Tens of thousands of acres of public game lands marble the High Country, which is home to some of the best hunting in the state.
To hunt on public game lands, you need privileges added to your license. Hunters without game land privileges are restricted to hunting on private land where they have permission to do so.
The privilege can be added to any resident license for $15, and the big game privilege needed to hunt deer, bear and wild turkey for $13. To hunt bear, an additional $10 bear management e-stamp is required.
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission District 8 Management Biologist Danny Ray said the most important thing for a would-be hunter to do is to read the commission’s annual regulation digest and know their hunting laws.
Rifle hunting bear and deer hunting are not the only kinds of hunting popular in the High Country, either. Ray noted different kinds of hunting using muzzle loaders and archery are also popular. Even small game hunting has its enthusiasts.
“An avid squirrel hunter can have what we call a grand slam,” Ray said. “You hear about a grand slam with turkeys where people go around the country shooting one of each of the different varieties of turkeys out there, we do that with squirrels here.”
Pisgah National Forest Game LandsThe Grandfather and Appalachian Districts of the Pisgah National Forest are full of life. The lands are maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Aside from developed recreation areas, these government-owned lands are fair game for those with the proper licenses.
Important: Hunters should pay close attention to maps and signage when hunting near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is maintained by the National Park Service, and hunting is prohibited.
WRC Game LandsThe High Country is also home to six easily accessible, state-owned game lands which are maintained by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Elk Knob Game LandsAdjacent to Elk Knob State Park, The Elk Knob Game Lands can be accessed by Rich Mountain Road in Watauga County. The 721-acre game lands have deer, turkey, raccoon and grouse.
The Game Lands are a 20 minutes from Boone. From N.C. 194, turn onto Meat Camp Road, traveling until Rich Mountain Road forks to the left. The game lands are less than a mile from there.
Pond Mountain Game LandsLocated in the northwestern corner of Ashe County, the Pond Mountain Game Lands offer views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south, Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest to the west and Virginia’s Grayson Highlands to the North. These vast game lands cover 2,900 acres, and can be accessed via Rock Fence Road, about 45 minutes from West Jefferson. There is parking and campsites are on the property. These game lands have deer, bear, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel and grouse.
Important: There is a Christmas tree farm on part of these game lands. Hunters should avoid areas where there is farming activity.
Lutz TractLocated along Wilson Creek, the Lutz Tract is accessible by N.C. Hwy. 90, which can be reached by following Globe Road out of Blowing Rock, or via Roseboro Road from Linville. The this 422-acre tract has parking areas along Hwy. 90 and Brown Mountain Beach Road. The area is also known for its fly fishing and camping, and hunters should exercise caution.
Important: Those hunting bear in the area should be aware that the area on the west side of N.C. 90 and Brown Mountain Beach Road is part of the Daniel Boone Bear Sanctuary, where hunting is only allowed by permit.
Little Table Rock Mountain and Rose Creek TractsThe Little Table Rock Mountain Tract is 544 acres in Avery, Mitchell and McDowell counties. The game lands follow and is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway via Jacksontown Road, which turns into Humpback Mountain Road. Humpback Mountain Road can also be accessed via Altapass Highway from Spruce Pine. About a mile south of the Little Table Rock Tract, The Rose Creek Tract is accessible from Jacksontown Road and the Altapass Highway.
Important: Hikers can be in this area. Hunters need to exercise caution.
Roaring Creek TractThe Roaring Creek Tract, named for the roaring stream that runs through it, is located less than a mile from the Tennessee state line in Avery County. The 136-acre tract is accessible from Roaring Creek Road, off of U.S. 19E in Avery County.
More InformationFor outdoorsmen hoping to enjoy hunting in the High Country this fall, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has a wealth of information available on its website, www.ncwildlife.org. From information and regulations regarding hunting and fishing to educational tools and wildlife facts, this is the best place to start for any aspiring hunter.