Last week North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 640 and lifted the state’s longstanding ban on Sunday hunting, but not without introducing a host of restrictions.

The bill, also known as the Outdoor Heritage Act, will still prohibit firearm hunting on public land, hunting between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and hunting within 500 yards of a church or building not on the private property during Sundays. Firearms also remain barred from Sunday hunting in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, and other counties can draft local ordinances to ban the activity as soon as 2017.

These restrictions have led to the bill being called a partial victory by both supporters and opponents of Sunday hunting. Regardless, many hunters are now looking forward to October 1, when the law will take effect.

“I’m glad (HB 640) made it through. It’s not a perfect bill. It’s got more restrictions than I’d want. I just see it as a first step,” Don Mallicoat, a hunter and supporter of the bill, told the Asheville Citizen-Times.

The end of the century-and-half ban did not come without debate, and hunters found themselves squaring off against a strange alliance of hikers and religious groups. Hikers and park visitors opposed Sunday hunting due to alleged safety concerns, while conservative Christian groups said the ban showed respect for the Sabbath.

“This legislation by no means outlaws the Lord’s Day or destroys it, but it does add an additional distraction by law that simply allows it to go by default,” Mark Creech, head of the Christian Action League, told Baptist News Global. “Human experience has shown us the importance of the Lord’s Day. We do not live by bread alone, neither are we the sum total of our amusements and indulgences. We live by a right relationship to God and in obedience to his commands.”

Creech praised lawmakers for their sensitivity in drafting the bill and called it a “partial victory,” but nonetheless strictly opposed expanding Sunday hunting any further.

Supporters of the bill however called the reasons for the ban arbitrary and outdated. Like in many other states, North Carolina’s Sunday hunting ban was a remnant of so-called “blue laws” enacted in the 1700s and 1800s. Many hunters now argue that religion should play no part in determining when they are allowed to hunt, especially since hunters subscribe to many different faiths. Only nine states still have restrictions on Sunday hunting and many are already moving to liberalize those regulations.

“The outdoors has always been an integral part of our way of life and this bill has a number of measures that will improve the stewardship of our natural resources,” Governor McCrory said at the signing.

North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission first allowed Sunday archery hunting in 2010 and with the success of that program, endorsed the Outdoor Heritage Act along with conservation groups and the NRA.

Image courtesy Steve Maslowski, US Fish and Wildlife Service

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2 thoughts on “North Carolina Legalizes Sunday Hunting, Restrictions Remain

  1. Welcome to the 21st century. As a Christian I fully get keeping the Sabbath. From what I understand, the Bible teaches us to not work to profit ourselves on the Sabbath. The Bible also tells us in Genesis, to “take up your bow, and your quiver of arrows, and take venison for Me……” So as I strive to please God, I do that. However debatable, I don’t go hunting for pleasure, even though it can be quite exhilarating. I don’t approach hunting as a sport. It is not golf. It is a way of life. I feed myself and my family and friends, believing it is an honorable, and wholesome way of life. I don’t see that hunting on Sunday is disobedient or even disrespectful to God. It isn’t for profit or self indulgence. I believe Gods’ word is just as applicable in the woods as it is in church. Hunting on Sunday does not keep me from knowing that God is the true provider here. In fact in thousands of deer camps, if not millions, representatives of Gods leadership (deacons if you will) hold respective services on Sundays, such as bible study, prayer, or other celebration of Gods love. If safety is the only other reason to not hunt on Sunday, well that’s just not a legitimate argument. There are already laws against wreck less hunting practices, like no shooting within certain distances of a building, home, or improved road., or around present livestock.

  2. While I agree with Max, I take a slightly different approach to hunting on Sundays. I’m a committed Christian, too. However, when I first came to Christ, I made a choice to honor Him on His day, Sunday, by not going hunting that day. It was my choice, not mandated by government. If the deer opener falls on Sunday, it’s not a big deal to me. Remember, it is my choice. If you want to hunt on Sundays, that’s fine with me, I won’t think any less of you. I just wonder all these people that feel that hunting shouldn’t be done on Sundays, how would they feel if gov’t all of a sudden decided not to allow football games or car races on Sundays?

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