Outdoor Heritage bill signed by governor; Sunday hunting now legal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Gov. Pat McCrory recently signed the Outdoor Heritage Act into law and, among its many benefits, the law also allows for Sunday hunting except during the hours of 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. The law will take effect on Oct. 1.

Bruce Cannon, director of missions of the Bladen Baptist Association, said that he still has some concerns with some provisions of the bill — specifically with Sunday hunting. The bill allows for hunting on private property on Sunday with written permission of the landowner.

He said the final version of the bill still allows for hunting within one-quarter of a mile of a church. The bill reads, “Hunting on Sunday within 500 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure thereof, or within 500 yards of a residence not owned by the landowner, is prohibited.”

Cannon pointed out that some high-powered rifles have an effective range much greater than that. He also pointed out that some churches have worship services that begin before 9:30 a.m. and some churches also have afternoon or evening services and special programs.

“We originally pushed to try to enforce a one-mile perimeter (around churches),” said Cannon.

The final bill kept the distance from a church or residence at 500 feet.

He said he also had concerns about the proximity of hunters to ball fields that are located out in the county.

“We’ve got ball games being played on Sunday afternoons now,” said Cannon.

Cannon said he appreciates N.C. House Rep. William Brisson’s efforts to fight the bill.

“It’s just something else that competes with church. We’ve lost the sacredness of the Lord’s Day. It used to be day for families to gather,” said Cannon.

Other provisions of the bill include:

— Hunting of migratory game birds on Sunday is prohibited.

— The use of a firearm to take deer that are run or chased by dogs on Sunday is prohibited.

— Hunting on Sunday in a county having a population greater than 700,000 people is prohibited — affecting Wake and Mecklenburg counties only.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commissions lent their approval to the bill in April due to its focus on private property rights and the opportunities for additional hunting.

Gov. McCrory said the outdoors have “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.”

Erin Smith can be reached at 910-862-4163.