Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Statement from NCBA on 2009 WRC Regulations (April 2009)

Statement from NCBA on 2009 WRC Regulations (April 2009)

The N.C. Bowhunters Association has been criticized because some of our members, along with other hunters, non-NCBA members, sportsmen and women, wrote letters to the 'Rules Review Commission' (RRC) objecting to some of the proposed wildlife regulations for 2009-10 that were approved by the N.C. Wildlife Commissioners. This resulted in many deer proposals being placed on “HOLD” temporarily for legislative review beginning next year.

It should be known that the WRC knew that letters would most likely be written to the RRC objecting to a number of the new proposals, as this procedure was a topic of discussion with us (NCBA) and some of them (WRC) over a year ago. In fact, we (NCBA) were informed of this (Rules Review) option by WRC officials to begin with.

We (NCBA) also were aware that if these TEN letters were received by the RRC that all the WRC had to do was request that the new regulations be enacted as a temporary rule. We fully anticipated that this is what they would do, but that didn't happen.

So.. why didn't the WRC asked for a temporary rule to enact these proposals this year? Possibly so that this inaction by the WRC may be intended to place the burden (or blame) primarily on NCBA for the delay in enacting these proposals.

NCBA has only taken issue with two of the proposals that were approved. The fact that other proposals were also included is beyond our control, as multiple proposals were included in one "omnibus" regulation that encompassed them all. The one that is most important to NCBA is the opening of gun (muzzle loader) season one week earlier statewide. Not so much that it encroaches on the 'bow only' seasons statewide by another week, it does. But because we feel this is not in the best interests of the quality of the buck deer population and the quality of deer hunting in general for all of North Carolina. This is echoed by reports and opinions from professional biologists from both within the WRC and also biologists in the private sector. In a report from the WRC's 'Deer Committee, a majority of their biological staff did not recommend opening gun seasons up any earlier, including the muzzleloader season. In fact, some have gone on record stating gun seasons should be opened later, especially in the Eastern Deer Season. Dr. David Cobb, the WRC's chief biologist, told them that this is not an option, and since Dr. Cobb sets the official policy for the agency.. that's the way it will be. Apparently, it doesn't really matter what the opinions of his field staff of biologists believe to be best for the resource and for the stakeholders.

So, where did this proposal originate? The 2008-09 Proposed Regulation Change (#16) was originated by a man named Grady Barnes. It was submitted by a man named Daron Barnes. (NOTE: Daron Barnes works for the WRC at the main office in Raleigh. He is in charge of issuing permits. He is not a field biologist. We have been told, confidentially, that Mr. Barnes was asked, or recruited to submit this proposal by one of his superiors.) It states, in part, "Hunters who are interested in utilizing a hunting opportunity outside the regular gun season currently have two options: a muzzle-loading season that is limited to 7 days (really 6 days), or an archery season that ranges from 24 up to 54 days. This means that hunters who are capable and interested in bowhunting have, depending on their geographical location, from 17 to 47 additional hunting days (opportunities) than hunters who are not interested or incapable of bow hunting.... This bias towards bowhunting reduces the opportunity of hunters who are interested in pursuing muzzle-loading style hunting. It goes on to say, "In a time of concern of hunter recruitment and retention, this rule change will increase the hunting opportunities for hunters who are not able to take advantage of current bow hunting opportunities."

Mr. Evin Stanford (Deer Biologist's) comments were that he was "OPPOSED to this proposal. He stated, "The NCWRC recently completed a human dimensions study of NC deer hunters, and a question concerning this exact season change was included on the survey. Survey results indicated that deer hunters were equally divided on this season change at 40% in favor and 40% opposed, and the other 20% had no opinion regarding this issue. The Deer Committee also has discussed this type of regulation proposal, and the consensus of the committee is that such a regulation change is NOT desirable at this time. While muzzle-loader season is much shorter than archery season (6 days vs. 24-54 days, muzzleloader hunters reported harvesting 53% more deer than archery hunters during the '06 season. However, does made up 51% of the reported archery season harvest, while does only made up 33% of the reported muzzleloader season harvest. Muzzleloader season hunters actually harvested slightly fewer does than archery season hunters, but the muzzleloader season buck harvest was 112% higher than the archery season buck harvest. While increasing the length of the muzzleloader season may provide more opportunity, the selectivity of muzzleloader hunters may result in an unwanted increase in antlered buck harvest with little corresponding increase in doe harvest. Results of the human dimensions survey indicated that 80% of deer hunters indicated that a lack of mature deer is a barrier to deer hunting. If the rule proposal does go forward, the proposed rule text should be clarified to more clearly define the season dates.”

