Hunting

‘Plenty of room out there’: hunters want more Sundays

Current rules limit hunting to first two Sundays of the general season

Marcel Tellier thinks completely lifting the Sunday hunting ban would give him more opportunities to trek through the woods with his bow.

“It would give us just a little more flexibility as a family,” he says.

An archer, Tellier works Monday to Friday, and Saturdays are usually filled with extracurricular activities with his three children. This year, only the first two Sundays of the five were open to hunting.

Hunting season changes every year. For 2018, general deer hunting season was Oct. 26 to Dec. 1, with Sunday hunting being allowed on Oct. 26 and Nov. 4. In 2015, after a public consultation period, the Nova Scotia government partially lifted the ban, allowing for the change.

Currently, Nova Scotia is the only province with a Sunday restriction. The Department of Natural Resources said in an email this ban exists because Sundays are historically “a day of rest.”

Travis McLeod, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, says lifting part of the ban has been well received, but many wish for it to go further.

“The inclusion of all Sundays gives friends and family the weekend to experience and enjoy that time together, and strengthen their ties to each other and with nature,” McLeod said in an email.

He says more Sundays would provide more opportunities for young hunters who need to be mentored.

McLeod says the federation represents 46,000 hunters and 70,000 people who fish recreationally. The group has been advocating for the right to hunt on Sundays since 2007.

‘Balanced approach’

Natural Resources says there are currently no plans to completely lift the ban.

“Government listened to the comments from hunters and non-hunters in reaching this decision and chose a balanced approach to accommodate both groups,” Bruce Nunn, a spokesperson for Natural Resources, said in an email. “Since its implementation, there have been no problems concerning hunting on Sundays.”

According to the Natural Resources website, “hunting accidents are rare and almost never involve non-hunters.” On Monday, Nov. 19, a 60-year-old man was fatally shot by his hunting partner, who thought the man was a deer, RCMP said.

Natural Resources provides hunters with a list of places they must stay away from, including schools, homes and athletic fields. They are allowed to hunt in certain areas of the woods, which is a worry to some hikers.

Tellier understands that someone hiking in the woods would be nervous if they saw someone with a weapon. But, he says, both hunters and non-hunters need to think of safety first when in the woods during hunting season.

“Wear the blaze orange and make lots of noise,” he says. “There’s plenty of room out there, there should be enough room for people to co-exist.”

Safety concerns

Like Tellier, Shelly Jonasson Repchull says there are people from the hunting and non-hunting communities who can be irresponsible. She thinks both groups need to wear orange to make themselves visible to others.

Jonasson Repchull runs the Facebook group Hiking with Dogs in Nova Scotia. She frequently walks her two dogs in the woods, but during hunting season she leashes them and keeps close to trails.

“I try to stay in more public areas where I know there’s no hunting,” she says.

Jonasson Repchull says there should be more communication from the Department of Natural Resources regarding open season. Like many others, she says safety is a top priority for her and her dogs.

“I try to make sure that people are aware on our Facebook group,” she says, as she’ll post the season’s dates and hunting areas to the group.