On Feb. 25, 2021, Wildlife Commissioners adopted a proposed rule that would allow Sunday hunting on select game lands throughout the state. The rule goes into effect Aug. 1, 2021.
Forty-five Six Days per week Game Lands were approved as Seven Days per Week Game Lands where hunting is allowed Monday through Sunday during open seasons. Six Three Days per Week Game Lands will become Four Days per Week Game Lands, where hunting is allowed Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday during open seasons. The statutory limitations for Sunday hunting, prohibiting hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., using firearms to hunt deer with the use of dogs, and hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure thereof, will also apply on game lands. Additionally, hunting migratory game birds on Sunday is prohibited statewide.
When the Outdoor Heritage Act of 2015 passed, it removed the absolute prohibition on hunting with firearms on Sunday in North Carolina that had been in place since 1868. On July 25, 2017, the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act was signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper granting authority to the Wildlife Commission to implement new options for hunting on Sundays on its game lands, though hunters are still prohibited from hunting:
The agency has been gathering data and public input to help inform its decision about allowing Sunday hunting on game lands. With the help of Group Solutions, the Commission undertook a comprehensive stakeholder process to gather data and diverse public input to inform this important decision. The Commission sought citizen and constituent participation in an online survey in late January through early February, to help identify issues and options related to Sunday hunting on game lands.
Seven in-person public input meetings were held at locations across the state along with two virtual public input meetings in February 2020. If you were unable to attend a meeting, here are the meeting presentation slides. These slides provide information about Sunday hunting, the Game Lands Program, objectives of the public meetings, and a summary of the online survey.
The Commission then held three virtual focus group meetings with relevant stakeholder groups, a list of stakeholders is available here. These virtual focus group meetings were recorded and are available for viewing by clicking each date: June 9, June 10 and June 11. The main objective of the focus groups was to gather ideas and information about guidelines and specific criteria that the Commission should consider evaluating the feasibility of Sunday hunting on each game land. The main guiding principles identified were:
The main criteria that emerged from the focus groups for evaluating individual game lands were:
The final report is available here.
Once the focus group meetings were completed, a decision matrix was developed to help guide discussions about individual game lands. Information from the public input meetings and Focus Groups, in conjunction with input from game land managers, was used to create and populate the matrix. The scores for a given game land put the game land into one of three categories:
These categories were starting points to facilitate discussion during a staff retreat, where each game land and why it ranked into a specific category was discussed. After reviewing each game land, staff assigned one of the following recommendations for Sunday hunting: “yes”, “no”, or “not now”. Notes from the staff retreat along with the list of game land recommendations can be found here. Staff recommend allowing Sunday hunting on 55 of the agency’s 92 game lands. The recommendation at this time is to prohibit bear hunting on Sundays on the game lands in CBMU.
One of the main points heard throughout the public process was that the Commission should not proceed with any change that will negatively impact the resource. Therefore, after the staff retreat, a subgroup of game lands staff met with the NCWRC turkey, deer and bear biologists to get their thoughts on potential impacts to the resources that could be realized by allowing Sunday hunting on select game lands. The following are takeaways from those agency biologists:
Upland Game Bird Biologist:
Staff recommendations have been provided to the Commission’s Ad-Hoc Sunday Hunting on Game Lands Committee, the Commission’s Committee of the Whole, and to the stakeholders who participated in the focus groups. The presentation given to the stakeholders can be found here.
Images and links open as PDFs
Have a question not addressed in the FAQs below, email email@example.com. Emails will not be answered individually, but the FAQs will be updated periodically.Is Sunday hunting currently allowed on game lands? Yes, as of Aug. 1, 2021 Sunday hunting is allowed on specific game lands. All game lands are designated as three-day-per-week areas, four-day-per-week areas, six-day-per-week areas, seven-day-per-week areas, or permit-only areas for hunting during open seasons. Some of these designations include Sundays.Does the Commission have the authority to allow Sunday hunting?Yes, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been granted authority by the Legislature, to create regulations pertaining to Sunday hunting on public lands (Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act).If the Commission allows Sunday hunting on game lands, will there be any restrictions?Yes, as specified in the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act, the following activities will be prohibited:
- Hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.,
- Hunting deer with the use of dogs, and
- Hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship.