North Carolina Hunting

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Written by:  Devn Schumacher 

May, 10 2021

North Carolina is known for its forested regions and craggy landscape, all of which come together to give an ideal hunting experience. Some of the common games in the state are deer, turkeys, black bears, waterfowls, predators, and other small game animals.

North Carolina Hunting Regulation

Hunters in North Carolina must abide by all federal, state, and hunting laws and regulations. Furthermore, there may be other regulations for municipalities and private landowners.

North Carolina hunting regulations include the following:

Firearm Hunting Regulations:

Some of North Carolina hunting regulation concerning the possession and use of firearms include the following

It is unlawful to possess a loaded firearm, hunt wildlife, or discharge a firearm, within 500 feet of buildings that contain humans and/or domestic animals, and buildings used to store combustible substances and materials.

However, an exception is allowed if you obtain permission from the owner of such buildings, their families, or spouses. Also, the 500-foot firearm regulation does not affect archery hunting in North Carolina.

  • Possession of Hunting Firearms in Vehicles

North Carolina prohibits the possession of loaded firearms in vehicles, regardless of if it is a hunting firearm or not. Gun laws of the state only allow those with registered handguns and revolvers to possess them in vehicles.

  • Use of Rifles and Handguns for Hunting

North Carolina does not allow the use of rifles, revolvers, and handguns that operate with a.22 or larger ammunition for hunting. Also, in areas leased for hunting by the state, or areas that require the possession of permits to hunt, any type of rifle or handgun is prohibited. It is also illegal to make use of handguns and rifles to hunt waterfowls, turkey, and all other migratory birds found in the state. Exceptions are however made for crows.

  • Hunting with Shotguns

Shotguns that fire more than 2 shots are not allowed for hunting inland leased or owned by states, and parts of the state where a permit is required to hunt. Shotguns are also prohibited on land owned by private owners.

It is illegal to make use of a lead shot for waterfowl hunting. But you can make use of shotguns that have less than 10 gauge to hunt waterfowls in the state.

Shotguns required for hunting waterfowls and other migratory bird species in North Carolina should contain, at most 3 shells, 2 for the magazine and 1 for the chamber. Exceptions are allowed for turkey hunting in North Carolina, crow hunting in North Carolina, and deer hunting in North Carolina.

Another exception to shotgun regulations in North Carolina is that you can make use of unplugged shotguns while hunting during the goose season in September. Depending on where you are hunting, there may be additional regulations for the use of shotguns.

  • Hunting with Muzzleloaders

Muzzleloaders are either shotguns or rifles with at least .45 calibers that make use of a gun powder and projectile attached at the muzzle end of the firearm. In North Carolina, it is legal to make use of a shotgun converter but there is the same prohibition on smoothbore muzzleloaders as shotgun prohibition.

However, there is an exception for the use of muzzleloaders on lands owned by the state and it is legal to use muzzleloading rifles with about .36 calibers and with round ball ammunition.

Bow Hunting Regulations

Some of North Carolina Bow Hunting Regulation include the following:

  • Bowhunter Education

You must complete a bowhunter education course before you can take wildlife and games with bow and arrow. North Carolina mandates all bowhunters in the state to have proof to show that they have completed the course while hunting small games.

  • Lawful Bow and Arrows

Not all bow and arrows are accepted in North Carolina. For turkey and deer hunting in North Carolina, the bow permitted must be long, possess compound bows, recurved, and have a draw weight of at least 40 crossbows and pounds. You are also allowed to use mechanical strings, but coating a projectile with chemicals, poison or drugs is a prohibition.

  • Crossbows

Crossbows are legal for the hunting of a lot of games. However, the crossbow should have a draw weight of at least 125 pounds. It must also have a permanently fixed rifle and an efficient automated safety device.

The state also permits the use of crossbow sticks that are adjustable, but the folding stock may not be adjustable. The arrow must not be less than 18 inches long, and this does not include the broadhead length. A crossbow is loaded when it has been pulled to its limit, and the bolt is in place.

