By Don Mallicoat- I’ve expounded on the issue of Sunday hunting over the past several years. Whether you are for it or against it, Sunday hunting is here. In July Governor McCroy signed into law the Outdoor Heritage Act. There were several provisions in the law, but the most important allows Sunday hunting with firearms for the first time in 150 years in North Carolina starting October 1, 2015. For many years there was NO hunting on Sunday. Then several years ago came the realization that the state law only applied to firearms and the Wildlife Commission allowed archery hunting on Sunday.
As it is in any situation, it is incumbent upon each hunter to know what the law is. As most wildlife enforcement officers will tell you, ignorance of the law will not keep you from receiving a citation for a game violation. Because of the significance of this change in the law, I thought we would go over the details. Let’s break down the Sunday hunting provisions as we understand them from page 41 of the Regulation Digest.
The first restriction, Sunday hunting is allowed only on private land. Consistent with the Landowners Protection Act, and because of the newness of the law, it would be a good idea to have written permission from the landowner not just to hunt on their property but also make sure it states “Sunday Hunting Allowed”. That is not required by law, but again it will avoid any confusion if an unaware neighbor reports any shooting as a game law violation. That private land hunting must also be at least 500 yards from a residence not on the property or a place of worship. Bottom line, communicate with the landowner and know where you are hunting on the property. Five hundred yards is a long way.
The next most important restriction to remember is there is absolutely no hunting between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. except on controlled hunting preserves. Again, this is a concession to religious leaders who saw Sunday hunting as interfering with church services. Here is a potential point of controversy. If you are walking out of the woods with an unloaded gun at 9:30 a.m. are you legal? I talked with a local enforcement officer and there is some discretion involved but typically you have to be actively hunting during that timeframe to be cited for a law violation.
There are other prohibitions in the law. No migratory bird hunting is allowed. When the bill went through the legislative process this provision was for waterfowl and somehow, to the surprise of many, got changed to all migratory birds including dove and woodcock. Next, using firearms to take deer run or chased by dogs is prohibited. Lastly, it doesn’t affect mountain hunters, but hunting with firearms on Sunday in Wake and Mecklenburg counties is prohibited.
Many of the state’s hunters that supported changing the law are disappointed by these prohibitions. However, most of us see them as a beginning of the end to the law altogether. As religious leaders, non-hunters and landowners see how little impact hunting has on the environment, future changes will probably include lifting these prohibitions on both time and location to allow full day hunting on both private and public land. Meanwhile, hunters should prove we are worthy of this new law by knowing those restrictions and obeying the provisions. As always, get a copy of the regulation digest, or access it online at www.ncwildlife.org, to clarify any questions you have.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission implemented delayed-harvest regulations on 36 trout waters in western North Carolina on Oct. 1. Under delayed-harvest regulations, no trout can be harvested or possessed from these waters between Oct. 1 and one half-hour after sunset on June 3, 2016. No natural bait may be possessed, and anglers can fish only with artificial lures with one single hook. The Wildlife Commission stocks delayed-harvest trout waters from fall through spring with high densities of trout to increase anglers’ chances of catching fish. Delayed-harvest trout waters, posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs, are popular fishing destinations for anglers who enjoy catch-and-release trout fishing.
The drought affecting western North Carolina raised concerns among agency biologists about whether there would be adequate habitat for stocked trout during the fall delayed-harvest season, but the stocking schedule will be met.“Although stream flows are still low, we decided to stock as planned,” said Doug Besler, mountain fisheries supervisor. “With cooling water temperatures, adequate habitat is available to support stockings.”