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Conserve & Protect
The Blog of N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

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By NCWRC blogger on 4/15/2016 4:11 PM

Shooting sports enthusiasts in western North Carolina will soon have a new place to practice when the long-awaited Foothills Public Shooting Complex opens this month. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Cleveland County, along with the National Rifle Association (NRA), invite the public to an open house with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 19 at noon to celebrate the grand opening.

By NCWRC blogger on 12/16/2015 2:05 PM
Over the past few years, interest in alligators and alligator hunting has continued to grow in North Carolina. After a review of current information showed that the state’s alligator population had stabilized and possibly increased, the WRC proposed a limited alligator hunting season on Oct. 22, 2015. Public Radio East recently posted a story about the proposal. 

Here’s a bit of information about the potential alligator season:

The proposed rule would allow one alligator to be taken per permit holder during the season, which would be set from Sept. 1 – Oct. 1.  Permits would be limited in number. The number of permits would be decided following a review of the public hearings, the online comments and further research....
By NCWRC blogger on 4/10/2015 2:34 PM
By John Broughton, Jr.

Here’s a photo of my 12-year-old son Cody and his first turkey.  Cody and I went turkey hunting in Nash County on opening day of Youth-Only Turkey Season last Saturday (April 4) just outside of Nashville, N.C. We were hunting on a 300-acre farm we leased through Hunt NC Farmland Program of the NCDA&CS.

I scouted the property a few days earlier for turkeys just before season opened and with the owner’s information and help, I learned the loose patterns of the turkeys wanderings on the farm.

Cody and I made a plan for opening morning and I patterned his gun a few days before. On opening morning, we gathered our gear — tent-style blind, two turkey decoys, two chairs, snacks, water, calls, shotgun, etc. Then, we walked in with all of this on our backs through the pastures to the spot we wanted...
By NCWRC blogger on 4/2/2015 4:13 PM
By Christopher D. Kreh, Upland Game Bird Biologist

Each year, hunters hear turkeys gobbling prior to the opening of the spring gobbler season and express interest in opening the season earlier. As a result, managers are often pressured to set earlier opening dates for spring gobbler seasons. But, according to Kennamer’s research published in 2006, “the consequences of early hunting seasons may create scenarios that harm turkeys and turkey hunting more than hunters realize.”

The whole premise of a spring gobbler season — of it being biologically sound to hunt gobblers in the spring — is based upon harvesting birds after breeding has occurred. Gobblers play no part in nesting or brood rearing. Their role is breeding. After breeding,...
By NCWRC blogger on 3/9/2015 8:03 AM
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s fire, at least on a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission game land, there’s usually a prescribed burn — one of the best and most cost-effective methods of managing habitat for wildlife.

A prescribed burn, or an intentional burning of vegetation under strict and specific circumstances, helps restore and maintain wildlife habitat. It is a cost-effective tool that Commission staff uses to create and maintain suitable and ample wildlife habitat in old fields, native grasslands and open-canopy woodlands on game lands throughout the state.

The most common prescribed burns Commission staff conducts are restoration burns and maintenance burns. Restoration burns, as their name implies, are done on fire-dependent habitats that haven’t been burned in years. These habitats include longleaf,...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/20/2015 4:38 PM
Free turkey hunting seminars co-presented by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the National Wild Turkey Federation are approaching capacity in Raleigh, but space still remains for seminars across the state.

“We often hear comments about how the introductory seminars are great, and how much hunters look forward to attending the advance seminars,” said Walter “Deet” James, the Commission’s hunting heritage biologist. “We enjoy the feedback — particularly the photos of turkeys harvested by individuals who attended our seminars.”

James offered five turkey hunting tips as a preview of the upcoming seminars:

·         NEVER move or reposition your firearm when you can see a gobbler’s eyes. Wait for the gobbler to pass behind a tree or brush then move quickly and deliberately.

·         When you think you’ve waited too long for a gobbler to come into range, wait 10 more minutes.

By NCWRC blogger on 12/1/2014 3:52 PM
By Bill Stancil


[Editor’s Note: Stancil, of Rocky Mount, is a long-time volunteer instructor in the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Hunter Education Program. This entry originally appeared as an article in the third quarter 2014 Hunter Education Program newsletter, published by the Wildlife Commission (PDF):]


As a hunter education instructor, have you ever asked yourself: “Why am I still doing this? Where is my reward for spending hours involved in teaching other people (mostly strangers) about hunting and how to do it safely? Where is the payday for the time and effort I put into the Hunter Education Program?”

