Hunting season looks a lot different in North Carolina this year. For the first time in over 150 years, residents and visitors can hunt on Sundays on public lands across the state. While some restrictions remain in place and not all public property will be open to Sunday hunting, the new changes seen in this year’s Rules & Regulations Digest 2021-2022 published by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission have come on the heels of prolonged advocacy and active participation in the process by sportsmen and women.
The original 1869 ‘blue law’ was passed with absolutely no basis in wildlife management and predated the creation of game lands in North Carolina. In 2009, hunters saw the first easing of the restriction through the authorization of archery equipment as a manner of take on private lands. Since 2009 and at a cadence of every 2-4 years (2009, 2013, 2015, & 2017), the Wildlife Resources Commission continued to adopt resolutions and alter rules that have expanded Sunday hunting opportunities in our state. Until this year, however, all opportunity expansion benefitted private land hunters only.
Beginning again in 2019 through a thoughtful and deliberate process, WRC leveraged institutional expertise and gathered significant public input via online surveys and multiple public forums. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers members filled out the surveys, spoke with friends and family, and showed up at every public meeting across the state sporting smiles and Public Land Owner t-shirts. With knowledge and respect, BHAers stood to be counted—they made their voices heard and they made a difference.
During this season, 51 out of 92 total game lands, including all national forests in North Carolina, will be open for hunting on Sunday. This equates to a gain in access of over 1 million public acres. WRC will remain, as they always have been, diligent in monitoring wildlife, habitat, and the behavior of all users of our public lands. We are certain that the results of these monitoring and management efforts will yield even greater access for hunters in the state in years to come.
Ultimately, NC BHA looks forward to helping usher North Carolina into a future where access and opportunity for hunters here mirrors that which the vast majority of our brothers and sisters enjoy across North America as well as all other outdoor users regardless of where they are or what they do. Namely, that Sunday is treated as any other day of the week wherein we all have the freedom to spend our time as we wish and engage in the natural world we fight so dearly to conserve.