BEAUFORT COUNTY

DNR: Free hunting weekend does not mean extended deer season for SC hunters

astice@islandpacket.comJanuary 2, 2013 

COURTESY OF MORGUEFILE.COM

  • This weekend, South Carolina hunters can get out in the field without obtaining a state hunting license or other permits and stamps. The free hunting days apply to private land and Wildlife Management Areas that already allow it. In Beaufort and Jasper counties, those are:

    • Old Island Heritage Preserve
    • St. Helena Sound Heritage Preserve
    • Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve
    • Tillman Sand Ridge Heritage Preserve
    • Turtle Island


    The hunt applies only to game in season, and existing bag limits and methods of take apply.

    Go to dnr.sc.gov/regulations.html for 2012-2013 rules and regulations.

Since the announcement of two free hunting days this weekend, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has been flooded with calls from hunters wondering if they will be allowed to bag another deer.

They won't.

Deer hunting season ended Jan. 1, so bucks and does are off-limits during the upcoming Jan. 4 and 5 free-of-charge hunting days, said DNR Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas.

However, youngsters age 17 and under can hunt deer without a license on one day only -- Jan. 5 -- as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult who is 21 or older.

Game and license requirements are waived for younger people who participate in youth deer hunt day, but their older, licensed companions are prohibited from trying to take game.

DNR scheduled the first-ever free hunting for the first weekend of the year to attract more people to the sport. State officials say the number of hunters is declining.

Only state residents can participate, and they won't need a hunting license or other required documents such as Wildlife Management Area permits.

While state requirements will be lifted, a federal duck stamp will still be required to hunt migratory waterfowl. The free hunting program does not open up Wildlife Management Areas that were previously not open for hunting.

Existing seasons, bag limits and methods of take are also in effect.

That means, with the exception of youth deer hunting day, hunters can't try for deer, bear and turkey.

Thomas said hunters can shoot "pretty much just your small game." That includes dove, crow, quail, rabbit, squirrel, fox, beaver and coyote.

Related content

  1. Free hunting days aim to attract new hunters, Dec. 25, 2012
  2. After the holidays, on with the fishing, Dec. 30, 2012
  3. S.C. Department of Natural Resources 2012-2013 Rules and Regulations

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