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Buck bag limit may be cut in half

By Staff
Proposed change would bring uniform rules to N.C.
Staff Writer
Eastern North Carolina deer hunters may this year only get to bag half the deer they shot in previous years.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has proposed implementing a two-buck bag limit for counties in the eastern deer season that currently have a four-buck limit.
The commission is scheduled to take a final vote on this and more than 80 other hunting and fishing regulation changes in March. If approved, the bag-limit reduction would bring the eastern deer season in line with regulations governing the rest of the state. Tracy Warren, owner of Warren Sport Headquarters in Washington, said he is “all for” the proposed bag-limit change.
Results of a survey of North Carolina deer hunters conducted by the commission in 2006 indicated that 76 percent of Eastern Deer Season hunters believe there are too few mature bucks in the population. Survey results also indicated that 52 percent of eastern deer season hunters supported a reduction in the antlered buck bag limit, according to a commission handbook explaining the proposed changes.
Ellwood Sprouse, a Washington sportsman, said the proposed changes may not be so palatable to younger hunters.
Sprouse said he thought most trophy hunters would agree with the proposed change, as would hunters that kill deer for meat because they often shoot does and don’t hold out for big bucks.
A policy of harvesting fewer bucks and more does is called quality deer management. Warren said halving the buck bag limit would not only improve population balance between male and female deer, but would encourage antler growth.
The Quality Deer Management Association advocates for similar regulations nationwide and abroad to ensure the future sustainability of whitetail deer populations. Harvesting fewer bucks produces “biologically and socially balanced deer herds,” according to the association’s Web site.
The QDM approach typically involves the protection of young bucks — yearlings and some 2.5 year-olds — combined with an adequate harvest of female deer to maintain a healthy population in balance with existing habitat conditions and landowner desires, according to the Web site.
The commission is also proposing to allow bear hunting in Greene, Lenoir and Pitt counties from the second Monday in November to the following Saturday.
Though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the bald eagle from its list of federally threatened species, another proposed change would remove the bald eagle from the list of federally threatened species and add it to the list of state-threatened species because the “ bird is still relatively rare in North Carolina.”
A full list of the proposed regulation changes can be viewed by visiting www.ncwildlife.org. Comments on the proposed changes can e submitted online by visiting the Web site.