The Battle for Sunday Hunting in North Carolina

sunday_hunting_fNorth Carolina legislators in the Senate are poised to vote on a bill that would, among other things, legalize gun hunting on private lands on Sundays. House Bill 640, known as the Outdoor Heritage Act, passed the House this week with a vote of 83-35. The bill would also establish a trust fund dedicated to funding outdoor-related activities for those under 16. The bill also includes a "three strikes" rule that would suspend the license of any hunter convicted of three hunting-related violations.

It's not a perfect bill, admits Sunday hunting advocate CJ Flay, but it's a great start. Some types of hunting are excluded from the bill. Waterfowl hunting would not be allowed on Sundays. Despite that stipulation, the bill has the backing of Delta Waterfowl, a wetlands conservation and hunting advocacy group. Flay says duck hunters were purposefully omitted from Sunday hunting because the bill as written only allows hunting on private land.

"We have a lot of public water in North Carolina and since the US Fish and Wildlife Service allocates a 60-day season, a lot of hunters would lose opportunity because they would not be allowed to hunt on Sundays," says Flay, a school teacher from Ronda, North Carolina. "Representatives of Delta Waterfowl want to introduce a separate bill specifically addressing waterfowl in the future if H640 passes."

Hunting with all types of dogs would also be prohibited. That was at the request of the state deer hound lobby, which has been and remains staunchly opposed to any additional opportunities for Sunday hunting. Ironically, says Flay, hunters can train their deer dogs on Sundays, but they can't actually shoot a deer.


"From what I've read, running deer with dogs falls under the state's definition of hunting, so I find it hypocritical the hound lobby is opposed to Sunday hunting for the rest of us," he adds.


A number of other groups have opposed any effort to overturn the current ban, including horseback riders and religious organizations, which suggest that Sunday should be a day of rest. The bill would prohibit hunting within 300 yards of a church on Sundays.


"We can do everything else on Sunday. Why is hunting any different?" wonders Flay.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau also supports efforts to overturn the Sunday hunting ban. Farm bureaus in other states, Virginia and Pennsylvania, for example, have been outspoken in their opposition to Sunday hunting and have been in part responsible for delaying or killing legislation legalizing it.

Even with vocal opposition from some groups, H640 passed in the state House of Representatives this week. The strong support is due in part to a resolution adopted by the Wildlife Resources Commission that supports lifting the archaic ban. Various national groups like the NRA and the United States Sportsmen's Alliance have also been working behind the scenes to push through the bill, as well. Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops have also stated their support, so have dozens of other state and national organizations.


The legislation that will now move to the Senate still does not allow Sunday hunting in Wake and Mecklenburg, and bans hunting from within 500 yards of a church and nearby homes.

Similar legislation was signed into law in Virginia last year, allowing Sunday hunting on private land for the first time in modern history. None of the dire predictions suggested by horseback riders, the deer hound lobby or the farm bureau came true.

Currently, 11 states have total or partial bans on Sunday hunting. North Carolina legalized bow hunting on Sundays in 2010.


"If you live or hunt in North Carolina, call your local representative and urge them to vote in favor of H640," says Flay, administrator of a Facebook page called Legalize North Carolina Sunday Hunting For All.

Recommended for You

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Putting The Porro Back in Quality Binoculars Optics

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Quality at the Right Price

Joe Arterburn - May 28, 2019

Steiner Predator AF Binoculars: Putting The Porro Back in Quality Binoculars

These are the must-apply units for trophy elk, mule deer, and antelope in the West. North America

The Best Units for Hunting Elk, Mule Deer & Antelope

Chuck Smock

These are the must-apply units for trophy elk, mule deer, and antelope in the West.

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size. North America Big Game

How to Field Judge Bears

Jospeh Von Benedikt

Use these steps to accurately estimate a bruin's size.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Cheeseburger Poppers

Cheeseburger Poppers

David Draper shares his recipe for making delicious cheeseburger poppers with wild game in this edition of "Fare Game."

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 12: High Plains Elk

David Draper teams up with Fred Eichler to hunt elk on the high plains of southern Colorado.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223 Ammo

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

Joseph von Benedikt & David Faubion

What's The Best Coyote Cartridge? .22-250 Versus .223

My deer-hunting seeds were planted and nurtured as a youngster on my family's small farm in North America

Best Units for Hunting Western Mule Deer

Josh Dahlke

My deer-hunting seeds were planted and nurtured as a youngster on my family's small farm in

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the whitetail North America

Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States

Joseph von Benedikt - December 18, 2017

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the...

See More Stories

More News

Hurricane Harvey dealt a serious blow to the state of Texas, devastating both homes and wildlife. News

Mossy Oak Spearheading Relief Effort for Texas

PH Online Editors - September 08, 2017

Hurricane Harvey dealt a serious blow to the state of Texas, devastating both homes and...

Sometimes the drama plays out on an international stage, as it did last summer with Cecil the lion News

Can Hunters and Non-Hunters Honor Shared Values?

Tovar Cerulli - August 10, 2016

Sometimes the drama plays out on an international stage, as it did last summer with Cecil the...

In this News

A Boy's First Buck

Hunting Online Staff - July 25, 2018

In this "Petersen's Hunting" clip, Mike Schoby initiates his young nephew into the world of...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.