In North Carolina, with its wonderful climate and three types of terrain – mountain, plateau and seashore – sportsmen (and women) take their hunting seriously. With hundreds of grocery stores and specialty meat markets, deer hunting isn’t just about killing a deer for meat. Rather, it is about the most fair and forthright method of making that kill, often with the same tools used by their ancestors.
Besides the usual implements (i.e., rifles and shotguns), North Carolina deer hunters can legally use pistols (.24-caliber shell or larger), muzzleloaders, and bow-and-arrow combinations, the latter two providing infinitely more challenge than the usual point-and-shoot action of rifle hunting.
For example, in the black-powder muzzleloading category, hunters not only get a healthy dose of nature at its best as they stalk their prey, but face a final moment when loading powder and shell and taking that one shot at close range, using mid-17th century weapons technology, defines the real meaning of sportsman and separates the muzzleloading experts from the mere hunters.
Today’s muzzleloading deer hunter has the advantage of modern technology in a highly traditional weapon. A single ball still needs to be rammed down the barrel, giving the hunter that one, all-important shot. But 21st century know-how has added various ignition systems that Boone and Crockett would have marveled over. Called “in-line” shooters, these adaptations make the muzzleloader look more like a high-powered rifle, and deliver the same kick without destroying the single-shot element of true sportsmanship established by America’s legendary “mountain men.”
In the bow category, hunters can use compound bows, crossbows, recurve bows and long bows, the latter two with a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds. Compound bows are legal at 35 pounds draw weight, and crossbows must be at least 150 pounds of draw weight. Broad head arrows, whether fixed-blade or mechanical, must copy a cutting edge design with a minimum base width of 7/8 inch.
Other rules may apply to the use of conventional weapons. For example, some North Carolina counties require the hunter to shoot from an elevated stand when using a center-fire bolt-action, semi-automatic, or single shot rifle (as opposed to a rimfire). In other counties, hunting with dogs may be legal, but hunters must check with the state’s Wildlife Resource Commission to confirm. In areas of North Carolina where it is legal, dog hunting is deeply embedded in the legend and culture of the area, and represents another facet of deer hunting as it used to be. The arguments about sportsmanship run about equally pro and con, but devoted deer hunters who run dogs as beaters point to tradition as their reason.
Equally as important as the choice of weapon is the choice of clothing and footwear. For example, in a deer stand, heavier clothing is better because remaining more or less motionless makes a body cold. In tracking or still hunting, with or without dogs, lighter fabrics that wick perspiration away from the skin make for greater comfort. And the most important element is proper footwear.
On September 20, 2012, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue declared Sept. 22 as Hunting and Fishing Day. Nationally, this day is a tribute to the conservation efforts of hunters and fishermen, who jointly help protect the wild places for the enjoyment of everyone. Which brings to mind one final question: why do people hunt?
For sportsman and writer William G. Tapply of New Hampshire, hunting is the way he reminds himself that all creatures are part of a long and unbreakable food chain that drives the cycle of life, from birth to reproduction and finally to death. Other hunters, no less reverent in the face of Nature but less eloquent, cite as their reason the immediate pleasure of immersion in the natural world. And for a few, the time alone at dusk or dawn provides a peaceful, uncluttered window in which big decisions can be made without doubt. Enjoy your 2012 Deer Hunting season in North Carolina!
If you are looking for deer hunting properties in North Carolina, look at some of the recreational properties on the Legacy Farms and Ranches of North Carolina website.