On July 8, 2015, North Carolina passed a bill known as HB 640, or the Outdoor Heritage Act. This bill which goes into effect on October 1, 2015, ends the long-time ban on Sunday gun hunting. For all of you North Carolina hunters, don’t get too excited; because this bill does not come without some major restrictions!
So, just what are these restrictions? Well, here they are (and keep in mind, these rules apply to Sunday gun hunting only):
- No Sunday gun hunting on public land! Gun hunting will only be allowed on private land; hunter must have written permission.
- There will be no hunting on Sunday between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., except on controlled, licensed hunting preserves.
- The use of a firearm to take deer run by dogs is prohibited.
- Hunting migratory bird by gun will be prohibited.
- Hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship or within 500 yards of a place of residence not owned by the landowner is prohibited on Sunday.
- Sunday hunting with the use of a firearm is prohibited in Wake and Mecklenburg counties.
So, no, this lift of the Sunday gun hunting ban may not be everything you hoped for, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Up until 2010, when North Carolina legalized Sunday archery hunting, the state had a total ban on Sunday hunting that was well over a century old. Now only 5 years later, Sunday gun hunting, although limited, has been legalized.
Opposition & Support
While the bill did pass, not everyone is happy about it! There was a lot of opposition to the Outdoor Heritage Act. Some opposition was expected, especially from religious organizations, hikers, and horseback riders. Many of the state’s religious organizations believe the new bill is disrespectful of the Lord’s Day. And, hikers and horseback riders have expressed their concerns over safety. One of the most surprising groups to oppose the bill was the state’s deer hound lobby, who strongly opposes any Sunday hunting.
On the opposite side, however, the bill received a great deal of support. Some of the major players that supported the Outdoor Heritage Act, and helped make the push to get the bill passed included: the North Carolina Farm Bureau, the NRA, and the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance. Other supporters included Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, as well as other state and national organizations.
North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund
The Outdoor Heritage Act does more than just permit Sunday gun hunting. The new bill also establishes a trust fund for youth which aims to preserve North Carolina’s outdoor heritage. The money for this fund will come from check-off donations, mainly from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and other outdoor access fees. The funds will then be used to provide youth under the age of 16 the opportunity to experience outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, boating, archery, bird watching, wildlife watching, camping, swimming, hunting, trapping, and fishing.
Three Strike Rule
Also, along with the Outdoor Heritage Act comes a “Three Strike” rule. This rule will allow the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission to suspend the hunting rights of anyone violating set rules. The rules set forth are concerning hunting on posted property and negligent hunting. And, violations could result in suspensions of 1-2 years.
So, while many North Carolina gun hunters may not be happy about all the restrictions tied to the Outdoor Heritage Act, they need to remember, it is a step in the right direction. Only 6 years ago, no Sunday hunting of any kind was allowed. So, who knows what could happen in the next 5 years; for now, consider this a victory. Hunt legally, hunt ethically, and hunt responsibly and prove that you deserve the right to hunt every day, even on Sunday.