Let me take a moment to clarify the "dates" that Mr. Stanford refers to. I have included a chart below that breaks down the number of days actually allocated to archery season and to firearms seasons, muzzleloader season included. NOTE that in the Eastern Deer Season area, where the deer population is most prolific, the current season includes 24 days for archery only season and 70 days for firearms season. In the Central Deer Season, it is about even with 48 archery only days and 46 firearms days. The Northwestern Season has 54 archery days versus 31 firearms days, and the Western Deer Season has 60 archery days compared to 24 firearms day. Keep in mind that the deer season currently ends about two weeks earlier in the Northwestern and Western Deer Seasons. Also keep in mind that deer population densities are much thinner in the Western and Northwestern areas, thus, the shorter firearms seasons.

Secondly, NOTE the days during the "Peak of the Rut" that “archery only” seasons occur versus “firearms seasons.” In order to be fair, equitable and not show any "bias" toward any method of hunting, this is, or should be, the most important factor in determining WHEN the transition from archery to muzzleloader to regular modern firearms should be occurring. NOTE that in the Eastern Deer Season area, archery hunters have "0" days that occur during the "Pre-Rut or entire Rutting Season." We consider the "Rut" to encompass dates between November 1st and December 13th, or about the end of the deer seasons in the Western and Northwestern areas. In the "Central Deer Season" area, archery hunters currently have "6" (SIX) days during the "Pre-Rut" for “Bow Only” days. Firearms seasons cover the remainder of the "Rutting" season, which is 31 days. Northwestern bowhunters have 12 days that occur during the "Pre-Rut and Rut" versus 25 days for firearms hunters, and Western bowhunters have 19 days compared to 18 days for firearms hunters. These season dates were established and agreed upon by our staff of field biologists based scientific data and their knowledge of what is best for the resource. It does not appear that there is any basis of scientific data or fact that supports Mr. Barnes proposal. And, his comment that there is a "bias" toward bowhunting seems to be an exaggeration on his part to place blame on the bowhunting community for the current hunting season date structure.



NOTE: GUN INCLUDES 6 Day Muzzle Loader Season


24 70


48 46


54 31


60 24



18 76



42 52


48 37


54 30




0 37


6 31


12 25


19 18

Statewide TOTALS:


37 111

Additional Comments:

* The whitetail "RUT" normally begins on/about the first of November and continues until what is commonly called the "Second rut", which begins about the first week of December. This is the "prime" time to hunt whitetail deer in N.C.

NOTE that "bow only" seasons include only a total of 37 days statewide during this period, and that the EASTERN Deer Season has NONE., while a TOTAL of 111 (one-hundred eleven) days are currently assigned to firearms seasons statewide. Where is this "bias" toward bowhunting that Mr. Barnes refers to?

The CENTRAL Deer Season has only 6 "Prime" hunting days for "Bow Only" season while 31 days are open for gun hunting. The EASTERN Deer Season already has "0" days of prime deer hunting for "Bow Only" season, and if the muzzle-loader season, is opened one week earlier, it will push bowhunters even further back away from the peak season.

The traditional transition between "Bow season, Muzzle Loader Season and the regular Gun seasons that all hunters have become accustomed to should continue to occur near when the "Rut" begins, as it has been for many years. Gun season hunters already have a disproportionate number of "prime" days to deer hunt, except in the WESTERN Deer Season, where deer populations are less and a longer gun season is not justified.

If the gun season is opened up one week (6 days) earlier, to provide for two weeks of Muzzle Loader season statewide, the CENTRAL Deer Season will have "0" days of "Bow Only" days during the "Pre-Rut", which is still not after the "Rut" really kicks in about mid-November. Statewide totals will change from 37 to 31 days for the bow only season and from 111 to 117 days for the firearms season. Again, where is the "bias" toward bowhunting? It seems from the “Human Dimensions Surveys” that there was no overwhelming majority of hunters that favor this proposal, so there was no "mandate" to approve it to begin with. And, again, there was no biological data to support this change. So, why did the commissioners vote to approve it? This is why we (NCBA) oppose this change.

We (NCBA) also believe there are other 'Safety' and 'Social' factors for why any gun season for deer should not be opened earlier. From a 'Safety' standpoint, we feel it will be dangerous, not only for hunters and bowhunters in particular! It will be dangerous to others who will be using the woods at this time of year.. late October.. when leaves are still on trees and in full fall colors to boot. This foliage will not only restrict vision and line of sight for hunters and make for dangerous shooting situations, our 'blaze orange' hats and vests will blend in with the fall colors complicating already dangerous situations. From a 'Social' standpoint, there could be many more unwanted and unnecessary confrontations and conflicts between hunters and others who will be in the outdoors during this time engaging in a variety of other outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, animal/bird watching.. and just sightseeing in general to take in the fall colors.

NCBA firmly believes gun seasons should not open earlier for these reasons, not only in the Central and Western Deer season areas, but in the Eastern seasons as well.

