South Carolina – From a Deer Hunter’s POV

Posted: 08/30/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Legal, News, Regulations, Whitetail Deer
Tags: , , , ,

This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.

South Carolina

Is the information easy to find?

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources hunting regulation page was at the top of the search results.

Grade: A

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

The information needed to plan an out of state hunt is not organized very well on the SCDNR web site; the hunting seasons are divided into two different PDF files for public land and private land, prices for hunting licenses are divided into two pages as well, one for residents and another for nonresidents.  One segment of the web page shines however, and that is the link on the general Hunting page that leads to Hunting Opportunities on Public Lands.  This page is sortable by species and only returns public land that has been made available to hunt the species of choice in a very manageable list.

There is also a link on the left sidebar that should load the Hunting Regulations, but instead leads to a ‘404 – file not found’ error page.

Grade: C

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

Standard over the counter licenses are the norm in South Carolina, there may be drawings for limited access or quota hunts, but a nonresident can get a deer permit without having to submit to random chance.

Grade: A

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

Resident big game licenses are prices at $6.00, with a $30.50 Wildlife Management Area permit available, making this the first state that charges its residents five times the price of a deer tag to hunt on public lands.  Nonresident big game licenses are priced at $100.00, with a $76.00 Wildlife Management Area permit available.  Harvest limits vary by area and equipment type, for example in Game Zone 1 on private lands, during gun season the bag limit is 2 per day with a total limit of seven.

There does not appear to be a short term license available that would permit deer hunting, but the general price is very reasonable.

Grade: B

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner? 

Hunting seasons are split by regions and then further split by private vs. public land, with the latter being presented in a PDF file that appears to be very complicated.  Provided the user knows the region and WMA, however, this quickly resolves into finding the WMA and the species.  General regulations for other WMAs including U.S. Forest lands are listed at the beginning:

Deer – Other WMAs (including US Forest Service Lands in WMA)
• Sunday hunting for deer is prohibited on WMAs.
• Individual antlerless deer tags are not valid on WMA land in Game Zone 1.
• Limits listed are a combined total per person for both private & WMA lands.
• No more than 5 bucks total may be taken during all seasons combined, regardless of method (archery, muzzleloader, or gun).
• Feral hogs and coyotes may be taken during all hunts. No hog hunting with
dogs except during special hog hunts with dogs and party dog bear hunts.
• Archery allowed during all hunt periods (archery, muzzleloader or gun hunts).
• Crossbows are considered archery equipment.
• Archery hunters are allowed to take either-sex during all deer seasons. All
limits apply.
• The deer seasons for all US Army Corps of Engineers lands in Game Zone 1
are the same as the WMA deer seasons unless otherwise posted.

The public lands regulations contain a contradiction in terms of bag limits:

Game Zone 1 Private Lands
Limit 5 antlered deer for all seasons combined.
Archery & Muzzleloaders: Oct. 1 – Oct. 10, Limit 2 per day, 2 deer total. Archers may take either-sex during all seasons (archery, muzzleloader, and gun). Muzzleloader is buck only.
Archery only: Oct. 17 – 30, Limit: 2 per day, 2 deer total
Gun Hunts: Limit: 2 per day, 7 deer total
Buck only: Oct. 11 – 16, Oct

(Highlights added)

So… despite the header claiming ‘limit 5 deer for all seasons combined,’  the ‘Gun Hunts’ lists 2 per day, 7 deer total.  That should set off alarms in most hunter’s heads.  If there is a discrepancy in this single instance, how many more discrepancies are there, and what would regulations would those errors affect?

Grade: C

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

The Wildlife Management Area regulations are very detailed in South Carolina, however printing the page(s) that contain the WMA(s) to be hunted is an easy way to keep track of any rules variations.

Grade: A

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

Chronic Wasting Disease has not been found in South Carolina to date.  The only other issue found would be the inconsistencies in the regulations, which would be easily solved by calling the game offices or picking up a hard copy of the regulations.

Grade: B

Summary: Final Grade B

The price for deer permits is very reasonable, combining it with the fee for hunting Wildlife Management Areas brings the price up to $176.00, which is still not a terrible price for five, or maybe seven, deer tags.   Pay close attention to the region-specific regulations, some of the regions are only three counties, therefore crossing the road from one field to another could drastically change the regulations or even the season dates.  Still, South Carolina is well known for hunting opportunities, and as always, do the research on the area you will be hunting well in advance.

States CompletedAlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware,

FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndiana, IowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMaryland

MassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew Hampshire

New JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvania,

Rhode Island


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