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?
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.
- 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.
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.