The NC Wildlife Commission Regulation digest for the upcoming year hit license dealer’s stores this past week. As it did last year major changes to the regulations appear on a single page in front. This year there do not appear to be many changes. One of the most significant is that concealed carry handgun permit holders may now carry concealed handguns on all game lands if they possess a current and valid permit. However, they may not hunt with any firearm being carried unless it is authorized as a lawful method of take. There are thirteen Game Lands which do not permit concealed carry, most of them private land. DuPont State Forest did get dropped from that list (I had reported earlier that it was on the list).
Several counties in the western part of the state which had previously not been opened to bear hunting are now open. It looks like they’ve added five counties including Catawba north to provide a split season for one week in November (12-17) and about two weeks in December from the 10th to the 22nd.
The night hunting of feral hogs and coyotes seems to have been resolved but too late to make it into the regulation digest. There are no significant changes to the fishing regulations that I can see. Several streams were added to or changed trout water designations but not much worth detailing here. All changes appear in red in the digest.
There is an interesting typo on the Western Deer Season map. The actual dates for archery hunting are September 10 – 29 and October 15 – November 17. However, on the Western region map on page 48 of the digest it shows the first split going through OCTOBER 29 which would give it a significant overlap with the muzzleloader season. So all you archery deer hunters out there pay attention. Be sure to read the season dates on page 46 which are correct.
Mentioning the regulation digest, as a gun store owner and license agent it never ceases to amaze me about how many hunters are ignorant about the state game regulations. The most common misunderstanding is that hunters think there are both minimum caliber and maximum magazine capacity for deer hunting with rifles. There are not. Many states do have these restrictions but not North Carolina. I had a man come in the store last week to renew his Sportsman’s License and HIP certification. When I asked if he hunted dove last year he responded, “Only on private land where you don’t need a license.” Big wrong! Dove are migratory birds regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and hunting them not only requires a license, but a HIP certification and magazine shotguns must be plugged to allow no more than three shots. Ignorance of the law will not get you off. Read the regulations for the game you pursue before going afield.
Speaking of migratory birds, the WRC has released the migratory bird seasons for the upcoming year. Here are a few of interest to mountain hunters. Dove season starts September 1 at noon and runs through October 6. After the first day hours are ½ hour before sunrise to sunset. The next split of the season is November 19 – 24 and last part is December 15 – January 11. Daily bag limit is 15 and possession limit is 30.
The early Goose season also starts on September 1 and continues until September 29. As last year the daily bag limit is 15 and possession limit is 30. West of U.S. 17 (which includes the mountains) expanded hunting methods are allowed. These include hunting until ½ hour after sunset, using unplugged guns and electronic calls. As nice as a daily bag of 15 geese sounds, I’d not look forward to hauling 15 out of the water and most of all cleaning them!
One change that is good to see in the migratory season. They have moved up the woodcock season again this year. Traditionally it started in January and many mountain hunters had to pass up shots at migrating woodcock when they were out grouse hunting. The season again this year will start on December 13 and continue until January 26. That is about 45 days which is what it normally is. The daily bag limit for woodcock is three with possession limit of six.
Hunting season is about four weeks away. Time to start checking gear and practicing with the shotgun or archery equipment.