Sunday, April 09, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS: Record Kill in 2005

By Dan Kibler

Hunters in North Carolina killed a record number of deer last season, according to statistics released last week by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

The 2005-2006 reported kill was 144,315, which broke the record of 142,617 set in 2001-2002, and it was an increase of almost 3 percent over 2004-2005.

Evin Stanford, a biologist who is the deer project leader for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said that increases in the Northern Piedmont and western third of the state - including Northwest North Carolina - pushed the kill to a record level.

"It didn't really take a big increase to get us (a record kill)," Stanford said. "The harvest in the eastern part of the state and in the Southern Piedmont was about the same, and we had good increases in the rest of the state."

Hunters in the 11 counties in Northwest North Carolina that make up wildlife District 7 reported killing 19,137 deer last season, a 5.5-percent increase over 2004-2005. The increase was 6.1 percent in the Northern Piedmont, 7.7 percent in the western foo

thills and 9.6 percent in the extreme western mountains.

Top counties in overall kill statewide didn't change a great deal, with the Roanoke River counties of Northampton, Halifax and Bertie finishing first through third with reported kills of 5,838, 4,721 and 4,322 deer, respectively. Wilkes County, the top area in Northwest North Carolina, was fourth overall at 4,249, and Pender County rounded out the top five with 3,379 deer taken.

In Northwest North Carolina, Alleghany, Ashe, Iredell and Stokes counties followed Wilkes in the overall standings. In terms of the kill per square mile, Alleghany County was tops in the state with 6.97 antlered bucks taken per square mile of habitat.

Stanford was a bit surprised that the reported deer kill increased the way it did in the western third of the state. Normally, kill figures show marked increases in years when there is a decrease in hard mast production (acorns, hickory nuts, etc.), which forces deer to travel longer distances to feed and increases their chances of walking within range of a hunter.

"We had a fairly good mast crop last year," Stanford said. "I think we're just seeing hunters killing more deer in areas where the herd continues to expand."

• Dan Kibler can be reached at 727-7383 or

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