Call of the wild: South Carolina hunting season open

South Carolina’s fall hunting season beginsFor those seeking the thrill of the hunt, now is a grand time to start or rekindle an old pastime. With cooler temperatures and the exodus of tourists also comes the fall hunting season, a perfect time for outdoorsman to track deer, doves and other game. Whether you’re an avid hunter or interesting in becoming one, there’s much to know before packing the truck with ammunition and bows.

Hunting in South Carolina takes place on both public and private lands. Both have their own regulations, seasons and costs, which are determined by the property owners and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

Deer season, always popular, is in full swing on private lands. It started on Aug. 15 and goes through Jan. 1. Gun and bow hunting is allowed during the entire season.

Another popular season, dove season, is ongoing through Oct. 10, then proceeds in two more intervals: Nov. 21-28 and Dec. 21-Jan. 15.

Alligator hunting season goes through Oct. 10, but a limited number of permits were issued and there are none left for this year.

Meanwhile, seasons for deer and dove, along with countless other animals, are different on public lands. Many public areas are Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), which are owned and controlled by SCDNR. Information on all WMAs came be found at the SCDNR Web site, dnr.sc.gov. Every area is different, so do your homework.

“If you’re going to hunt on any of our public land, look at the rules and (regulations) that pertain to that property,” said Sam Chappelear, SCDNR Wildlife Regional Coordinator. Travers Davis, owner of Lowcountry Outfitters on Fording Island Road in Bluffton, echoes Chappelear in becoming educated about the particular public land one wishes to hunt on. Some are first come, first hunt, but others hold drawings for certain seasons.

While staying informed on private land rules is easier, the tradeoff is cost.

Most private-land hunting is now done by either leasing land or through hunt clubs, so despite the different rules for each location, Davis recommends public land for beginners.

“I would certainly tell a person (that public land) is a good place to start,” he said.

Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve, located on Sawmill Creek Road in Bluffton, is the closest WMA to southern Beaufort County and offers bow deer hunting during weekends in October, and for one week in November and December. Small game hunting begins Oct. 15 and goes through Jan. 30.

The Webb Wildlife Center in southern Hampton County; Bear Island WMA in eastern Colleton County; and Donnelley WMA in Colleton County are three of the best public hunting areas in the southern part of the state, according to Davis.

Those interested in obtaining a license or renewing have many options and ways to purchase them. Individuals can purchase a license at the SCDNR Web site or by calling 866-714-3611 or stopping by a license agent. Two stores locally sell licenses — Lowcountry Outfi tters and Walmart on Pembroke Drive.

Prices for residents range from $5 to hunt only small game in a specific county to $50 for hunting, fishing and access to wildlife management areas. A photo ID is the only requirement, and licenses are valid until the end of June when they must be renewed.

Hunting season

Deer

  • Private lands: Through Jan. 1
  • Public lands: Dates vary; visit dnr.sc.gov

Dove

  • Private lands: Through Oct. 10; continues Nov. 21-28 and Dec. 21-Jan. 15
  • Public lands: Dates vary; visit dnr.sc.gov

Small game

  • Public lands: Oct. 15-Jan. 30 More online
  • Hunting in South Carolina requires a license. Visit dnr.sc.gov.
  • For game recipes, visit hiltonheadmonthly.com/hunting.