A series of youth draw deer hunts conducted jointly by Santee Cooper and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will be continued this fall.
Last year almost 150 youth participated in the hunts at Sandy Beach and Cross, of which 36 were fortunate enough to take home a deer. This hunting program has steadily grown since it’s inception in 1998, when 23 youth hunters took to the field, led by S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist Sam Chappelear.
Applications for this year’s youth draw deer hunts will be available Aug. 20, and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Sept. 20. For additional information or to request an application, contact the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau at (843) 761-8820 or (843) 825-3388. Access the 2007-2008 Rules and Regulations booklet for specific season dates and limits.
Past youth participants are encouraged to tell their friends about their hunting experience to spread the word about this opportunity. Participants must be 17 years or younger and capable of safely handling a firearm. Youth must be accompanied by an adult of at least 21 years of age. While the youth and adult sit together in the stand, only the youth may hunt. All hunts take place within Sandy Beach and Cross Generating Station areas, both part of the Santee Cooper owned Moultrie Hunt Unit. The hunts take place in the afternoon from two-person stands located along the edges of wildlife openings that have been planted in oats, wheat, soybeans or peas.
Chappelear, along with DNR wildlife biologists Will Carlisle and Elliot Shuler, work in partnership with Santee Cooper to manage the Moultrie Hunt Unit for all types of wildlife as well as to provide recreational opportunities for the public, especially youth who might be new to experience the outdoors. 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. DNR and Santee Cooper staff give a hunting safety talk to all participants upon their arrival. According to Shuler, "We’re trying to enhance local opportunities for young people to safely enjoy hunting with their parents or other role models."