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Changes in Deer Hunting Laws



          As deer season approaches hunters across the state of South Carolina need to be aware of the new changes in the laws that take affect at the beginning of this season.

Dr. Charles Ruth, of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Deer and Turkey Project Leader said that with the changes of the deer population across the state the DNR has taken the unprecedented steps to reduce the legal take of doe (female) deer. Specifically, bow hunters in game zones 1 and 2 now have to adhere to the same laws that gun hunters do. Basically, in order for all hunters to harvest doe deer they have to follow the same rules. Harvest doe deer on the designated either sex days, or use one of the optional doe tags that hunters may purchase.

This designation changes the rules for bow hunters who previously could harvest either sex throughout the season. This new rules help to control the overall harvest of doe deer. As Ruth said “when you start talking about managing the deer herd, it starts with the harvest of doe deer.”

Other law changes include the daily limit of doe that may be harvested using either the tag system or on either sex days. With the beginning of the 2014 season, hunters, regardless of weapon may only harvest one doe per day. This is a direct change from the long standing tradition of a two doe per day limit. This alone will definitely help the overall population.

Anytime the DNR makes changes to any of the laws, it will upset some of the groups and individuals that these effect. However, let me say as a matter of opinion, when looking at the overall health of the deer herd across South Carolina, few can argue that the population is decreasing. With the changes of habitat, the influx of predators and the largely unregulated over-harvest of doe and small bucks. The DNR needs to take a larger role in managing the herd for future generations.

As a bow hunter, I do not mind using one of my doe tags, for doe deer I kill on days that do not coincide with either sex days. If it will help the overall population, I am all for it. It is my opinion that more and more hunters should not wait on the DNR to make laws before they police themselves. Rather, set realistic goals and when met, stop. For example, while some counties and game zones have an insane law of “no limit on bucks” most ethical hunters will exercise restraint and stop at a reasonable number that fills their freezer and helps them enjoy their time afield.

Hunters should always read the new rules and regulations that come out in July of every year. Laws change annually, and it is up to the hunters to know the law.

I for one applaud the DNR for taking these steps to help manage the deer herd of South Carolina.