Sunday Hunting Approved For Certain NC Gamelands

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission adopted a proposal that would allow Sunday hunting on certain public gamelands. The NC General Assembly had amended the law that had prohibited hunting on Sunday in 2017. As part of that amendment, the NCWRC was given the power to regulate hunting with a firearm on state-managed gamelands per NCGS § 103-2.(a1). In their meeting on February 25th, they did just that (among other things).

45 gamelands that allowed hunting Monday through Saturday were changed to all seven days a week. Another six 3-day per week gamelands were changed to four days a week. That would be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

These changes did come with restrictions. First, these changes only apply to the taking of mammals and upland game birds. Hunting migratory birds is still prohibited on Sunday statewide. The other changes were required to be consistent with NCGS § 103-2.(a1). They were:

  • Hunting with a firearm between 9:30am and 12:30pm is prohibited;
  • The use of a firearm to take deer that are run or chased by dogs is prohibited; and
  • There is no hunting with a firearm within 500 yards of a place of religious worship.

The justification for approving these changes were both state law and public input.

Based on seven in-person public meetings, two virtual public meetings, three
focus group meetings with stakeholders, an Agency staff retreat, discussions with
landowning partners, biological staff, and commissioners, and a follow up meeting with
stakeholders, the following criteria were used to helped evaluate the feasibility of Sunday
hunting on game lands: rural game lands that are not heavily used by non-hunters,
proximity to other game lands and public lands where hunting is prohibited, value to
unique properties that are important to user groups, avoid game lands where past conflict
has been a pattern. Given the results of the public input process, staff recommend that
Sunday hunting be allowed at the above game lands

The 3-day a week to 4-day a week gamelands are:

  • Bullard and Branch Hunting Preserve
  • Columbus County
  • Mitchell River
  • Perkins
  • Robeson
  • Sampson

The 6-day a week to every day of the week gamelands are:

  • Alcoa
  • Alligator River
  • Angola Bay
  • Bachelor Bay
  • Brinkleyville
  • Buffalo Cove
  • Cape Fear River Wetlands
  • Carteret County
  • Chatham
  • Chowan
  • Cold Mountain
  • Croatan
  • Currituck Banks
  • Dare
  • Elk Knob
  • Embro
  • Goose Creek
  • Gull Rock
  • Harris
  • Hyco
  • Juniper Creek
  • Lee
  • Light Ground Pocosin
  • Linwood
  • Lower Fishing Creek
  • Mayo
  • Nantahala
  • Needmore
  • New Lake
  • North River
  • Northwest River Marsh
  • Pee Dee River
  • Pisgah
  • Pond Mountain
  • Sandy Creek
  • Shocco Creek
  • South Mountains
  • Sutton Lake
  • Three Top Mountain
  • Thurmond Chatham
  • Tillery
  • Toxaway
  • Uwharrie
  • Van Swamp
  • William H. Silver

The Commission did vote to prohibit Sunday hunting for black bear on gamelands in the Coastal Bear Management Unit. They reasoned that they were already at their target population objective and more hunting pressure would have a negative impact.

Looking at the list above, the four US National Forests in North Carolina – Croatan, Nantahala, Pisgah, and Uwharrie – are all part of these 7-day hunting parcels. They comprise over 1.2 million acres of land that is now available to hunt every day of the week during an open season. That’s a lot of hunting land that just opened for Sunday hunting.

Do You Want Sunday Hunting On Game Lands In NC?

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is conducting an online survey now through the end of August to determine if there is interest in opening up certain public game lands to Sunday hunting. The restriction on Sunday hunting with a firearm had been in place since 1869. However, in 2015, the General Assembly removed this restriction from private land. In 2017, the General Assembly gave public land managers including the Wildlife Resources Commission the authority to implement new options for hunting on public lands including game lands.

My own feelings are that banning Sunday hunting on game lands discriminates against those for whom their Sabbath is a day other than Sunday. This would include Seventh Day Adventists and Jews among others. Furthermore, the average work week is Monday through Friday which leaves Saturday as the only hunting day for many people. Finally, it is in the public interest to encourage the growth of the hunting population for a variety of reasons including not the least of which that hunters support conservation management with their licenses and ammo purchases.

To take the survey, go here. I see no restriction that says it is limited to North Carolinians.

SCI Honors NC State Senator Bill Rabon

Safari Club International recognized NC State Senator Bill Rabon (R-Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender) as their 2017 State Legislator of the Year. He was recognized for his work to preserve and protect hunting and especially for his role in expanding Sunday hunting.

