Wildlife Commission Hunting rules revisions proposed by N.C. panel.

The changes, if passed, would affect hunting for deer, turkeys, doves and coyotes, and weapons used.

By Mike Zlotnicki
(Raleigh) News & Observer

North Carolina hunters might be able to hunt longer, with more types of weapons, and – in some cases – on Sundays if several proposals announced at Wednesday’s wildlife commissioners meeting are approved.

The sweeping changes in regulations – particularly for deer hunting – would affect hundreds of thousands of hunters in the state.

David Hoyle Jr., chairman of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Big Game Committee, announced several proposals during the meeting at the commission’s headquarters on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.

Among the proposals:
Create a single deer season for the state. Now, there are four main regional seasons. The new season would be the same as the current eastern deer season, which this year will run Sept. 13 to Jan. 1.

Allow bow hunting and falconry on Sundays on private land.

Allow hunters, when on private land, to choose any weapon (bow, muzzleloader or center-fire rifle) from the start of the hunting season.
Move the opening of turkey season to the first Saturday of April statewide, which would extend the season by about a week.

Ask the legislature for the authority to regulate deer hunting with dogs, and possibly fine dog owners when hounds trespass on private land.

Allow the hunting of coyotes at night with the use of artificial lights.

In dove hunting, raise the daily bag limit from 12 to 15; on opening day only, allow shooting to start at noon, and, for the rest of opening week, allow shooting to start a half-hour before sunrise.

Hoyle, who is from Dallas, N.C., said the issues were part of the public-input process used to consider rule changes. Seven meetings are held each year, usually in Raleigh, but also in Corolla and the Pisgah Forest.

The proposals will be made final in committees and will be presented at public hearings throughout the state. The commissioners will vote on the proposals in the spring. The earliest any changes could take effect is July 1, 2009, Hoyle said.

The deer-season changes are based on deer population and hunter retention.

“Sunday hunting is a tool to put more people in the field,” Hoyle said.

Commission Chairman Wes Seegars of Goldsboro cited car accidents and farming issues.

“All of this (deer regulation proposals) is an attempt at two things: one, hunter retention, and two, to bring the deer population down,”

Seegars said, “From the insurance agency, we know that we’ve got more car/deer strikes (collisions), and also some of the farming organizations have asked us to look at a way to bring down the deer population.”
All proposals will be open for public input after committees make recommendations about which ones to take to the annual public hearings. The public can also comment now at wrccomments@ncwildlife.org