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New Rules……….Hopefully

New Rules………


On February 12 of this year a bill was introduced into the South Carolina legislation that could hopefully fix a long standing issue within our state wildlife management. The bill, S 454 is designed to place a state wide limit on the number of deer a hunter can kill in a season.

While this may sound obvious to those who reside outside of South Carolina, we have the embarrassing distinction of being the only state in the nation that does not have a limit on the number of deer a hunter can kill annually. In four of the six game zones, hunters have “no limit” on the number of bucks they can kill annually. They never have had a limit. So we have the distinction of having the longest continual gun season (Opening August 15 – January 1) and no limit on the number of bucks a hunter can kill in a season. My only question to this is; why? Why would we have a season that opens in August when the temperatures are in the triple digits and last until January 1 and still not have a limit on the bucks? It baffles the mind to try and understand this scenario.

Since the inception of South Carolina legislation, the state has seen fit to place the responsibility of establishing the hunting seasons and bag limits in the hands of the legislators rather than the scientist and biologists at the Department of Natural Resources. It is my hope that S 454 will change this once and for all. The legislators need to finally trust those who job it is to monitor the wildlife of the state and allow them to protect the wildlife for all generations.

Under the proposal, there would be a state wide limit of four bucks and four does per hunter annually. These would be monitored by a tagging system that would cost hunters $15 for residents and $30 for non-residents in addition to the cost of a hunting license.

Nothing else changes, the season dates remain the same, methods remain the same, baiting laws remain the same. The only change in the law would limit the number of deer a hunter can legally kill in a season. Still, when we can kill eight deer annually, we are still at the top of the charts when it comes to the number of deer we can legally kill in a season.

The debate has lingered for generations – there are those who believe that the traditions of the state are more important than the overall health of the herd. There are those who believe that putting limits on the number of deer we can kill is an infringement on their ‘rights’. And sadly, there are those who will continue to kill twenty and thirty deer annually regardless of the law. I personally know hunters who will kill over forty deer annually and do not eat any of the meat. I know people who will ignore the limits if thy pass because they do not understand that hunting is a privilege and not a right, and sound management of this privilege is only protecting this for our children and grandchildren.

What this bill does is finally place into the hands of the DNR the right to adjust these laws as needed. It allows the DNR to properly manage the deer herd for effective management. It brings South Carolina wildlife management into the twentieth century (yes I said that right – I know we are in the twenty first century – bit it shows just how far behind the times we are)

Personally, I cannot fathom why anyone would oppose sound legislation that would still give hunters ample opportunity to hunt, fill the freezer and have a healthy deer herd. I believe the DNR is being very generous with the four buck and four doe limits. And as a family that relies heavily on venison for our food consumption for the year, I know we can supply our rather large family (we have five children) on six to seven deer annually. Thus the eight deer limit is more than ample for us to enjoy our hunting lifestyle and fill the freezer with enough deer to feed the family.

I am solidly in favor of S 454 and I hope most sportsmen and women across the state can see the benefit of finally putting a limit on the number of deer we kill annually. I encourage you to contact your representative and ask them to vote in favor of S 454 so we can put an end to long outdated traditions and bring our deer management into the modern era.