Controlled burn season beginning

North Carolina residents may notice smoke rising from large tracts of timberland in the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s (NCWRC’s) Game Lands over the next few months.

It will not necessarily be a reason for concern, however.

This is the time of year Wildlife Commission personnel begin conducting prescribed (controlled) burns on some of the state’s two million acres of game lands.

A prescribed burn is an intentional burning of vegetation used to open up dense forest stands for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Some species, such as red-cockaded woodpeckers are found only in fire-dependent habitat. Others, like bobwhite quail, turkeys and deer, flourish in places where native grasses, herbaceous vegetation and similar plants reestablish after a burn.

In addition, prescribed burns help reduce high levels of forest fuels such as leaf litter and pine straw that can cause deadly wildfires.

Prescribed burns are conducted, typically from January through March, under certain specific conditions regarding humidity and wind. Wild animal populations are generally not impacted.

“The Commission utilizes burning techniques that ensure animals have time and room to escape,” said Chris Jordan, the NWRC’s lands program coordinator. “Vegetation typically returns within a few weeks, and the animals will return shortly after. Quail and turkeys, in particular, tend to return immediately after a burn to forage for mast that the fire uncovers.”

The Inshore Institute Fishing School

With warmer spring weather just around the corner, now is a good time for anglers to get ready to do battle with eastern North Carolina’s fabulous four–speckled trout, stripers, redfish and flounder – as well as an early summer visitor, cobia.

A good place to fine-tune skills and pick up some new pointers is at the Inshore Institute Fishing School.

The one-day instructional event will be held February 17 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Pamlico County Community College in Grantsboro, N.C. A host of experts, including Capt. Ricky Kellum, Capt. Gary Dubiel, Capt. Greg Voliva, Capt. Ashley King and a number of others will share their decades of experience and knowledge about our local waters. Mark Davis, host of television’s “Big Water Adventures” will also be among the presenters.

The event will kick off with a light breakfast, followed by fast-paced  presentations and drawings for all kinds of door prizes, including 7 guided fishing trips worth over $3,000. A catered lunch will be provided by Moore’s BBQ.

Registration ($100/person) is open as long as space allows. More information is available by phone at 252-745- 0708 or online at www.neuseriverfishing.com.

Hunting Seasons

Canada goose: (in Resident Population Zone) thru Feb. 10

Light geese (inc. snow, blue & Ross’ geese): thru Feb. 10

Ducks, Mergansers & amp; Coots: thru Jan. 27

Sea ducks: thru Jan. 27 (in special sea duck area only)

Tundra swan: (with special permit) thru Jan. 31

Brant: thru Jan. 27

Controlled hunting preserves: thru Mar. 31

Raccoon, opossum, gray squirrel, grouse, bobcat: thru Feb. 28

Rabbit & amp; quail: thru Feb. 28

Woodcock: thru Jan. 27

Common snipe: thru Feb. 28

Coyote, feral swine (hogs), nutria, skunk, groundhog or armadillo: no closed season

Trapping: through Feb. 28

Note: Check the N.C. Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest, available online or from Wildlife Service Agents, for additional information regarding seasons, bag limits and special provisions, especially for black bears.