This past weekend, the youngest came home from his first year of college. I’ve been making my peace with the empty nest as best I can, but it’s no secret that I am overjoyed to have him back in the house, even if it is just for this one summer. I’ve been planning our time together and walks in the woods with our dogs top the list.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

Ever since they were babes in backpacks, we have ambled the woods and meadows of Maine, a dog in tow. Some of it was on official conservation land or preserves, but much of it was not. Maine has a long tradition of recreational access, thanks to the generosity of private landowners.

Part of what made our little family outings possible, and I am ashamed to say I took it utterly for granted, is now on the verge of being taken away: hunting-free Sundays.

There are scads of other states where hunting is already allowed every day of the week and, obviously, people still manage to go for a hike. But still, this feels like a profound loss. I thought we in Maine had all agreed to share our outdoor spaces, with this one day set aside for strolling.

Contrary to what people may think, I am not anti-hunting. Honest. I don’t do it myself, but that’s a personal choice and I’ve never been one to force my own choices on others.

My eldest is a hunter and I comprehend that knowledgeable, respectful hunters play a role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem.


Hunters have a vested interest in preserving the environment. They cull herds, prevent overpopulation, feed their families (and neighbors) and preserve a connection that predates video games and streaming on demand. There is a camaraderie and friendship out there in the woods, with stories and knowledge passed from generation to generation.

I respect all that, admire it even.

That said, it really is nice to have one day where you can go for a walk without fear of being accidentally shot.

When the attempt to overturn the Sunday ban on hunting failed overwhelmingly in the Legislature, proponents of Sunday hunting decided to sue in court. I don’t like this move for a host of different reasons, but I admit it’s clever and very likely going to work.

The lawsuit hinges on the recently passed amendment to Maine’s state constitution that guarantees a right to food. I wrote in opposition to this amendment when it was up for a vote out of fear of the unintended consequences. This is one I had not foreseen.

Not all hunters are in favor of Sunday hunting. Some feel the way I do about sharing the woods. Many are concerned that landowners, several of whom testified against this move, will simply post their land against all hunting as a result. With 90% of land in private hands, that could be a tremendous loss to hunters.

Regardless, the wording of the amendment makes it likely that Sundays will soon be opened up for hunting. I’m sure we will adjust. I’m sure I will still walk the woods. It’s not like I didn’t wear blaze orange anyway. It will just be a little less gracious, a little less kind, a little less like we are all in this together, sharing our world.

Comments are not available on this story.