Public Land Sunday Hunting One Step Closer to Reality for North Carolina Hunters

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

  • In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act which transferred regulatory authority for Sunday hunting with a firearm on public lands of the state managed for hunting from the legislature to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC).
  • In 2020, the WRC solicited public input, with the assistance of an independent third-party facilitator, by conducting an online survey, holding meetings across the state, and convening stakeholder group meetings to discuss views on Sunday hunting. The WRC recommended that Sunday hunting be allowed on 55 Game Lands.
  • Last month, WRC Commissioners approved proposed rule changes, following a public comment period, that would open Sunday hunting on 51 Game Lands.

Why it Matters: North Carolina is one of few states that prohibits public land Sunday hunting. Sunday hunting on private lands was legalized in 2015, and hunters have been eager to hunt on public lands on Sundays since the law changed in 2017. The rules changes will open 1.6 million acres across the state to Sunday hunting.

Sunday hunting will be allowed on 51 Game Lands, including all four National Forests, starting this fall. Having another day to hunt, especially on a weekend, will be significant for North Carolina’s sportsmen and women that do not have access to private land. In a rapidly developing state, increasing access goes a long way to support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation

Hunters are also the only user group excluded from Game Lands on Sundays despite contributing to the purchase and management costs of Game Lands through the “user-pays, public-benefits” American System of Conservation Funding.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus have been involved with the effort to expand Sunday hunting opportunities in North Carolina since before the passage of the Outdoor Heritage Act in 2015. Most recently in January, CSF submitted a letter and provided comments during the WRC public meeting supporting the rule proposals to open Sunday hunting on Game Lands.

While the WRC Commissioners approved the proposed rules, implementation could be delayed through the objection process in which case the rules would be subject to legislative review during the 2022 legislative session. CSF supports the WRC moving forward with the August 1, 2021 effective date for the rule changes.

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