By Don Mallicoat-Last week I wrote about pending legislation in Virginia that would allow Sunday hunting and said it is time for North Carolina to also address the issue. The Tarheel state is one of only nine in the country that does not allow it. In North Carolina you can only archery hunt on private land on Sunday. This old law has been on the books since the 1860’s for crying out loud, and will require action by the General Assembly. It is not based on biological science. Wildlife biologist will tell you that no harm would occur to game populations. Let’s face it: It’s the last of the old Blue Laws. There are two reasons to end the ban: economic and fairness.
As our state legislators struggle to overcome a budget deficit they will start looking for sources of additional revenue; more taxes in laymen terms. It’s the easiest course of action. What they should be doing is repealing laws and bureaucracy that inhibit economic growth. Let’s look at some numbers. A recent study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation revealed that allowing Sunday hunting in Virginia would have a $121 million positive impact on their economy, resulting in an increase of 2,568 jobs. That’s significant. North Carolina had nearly 300,000 resident hunters. These folks spent over 7.5 million days hunting, generating over $22 million in sales and fuel tax. Jobs related to hunting put $10 million in income tax in the state purse.
Let’s do some math. If we divide those hunter trips into the amount of fuel/sales tax it comes out to about $3 in tax generated per trip. Now, if we added a conservative six days of Sunday hunting for those hunters at $3 per day we add about $5.4 million dollars to the state revenue stream. That’s just sales and fuel tax! What about additional jobs that might be added, and hunters from other states coming here to enjoy the bountiful hunting opportunities?
What about non-resident hunters? A recent report shows that our neighbor, South Carolina, has fewer resident hunters but twice the number of non-resident hunters. Wonder why that is? Some of you already know the answer because you belong to deer hunting clubs in South Carolina. Deer populations in the mountains are not that great so you have to travel to deer hunt. If you’ve got to drive two to three hours to get to camp, why only hunt one day, Saturday? I’ve had friends tell me they would join a club in NC except for the fact they can’t hunt on Sundays. Folks, that’s NC money going to SC.
As we said when we were kids, “That’s not fair.” And it’s not. It is the only recreational activity in the state that I cannot participate in on Sunday. I can skip church to go to a Panthers game. And in the home of NASCAR you can spend a Sunday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway at a race. Take the family to the lake for the day. Heck, they even repealed the Blue Law against liquor sales so I can now buy a twelve pack of beer and get drunk on Sunday (which I would never do). But you can’t go hunting.
I’m a Christian. I go to church on Sunday, led our Men’s Group for several years, have held leadership positions in the church, and lead a men’s Bible study. With rare exception, I won’t, and I doubt many hunters will, skip church to go hunting. But what’s to say I can’t load up the dogs and spend the afternoon in God’s bounty chasing grouse? I can go to church in the morning and load up my rod to go trout fishing that afternoon. Isn’t it the same?
I’ve had this discussion with many folks, both hunter and non-hunter. Every argument they present against Sunday hunting can be refuted with facts making a case for it. Several years ago the WRC commissioned a study of the general populace in NC to get their thoughts on legalizing Sunday hunting. Unfortunately, the majority of people surveyed opposed Sunday hunting. But when you get into the details of the survey, a largely uninformed populace expressed that opinion. A large percentage of those participating did not even know it was illegal to hunt on Sunday in NC. Let’s do the fair and economically smart thing. Repeal the law against Sunday hunting.