If you have, rest assured that you are not alone.

Like you, I am a volunteer instructor and have been helping...
By NCWRC blogger on 8/11/2014 7:23 AM
Editor’s Note: Reprinted with permission from the Greenville Daily Reflector (, courtesy of Abbie Bennett, writer.

Download a PDF of the article as it appeared in the Greenville Daily Reflector.

Hunting laws change to deal with population From cuddly plush toy to roaring predator, bears have a reputation that both frightens and fascinates. But the reality lies somewhere between the two extremes, officials said.

There are three species of bears native to North America — the polar bear, the brown (grizzly bear) and the black bear. The only species found in North Carolina — or in the eastern United States — is the black bear.

As the weather turns warmer, more people are encountering black bears. Summer, particularly July and August, is when bears are on the move, according to wildlife officials. Mature males seek females during this breeding period and mother bears drive off juvenile males who must seek their own territory. A family of black bears already made an appearance in Pitt County recently: A mother and cubs explored a residential area off of Corey Road near Boyd Lee Park.

By NCWRC blogger on 7/29/2014 2:14 PM
The muzzleloader deer hunting season has been renamed the “blackpowder season.” (See page 41 of the 2014-2015 Regulations Digest.) The name change has prompted some questions. Here are some clarifying points:

During the blackpowder and archery deer season, the only lawful firearms are blackpowder shotguns, blackpowder rifles and blackpowder handguns.

This means that both blackpowder firearms and archery equipment are lawful methods of take during the blackpowder season, which is the same as it was under previous muzzleloading seasons. It does not indicate that blackpowder is lawful during the archery season. 

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission defines blackpowder firearms as any firearm — including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock,...
By NCWRC blogger on 6/11/2014 1:13 PM

Why Does the Wildlife Commission Conduct Prescribed Burns?

The Wildlife Commission conducts prescribed burns to improve wildlife habitat. In North Carolina, prescribed burning most commonly is conducted between January and March, when most trees are less active metabolically. However, winter burns do not completely kill young hardwoods, and they promote resprouting from the base of each plant’s stem. Therefore, repeated burns conducted during the growing season (spring) eventually kill hardwood stems, allowing a diversity of grasses, herbs, and wildflowers to develop. These herbaceous plants typically are more valuable to wildlife than the hardwood sprouts.

Why does the Wildlife Commission Conduct Prescribed Burns during Hunting Season (spring)?

We are often asked why we conduct prescribed burns when we do, particularly during hunting season, and in the early spring when ground nesting...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/20/2014 9:32 AM
[Editor’s Note:Since the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission started its Facebook page in January 2012, our “What Is It Wednesday?” feature has been a popular weekly feature — sometimes even generating more Likes, Shares and Comments than all other combined FB posts during the same week. Eventually, we knew that we’d come across a WIIW post for which no definitive answer could be provided — even by Wildlife Commission staff. That day is upon us. Read on for the back story of the bear/rabbit/sabre tooth tiger/Yeti track in the snow, and a summary of an informal conversation among four WRC Wildlife Biologists as they hypothesized what the enlarged/distorted track in melting snow might be.]

Message and Photo Sent to WRC FB Page

“I live in the Davidson County part of Clemmons, NC (on the Yadkin River). I found this...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/18/2014 3:22 PM
By Mark Knelson, Guest Blogger

I found these (deer hunting) seminars to be both extremely instructional and very interesting. While no one in my family in recent years had hunted I had some interest and these seminars proved to be the perfect opportunity to allow me to pursue this exciting sport. I was lucky enough to discuss these seminars with one of my buddies at work who is a long-time hunter having hunted with his father for years and now teaching his son.

He agreed to act as a mentor with the understanding that there was much more to hunting than simply going out and shooting an animal.Obviously, I completely agree and was able to enjoy the tract that has been in his families’ hands for many years north of Greensboro. We also built a very nice stand, reviewed images from game cameras, put out corn and salt and walked...
By NCWRC blogger on 4/26/2013 7:30 PM
As the sun rises upon the Millstone 4-H Center near Ellerbe in Richmond County, hundreds of young folks eagerly anticipate the day’s competition about to take place. 