For deer and turkey hunting in North Carolina, the arrowhead that is accepted should possess a minimum of 2 blades and should be at most 8 inches wide. It does not matter if an arrowhead was manufactured to open at impact, as long as it meets these measurements, it is legal.

Possession of Firearms for Bowhunting

It is a prohibition to have a firearm with you while bow hunting in North Carolina.

Bag Limit Regulation

Another important regulation that hunters must take note of is the bag limit regulation. It includes the following:

  • Daily Bag Limit

This refers to the number of game species that a hunter can take within a day, estimated as the hours between 12 am to 12 am the next day. While hunting in these 24 hours, it is a violation for a hunter to take more than this daily limit.

  • Possession in Storage

This is a seasonal bag limit for the amount of non-migratory wildlife and game species that may be stored for a specific game, from the inception of the season. It is a violation of bag limit regulation to exceed the required limit for a season. For migratory games like snipe, waterfowls, and coots, their possession in storage limits are regulated by federal hunting laws.

  • Season Bag Limit

This is the limit of the number of wildlife and games that can be taken during the period of open season.

Hunter Harassment Law

North Carolina also has hunter harassment laws to protect the activity in the state.

The law states that on no account should any individual interfere with a legal hunting practice taking place in a wildlife area or any other location in the state.

Violation of this law occurs when someone deliberately does any of the following:

  • Drives in wildlife to disturb hunting activities.
  • Prevents hunting by impeding or harassing a hunter carrying out the activity
  • Performs any artificial or olfactory stimuli to disturb the behavioral pattern of wildlife.
  • Mount barriers to prevent or limit the activities of hunters.
  • Enters a hunter line of fire while trying to shoot down a game.
  • Disturb a publicly or privately owned property meant for the legal hunting of games in the state.
  • Impedes a private land portion without any permission from those in charge.

Open Carry While Hunting.

You can open carry during hunting activities in North Carolina, and this includes state government land or any other privately owned lands as long as you have the license to hunt there.

You can also open carry during bow hunting, but to conceal carry, you must own a state concealed firearm permit.

However, it is unlawful to use a firearm for game-taking during bow hunting or any other hunting session that does not permit the use of firearms.

North Carolina also has hunter harassment laws in the state, and this includes the following:

  • It is illegal to interfere or disturb any lawful hunting activity in wildlife by deliberately impeding any of the wildlife resources.
  • It is illegal to tamper with any property or hunting dogs used for a licensed hunting activity in the state.
  • An exception to this section of the law is someone who deliberately impacts wildlife, by using the land for other legal activities like mining, agriculture, or recreation.

North Carolina Hunting Licenses, Permits, and Tags

You must have a license or permit to hunt before you can take games and wildlife in North Carolina. There are various hunting licenses available to residents and non-residents.

License tags and permits available for hunting in North Carolina include the following:

Firearms Hunting License

This is a general firearm hunting permit available for residents and non-residents of North Carolina. It costs $19 for adult residents of the state, $10 for teenage residents, and $91 for non-residents.

Firearms Hunting and Inland Fishing License

This license is for both hunting and inland fishing in North Carolina. Is available for residents and nonresidents of the state and costs $38 for adult residents, $19 for teenage residents, and $110 for non-residents.

Firearm Hunting and All Waters Fishing License

This license will allow firearm hunting and permission to fish in all water bodies in North Carolina. It is available for residents and nonresidents and costs $40 for adult residents, $20 for teenage residents (16 and 17 years), and $120 for non-residents.

Firearm Hunting and Marine Water Fishing License

This license is valid for the combination of firearms hunting and marine water fishing in North Carolina. It is available for both residents and nonresidents, and it costs $25 for adult residents, $13 for teenage residents (16 and 17 years), and $94 for non-residents.

Archery Deer and Small Games Hunting License

Holders of this license can take deer with archery and will also have permission to take small game species in North Carolina. It is available for residents, and also as an out-of-state North Carolina hunting license for non-residents. It costs $41 for adult residents, $21 for teenage residents (16 and 17 years), and $135 for non-residents.

