'Dramatic' Changes Coming to NC Deer, Bear Hunting Rules

ASHEVILLE, NC - Western North Carolina hunters might be losing the treasured tradition of Thanksgiving week deer hunting if proposed hunting rules go into effect this year.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is proposing changes to long-held hunting seasons for white-tailed deer and bear hunting in the mountains that could allow longer periods for hunting with guns in the woods and allow bear and deer hunting seasons in the mountains to overlap.

Proposed bear hunting regulation changes

Proposed deer hunting regulation changes

Proposed rules would remove the traditional start of rifle hunting for deer on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

“These are some pretty dramatic proposals, but they are based on biological data that we’ve been collecting for five years or more. These are the best proposals biologically for the deer population and to improve hunter satisfaction,” said Mike Carraway, a state Wildlife Commission.wildlife biologist based in Asheville.

The time-honored tradition of the opening day of gun season for white-tailed deer is at a time that is usually cool and crisp, but not too cold, perfect for spending hours outdoors, silent and motionless. The leaves have mostly melted away, creating more forest openings for spotting deer.

The proposed rules would move the opening season of black powder, also known as muzzle loading, from the beginning of October to the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and shorten the season from two weeks to one.

If passed, the dates would be Nov. 17-23 this year. Although black powder is primitive weaponry, it is considered part of gun season.

The opening of western North Carolina gun season for deer would start the Saturday after Thanksgiving and last for six weeks, closing the first Sunday in January. For this year, the dates would be Nov. 24-Jan. 6, 2019.

This would add three weeks to gun season, Carraway said.

The archery season would remain the same, about 10 weeks starting the second Saturday in September.

The Wildlife Commission will hold public hearings to take comment on the proposed rule changes throughout January for each of the nine districts. The hearing for a Triad district will be held in Graham on Jan. 10 at the old Alamance County Courthouse. Another meeting will be held at Elkin High School on Jan. 18. 

The opening of western NC gun season for deer would start the Saturday after Thanksgiving and last for six weeks, closing the first Sunday in January. For this year, the dates would be Nov. 24-Jan. 6, 2019.

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