Author: NCWRC blogger/Tuesday, July 25, 2017/Categories: Blog, Hunting
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.
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).
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.
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:
The 2016-2017 general duck hunting season was the following:
Here is a hypothetical comparison of what the season may have been if there were no prohibition against hunting migratory birds on Sundays.
Number of Saturdays
Number of Sundays
10/6 thru 10/9
11/23 thru 12/4
12/16 thru 1/28
*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
No time restriction
Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a residence on private lands
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a residence on public lands
Pending land manager authorization -
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a place of religious worship
Hunting for deer with the use of dogs
Sunday hunting in a county with a population greater than 700,000 people
9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Sunday hunting of migratory birds
Pending further consideration by the NCWRC
Number of views (233758)/Comments (5)
4/1/2019 6:38 AM
Good Morning, if I understand this correctly Turkey maybe hunted per the rules noted. Correct? Thank You
Gregory H Wilder
1/29/2020 9:21 AM
Strongly against hunting on Sundays on game lands as a resident who lives in areas surrounded by game lands the encroachment on private property is extensive. and does not allow the general public to be able to use game lands for other wildlife activities such as bird watching hiking , horseback riding etc
6/26/2020 9:00 PM
It’s a step in the right direction. Thank you. If local public lands opt to open on Sundays for the 1/4 of the year hunting seasons run, it will literally double the days hunters like myself with regular full time jobs have an opportunity to harvest meat for their families.
10/26/2020 10:05 AM
With hunters paying the bulk of the fees on game lands I think that is only right that they be able to hunt on them on Sundays. Other states have proven that hunting on Sunday is just as safe as hunting any other day of the week.
1/15/2021 10:48 AM
How are deer to get a break from all the road/dog hunters? My land is posted and the unethical road/dog hunters release their dogs to run across the land I hunt and just about run the deer to where they can’t breathe! The dog hunters should be liable for their dogs! I’m all about hunting and eating wild game. But when the dogs chase the deer to where they are about walking or crawling to get some energy back! Really how is that hunting? And when you see their dogs that have no meat on their bones and look like zombies! How can you call yourself a hunter? Control your dogs and give them some food!