Thursday, March 22, 2012

Night Hunting

Spring is here.  You can tell by the yellow/green haze that is fogging the air.  It also means the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is readying for very active period as well.

Come April 7th, the hatchery supported waters will fill once again with trout, and hunting mentors will take out youth hunters for the first shots at unwary toms strutting in front of their harems of hens.

Prior to all this, the NCWRC is holding meetings throughout the state searching for input on the growing problems with feral swine and coyotes.  Last year, North Carolina dropped the classification of ‘wild boar’ from swine located in six mountain counties, essentially meaning that wild boar do not exist in North Carolina.  The ruling left feral swine and the once classified wild boar under the NCWRC’s control.  Whereas feral swine could be hunted during night hours prior to this change, the law immediately caused confusion and a change that meant feral swine would only be hunted during daylight hours.

To counteract the changes that occurred, the NCWRC offered a temporary permit that could be printed from a home computer simply by submitting your Wildlife Commission license number that would allow night time hunting of feral swine on private property until March 31, 2012.  The permit is no cost and required no review.

This still left things in a ‘gray’ area.  From the update the NCWRC sent out earlier this week; “The proposed seasons would be year-round, seven days a week.  All hunting on Sundays is allowed on private lands and only with archery equipment.  Night hunting is one means of controlling the population of coyotes and feral swine, both of which are non-native to North Carolina.  Currently, there is no closed season on either species, but hunting them at night is not allowed.  If approved, the new regulations would take effect August.”

What everyone needs to look at is what can of worms we will open whether approved or disapproved.  First, if approved, it can possibly open the door for poachers and illegal hunting of deer and bear.  Second, if not approved, it could eventually cause harm to crops and other wildlife if the feral swine and coyotes are allowed to flourish.

Hunting feral swine and coyotes at night is a common practice in many states.  Night hunting is more efficient as both species tend to be more active at night.  However, we must also deal with current spotlighting laws.  Now the issue with poaching.  If you spot a deer at night in May, it would be similar to seeing a dime on the other side of the street.  You notice, but really have no temptation whatsoever to cross the highway to pick it up.  But, if you are night hunting hogs come October, and a massive 10 pointer is staring you down, it is more akin to spotting a $100 bill.  There is much more temptation involved.  Even a ethical hunter who is shining a light looking for hogs or yotes, will likely at least stop the rotation of the beam if a large deer or bear happens to fall in the line of light.  Without any thoughts of shooting the deer, the act of stopping the light on the deer then falls into the spotlighting laws.
I have personally seen damage hogs can cause to crops.  They will tear up a large acreage easily.  They also can have litters several times each year meaning exponential growth in a short amount of time.  Even coyotes wreck havoc if uncontrolled.  Through diseases passed by tangling with domestic pets, or even killing of domestic pets and livestock, as well as wild turkey and other small game predation, coyotes cause harm to our natural inhabitants.  Trying to limit and control each species without hunting at night will likely prove unsuccessful.

My opinion is to have an open season throughout the year, with a limited season for night hunting only.  This season should likely be in the early spring through mid-summer.  This would lesson the urge of hunting antlered deer illegally at night as the antler growth will not be developed to a ‘trophy’ status yet.  This is MY opinion.  The NCWRC needs your opinion.  If you are not/were not able to attend one of the meetings, you can still email the NCWRC at and voice your opinion and concerns.


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