Craft Beers, Breweries and the Fast-Growing Beer Culture of North Carolina

Craft Beers, Breweries and the Fast-Growing Beer Culture of North Carolina

March 18, 2019

Whether celebrating the end of a productive day, a long overdue get-together, or the simple beauty of a North Carolina sunset, there’s nothing better than sitting outside on a warm spring evening enjoying the company of good friends and family, a frosty cold beer in hand. With over 300 breweries and beer pubs and literally thousands of local ales, lagers and IPAs to choose from in our fair, beer-loving state, the heady world of craft beers and libations is thriving in North Carolina.

According to Forbes, North Carolina has more craft breweries than any other state in the South. We are also one of the most rapidly growing craft beer producers nationwide – no. 4 on a list of states with the greatest growth in craft breweries over the past four years, with an astounding 3.4 breweries per 100,000 residents over the age of 21. Beer-related events, venues (breweries, tasting rooms and beer pubs) and organizations showcase an industry that supports North Carolina growers (local ingredients ranging from barley, wheat and hops to sweet potatoes, berries and even sorghum) and is dedicated to the promotion of NC beer production and the growth of the craft beer industry both locally and nationwide.

The A to Z’s of Beer Tasting

Few people realize that just as there’s a tried-and-true, “official” method for wine tasting – swirl, sniff, slurp, swish, swallow… – there’s a right way and wrong way to judge a beer, beyond the basic, “yeah, I like that one!” or “nope, that one’s a little too bitter/sweet/ strong/weak for my tastes.” Given the number of high-quality, often nationally-recognized brews that are produced in NC, it may be worth taking an extra minute or two with a new beer to find out which tastes and qualities you prefer. suggests the following seven steps for making this evaluation.

  1. Pour the beer into a clean glass, tilting it so that the head of the beer isn’t too large.
  2. Stick your nose into the glass and inhale. Warming the glass with the heat of your hands will release even more aromas.
  3. Hold your glass up to the light and notice the color. Different types of beers feature various hues and levels of opacity.
  4. Smell again! The aroma of your beer will continue to develop as it warms.
  5. Take a sip. Let every corner of your entire mouth taste the beer. Swallow, exhale through your nose, and determine which flavors from this initial taste you’re picking up.
  6. Take a second taste, this time feeling the weight, or the density, of the beer in your mouth.
  7. ENJOY. Follow the steps all the way through once again, focusing on the aspects of the beer that you particularly like. Give the beer a score, if you’d like, and rank it on a scale of other beers you’ve tasted and evaluated.

North Carolina Breweries and Pubs

A number of breweries and pubs have emerged over the past few years, including some that are very well-known – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co., and Bull Durham Beer Co., to name a few – as well as several up-and-comers that produce and/or serve a wide range of masterfully-crafted brews.

  • Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin, NC is named after the nearby Appalachian Trail and the passion for the great outdoors that every Lazy Hiker employee seems to embody. Hikers and non-hiking visitors alike will enjoy Lazy Hiker’s special Trail Mate Golden Ale in the new taproom and brewery located in Franklin’s former town hall and fire department.
  • A beer-lover’s paradise in downtown Raleigh, the Raleigh Beer Garden features a record-setting 366 taps – 144 in the North Carolina bar alone – served in a total of four bars on three levels. Customers come for the awesome selection of beers on tap, an outstanding menu and spectacular city views from a wide-open rooftop.
  • Free Range Brewing in Charlotte offers small-batch brews on tap that change often but are all high-quality and unique. Try the Sea of Companions Oyster Stout for something new, or My Fair Lady, one of their more popular IPAs.
  • Fuquay-Varina’s small, veteran-owned boutique brewery, the Fainting Goat Brewing Co., produces high-quality, handcrafter beers – What the Buck American Pale, Der Hoof Hefeweizen (a traditional German wheat beer) and the seasonal No Kidding Belgian Wit (a Belgian white beer) – in a casual, dog-friendly atmosphere.

North Carolina Beer Month and Other Yearly Beer-Related Events

There may be festivals aplenty celebrating North Carolina’s flourishing beer culture throughout our lager-loving state, but an entire month of the calendar year – April! – has now been devoted to NC’s craft beer industry and all the unique regional beers that call North Carolina home. Next month a roster of special events sponsored by Visit North Carolina and the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild from Blowing Rock to the Outer Banks will include brewery hops, brew fests and, of course, fun and informative beer tastings.

