01/30/06 — Sunday hunting pressure mounts

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Sunday hunting pressure mounts

By Gene Price
Published in Sports on January 30, 2006 2:22 PM

The Sunday hunting issue drew a standing room only crowd at a Wildlife Commission hearing at New Bern on Wednesday. And the majority of those who spoke favored removing the hunting ban which has been on the books in this state since 1869.

But some would like for Sunday hunting to have limitations. Among suggestions were limiting it to still-hunting, having it apply only to privately owned land and allowing Sunday hunting only in the afternoons.

Nine people spoke against Sunday hunting compared to 22 speaking in favor of it.

One person said he favored Sunday hunting, but not if it meant reducing the length of the seasons.

A study now being conducted on the issue will include an analysis of the effects of an additional high-pressure hunting day on the state's wild game resources.

One speaker, 11-year-old Kristopher Lindner of Atlantic Beach, drew applause with his remarks. He said he wanted to hunt but his daddy wouldn't let him play hooky to go. He wants to be able to hunt after church on Sundays.

Proponents noted that North Carolina is one of only a few states where Sunday hunting is not allowed. Others pointed out that people are allowed to fish, play golf and tennis, race automobiles and engage in other sports and pastimes on Sunday.

Opponents said Sunday now is the only day activities such as horseback riding and hiking can be safely enjoyed in woodland areas. Others felt wild animals need a day without the stress of being hunted.

One advocate of Sunday hunting said it already is legal on military reservations.

The final decision will not be made by the Wildlife Commission but by the General Assembly.

The commission has been charged with making a study of all aspects of the issue - social, economic and game management. It will report its findings to the General Assembly and the governor later this year. A private research firm has been hired to conduct much of the study for the Wildlife Commission. Among other methods, it will meet with a cross section of focus groups in various regions of the state.

D.U. meeting set

The Mount Olive Ducks Unlimited banquet will be held Friday, February 24, at Southern Wayne Country Club. Chairman Ernie Taylor said reservations must be made in advance. There will be no ticket sales at the door.

For reservations, he can be reached at 738-1393.

D.U. is the grandfather of all the private groups whose efforts and financial contributions have made significant contributions toward the survival and enhancement of wildlife stocks ranging from waterfowl to upland game, big game and game fish.

City deer

Folks attending a watercolors class at the Arts Center recently had a special treat. They looked out the window and saw a deer dance across Ash St. and disappear in a wooded area near Stony Creek.

The city of Goldsboro is developing a big park in that area.

Big game sightings are not entirely new in Goldsboro. About 20 years ago, a black bear meandered through a residential area in the western part of the city not far from what is now H.V. Brown Park.

And another bear was observed perched in a China berry tree on the edge of what is now the industrial park.

More bears

After last week's report of tracks of four bears being sighted in southern Wayne County, Horst Obermeit called to say that a female bear and cub were seen recently in northern Wayne. They were observed from Highway 581 in the vicinity of the water tower near Nahunta at around 5 a.m.

Bald eagles, too!

Are bald eagles on the increase hereabouts?

Bobby Ackiss of Old Smithfield Rd., says he sees eagles regularly in the Cherry Hospital farms area. And on a recent day, Larry Bryant of Sleepy Creek observed a pair of bald eagles soaring over the Sleepy Creek lake -- which has been drawn down for pier and dock repairs and construction.

Bryant said one of the eagles was a good bit larger than the other, but from their markings, both appeared to be mature. Bald eagles -- along with snow geese and other migratory waterfowl -- have been seen in that area over the years.

Fisheries meeting

The state's Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates joint and coastal waters fishing activities, will meet at Clarion Oceanfront Hotel at Kill Devil Hills February 1-2-3. The February 1 session will be held to give the public an opportunity to discuss any fisheries issues. It will begin at 7 p.m.

Big baits

I went by Coastline Marine to pick up an "antique" spinning reel that had been restored. "Brownie" Brown and I exchanged recent reports on the striped bass fishing. Second-hand reports because neither of us had been.

The reports were good. Some monster stripers have been taken on the coast.

Back when I was a youngster, the only baits were used for "rock" were diamond-shaped lead "squids," usually with a piece of pork rind attached.

Brownie showed me the baits some folks use now. Among them was a bucktail with a grass skirt. It weighed 32 ounces!

I'm still wondering whether the fishermen used it to get the stripers to bite - or to knock'em in the head with it.

It's getting unusual for me to catch a fish weighing 32 ounces.

A coyote proposal

A Wildlife Commission proposal to provide more options for killing coyotes has run into opposition at public hearings across the state.

The commission game management staff recommended allowing the use of red or amber lights to hunt coyotes at night. The practice would be confined to months after the deer season.

Coon hunters have expressed concern at the hearings that their dogs and some wild animals could be put in jeopardy by people hunting coyotes at night.

Endangered species?

Are commercial fishermen an endangered species? The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission and maritime scholars believe they are. And so are our coastal commercial fishing communities, they feel.

They will present a resolution Tuesday to the Joint Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture in Raleigh. The resolution will call for the state's leaders to "convene a task force charged with charting the future" of the state's fisheries industry and finding ways the fishing communities can adapt to changes facing them.

The herring issue

A number of sportsmen attending the Wildlife hearing at New Bern last week wanted to know why they were being "penalized" with a moratorium on river herring while commercial fishermen will be allowed to continue harvesting them.

The explanation is simple: Waters where commercial fishermen operate are controlled by the Marine Fisheries Commission. The Wildlife Commission controls the inland waters.

While the MFC has not imposed a moratorium, it has greatly reduced the allowable harvest of herring. Wildlife Fisheries Chief Bob Curry pointed out that the WRC is trying to protect herrings as they move upstream to the spawning areas.

The commercial catch of herring has dropped from almost 20 million pounds 30 years ago to less than 300,000 pounds. Some marine biologists fear the herring stock might be declining to a point beyond recovery.

Another month for crows

North Carolina hunters have until the end of February to shoot crows. The season has been in since June 1 - and will reopen next June.

Hunters may take crows on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and on labor Day and Christmas. In the past, Thanksgiving also was a crow-hunting day, but through an oversight, it was left out of the current Regulations Digest. Steps are being taken to include Thanksgiving in the upcoming Digest publication.

Crows can be a problem for farmers at planting time and raise havoc with songbirds during the nesting season. It is not unusual to see them going from nest to nest, gulping down newly hatched birds and those not yet big enough to fly.

Many hunters are adept at calling them - some with manufactured calls and others with their own voices. But camouflage is important. Crows not only are smart, but apparently have excellent vision!

Dredging pushed

Some coastal communities and local governments are pledging funds to dredge Bogue Inlet. It is expected to take around 40 days of dredging over a period of time to maintain the channel -- at a cost of $380,000.

Congress failed to provide funds for maintaining the state's inlets other than those providing access to its two deep water ports.