On The Ridge with Joe Judd: Thoughts on Sunday hunting

Published: 06-12-2024 4:03 PM

A recent “My Turn” piece in the Recorder (Compromise needed on Sunday hunting June 7) brought a grin to my face when I read it. It was a well-written article by Mason Bassett, who reached out to me in early May, with his classmate Landon Smead, about an eighth grade civic project they were working on regarding Sunday hunting in Massachusetts, and how the hunting ban might be lifted so they could have extra time to hunt with their fathers.

That said, I wasn’t surprised when they contacted me, as I know first-hand that they both come from a long tradition of hunting families, with the Smead and Bassett families being good friends of mine for decades. And there was no question that I would be contacting them, as I respected their efforts in seeking other opinions on the subject and I wanted to help with that. As I read Mason’s words, I recognized the thoughtfulness in what he and Landon were trying to say, and the amount of time and thought they had obviously put into it. Hence, my small part in this project began with the conversations that followed and their well-placed questions being both impressive and precise. And I thought readers of this space might be interested in reading them, along with my much-abbreviated answers.

1. What is your opinion of not being able to hunt on Sundays in Massachusetts?

A tough question to start with, as it’s no secret that I’ve never been a great proponent of Sunday hunting in Massachusetts for many different reasons. But I’m not against Sunday hunting, as I’ve hunted on Sunday in states all over the country for decades. I went on to say that Sunday hunting in Massachusetts might happen someday if a proposal could be written that made sense to the broader population, but it would take more time, and must start with compromise. And as the boys listened, I could sense their minds were on fire with ideas.

2. Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t hunt on Sundays?

Honestly, no, because I’ve always hunted on Sundays, just not in Massachusetts. Yet I understood their frustration, and I listened intently as they spoke about it.

3. Do you feel like this should be changed?

Maybe, in some format, but it must start slowly with open dialogue and compromise, while accentuating the need for controlling the deer population and highlighting the many working families who would finally have a little extra time to hunt together.

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4. Who else do you think we should ask about this topic?

Other sportsmen and women, sportsmen clubs, landowners, state and local officials.

5. Is there anything else you have to say about Sunday hunting?

I advised them to ask tough questions to others, on both sides of the issue, including beyond our little bubble in Franklin County so they could hear for themselves just how divisive and, at times, contentious the subject really is.

For example, here are comments from people who support and oppose Sunday hunting:

Zack, Gloucester - Let folks hunt on Sundays just like the other states (except for Maine) and let’s put more energy towards something useful!

Kevin, North Andover - I think taking the opportunity away from individuals to provide healthy, locally sourced meat on their families’ tables is egregious and goes against helping families be together in nature.

Joanne, Stockbridge - I’m totally against hunting seven days a week. I want at least one day a week to walk my dog and enjoy my property, in peace! This topic is insane!

N.K.A., Boston - Absolutely not. There is no reason to allow hunting on Sundays when some of us are trying to enjoy the outdoors, plus, hunting is just wrong. Deer are defenseless. 

And I could go on and on here, but you get my meaning.

And finally, to Mason and Landon, keep thinking about this, let your voices continue to be heard, and follow what you believe in, always. And while you do, think of these words from Stefan Calabria of Northfield, whose own “My Turn” assessment on Sunday hunting adds another unique perspective, all in one paragraph.

“Simply because hunters who enjoy the woods and fields of the Bay State comprise a small fraction of the entire Massachusetts population, doesn’t mean they should be universally minimized, discounted, and in the eyes of some — vilified. The ideals of democratic attitudes include elements such as equality, inclusion, compromise, and civility. Whether Sunday hunting is ever legalized, is, to some degree, irrelevant; allowing for the cultivation of diverse pursuits, opinions, and practices is what’s most important, as is aiming to be the best version of ourselves, whether we choose to hunt or not.”

Joe Judd is a lifelong hunter and sportsman. He is an outdoor writer, seminar speaker, member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association, and a 2019 inductee into the N.E. Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Joe is also on the Quaker Boy Game Calls and Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Pro-Staff. He can be reached at jjontheridge@comcast.net