They come from every corner of North Carolina to display the skills they have honed from countless hours of practice over the years of their young lives. They have learned to aim small and score big.  They’ve made sacrifices just as their parents and coaches have to reach this level.  The skills they will display have required discipline and control to master, but master they have.  They have proven themselves as the best within their division and district.  Now they wait, with butterflies in their stomachs.

Finally, an arrow cuts the morning air and strikes itsmark.  A sporting clay explodes into black dust following the report of a shotgun blast. 

It has begun.  

If their prowess proves enough, they and their teammates will walk away from the day as the North Carolina Youth Hunter Education Skills State Champion. ...
By NCWRC blogger on 4/26/2013 11:42 AM
Written by Al Kittredge:

With all the troubles being portrayed in our current twenty-four hour news cycle we need to pause once in awhile to look for something good going on around us. The second weekend of the 2013 turkey season the farming community of Caldwell NC gave a  small group of Wounded Warriors the opportunity to do just that.  The Caldwell Hunting Club have organized the entire community around a Wounded Warrior spring turkey hunt and fall deer hunt for the past six years. I participated as mentor to one of the Wounded Warriors during the second annual deer hunt and was deeply honored when they asked if I would volunteer to act as their liaison with the military in procuring deserving participants for future hunts.

 As a retired Vietnam Vet I remember how we were treated when we came...
By NCWRC blogger on 4/1/2013 1:26 PM
Here at the N.C.Wildlife Resources Commission, we are starting to get super excited about the upcoming spring turkey season April 6 to 12. ]. With a full week of youth-only hunting this year, more new hunters will likely be in the field than ever before. But even the most seasoned sportsman can have a terrible hunt if he orshe is not prepared. Here are some tips we gathered, from staff members, the National Wild Turkey Federation and a very popular turkey hunting clinic here at the Commission, to make this season your best year ever.

· Always bring rain gear. Nothing guarantees a surprise gully washer like forgetting the things that keep you dry. Also, bring clothing for cold and warm weather. Spring mornings can be extremely cold. And spring afternoons can be...
By NCWRC blogger on 3/20/2013 1:14 PM
Spring arrived this morning although you wouldn’t know it by the temperature outside — a brisk mid-30s throughout most of the Piedmont, and in the mountains, a downright bone-chilling mid-to-upper 20s.

Look past the temperatures though, and you can see and hear many signs of spring. From the azaleas that bloom a cornucopia of reds,oranges, pinks and whites to the forsythia that glows golden in the shimmery sunshine to the Eastern towhee that trills a metallic yet musical “drink your tea” for his mate, the season of hope, renewal and love is upon us —and not a moment too soon.

Here are our top 10 sights and sounds of spring, in noparticular order.

10) Although they’re year-round residents in North Carolina, American robins are not seen as often during the winter, preferring to spend much of their time roosting in trees.  But come early spring,...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/28/2013 4:36 PM
RALEIGH (Feb. 28, 2013) — We are getting locked and loaded for the Dixie Deer Classic that starts tomorrow at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.  As y’all might guess, a big event like that means a big “To Do” list.

Sure enough, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is going to be there in a big, B-I-G way.  We’re sending folks from Wildlife Management, Law Enforcement, Conservation Education, Wildlife Diversity, Publications, even Inland Fisheries. Yep, fisheries staff at the Dixie Deer Classic. That’ll be a first for us.

Stop by and say “Hi” at any of a number of Wildlife Commission booths, tables, seminars and exhibit trailers that we’ll be staffing.  While you’re chatting it up with us, be sure to register for the many prizes that we’ll be giving away. Check us out:

Wildlife Management biologists...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/18/2013 3:18 PM
A rabbit hunter in eastern North Carolina recently tested positive for tularemia, also commonly called rabbit fever. Another rabbit hunter in the same party also became ill and it is suspected he also has tularemia. Both hunters appear to be recovering, but this serves as an important reminder to all rabbit hunters to learn more about tularemia and to take precautions to prevent contracting the disease.

What is tularemia?Tularemia is a disease caused by a bacteria, Francisella tularensis. The disease occurs naturally worldwide. Itcan be fatal if left untreated.