Check out a few of the various beer-related celebrations and festivals taking place throughout North Carolina over the next few months, as featured on

  • Cape Fear Craft Beer Week kicks off on March 22 and continues through the end of the month as a celebration of the vibrant craft beer culture of Wilmington and Island Beaches. Local breweries announce new releases, a brewing championship takes place, family-focused bike rides and scavenger hunts are held, and an elegant final evening with live music and gourmet pairings is enjoyed by all who attend.
  • The Bull City Food & Beer Experience, taking place this year at DPAC in Durham on March 24, features food and drink from Durham’s finest restaurants and area breweries. Visitors enjoy live music, local food trucks and unlimited craft beer samplings.
  • Music and beer lovers alike will enjoy the 9th annual North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival, happening this year in Huntersville, NC over the weekend of May 11th/12th. Over three hours of free beer-tasting and great homegrown food are complemented by one of the best outdoor concert programs of the year. Camping is allowed at the nearly historic Rural Hill site, and special under-21 and Designated Driver discounted tickets are available so that everyone can participate.
  • The famous BBQ & Brew train, highlight of the Bryson City’s BBQ & Brews Fontana Trestle Train event on May 25, will arrive at the Fontana Lake Trestle in time for a spectacular Smoky Mountain sunset and delicious southern meal and beer samples from several local breweries (as well as root beer for the kids, served in special family-friendly train cars).

To learn more about NC Beer Month or any of these upcoming events, visit – or

For additional beer-tasting tips, go to –

And to find out more about North Carolina’s thriving craft beer industry, visit – or or




Last Call for Grilled NC Oysters!

March 12, 2019

As winter winds down and ocean waters along the Carolina coast begin the slow process of warming with the approach of longer, sunnier days, so does the oyster season draw to a close, on March 31st. A roaring fire, clouds of salty steam, the challenging prospect of prying open that final stubborn shell might not be for everyone, but as far as casual outdoor family fun goes during our chillier winter months, the delicious joy of an oyster roast cannot be beat.

The Oyster’s Habitat

North Carolina’s magnificent golden shoreline offers recreational opportunities including swimming, boating, and fishing, but did you know that some of the Atlantic coastline’s most prolific oyster beds are found in the intertidal areas and shallow waters of much of our coast? Oyster beds are areas under the sea where the shellfish breed and grow naturally, and in our state those habitats range from low reefs in intertidal waters to reefs along the salt marshes of our estuarine shorelines and the deep-water reefs of the Pamlico Sound. North Carolina is unique in that we are the only Atlantic state with such a wide range of reef environments.

The Three F’s

The social, economic, and ecological benefits that oysters and oyster reefs provide are often referred to as the “Three F’s” –

  • Food. North Carolina’s economy and cultural heritage is based, in part, on the recreational and commercial oyster industry.
  • Filter. An oyster is what is known as a filter feeder, or an organism that is able to remove harmful pollutants and sediment from the water. During this filtering process, an oyster transfers important nutrients from the surface of the water – plankton – to the bottom.
  • Fish habitat. All sorts of aquatic animals, including numerous commercially and recreationally fished species of fish, make their homes in and around oyster reefs. A healthy reef can support multiple fish, clams, shrimp and blue crabs. The crab and “finfish” industry in our state is valued at over $62 million annually.

Oyster reefs also help control erosion along our shorelines and are important indicator of the state of the shoreline overall; if a reef is not thriving, chances are the coastal ecosystem as a whole is being affected by a bigger issue.

Historical, Economic and Cultural Impact of the North Carolina Oyster

Mounds of ancient oyster shells have often been found on Ocracoke Island where Hatteras and Woccon tribal settlements once were located, showing us that the oyster has long been an important food source and possible trade commodity in our state. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the popularity of the new seafood delicacy exploded, at which point trainloads of the shellfish began being shipped to cities as far away as New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Oyster reefs were first mapped and oyster harvesting reached its peak in the 1890s. Over the decades since, the numbers of oysters harvested each year have diminished due to a combination of over-harvesting, oyster disease, and natural disaster, but those figures started to increase again in the mid-1990s as water quality improved and increased measures to preserve and re-build reefs began going into effect. Today, North Carolina’s Division of Marine Fisheries has even deemed certain reefs permanent “no-take” oyster sanctuaries in the deep waters of Pamlico Sound, and has continued to list the oyster as a “species of concern” year after year.

