The WRC will send a study on the issue to the legislature without any recommendation. The panel had decided in an earlier vote Wednesday to make the recommendation, then changed course after a break.
Lawmakers can expect significant opposition from religious leaders, one pastor said.
"We will take our message to the Legislature and tell them the vast majority of North Carolinians don't want this," said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. "And especially people of faith don't want it.
"There's nothing for the state to benefit in doing this at all."
Mark Duda, a consultant hired to study the issue, said 65 percent of the general population opposes Sunday hunting, while just 25 percent support it.
Any increase in the sale of hunting licenses would be offset by the need to hire as many as 72 additional game wardens, he said.