Sunday hunting with guns returns Oct. 4 in eastern NC counties

This weekend will be a little longer for eastern N.C. deer hunters who use certain firearms. Their time in the treestand is limited to Saturdays no more.

As a new law takes effect Oct. 1 and the firearms seasons for deer and other game begin opening in stages across the state, hunters legally will be able to hunt private lands on Sundays with firearms for the first time since 1869.

The first to enjoy a Sunday gun hunt will be black powder hunters in the eastern counties. Their season opens Oct. 3, and the first legal Sunday is Oct. 4.

Brandon Scott plans to be among the Sunday hunters, taking son Seth, 7, while daughter Emma, 12, hunts with grandfather Eddie.

Sunday hunting “has created a lot of excitement among the customers, especially for those who work six days a week, Monday to Saturday,” said Scott, general manager of Springhill Outfitters in Selma. “They now have the opportunity to take their children or themselves into the outdoors.”

The 2015 legislature partly repealed the 146-year-old ban on Sunday gun hunting. The ban still applies to state game lands, migratory game birds and the two largest counties, Mecklenburg and Wake. Firearms can’t be used on Sunday to take deer chased by dogs.

Hunters pursuing animals for which there is no closed season, such as coyotes, can hunt Oct. 4. Squirrel, raccoon, opossum and the western black bear seasons open Oct. 12, with the first Sunday Oct. 18.

The eastern deer season for modern guns starts Oct. 17, with the first Sunday Oct. 18; the 47 counties include Johnston, Harnett and Franklin. In central deer season counties, including Chatham, Durham and Orange, black powder season opens Oct. 31-Nov. 1, and the modern gun season opens Nov. 14-15.

The law bans hunting 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sundays, except on controlled preserves. Hunting is prohibited within 500 yards of a church or a house on the property not owned by the landowner. Hunters must get written permission from landowners. Rules are in the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s digest at www.ncwildlife.org.

Scott said he hopes hunters make Sunday firearms hunting a success by communicating “with landowners and neighbors … so everyone understands there is a change,” Scott said.

The state’s more than 200 enforcement officers will be ready as gun seasons open, Lt. Sam Craft said. They have been working Sunday deer hunting since archery hunts became legal in 2010, he said.

“It won’t be quite as busy as a Saturday is, as a result of not being able to run dogs on Sunday,” Craft said. “Hopefully, there will be a lot of people out taking advantage of this extra day.”

Seminar: The wildlife commission and the Quality Deer Management Association will offer their final introductory deer hunting seminar 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education in Raleigh. Register at www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/SkillsBasedSeminars.

Tournament: The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament is Thursday through Saturday out of Southport. Watch for weather updates at www.usopenkmt.com.

Correspondent Jack Horan contributed to the Sunday hunting report.

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