West Coast Vs. East Coast Oysters – Distant Cousins

Interestingly, there is a substantial difference between the appearance, taste and texture of an oyster harvested on the West Coast of the United States and one found along the Eastern Seaboard. Because the salt water in each region is made up its own blend of plankton, salt and minerals, the nutrients consumed by each oyster is unique. These variables even affect the size, taste, and texture of oysters from North to South along each coastline. Whereas a West Coast oyster tends to be sweeter and plumper, with a shell that is deeper, rounder and more jagged, an East Coast oyster is more chewy and has a briny taste, with a shell that is smoother and more narrow. Northern oysters are slower to grow and are generally more tender, whereas southern oysters – such as those in North Carolina – tend to be larger, shellfish with a texture and firmness that makes them ideal for grilling.

Oyster Season

Oyster season starts in mid-October of each year and extends through the end of March. Recreational hand harvesting during this period is allowed 24/7 and requires no proper fishing license, whereas commercial fishermen are allowed to harvest Monday through Friday, sunup to sundown, and only with a proper fishing license. No oyster less than 3 inches in length is ever allowed to be harvested by either a recreational or commercial fisherman. During oyster season, the public is provided with drop-off sites for the shells of oysters that have been shucked, which are recycled back into the waters to provide an important habitat for the growth of more oysters and countless other organisms that thrive in that coastal environment.

Purchasing, Storing and Safely Consuming Your Oysters

It may sound like common sense, but it’s critical to remember that an oyster consumed that has not been properly refrigerated, cleaned or cooked can impose some very serious health risks. Refrigeration – storing the oysters at 45 degrees or below – ensures that any bacteria that do exist do not multiply, and cooking the oyster destroys any remaining harmful bacteria that the oyster may have absorbed during the filtering process. It is also important to thoroughly clean your oyster catch of any contaminant-filled sediment. Most oyster vendors will do this for you, for a small fee.

Firepits, Pots & Shucking Knives

The cooking process itself involves cleaning the oysters and placing them on a metal sheet over an open fire or grill, then covering the pile with a wet burlap sack or towel until the steam underneath cooks the oysters and forces their shells to pop open. After 8 or 10 minutes the oysters are transferred to tables often covered with newspaper, where they are immediately, sometimes voraciously, consumed, often along with a good beer, wine or cocktail.

The Southern tradition of an oyster roast is deeply ingrained into the culture of our state. Whether you’re lucky enough to experience the adventure of harvesting your own oysters or you choose to purchase your “catch” from a neighborhood vendor, to share a meal of something as simple and delicious as a mound of perfectly-grilled oysters with family and friends is nothing short of the perfect late-winter get-together. Bon appetit!


For more information on the rules and regulations of oyster harvesting, North Carolina oyster festivals, the history of oysters in NC or how to throw an incredible oyster roast of your own, check out the following informative websites:



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March 4, 2019

Picture the exhilaration of a traditional horse race combined with the allure of a field of horses and their riders skillfully negotiating a series of course obstacles, and you’ve got steeplechase horse racing. The name may not be familiar to all, but steeplechase, or “jump racing,” is one of the most exciting equestrian competitions in the world – and North Carolina – today.

A Fabled History

Widely believed to have developed out of the ancient pastime of fox hunting, the international sport of steeplechase originated in Ireland over 250 years ago, with the first recorded race occurring in County Cork in 1752. At that time, each town’s church was typically used as an area landmark, and cross-country races between towns – between church steeples – developed as competitions of endurance and athletic ability. Participants taking part in these risky races won acclaim by jumping hedges, wading through water and skillfully maneuvering their way around various obstacles more quickly than any other riders, and onlookers began gambling on riders or horses they felt were particularly skilled. By the early 1800s, as the sport gained in popularity, more organized races began taking place in England and Ireland, and in 1834 the first steeplechase was run in the United States, at the Washington Jockey Club in Washington, D.C.

