By Don Mallicoat- Hunting season has finally arrived! Who else has long anticipated the times ahead in the woods and fields? I spent the opening day of dove season with my son at Fort Bragg on one of their managed fields. Let’s run down the upcoming western zone season dates to get oriented.
You should also pick up a copy of the regulation digest from a local agent or order one from the Commission’s website to keep handy. It’s a new format and looks great.
September 1st was the official opening of the season with both dove and resident goose opening that day. The September resident goose season runs through the 29th. Rules are rather generous: unplugged shotguns, electronic calls, and shooting hours extended through ½ hour after sunset.
You are also allowed 15 geese per day (if you want to carry that many out of the field). The first part of dove season starting that day continues until October 6th.
There is a 15 bird daily limit with shooting ½ hour before sunrise until sunset.
Next up is archery deer season which started this past Saturday, September 8, and continues until September 30th. I know a lot of archery deer hunters worked hard getting stands up and trail cameras out in expectations for opening day. In one of the regulation changes, the WRC moved the blackpowder season up this year; now October 1- October 13.
Additionally muzzleloader hunters may harvest an antlerless deer on the first Saturday of the season, October 6th.
Archery picks back up from October 14th until November 18th when the gun season comes in. Hunters need to remember another regulation change moves the gun antlerless deer day up to the first Saturday of the season which will be November 24th.
There will also be an antlered deer only season for archery starting December 9th after the gun season ends. The season limit for deer has changed with a six deer season limit, two of which may be antlered and four may be antlerless.
With all the news about bears in the area it should be a very successful bear season. Here in the western zone the first half of the season starts October 15th and runs through November 17th.
The bear season takes a break during the gun deer season and resumes December 10th until the beginning of the New Year on January 1st. The daily and season limit on bears continues to be one per hunter.
For us small game hunters things really start picking up in October. A couple of popular ones start on October 15th. Gray squirrel begins that day and continues until February 28, 2019. The daily bag limit for these critters is 8 with no season limit. Look forward to making me some squirrel stew!
Also starting on October 15th is the season for the King of Gamebirds, the ruffed grouse. That also continues until the end of February with a 3 bird daily limit (quite an accomplishment), six in possession, and 30 for the year.
There are other seasons starting later in November. Of particular interest to small game hunters will be rabbit and quail which start statewide on November 17th. The middle part of the dove season also starts on November 17th and ends December 1st. Again, be sure to download the regulation digest or pick up a copy to keep with you and check before going hunting.
For all the big game hunters travelling out of state, the Commission recently passed a rule amendment affecting you because of the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.
Effective August 1st, 2018, anyone returning or transporting a deer, elk, moose, or reindeer/caribou from any state, Canadian province, or foreign country outside of North Carolina must follow the processing and packaging regulations, which allow: Meat that has been boned out such that no pieces or fragments of bone remain; Caped hides with no part of the skull or spinal column attached; Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls free from meat, or brain tissue; Cleaned lower jawbone(s) with teeth or cleaned teeth; or finished taxidermy products and tanned hides.
Any cervid carcass, carcass part(s) or container of cervid meat or carcass parts must be labeled or identified with: The individual’s name and address; The state, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin;The date the cervid was killed; and the individual’s hunting license number, permit number, or equivalent identification from the state, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin.