On June 24, the North Carolina Senate gave final legislative approval for Sunday hunting with firearms in North Carolina. The Conference Report for House Bill 640, the ‘Outdoor Heritage Act’, was adopted by the Senate with a vote of 33-15 and will now head to the desk of Governor Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Pat McCrory for his consideration.
The legislation was sponsored by North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus member Representative Jimmy Dixon and received strong support from the Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Buck Newton and Representative John Bell, as well as the Sportsmen’s Caucus as a whole.
Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Buck Newton acknowledged the importance of passing the longstanding priority in saying, “”As a Caucus, we are constantly working to protect and promote hunting and angling in North Carolina, and expanding hunting with firearms to all seven days in North Carolina has been a priority since the inception of the Caucus. We are extremely pleased to help increase the opportunity for sportsmen and women, and especially future generations of sportsmen and women, to participate in our hunting tradition.””
If signed by the Governor, the legislation would allow for hunting on Sundays with the use of firearms on private property with written permission beginning on October 1, 2015, but includes various prohibitions. Hunting with firearms on Sundays has been banned since the late 1800’s in North Carolina, though archery hunting on private lands has been allowed on Sundays since 2010.
In addition to increasing opportunities for Sunday hunting, the Outdoor Heritage Act includes provisions to increase opportunities for persons under 16 years old to engage in a multitude of outdoor recreational activities by establishing the North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund. HB 640 also implements a “”three strikes”” rule for trespassers, reviews suspension of hunting privileges for negligent hunters, reduces liability for landowners who allow hunters to retrieve their dogs, and others.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane praised the positive step forward in North Carolina, saying, “”Expanding Sunday hunting to include firearms is a critical measure for any state to continue to recruit and retain hunters. This legislation will ensure that youth and working families in North Carolina have additional opportunities to hunt on the weekends and will greatly contribute to the continuation of North Carolina’s sportsmen’s heritage as well as the local and state economies. CSF will continue to work to eliminate all remaining unreasonable restrictions on Sunday hunting, wherever they are found.””
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?