07/18/08 — Uniform deer season gets proposed

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Uniform deer season gets proposed

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on July 18, 2008 1:36 PM

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Big Game Committee has hunters across the state talking.

During a recent meeting of wildlife commissioners in Raleigh, the group raised some eyebrows and ruffled some feathers with multiple proposals and discussion points. Among them was the idea of opening a uniform deer season that would allow hunters to use a legal weapon of choice on private lands while maintaining a separate archery and muzzleloader season on state game lands.

Also, the committee suggested opening bow hunting and falconry on Sunday.

"This proposal has several possible positive effects," said Wildlife Commission chairman Wes Seegars. "We would like to promote hunter retention, we want to better manage the herd and we want to give people ample opportunity to hunt."

Contrary to rumors swirling around the proposal, the increased number of vehicle accidents involving deer was not among the list of factors the Big Game Committee considered when developing their policy changes.

"Our job is to manage the herd for health, and right now our biologists are telling us that we are not harvesting enough deer during the season," said Seegars. "Less accidents resulting from deer collisions is simply a positive by-product."

Seegars pointed to a recent case of Hemorrhagic disease to illustrate the consequences of poor herd management.

"During the nineties we had an outbreak that cost us anywhere from 15-40 percent of the herd depending on the region," he said. "That's nature's way of telling you that you have too many deer, and we don't want it to happen again with more drastic results.

"I am not saying that an outbreak is eminent, but I am saying that if we fail to manage the population numbers, it could happen."

Despite the proposal being in it's infancy, lines in the sand are already being drawn among groups of hunters, which puzzles Seegars.

"All of this information is going to be opened for public comment so we can make sure we are decimating all of the data," said Seegars. "None of the new strategies will take effect until 2009 at the earliest."

Sportsmen wanting to find out more about the new porposals and possible changes to the hunting regulations are encouraged to visit the commission's website, www.ncwildlife.org.

"There have been so many wild reactions already to this plan, I really don't know where some of them come from," said Seegars. "We just want people to be up to date with correct information. We want them to know that we are doing what's best for the herd ... not favoring any single group of hunters."