Because of problems getting some deer proposals into law for the 2009 hunting season, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is considering moving its January 2011 public hearings five months ahead to September 2010.

This proposed schedule change would mean the 2010 deer season would be under way and end after public hearings were held for the 2011 season.

Commissioners will hold a regularly monthly meeting Dec. 2 in Raleigh to vote on this schedule change.

The Commission isn't required to submit to sportsmen any schedule changes in public-hearing dates. However, the Commission's public hearings have been held during January for at least 50 years. Public hearings for the 2010-2011 fishing, hunting and trapping regulation changes will be held during January 2010.

Some sportsmen already are wondering about the wisdom of such a change.

"It's not an objectionable idea, except it cuts down on the amount of time sportsmen groups and individuals have to study proposals, understand them and comment to the Commission about them," said Ramon Bell, president of the North Carolina Bowhunters Association. "I understand the Commission wanting to prevent the delays that occurred this past season, because it would be able to get proposals before the legislature in the same working year instead of, in some instances, having to wait a second year to get already-approved proposals in place. Basically, it'd cut down a two-year delay to one year.

"However, I don't think this will fix the '10-letter' rule problem that occurred last year. And I think that's why some people want to make this change."

During March 2009, the Commission sent several approved proposals to the state legislature, but some were held up by letters of protest sent to the North Carolina Rules Review Committee. Instead of being in place during the 2009 season, they won't go into effect until 2010 – if they're not held up again in the next legislative session. 

"The worst part is (public hearings) would come just as deer season is beginning, particularly archery season," Bell said. "I don't know many guys who would climb down out of a deer stand in September then drive to a public hearing somewhere."

Richard "Dick" Hamilton, a former executive director of the Commission, said he thought the change probably was unnecessary.

"Some of the leaders in the Commission apparently became upset because of the snafu in deer rules and now have decided to turn the whole world upside down," Hamilton said. "It's kinda crazy. (The Commission) is talking about making changes to a season for the next year before the current season has ended - so how can you know what kind of regulation changes you need to make? There's no harvest data or anything like that to tell you what season or bag limits to set."

Hamilton said by passing "good" rules the Commission would not have needed such a drastic schedule change.

"You've got to measure the benefits versus the risk when you propose to make a change like this," he said. "In my opinion, you wouldn't have to do it if you made good rules to start with. We never had this problem because (the commissioners) proposed good rules that had support of the sportsmen and the legislature."

Bell agreed, noting the state Rules Review Committee and "10-letter" rule had been in place for 10 or 12 years, but no one had seen the need to use that tactic to delay a controversial proposal until 2009.

Gordon Myers, executive director of the Commission, was unable to be reached for comment.