From their release:

Safari Club International has recognized North Carolina State Senator Bill Rabon as SCI’s 2017 State Legislator of the Year. We are appreciative of Senator Rabon’s efforts to advance legislation promoting and protecting our outdoor heritage and tradition of hunting, our Second Amendment rights, and the valuable role hunting plays in wildlife management and conservation.

“We congratulate Senator Rabon for his outstanding leadership in the North Carolina State Senate, particularly for his tireless efforts to expand Sunday hunting in North Carolina and we are honored to present him with SCI’s 2017 State Legislator of the Year award,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “Senator Rabon’s work has resulted in great victories for sportsmen and women and we are proud to have him as a leader for SCI and for all hunters in the Tar Heel State.”

Since his election to the North Carolina State Senate in 2010, Senator Rabon has been a champion for all sportsmen and women. He has advocated for countless pieces of legislation and has supported hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts – including expanding and repealing North Carolina’s Sunday hunting laws and working to make the right to hunt and fish a part of the state’s constitution.

“The rights of hunters are increasingly threatened and maligned today, but those rights are inextricably linked to the conservation of wildlife across the world,” stated Senator Rabon. “Teddy Roosevelt said it best: ‘In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen… the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.’ It’s more important than ever to stay aggressive and diligent as we fight to protect hunters’ rights. No one has done that as reliably and successfully as Safari Club International. I’ve long been proud to be a member, and today I’m tremendously honored to receive this prestigious award.”

As Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Rabon was instrumenting in getting H559 passed which expanded Sunday hunting to include public lands.

Sen. Rabon is also a stalwart advocate for the Second Amendment and gun rights. He is rate 4 stars by Grass Roots North Carolina and has a 100% voting record on gun rights.

SCI Sues Virginia Over Sunday Hunting Ban

Safari Club International filed suit on October 23rd in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond challenging Virginia’s ban on Sunday hunt. The ostensible purpose of the ban on Sunday hunting was to give wildlife “a day of rest”.

SCI is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-521(A)(1). They allege that the ban on Sunday hunting violates the Virginia Constitution’s right to hunt provision as well as its Establishment Clause. They are also alleging that the law violates the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. They are asking that the law be declared unconstitutional and that its enforcement be enjoined.

SCI claims that the Sunday hunting ban is a remnant of Virginia’s “blue laws” which prohibited many activities on the Christian Sabbath or Sunday. In 1936, the Virginia General Assembly added a secular justification to the Sunday hunting noting it was “to give wildlife a day of rest.”

The suit says there is no scientific basis for giving wildlife a day of rest. They note that the Board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries passed a resolution in 2011 urging the ban to be repealed. The board resolution said, ” ‘ [w]ildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries state that there is no biological reason to continue a ban on Sunday hunting. States that have lifted the ban on Sunday hunting have seen no impact on wildlife populations.’ “

Virginia does not prohibit the hunting of bear, fox, or raccoon with dogs on Sunday, merely their taking. Likewise, trappers are allowed to trap and kill fur-bearers on Sunday. The suit notes that many outdoor pistol, rifle, and shotgun ranges adjoin areas with wildlife. The suit points out this inconsistency noting that these activities “can and do disturb animals on Sunday, both during and outside of open seasons.” In other words, by permitting this, Virginia gives lie to its claim that it is in the public interest “to give wildlife a day of rest”.

As SCI’s release (see below) points out, Virginia is one of only 11 states that ban hunting on Sunday.

On October 23, 2013, Safari Club International (SCI) filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on Sunday hunting. The lawsuit argues that the ban is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of Virginia, in particular because of Virginia’s constitutional right to hunt.

“Sunday hunting bans should be a thing of the past,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “Hunters have to work during the week, and young hunters are in school, making weekends the primary time they can hunt. The unconstitutional ban on Sunday hunting robs hunters of half their potential time afield, and has absolutely no basis in science or conservation.”

Kauffman noted that SCI anticipates debate over proposals to repeal the ban at least in part during the upcoming Virginia 2014 legislative session, and said, “As hunters, we are hopeful that state legislators support the Virginia Constitutional right to hunt and fish and pass meaningful legislation to repeal the ban. SCI will not formally serve the Commonwealth of Virginia until state legislators have exhausted their efforts in Richmond. The filing of this lawsuit marks our promise to pursue this issue through any and all available means,” Kauffman concluded.

