113-291.1. Manner of taking wild animals and wild birds.

(a) Except as otherwise provided, game may only be taken between a half hour before sunrise and a half hour after sunset and only by one or a combination of the following methods:

(1) With a rifle, except that rifles may not be used in taking wild turkeys.

(2) With a shotgun not larger than number 10 gauge.

(3) With a bow and arrow of a type prescribed in the rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission.

(4) With the use of dogs.

(5) By means of falconry.

Fur-bearing animals may be taken at any time during open trapping season with traps authorized under G.S. 113-291.6 and as otherwise authorized pursuant to this subsection, and rabbits may be box-trapped in accordance with rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission. The Wildlife Resources Commission may adopt rules prescribing the manner of taking wild birds and wild animals not classified as game. Use of pistols in taking wildlife is governed by subsection (g). The Wildlife Resources Commission may prescribe the manner of taking wild animals and wild birds on game lands and public hunting grounds.

(b) No wild animals or wild birds may be taken:

(1) From or with the use of any vehicle; vessel, other than one manually propelled; airplane; or other conveyance except that the use of vehicles and vessels is authorized:

a. As hunting stands, subject to the following limitations. No wild animal or wild bird may be taken from any vessel under sail, under power, or with the engine running or while still in motion from such propulsion. No wild animal or wild bird may be taken from any vehicle if it is in motion, the engine is running, or the passenger area of the vehicle is occupied. The prohibition of occupying the passenger area of a vehicle does not apply to a disabled individual whose mobility is restricted.

b. For transportation incidental to the taking.

(2) With the use or aid of any artificial light, net, trap, snare, electronic or recorded animal or bird call, or fire, except as may be otherwise provided by statute[;] provided, however, that the Wildlife Resources Commission may adopt rules prescribing seasons and the manner of taking of wild animals and wild birds with the use of artificial light and electronic calls. No wild birds may be taken with the use or aid of salt, grain, fruit, or other bait. No black bear may be taken with the use or aid of any salt, salt lick, grain, fruit, honey, sugar-based material, animal parts or products, or other bait, except as provided by the rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission. However, no rule established by the Wildlife Resources Commission shall allow for the taking of a black bear with the use and aid of bear bait attractants, including scented sprays, aerosols, scent balls, and scent powders, and no rule established by the Wildlife Resources Commission shall allow for the taking of a black bear while it is consuming bait. No wild turkey may knowingly be taken from within 300 yards of any place in which bait has been placed until the expiration of 10 days after the bait has been consumed or otherwise removed. The taking of wild animals and wild birds with poisons, drugs, explosives, and electricity is governed by G.S. 113-261, G.S. 113-262, and Article 22A of this Subchapter.

Upon finding that the placement of processed food products in areas frequented by black bears is detrimental to the health of individual black bears or is attracting and holding black bears in an area to the extent that the natural pattern of movement and distribution of black bears is disrupted and bears' vulnerability to mortality factors, including hunting, is increased to a level that causes concern for the population, the Wildlife Resources Commission may adopt rules to regulate, restrict, or prohibit the placement of those products and prescribe time limits during which hunting is prohibited in areas where those products have been placed.

Any person who is convicted of unlawfully taking bear with the use or aid of any type of bait as provided by this subsection or by rules adopted pursuant to this subsection is punishable as provided by G.S. 113-294(c1).

(c) It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person taking wildlife to have in his possession any:

(1) Repealed by Session Laws 2013-369, s. 23, effective October 1, 2013.

(2) Weapon of mass death and destruction as defined in G.S. 14-288.8, other than a suppressor or other device designed to muffle or minimize the report of a firearm or short-barreled rifle that is lawfully possessed by a person in compliance with 26 U.S.C. Chapter 53 5801-5871.

The Wildlife Resources Commission may prohibit individuals training dogs or taking particular species from carrying axes, saws, tree-climbing equipment, and other implements that may facilitate the unlawful taking of wildlife, except tree-climbing equipment may be carried and used by persons lawfully taking raccoons and opossums during open season.

