North Carolina Deer Hunting
It’s ninety degrees in the shade of an old oak tree, on opening day of dove season in North Carolina. With the birds whizzing by at light speed and lab retrievers bringing back downed doves to their owners, all is good in the hunting world. Plenty of refreshments to enjoy with fellow hunters on this annual tradition. In North Carolina the first day of dove season is a sendoff to hunters that they have many months of a new hunting season ahead to enjoy.
Most years NC bow hunting for whitetail deer starts the following week after the dove season opener in North Carolina. Good hunters have already scouted during the summer and begin their serious hobby to bag a nice whitetail buck or doe with a bow. Also around early to mid September, many whitetail bucks start to shed their deer velvet, that has been growing since early spring. Many deer hunters have been very anxious to get back in a stand or blind to enjoy their favorite sport of deer hunting. Although the opening week of NC bow season is a great time to bag a nice buck or doe, it’s not necessarily the best time of the season to score.
As the days and nights begin to cool in late September and early October, the movement of most bucks indicates their own annual tradition of preparing for the whitetail breeding season called the North Carolina whitetail deer rut. This phase of the rut is called the pre-rut. Bucks start to rub small trees to build their neck & shoulder muscles as their testosterone rises. This also clears off some of the dried velvet that’s still attached. Also at this time, small round cleared ground scrapes begin to appear in the woods, pastures and field edges. In this transition period from pre-rut to rut in North Carolina, in many counties a two week muzzleloader season unfolds. With better weapons manufactured over the past decade, more and more hunters are taking advantage of the muzzleloader season that is wedged between bow season and gun season. Some hunters use this period to thin the doe herd if needed, as it’s very easy to spot mature does apart from the younger deer.
In late October through all of November it’s just a joy to be in the outdoors hunting in North Carolina. With each progressing cold front that crosses the mountains, then the piedmont and spreads to downeastern NC, all whitetail deer movement increases as the deer rut kicks in full force. Be especially careful driving the NC highways as even on small trips you’ll see deer carcasses lying beside the road from vehicle collisions. This is a prefect time to be hunting early morning, mid day and late afternoon as deer movement activity increases. Many times that very wise old mature whitetail buck that hasn’t shown himself all season will make an appearance during daylight hours. Don’t be asleep on the stand during the peak of the rut as that buck of a lifetime could slip past.
As days and nights get much colder in December, in some NC locations this can still be an excellent time of the year to harvest a whitetail deer, including older bucks that made it through the deer rut alive. As most tree leaves are completely gone by now, deer move to thicker cover or come out to open crop fields to forage, as most acorns are getting scarcer. Again this can be a good time to harvest does for tender venison, but be careful because the young button bucks(approximately six months old) are as large as a mature doe by this time of the season. North Carolina has a good population of whitetail deer and a long season to enjoy a liberal harvest limit. Let’s keep this tradition going for many decades to come.
NCdeerHunting.com is a great site to find information about North Carolina whitetail deer hunting. North Carolina’s deer season is divided into four section’s of the state, with each region having different season dates and harvest restrictions. The eastern region of the state has the longest deer season which usually starts around the second week of September, followed by NC’s black power deer season that starts around the first week of October. The NC eastern whitetail deer gun season starts around mid October and runs until the first of January. These season’s dates can vary across different sections of the state of North Carolina.
There are some counties in the eastern part of the state that allow deer hunting with dogs and other counties that do not. The central and western seasons have a longer bow season, then muzzleloader and a shorter gun season than is allowed in the east.
The trend in recent years has been more and more North Carolina whitetail deer outfitters in our state. Some North Carolina whitetail deer hunting guides and outfitters allow clients to kill any size bucks, while there is a growing number of deer hunting outfitters that are using quality deer management to produce larger North Carolina trophy deer and will limit the number and size of whitetail bucks harvested. Most of the private NC whitetail deer hunting land is leased out to individuals, hunting outfitters and hunting clubs on a yearly or multi-year contract. The price per acre can vary from $5/acre to $25/acre/year. NC has lots of North Carolina public whitetail deer hunting land and while this can become crowded at times, there are some really good hunting spots to be found with a little effort. Be sure to check out the regulations page for links to find out where NC public land is located. Some tracts have limits on the number of hunters allowed and days allowed to hunt.
Where to Place Trail Cameras for Deer Hunting
Trail cams are a useful scouting tool to help deer hunters identify the right places to hunt. However, it takes some skill to choose the right location to get snapshots of the area’s deer. Placing a camera in the wrong location can result in bad pictures that are of little value or can even result in no pictures at all. But a hunter who spends some time carefully considering the placement of his or her cameras can obtain some good photos and useful information to help them to choose a hunting location.
Natural food sources, agricultural plantings and deer feeders can all be productive locations to place trail cameras. In most cases, deer will use these areas during both the morning and evening, giving a hunter two chances to capture pictures of the deer. In addition to capturing images of the bucks in the area, cameras placed near food sources will also provide information to hunters on the direction that the deer traveled to get to the food source and the direction the deer traveled when leaving. This information can help a hunter to choose a productive hunting stand location near the feeding area. In most hunting areas, there are plentiful sources of water for deer. But hunters who live in an area where water sources are not common can also place cameras near a water source as deer are sure to visit this area frequently.
Though deer are capable of jumping over high fences, they will walk a considerable distance out of their way to cross a fence line in an area where the fence is down or where they can crawl through or under the fence. Areas where deer choose to cross a fence are an ideal location for a trail camera. Finding a fence crossing generally takes little more than walking along the fence and looking for a gap in the fence, a well-worn trail or deer hair hanging on the barbs of a fence.
Hunters who have used cameras to find deer throughout the summer and early fall will need to concentrate their efforts on specific areas as the hunting season approaches. Using data collected earlier in the year, a hunter should have information on which parts of a hunting property have the nicest bucks. With this information, a hunter can choose a number of potential stand locations where cameras can be placed in order to obtain photographic evidence of what areas that a buck routinely visits. Hunters must use care when placing and retrieving cameras in potential stand locations as a hunter’s frequent presence in an area may scare the deer away from that spot.
In addition to being concerned about choosing the right area for the placement of a camera, a hunter also needs to consider proper installation. The camera needs to be installed on a sturdy tree or other object that will not move in the wind and needlessly trigger the camera’s motion sensing shutter. Cameras should be also placed relatively high on a tree to help reduce the number of pictures that the camera takes of smaller animals that wander by such as squirrels and opossums. Whenever possible, cameras should be placed facing north or south to avoid having the pictures being washed out by the light from a bright sunrise or sunset.
Like most hunting skills, hunters will become more skilled with the placement and utilization of trail cameras with experience. However, by following these guidelines and using common sense, a hunter can reduce his or her errors and immediately begin to be able to gather useful information with trail cameras.