Minor changes

Published 4:08 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

RALEIGH – After a total of seven years of research that included biological data, hunter surveys, and several rounds of public hearings, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission voted Thursday to adopt rules related to hunting wildlife for the 2018-19 seasons effective Aug. 1, 2018.

“Throughout the public hearing process, the Commission received passionate, well-articulated concerns from constituents regarding the cultural and traditional impacts of proposed deer season changes,” said NCWRC Chairman John Coley through a press release.

Commissioners carefully weighed those comments along with biological information and decided to only adopt the following:

Implement a statewide bag limit of two antlered (bucks) and four antlerless (does) deer, instead of unlimited;

Bonus Antlerless Deer Harvest Report Card is restricted to the Urban Archery Season only;

Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) participants would retain harvest flexibility; and,

Shift either-sex hunting days to the beginning of both the introductory, conservative, and moderate gun either-sex seasons.

The Commission said the changes were developed to balance biological improvements to the deer herd and hunter preferences.

“The only place that additional doe tags will be sold is in an urban area during bow-hunting season only,” said Lewiston hunter and Bertie County Commissioner John Trent. “The new rules will have no effect on northeastern North Carolina because we’re keeping our deer season and we’re not losing our days.”

Some of the proposed rule changes included shortening black powder season, and lengthening gun season for deer by two weeks and shifting opening day to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The Eastern deer hunting period will remain Sept.8 – Sept. 28 for bow, Sept. 29 – Oct. 12 for Black Powder, and Oct. 13, 2018 –Jan. 1, 2019 for gun.

Trent spoke as an elected official, part of the contingent of hunters who appeared at the NCWRC public hearing in Edenton Jan. 23, where some 300 hunters met at J.A. Holmes High School Auditorium and voiced their concerns over a reduction in hunting days.

“What we didn’t want to lose were our days,” Trent explained. “What they wanted to do was to increase the western (NC) zones by three weeks, and decrease us by 16 days. The economic impact on us would’ve been huge because of the effect on eco-tourism in eastern North Carolina.”

Trent said the Commission lacked economic statistics from the region, and many were hearing them for the first time when they attended the hearings in Edenton, Rocky Mount, and New Bern.

“They never said there was a shortage of deer,” Trent maintained. “They said they wanted to improve the quality of the deer. I could never understand some of their biological theories where they said they found no issues with the herd, but they wanted to improve the quality for the antlered deer. Where I am, there are plenty of antlered deer that plenty of people would pay to come in to shoot; that’s how much it means to our hunters.”

Deer hunters were not the only ones to receive good news. The Commission also adopted rules to align bear hunting seasons in the five Coastal Bear Management Unit (CBMU) hunting zones. The season will be Nov. 10 – Nov. 21 and Dec. 8 – Dec. 23. In the Roanoke-Chowan, Gates and Chowan counties are part of Zone-2, while Bertie, Hertford, and Martin counties are in Zone-3, and Northampton is in Zone-4; a single season of Nov. 17 – Dec. 16, 2018.

A complete listing of the 2018-19 regulations as well as game hunting dates is available at the NCWRC website: http://www.ncwildlife.org/ .