(d) In accordance with governing rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission imposing further restrictions that may be necessary, hunters may conduct field trials with dogs in areas and at times authorized with the use of approved weapons and ammunition. The Wildlife Resources Commission may authorize organized retriever field trials, utilizing domestically raised waterfowl and game birds, to be held under its permit.

(d1) Except in areas closed to protect sensitive wildlife populations, and subject to conditions and restrictions contained in rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission, hunters may train dogs during the closed season:

(1) With the use of weapons and ammunition approved by the Wildlife Resources Commission;

(2) If reasonable control is exercised to prevent the dogs from running unsupervised at large and from killing wild animals and wild birds;

(3) On land owned or leased by the dog trainer or upon which the person has written permission to train dogs; and

(4) Using domestically raised waterfowl and game birds, provided the birds are marked and sources are documented as required by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

(e) Raccoons and opossum may be taken at night with dogs during seasons set by rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission with the use of artificial lights of a type designed or commonly used to aid in taking raccoon and opossum. No conveyance may be used in taking any raccoon or opossum at night, but incidental transportation of hunters and dogs to and from the site of hunting is permitted. The Wildlife Resources Commission may by rule prescribe restrictions respecting the taking of frogs, or other creatures not classified as wildlife which may be found in areas frequented by game, with the use of an artificial light, and may regulate the shining of lights at night in areas frequented by deer as provided in subsection (e1).

(e1) After hearing sufficient evidence and finding as a fact that an area frequented by deer is subject to substantial unlawful night deer hunting or that residents in the area have been greatly inconvenienced by persons shining lights on deer, the Wildlife Resources Commission may by rule prohibit the intentional sweeping of that area with lights, or the intentional shining of lights on deer, during the period either:

(1) From 11:00 p.m. until one-half hour before sunrise; or

(2) From one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise.

Before adopting this rule, the Wildlife Resources Commission must propose it at a public hearing in the area to be closed and seek the reactions of the local inhabitants. The rule must exempt necessary shining of lights by landholders, motorists engaged in normal travel on the highway, and campers and others legitimately in the area, who are not attempting to attract wildlife. This subsection does not limit the right of hunters to take raccoon and opossum with dogs lawfully at night with a light under the terms of subsection (e).

(e2) If the Wildlife Resources Commission has enacted a rule under the authority of subsection (e1) prohibiting the shining of lights from 11:00 p.m. until one-half hour before sunrise in any county or area of a county, the Wildlife Resources Commission is authorized, without holding an additional public hearing, to extend the applicability of that rule to the period one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise upon receipt of a resolution from the board of commissioners of the county requesting extension of the period.

(f) To keep North Carolina provisions respecting migratory game birds in substantial conformity with applicable federal law and rules, the Wildlife Resources Commission may by rule, or as provided in subsection (f1) of this section, expand or modify provisions of this Article if necessary to achieve such conformity, including allowing the use of electronic calls. In particular, the Commission may prohibit the use of rifles, unplugged shotguns, live decoys, and sinkboxes in the taking of migratory game birds; vary shooting hours; adopt specific distances, not less than 300 yards, hunters must maintain from areas that have been baited, and fix the number of days afterwards during which it is still unlawful to take migratory game birds in the area; and adopt similar provisions with regard to the use of live decoys. In the absence of rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission to the contrary, the rules of the United States Department of the Interior prohibiting the use of rifles, unplugged shotguns, toxic shot and sinkboxes in taking migratory game birds in North Carolina shall apply, and any violation of such federal rules is unlawful.

(f1) The Commission is authorized to issue proclamations to allow the use of electronic calls or unplugged shotguns to achieve substantial conformity with applicable federal law and rules established by the United States Department of Interior or any successor agency. The Commission may delegate this authority to the Executive Director. Each proclamation shall state the hour and date upon which it becomes effective and shall be issued at least 48 hours prior to the effective date and time. A permanent file of the text of all proclamations shall be maintained in the office of the Executive Director. Certified copies of proclamations are entitled to judicial notice in any civil or criminal proceeding.

