistic about this.

Matthew O'Brien writes:

This is an awesome compromise bill. Don't want to hunt on Sunday? Then don't and don't let anybody hunt on your property. It is time for property owners to be allowed to choose for themselves and scientific polls have shown that the majority of Virginians agree. Let freedom and liberty ring!

Want to join the thousands in the effort to stop the decline in Virginia's hunting population and revenues you can go here to help and find out the latest information:

Todd Barnes writes:

It is time for the private property owner to be able to determine who hunts their land, and on what day. I personally am paying very close attention to the co-patron names of this Bill and if it passes, will also determine who I vote for in future elections. There is no legitimate argument to retain this unfair and antiquated blue law. We can do EVERYTHING on Sunday in Virginia except hunt the majority of game species on your own property.

Mark Dickinson writes:

It will be great when people that have 6 day a week obligations have the opportunity to hunt.

Sandra C. writes:

As the owner of a family farm which has a very active hunt club, I support the Sunday ban on hunting, both on my property and on my neighbors' properties. Bullets know no boundaries, and hunting is an activity which can cause grave, if not life-threatening, harm to neighbors on surrounding lands. Sundays are the only day during Virginia's beautiful fall and winter months when landowners, non-hunters, friends, children and pet dogs can enjoy the woods without fear of hunters, ticks, chiggers and snakes. Hunters already have six days during these months for that enjoyment, and enough is enough already. Sundays also are the only days landowners can walk safely about their property to ensure it is not being trashed or damaged unnecessarily by hunt club members or others. Many driveways border neighboring properties, and Sundays are the only day a landowner or a tenant really can feel comfortable taking a leisurely stroll down to the end of the driveway for the paper. Keep the ban on Sunday hunting on private property on the books. It protects every Virginian in the long run and gives a rest day for us humans too during hunting season in addition to all species of wild bird and wild animal life.
Additionally, if the truth be known, practically every serious hunter favors the ban. It also gives him/her a chance to safely walk around and survey the best or better places for a stand, the removable of a stand, or the repair of one. They even use Sundays to look for an animal shot or injured earlier in the week or to look for a lost hunting dog.
If the ban on Sunday hunting on private lands in Virgnia is lifted, it will do wrong to thousands in comparison to what a few is given.

Daren Brown writes:

Sandra C. like many who oppose private property rights, use mistruths and alarmist statements to mislead on this issue.
In 2006, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries polled nearly 5000 hunters randomly across the state of Virginia. Results of that poll indicated a CLEAR majority of Virginia hunters favor lifting the ban on hunting on Sunday on private property. 58% of respondants STRONGLY SUPPORTED lifting the ban, while only 28.5% STRONGLY OPPOSED. Over 60% of hunters responded with some level of support for lifting the ban. Polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and Roanoke college of Virginians at large yielded nearly the exact same results. The majority of Virginians at large feel this issue is an individual hunter and landowner decision and should not be mandated by the government. WE ALREADY HAVE TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT REGULATION AND INTRUSION IN OUR LIVES. IT IS TIME TO STOP IT.
Also, the DGIF has requested the General Assembly lift the ban for the last 3 years stating there is no biological, environmental nor management reasons to leave the ban in place. This request is based on studies conducted by the state's wildlife biologists, none of which reside in the General Assembly!!
Additionally, statistics compiled by the National Safety Council show overwhelmingly that hunting is one of the safest recreational activities in the United States, and that people injured by hunters...are themselves or other hunters. Matter of fact, the statistical data shows higher instances of persons being injured playing golf, swimming, cycling, horseback riding and even playing badminton than being involved in a hunting incident resulting in injury.
She also fails to mention that lifting the ban would only add 9 days of hunting to the firearms deer season. Only 9 days that result in the irrational fears. While 9 doesn't seem like many to add, 9 days DOUBLES the length of the hunting season for the working Virginian. Not to mention that economic studies also show that lifting the ban would result in nearly 4,000 jobs and clost to $300 million in revenue to the state, through license sale, hotel stays by out of state hunters, gas sales, grocery sales, outdoor gear sales, etc. etc.
Finally, she also fails to provide any statistical or empirical data to back up her stated safety concern. 44 other states allow hunters and non-hunting outdoorsmen/women and children to enjoy their passions safely, maturely, and at the same time with less safety issues/incidents than just about any other activity that many Virginians take part in every Sunday.

Sandra C. writes:

Daren B, You and I will never agree about the ban in Virginia that prohibits hunting on Sundays since my reasoning for it to remain on the books and your reasoning for lifting it are so completely different. Mine is from personal experience and from almost daily communication, conversation or contact with hunters, guns and bullets during the hunting seasons. Yours apparently is from statistics, and we all know statistics can prove or disprove whatever a person wishes. You say the ban adds "only" 9 days of hunting with firearms in deer season. Those 9 days actually equate to nine full weeks selfish greedy people like yourself want everyone else to stay out of the woods and out of a bullet's range, particularly when these two months are the most beautiful time in Virginia's woods and one free of ticks, chiggers, snakes, guns and bullets. Your statistics do not make common sense nor give economic comparisons with jobs and revenue generated over those nine days by those who also travel to participate in outdoor activities specifically because hunting is not allowed on Sundays. No, sadly, there are no other real reasons than greed and selfishness for you to believe only hunters should be permitted Sundays in the woods during that lovely time of the year. You might not say this in so many words but one only has to read your paragraphs to see that for themselves. Perhaps if every landowner had thousands of acres on which to hunt, like is possible in many other states, boundaries could be set for hunting within those acres and far enough away from neighboring boundaries. In Virginia, however, there are hundreds of property owners who only have smaller hunting tracts of land. Unlike those who can keep the activities you named such as badminton, swimming, horseback riding, etc within the smaller boundaries, hunters on surrounding smaller tracts of land cannot keep their bullets from crossing the boundaries. We all know when a hunter misses his shot, he cannot call back that bullet from crossing a boundary. They cannot even keep their hunting dogs from crossing property boundaries, must less their bullets.
I personally don't mind the lost and lovely hunting dogs that have wandered over on my property but flying bullets while walking in my woods on a Sunday would be a frighting different story. As for working Virginian hunters, from the numbers of wild bird or animal life killed during hunting seasons each year, it does not appear there are many Virginian hunters that cannot get the time off or time rearranged in order to hunt on one or more of the other six days permitted for hunting each week throughout the hunting season. That one day would be more than others would comfortably have in the woods for over two months if the ban is lifted. Thus, in my opinion, it is nothing but greed and selfishness for you and others to want to take that one non-hunting day a week during the hunting season away from us. Hopefully our legislators also recognize we are not asking for much and vote to keep the hunting ban on Sundays on the books.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Mine is from personal experience and from almost daily communication, conversation or contact with hunters, guns and bullets during the hunting seasons. Yours apparently is from statistics, and we all know statistics can prove or disprove whatever a person wishes.

We have silly things like facts—Sandra has powerful things like anecdotes. And, as well know, "data" is the plural of "anecdote." Or something.

Daren Brown writes:

Sandra you are correct, we will just have to agree to disagree. While I sympathize with your unfortunate experience(s), the fact remains that 44 states allow hunters and other outdoors enthusiats in the woods every day in the fall and they co-exist with no more issues than the other six safe days a week. So I DO NOT think only hunters should be in the woods. It has been proven time and again that ALL can be in the woods with co-use, and the sky will not fall. There are numerous examples of other states where people like yourself argued the same, and when the state conducted test periods during hunting season, none of the adverse and doomsday predictions like yours came true. Those states now allow Sunday Hunting without incident.
I must also say that your accusations of greed and selfishness is a matter of perspective. The fact that you had a bad experience should not translate to all landowners and hunters being forced to abide by, and be subjected to your solution of mantatory bans by the government. Our founding fathers fought a war and started a country to get away from that sort of thinking. And by the way, many more bullets are fired the way things are now as target shooters can shoot all they/we want on Sunday. Less "crazy bullets" will be fired when hunting is legal. And, another by the way, I guess you know that there are already many forms of hunting that are legal on Sunday right?
And of course, I, unlike yourself, am open minded and still interested to see some of the data and facts that back your safety concerns, and support your 'Longshanks' approach to this issue.
And my experience comes from 35 years of hunting, most of which in states that allow this without issue, from truth and statistical support of the truth, and most importantly, education.

