North Carolina’s deer hunting season is right around the corner, and while many archery hunters will take a little time to work out the kinks of not hunting for months, others like Kevin Rowland keep in shape by drawing a bow throughout the summer on other live targets like wild hogs and even stingrays.
Rowland, Zach Brubaker, and Darren Bivens arrowed a big stingray earlier this month that weighed 111 pounds, and that’s not the only stingray they’ve shot this summer.
“It’s the biggest one we’ve shot, but we shoot them all the time in the Ocean Isle area, especially in the shallow inlets. We just move through with the kicker motor, and that will get them to jump off the bottom,” said Rowland, who lives in Concord.
While it’s possible to shoot them in the daytime or at night, Rowland said it’s easier to see them during the day, especially from low tide and through the incoming tide.
“The water is not as dirty on the incoming tide as it is on the outgoing, so low tide and the incoming tide is best,” he said.
They use Oneida bows and Mission bows, and shoot at 40-pound draw and 200-pound fishing line.
“These are southern stingrays, which hug the bottom and swim along the bottom, unlike the cownose rays, which swim on top of the water. It’s best to put another arrow in these big ones. They fight like crazy, and once they are shot, they usually run 20 yards or so, then hug the bottom. Once you get another line in them, you can get them in the boat a little easier. That’s when we take their barbs off. The 111 pounder had double barbs,” Rowland said.
And what do they do with the stingrays once they’ve shot them and pulled the barbs.
“We eat stingray. A lot of people think we just shoot them for fun and throw them away, but we eat them. They are really good, and taste similar to scallops,” he said.
Stingrays aren’t the only sea creatures Rowland and his friends like to shoot. Flounder, sheepshead, spadefish, and any other fish that is legal to shoot are also on their radar.
“It’s a good way to keep in practice for deer season,” he said.