The Jockey’s Life

Most steeplechase jockeys, even in the U.S., come from England or Ireland. Whereas the majority are male, some are female, and though most are professional athletes, some are amateur. A steeplechase jockey is typically taller and heavier than a jockey who races in traditional “flat” races, as most steeplechase horses are older, larger, more powerful, and more capable of carrying a heavier rider than horses running in flat races. Not surprisingly, jockeys who ride in one type of race – flat racing or steeplechase – do not normally ride in any other type of race.

In steeplechase racing, the jockey must wear a helmet and chest protector that meet the standards of the U.S. National Steeplechase Association. The colors of a jockey’s clothing are the registered colors of the horse’s trainer or owner, a tradition that most likely originated in medieval times, when jousters used specific colors or patterns as a form of identification and allegiance.

Due to the perilous nature of steeplechase horse racing, insurance premiums for steeplechase jockeys are some of the highest for professional athletes in the world. Some of the more common types of injuries sustained in training or in races themselves are broken bones, arthritis, paralysis, sprains, and concussion.

The Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbred horses – mostly geldings (castrated horses) – that run steeplechase are trained to jump hurdles and negotiate around water obstacles at high rates of speed. Most horses, though not all, are older, more experienced, and have raced on the flat in the past but have graduated on to steeplechase, which requires a greater skill and higher level of endurance than flat racing. Most are trained on the East Coast of the United States, between Pennsylvania to the North and South Carolina to the south, which allows them plenty of rural countryside and mild weather in which to spend time outdoors training and developing.

A novice horse in steeplechase racing is one that is still developing the skills that will allow him to run in professional races down the road. Some events specifically run only novice horses, and other races prohibit novices because of their lack of experience.

The Steeplechase Course

Steeplechase courses have pre-determined routes and distances – usually somewhere between 2 and 4 miles – with grass or turf surfaces and various types of fence and ditch obstacles: water jumps, timber rails (wooden posts and rails) and brush fences, for instance. In the U.S., most obstacles, popularly known by the term “National Fences,” consist of a steel frame stuffed with plastic “brush” and a foam-rubber roll covered with green canvas, on the near side of the jump. These official National Fences are shipped from race to race ahead of time so that they are standard, race to race. No matter what part of the world the race is run or what type of obstacles are placed on the route, however, the same obstacles are used for all racers in any particular race.

North Carolina Racing Events

Late springtime in North Carolina is traditionally the time when most equestrian racing starts taking place in our state, starting off with the running of the Tryon Block House Races in rural Columbus, North Carolina – this year, on April 13th. The neighboring community of Tryon is home to the world-renowned Tyron International Equestrian Center, a facility that offers training, cuisine, lodging, entertainment, and plenty of opportunities for overall family fun and activities year-round.

On the heels of the Block House Steeplechase, the acclaimed Queen’s Cup steeplechase races occur on the final Saturday of every April – on April 27th of 2019 – in the scenic Union County community of Mineral Springs. A sporting and social event attracting horse racing fans and curious visitors alike from across the Carolinas, the race involves some of the most skilled thoroughbreds in the nation, competing in races up to 3 miles in length and vying for purse money of up to $150,000.

Steeplechase Worldwide

Steeplechase horse racing today is most popular in the U.K., France, Australia and the United States; in the U.S., most training and almost all racing occurs along the East Coast. Depending on location, some slight variations in race conditions do exist. For instance, in some nations – including the United States – competitors race alongside one another, while in others, horses are timed individually. The types of fencing and obstacles used also vary widely.

The most famous race worldwide as well as the one many consider to be the most challenging takes place in Liverpool, England – Aintree’s 180-year old Grand National Race. Around 40 Thoroughbreds race to the finish over 30 fences in this 4-mile competitive course with prize money of £1 million. According to some sources, the Grand National is the most watched TV sporting event in the world!


A complete list of U.S. steeplechase horse races can be found here –


To read more about the sport of steeplechase, visit any of the informative sites below –






Hemp: North Carolina’s Blossoming New Agricultural Venture

Hemp: North Carolina’s Blossoming New Agricultural Venture

February 24, 2019

If someone asked you to name some of North Carolina’s biggest traditional cash crops, chances are you’d be able to come up with quite a list, including cotton, soybeans, tobacco, sweet potatoes, and corn. But did you know that list of commodities could potentially shift soon to include hemp? Yes – mysterious, often misunderstood hemp is one of North Carolina’s newest crops, and many North Carolinians have a real curiosity as to the plant itself, about getting involved in growing and harvesting it, and about the potential for this crop to become one of North Carolina’s most profitable new economic staples.

