02/06/09 — State legislature will vote on Sunday hunting bill

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State legislature will vote on Sunday hunting bill

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 6, 2009 1:46 PM

Progress versus tradition are two divergent courses on which opposing views never meet.

That's the battle the North Carolina State Legislature will hope to reconcile when it considers allowing hunting on Sundays in the Tar Heel state.

Senator Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover) has introduced a bill that would repeal a state law which prohibits hunting with a firearm on Sunday. The current statute has been in place for 140 years.

As of 2008, North Carolina was one of 11 states that restricted Sunday hunting. Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey and Connecticut also prohibit hunting on Sundays. Maryland, West Virginia and South Carolina have limited restrictions.

In a survey conducted by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in December of 2006, nearly 65 percent of people polled said that they opposed the legalization of Sunday hunting. Slightly more than half of hunters surveyed said that they opposed Sunday hunting, but nearly two-thirds said they would participate if the ban was lifted.

The 2006 survey, administered by Virginia Tech University, also included several focus groups where citizens were asked a series of questions and allowed to discuss their answers at length.

Members of the focus groups cited several valid points on both sides, and often contradicted their previous responses regarding the cloudy issue.

"If people are out hunting when people are hiking, and they are sharing the same area. It's just not a good idea," one respondent said. "You are just asking for trouble."

The same participant then indicated that they would be okay with Sunday hunting.

Those opposed to Senator Boseman's bill cite religious reasons for keeping the Sunday ban, as well as the impact hunting would have on other weekend outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding.

The issue of property owners' rights has also come into focus during the debate.

Under the current legislation people caught hunting on Sundays, even on private land, face criminal charges. An amendment to the bill could allow for hunting on private lands only, much like the rule in place throughout South Carolina.

The Wildlife Resources Commission is also looking into changing the rule that prohibits archery hunting on Sundays. Because archery is not subject to the firearms law, rules regarding its practice are left up to the commission and therefore do not require the state legislature to pass a bill.

The commission will vote on the archery change on March 4.