September 11, 2023

Expanding Public Land Sunday Hunting Opportunities in the Carolinas

Article Contact: Conner Barker,

Why It Matters: With fall hunting seasons just beginning, North Carolina and South Carolina public land hunters may include hunting in their Sunday to-do list. Sunday hunting restrictions are blue laws that were originally enacted to encourage church attendance. Now, in both North Carolina and South Carolina, hunters can enjoy public land Sunday hunting opportunities. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has worked diligently to open these opportunities and will continue to work to further expand Sunday hunting opportunities to reduce a significant access barrier for sportsmen and women.


  • Many youth and hard-working sportsmen and women rely on weekend-only hunting due to being in school or working a typical Monday – Friday schedule. In this case, Sunday hunting restrictions may reduce access by 50% to this group of hunters.
  • For the first time in the state’s history, South Carolina now allows limited Sunday hunting on public lands which includes seven Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)and two National Forests comprising over 694,000 acres of seven-day hunting access.
  • North Carolina hunters are beginning their third season with public lands Sunday hunting after access was opened on over 1.6 million acres in 2021.

Despite its relatively small size compared to neighboring states, South Carolina offers a plethora of public land hunting opportunities with over one million acres of WMAs available for public land hunting access.  This year, South Carolina opened Sunday hunting on seven WMAs and two National Forests from October 15 – January 31 for identified species. The species that are now eligible to hunt on Sundays include mostly small game and, in some instances, deer.

While opening these Sunday hunting opportunities is a significant step forward for hunter access, South Carolina public land hunters have no turkey or waterfowl Sunday hunting opportunities and no small game Sunday hunting in February. In addition, deer season opens August 15 in Game Zones 3 and 4, which is outside of the October 15 Sunday hunting start date causing hunters to miss out on two months of valuable deer hunting opportunities. CSF will continue to work with the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to expand Sunday hunting opportunities and ultimately, be fully concurrent with private lands hunting seasons.

Moving north, the sportsmen and women of North Carolina are entering their third season with Sunday hunting on public lands. Currently, 51 Game Lands and four National Forests are open for Sunday hunting. While over 80% of the Game Lands acreage is open for Sunday hunting, there is an opportunity to allow Sunday hunting on an additional 37 Game Lands. Additional opportunities for expansion include allowing Sunday hunting on Game Lands for bears in the Coastal Bear Management Unit and opening Sunday hunting for migratory birds on private and public lands statewide. Even though North Carolina would lose its compensatory days for migratory bird seasons, the total number of hunting days would remain the same.

Moreover, a significant barrier to expanding Sunday hunting in North Carolina is the statutory prohibition against hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. CSF looks forward to working with the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and partners in the state to reduce these access barriers in the future.

Other states in the region have experienced success on the Sunday hunting front in recent years as well. In 2018, West Virginia opened Sunday hunting on public lands after allowing Sunday hunting on private lands in 2017 followed by Virginia opening Sunday hunting on public lands, including all of its WMAs, in 2022. Public land Sunday hunting is legal in some capacity in 47 states, including adjacent states Georgia and Tennessee which have no Sunday hunting restrictions.

CSF commends the North Carolina and South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucuses for working to expand Sunday hunting opportunities, and CSF will continue to work to remove Sunday hunting restrictions to increase access and opportunity for sportsmen and women.

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