Small game hunters may not present the overall number of deer hunters in the Palmetto State, but they still put up an enormous number of days afield. Biologist Michael Hooks is SCDNR’s small-game project leader. His WMA picks follow.
More and more hunters are looking past public land in favor of joining hunt clubs and leases. It seems they are more willing to spend a lot of money to hunt on with others on a few hundred acres of land rather than spend $30.50 for access to hundreds of thousands of acres of WMA land.
North Carolina is home to four varieties of squirrels — gray, fox, red/Appalachian and flying — hunters target all of them except fliers. Gray squirrels are ubiquitous at all forests that have a substantial number of hardwood mast trees.
Three subspecies of rabbits — cottontail, marsh and Appalachian — inhabit North Carolina. Cottonails thrive in early-successional habitat (cutovers) that afford cover and safety from avian and ground predators.
On opening day of deer season in 2017, Steve Biszmaier, a 53-year-old heating and air conditioning parts salesman from Wilmington, N.C., was hunting at Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County as he has for 30 years.
SCDNR’S Category I WMA waterfowl hunts are draw hunts; the application process begins around mid-September. Getting drawn for Category I hunts is usually a three-year process, so your odds of being drawn the first year are not high.