As the end of deer season approaches, local hunters continue to hunt hard and bag some trophies.
A Davidson County hunter got a 19-point nontypical buck that unofficially green scored 191. The deer was harvested near Lexington and if scoring proves correct it would be one of North Carolina's top nontypical deer.
Hill's Minnow Farm reported more than 445 deer checked in. Many trophy size bucks have been brought in by hunters of all ages.
Duck hunters are finding good numbers of birds throughout the Yadkin Basin. Mallards, Ringnecks, Widgeons, Black ducks, and Wood ducks are commonly seen along with Hooded Mergansers, coots and occasional Ruddy Ducks.
Areas that good numbers of ducks have been observed on High Rock Lake include Pott's Creek, Grant's Creek in the adjoining pot-holes, Crane Creek near the upstream cyprus trees and the islands in the mud flat portion upstream from Shriner's Point.
Duck season ends on Jan. 26, 2008, at sunset.
Proper disposal of deer and other game carcasses is an important step of a hunting trip, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Anything else is illegal, a potential health hazard and unsightly.
"Recent reports of illegally discarded deer carcasses give a negative image of hunting and hunters," said Capt. Chris Huebner, a wildlife enforcement officer and the state's hunting safety coordinator. "Dumping of remnants on a highway right-of-way or without permission on private property is littering, punishable by fines up to $1,000. Dumping of remnants into a creek or waterway is littering and a pollution violation."
A responsible hunter will dispose of animal remains as allowed by local ordinances, usually at a specified area of the local landfill, or bury remains at least 2 feet deep, Huebner said.
"Don't think a carcass will just be taken care of," he said. "Remnants on the side of the highway may not be cleared by a road crew. The carcass left on the ground won't decompose or be eaten by scavengers right away, and it certainly won't float downstream. The impact on the environment and the negative effect on public perception of hunters and hunting are long-lasting."
Hunter responsibility and ethics are taught as part of the statewide hunter education program, with courses offered free and required for first-time hunting license buyers. For class availability or more hunting information, go to www.ncwildlife. org.
Crappie are biting well on High Rock and Tuckertown lakes.
Crappie weighing up to 2 pounds have been observed in fishermen's creels on Pott's Creek. Jigs and minnows are both proving to be equally good bait. Focus on deep water structure for the best action.
Good numbers of striped bass have been reported on Badin Lake near the mouth of Gar Creek. Recent net surveys taken by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission found heavy concentrations of stripers in this area. Also, some nice blue cats weighing more than 20 pounds were reported.
While local Wildlife Officers Jeremy Harrill and Levy Roberts investigated suspected night deer hunting, they recovered and seized seven deer, two rifles and charged 24 separate counts of night deer hunting. A total of six suspects were charged in Davidson and Rowan counties from violations that occurred in a monthlong spree.
Rowan County Sheriff's Deputy Josh Mchone stopped six suspects who were shining a spotlight. They had guns and a freshly shot deer. The deputy made contact with Wildlife investigators, who then made additional arrests. In addition to loss of hunting licenses, court costs and fines, the suspects face more $4,000 in replacement costs for damage to wildlife resources.
A recent hunting accident resulted in criminal charges involving the victim. Grover D. Berrier of Linwood was seriously injured after being shot by a muzzle-loading rifle. On the night of Dec. 13, Berrier was allegedly night deer hunting with a .50-caliber muzzleloader and flashlight. As he was walking along a field, the homemade shoulder strap broke and the rifle fell butt first, striking the ground and discharging a shot that struck him in the back. He is expected to recover from the injuries, but he faces charges of night deer hunting, hunting without a license and failing to register big game harvest.
Officers have found numerous examples of crappie fishermen having more than the limit in the Pott's Creek area. Two fishermen were found with more than 80 fish above the limit. In the past week, six more suspects have been charged with possessing more than the daily creel limit of game fish in the same area.
Wildlife officers also have investigated and charged suspects with taking more than the limit of antlered bucks, illegal dumping of carcasses and failing to register big game harvest.
Sportsmen are urged to contact the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to report illegal hunting, fishing, trapping or boating offenses at 1-800-662-7137. All information received involving violations is confidential.
The public hearing for Wildlife District 6, which includes Rowan and Davidson counties, will be Jan. 10 at South Stanly High School in Norwood at 7 p.m.
A reduction in the Eastern season buck bag limit, an extension on squirrel season and definitions on natural and artificial bait for mountain trout waters are among the proposed changes to the state's fishing and hunting rules.
In January, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will hold its annual series of nine public hearings across the state, inviting public comments on 84 proposed changes to hunting, fishing and trapping regulations. After hearing public comments and reviewing written comments, the 19 members of the Wildlife Commission will meet in March and vote on the rules.
Some of the proposals apply only to one county or region, such as implementing a one-fish creel limit on blue catfish greater than 32 inches in length in Lake Norman and Badin Lake, while others apply statewide.
The proposed one-month extension of red and gray squirrel season, effective statewide, would move the closing day from Jan. 31 to the last day of February, bringing the season in line with other small-game species seasons.
A proposed regulation on the definitions of natural and artificial bait may be of interest to mountain trout anglers, particularly those who use fish-attracting baits, such as Power Bait, when fishing in wild trout and delayed-harvest trout waters where only artificial bait is allowed. This proposal, if passed, would apply to public mountain trout waters and defines artificial lures as bait that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell. Natural bait is defined as any living or dead organism or prepared substances designed to attract fish by taste or smell.
Other proposed hunting, trapping and fishing rules changes include:
* Eliminating regional trapping seasons for mink, muskrat, nutria, otter, skunk, weasel, bobcat, opossum, raccoon, coyote and groundhogs and establishing one statewide season, Nov. 1 through the last day of February, with some exceptions.
* Opening 3,800 acres in Burke County as a permit-only game land and 1,900 acres in Brunswick County as a six-day-per-week game land.
* Closing the striped bass season in the inland and joint fishing waters of the Cape Fear River and its tributaries year-round; reducing the daily creel limit to two fish and establishing an Oct. 1 to April 30 harvest period for the inland and joint fishing waters of the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse and Pungo rivers and other rivers and waters in the Coastal Plain, excluding the Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound striped bass management area and Cape Fear River.
* Adding several species to the state's list of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern species while removing others from the list.
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You can e-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.