With North Carolina’s two largest game lands, the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests, containing 1.1 million acres, the question for hunters is where to go for the best chances of success.

David Stewart, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, offered this advice.

“Food plots are scattered all over Pisgah and Nantahala,” he said. “The best idea is to do your homework (to find and hunt them).”

That means studying maps.

“(The Commission’s) web site (www.ncwildlife.org) has .pdf and active aerial maps,” he said. “Study them, and you can get a good idea about what’s what. If you’re hunting a game land, you have to know where you’re at.”

Mast General Store outlets in Boone and Waynesville and U.S. Forest Service offices have maps showing hiking trails and logging. 

“You also can search Google Earth,” Stewart said. “For instance, go to GIS at the Haywood County web site and zoom. You can find parcels (of game lands) and Forest Service boundaries. You want to know where private parcels might be inside so you won’t be hunting public, not private land. Carry a (regulations) digest. The game wardens do.”

The first step is to find gated roads.

“There are lots of linear wildlife openings planted on these roads for deer, turkey and grouse. Once you find a spot you like, walk the gated road and do more homework. Some have additional wildlife openings.”

Stewart said map applications for smart phones can be downloaded as well.

“If you find a good place on Google Earth, and you know it’s on Forest Service land, check it out.

“Do your homework for successful hunting the mountains.”