Base hunting program helps manage deer population

8 Sep 2011 | Pfc. Nik S. Phongsisattanak

Last week, The Globe addressed the problem with the deer overpopulation in areas that have been affected by construction. In this week's article, hunters are asked to get involved with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's hunting program to help tackle the problems that the increased deer bring to areas with human traffic.

In Eastern North Carolina, the deer hunting season begins Sept. 10 and runs through Jan. 2. This is the time to start harvesting. Archery hunting begins Sept. 10 through Sept. 30, muzzleloader begins Oct. 1 through Oct. 14 and gun begins Oct. 15 through Jan. 2.

Archery equipment, muzzleloaders, shotguns with slugs and organized hunts with the use of hounds are the different methods of hunting deer allowed on base.

"Hunting with hounds is a very traditional way of hunting dear all over southeast (America)," said Martin Korenek, a wildlife manager with Land and Wildlife Resources Section, Environmental Management Division aboard MCB Camp Lejeune. "We do organized hunts about 10 to 12 times during the season. Every Saturday, starting near the end of October, there will be scheduled, organized hunts with hounds aboard (MCB Camp Lejeune)."

When hunting with hounds, shotguns with buckshot are the only type of firearms and ammunition allowed. Organized hunts with hounds are highly regulated and controlled, and the hounds are bred and trained to hunt deer. There are designated hunt masters, assistant hunt masters and dog handlers.

"You can't just show up on base and hunt with a hound," said Korenek. "You have to be part of one the organized hunts, either with the (MCB) Camp Lejeune Rod and Gun Club or by special invitation from the base."

Although dogs are not allowed for use outside of the organized deer hunts, they can still be used to retrieve game such as waterfowl or flush quail.

If hounds don't sound like enough, bow hunters will also be allowed to bait in designated bow hunting areas this year. However, the bait must be natural, such as natural vegetation around hunting areas, as well as corn and potato. Processed bait, such as salt licks, is prohibited.

The use of bait for hunting deer is illegal in most states, and in the case for MCB Camp Lejeune, it has been allowed for the first in two years.

"Over many years, hunting has become more of a recreational sport, but there are still a lot of people who hunt to provide (food)," said Korenek. "For years, as the science and business of wildlife management has evolved, hunting has proven itself useful to maintain wildlife populations."

Hunting seasons and bag limits are generally adjusted to accommodate wildlife population. North Carolina has a lengthy deer hunting season with a six deer limit, which is more than many states, but structured for deer population in its region.

"Hunting definitely helps to control deer populations and there's no doubt about it," said Korenek. "Once hunting season opens we're going to have a lot of men and women out in the woods hunting... and they're going take some deer. I would rather be able to take deer in our urban areas by our recreational bow hunters who love to hunt rather than resort to other solutions. We want to manage the deer population with hunting alone but if we can't we'll have to resort to other means managing the populations."

Korenek said the seasonal deer harvest fluctuates but on average there are about 600 to 700 deer harvested every year.

"I've been a hunter my whole life," John Collins, an engineer technician with Officer-in-Charge of Construction, MCB Camp Lejeune. "I was raised up in a hunting family so I enjoy the camaraderie. I like to hunt with buddies. I like the idea that we're helping to control the deer (populations). I really like the program they got going on and I'm looking forward to participating."

Korenek knows the benefits of deer hunting, as hunting enthusiast himself. He wants those who are deer hunters to get their bows, muzzleloaders and guns ready for the season starting on Saturday.

"I would like to encourage people that are eligible to hunt come on Camp Lejeune to hunt," said Korenek.

For any questions or concerns about the deer issue aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, please call 451-7235.