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Can You Hunt on Sunday in North Carolina?

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North Carolina has more than 2 million acres¹ of game land, making the state an attractive spot for wildlife and outdoor activities. However, the State Law has prohibited hunting on Sundays in North Carolina since 1868.

As time passed, the Outdoor Heritage Act¹ got accepted in 2015, enabling hunting on Sundays in the state and removing the prohibition on firearms. Soon after that, the Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, signed the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act¹ on July 25, 2017.

With this new law, the Wildlife Resources Commission¹ and the public land managers can implement modified hunting options on Sundays on the state’s public lands. However, the hunters are still not allowed to use a firearm for hunting between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm. Several other restrictions also apply to hunters.

If you’re looking to hunt some deer in North Carolina, you need to be aware of the ins and outs of the legislation. Let’s explore more.

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The Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act 2017

The North Carolina General Assembly enhanced Sunday hunting opportunities with the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act 2017. The act authorized the public landowners, including the Wildlife Resources Commission, to make instant changes for hunting on private and public lands.

Let’s learn more about North Carolina’s new hunting options¹ on public and private lands on Sundays.

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Hunting on Private Lands

Hunters can hunt within the premises of 500 yards of a residence. This opened millions of acres of restricted private lands to recreationists and hunters. However, they can’t hunt near a place of religious worship within 500 yards. In addition, they can’t use hunting dogs to hunt deer.

The shooting hours were not changed for Sundays, meaning hunters could use private lands for hunting wild animals and game birds with firearms. They can’t use guns between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm.

The only exception is if a hunter is licensed under G.S. 113.273(g)¹. In that case, they don’t have to face any restrictions on controlled hunting preserves for this duration.

Hunting on Public Lands

The new law also enabled hunters to hunt on public lands on Sundays. In addition, it authorized public land managers, such as the Commission, to allow hunting with a firearm on the public lands if they have jurisdiction.

Like private lands, public land managers can only allow Sunday hunting on their lands with firearms before 9:30 am and after 12:30 pm. This means no hunting with a gun for this duration. Moreover, hunters are prohibited from using hunting dogs and hunting in a religious place located within 500 yards. Using the Commission’s game lands for Sunday hunting also stays prohibited.

In case you don’t already know, the corporate and federal authorities own about 1.5–2 million acres of land enrolled in the Commission Game Land Program. The law obliges the Commission to make necessary changes in favor of the hunters.

Considering the law and the perspectives of landowners, the Commission developed a collaborative process to evaluate better Sunday hunting opportunities.

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Hunting of Migratory Birds

Under the law, you can’t hunt migratory birds on Sundays. However, the legislation empowered the Commission to end this restriction after March 1, 2018, after publishing a complete study.

The main subject of this research study was evaluating economic, biological, social, and resource management impacts related to hunting migratory birds on Sundays. Any proposed changes in migratory bird hunting were evaluated thoroughly before implementing them. The Commission had to establish a collaborative and inclusive decision process.

All the potential impacts were comprehensively studied before making the final decision about making these changes to the Sunday hunting of migratory birds.

Special Rules for Waterfowl Hunting

The law includes compensatory days for waterfowl hunting. However, these special rules depend on Sunday hunting prohibitions that should apply to every migratory bird species.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service collaborated with the Atlantic Flyway Council regarding the compensatory days’ issue in 1997. As a result, they clarified this issue for states prohibiting Sunday hunting.

Every state compliant with state law regarding the prohibition on Sunday hunting of migratory bird species before 1997 became eligible for this particular rule. They can take advantage of compensatory days for waterfowl hunting.

In these states, federal rules and state laws were on the same page on prohibiting the hunting of migratory birds on Sundays.

The waterfowl hunting season days have to run continuously in every segment. Despite that, Sundays are not considered hunting days. Instead, an equal number of compensatory days replace them.

hunter walking to the hunting site

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Duck Hunting Season

The legislators used the General Duck Hunting Season Framework 2016–2017 to allocate hunting days for North Carolina. A total of 60 days were set for hunting under the below circumstances:

  • The season can’t start earlier than September 29, 2016, and end later than January 29, 2017.
  • Hunting migratory birds isn’t allowed on Sundays.
  • The season can only break into three or fewer segments (two splits). Therefore, the compensatory days are counted consecutively within each segment, except for closed Sundays.

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Rules for Firearms and Archery Equipment

North Carolina also has strict rules for firearms and archery equipment¹ that apply to hunting on Sundays.

Archery Equipment

  • It is any device with a stationary handle, two limbs, and a string that can propel arrows or bolts.
  • Longbows, compound bows, crossbows, and recurve bows are allowed for hunting in an open hunting season.
  • When hunting deer, wild turkey, bear, alligator, elk, and feral swine, the compound bows should have a minimum of 35 pounds of pull. Recurve bows and longbows must have 40 pounds, while crossbows should have 100 pounds of minimum pull.
  • For hunting deer, small game and nongame animals and fish, and wild turkey, your sling bows must have 40 pounds of minimum pull.
  • You can also use blunt-type arrowheads for taking small animals, including quail, rabbits, grouse, and squirrels.
  • Using poisonous arrowheads is strictly prohibited for hunting wildlife.
hunter walking in the wild

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Shotguns

  • Your shotguns shouldn’t be larger than 10-gauge.
  • Always use plugged shotguns to restrict their maximum capacity to three shells when taking migratory game birds.

Pistols

  • You can use a pistol to openly hunt squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and legal nongame and fur-bearing animals. The state doesn’t restrict the pistol’s caliber and barrel length.
  • You can opt for a handgun to take down bears and deer during open hunting seasons.
  • It’s prohibited to use pistols for hunting wild turkeys.
hunter carrying a turkey

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Rifles

  • It’s illegal to use fully automatic rifles for hunting.

General Restrictions for Sunday Hunting in North Carolina

By now, you know what is prohibited and allowed when hunting on Sundays in North Carolina. Here is a quick takeaway:

  • You can’t hunt with firearms between 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. The only exception is if you have a license for controlled hunting preserves, according to G.S. 113.273(g).
  • Migratory birds can’t be hunted.
  • You can’t use firearms for hunting deer that are running from hunting dogs.
  • Using a hunting firearm on the premises of 500 yards of a religious worship place is strictly prohibited.
  • You can use archery equipment for Sunday hunting.
  • The shooting hours for game birds and animals have strict restrictions. With firearms, dogs, and archery equipment, you can only hunt between 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.
  • The firearms include rifles, shotguns, or pistols, and archery equipment can be longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows.
  • You can hunt feral swine, raccoons, and opossums at night. Coyotes can also be hunted at night in every North Carolina county, excluding Tyrrell, Beaufort, Hyde, Washington, and Dare.

scope crosshairs divider 2Conclusion

Hunting on Sundays in North Carolina has been prohibited since 1868. However, the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act 2017 authorized the Wildlife Resources Commission and public and private landowners to provide hunters with advanced Sunday hunting options on the state’s lands.

So, you can hunt on Sundays in North Carolina with some restrictions. For instance, you can only hunt within 500 yards of a worship place and can’t use firearms between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm.

However, if you’re licensed per G.S. 113.273(g), you won’t face any restriction on controlled hunting preserves for this duration.


Featured Image Credit: Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB, Shutterstock

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.

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