Dorsey Riley writes:

More facts about Hunting in Virginia:

VA is the last southern state to ban all typical forms of deer hunting on Sunday.
VA hunting license purchases have declined 50% since 1970.
Deer harvest rates are down 8% from 10 year average.
Severe deer over population have caused massive Lyme Disease outbreaks in Northern, Central and Southern VA.
VA ranks in the top 10 states for deer related auto crashes, up 15% since 1998.
Professional guide services for trophy deer hunting is almost non existant in Virginia.

Preserve the hunting heritage for future generations. The lessons of hunting: patience, planning, scouting and the appreciation of the outdoors, are hard to teach when most parents only have a couple Saturdays a year to get it done. 9 more days mean alot to a father like me.

Sandra C. writes:

Daren B. You claim hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts can co-exist in the woods with no issues, that it has been proven all can co-use the woods, and test periods conducted during hunting season in other states show no incidents between the different users of the woods during the hunting seasons. You also say your experience comes from 35 years of hunting.
Let's put this to a real test. Will you accept this invitation to bring yourself, your family members, friends, children, grandchildren,and pet dogs to join me for walk around my farm on a day of hunting, maybe we can make that two or three days? We will be out about two plus hours and maybe cover 3-5 miles. The same time and distance we like to cover on Sundays. I will request the hunt club on my property not hunt on the
day(s) of our walk. But keep in mind the hunting tracts of land around my property all will have various clubs hunting in the neighboring and surrounding woods.
Although friends and I always take our dogs on our long beautiful fall and winter walks on these properties on Sundays, I hope you won't mind if I do not bring my two pet dogs on the hunting day you join me for the walk. My dogs, like bullets, do not know where property boundaries begin or end, and I do not want to take a chance they'll get shot.
However, your statistics and claims should make you feel comfortable enough for your invited guests and their pet dogs to enjoy the day without fear any of them will be hit by a stray bullet. We will be walking around some fields and ponds, and we will see hunters on my neighbor's stands but again you should feel perfectly safe for your family members and guests considering your comments on this website.
I cannot promise you it will be a quiet walk like we enjoy every Sunday during hunting season. However, as an experienced hunter, you won't mind the noise and shooting going on around us or even beside us as we stroll around my private property, around the fields or down my mile-long driveway, all bordered by neighboring hunting properties. And certainly your family and guests won't be nervous or frightened either. I am sure you have convinced them we all will be safe.
Oh, and as a hunter, you probably won't mind when the hunters get upset, maybe start yelling, when running and playing children and pet dogs start scaring away the game they are quietly trying to attract.
Daren, all the men in my family also hunted. I grew up around guns, shooting, venison stew, etc but unlike you my family of hunters only considered Sundays safe enough for us kids to run off and play in the woods. They enjoyed our being able to blow off energy and steam on Sundays, and we all loved climbing into the stands and playing hide and seek and all those other games of war and shooting, etc, all without parents' fear of snake bites or our coming home covered with ticks or chiggers. Virgnia's ban on hunting on Sundays was the only reason this was all possible, and the only reason all this wonderful type of experiences remain available today to families and children. Yet you claim not to be selfish and greedy in wanting this one free day for all taken away just so a few hunters can shoot at moving targets all seven days of the week rather than the six days you now have.
As for those "tests" for incidents among co-users during hunting season, naturally they had no incidents to report. How insane is anyone to be out in the woods with family and friends while hunters are shooting all around them or even nearby?
BTW, the invite will stand until next hunting season, regardless of the ban. I sincerely hope the ban is not lifted or changed but regardless I really would like to see you put all your claims and statistics to test by walking around on private property with your family members and friends and pets while hunting is closely going on all around us.

