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NC Hunting Laws and Fishing Laws: Your Questions Answered

Whether you love the quiet and peacefulness of hunting, or prefer sitting by a lake and fishing, North Carolina is the perfect place for you. With plenty of hunting and fishing options available, you are sure to find what you love. However, North Carolina fishing laws and hunting laws are extremely lengthy so it’s easy to make an accidental mistake and have to pay the price. But don’t worry—we put together a guide so that no matter if you’re going for surf or turf, we have you covered.

Hunting Regulations in North Carolina

Does where I live matter when I’m hunting big game?

Big game is defined as deer, bear or wild turkey.

  • Bear: the season depends on the county in which you are hunting
  • Deer: there are different zones in North Carolina that determine the season and which weapons hunters are allowed to use
  • Wild turkey: the season is the same dates statewide (April 11, 2020 – May 9, 2020)

For more information on big game regulations, look here.

Is there a limit for small game?

Yes, depending on which animal you are hunting, there are typically specific limits for small game hunting that range from 1 to 8. To learn more about limits, click here.

What does baiting mean?

Baiting is encouraging wildlife into a specific area by the use of different foods such as corn. In North Carolina, it is legal to bait deer during deer season, but it is illegal to bait bear or wild turkey. Many wildlife violations in North Carolina are due to baiting, and the punishment can be severe.

Can I hunt at night?

Yes, but only on private land and only certain animals can be hunted. Night laws also may depend on the county.

How are migratory birds protected?

Federal laws protect migratory birds, such as woodpeckers or songbirds. Each year, the hunting season is established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, which includes bag limits, shooting hours and the hunting dates. To hunt waterfowl in North Carolina, individuals must have permits, licenses stamps and verifications. View the list of requirements here.

Do I need a hunting license in North Carolina?

Yes, in order to legally hunt in NC, you must have a license. The different types of licenses are:

  • North Carolina Resident
  • Non-Resident
  • Youth Hunting License
  • Senior Hunting License
  • Disability License
  • Military and Veteran License

To purchase a license, click here.

Fishing Regulations in North Carolina

Is there a size limit for warmwater game?

Yes, most warmwater fish have specific size limits, with a minimum or maximum clearly outlined. Some warmwater fish cannot be possessed at all. To view the regulations, click here.

Are there specific regulations for saltwater fishing?

Yes, just like inland fishing, there are regulations for the different types of fish such as length and bag limits. View the full list of regulations here.

How can a nongame fish be caught legally?

Nongame fish cannot be taken by snagging, but can be taken from a hook and line.

Do I need a fishing license in North Carolina?

Yes, most likely you need a fishing license in NC. The different types of licenses are:

  • Short – Term Inland fishing
  • Short – Term Coastal Fishing
  • Annual Inland
  • Annual Coastal

To purchase a fishing license, click here.

Do I need a fishing license even if I don’t keep the fish?

Yes, you still need a license even if you are just catching the fish and throwing them back into the water.

Common Penalties for Breaking a Hunting or Fishing Law

Breaking NC hunting laws or fishing laws can have severe punishment. The penalties can vary greatly, but these three are the most common:

  • Pay a fine
  • Lose hunting privileges
  • Imprisonment

Have questions about hunting or fishing in NC?

If you have been accused of breaking a North Carolina fishing law or hunting law, you could face a serious charge that might impact your future. Contact the experts at Manning Law Firm immediately so that we can help.

This article is intended for general information only. The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Taylor Manning
The content on this page was reviewed by Manning Law Firm, PLLC partner Taylor Manning. You can learn more about Taylor's experience and expertise on his bio page.