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Outdoors report: Hunters set sights beyond deer season

With deer season down to the last few days, most hunters are ready to switch gears and hunt other game.

January is a good month to take advantage of those new briar pants Santa brought and hit the thickets in search of cottontail rabbits. Most hunters use beagles to locate and chase the fast-moving rabbits.

Experienced hunters will surround the area in an ever shrinking circle as the rabbit makes circles through thick brush and briars. An experienced rabbit can stay minutes ahead of the dogs and will be observed at a slow hop appearing like he’s out for a stroll.

Rabbits have good eyesight, great hearing and natural camouflage (hair color) to avoid predators, including the hunter.

Some who don’t use dogs start with one hunter jumping onto brush piles as the others watch for any rabbits that may run out the other side.

Of course, safety should be No. 1. Always know where other hunters and dogs are before shooting. Unload your gun when moving through difficult terrain and brush. Always wear blaze orange hats or clothing, with both recommended.

Gear that should be considered would include:

* leather gloves.

* waterproof boots with good ankle support.

* briar chaps or jeans that include a briar resistant material.

* overcoat or vest for carrying extra ammo and game.

* safety glasses.

Rabbit season remains open until Feb. 28, with a daily bag limit of five.

Other hunting season dates:

Squirrel (gray and red) through Jan. 31.

Quail through Feb. 28.

Raccoon through Feb. 28.

Trapping season for this general portion of the state continues through Feb. 20. Check regulations for different season dates in other parts of North Carolina.

Fishing

Crappie fishing on High Rock is excellent, with fish up to 14 inches common. Fish minnows around structures in water that’s 9 feet to 14 feet deep. Use jigs on shallow water structures on warmer sunny days.

Striped bass have been active on the main channel with fishermen catching fair numbers that weigh more than 15 pounds.

Water conditions were great the past week with clear water in most areas. Rain will cause the river and upper portions of most creeks to muddy up, but these usually clear up within five days of the rain.

Law enforcement activity

Wildlife officers have investigated and arrested suspects involved in night deer hunting (spotlighting), taking more than the yearly bag limit of deer, taking more than the bag limit of antlered deer, illegal possession of wildlife, hunting by the aid of a motor vehicle, illegal sale of big game and license violations in the past month.

Working with sportsmen, landowners and concerned citizens, wildlife officers try to stop people who abuse and harm the natural resources of North Carolina.

Sportsmen are urged to report violators toll free at 1-800-662-7137 or contact a wildlife officer:

* Sgt. A.P Sharum 704-633-7974

Rowan County Wildlife Officers:

* Master Officer J.S. Isley 704-278-2236

* Senior Officer J.B Harrill 704-637-0717

Davidson County:

* B.R. Perkins 336-859-1891

Cabarrus County:

* S. Bullins 704-436-9762

For more information on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, visit www.ncwildlife.org.

***

E-mail Sgt. Anthony Sharum of the N.C. Wildlife Resources at huntfishguy66@ aol.com.

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