For the fast-approaching archery season (two more months and September will be here, can you believe it?), Tar Heel bow hunters will have to deal with a number of new regulations.

Most of them should be beneficial and get more people into the woods with a "stick and string."

First, the minimum bow poundage requirement has been modified for the second time in five years.

Now those archers hunting with traditional equipment, (recurves, self bows and longbows) may hunt with sticks that have a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds instead of 45 pounds.

The minimum draw/pull weight for compound bows was reduced from 45 to 35 pounds five years ago. That regulation allowed more youths, women and physically-challenged hunters to begin bow hunting, and in many cases, to continue to bow hunt with traditional and conventional archery equipment.

Another big change is archery equipment now will be allowed during muzzle-loader seasons.

However, this regulation has been limited to private lands where landowners, lessees and anyone who has permission to hunt a specific property may use bow or muzzleloader.

In the past, muzzle-loader season (usually one week) was restricted to smoke poles only, with this one-week (usually coming during the peak of the N.C. deer rut) the only time during the deer season that archers had to put down their bows and arrows.

Nobody ever quite figured out why this regulation was adopted by the Wildlife Commission, although it probably had to do with fairness - bow hunters had their season, rifle and shot-gunners their season, so the muzzle-loaders were given a one-week opportunity too.

Bow hunters and muzzle-loader hunters may continue to use with their weapons of choice throughout the regular rifle/shotgun seasons until the end of the year.

However, N.C. game lands still will be restricted only to muzzle-loader hunting.

These first two regulation changes were proposed and recommended to the WRC by the N.C. Bowhunters Association.

Also, during 2007-08, bonus "doe" tags will be available to hunters for the first time.

There may be a nominal fee for these tags, but either way, hunters will be able to procure unlimited antlerless deer tags that may be used at private lands only where the maximum doe seasons exist.

These tags may also be used during the new Urban Deer Season that was approved by the WRC. This season is available to any city or town that requests to be involved.

What happens is a community in an urban setting may have an overabundance of deer that are destroying valuable plants and also creating hazards for motorists, especially at night and during the rut. However, because a community has lots of houses, it may have requested in the past to the WRC to put the area off limits to hunters.

However, with expanding deer herds, things have changed; just ask the folks who live at Treyburn Village in Durham County or the town of Biltmore near Asheville.

If a municipality decides it wants its deer herd thinned, the city, town or village must send a letter to the WRC requesting to be included in this new season, along with a map showing boundaries where hunting will be allowed.

The new Urban Deer Season will run from about mid-January through mid-February beginning in 2008. It will be bow-hunting only for those cities that choose to sign up.

Another big change this year that affects primarily bow hunters is the Hunter Orange regulation now applies to all hunters during any open season for gun hunting.

Bow hunters will be required to wear an orange hat or the required-size orange vest when in the woods during any gun seasons.


We wanted to note some changes at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission as well.

The last two years have been among the busiest of times for the WRC and its commissioners.

A couple years ago, the WRC created new positions and programs to deal with changing times for hunters and the sport of hunting.

A new director, Richard B. "Dick" Hamilton, and his staff have been working hard to meet many new challenges and demands from their constituents - the hunters, fishermen and women of the Tar Heel state.

A primary goal has been to retain and recruit new people into the sport of hunting and other outdoor recreational sports and to update and provide more and better hunting opportunities for N.C. sportsmen and women, in addition to preserving and protecting the wildlife resources of North Carolina.

The year 2006 was marred by the untimely death of John Pechmann, chairman of the Wildlife Commission and a Fayetteville lawyer.

He has been ably replaced by Wes Seegars, a long-time member of the WRC.

Seegars is an avid bow hunter, gun hunter and angler who identifies well with the needs of wildlife resources and with Tar Heel hunters.


Ramon Bell of Stokesdale is president of the N.C. Bowhunters Association and an official measurer for NCBA, Pope&Young and Boone and Crockett clubs. Check out or contact him at 336-643-4455 or e-mail