How can I get tularemia?The most common way people have been infected with tularemia in North Carolina was by handling infected rabbits, a bite from an infected cat, and from a tick bite.  Transmission is also possible from ingestion of undercooked meat, drinking contaminated water,...
By NCWRC blogger on 12/14/2012 2:35 PM
Nothing can discourage a new hunter, or a seasoned sportsman, quicker than a miserable hunt. Unexpected weather, poor planning and lack of equipment can all lead to a hunt that, well, didn’t seem worth leaving the truck for.

We’ve compiled some tips that may not ensure harvesting yourdream buck, but will make sure you arrive home safe, warm and in one piece.

Here goes.

Always bring rain gear. Nothing guarantees a surprise gully washer like forgetting the things that keep you dry. Purchase your license well in advance. Review and follow safety procedures to avoid hurting yourself, a friend or a non-hunter. Also review regulations if you aren’t sure of the laws. Even if you think you are sure, it never hurts to review them again. ...
By NCWRC blogger on 11/27/2012 11:21 AM
Last year North Carolina hunters harvested more than 2,000 black bears, from the mountains to the coast. And while those bears might be a great accomplishment and trophy to the hunters who bagged them, they are just as valuable to us at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
By NCWRC blogger on 11/19/2012 4:05 PM

This time of year is a season for tradition and heritage. People will gather with families and friends reminiscing about old times,enjoying the present and making memories for the future — from eating turkey,watching football, drinking eggnog, hanging greenery and hunting. The N.C.Wildlife Resources Commission through its Home From The Hunt™ campaign urges everyone not to overlook the safety aspects of your hunting outings with family and friends.

By NCWRC blogger on 11/9/2012 1:20 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 9, 2012) — State Fairs and County Fairs may have ended last month, but follow-up work and debriefings continue into the winter. One topic of discussion within the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission addresses the Wildlife Diversity Buttons T-shirt that was developed in cooperation with Neuse Sport Shop this year as a fund-raiser for the Wildlife Diversity Program.
By NCWRC blogger on 10/26/2012 2:08 PM
A blustery, rainy weekend is blowing its way into North Carolina — at least for much of the eastern portion of the state. And while the weather isn’t ideal for outdoor activities, it is ideal for cooking up a big, steaming batch of venison chili. 

I’ve been making chili for a long time and am always lookingfor different recipes to try and tweak. Last weekend, I found — and tested — a rather unusual chili recipe,one that combines chocolate and lots of spices. Despite its heat, it was verytasty twist on my usual chili recipe so I thought I’d share it with you.

One caveat: it is rather spicy, so if you have tender tastebuds, ease back on the spices, but not the chocolate. It really does make adifference!

If you have a favorite venison recipe, feel free to share it with others on this blog. And if you’re not hankering for chili but want to try some new venison recipes, check out the Wildlife Commission’s recipe book here....
By NCWRC blogger on 10/24/2012 2:03 PM

Hunters are required to wear a cap, hat or an outer garment in blaze orange that is visible from all sides whenever they are hunting bear, feral hogs, deer,rabbit, squirrel, grouse, pheasant or quail with a firearm. Archery hunters hunting deer during the muzzleloading or gun season also must wear blaze orange anytime during that season. 

Blaze orange, also known as hunter orange for obvious reasons, isn’t a color found in nature, making it instantly recognizable as a human presence. 

More information here

By NCWRC blogger on 9/11/2012 12:11 PM
With archery season for deer opening on Saturday in most of the state and on Monday in the western counties, the Home From The Hunt™ safety campaign lists the following recommendations:
• Always point your crossbow, longbow, compound bow in a safe direction.
• Only release an arrow after positively identifying your target and what’s beyond it.
• Know your equipment’s capabilities and limitations.
• Never carry a bow with a notched arrow.
• Keep your fingers and thumb below the rail of a crossbow at all times.
• Never “dry-fire” any archery equipment, because releasing without an arrow can cause sudden breakage.