The History of Hemp

Hemp has been grown for centuries in regions from Asia to the Middle East and Europe; evidence has been found, in fact, showing that hemp fibers were used in the production of textiles, clothing, paper and rope from as long as 10,000 years ago in China and Great Britain. Today, however, although over 30 nations produce hemp, exporting a variety of consumer and industrial products that utilize the plant’s fibers and oilseed, drug enforcement laws in the U.S. have strictly monitored and controlled the production of hemp here, and most hemp-based products must be imported. As a result of the United States’ comprehensive Agricultural Act of 2014, research institutions and state departments of agriculture in just 34 states – including North Carolina – have now been allowed to start growing hemp as part of a pilot program.

North Carolina’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program

North Carolina’s Hemp Commission began issuing 1- to 3-year licenses through the NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in 2017, and since that point there has been an increasing amount of interest in growing the crop; over 500 farms are now licensed. Farmers who can show evidence of income from farming, who are registered as farmers with the IRS and who are able to provide a written statement of their research objective in growing the crop are eligible to apply, and once accepted, they may start planting, harvesting and marketing their hemp crops. Farmers who are accepted into the program are required to provide the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division as well as law enforcement with full access to their fields and storage areas for ongoing monitoring of growing operations. Farmers pay a licensing fee based on total acreage as well as a minimal annual fee to participate.

What is hemp, and how does it differ from marijuana?

What exactly is hemp, and why all the interest in this ancient, yet somehow exciting new crop? Most people are aware that hemp exists, although many are uncertain as to how it is related to marijuana and to cannabis; some individuals incorrectly use the three terms interchangeably.

Cannabis, the family of plants, is divided into two genetic classifications: Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Indica. Some substantial differences exist between the two.

  • While Cannabis Inidica, or marijuana, is grown and used for its psychoactive, or mind-altering qualities, Cannabis Sativa – hemp – is harvested primarily for industrial applications: clothing, paper, plastic composites, dietary supplements, food and drinks and more.
  • There are very distinct physical differences between the two plants. While the well-recognized marijuana plant is short and bushy with broad leaves, the hemp plant is taller and more slender, with leaves that are also thinner and branches that are primarily grouped toward the top of the plant. The leaves of Cannabis Sativa are also typically lighter in color than those of Cannabis Indica.
  • A marijuana plant takes between 40 and 60 days to come to bud and is easily grown indoors, whereas a hemp plant flowers in 60-90 days, is ideal for growing outdoors, and is better suited to warmer climates.
  • The chemical composition of each classification is likewise unique. The main cannabinoids of these plants are ones called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) – THC being the psychoactive component of each plant. In marijuana, or Cannabis Indica, this measurement is 5-40%; yet in hemp – Cannabis Sativa – this number is only 0.3%. Hemp’s high CBD content acts to counteract the very small amount of THC, rendering its effects useless. It is not possible, in other words, to get high from using a hemp-based product.
Cannabis Sativa (hemp leaf)

Cannabis Sativa (hemp leaf)

Cannabis Indica (marijuana leaf)

Cannabis Indica (marijuana leaf)


Every part of the hemp plant can be used, which makes it a very environmentally-friendly and efficient crop. The range of both consumer and industrial applications for the seeds, flowers and stalks of this plant is enormous.  

Extracts from the hemp seed are utilized in food products – bread, cereal, protein powders, flour and some animal feed – as well as non-edible ones such as fuel, lubricants, paint, cosmetics, ink and varnish. Hemp extract, or CBD oil, is produced when the seed of the plant is pressed, resulting in an oil that contains elements of cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and other useful phytonutrients. CBD, when used as a wellness supplement, is helpful in reducing anxiety and is also known to aid in the treatment of swelling, digestion and pain relief. Research is ongoing as to how CBD may potentially be used in several even more promising areas, such as the treatment of schizophrenia, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Fibers extracted from the stalks of this plant are used widely in the manufacture of construction and insulation materials, fabrics and textiles, carpeting, canvas, biodegradable plastics, mortar and paper products. Fibers from the center, or hurd, of the stalk are often used in mulch, fiberboard, concrete and absorbent items such as animal bedding, whereas the stalk’s strong, natural bast fibers, the very outer layer of the stalk, are most widely used in the manufacture of paper, clothing, shoes, biofuel, cardboard and filters.

