North Carolina's newest game land, Pond Mountain, covers 1,973 acres is in the northwest corner of Ashe County, adjacent to the Tennessee-Virginia borders.

"Pond Mountain (has) some bear, deer and scattered ruffed grouse," said biologist Gordon Warburton. "It's a beautiful place and was a privately-owned Christmas tree farm and still is."

The Commission closed on a deal this past March that converted the property into a game land.

Approximately 700 acres of the tract that will be open to hunting isn't forested, including 500 acres of a working tree farm that will stay in operation until 2016.

Elevations range from 4,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level, and the forested portion of the tract includes species typical to northern hardwood forests such as beech, buckeye, sugar maple, yellow birch and northern red oak. Hunters should know that the road leading to the interior of the game land may be impassable from November to April because of snows. Expect high winds and cold temperatures during winter and early spring.

"The weather at this game land is more like the northern U.S. or southern Canada," Warburton said.

The head waters of Big Horse Creek drain the northern portion of the game land, while the headwaters of Big Laurel Creek drain the southern slope.

Bear hunting will be by permit. The Commission will allow five 3-day hunts from Oct. 17-Nov. 2, with one party of 10 hunters (and their dogs) on the game land at a time.

"The game land also has some grouse," Warburton said. "One unusual aspect of this game land is that the hydrology (water table) is odd for a mountain game land. There's water just under the surface of the land; that's why they call it Pond Mountain."

Editor's note: This article is part of the 2011 Game Lands Forecast feature in the September issue of North Carolina Sportsman. Digital editions can be downloaded  right to your computer or smartphone.

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