For more information on deer seasons and required hunting education, go to or call 919-707-0031.
By NCWRC blogger on 9/10/2012 11:38 AM
(Editor’s Note: For the past two summers, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Centennial Center for Wildlife Education has offered the “Becoming an Outdoors Diva” camp for girls ages 12 to 17. Madeline Rickard, 14, participated both years. Here, she writes about her experiences. She is in the middle of the photograph.) The days were jam packed and exhausting, and oftentimes sweaty, but it was so much fun that I didn’t even realize how tired I was until I was falling asleep on the ride home every day. That was Becoming an Outdoors Diva camp, and it was a great experience for all types of girls, even ones who prefer to stay inside. The camp was actually split pretty evenly between being inside and outside, so we had plenty of chances to cool off and rest. We were always moving on to something new and trying out a lot of different activities, so you tried...
By NCWRC blogger on 9/4/2012 11:04 AM
My son Jack went on his first hunt Saturday. He is 5 years old and his father and I discussed for weeks whether he was old enough to go. I thought he might be too young — he is, after all, only 5. My husband Wib, who went on his first hunt — for doves with his own father — at age 6, thought the time was right. 

Jack settled the debate with one simple sentence . . . “I want to go hunting with Dad.” In fact, it was all he talked about for weeks leading up to the opening of dove season. He even concocted a type of calendar that only he could understand “counting down the days” until Sept. 1.

Wib wanted this first hunt to be a good one for Jack — lots of birds and the sounds of shotguns ringing in the air — memories from his own first hunt, an experience that got him hooked on hunting for life. He wanted that same experience for Jack.

To alleviate any boredom that might set in and to give Jack a sense of participating in the hunt, Wib designated Jack as the “retriever,” bringing back the birds that Wib brought down. Jack loved it, despite the fact that he only brought back three the entire morning.

By NCWRC blogger on 8/30/2012 12:52 PM
Bill Stancil is a hunter education instructor who lives in Rocky Mount. A retired newspaperman and a regular contributor to the Hunter Education Program newsletter, this is an article from the Summer 2012 issue about a particularly adventurous hunting trip last season, and a different perspective from his bird dog’s viewpoint.  The headshot photo shows Stancil. The other photo shows Ginger and a friend. A Hunting Trip, a Bird Dog, Women’s Intuition and a Game Warden The season for quail hunting ended Wednesday, so before the rains came, Frank and I took my bird dog, “Ginger,” to the Tillery Game Lands last Wednesday. Since Ginger has a penchant for wanting to hunt on her own, without the benefit of my company (a trait blamed on her owner and trainer by someone else in this household), I bought a new battery for her training collar. The weather...
By NCWRC blogger on 8/14/2012 8:49 AM
Hunting season may seem like a long way off, but it’s never too soon to get a novice excited about getting into the woods.

You can sign up now and pledge to become a hunting mentor and encourage someone new to the activity. There are plenty of ways to introduce hunting when it’s not yet hunting season. We call this “indirect mentoring,” which can be just as valuable as direct mentoring.

Here are just a few ways to mentor indirectly:


Have a favorite deer rack hanging on your wall or an album of hunting trip photos? Share the stories behind those mementos with a non-hunting friend — either youth or adult. Cook a wild game dinner together, or serve a meal of wild game. Find plenty of recipes here....
By NCWRC blogger on 7/23/2012 9:49 AM
If you are a seasoned hunter, you probably remember fondly the first time you went into the woods. Maybe your father, uncle or grandfather — or perhaps even a mother or aunt — guided you to harvesting your first deer, turkey or squirrel.

Unfortunately, that familiar rite of passage — the adult taking the youth hunting — doesn’t happen too often anymore. Studies have found that the number of hunters in the United States is steadily declining. However, studies also have shown that it takes a hunter to make a hunter. Those who take up hunting tend to have a family member who hunts.

Does Hunting Matter to you? Do you want to help preserve hunting for future generations in North Carolina? You can. The Hunting Matters! “Hats On” mentoring campaign allows hunters to volunteer to take someone new to hunting into the field in 2012.  

The Hunting Heritage Program of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will provide a limited number of free, specially designed hats and bumper stickers to hunters willing to pledge to mentor a new hunter between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31. It doesn’t even have to be a youth. Have a neighbor, a cousin, a grandmother, or even a coworker, for that matter, who has never hunted? They count. Our campaign defines “new hunter” as someone who has never hunted before. In 2010, the first time the Wildlife Commission had a “Hats On” campaign, about 3,500 folks pledged to mentor someone. With about 304,000 hunters in North Carolina, opportunities abound for increased involvement.  