Vaping or smoking ground, CBD-rich hemp flowers, or buds, allows the effects of the plant to reach the brain immediately, providing almost instantaneous relief from pain or other symptoms. Cooking or baking with dried and ground hemp flowers is also growing in popularity.

The Future of Hemp Growing in North Carolina

Although still just a fledgling crop in North Carolina, hemp seems to be an up-and-coming agricultural favorite due to the exploding interest in hemp products nationwide, seemingly endless possibilities the plant provides in terms of potential applications, both medicinal and otherwise, and the ease with which this plant is grown and harvested. We may not, as a state, see widespread hemp farming for many years to come, but the future of this wonder plant in North Carolina is promising, profitable and bright indeed.

Applicants can find more eligibility requirements online at





Grace Cove Estate at Falls Lake

Exquisitely Designed Grace Cove Estate Home on 30 plus private acres adjoining Falls Lake! Heavily wooded, gated, paved drive, 8000+ square feet, pool and more! $2,395,000

Two story foyer at custom marble-tiled entryThis exceptional property is located just minutes from Falls Lake and close to both Raleigh and Durham. Built in 2008, the custom five bedroom, seven full bath home offers all of the amenities including an open floor plan, HUGE kitchen, first floor master, four car garage with bathroom, a two car garage/workshop downstairs, outdoor porches and patios, pool, custom waterfall and Koi pond, and attentive landscaping throughout.

Interiors feature ten foot ceilings on the first floor with five piece crown molding, heated floors, domed stained glass, a two story foyer with custom marble, arched doorways, elevator, extensive custom mill work, custom wrought iron, heart of pine floors, granite vanities, an extensive security system and so much more. Over 1,200 sq. ft. of unfinished space and storage! Poolside covered entertainment area

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Enjoying the Sport of Hunting with Dogs in North Carolina

Enjoying the Sport of Hunting with Dogs in North Carolina

North Carolina’s spectacular natural resources include an abundant wildlife population that provides opportunities for hunting and fishing throughout the year. And just as some individuals prefer hunting over fishing, or deer hunting to duck hunting, so it is that every sportsman – or woman – has his or her own style when it comes to hunting solo or with the aid of a hunting companion: a dog.

“Man’s Best Friend” Over the Millennia

Cave drawings from as long as 12-40,000 years ago have shown us that hunters were often accompanied by dogs. Our early ancestors had dogs – wolves, perhaps, although some dispute this – and were hunting with those animals even before they started using agriculture for survival. Hunted animals not only provided much-needed food, but materials for clothing and shelter as well. The success – and survival – of a hunter, so many eons ago, depended not just on his own abilities but the skill of his hunting companions. These dogs were often guard animals as well, and as this strong relationship grew over the centuries, dogs developed into true companions and family members – “man’s best friend.”

The Incredible Bond Between a Hunter and His Dog

The special place dogs enjoy in our lives as providers, companions, and loyal protectors is unique in itself, but many hunters will tell you that the innate, emotional bond between a hunting dog and his owner is the strongest relationship of all between humans and canines. The sense of trust and collaboration that develops between the two is described by some as almost spiritual in nature – a symbiotic relationship based on the highest level of understanding.

Born to Hunt

Certain breeds of dog are specifically born to the role of hunting dog. Other breeds do not typically have the instinct to perform well, although many mixed-breed canines are born with a hunting instinct. While ALL dogs who are successfully trained to hunt possess certain characteristics – a strong desire to work hard and to chase, athleticism, willingness to be trained, and endurance – an outstanding dog will chase and hunt with a unique, remarkable skill.

Generally speaking, a hunting dog has a powerful sense of smell, or he is very, very fast, or he is a combination of both. Hunting dogs can broadly be categorized into three groups.

