A series of youth deer hunts conducted jointly by Santee Cooper and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will be continued this fall.
Applications for the drawing-only hunts will be available Aug. 20. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Sept. 20. Call the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau at (843) 761-8820 or (843) 825-3388 to receive an application. Past participants are encouraged to tell their friends about their experience to spread the word about this opportunity.
Participants must be from 10 to 17 years old, and accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old. While the youth and adult sit together in the stand, only the youth may actually hunt. All hunts take place in the afternoon from two-person stands located along the edges of openings that have been planted in oats, wheat, soybeans or peas. The areas hunted on these youth hunts are located within Sandy Beach and Cross Generating Station, both part of the Santee Cooper-owned Moultrie Hunt Unit in Berkeley County.
More than 120 girls and boys experienced these hunts last year, many of whom were lucky enough to take home a deer. This hunting program has steadily grown since its inception in 1998, when 23 youth hunters took to the field, led by Sam Chappelear, DNR regional wildlife biologist now stationed at Fort Johnson on James Island.
Chappelear and his DNR staff based out of Bonneau, including Ryan Bowles, natural resources technician, and Will Carlisle, wildlife biologist, work in partnership with Santee Cooper to manage the Moultrie Hunt Unit for wildlife of all descriptions, and to provide recreational opportunity for the public, especially youngsters who might be new to the outdoors. DNR and Santee Cooper staff give a hunting safety talk to all participants upon their arrival. “Safe and ethical enjoyment of the outdoors by youngsters and their role models is what we are trying to promote,” Carlisle said.
Santee Cooper not only owns the land on which these hunts are held, but provides funding for the property’s management, personnel to assist with the logistics of the hunts, and T-shirts for hunt participants.
In addition to these youth deer hunts, which are by drawing only, youths are encouraged to hunt on the 800-acre Bluefield Wildlife Management Area, also part of the Moultrie Hunt Unit. Each youth must be 17 or younger and accompanied by an adult who is at least 21. The youth must carry a firearm and hunt. Unlike the strictly youth hunts on Sandy Beach and Cross Generating Station Wildlife Management Areas, on Bluefield the adult may also carry a firearm and hunt. See the 2006-2007 “Rules & Regulations” booklet for specific season dates and limits.