Choanoke Outfitters is conveniently located in northeastern North Carolina. The lodge is a short 30 minute drive from the 173 exit of route 95. They have been in business for the past 3 years. A newly renovated spacious lodge will give you all the comforts of home and will provide a nice place for meals and exchanging hunting stories after the days hunt. Cable television will make sure that you don’t miss your favorite team’s game. The delicious home style family cooked meals will definitely ensure that you don’t lose any weight during your stay. A walk in freezer and new deer cleaning station allows for convenient processing of your deer. You can use these facilities to skin, quarter and process your own deer or you can choose to have your host skin, quarter and pack your animal for you ($30.00 per deer). Special processing at a local butcher shop can also be arranged at an additional cost.
Josh and Zane Roberts are the owners of Choanoke Outfitters. Since they are committed to offering a personalized hunt they are the only two guides who will take care of you. They limit the number of hunters to 8 per week. This 4 to 1 guide ratio ensures that you are in your stand by the desired time as well as prompt pick up at the conclusion of your hunt.
Deer management is very important to Josh and Zane. Bag limits for a five day hunt are two bucks and two doe. The first buck must have a minimum of four points, the second must be a minimum of eight points. Fines are imposed for hunters taking a buck under these requirements as well as for taking a button buck. Currently they own and lease 10 farms that make up over 4000 acres of prime hunting ground. These farms currently have 80 stands located on them. Zane and Josh are working hard to continue to cut more shooting lanes and re-position new stands to allow new options for positioning hunters.
The hunting method is strictly tree stand hunting. The tree stands are of very high quality. They are a combination of ground level shooting blinds and elevated shooting towers and comfortable two man buddy stands. The stands are strategically located over a combination of fields, food plots, cut shooting lanes and crossing areas. Josh and Zane have worked hard in the off season planting food plots. These will ensure that deer remain close all through the winter season. In addition to the food plots they spend a lot of time baiting there stands with fresh shelled corn. Josh and Zane have been averaging putting out 1000 pounds of shelled corn per week to the various hunting stands.
For more detailed information on hunting with Choanoke Outfitters please refer to their website by clicking on the link located at the bottom of the article.
Huntguide.com Pro Staff member Shawn Klinger and myself have always wanted to try an early season muzzleloader deer hunt in the Carolinas. We knew that Choanoke Outfitters was a convenient drive from the central Pennsylvania area so we decided to book a hunt. The all inclusive hunting package, the personalized service, the diverse number of stands and hunting terrain along with the large number of deer on their farms are all factors that made us anxious to hunt with Choanoke Outfitters.
We arrived Sunday afternoon, the day prior to the beginning of our scheduled 5 day hunt. We knew in advance that mother-nature would have a few things stacked against us. It turned out that this year’s muzzleloader season would line up perfectly with the full moon. To the experienced tree stand whitetail hunters reading this article, you can certainly understand how this can play a big part in the number of deer you see. As always weather also plays a key role in the amount of animals you are able to see on any particular hunt. When Shawn and I booked this hunt, we knew the weather would most likely be very warm. What we didn’t count on was four of the five days being between 85 and 90 degrees. North Carolina actually experienced record highs two of the 5 days we hunted.
Even with all these negative factors it turned out to be a pretty good week. There were a total of eight hunters in camp. The week got off to a quick start. Even though Shawn and I didn’t see anything the first morning, other hunters had much better luck. One hunter, Paul Lloyd a friend also from the Harrisburg area had seen 6 bucks together near his stand in the moonlight. By the time legal shooting time arrived, the biggest of the 6 bucks was out of range. Paul did manage to get a shot off at one of the bucks. After an hour of guides and hunters looking no blood was found. Also Scott, a hunter from New York had misjudged the distance on a big rack buck (at least 8 points) in the morning fog, shooting over top of the animal. Another hunter from the Harrisburg area had seen 12 doe and 2 small bucks.
The first evening Shawn and I were located on a secluded large soybean field approximately 500 yards long and 250 yards wide. Between the 2 stands we could comfortably cover the shot distance with our muzzleloaders for about 70 – 80 % of the bean field. Our stands were about 350 yards apart. About 30 minutes before dark a six point buck appeared on the far side of the bean field. He worked his way between Shawn and I never getting closer than 175 years to either one of us. Later that evening 4 does also appeared. Even though we were unable to take a shot it was enjoyable watching the deer. As we returned to camp that night all of the other hunters had seen deer but no more mature bucks presented a shot.
The next morning I was on a tower stand with 3 cut shooting lanes. It was a very enjoyable morning, I saw 12 deer. All were doe except for two button bucks. That evening I returned to the same stand and took a mature doe feeding in a food plot 75 yards away. Another hunter in camp took a buck that night on the same farm that I harvested the doe. Shawn saw a few deer but nothing that presented a shot.
The third morning we were back to the secluded farm containing the large soybean field. I was hunting the soybean field while Shawn hunted a shooting lane on the same farm. It was a very eventful and enjoyable morning. I saw 5 different bucks that morning but the closest would only come within 275 yards. The bucks varied in size, a four pointer, a six pointer, two larger bucks (at least 8 points) and one spike buck. I also saw five doe that morning two of which came within easy shooting range. Not wanting to risk spooking the bucks I didn’t take a shot at the doe. Shawn had seen two different bucks cross the shooting lane but none presented a shot. Late that morning Shawn did take a mature doe feeding on the baited corn. We returned that evening hoping the bucks would return but no luck, they did not appear.
The fourth evening of the hunt another buck and two doe were taken. Also a very large buck (the hunter said he could count 12 points at 200 yards) was missed. We spent two hours looking for the deer that night and the next morning but no blood was found. The way the deer acted the most likely scenario was that the hunter most likely grazed him, shooting underneath the buck.
As the week ended seven of the 8 hunters had killed a deer. One hunter harvested two deer. The hunter who did not harvest a deer was not interested in shooting a doe. He had numerous opportunities. For the week I saw 31 deer, 6 of which were bucks. The other seven hunters in camp were very pleased with the hunt as well. On average each hunter saw between 20 and 40 for the week. Every hunter also saw several bucks. Looking back at the week, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like had the weather been more seasonable (15 – 20 degrees cooler) and a darker moon phase. I am not the only hunter wondering what it would have been like. Each hunter in camp for that first week of muzzleloader season has already re-booked for the same hunt next year.
I have stayed in touch with Josh after my hunt was over. The hunting party that followed us the following week had a great hunt as well. The weather cooled down, the moon phase grew darker, and the rut grew closer. Even more deer were seen and some nice bucks were taken.
Paul Lloyd returned with another group of hunters the first week of November. Included in the group was his 10 year old son, Hunter. Hunter was very anxious for a chance to take his first buck. As things turned out he wouldn’t have to wait very long. Hunter took a buck on the 1st morning of the hunt. Hunter saw some very impressive bucks the rest of the week. Josh and Zane went out of their way to make his 1st. hunt a memorable experience. Later that week it was Paul’s turn, who took a nice 8 point buck in a soybean field. The 1st morning of the hunt, another hunter in the group saw 5 buck, and harvested 2, that scored in the 120’s. The other hunters in camp also had a very enjoyable and productive week A total of 6 bucks were taken along with several doe. Photos of some of these bucks are included in this article.
For more detailed information on hunting with Choanoke Outfitters or to check out several of the bucks taken in the 2008 hunting season please click on the link to their website listed below: