The Transylvania Times -

Bowhunting In Transylvania


September 19, 2016

It is noted about the time Christ was born that the Native Americans adapted the bow and arrow as a primary weapon. This greatly extended their success from a hunt that took place within feet to one of yards. It is not uncommon to find the evidence of the weapons today, as arrowheads turn up in plowed fields or fresh dug soil in our county.

Although the equipment has changed and evolved tenfold to today's modern equipment, the hunt itself remains close to the experience of those in the past. One still needs to get well within the game's radar undetected and be able to draw the bow for a shot. The most common game pursued in the county with the bow is the whitetail deer, probably the same as the Cherokee, 200 years back.

Early modern era bowhunters used traditional recurve and longbows, and many still do. These bows are drawn with little time to hold the full pulling weight of he bow. Most are shot instinctively, without sights and require a lot of practice and discipline to hunt with. They are very effective in close quick shots, and provide the closest experience of the Indian bow, and embrace the joy and simplicity that is bowhunting.

In the mid 1970s the compound bow came into the woods, changing the sport forever. Faster with laser precision, today's compounds make holding a bow at full draw and aiming much easier for the average archer. The compound bow opened up bowhunting for a wider range of users.

Less pulling weight and a shorter learning curve have made bowhunting one of fastest growing segments in hunting.

In 2011, what had just been just a weapon for handicap hunters, the crossbow, became legal to use during archery season for all licensed hunters. Most bowhunters in the county today are shooting compounds.

Another big advancement in the mid '70s was the portable tree stand. This allowed the archer to get above the deer's eyesight and help get the human scent above the famous nose of the whitetail.

Good equipment and clothing has come along way, but good hunting and woodsmanship skills are still the best bet for success. With the incredible fall weather and scenery we have in this county, I can think of no better place to be than 20-feet up a tree with my bow in my hand.

Where To Go?

Transylvania is blessed with over 50 percent of the county in public land. Only Gorges State Park doesn't allow hunting. Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Recreational Forest and the soon-to-be Headwaters State Forest are all NC Wildlife Resources Commission Gamelands, available for hunting. Private land can be hunted by the owners or if a hunter has written permission from the owner. Some municipalities or developments may have restrictions above that of state laws. Always be aware of where you hunt from a legal and safety standpoint before you go.

When To Go?

Bowhunters in Transylvania County have one of the longest archery seasons in the state. Our deer numbers are stable and moderate, so the gun season is much shorter than in counties east of us that have higher deer populations. Longer gun seasons are needed to control the deer populations in eastern counties. In 2016, one can hunt with a bow and arrow for big game in Transylvania County from Sept. 12 through Jan. 2. Archery season for deer, which allows harvest of either sex, is Sept. 12 - Sept. 27 and Oct. 11 - Nov. 22. For all other deer hunts, black powder and gun seasons, one can use a bow but must adhere to those harvest laws and wear orange.

The Numbers

In 2015 the deer harvest in Transylvania County totaled 266: 188 antlered bucks, 8 button bucks and 70 does. From those, 61 were taken with bow and arrow, 15 with crossbow, 94 were taken from gamelands and 172 from private land.

County Bowhunting Records

The North Carolina Bowhunters Association keeps the official state records on bow and arrow harvest. Although larger animals may have been harvested over the years in Transylvania County with a bow, these are the current official record holders. I encourage anyone who harvests a trophy animal with their bow to look into getting it scored and put into the NCBA records. This is not just a way to honor yourself and the animal, but gives valuable information on health and statics of game in our county.

Headwaters Outfitters hosts a measuring day in January each year, so anyone who wants to score their harvest free of charge may do so by an official NCBA and Pop and Young Measurer.

Black Bear

Joffrey Merrill - 16 7/16

David Whitmire -16 3/16

Scott McJunkin - 14 2/16

Whitetail (Doe)

Devin Gentry - 14 9/16

David Whitmire -13 15/16

Whitetail (Typical)

Joffrey Merrill - 110 0/8

David Whitmire - 107 6/8

Whitetail (Typical Velvet)

Joffrey Merrill - 108 4/8

Wild Turkey

David Whitmire - 12 11/16

David Whitmire -12 8/16

Larry Whitman - 11 0/16


Scott McJunkin -11 11/16


David Whitmire -8 0/16


Don Henderson - 6 7/8


Larry Whitman - 7 8/16


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