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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Warning: Long Read! Hello to all. My name's Jon. If you're anything like me, you have been suffering the seasonal withdrawals that accompany February and March. If I can't duck hunt, talking about it and planning for future seasons is the next best thing. I am considering a move to North Carolina, and would like to find a tract to buy for duck hunting purposes. I don't think I will be very successful in this endeavor without local help and knowledge. After reading over the last ten years worth of relevant postings on this forum, I've come to the conclusion that there are several individuals on here that could be very helpful in my search. I will provide an introduction of myself/my hunting background below. Based on what I have read here, I think (hope) most of the serious and knowledgeable posters will be patient enough to read it in order to understand my intentions.

I have been waterfowl hunting for the last fifteen years. I am originally from the east coast, around the Delmarva region, and grew up as a deer hunter. I attended college in eastern Tennessee. One semester, I was walking in to archery hunt deer on a public area where I had been experiencing some success that fall. When I rounded a bend, suddenly I saw that the area was now flooded, and there were guys in camo with decoy spreads out. A gentleman politely informed me that since waterfowl season had arrived, the area was closed to deer hunting. I apologized profusely and left, after offering the conclusion that I guess I would have to learn how to duck hunt. That was pretty much the end of any hope I ever had at mental sanity or financial prosperity.

Over the next two seasons, I learned to hunt waterfowl on the surrounding rivers of eastern Tennessee, which is not exactly a duck mecca. The second season, I bought a dog, who became my best friend and hunting partner for the next thirteen years. I then discovered Arkansas, made friends there, and spent the next several seasons in Stuttgart, hunting mostly public ground, being fortunate to see more birds than I knew existed. As public hunting grew more competitive there, as it has nationwide, it began to take away some enjoyable aspects of the sport. I love competition in life, but not at 4:00 AM. I decided to pursue buying my own place to enjoy duck hunting.

After looking at several areas, and visiting a lot of prospective properties, I bought a farm in western Tennessee. Although I still lived on the east side of the state, it was close enough to drive every other week to manage my property. For the next six years, I enjoyed hunting my farm and the surrounding areas with friends I made. Birds were plentiful at times, scarce at others, but the hunting was always enjoyable- I would rather kill a few birds in peace than see a bunch in the middle of a public ground war zone. I enjoyed my time in the Mississippi Flyway, and will likely always return there to hunt and visit friends. I realize the Atlantic Flyway is a much different ballgame.

My parents live on the east coast (dad just retired to the Outer Banks), and I would like to be closer to them geographically to spend more time with them, as they are getting up in years. I was unexpectedly offered a generous sum for my farm last year and sold it, with my goal being to move closer to my parents. For now, I still live and work in eastern Tennessee, but am hoping to move to eastern NC once I can locate a suitable place.

I learned a lot through purchasing my last farm. I did some things right, and I did a bunch of things wrong. After making good duck hunting contacts in the area subsequent to purchasing it, the one thought I kept having was “if only I had known these people before I bought the place.” Chances are, I could have gotten a much better set up with all of the insider knowledge they possessed.

I'm trying to learn from that mistake, and do things better this time around. Without physically being in the area to meet people, this is one attempt I'm making to gather sage advice. It might be difficult to have some conversations without the ability to PM, but hopefully I can acquire that in time.

What am I looking for?
  • a property that has an area that will perk, so I can eventually have a modest residence there
  • a property that can support at least two hunting locations of different varieties (for instance, a swamp and an impoundment, or waterfront and a bottom, etc etc)
  • something within two hours maximum driving time of Manteo
  • a property I can do most of the management on myself (I own tractor and implements)
  • Ducks. I do most hunting by myself, and shooting a few birds per hunt is fine, hopefully a limit or two here and there on a good weather day. I hope I have appropriate expectations for the change of flyway.
  • A place to put a deer stand or two to enjoy with Dad.
  • Looking to spend 250K or under so as to not need a mortgage, with interest rising and an unstable economy. I'm just a single guy that works an outdoor job for modest income.
I have contacted some realtors and “put them on alert,” so to speak, but it's my belief that any truly good lead will come from someone with local hunting knowledge.

Pieces that are not yet developed or impounded for duck hunting, but have potential because of the area or flight path they are in are basically only going to be known by duck hunters. Likewise, when a small but successful duck hunting property could be bought, duck hunters will be the first to know about it. (likely the property won't ever actually get to the open market- this is how my farm sold, word of mouth to another duck hunter)

After doing all of the reading and research I can, I'm still not sure whether I would be more successful in an area right on the coast, such as Hyde/Tyrell/etc, or whether I might be better off slightly further inland towards the 95 corridor, in the Pitt/Bertie/Martin area. I would rather see fewer birds in an area where I could provide attractive habitat for them than be in an area where I would see numbers, but be routinely out-competed by folks with deeper pockets and more habitat to manage.