By NCWRC blogger on 4/28/2012 9:07 AM

On Saturday morning, teams from schools across the state arrived at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s 34th Hunter Education Tournament.

Here’s how it breaks down, by the numbers:

High school students: 341

Middle school students: 259

Tents in staging area: 36

Rain: None yet

Port-a-johns: 16

Shuttle buses from parking lot: 3

Boxes of skeet: 50

Skeet per box: 135

Bows: About 300

Parents and coaches gathered around the scoreboard at 10 a.m.: 12

By NCWRC blogger on 4/27/2012 7:23 PM
It’s 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and the shooting range is quiet.

So’s the archery range, orienteering course and parking lot, for that matter.

But come 7 a.m. Saturday morning, the situation will change. Here at the Millstone 4-H Center near Ellerbe, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host the 34th annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament.

This popular state championship for pre-collegiate shooting sports annually draws participants and spectators from across North Carolina. An estimated 3,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event.

The parking lot will fill with teams from 54 schools across North Carolina, proud parents, siblings and picnic lunches in tow. Students will be ready to take aim with shotguns and bows, and test their wildlife knowledge and orienteering skills.

Long before the students arrive, however, the several dozen volunteers, Hunter Education Instructors, Hunter Education Specialists, officers from the Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement and other agency staff have shown up to make sure the camp is ready for the students. Ranges have been set up. Archery targets sit in a stack, waiting to be used. Sunscreen, water and television scoreboards are readied.

By NCWRC blogger on 4/26/2012 8:28 AM
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host the 34th annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament on Saturday, April 28, at the Millstone 4-H Center near Ellerbe. This popular state championship for pre-collegiate shooting sports annually draws participants and spectators from across North Carolina. An estimated 3,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event. “This is the highest level of shooting sports competition of its kind in the state,” said Travis Casper, state hunter education coordinator. “Besides the hundreds of participants who qualified to get here at a district level, several hundred more spectators typically show up. We invite anyone with an interest in shooting sports to attend and there’s no admission charge.”

Competition is conducted on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary schools) divisional levels, with overall team...
By NCWRC blogger on 4/20/2012 9:10 AM
A recent N.C. State University study has shown that feral swine in North Carolina have tested positive for brucellosis (Brucella suis), a harmful bacteria that can be transmitted to people.

For details and more information on this study, visit N.C. State’s website.

For more information on brucellosis, download the brochure, “Wild Hog Hunting” Stay Healthy on Your Hunt.” To learn more about other swine diseases, download “Feral/Wild Pigs: Potential Problems for Farmers and Hunters.”

A free, pre-paid mailer for submitting feral swine samples to the state diagnostic lab for swine brucellosis testing is available by calling the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Veterinary Division, at 919-733-7601.

By NCWRC blogger on 4/18/2012 11:09 AM
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host the 34th annual Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament on Saturday, April 28, at the Millstone 4-H Center near Ellerbe. This popular state championship for pre-collegiate shooting sports annually draws participants and spectators from across North Carolina. An estimated 3,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event.

“This is the highest level of shooting sports competition of its kind in the state,” said Travis Casper, state hunter education coordinator. “Besides the hundreds of participants who qualified to get here at a district level, several hundred more spectators typically show up. We invite anyone with an interest in shooting sports to attend and there’s no admission charge.”

Competition is conducted on senior (high school) and junior (middle and elementary...
By NCWRC blogger on 4/16/2012 10:26 AM
Ever wonder how the turkey population in North Carolina is doing from year to year?

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducts a survey each summer to find those answers. From asking participants about the turkeys they observed between July 1 and August 31, 2011, biologists can determine wild turkey productivity and carryover of gobblers from the previous season.

Who typically gets surveyed?  A bunch of folks, including members of the National Wild Turkey Federation, sportsmen, personnel from the Commission, N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, several military bases and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It’s a large, diverse group to survey, and the respondents provide a lot of useful data.

For example, the 680 participants in 2011 observed 32,877 wild turkeys statewide. Of the hens, 59 percent had poults,...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/21/2012 1:25 PM
A Georgia man apprehended in North Carolina was sentenced to pay a $20,000 fine, and ordered to serve six months’ probation for attempting to transport deer illegally from Pennsylvania to Georgia.