The other proposal NCBA opposes is the legalization of crossbows across the board for anyone who wants to use them. We specially oppose them being legalized during 'Bow Only' seasons for anyone other than those who qualify for the handicapped hunting permit to use them. This is why this state law was enacted some 12-15 years ago.. to give the handicapped and physically challenged hunters a "special" privilege and the opportunity and advantage to hunt during bow seasons. Adoption of this proposal will eliminate the need for the special handicapped license/permits, and it will also eliminate the only advantage and privilege handicapped hunters currently have during the hunting season. We also feel this new rule that legalizes crossbows for everyone will contribute to overcrowding on public game lands during bow only seasons and detract from the quality of the hunting experience for those who have no other hunting opportunities available to them. It is also our position that crossbows simply do not fit or fultil the widely accepted definition of what a bow and arrow is. It is more akin to a firearm in it appearance, construction and how it is aimed and fired. Primarily, it can be fired without the continual exertion of any muscle power to draw and hold until released. A crossbow is cocked, loaded and ready to fire, like a firearm. The obvious solution to this is to restrict crossbows to gun seasons only.

As for Sunday hunting, NCBA has always taken a neutral stance, but stated that we would support whatever position the Wildlife Resources Commission chose to take on this issue. Since the commissioners did vote to approve Sunday bowhunting, we now voice our support of this proposal.

As President of the N.C. Bowhunters Association, I cannot lose sight of the fact that it is my sworn duty to work to preserve the heritage and tradition of the sport of bowhunting, and to support and enforce our Constitution and Bylaws. It is my intent to continue to do this. It is also our intent to continue to work with our wildlife agency and its professional staff to do what is best for our wildlife resources.

Ramon Bell, President/NCBA (August 21, 2009)

The following "Comments" were posted on the NC Sportsman Website on May 27, 2009. These comments are in response to an article in the Raleigh News & Observer titled, "Change Needs to Occur".. by Mike Zlotnicki.

NCBA at odds with WRC over public meetings and comments from commissioners to NCBA officers

The article below appears in the April 12th issue of the Raleigh News & Observer. It outlines some continuing issues we (NCBA) have with the leadership of the NCWRC. Sometime after the March 4 commission meeting, NCBA (and others) questioned the legality of not being informed or allowed to attend committee meetings as had been the case in the past. It appears that this issue has been resolved at this time, as we received an email from the WRC today explaining the new policy.

There is also an article on the North Carolina Sportsman Magazine website that allures to an official grievance that has been filed with the office of the Governor pertaining to pressure brought upon us (NCBA) by the chairman and other leaders from the commissioners group meant to discourage future opposition to proposals we (or anyone) may be in disagreement with. Several of us have met personally, and also received phone calls from a couple of the commissioners who, in the course of conversation, mentioned their close political ties with the Governor and other legislators. And they insinuated that they could deny us consideration in the future on many issues, and even eliminate our bow seasons if they chose to do so. We interpreted this as being very intimidating to us personally, and even threatening to the existence of bowhunting itself. We (NCBA) also view this as abuse of the power vested in them by their appointment and a violation of their oath of office as a wildlife commissioner.

Mr. Seegars (Chairman) stated, "Anytime we had a disagreement with them, they would take it personally. "They have been incensed over this stuff, and I don't know why." I will comment that. In reference to the proposals, we do not take it personally. We objected because we didn't agree with the proposals, and we will continue to object to proposals that we disagree with and feel are not in the best interest of the resource, or of the sport of hunting, and bowhunting in particular. The WRC continues to whittle away the "Bow Only" seasons and Mr. Seegars says he doesn't know why hunters are not happy with that! No one, including the NCBA is seeking to convert gun seasons to "Bow Only" seasons. On the contrary, it is quite the opposite. We are in a continuing struggle to try to preserve the existing "Bow Only" seasons from being converted to gun seasons for reasons not supported by any biological basis or fact. The WRC's position has been simply stated that, "we want to increase gun seasons so more people can have the opportunity to gun hunt earlier." This sort of approach to management of deer has wreaked havoc on deer populations in other states like Pennsylvania and Georgia and ruined deer hunting in general for the average hunter. It is our opinion that this sort of wildlife/deer management mentality here in North Carolina would be devastating to the deer herd and to the sport of deer hunting itself, and surely to any hopes of enhancing the quality of deer hunting and the quality of our buck deer population.

We will refrain from making further comment at this time about these issues in hopes that they will soon be resolved.

The N&O article is shown below along with comments.

For Bowhunting,
Ramon Bell, President/NCBA

Bowhunters Aim for Public Wildlife Meetings
From the Raleigh N&O (April 12, 2009)

The N.C. Bowhunters Association and members of the state Wildlife Resources Commission have been in a feud about access to meetings.

