The Universal Notebook: Maine’s ‘right to food’ isn’t a license to hunt

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Hunters and legislators have failed for 140 years to overturn Maine’s historic ban on Sunday hunting.

Now a group calling itself Maine Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, or HUSH, is attempting an end-run around the voters and the Legislature by mounting a lawsuit on the novel grounds that Maine’s new “right to food” entitles hungry, hungry hunters to hunt on Sunday. 

Edgar Allen BeemIf the right to hunt food lawsuit doesn’t get laughed out of court, it will only be because there are now enough Trump-appointed judges to rule in favor of the ridiculous. But just for the sake of amusement, let’s examine the implications of legalizing hunting on Sundays.

To begin with, according to the Maine Woodland Owners, only 38 percent of Mainers support Sunday hunting. About 80 percent of woodland owners currently allow hunting on their lands. If Sunday hunting becomes legal, 44 percent of the landowners say they would restrict access to hunters.

So, if Maine HUSH is successful in establishing the right to hunt seven days a week, the number of fields and forests where they can do so will likely shrink considerably. 

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Of course, deer hunting (which is mostly what’s at issue) is only allowed in November. The majority of the general public gives up the right to walk safely through the woods for one month in order to oblige the minority that hunts. All we ask is one day a week when there will not be armed men with buck fever roaming the countryside.

But if it is the right to food that establishes a constitutional right to hunt on Sunday, why should the courts restrict deer hunting to November? People have to eat year-round. So there’s a good chance we will be opening the door to year-round hunting. 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the woods.

And who’s to say how much food it takes for a hungry, hungry hunter to feed their ravenous family? Should a family of 10 be restricted to a single deer? I think not. Say bye-bye to bag limits, booboo.

And if we are going to have open season on deer, why not bear, moose, and turkey too? Maine is one of those crazy states where anyone can carry a concealed weapon, so why not become the craziest state where hunters can shoot anything (edible) that moves? 

And why limit hunters to rifles, shotguns, and bowhunting? Anything goes when you’ve got to feed the family. Baiting, snares, leghold traps, conibears, clubs, spears, explosives, tiger pits, drones?

Let’s face it, Sunday hunting is an idea that primarily appeals to goon dogs and coonhounds. It’s already legal to hunt some form of game about half the year and there is open season on coyotes, woodchucks, porcupines, and red squirrels. There’s no reason for a hunter who will eat woodchuck roast to go hungry just because they can’t hunt deer for four days in November.

But should the HUSH lawsuit find a sympathetic Trump judge and then survive all appeals, I predict that 1) most of the Maine woods will be posted against hunting, 2) Maine residents will eventually vote to ban hunting altogether, 3) anti-Sunday hunting mobs will take to the woods every weekend to assert the right of the unarmed to one day of safety, and 4) there will be no deer, bear, moose or turkey left in Vacationland.

The “right to food” lawsuit is insincere and disingenuous. It deserves to fail on its lack of merit.

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen feature.