Donald Lee Vaughn, 48, of Villa Rica, Ga., had been apprehended in Yadkin County, where wildlife officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission determined that there were no transport permits of veterinary health certificates accompanying the deer. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Atlanta on Nov. 30, 2011.

“Shipping wildlife across state lines without testing for illness and disease potentially threatens the health of our wild deer population,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “Experts tell us that once diseases spread, they are almost impossible to eradicate.”

Federal law requires that any deer shipped out of state must be tested for tuberculosis and accompanied by proper ear tags and a veterinarian’s certificate. In North Carolina, it is illegal for anyone to possess deer unless they have a proper license or permit and comply with its conditions. Otherwise, the animals are considered contraband and their continued possession is illegal.

By NCWRC blogger on 2/10/2012 3:09 PM
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has set the schedule for the 2012 Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournaments, marking the 34th year for the popular statewide shooting sports events.  Hundreds of middle school and high school students will participate in this incentive component of Hunter Education Program.

The past 10 years have witnessed a tremendous growth. For example, in 2001 there were 12 teams competing in my district, D-7, and there were 42 teams last year. In 2011, there were 218 teams total in the nine district tournaments.

I recently met with a couple of schools that had inquired on how to start a team. This has become a rather common inquiry this time of year. Here are a few of the more common questions asked by school administrators, potential coaches and community leaders.

How do we get started? Generally, I send the administrator a copy of the rules and schedule a meeting to discuss eligibility requirements, general safety rules, and the basic competition structure. I...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/7/2012 11:30 AM
If you appreciate art, love wildlife, and enjoy the outdoors, a road trip to Washington, N.C., should be on your itinerary this weekend.  Along the scenic waterfront of this small Inner Banks town is where the 17th Annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships gets under way, starting Friday at 9 a.m. 

Stop by the Washington Civic Center Friday night to see the unveiling of the portrait that will become the 2012 North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print, also known as the North Carolina duck stamp.

This is the first year that the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is offering the print and stamp at a special price of $120 — that’s $25 off the normal price. We’ll have a booth set up in the Civic Center on the stage and will take payments for advance purchases — credit card, personal checks and cash — the entire weekend. The print and stamp will be available on July 1.

Commission personnel also will be selling subscriptions...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/6/2012 12:24 PM
There are a variety of reasons the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is proposing to make night hunting of feral hogs and coyotes legal in North Carolina, not the least of which is that feral hogs are a non-native species and coyotes are an invasive species that can be destructive to the landscape across the state.

And while hunting during daylight hours is one option, both species are very intelligent and adaptable.   “Hunting in daylight can be effective, but it teaches coyotes and swine, which are very intelligent animals, to just come out at night to avoid being hunted,” said Perry Sumner, a biologist and section manager with the Commission. “Plus, at night, it’s easier to spot them without them seeing you.”

Coyotes first made their appearance...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/6/2012 10:32 AM
Traditionalists would have us believe that anniversary presents should follow this pattern: 

·         1st anniversary, paper

·         5th anniversary, wood

·         10th anniversary, tin

·         15th anniversary, crystal

·         20th anniversary, china

·         25th anniversary, silver

·         50th anniversary, gold

·         75th anniversary, diamond

That diamond for the 75th anniversary gift sound good to you?  Willing to trade it for what the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has behind the curtain?

Hope so, because no diamond can come close to the $14 billion doled out by the USFWS to support fish and wildlife conservation over the past 75 years.

Through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, the USFWS works with state fish and wildlife agencies such as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to administer several innovative fish and wildlife restoration and management programs....
By NCWRC blogger on 2/1/2012 12:54 PM
The number of women hunters in North Carolina keeps increasing, statistics from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission show.

While overall hunting license sales have fluctuated somewhat in recent years, the number of women buying hunting licenses in the state has steadily gone up, according to Harvey White with the Commission’s Administrative Services Division.

This can be attributed to numerous factors, but there are a couple we’d like to acknowledge and promote: - The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program.  This program for women 18 and older provides hands-on experiences in a variety of outdoor instructional activities, including hunting. The next big activity is a weekend workshop on April 13-15 at the Eastern 4-H Conference Center in Columbia, N.C. The...
By NCWRC blogger on 1/20/2012 1:26 PM
So, you went out and went hunting, and now you have a freezer full of fresh game.