In addition to the constitutional claims, SCI’s suit asserts that Virginia’s purported justification for the ban – to give wildlife a “day of rest” – is not supported by sound scientific or wildlife management principles. This misunderstanding of wildlife ecology was highlighted by Virginia’s Board of Game and Inland Fisheries when it stated , “the Virginia ban on Sunday hunting serves no biological purpose and is counterproductive to matters of game management.”

In polling conducted earlier this year an overwhelming 88.6% of SCI members supported full and/or partial repeal of Virginia’s Sunday hunting ban.

Eliminating the Sunday hunting ban will provide all hunters with an additional day to hunt, will encourage Virginia hunters to stay in state to hunt on Sundays, and will give out-of-state hunters the opportunity to visit Virginia to hunt on Sundays.

Only 11 states, all on the East Coast, currently have some kind of ban or limitation on Sunday hunting. Opponents of overturning the ban make baseless predictions of dire mayhem, but the existence of Sunday hunting in the vast majority of states proves that these wild predictions have no basis in truth. SCI hopes that success in Virginia might encourage other states to eliminate their statutory bans or limitations on hunting on Sundays. Professional wildlife managers should regulate hunting based on sound science and wildlife management principles, not archaic statutes that have no conservation value.

It’s A Change Whose Time Has Come In NC

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission adopted a resolution on Friday in support of Sunday hunting on private lands with a firearm. It is currently permissible to do so with a bow. I think this is a change whose time has come.

From the release by the Wildlife Resources Commission:

RALEIGH,N.C. (March 15, 2013) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has adopted a resolution supporting a bill that would allow people to hunt on Sundays on private lands.

During the March 14 business meeting, the Commission adopted a resolution in support of Senate Bill 224, which would remove a prohibition against Sunday hunting on private lands with shotgun, rifle or pistol set out in N.C.G.S. 103-2.

The mission of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission includes conserving and managing wildlife resources and enhancing the state’s rich hunting heritage by providing opportunities for hunters to enjoy wildlife-associated recreation.

“Allowing Sunday hunting on private lands will provide additional hunting days and additional options for youth and adults whose school and employment responsibilities limit their hunting opportunities to weekends,” said Gordon Myers, executive director of the Wildlife Commission.

The prohibition against Sunday hunting serves no purpose with regard to conservation of wildlife resources and habitats. North Carolina residents who currently seek hunting opportunities in neighboring states that do allow Sunday hunting take substantial revenues elsewhere instead of keeping these dollars within North Carolina borders where they would generate tremendous economic benefits, particularly to rural areas and businesses.

In 2009, the Commission adopted regulations allowing hunting on Sundays on private lands with archery equipment. Since September 2010 North Carolinians have been hunting on Sundays on private lands with archery equipment without incident or conflict.

The Commission also adopted a motion Thursday directing Myers to work with the Legislature and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find a solution for the potential loss of compensatory hunting days for those who hunt migratory waterfowl on public waters, should Senate Bill 224 become law.

View full text of the resolution.

Another change I’d like to see the Wildlife Resources Commission make is to allow shooting on Sunday at the Wayne E. Smith Shooting Range on the Cold Mountain Game Lands. Most people who could use the range work Monday through Friday and only have Saturday to use the range. The rationale is the same for this range as it is for Sunday hunting.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission Should Pay Attention To This

The Pennsylvania Game Commission just adopted a resolution approving Sunday hunting in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They note in their resolution that 43 other states now allow Sunday hunting.

North Carolina isn’t one of them and you can’t even shoot at the NCWRC’s range at Cold Mountain here in Haywood County on Sundays. While I think there are some on the Wildlife Resources Commission that would like to see Sunday hunting, the General Assembly as it now stands would probably shoot it down.

Pennsylvania, by the way, separates their fish and wildlife department in one for game and one for fishing and boating. Thus, you have the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Sorry for the bit of trivia! Here is the resolution from the Game Commission.

Pennsylvania Board Adopts Resolution To Support Sunday Hunting

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has approved a resolution to support repeal of the statutory prohibition on Sunday hunting. The vote on the resolution, which was proposed by Game Commissioner Jay Delaney Jr. and seconded by Game Commissioner Ralph A. Martone, was four in support, three opposed and one abstention. Those voting in support of the resolution were Game Commissioners Delaney, Martone, David J. Putnam and Robert W. Schlemmer. Those voting in opposition were Game Commissioners Thomas E. Boop, David W. Schreffler and Ronald A. Weaner. Game Commissioner Gregory J. Isabella abstained.

