DAN KIBLER COLUMN: Dixie Deer Classic is in Raleigh this weekend

For the 43rd year, the Dixie Deer Classic will open its doors this weekend to hunters looking for big-buck bragging rights.

Dan Kibler

The annual show, at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, will crown the biggest bucks killed in North Carolina last season in a number of categories on Sunday, the last day of the 3-day show that runs from March 1-3.

Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday.

Besides literally hundreds of vendors offering all manner of outdoors merchandise, the show’s biggest draw is the annual big-buck contest. Hunters can enter the contest on Friday and Saturday, with awards handed out on Sunday afternoon for the biggest bucks taken by gun, muzzleloader and bow, by male, female and youth hunters, along with the biggest bucks from neighboring states.

Special guests of the show include Michelle Bachmann from the Winchester Deadly Passion TV show, Kip Campbell from Red Arrow TV and Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo of Archers Choice TV.

The Classic will be held in the Exhibition Building, the Jim Graham Building and Dorton Arena.

Dock dogs competition will be held all three days, along with the National WIld Turkey Federation’s Tarheel Open and N.C. State calling competitions (Saturday), a venison chili cook-off (Saturday) and an NWTF call-maker’s competition (Friday). Decoy carving and a wildlife scavenger hunt for kids will take place all three days.

State’s striped mullet proposals don’t have much effect on
recreational fishermen

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission shocked a lot of fishermen last fall when it temporarily closed the recreational harvest of striped mullet – an important baitfish – in North Carolina waters.

The Commission explained it was trying to get a handle on falling numbers of the pedestrian little baitfish, aka finger mullet, signaling a shift to new management in the future.

Well, the future is almost now.

The Commission voted at its meeting last week for a change in plans to manage striped mullet — a plan that reduces the commercial harvest by 34.95 and really doesn’t affect recreational fishermen. The plan could take effect after it gets final approval at a Commission meeting in late May.

Recreational fishermen will have an individual and vessel limit of 400 fish per day, except on chartered trips, where the limit would correspond to the number of anglers on board.

The commercial season for striped mullet would be closed on Saturdays and Sundays from Jan. 1-Sept. 30, and from Saturdays through Mondays Oct. 1-Dec. 31. Stop-net fishing would be managed with the same regulations as the rest of the fishery.

Bass pro says to look for isolated cover in early March

Set apart.

Shaw Grigsby

That’s how Shaw Grigsby, the Hall of Fame bass pro from Gainesville, Florida, approaches targeting largemouths when March arrives and spring is just around the corner.

Grigsby, who gave seminars at the Central Carolina Boat & Fishing Expo in Greensboro last weekend, looks for isolated pieces of cover, things that are “set apart” from the remainder of visible shoreline cover.

“Spring is coming, and fish will be starting to move shallow,” said Grigsby, a tremendous springtime fisherman who has won better than $2 million during a 35-year career. “I am looking for isolated trees and bushes that are out in front of the main line of cover. Fish are looking for anything like that to hold on before they go to the bank.

“I remember one time, I led a tournament at Buggs Island (Lake) after the first day,” he said. “I caught all my fish on isolated cover. I caught one bass on the first bush out on the edge of a point. I caught one on a log out in the middle of a pocket — those kinds of places. That’s what I’m looking to fish. Fish will go to that kind of isolated cover. Now, when the water gets to 60 (degrees), they go to the bank.”

Dan Kibler has covered the outdoors since 1985 as outdoors editor of the Winston-Salem Journal and later as managing editor of Carolina Sportsman until his retirement in 2021.