Matthew O'Brien writes:

Absolutely Sandra, I'll come out there and bring my video camera. One of my kids can carry it. I will also put everyone in blaze orange because we aren't idiots. As long as your property lines are posted, I would even help you post your property if it isn't already.

If there are criminals committing criminal acts next to you I will even help you defend your private property rights and help make the complaint to the local officials. Heck, if it is a criminal act we would have it on video camera. I have no problem pointing out a crime and getting the officials involved.

If it is your land and it is clearly marked you should be able to do as wish.

Can my kids and I bring a shotgun or two and do a little hunting at the same time? Seriously, something for you to think about. An ethical hunter or group of hunters that you can trust are the best watch dogs for criminal activity on your land. They will fight the battle legally for you against any criminal elements. The leased land that I hunt on maintains the presence that the land owners want. The other beauty is you define the rules of the lease, what when where how the hunt would occur. Bow only? It is your land you decide. No hunting on the third Saturday when Jupiter is aligned with Saturn? Your call, it is your land. No Sunday hunting, I hope you do get to make that call in the near future. You can also charge a tidy sum for someone to gain the privelege to hunt the land under your rules. There are tens of thousands of good, ethical, family men and women who are scrounging the earth to find access to the woods.

If you think there are people committing crimes on your property I would ask that you not call them hunters, call them what they are "CRIMINALS". We don't say a bank robber is banking, someone stuffing their pockets with merchandise in a store isn't shopping either. A criminal in the woods should also be called a criminal, not a hunter.

A hunter is a law abiding and ethical citizens who tries their best to foster good relations with neighbors and property owners. Based on your description it sounds like you have a criminal element working in your area. Those criminals (as you describe their activity) are probably aware that you don't have a presence in the woods during hunting season so they have decided that they can do whatever they want. One thing we can agree on, the situation you describe isn't right.

Daren Brown writes:

Sandra, I'd be happy to join you for any activity on your property besides hunting. I know there are exceptions, but I'd join you any day, and like Mr. Obrien, I'll help you protect your property and to contact the authorities as required.
My whole point here, particularly when it comes to greed and selfishness, is that every landowner and hunter should not be punished for the actions of a few.
Please feel free to let me know where you live, and when a convenient time for you would be. Possibly we could first do it and become acquainted during the 10 months outside of hunting season that you enjoy and could share your property. Then we'll follow up with a stroll on a hunting day. Anytime is good with me, and I'll gladly bring family and friends along.

Kenny Herzog writes:

I read all the comments on here and the back and forth with Sandra C. and other persons who wrote here. I read her concern about not being able to wander her woods, her property, safely on Sunday if this bill becomes law. Nowhere did I see her make reference to what I see is the main point of this bill, that the landowner can decide whether to allow somebody else to be on their property on Sunday. Sandra, if you don't want hunting on your property on Sunday, just say no. You should have all the safety you need then. As a couple of the other respondents wrote, if you say no and somebody is on your property, they are not a hunter, they are a tresspasser and should be punished as such. I think it is unfair to the hunting community that you lump all of them together based on the actions of a few.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

It's wonderful to see that this bill passed the House. One modification was made, though—it allows localities to prohibit Sunday hunting, at their discretion. That seems like an entirely reasonable accommodation to make at this point.

Daren Brown writes:

One correction Waldo, the amendment that would allow localities to prohibit Sunday Hunting at their discretion failed and was NOT adopted. The only modification that was made to the bill is that it prohibits the hunting of bears with hounds on Sunday during bear season. Bear Hunters will still be able to 'chase' bears with hounds on Sunday during the bear chase season, as they can now.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Thank you for that correction, Daren! I'm glad to hear that the bill has not been diminished so much, after all.