Game Commission staff will present the resolution to the House Game and Fisheries Committee, which has been holding public hearings on the topic of Sunday hunting. The text of the resolution is as follows:

“The Board of Commissioners for the Pennsylvania Game Commission declares its support for a repeal of prohibitions on Sunday hunting by the amending of Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues in Hunting and Trapping.

“Whereas, Pennsylvania has experienced consistent declines in hunting participation by both resident and non-resident hunters over the past several decades, with both the number of license sold and revenues generated experiencing steady declines, and

“Whereas, youth participation is vital to maintaining the long-standing tradition of hunting in Pennsylvania, we can effectively double the number of hunting days for youths during the school year by offering Sunday hunting, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting is an effective means of recruiting new hunters and retaining current hunters by increasing the value of the hunting license through offering additional opportunities to spend time in the field, and

“Whereas, many Pennsylvania residents seek hunting opportunities and hunting leases in neighboring states that offer Sunday hunting; Sunday hunting will keep Pennsylvania hunters in Pennsylvania, and

“Whereas Pennsylvania has a long-standing tradition of hunting camps and clubs, Sunday hunting will effectively double the number of hunting days for camp owners and club members, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting is expected to generate a substantial increase in out-of-state license sales and the accompanying revenue for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and

“Whereas, hunting license sales and their associated federal matching funds are the primary revenue source for the Pennsylvania Game Commission in carrying out its mission, including maintaining 1.5 million acres of state game lands and acquisition of additional public lands, research and management of wildlife and providing information and education to the public, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting will provide substantial economic benefits to rural areas and businesses by increasing money spent by hunters on lodging, food, gas and other incidental items, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting is expected to generate $629 million in additional spending and create 5,300 new jobs, resulting in $18 million in additional sales and income tax, and

“Whereas, the mission of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is to manage wildlife and its habitat for current and future generations, and

“Whereas, Sunday hunting, which is currently permitted to control a growing population of coyotes, will provide the biologists of the Pennsylvania Game Commission a new tool to manage wildlife populations, and

“Whereas, the forty-three states that currently permit Sunday hunting have not experienced any discernable impact on the health or vibrancy of game populations, and

“Whereas, the Board of Commissioners recognizes the authority to permit Sunday hunting lies entirely with the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, and

“Whereas, if the General Assembly repeals the restrictions on Sunday hunting thus giving authority to regulate Sunday hunting to the Board of Commissioners, the Board recognizes the many stakeholder groups any action on Sunday hunting will effect and will endeavor to engage these stakeholders before passing any new regulations in regard to Sunday hunting.

“NOW, THEREFOR, we the Board of Commissioners for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, do hereby urge the General Assembly of Pennsylvania to REPEAL the PROHIBITION ON SUNDAY HUNTING IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA.”

H/T The Outdoor Wire

NC Hunting Regs Released

Big changes are coming to North Carolina hunting regulations starting August 1st. While there are many changes regarding deer seasons, the biggest changes that I see are Sunday hunting with a bow is allowed on private property and crossbows will be allowed anytime bow and arrow hunting is legal. Falconry is also allowed on Sundays. Many of these changes which were proposed in March 2009 were opposed so they had to go to the General Assembly for review. Four bills were introduced to reverse some of the proposed changes but they were never approved.

Sunday hunting was strongly opposed by the Christian Action League but they don’t have the clout in the General Assembly that they did in years gone by.While a couple of their backers in the General Assembly did introduce a bill to ban Sunday hunting, it died for lack of a referral by the Democratic caucus to the Rules Committee.

The North Carolina Bowhunters Association fought the introduction of crossbows for anyone but the handicapped. They said they were “working with the NC Legislature and the Wildlife Resource Commission to stop the inclusion of crossbows in archery season and to disallow the loss of the last (and best) week of archery season to muzzle loader season.” They lost on both counts though they did have bills introduced to disallow the use of crossbows. Crossbows are allowed for hunting in all the states that surround North Carolina.

Crossbows will still require a permit to purchase them from the local sheriff’s department. It is the same permit as is required to purchase a pistol. I don’t know who originally dreamed up that stupid requirement nor when it went into place.

The full list of changes can be found in on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website.

I see some Sunday hunting with a crossbow in my future!