Wednesday, July 26, 2017
By Lisa Lakey
Virginia hunters now have an extra color option to wear for safety before they hit the stands this fall, but their land-owning neighbors in Maryland have lost their option altogether.
Earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers passed House Bill 1939, which allows hunters to don a vest or hat of blaze pink, rather than the traditional blaze orange hunting apparel. House Delegate James Edmunds (R-Halifax) sponsored the bill that passed the House unanimously and had only five “nays” in the state Senate, one of which came from a female delegate.
The move came as more states are catering to female sport enthusiasts, from workshops and mentoring programs designed as women-only, to the now expanded color palette. Women are the fastest growing demographic in hunting, and Virginia has 13,000 registered female hunters.
After Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed HB 1939 into law on March 13, the code governing hunter dress now reads:
Every hunter and every person accompanying a hunter shall (i) wear a blaze orange or blaze pink hat, except that the bill or brim of the hat may be a color or design other than solid blaze orange or blaze pink, or blaze orange or blaze pink upper body clothing, that is visible from 360 degrees or (ii) display at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or blaze pink material…
While most hunters could probably care less about the option to wear pink in Virginia, the change to code in Maryland has taken an option away. Away from landowners specifically.
Maryland landowners are now required to wear hunter orange while hunting on their own land. Most probably already do, but never have the Maryland Department of Natural Resources governed what landowners wear while hunting their own land. And most won’t welcome it.
The law was slipped into the bottom of House Bill 0126 earlier this year. The bill was brought forward by the Chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee at the request of the DNR.
On the website of the General Assembly of Maryland, the summary doesn’t include anything about the change in a landowner’s right, but appears to be a list of “housekeeping” legislation. But upon reviewing HB0126, it states: “repealing a provision of law exempting a person hunting wildlife on the person’s property from certain outerwear requirements.”
The law went into effect July 1, although little, if any, notice was given to let landowners know. So, landowners in Maryland, beware – dust off that blaze orange cap and vest before heading to your stand this fall. Marylanders, feel free to add a touch of pink.