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.
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.
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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.