By Don Mallicoat- The Mountain State Fair is just around the corner. Who’s going? The WRC has an interesting exhibit this year. Trout production and stocking will be the focus of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s exhibit at the Mountain State Fair, which runs from Sept. 9-18. The “Sow it, Grow It, Show It” exhibit will showcase the state’s largest trout fish hatchery — the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery, which is located in Pisgah Forest. Visitors to the exhibit can learn about the life cycle stages of trout. They also can see how the hatchery cares for its fish — from egg, to fry to stockable-size trout — and find out where the agency stocks trout in western North Carolina.
At the State Record station, exhibit visitors can try their luck at “landing” a state record freshwater fish – from a lunker largemouth to an enormous catfish. While at the exhibit, visitors can pick up this year’s Wildlife in North Carolina magazine button – a free, traditional State Fair keepsake, which depicts a freshwater mussel. They also can register to win a fishing trip with Carolina Outdoor Journal host Joe Albea and a guide. Trip choices are: river fly fishing for striped bass with Albea and guide Capt. Mitchell Blake; Piedmont lake fishing with Albea and Capt. Greg Griffin; or a mountain river float trip for trout with Albea and Ollie Smith.
On weekends only, visitors who purchase or renew a subscription to Wildlife in North Carolina, the agency’s flagship publication, will be entered into a drawing to win a 65-quart YETI cooler. The exhibit will highlight education programs at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, current wildlife research and projects conducted by the Commission, and information about fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife watching and other outdoor-related opportunities available in North Carolina.
The agency’s exhibit will be located in the Davis Center exhibition building on the grounds of Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, located at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, in Fletcher, which is just west of Asheville. The Commission’s exhibit will open from 3-10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., Friday through Sunday, except Sunday, Sept. 18, when the exhibit will close at 9 p.m.
Dove season opens this weekend. Assuming you have practiced shooting and have all your gear together (probably not a good assumption) here is some last minute advice on hitting birds in the field. Statistics show that the average dove hunter uses five shells for each bird they harvest. But there are some things you can do to improve those odds. First, measure out some distances 30 yards from your stand and mark them. If you hunt dove much you’ve seen other hunters “skybusting”. Most people have trouble judging distance. If you shoot at birds beyond 30 yards, effective range for an Improved Cylinder choke, you are not likely to hit the bird and are wasting ammo.
Second, and this is where the pre-season practice comes in, most birds are missed from behind. Rarely does anyone miss too far in front of a dove. If you see a bird approaching from distance, don’t raise your gun and track the bird as it approaches. Remember those 30 yard markers? Keep your eyes focused on the bird and just before it gets to that marker, bring your gun up ahead of the bird and keep it swinging when you pull the trigger. See, isn’t that simple? Good luck this weekend.
Let’s look at some last minute dove safety tips. Remember, everyone is in camo so it may be difficult to see other shooters. Be sure to maintain proper distance between you and other shooters. I like to by 40 – 50 yards from anyone else. If someone comes in and sets up close to you let them know you are there and ask them to move. Never take shots at low flying birds. It doesn’t matter if you “think” it is safe. No little dove is worth injuring another person and there are plenty of birds coming in. Save the shots for those above about 45 degree angle above the ground. Be sure to wear hearing and eye protection. You’ll be doing a lot of shooting which is hard on the ears. Shaded shooting glasses not only reduce glare but also protect the eyes from falling shot from another shooter.
Don Mallicoat owns Wings & Clays Guns and Gear in Asheville and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.633.1806