Dan Kibler: Be prepared when getting ready for a hunt

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 11, 2022

When deer season approaches and arrives, it’s always a great idea to get your ducks in a row. Figuratively, that is.

Plant your food plots, get your trail cameras out in plenty of time to see what kind of deer are frequenting your land, make sure all of your stands are in good shape, decide what kind of deer you want to harvest — and how many — and make a checklist you can go through before you leave for the woods.

I am guilty of failing to take several of those steps, and because of said mistakes, there is one more buck walking around in Forsyth County that shouldn’t be.

For a number of reasons, including a huge kidney stone that took five procedures over 10 weeks to remove, and because of a house my son is building that is consuming all of his time, we didn’t plant any food plots, didn’t get our trail cameras out before the season and we really didn’t spend much time in the woods in the offseason. We figured we’d just wing it this season and have everything up and running in time for turkey season next spring.

Those pigeons came home to roost this past weekend.

I went through a checklist in my mind, but a few minutes before leaving for an afternoon hunt, I put my phone on charge to get the battery a little more juice, and I forgot to unplug it. I didn’t notice until I stuck my hand in my jacket pocket to transfer the phone to a zippered pants pocket.

It wasn’t there. Mistake No. 1.

Mistake No. 2. The only info we had about this fall’s deer herd was from a friend of my son’s who was hunting an adjoining property — he had trail cams out. And my son hadn’t really shared much of that information with me, chief among them the presence of a big, 6-point buck, a mature deer that had reached its potential without growing an impressive rack. My son said his buddy had designated that buck as a shooter.

So at about 3:45 p.m., three does and the 6-point buck came bounding past my son, who was in a climbing stand about 400 yards up the ridge from me. He recognized the buck but couldn’t get a shot — they were motoring through the woods at a pretty good rate. They came by a buddy of mine a minute or two later, but he was carrying a crossbow and they were out of range.

Because I had forgotten my phone, neither of them couldn’t warn me about what was heading in my direction — and my son couldn’t let me know that the buck was one we should kill — if possible.

So at 4 p.m., I turned my head to the right and saw a doe trot across the end of my shooting lane. In a tripod stand, I swiveled my seat about 90 degrees, just about the time the buck entered the opening. I got my gun up, clicked off the safety, peered through the scope and tried to judge the buck’s rack as he walked across the lane, 85 yards distant. I only had a second or two, and I guessed him to be a decent 8-pointer, but one that could probably use another year of growth to reach his potential.

So I let him walk.

Ninety minutes later, at pitch-black dark, my buddy walked up from his stand to mine, and my son showed up on his 4-wheeler moments later. That’s when I got the bad news. I hadn’t passed on an 8-point buck with plenty of potential, but a big 6-pointer that wasn’t likely to get much bigger and should have been converted to sausage, stakes, chops, venison burger and jerky.

You reap what you sow. Maybe I’ll get a chance in the next three weeks to fix that mistake.

Commission proposes new hunting, fishing, trapping regs

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has scheduled three public hearings and one online hearing to discuss proposed changes to hunting, fishing and trapping regulations for the 2023-24 season.

Meetings, which begin at 7 p.m., will be held in the coastal, piedmont and mountain regions as follows:

Jan. 4, Craven County Courthouse, New Bern;

Jan. 12, Old Asheboro Courthouse, Asheboro;

Jan. 17, Cedar Building, McDowell Technical Community College, Marion.

Jan. 19, Virtual meeting. Register online at ncwildlife.org/proposed-regulations.

Proposed changes to fishing regulations include changing 1¼-mile section of Dutch Creek in Watauga County from hatchery supported regulations to wild trout regulations, removing four miles of Peak Creek in Ashe County from the mountain trout program. A proposal would also change the minimum size limit for crappie on popular B. Everett Jordan Lake from 10 to 8 inches. And another would establish an 18-inch size minimum and 2-fish daily creel limit for striped bass on the Cape Fear River from Lock & Dam 1 to Buckhorn Dam. Three other changes affect fishing for striped bass in the Roanoke River Management Area: allowing no fish longer than 22 inches to be creeles, requiring barbless, circle hooks for live or natural bait upstream of the US 258 bridge from April 1-June 30, and prohibiting trotlines, jug lines and set hooks in the same area of the river from April 1-June 30.

One proposal would advance the opening of trapping season from Nov. 1 to Oct. 1, allowing for an extra month of trapping furbearers.

A handful of proposals would also change either-sex deer seasons in several counties. Madison County would go from a one-day either-sex season to a six-day either-sex season; Burke, Yancey, Mitchell, Avery and Caldwell counties would move from a 6-day either-sex season to a 13-day either-sex season, and Polk, Rutherfordton and Cleveland counties would move from a 14-day either sex season to a 28-day either-sex season.

In addition to the three regional meetings and the online meeting, sportsmen can send their comments on the Commission’s website (www.ncwildlife.org) or by email at regulations@ncwildlife.org.