The Executive Director shall make a reasonable effort to give notice of the terms of any proclamation to persons who may be affected by it. This effort shall include press releases to communications media, posting of notices at boating access areas and other places where persons affected may gather, personal communication by agents of the Wildlife Resources Commission, and other measures designed to reach persons who may be affected. Proclamations under this subsection shall remain in force until rescinded following the same procedure established for enactment.

(g) If a season is open permitting such method of taking for the species in question, a hunter may take rabbits, squirrels, opossum, raccoons, fur-bearing animals, and nongame animals and birds open to hunting with a pistol. In addition, a hunter or trapper lawfully taking a wild animal or wild bird by another lawful method may use a knife, pistol, or other swift method of killing the animal or bird taken. The Wildlife Resources Commission may, however, restrict or prohibit the carrying of firearms during special seasons or in special areas reserved for the taking of wildlife with primitive weapons or other restricted methods.

(g1) The Wildlife Resources Commission may by rule prescribe the types of handguns and handgun ammunition that may be used in taking big game animals other than wild turkey. During the regular gun seasons for taking bear, deer and wild boar these animals may be taken with types of handguns and handgun ammunition that shall be approved for such use by the rules of the Wildlife Resources Commission. The Commission shall not provide any special season for the exclusive use of handguns in taking wildlife.

(h) In the interests of enhancing the enjoyment of sportsmen, and if consistent with conservation objectives, the Wildlife Resources Commission may by rule relax requirements of this section on controlled shooting preserves and in other highly controlled situations.

(i) The intentional destruction or substantial impairment of wildlife nesting or breeding areas or other purposeful acts to render them unfit is unlawful. These prohibitions include cutting down den trees, shooting into nests of wild animals or birds, and despoliation of dens, nests, or rookeries.

(j) It is unlawful to take deer swimming or in water above the knees of the deer.

(k) If a hunter kills or wounds a big game animal during the hunting hours authorized by subsection (a) of this section, the hunter may use a portable light source and a single dog on a leash to assist the hunter in retrieving the dead or wounded big game animal, and may dispatch a wounded big game animal using only a .22-caliber rimfire pistol, archery equipment, or a handgun otherwise legal for that hunting season. Pursuit and retrieval under this subsection may occur between the hours of one-half hour after sunset and 11:00 p.m. if necessary, but such pursuit and retrieval may not be accomplished using a motorized vehicle.

For purposes of this section, the term "dispatch" means the quick and humane killing of a wounded animal to prevent further suffering through infection, starvation, or other distress in the wild. (C.S., s. 2124; 1935, c. 486, s. 20; 1939, c. 235, s. 1; 1949, c. 1205, s. 3; 1955, c. 104; 1959, cc. 207, 500; 1961, c. 1182; 1963, c. 381; c. 697, ss. 1, 3; 1967, c. 858, s. 1; c. 1149, s. 1.5; 1969, cc. 75, 140; 1971, c. 439, ss. 1-3; c. 899, s. 1; 1973, c. 1096; c. 1262, s. 18; 1975, c. 669; 1977, c. 493; 1979, c. 830, s. 1; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1285, ss. 4-6; 1983, c. 137, ss. 1, 2; c. 492; 1985, c. 360; c. 554, ss. 1, 2; 1987, cc. 97, 134, 827, s. 98; 1993, c. 539, s. 862; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1995, c. 64, s. 1; 1999-120, s. 1; 2003-160, s. 1; 2005-76, ss. 1, 2; 2005-298, s. 1; 2007-401, s. 6; 2009-221, ss. 2, 3; 2011-22, s. 1; 2011-369, s. 4; 2013-283, s. 12; 2013-369, s. 23; 2015-195, s. 8; 2019-204, s. 11.)