Archery Deer and Small Games Hunting License Plus All Water Fishing License

In addition to the permission of hunting deer and small game, this license also allows fishing in all water bodies in North Carolina. It costs $65 for adult residents and $33 for teenage residents (16 and 17 years).

Trapping License

This license allows hunters to set traps or bait wildlife and games in North Carolina. It costs $34 for adult residents, $17 for teenage residents (16 and 17 years), and $250 for non-residents.

Licenses are also issued in North Carolina based on age and they include the following

Junior Firearm Hunting License

This license is issued to residents and non-residents of North Carolina between the ages of 12 and 15. It costs $11 for both residents and non-residents.

Junior Archery Deer and Small Game License

The license is valid for residents and nonresidents between the ages of 12 and 15, to take deer and hunt small game in North Carolina. It costs $10 for residents and $19 for nonresidents

Junior Trapping License

This is only valid for residents of North Carolina under the age of 15. It costs $11.

Annual Hunting License

This hunting license is available for residents of North Carolina that are 65 years old or more. It is free.

Annual Trapping License

This is a trapping license available to residents that are 65 years old or more. It is free.

North Carolina Fishing License Permits and Tags

Fishing licenses available in North Carolina include the following:

Resident All Water Fishing License

This is a resident-only fishing license, and holders will be able to fish in both inland and marine waters. It costs $32 for adult residents and $16 for teenagers.

Residents Inland Fishing License

Holders of this license will be able to fish only in inland waters. It costs $28 for adult residents and $14 for teenagers.

Residents Inland Fishing and Small Game Hunting

This license will allow holders of fish on inland waters and hunt small games in the state. It costs $38 for adult residents and $19 for teenage residents.

Residents All Water Fishing Bow and Arrow Permit Plus Small Games and Deer Hunting.

This license allows fishing in all waters and archery hunting of deer and small game animals. It costs $65 for adult residents and $32 for teenage residents.

Non-Residents Season Inland Fishing license

This license is issued to nonresidents that want to fish in inland waters. It costs $55.

Nonresident Season All Waters Fishing License ‘

Gives permission to nonresidents to fish in both inland and marine waters. It costs $63.

Nonresidents 3 Days Inland Fishing License

This license is available for nonresidents that want to fish in inland waters. It is valid for only 3 days and costs $22.

Residents Marine Water Fishing License

Holders of this license will be able to fish in marine waters. It costs $10 for adult residents and $5 for teenage residents.

Residents One Day Marine Water Fishing

Allows Residents to fish in marine water, but the license will be valid for just a day. It costs $5 for adult residents and $3 for non-residents.

Residents Marine Water Fishing and Firearm Hunting

This license allows the combination of fishing on Marine water and hunting during firearm season. It costs $25 for adult residents and $13 for teenage residents.

Nonresidents Marine Fishing License

This license is issued to non-residents of North Carolina for fishing on marine waters. It costs $15.

Nonresidents Marine Water Fishing and Firearms Hunting License

This license will allow non-residents to fish in marine waters, and hunt with the use of firearms. It costs $94.

Nonresidents Three Days Marine Fishing License

This license allows non-residents to fish on Marine water, but it is valid for just 3 days. It costs $8.

Armed Forces Marine Water Fishing License

This is a special license issued to members of the US military or National guard for fishing on marine waters in North Carolina. It costs $10.

Armed Forces Inland Fishing Permit

This is a special license issued to members of the US military or National guard for fishing on Inland waters in North Carolina. It costs $28.

Armed Forces Inland Fishing Permit with Small Game Firearms Hunting

This allows members of the US armed forces to fish on inland waters and also hunt small game species in North Carolina.

Armed Forces All Water Permit

This permit will allow members of the Armed Forces to fish on all water bodies in the US.

North Carolina Hunting Season 2020/2021

North Carolina, like other western parts of the USA, has a great climatic condition and weather that favors hunting season.

