Triangle residents may bleed red or blue over college sports, but when it comes to hunting, most bleed camo.
Sportsmen across the state and nation blended in at the 35th Annual Dixie Deer Classic at the State Fairgrounds, which ended Sunday. They came for hunting clubs and vendors and to see if their deer head trophy could win a prize.
Despite icy rain Sunday, the fairgrounds parking lot was packed, with organizers expecting a little below their normal 25,000 visitor average in addition to 1,760 exhibitors and volunteers.
Women and children competed this year, along with their fathers, boyfriends, husbands and uncles. Basset, Va. native Fisher Whitlock is only 10 years old, but he brought game to the table, taking Best in Show and Youth Non-typical Muzzleloader for his 15-point deer head.
“We were just walking down the road and saw it, and I killed it,” he said, adding that he loves hunting turkeys, birds and even bears with his 11-year-old brother, Hunter.
Micah Davis, 3, hunts deer, raccoons, and opossums around his home and in the swamps. He demonstrated the sounds of his coon dogs treeing their prey by howling. He carefully examined a birds of prey exhibit, where Speedy the Eastern Screech Owl perched completely motionless and unblinking.
“Has it died?” he asked.
Among the booths selling turkey calls, deer stands and even camo-colored recliners, other groups used their love of hunting to serve others. Huntinthewild, Inc. is a nonprofit based in Dobson run by Jeff Kinton and dedicated to helping disabled or terminally ill people experience a memorable hunting trip.
Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and North Carolina Hunters for the Hungry are two organizations where licensed hunters donate their kill for those in need.
Alex Templeton, 22, is a member of Dressed To Kill, an all-women’s hunting TV show who taught attendees how to be an outdoors woman. She advocates for women’s hunting, saying that women bring their unique touch to a hunt.
“Women make great hunters,” she said. “We’re more patient. ... I know I love sitting in a tree stand watching all of the animals.”