Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
April means turkey season, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has a promising harvest for those hoping to bag a turkey this year. But before hunters grab their gun and hop into the bush, there are some things they can do to make this an easier, more successful harvest.
“Last season we had our best harvest of turkeys on board the base,” said Paul Boniface, the chief conservation law enforcement officer for MCB Camp Lejeune. “This year is looking just as promising because there are quite a few turkeys out in all the areas. It’s unusual to go out into an area and not see a turkey.”
But don’t load the shotgun just yet. Hunting aboard MCB Camp Lejeune requires an affiliation with the base. Active duty and retired service members and retired Department of Defense civilians as well as accompanied guests are allowed to partake in the plenty aboard the base. However, taking advantage of the natural resources requires registration.
The base encompasses approximately 153,000 acres of federal land, and approximately 95,000 acres are currently timbered. When the land is not taken up by training, it can be opened for hunting, trapping, fishing and wood cutting.
Turkey season kicks off April 14 and runs until May 12. Youth day, which includes hunters between the ages of 13 and 15, is April 7. A youth must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult who is not armed for the hunt.
Taking care of the permits needed to hunt on MCB Camp Lejeune is the first step toward a productive hunt. Prospective hunters need to register with the Electronic Fish and Wildlife Conservation Tracking System and pass a hunting safety test.
“We want to make sure everyone makes it home safe. That’s our biggest issue,” said Boniface. EFAWCTS helps authorities find lost hunters and make sure that areas are clear of hunters. Keep in mind, MCB Camp Lejeune is an active military base and many of the ranges are available for hunting when they are not in use.
EFAWCTS allows hunters to search for areas available for hunting and scouting on base, which they can then sign into online. Since hunters don’t have to report in to the warden prior to hitting the game trail, the system makes their outdoor adventure that much easier.
In order to hunt, scout or collect firewood aboard the base, hunters must use EFAWCTS. They need to create an account, update their profile with their hunting licenses and vehicle information, and pass the hunter safety test, said Boniface. The same is true for hunting at Marine Corps Air Station New River.
“The system makes it really easy for people. They can sign out at home, and they don’t have to come to the check station,” said Boniface. “If they harvest game, they have to go to a check station. But if they don’t, then they can just go back home and sign back in on the computer.”
Be sure to sign back in, or permission to hunt on base may be blocked. The first offense can result in a three-day block, and the second offense bumps that number up to seven days. On the third offense, hunters can face a court date.
Any area with a hunter still signed out cannot be used for training, and an officer will be sent to locate the hunter if he cannot be reached by phone.
A state hunting license is also required. Once hunters have their state license, they need to go to the Marine Corps Exchange Annex and purchase a permit to hunt on base. Those who have not taken a hunter safety course will need to take the course prior to registration, though courses from other states are accepted. Hunter safety courses are available on base and out in town, said Boniface, so hunters can fulfill the requirements to hunt on base well before turkey season kicks off.
Sound like a lot to remember? There are websites to help would be hunters. www.lejeune.usmc.mil/gwarden has a wealth of information for hunters trying to get in on the harvest at MCB Camp Lejeune, including important contact information for questions and safety, and ncwildlife.org has even more information for hunters around the state.
Once the registration is complete, the real work begins. Turkey season is for sporting hunters with patience, but that doesn’t mean they get to rest on their laurels. Turkey hunting takes a lot of technique, said Boniface.
“It’s a lot of fun, that’s the best way I can put it,” said Boniface. “It’s relaxing because you’re outside, you’re in the outdoors and you’re trying to draw that bird in to harvest him.”
But building a tool chest of techniques and making sure you know which fowl are fair play requires practice and attention to detail.
Hunters can use shotguns, muzzle loaders and archery equipment to hunt turkey on MCB Camp Lejeune. Manual bird calls and decoys are also allowed aboard the base, but electronic calls are not permitted. It is an unfair advantage over the birds, said Boniface.
Finally, when hunters cash in on MCB Camp Lejeune’s plenty and find a fowl in their sights, they need to call 1-800-I-GOT-ONE, write the harvest number on their big-game tag and then take the prize to the game warden’s check station at PT-4 on Parachute Tower Road or VL-1 on Verona Loop Road.