Big Changes for NC Hunters - Carolina Country

Big Changes for NC Hunters

New management rules affect deer and bear seasons

By Mike Zlotnicki

Big Changes for NC Hunters

Deer hunters in North Carolina will have a two buck, four doe limit across the state this season.

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission voted in March to adopt rules related to wildlife, fisheries, and game lands management for the 2018–19 seasons. The effective date for these changes is Aug. 1, 2018.

Deer herd management

Deer hunting is the most popular type of hunting in North Carolina, with almost 250,000 participants. Proposed changes to the deer seasons fostered spirited responses during the public hearing process, and the Commission received passionate, well-articulated concerns from constituents regarding the cultural and traditional impacts of proposed deer season changes. Commissioners weighed those comments along with biological information and decided to only adopt the following:

  • Implement a statewide bag limit of two antlered and four antlerless deer.
  • Bonus Antlerless Deer Harvest Report Cards are restricted to the Urban Archery Season only.
  • Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) participants would retain harvest flexibility.
  • Shift either-sex days to the beginning of the Introductory, Conservative, and Moderate Gun Either-Sex Seasons.
  • Move Polk, Rutherford and Cleveland Counties to the Northwestern Deer Season, and retain the Moderate Gun Either-Sex season.

“In efforts to improve the condition of our deer herd across North Carolina, we evaluated both the biological condition of the deer herd and conducted a large-scale, science-based survey of deer hunters to determine their attitudes and preferences for potential changes that could improve management of our white-tailed deer resource,” explains Dr. David Cobb, chief of the wildlife management division at the Commission. “Balanced options — balances between changes to achieve biologically optimum conditions and to achieve deer hunter preferences, which were not always the same — were taken to public hearings across the state in January 2018. Based on these biological and sociological data collected over seven years and public feedback through the rule making comment processes, the Commission voted to make the changes that will take effect in the 2018–19 deer season.”

Bear management

The Commission adopted rules to align bear hunting seasons in the Coastal Bear Management Unit (CBMU) with the five bear hunting zones with one modification, moving Pamlico County into Zone 5 of the CBMU. Additionally, the Commission disapproved the proposal to add two weeks to bear hunting season in the Mountain Bear Management Unit.

“Changes in bear hunting seasons that will take effect in 2018–19 are to address specific objectives in the Bear Management Plan approved by the Commission in 2012, specifically to stabilize the bear population, which for many years has been increasing,” Cobb says.

The table of upcoming season dates, approved by the Commission, may be found at

New Public Fishing Areas

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has partnered with Alleghany and Surry counties to provide anglers with two new public fishing areas on the New River and Ararat River.

Farmers Fish Camp Public Fishing Area (PFA), a joint partnership between the Commission and Alleghany County, provides access to the New River northwest of Sparta. The Commission previously had a public fishing area at this site, but it was closed in 2013 when the bridge adjacent to the launch site was destroyed by a flood. (GPS coordinates are: 36.551317, -81.182612.)

The PFA has access stairs with a handrail and a slide for canoe, kayaks and other paddlecraft, and anglers can fish for smallmouth bass, rock bass, redbreast sunfish and muskellunge.

The Commission constructed Farmers Fish Camp PFA using money from the Sport Fish Restoration Program, as well as fishing license sales receipts. Alleghany County will maintain the area.

The new 268 East PFA, on the Ararat River west of Pilot Mountain, is a joint partnership with Surry County. (GPS coordinates are: 36.366652, -80.543216.)

The PFA has a hand launch for canoes, kayaks and other paddlecraft and anglers can fish for smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish and bullhead catfishes.

Commission staff provided engineering and survey work funded by the Sport Fish Restoration Program, as well as fishing license sales receipts. Surry County paid to have the site built by a private contractor using funds provided by the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund.

To find one of more than 500 public fishing areas throughout the state, visit the Commission’s interactive fishing map. For a list of all boating access areas open to the public in North Carolina, visit

About the Author

Mike Zlotnicki is associate editor at Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. He lives in Garner with his wife, three daughters and two German shorthaired pointers.

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