MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
If you’re a bow hunter and love nothing more than venison, then this is your year to hunt aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
Starting Sept. 10 and running through Jan. 2, 2012 during deer season, bow hunters will be allowed to bait in designated bow hunting areas, such as those closer to the front gate of MCB Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River and areas close to mainside and Stone Bay.
The MCB Camp Lejeune Conservation Law Enforcement Office noted, however, that the bait can only be natural and in bow hunting areas only, such as things that can be grown.
Paul Boniface, the chief conservation law enforcement officer for MCB Camp Lejeune, said due to the influx of deer on base, allowing baiting will help rid the overpopulation in heavily trafficked human areas.
“There’s a lot of construction that’s going on right now and it has pushed the deer out of their habitats,” said Boniface. “The main problem is around the areas close to human activity. However, we will only allow corn, sweet potatoes, and things like that. No salt licks or anything that is processed is allowed.”
The process of baiting is illegal in most states, and in the case for MCB Camp Lejeune, it has been reactivated for the first time in two years.
“This is something that needs to be allowed so we can help control the population,” said Boniface. “The problem is in the human trafficked areas, not so much the training areas, where most are away from constant human activity.”
For those who are not comfortable hunting with a traditional bow, a recent repeal in a North Carolina state law has made the process easier for hunters to buy a crossbow, formerly part of the same process to buy a handgun.
According to North Carolina Senate Bill 406, which was signed into law by Gov. Bev Perdue April 28, hunters are no longer required to obtain a pistol permit to buy, sell, receive or otherwise transfer a crossbow. Crossbows are now regulated the same as any other type of bow.
“Just as with bow hunters, crossbows are allowed on base to hunt,” added Boniface. “All bow hunters are still required, however, to pass an archery test.”
In order to hunt on base, hunters must create an account on the Electronic Fish and Wildlife Conservation Tracking System and pass a 43-question test that explains hunting procedures aboard the installation. Upon passing the test, hunters must purchase a MCB Camp Lejeune hunting permit for $20 at the Marine Corps Exchange Annex and bring the receipt to conservation office.
“Every three years, a hunter must take the test in order to gain access to base property to hunt,” said Boniface. “Also, though the base hunting permit lasts for three years, every year a fee of $20 is required to utilize base grounds for hunting.”
To gain access to designated areas to hunt on MCB Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River and any other surrounding satellite installations, a person, whether hunting or scouting, must first check-in and out on the EFAWCTS.
“We need to make sure who comes in and out of these areas due to the fact we have Marines training,” said Boniface. “If we have a hunter out there and he or she doesn’t check out, we have no idea if they have left for the day or not. Then, we have to go and find them and make sure the area is clear before a Marine unit can start training thereafter.”
Boniface added hunters can either log in to the system from one of the three check stations aboard the installations with locations at MCB Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River or the Verona Loop, or they can do it from the convenience of their own home.
Patrick O’Neal, a MCB Camp Lejeune conservation officer, said hunters should do everything they can in order to follow the rules, or citations will be given out, ultimately leading to banning a hunter for a period of six months.
“If a hunter forgets to check back in, but we can get a hold of them on the phone, the first offense is only a three-day suspension,” said O’Neal. “If they violate it a second time and third time, we will suspend their hunting privileges for seven days and send them to court, respectively. However, if they don’t check back in and we can’t get a hold of them on their phones, then they automatically go to court and get their privileges suspended for six months. Essentially, we would be utilizing resources to square the problem away, so we don’t want anything like that to happen.”
After harvesting a deer, a hunter must immediately punch the corresponding hole on the deer tag, bring it to one of the check stations and have it evaluated by one of the conservation law enforcement officers.
“Once the deer is brought over, the hunter will have remove the jaw so the base biologist can enter in data determining the age,” said Boniface. “This information can determine how healthy the deer population is.”
Seems like a lot of rules and regulations to follow on base, but as Boniface put it, “it’s for the safety of our Marines, sailors and deer population.”
“We take our jobs very seriously, to heart,” said Boniface. “We want to make sure the hunting tradition carries on – something I don’t want to see go away. We want to protect the natural resources we have for future generations to enjoy.”