The bowhunters group, which has about 1,400 members, wants to be assured of access to the commission's committee meetings. Commission members and staff have previously said that those committee meetings are not covered by the state open meetings law and that committee chairmen have the discretion to invite visitors.

But the commission has apparently reversed itself. A person who has submitted public comments to the commission forwarded an e-mail message sent Thursday to "Wildlife Stakeholders," in which commission chairman Wes Seegars said all committee meetings will be announced publicly.

DOME-041209.IMG broadhead.jpg

It's at those committee meetings where the decisions are really made, said Ramon Bell, president of the bowhunters association.

"When they have these committee of the whole meetings and commission meetings, generally, they just have a show of hands. It's not really a meeting," Bell said. "It's already pretty much engraved in stone at that point."

Seegars could not be reached for comment but recently told The Insider, a state government news service, that he only tried to make association members understand that some of their tactics damaged their credibility. "Anytime we had a disagreement with them, they would take it personally," Seegars told The Insider. "They have been incensed over this stuff, and I don't know why."

The commission sets the rules that govern hunting and fishing in the state. Bell said the flap began in July when a subcommittee of the commission began considering changes to the three deer hunting seasons -- bow, gun and muzzleloader. The proposal at the time was to extend gun season to overlap with bow season statewide.

The association's members got wind of the preliminary proposal and flooded the commission with letters and messages.

In March, Betsy Foard, a commission staff member, told Bell in an e-mail exchange that only full commission meetings would be announced to the public. Foard could not be reached.

Submitted by Isaac136 on April 11, 2009 - 10:33am.
What the Dome doesn't mention is the "rest of the story" carried by North Carolina Sportsman magazine online, which reports the allegations made by three witnesses to Wes Seegars' referring to his political influence with the governor to try to discourage the Bowhunters' opposition. The magazine also referred to statements by one of the bowhunters that another of the commissioners, the son of a senator, called him to point out his political pull with his "daddy" and the governor by way of indicating the power the commission had to thwart any opposition mounted by the bowhunters.


NOTE to NCBA Members: Use the information below to contact ALL our wildlife commissioners via either email or by U.S. Mail. PLEASE take time to do this. Write up a brief, polite but meaningful message and send it as soon as possible to ALL commissioners.

NOTE: Here is a "copy and paste" list of email addresses for all the commissioners. This will save you some time in preparing and sending your messages to them..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,


Send letters to the NC WRC Director at this address:
Gordon Myers, Executive Director, NCWRC
1701 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1701

Send letters to the Governor at this address:
Governor Beverly Perdue
20401 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0401
District Contact Governor At Large Appointee

Steve Windham, Chairman
2688 River Road SE
Winnabow, NC 28479

House Speaker At Large Appointee Charles Bennett, Vice-Chairman
P.O. Box 2570
Matthews, NC 28106

District 1 W. Ray White
P.O. Box 922
Manteo, NC 27954 District 2

Joe C. Barker III
P.O. Box 39
New Bern, NC 28563
District 3 Wes Seegars
P.O. Box 1756
Goldsboro, NC 27533

District 4 W. Douglas Parsons
P.O. Box 1049
Clinton, NC 28329

District 5 Nat T. Harris Jr.
P.O. Box 2000
Whitsett, NC 27377

District 6 Randy Allen
R.A. Management, Inc.
3129 Springbank Lane, Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28226

District 7 Dalton D. Ruffin
2841 Galsworthy Drive
Winston-Salem, NC 27106

District 8 David W. Hoyle, Jr.
P.O. Box 708
Dallas, NC 28034

District 9 R. Martin Lewis
1091 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Governor Appointee At Large

Berkley C. Skinner, III
P.O. Box 7593
Rocky Mount, NC 27804

President Pro Tempore of the Senate Appointee At Large
Maughan Hull, Jr.
1000 Rivershore Road
Elizabeth City, NC 27909

President Pro Tempore of the Senate Appointee At Large

Wendell (Dell) Murphy
P. O. Box 1113
Wallace, NC 28466

President Pro Tempore of the Senate Appointee At Large
Eugene Price
130 Quail Drive
Dudley, NC 28333

President Pro Tempore of the Senate Appointee At Large

Bobby Purcell
209 Kilmorack Drive
Cary, NC 27511

House Speaker Appointee At Large

Mitch St. Clair, Sr.
P. O. Box 372
Washington, NC 27889

House Speaker Appointee At Large
John Litton Clark
P. O. Box 469
Clinton, NC 28329

House Speaker Appointee At Large
Durwood S. Laughinghouse
P. O. Box 17945
Raleigh, NC 27619


If you are not a member of the NCBA, please consider joining our ranks to help us in our efforts to support and preserve your bowhunting privileges in N.C.