Currituck County is a haven for wildlife. From the wild horses galloping along the beaches to rare king rail birds living in stunning wildlife refuges, the northern Outer Banks and
Currituck County is a haven for wildlife. From the wild horses galloping along the beaches to rare king rail birds living in stunning wildlife refuges, the northern Outer Banks and mainland Currituck is committed to preserving and protecting its feathered, furry, fishy, and four-legged friends for all to enjoy.
Even the name Currituck is a nod to the abundant wildlife in the region, meaning “Land of the Wild Goose,” and the Algonquin Indians who founded Currituck chose the moniker in honor of the populations of wild geese that called the Outer Banks home centuries ago.
On your next visit to Currituck County, take a walk on the wild side.
More than 600 years ago, Spanish explorers arrived on the Outer Banks with their horses, eager to search for gold. The explorers returned home but the horses remained, and the wild mustangs have been foraging in the dunes and frolicking in the surf in Corolla ever since.
Although it is against the law to approach, lure, touch, feed, or come within 50 feet of the wild horses, you can buckle up for an off-road adventure, driving across the beach in an open-air Jeep to watch the horses running free. Wild horse tours provide the best opportunities to get an up-close look at the horses.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund operates the Wild Horse Museum & Store to showcase the history of the wild mustangs on the Outer Banks. Merchandise sold in the store helps preserve and care for the horses.
Learn about the role that deer, foxes, wild pigs, waterfowl, and other wildlife played in shaping the culture and natural history of Currituck County at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. The stunning 22,000 square-foot interpretive center on the grounds of Historic Corolla Park features exhibits showcasing antique waterfowl decoys, duck blind displays, and vintage outboard motors that delight outdoor enthusiasts. The 39-acre grounds also offer lots of opportunities to spot wildlife.
The Pine Island Audubon Center protects 96 imperiled species, including saltmarsh sparrows, American black ducks, and black rails. The 2.5-mile nature trail passes through evergreen maritime forest, offering prime wildlife viewing opportunities. Plus, guided stand-up paddleboard and kayak tours are also available.
Accessible via ferry from mainland Currituck, Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, located on the northern end of Knott’s Island, is a sanctuary for migratory birds. Pack a picnic, take a hike, and see how many species you can spot. Be on the lookout for king rail birds; the elusive species love the freshwater marshes, and nest on elevated platforms of sedges, rushes, and grasses.
Stroll along the boardwalk or paddle down the canal to access the Currituck Sound at the Currituck County Rural Center. The 105-acre refuge in Powells Point is home to wildlife ranging from rabbits and turtles to wild turkey and herons; waterfowl are often spotted swimming in the fishing ponds and signage on the boardwalk describes local flora and fauna.
Fishermen and women love casting their lines on the Outer Banks. The 30-mile long Currituck Sound has attracted anglers since the 1800s because it’s home to both freshwater and saltwater species.
In addition to being renowned for its population of largemouth bass, Currituck Sound is full of blue fish, false albacore, grouper, king mackerel, flounder, clams, and oysters in the fall — and October is one of the best months to reel in fresh catch. You can fish from public fishing decks and boardwalks at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Coinjock and Poyner’s Road Park in Moyock.
Several local tackle shops, including OBX Bait Shop in Corolla, Currituck Sports in Barco, and East Coast Home & Garden in Moyock can provide specifics about required permits — and issue them, too — all of the gear you need, and advice on the best spots to cast a line.
Hire a guide to take you to all of the best inshore and deep-sea fishing spots. Companies such as Eastern OBX Guide Service, and Albemarle Fishing Charters offer guided fishing trips to help you reel in the Big One.
Currituck Sound is also a popular spot for crabbing. In the fall, it’s common to see hungry anglers attempting to catch a bucket of blue crabs for supper.
Currituck County is the original home of Ducks Unlimited. Co-founder J.P. Knapp owned a home in Currituck County, where he founded an organization called More Game Birds in America — later known as Ducks Unlimited — to preserve wetland habitat for waterfowl. After Knapp died, he designated his 8,000-acre estate as a wildlife refuge now known as Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Currituck County, long known as a sportsman’s paradise, is also a prime spot for hunting black bears and deer. Plus, the abundance of open water, marsh estuaries, and grassy flats are ideal environments to hunt ducks, geese, swans, and other waterfowl. In October and November, Canada geese, light geese, and ducks are in season. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission lists season dates for other wildlife species.
Whether your idea of “getting wild” includes spotting wildlife on a woodland hike, paddling through marshes while searching for rare birds, picnicking on the beach while wild horses graze in the distance, or casting a line in the ocean or sound, Currituck County has got you covered.