  • A hound either follows the scent of prey with his nose – a “scent hound” – or through visual contact – a “sight hound.” Scent hounds show a high level of endurance and often hunt in packs, typically cornering or treeing their prey until the hunter is able to catch up. A sight hound, on the other hand, is often very fast, and trained to chase and kill prey on his own.
  • The gun dog, often used to hunt birds but also small animals, such as rabbits, is taught to find prey, bring it to his owner, and even remember where prey that has been shot is located. He is specifically trained to find and to retrieve. Based on the dog’s ability, instinct and role in a hunt, most dogs can clearly be classified as a retriever, setter, spaniel, pointer or water dog.
  • The role of a retriever is to bring back prey to the hunter after it has been killed. Retrievers are intelligent – often able to recall the locations of animals or birds that have been shot down even hours later – and are easily able to learn and recognize hand, verbal or whistle commands. The “retriever” category is broadly broken down into two breeds – Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.
  • A Setter is distinctive in that he does not retrieve prey (usually birds), but he freezes into a very recognizable pose which indicates where prey is to be found. The setter’s actions are very much in tune with the hunter’s commands, and he will only locate birds and flush them out if he is commanded to do so. A few examples of setters are the English Setter, Irish Setter, and Gordon Setter.
  • Spaniels are similar to setters in that their role is to locate and flush out prey. They are also extremely smart and are often used in conjunction with different types of hunting dogs in a hunt. Cocker Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels, and Papillons all belong to the spaniel category.
  • Pointers locate and point at prey as well, and ordinarily allow the hunter to kill the prey upon arrival. Some pointers will retrieve prey, but usually only one animal or bird at a time, and they are not typically able to recall where various hunted animals are located over a period of time. The family of pointers includes Wirehaired pointers, German Longhaired Pointers, and Old Danish Pointers.
  • Water dogs are blessed with a high level of endurance and are specifically skilled in flushing out and retrieving all types of waterfowl. They are expert swimmers, born for the water. Some examples of water dogs are Newfoundlands, Standard Poodles, and Portuguese Water Dogs.

Interestingly, the state dog of North Carolina is one of only four state dogs in the United States that is native born and bred: a hunting dog called the Plott Hound. Developed by a German immigrant, George Plott, in the mid-1700s as an overall family dog – protector, hunter, loyal companion for kids and adults alike – he was and is particularly skilled as a wild boar and bear hound, with a remarkable courage, strength and superior hunting skills.


Legally Hunting with Dogs in the State of North Carolina

Finally, there are several regulations to keep in mind if you are interested in hunting with dogs in the State of North Carolina, including these particular laws.

  • In MOST counties, it is legal to hunt with the aid of dogs in North Carolina. Counties where this is not legal include Rockingham, Guilford, Randolph, Montgomery, Stanly and Union counties.
  • It is against the law to hunt deer during closed season, which includes any activities involving the training of hunting dogs. A hunting license is necessary for anyone training a dog for hunting.
  • In 21 counties in North Carolina, it is illegal to use hunting dogs at all to hunt bear. It is also illegal to allow hunting dogs to run free on bear sanctuaries during closed season.
  • While most in-season animals and game birds may be hunted with the assistance of hunting dogs, it is illegal to use dogs at all during wild turkey season in North Carolina, which runs from early April through mid-May of each year. Feral swine – pigs living in the wild – have their own restrictions; dogs can only be used on game lands where the use of dogs in deer and bear hunting is allowed.  

For more information on hunting regulations, hunting seasons, events and wildlife-related resources, check out the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s website, at

Back Yard Bird Watching

The Great Backyard Bird Count: Counting Birds for Science… and for Fun!

Back Yard Bird Watching

Back Yard Bird Watching

North Carolina is not only blessed by a range of spectacular geographical regions, but by a broad array of plants, animals and birdlife, too. We are fortunate to be living in one of the most naturally diverse states in the country, where often we take for granted the closeness of nature and the incredible natural bounty of our beautiful state. 

During the worldwide, annual Great Backyard Bird Count, avid and beginner birdwatchers alike count the birds they see in their yards or neighborhoods and record those observations by submitting detailed checklists online. Volunteers are invited to count birds in their vicinities for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the 4-day count, taking place this year between Friday, February 15th, 2019 and Monday, the 18th. Information collected provides valuable data on species and their numbers in any given region, helping researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society to better understand variations in bird populations year to year and decade to decade.


In 2018, volunteers from over 100 countries submitted checklists reporting an astounding 6,456 species of birds. In North Carolina, reports were submitted from 97 out of 100 counties, ranking our state number 9, nationwide, in terms of total checklists provided, with the majority of these – 528 checklists – coming from Wake County alone. 2019 promises to be another momentous year, per Marshall Iliff of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, due to especially high numbers of three particular East Coast species: the colorful Evening Grosbeak; the Winter Finch; and the Red-Breasted Nuthatch, one of several North Carolina bird species whose numbers have been expected to diminish due to climate change.

