MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C --
HAVELOCK, N.C. - Walking through the woods on a hunting trip, Eric Floyd heard a sound close by. Unsure of whether it was a fellow hunter or his next target, he dropped to the ground and looked through the branches of a holly tree.
Floyd, a Cherry Point game warden, saw a deer. Heart pounding, he stood, nocked an arrow and drew his bow. He stopped noticing the cold and numbness in his arms and legs. He listened in silence, hoping the deer would wander closer. When he felt he could wait no longer, he stepped from behind the tree and released the arrow.
The deer did not make it far. About 40 yards away, Floyd admired his new trophy, a seven-point buck.
This story didn’t take place in some snow-dusted mountain meadow in Montana. It happened right here among Cherry Point’s Carolina pines. The air station offers a prime hunting locale for Marines, family members, and retirees hoping to bring home some fresh venison.
There are many different types of hunting on base including deer, squirrel, dove, rabbit and duck. There is also a trapping season for raccoon and possum.
Floyd, who has been hunting for more than 40 years, said there are benefits to hunting on the air station. There are more hardwood trees here than on many public lands, which means more acorns for deer to eat, along with natural food plots that help the deer stay healthy. Using dogs for hunting deer is prohibited on the air station as well, which keeps deer calm and traveling more predictable patterns.
The designated archery areas on the air station are another benefit to hunting on Cherry Point.
“We have areas that are strictly for bow hunting that can’t be disturbed by gun hunters,” said Alan D. Steinhauer, a U.S. conservation officer on the air station.
Hunting is also allowed seven days a week on Cherry Point. Outside, hunters can only hunt on private land on Sundays, said Floyd.
To hunt on Cherry Point, hunters must possess a North Carolina state hunting license and all hunting weapons, which are limited to shotguns, muzzleloaders, bows and some .22 caliber rifles, must be registered at Pass and ID. Also, hunters must attend a free air station hunting orientation class, which is held every other Friday during the season. Once hunters have completed all requirements, they can purchase an air station hunting permit at the Marine Corps Exchange for $10, according to Steinhauer.
Air station hunting orientation classes teach hunters the basic rules for hunting on Cherry Point. According to Steinhauer, the key to staying out of trouble is to know the rules and follow them.
Hunting is permitted on the air station from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, but hunters can be in position an hour and a half before sunrise, according to the Cherry Point game warden website. Hunters must check in with the Conservation Law Enforcement office on Access Rd. before going to their hunting areas. A map of the six approved gun and seven bow hunting areas is available at the Environmental Affairs Department on Access Road.
Hunting seasons are the same on Cherry Point as they are in the rest of the state.
un season started Oct. 13, and will run through Jan. 1. In gun season, hunters can still hunt using bows and muzzleloaders, but exclusive seasons for those hunters are observed earlier in the year.
North Carolina hunting licenses come with six deer tags. With these, there are still limits on the numbers of bucks you can take.
“The most bucks you can take in a season is four,” said Steinhauer. “You can go back and buy more doe tags once you have used your first six.”
Occasionally, the department will host special events for groups of hunters. On Nov. 17, hunters took to the surrounding woods near Ordnance Point. The “Ordnance Hunt” takes place four times a year. The next is scheduled for Saturday. There is also a youth turkey hunt in the spring.
For more information on air station hunting regulations or upcoming events, contact the Environmental Affairs Department at 466-3593.