The 2020/21 hunting season for various wildlife in North Carolina includes the following:

North Carolina Deer Hunting Season

  • Archery Season (15th of September to 31st of December)
  • Shotgun and Rifle Season (For Public Land: 18th of November to 8th of December and for Private Lands: 2nd of November to 31st of December)
  • Muzzleloader Season (For Private Land: 9th of December to 31st of December and for State Lands: 9th of December to 22nd of December)

North Carolina Turkey Hunting Season

  • Fall Archery Season (15th of September to 31st of September)
  • Fall Firearm Season (3rd of October to 31st of October)
  • North Carolina Black Bear Hunting Seasons
  • General Hunting Season (12th of October to 1st of January)

North Carolina Small Games Hunting Season

  • Cotton Rabbit Season 19th of October to 31st of December)
  • Squirrel Season 1st of September to 31st of December)
  • Quail Season (17th of October to 2nd of November)
  • Pheasant Season (17th of October to 31st of December)
  • Grouse Season (17th of October to 30th of December)

Season dates for each species season may vary based on the different hunting zones in North Carolina

North Carolina Wildlife, Game, and Fish

Some of the wildlife and games available for hunting in North Carolina include the following:

North Carolina Deer Hunting

Whitetail deer hunting in North Carolina is not in itself a revered sport, but the deer horns serve as trophies for hunters. Deer hunting in North Carolina is common because of the delicious deer meat called venison.

North Carolina Turkey hunting

Turkey hunting is fun in North Carolina. The game is very special in the state. They are quite difficult to hunt because they blend well with their environment and are very effective games.

North Carolina Duck Hunting

Duck hunting in North Carolina is usually a lively event. Ducks are quite fast and have a speed that can cover a distance of 1 mile in 1 minute. During their yearly migration, ducks can move as far as South America and come back again.

North Carolina Goose Hunting

There are various geese available for hunting in North Carolina. It is one of the states favored by goose hunters in the US. The popular species of goose found in the state are Snow geese, Blue geese, and Canadian geese.

North Carolina Pheasant Hunting

Pheasant hunting in North Carolina is not a walk in the park. Pheasants blend well with their environment and make use of this to guise from hunters. Like in most parts of the nation, pheasants are abundant in North Carolina. They inhabit regions of the state like meadows, wooden and field areas.

North Carolina Quail Hunting

Quail hunting in North Carolina is a famous sport. They inhabit fields and farming settlements in the state. They come in mixtures of various colors like black, grey, browns, etc. They are very difficult to hunt too.

North Carolina Grouse Hunting

Grouse know how to blend into their surroundings and hide from hunters because of their colors. They occur in large numbers in North Carolina and inhabit farming lands, wooden areas, meadows, and fields.

North Carolina Black Bear Hunting Season

Black bear hunting in North Carolina takes place in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains and swampy regions of the state. They also inhabit forested areas of the state and places where they can adapt to.

North Carolina Shooting Ranges

Some of the shooting ranges available to the public in North Carolina include the following:

  • Dare County Shooting Complex / Outer Banks Gun Club
  • DeWitt's Outdoor Sports, LLC
  • Duncan Gun Shop
  • Archery Barn
  • Flatwoods Outfitters
  • Gastonia Parks & Rec. Skeet & Trap Range
  • Hunters Pointe Sporting Clays
  • Wake County Firearms Education and Training Center

North Carolina Hunting Land for Sale and Lease

Hunting lands for sale in North Carolina include the following:

  • Lake Lure, North Carolina (Rutherford County), 5.4 acres.
  • Rockingham, North Carolina (Richmond County), 308.81 acres.
  • Mars Hill, North Carolina (Madison County) 1.8 acres.
  • Pittsboro, North Carolina (Chatham County) 10.04 acres.
  • Morganton, North Carolina (Burke County) 144.71 acres.

Hunting lands for lease in North Carolina include the following:

  • Trophy White Tail Hunting Lease Available (Martin County, Oak City Area), 1440 acres.
  • Deer hunting lease, Garza County, 120 acres.
  • Prime trophy NC whitetails 100 acres in Northampton County, top ranked for whitetail trophies.
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