A bill to allow Sunday hunting on private land in North Carolina passed the House 88 to 26 after a compromise to add a midday ban advanced in the House and Senate.
House Bill 640, titled the “Outdoor Heritage Act,” initially had no time restriction on when hunting would be allowed on Sunday. The Senate added a start time of noon, forbidding hunting before then because many religious worship services take place in the mornings.
The hunting bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jimmy Dixon of Warsaw, said he understood the concern and added that it takes time to vacate the premise of a place of worship.
The compromise bill that passed the House Thursday does not allow hunting between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.
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However, existing hunting preserves that are more than 500 yards from a place of worship are exempt from the Sunday morning time restriction. And any hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship is forbidden in the bill at all times.
Also prohibited on Sunday is the hunting migratory birds or using dogs to chase down deer for the hunt.
“I think this is a good compromise,” Dixon said.
Rep. Michael Speciale, a Craven County Republican, said he couldn’t vote for the bill because while counties can pass their own laws to continue prohibiting Sunday hunting, those local ordinances could not go into effect for two years.
Counties with a population of 700,000 people or more – Wake and Mecklenburg counties – are still prohibited from Sunday hunting.
“Wake and Mecklenburg can opt out of this,” Speciale said, “but every one of the other counties can’t opt out for two years.”
Rep. Garland Pierce, a Scotland County Democrat, expressed concern over gunfire during funerals which often take place on Sunday afternoons.
Dixon responded that, in the past, the hunting community has been sensitive to those matters.
In past discussion, supporters of the bill said that allowing hunting seven days a week would draw more tourism to North Carolina, and allow the state to join 39 other states in lifting the Sunday hunting ban.
It is expected in the Senate next week and, if passed, would go to Gov. Pat McCrory.