North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

New Sunday Hunting Regulations - Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Law

Author: NCWRC blogger/Tuesday, July 25, 2017/Categories: Blog, Hunting

New Sunday Hunting Regulations - Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Law

The North Carolina General Assembly recently enacted legislation that will enhance opportunities to hunt on Sundays. This legislation provides immediate changes for hunters on private lands and gives authority to the Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission) and other public landowners to implement new options for Sunday hunting on public lands.

Private Lands
Under the new law, hunters may hunt within 500 yards of a residence, potentially opening millions of acres of private land previously off-limits to Sunday hunters. Hunters may not hunt within 500 yards of a place of religious worship, nor hunt deer with the use of dogs. Shooting hours remain unchanged, which means private lands may be hunted for wild animals and upland game birds with a firearm on Sunday prior to 9:30 a.m. and after 12:30 p.m. Controlled hunting preserves are not restricted during this time if they are licensed pursuant to G.S. 113.273(g).

Public Lands
Under the new law, public land managers, including the Commission, may authorize hunting on Sundays with a firearm on the public lands for which they have jurisdiction. If public land managers allow Sunday hunting on their lands, hunters still are prohibited from hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., from hunting deer with the use of dogs, and from hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship.

Sunday hunting on the Commission’s game lands remains prohibited. Approximately 1.5 million acres of approximately 2 million acres enrolled in the Commission game land program are owned by corporate and federal partners. The Commission will implement a collaborative and inclusive process of evaluating options and opportunities to hunt on Sundays with a firearm on its game lands after carefully considering landowner and user-group perspectives.

Migratory Birds
Under the new law, hunting of migratory birds on Sundays remains prohibited. The legislation gives the Commission the authority to lift the prohibition after March 1, 2018. The Commission is required to complete a study that includes examining biological and resource management impacts, economic impacts, and social impacts associated with hunting migratory birds on Sundays.

Any potential changes in migratory bird hunting, including the longstanding waterfowl hunting season structure, must be cautiously considered before determining whether changes should be implemented. The Commission will establish a decision process that is collaborative, inclusive, and scientifically sound. It is critical to study all potential impacts comprehensively before deciding whether or not to make any changes to Sunday hunting of migratory birds.

Compensatory Days for Waterfowl Hunting
Compensatory days apply only to waterfowl hunting, but are dependent on Sunday hunting prohibitions that must apply to all migratory bird species.

In 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with the Atlantic Flyway Council to clarify the issue of compensatory days for states that prohibited hunting on Sundays.

States that prohibited Sunday hunting of all migratory bird species by state law prior to 1997 are eligible for compensatory days for waterfowl hunting. In those states, federal rules reflect state laws by prohibiting all take of migratory birds on Sundays. Although waterfowl hunting season days must run consecutively within each segment, Sundays are not counted as hunting days and are replaced by an equal number of compensatory hunting days.

Using the 2016 – 2017 general duck hunting season framework as an example, North Carolina was allocated 60 days to hunt under the following conditions:

  1. The season could not begin before Sept. 29, 2016 and could not end later than Jan. 29, 2017.
  2. Migratory birds could not be hunted on Sundays.
  3. The season could not be broken into more than three segments (two splits). Within each segment, days were counted consecutively except for the closed Sundays which were not included.


The 2016-2017 general duck hunting season was the following:

Season Segment Season Dates Calendar Days Hunting Days Number of Saturdays Number of Sundays
1 10/5 thru 10/8 4 4 1 0
2 11/12 thru 12/3 22 19 4 0
3 12/17 thru 1/28 43 37 7 0


Totals:

69 60 12 0

 

Here is a hypothetical comparison of what the season may have been if there were no prohibition against hunting migratory birds on Sundays.

Season Segment

Season Dates

Calendar Days

Hunting Days

Number of Saturdays

Number of Sundays

1

10/6 thru 10/9

4

4

1

1

2

11/23 thru 12/4

12*

12

2

2

3

12/16 thru 1/28

44

44

7

7

Totals:

60

60

10

10

*Under this scenario, days are shifted toward the latter part of the framework. Under either scenario, hunters would be allocated the same number of hunting days (60) distributed within three segments (with two splits).

 

 

2016-17 Hunting Season

New Legislative Enhancements

Hunting on Sundays with a bow on private lands

Allowed –
No time restriction

Allowed –
No time restriction

Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a residence on private lands

Prohibited

Allowed –
Except between
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a residence on public lands

Prohibited

Allowed –
Pending land manager authorization - 
Except between
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a place of religious worship

Prohibited

Prohibited

Hunting for deer with the use of dogs

Prohibited

Prohibited

Sunday hunting in a county with a population greater than 700,000 people

Prohibited

Allowed
Except between
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Sunday hunting of migratory birds

Prohibited

Prohibited –
Pending further consideration by the NCWRC

 

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