Nationally, the number of deer-hunting opportunities held by wildlife managers is on the decline.
“For a long time, deer numbers were pretty good, and now I think we’re seeing a bit of an uptick,” said Rick Smith, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, noting that deer numbers in the state had hit an all-time high a decade ago.
“The southern part of the state, we’re really trying to keep the population in check.”
So far, a dozen permits to kill deer for a single weekend are available in Buchanan County on Sept. 28 and 29, and another dozen will be made available on Oct. 6 and 7 in the Southeast Wildlife Management Area in Benson, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
One reason for the declines in deer-hunting opportunities are unregulated baiting and gun deer hunting, experts say. Hundreds of hunters nationwide have been charged with the intentional killing of deer for bait, and in more than half of the cases, the intent was to defraud Game Commission biologists who later killed the animals. Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that 21 gun deer hunters would be sent to prison for bilking the agency by deer-bait-hunting.
Officials say the long-term impact of reduced deer numbers and unregulated gun deer hunting is difficult to predict.