Editor’s note: The following information was provided by David Whitmire, a local hunter and owner of Headwaters Outfitters.
As temperatures drop and the growing seasons starts to decline, the cool air and fall harvest season begins. Hunting in Transylvania has been around long before the first European settlers arrived. The Cherokee managed the forest in and around Transylvania County and considered it sacred hunting grounds. Some of the first white men to explore and settle the county were the “Long Hunters,” market hunters who hunted game and traded with the Cherokee. Today, many local families and visitors still practice this time-honored sport. Blessed with large tracts of public game lands, one can still roam and hunt for big and small game to harvest for food and sport.
Where to go? If you own land or have written permission, private-held land can offer great opportunities to harvest wild game. With more than 50 percent of the county being held in either state or federal land, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission manages the public game lands, providing opportunities for sportsmen to hunt. By picking up a rules and regulation book, along with a game lands map, one can strike out on the many hunts available, mainly from September through the end of February across much of Transylvania County.
During the 2017 hunting season, a total of 313 deer, 42 bear and 100 turkeys were harvested in the county. This, on an estimated average, provided 13,755 pounds of pure protein. Along with small game and fish, local residents and visitors can truly enjoy a healthy bountiful wild game harvest each year in the county.
2018-2019 Deer Season (Western Deer Season)
•Archery: Sept. 8-30; Oct. 14-Nov. 18; and Dec. 9-Jan. 1 (antlered deer only).
•Black powder: Oct. 1-13. •Gun: Nov. 19-Dec. 8.
•No Season: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.
•Introductory Season: Nov. 24 — Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.
•Conservative Season: Nov. 19-24 — Avery, Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties. 2018-
2019 Bear Season (Western Bear Season, Mountain Bear Management Unit)
•Oct. 15-Nov. 17 — In and west of Surry, Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke and Cleveland counties.
•Dec. 10-Jan. 1 — In and west of Surry, Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke and Cleveland counties. 2018-2019 Turkey Season (Wild Turkey Spring Season — male or bearded turkey only)
•April 13-May 11, 2019 (statewide). Opossum and Raccoon
•Oct. 16 (at sunrise)-Feb. 28. Opossum: no bag limits. Raccoon daily limit is three. No possession or season limits. Squirrel (gray and red)
•(Statewide) Oct. 16-Feb. 28. Daily limit is eight. No possession or season limits. Rabbit
•Nov. 18-Feb. 28 (hunting and box-trapping). Daily limit is five. No possession or season limits. A trapping license is not required to box-trap rabbits, but a valid hunting license is necessary. Grouse
•Oct. 16-Feb. 28. Daily limit is three. Possession— limit of six; season is 30.