Hunting & Fishing
Duck Hunting On The NC Coast
The crisp winter winds of December may blow the beachgoers from the Outer Banks and the Pamlico Sound of North Carolina, but they bring in the season for one of the Coast’s longstanding traditions – duck hunting.
Dry autumns often lead to the best hunting on the sound as inland water sources dwindle. According to local duck guide Mark Carawan, surrounding counties, including Hyde, flood fields in the fall to create areas for waterfowl to stop and feed. These are known as impoundments. But a lack of rain, or a strong cold snap that locks the shallow water in ice, will force even more ducks to the sound in search for open water.
At more than 2,000 square miles, the Pamlico Sound is big and every part of it offers duck hunting opportunities. You can cut its size down by choosing which ducks you plan to target for the day. Puddle ducks require blinds and decoys to be placed inside shallow bays and creeks along the mainland. For seas ducks, set your blind and start calling at the end of the farthest reaching points that offer access to deep, open water.
There are a variety of public hunting areas to choose from on the sound. State game lands – including Gull Rock, Light Ground Pocosin and Carteret County – line a large part of the mainland. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission offers maps of the game lands and details on the regulations pertaining to them. If you plan early enough, put your name in for a permit to hunt the federal lands on Bodie Island, part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The island is home to several permanent blinds and a computerized lottery determines which hunters get to use them. Hunting is also offered on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Your favorite retriever is allowed to accompany you on federal lands, just make sure he or she is on a leash outside of retrieving duties.
If you choose to chase sea ducks, bring a boat that is capable of navigating this large body of water. The Pamlico Sound is just a few sand dunes from the Atlantic Ocean and its shallow depth combined with currents and winter winds can stack up large waves in a hurry. Boats of at least 16 feet in length should get you to your hunting spot and back safely. Besides the proper clothing to keep you warm and dry, hunters should bring a 12-gauge shotgun and shells filled with steel shot.
After you’ve filled your limit for the day, continue your waterfowl adventure at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum on Harkers Island in Carteret County. Here you can watch decoys being carved on the front porch and learn the history of waterfowl hunting and life in general on the sound, past and present.
For a complete description of daily bag limits, hunting regulations and to purchase the necessary licenses and stamps, visit NCwildlife.org.
By Peter Anderson
By Peter Anderson
added: December 23, 2008
updated: December 31, 2008