Check out these – and so many more – fun and family-oriented bird count activities taking place in our very own Wake County parks next weekend!


Bird Walk Along the American Tobacco Trail

Friday, February 15, 8-10am, Ages 6 & Up

Count the birds on an informative group walk along Wake County’s legendary Tobacco Trail.

Historic Yates Mill County Park: Breakfast with the Birds!

Saturday, February 16, 9-10:30am, All Ages

Enjoy donuts and hot chocolate or coffee with the kids before walking the trails, identifying and counting the birds in one of the county’s most scenic wildlife refuges.


The Eagles Have Landed! – at Lake Crabtree County Park

Sunday, February 17, 1-3pm, All Ages

Between 2003 and 2011, eagles often nested in the park, but since then, sadly, no nests have been spotted. This year, a brand new nest has been discovered! Learn more about this mother eagle and her nest and join park staff looking for eagles and other birds that inhabit the lake’s mudflat area.

Harris Lake: Wacky Woodpeckers

Monday, February 18, 10:30am-12pm, All Ages

Learn all about the distinctive woodpecker, one of the most easily identified birds in our region. Hear some common calls, listen for the telltale sound of these colorful birds as they peck for food on the side of a tree, and make a suet log to hang up in your own back yard. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

To find out more about the worldwide Great Backyard Bird Count program, including registration, photo contest rules, and tips in identifying local species, go to For a complete list of Wake County bird count-related events, please visit









Duck Season NC

Duck Hunting? Keep Abreast of Seasons and New Regulations

Although there has been talk about 2018 being less than a banner year for duck hunters in North Carolina, there is still opportunity to take advantage of the next few weeks in 2019 season in order to bag certain limits and enjoy the sport.

Depending on what variety of duck or migratory bird you want in your sights, the season for several varieties of fowl extends until the latter part of January and on into February for some geese, swans, dove, woodcock and the common snipe. For avid hunters, that translates into additional opportunity to plan a trip to the areas of the state that comprise flyover zones for specific migratory fowl, including the timberland, farms and ranching tracts throughout North Central North Carolina.

Seasons and Stamps

Federal law requires that every hunter aged 16 or over must have carry a federal duck stamp. Younger hunters may voluntarily purchase the stamp, and are encouraged to do so for conservation purposes. The state stamp, while no longer required, is still available for collectors. Detailed information about the stamps, licensing requirements, seasons and other regulations is available from the state of North Carolina. 

Sporting Regulations

Our state’s Wildlife Resources Commission, in conjunction with federal regulators, sets the seasons and has jurisdiction over required licenses and limits, including the specific areas and hours of legal hunts. For detailed information regarding the regulations and requirements, visit the online site, and search out detailed information for the type of game bird hunting you have in mind.

Youth Waterfowl Days 

The state has also set aside two days — February 2 and 9 — as Youth Waterfowl Days, allowing young people under the age of 18 to hunt legally. In general, the youth must be accompanied by an adult aged at least 18. Typically 16 or 17-year-olds must have a federal duck stamp and a valid state license; specific requirements are detailed here, and accompanying adults also must follow certain guidelines.

Scouting Hunting Grounds

Because migratory fowl traditionally follow the same flyways year after year, avid hunters typically return to the same areas each year. The weather patterns in 2018 may have played a part in altering some of the traditional flyways of migratory wildlife. In addition, flooding and enlarged marshy areas offered larger landing areas for fowl, helping to disperse populations. Locations that have traditionally been prime hunting grounds were perhaps sparsely populated by fowl this past fall.

Even though public land is available for hunters, many prefer to hunt on private tracts. Hunters are now required to obtain written permission from a landowner, dated within the past 12 months, to hunt on private land. A desirable bonus of owning property in this part of the state can be additional income generated by hunting leases during season. 

If you’re interested in learning more about parcels of land available for recreational use in North Central North Carolina, why not contact us for more information? We’ll be happy to assist you in your search for hunting property, forested land, or scenic acreage on which to build a home or vacation retreat. 



Migratory Game Bird Seasons–swans