I would rather not use my money to book guided hunts or join a club because I really enjoy the aspect of managing my own land, with my own equipment, and having the ability to hunt it when I like, with whomever I like.

If you've stuck with me and read this far, God bless you. I would appreciate any productive comments, criticisms, or advice. Perhaps someone will read this and have an opportunity to steer me in the right direction, or even to the right spot.

Thanks,
Jon
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I hope nothing I wrote came off as cyber scouting. If so, sincere apologies. Certainly not my intention. Asking information about purchasing an existing spot or developing one- definitely not looking to move in on anyone else's! As far as acreage... I think that would depend on a whole bunch of factors, as well as the area, like you mentioned. Existing impoundments and water control structures seem to exponentially multiply the price/value of land in NC, from everything I've seen. Guess I am experiencing a touch of "sticker shock" coming from the MS flyway, where they are more of the norm. It seems to me that if I got a piece that was relatively undeveloped for duck hunting, and just had some waterfront, or a decent amount of swamp acreage, I would hope to find something in the hundred plus acre range. If it has some water control structures or systems in place already, with successful hunting having already occurred there, I would likely not be able to afford something that large. I do, however, think I would feel cramped on anything smaller than 50 or 60 acres. The farm I used to own was 250, but I'm not under any illusions of coming anywhere near that in this area, given my budget. Much different land prices out this way. I'm also into diversity of habitat and hunting locations. Just as an example, I would prefer a place with three holes that occasionally killed a few birds, rather than one hole that killed everyday. I think hunting a variety of locations is part of the enjoyment I get from the sport. As I often hunt by myself and fund my own planting, etc, I'm certainly not looking for forty or fifty impounded acres! Given my budget, I guess my ideal situation would be maybe a hundred ac, with at least half of that being naturally swampy. Could take my time developing ponds/impoundments on the higher ground over a few years. Idealistic is not the same as realistic, so I'll just have to see what comes up. From everything I'm learning about NC, the price goes up and the acres go down, the more water control is already present. Rather than have a set number of acres I'm looking for, I'm viewing it as variables that would cause that to go up or down. Thanks very much for reading, replying, and asking

Jon
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
CatFan, thanks so much for your thoughts. I agree with the vast majority of them. Headed that direction at the end of next week to visit family and fish... Have spoken with a realtor or two, hoping to facilitate an in person meeting when in the area. I'm trying to be extra patient (thanksfully, I have some solid hunting connections in the MS flyway) so as to allow the bubble to burst, as you say. I sure wish it would, but I also think that land suitable for duck hunting might buck normal real estate trends, and simply stay stable or continue to climb... I hope not, but it appears that way. You know, limited resources, law of supply and demand, demand for duck hunting places unfortunately doesn't seem to be going down anytime soon. You're also right on about the warmer winters. I have a place on the eastern shore in MD. When I was younger, we'd usually be frozen out before January, where as now we typically are able to hunt all the way through the end of that month. Trying to focus on northeastern NC areas, as you mentioned, and something near the Roanoke River or Albemarle sound. Thanks a lot for your thoughts, all the best to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you could offshore fish in Kansas, and my aging parents all wanted to move there.... well, might be an ideal solution... Until then, just trying to find a balance in life, you know... Thanks for the input though, I certainly understand your sentiment about the sharp decline of hunting quality in the area... I think that holds true for many places. Our place in Maryland on the Eastern Shore isn't what it used to be. I don't bother to make the trip to Arkansas as much as I did eight or ten years ago... Duck hunting is in decline, disparity for potentially good duck hunting between the rich hunter and the average hunter continues to increase, but I'm certainly not ready to give it up yet! Just would like to be closer to my folks... (east coast, Dad is in Manteo) for now, still hunting in West TN as I continue looking at options. Season opens this weekend, but rain is sorely needed! -Jon
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Interested in something under a half mil, preferably closer to a quarter mil... Where I land in there would probably be heavily influenced by location, presence of power/water, and how much good hunting is available on it vs how much potential for good hunting there is on it, if that makes sense. I'm adept and self sufficient at developments that can be done with a tractor, but once you get into bulldozers and trackhoes, I have to allow for the cost of getting that work done, as I'm not self sufficient there. I don't want to get into a situation where I have the ground, but not the budgetary flexibility to make the necessary developments it needs to succeed, you know? I've been there before. Your message was encouraging, I'll have to start doing some more active looking. It seemed like last year, the most ground became available after hunting seasons concluded, so I was figuring on that likely being the case again this time around, but perhaps that isn't true. Thank you for your post and interest! Please don't hesitate to post again or message if you see anything specific I should take a look at.
 
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