If you’re stumped as to how to cook it, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has the solution.  The agency’s cookbook is chock full of recipes, ranging from easy venison meatballs to fried muskrat.

Learn to roast opossum. Find out how to make fricasseed raccoon. Even the pickiest eaters will find something they like.  The book’s recipes, which also include fish, shrimp and crabs, were submitted by Wildlife employees, former and current, and their families.

For additional recipes and resources on field dressing, processing game and caring for equipment, visit After the Hunt on

By NCWRC blogger on 1/9/2012 10:49 AM
Congratulations to Lane Smith, a 12-year-old from LaGrange, N.C. who took a rare albino deer while on a Nov. 26, 2011 hunt in Halifax County with his father, Kendall Smith.

Albino deer, like the 85-pound button buck Lane took, lack pigmentation and have a completely white hide and hooves, pink eyes and nose, traits observed in one in 30,000 deer. Piebald deer, while unusual, aren’t rare, with studies showing the trait may show up in one in 1,000 deer. Piebald deer are deer that have blotches of white coloration on portions of their hide that are usually dark in color.

 Lane is in his second year of active hunting and sets a good example in conservation for his classmates at Woodington Middle School in Lenoir County. The Hunter Education Program believes it is important for sportsmen to encourage others...
By NCWRC blogger on 1/5/2012 9:08 AM
Joe Schmoe knows a guy who knows guy whose brother was a game warden who swears when he was on staff at the Wildlife Commission, biologists dropped dozens of rattlesnakes from helicopters. Many folks tell this story.

Sometimes, the story is “legitimized” by adding details:  Wildlife dropped the snakes (with parachutes?) to control the deer population, and the rattler-stocking project was conducted under the cover of night from black, stealth helicopters to stay off the public’s radar screen.

Still others weave a tale of biologists wanting to replenish a dwindling population of rattlesnakes in Hanging Rock State Park.

Sounds exciting. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how much you like snakes — it’s not true. This is one of a few rumors that circulate around North Carolina, despite the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s  persistent efforts to...
By NCWRC blogger on 12/29/2011 4:08 PM

The Wildlife Commission just posted information on how to get a permit to hunt feral swine at night. Beginning today, hunters can download a special permit from and hunt swine at night with the aid of a light.

Under this policy, archery and firearm hunters with a Commission-issued permit in addition to a hunting license may hunt feral swine after normal shooting hours (½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour past sunset) where local law allows; except by firearms on Sundays. The permits are valid through March 31.

For more information, read the news release or see the permit.

By NCWRC blogger on 11/30/2011 2:11 PM

If you are a hunter, encourage others to hunt. With many hunting seasons under way, now is the time and it is important.  Sportsmen provide the economic backbone for habitat conservation; wildlife research and resource protection and we need more in the ranks. It is up to us to “Hunt Like The Future Depends On It.” Here’s what my buddy Travis Casper, acting hunting education coordinator, said about it: “For the future of conservation, the next generation needs to hunt. It’s that important. Sportsmen provide the economic backbone for habitat conservation, wildlife research and resource protection. We need to mentor youth and present a positive image of hunting to everyone.”

By NCWRC blogger on 11/30/2011 10:35 AM
Here are three common violations for waterfowl hunting cited by Wildlife Officers and how you can avoid them.

      1.   Unplugged Shotguns The transition from small game hunting might be a contributing factor for this violation, but regardless of the excuse, waterfowl hunting requires a plug in your semi-auto or pump shotgun to limit the capacity to three. (Unplugged guns are allowed from Feb. 6 – March 10 for Light Geese, which includes snow and blue geese, and Ross’ geese.)

       2.   Shooting After Permissible Time While it’s important not to forget your federal duck stamp and approved shells rather than lead shot, don’t forget to stop hunting at sunset. “This happens, particularly over...
By NCWRC blogger on 11/30/2011 10:30 AM
Legislation has changed concealed carry rules in North Carolina. The general consideration is the law allows more, rather than less, and that is true for game lands, boating access areas, fishing access areas and wildlife conservation areas managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.  I know the Castle Doctrine and Session Law 2011-268 have gotten lots of attention and generated questions. Learn more about rules for game lands, boating access areas, fishing access areas and wildlife conservation areas here.

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