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Sunday hunting

NC will allow firearm hunting on some public game lands starting in August

POLK COUNTY—Starting in August, firearm hunters in North Carolina will be able to hunt on Sundays on the majority of state public game lands. 

The Green River game lands in Polk and Henderson County are not included in the state’s selections yet. 

The rule-making body of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently voted to open Sunday hunting on 51 public game lands throughout the state during open hunting seasons. 

The decision was recommended by WRC staff and decided after a 2-year process involving feedback from the public. WRC staff had recommended Sunday hunting be open for 55 game lands. 

WRC regulates wildlife and habitat on 2 million acres that includes 92 game lands across the state. 

The prohibition of Sunday hunting dates back to 1869 and was for religious reasons. 

Debates about the prohibition of Sunday hunting have been occurring over the last decade. 

In 2010, the WRC opened Sunday archery hunting on private lands. Then in 2015, the General Assembly passed the Outdoor Heritage Act, which lifted the Sunday ban on using firearms on private land. 

The WRC staff has held public meetings across the state, held focus groups and hired a third-party facilitator to examine the public’s input over the past couple of years. 

The new rules are still restrictive. It will require hunters to hold their fire between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and stay beyond 500 years of a place of worship.

Sunday hunting remains prohibited on game lands including the Jordan Game Land near Raleigh, Butner-Falls game lands near Durham and the Green River game lands in Henderson and Polk counties. 

State officials said an all-or-nothing approach to Sunday hunting across the state was not going to work because many of the stakeholders were not willing to compromise. 

Officials did say there is the possibility for Sunday hunting in future seasons, meaning the state plans to learn from what has worked and add more game lands. It is also possible the state sees that certain areas are not working and remove those game lands from Sunday hunting. 

For more information on hunting in North Carolina, people can visit ncwildlife.org.