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February 9, 2008

Most turkey hunters to receive gobbler tags by mail; tags also available online

With spring gobbler season just around the corner, hunters will be happy to know that turkey tags are now being mailed to most hunters.

Thanks to changes in the licensing system administered by the S.C .Department of Natural Resources (DNR), most spring turkey hunters will receive a set of turkey tags in the mail the end of February, according to Charles Ruth, DNR Deer/Turkey Project supervisor. Tags will still be available over the counter at many of the old turkey check stations after the first of March, and they are currently available online.

Although a small number of hunters received tags by mail last year, changes to the licensing system have allowed DNR to build a larger database of turkey hunters. The old licensing system involved hand-written licenses which resulted in no digital database of hunters. Now, more hunters are getting their license through renewals, telephone, Internet and point of sales license vendors. These new licenses are issued digitally resulting in a database that allows DNR to conduct business in a more efficient manner, according to Ruth.

Depending on how hunters purchased their license for the current season, they should have been asked if they turkey hunt. If they indicated that they did, then they were included in the turkey hunter database and will receive tags by mail. A hunter can determine if he or she will receive turkey tags by mail by looking at their hunting license. If "turkey tags" or "turkey tags will be sent by DNR" appears on the license then they are on the list to receive tags by mail.

Modernizing these programs is important to DNR, and not only allows the agency to operate more efficiently; it saves hunters time and money. In the past, all hunters had to make a special trip prior to the turkey season to receive a set of hand written turkey tags. Not only is this inconvenient, it is expensive. There are about 50,000 turkey hunters in South Carolina, and if the average hunter has to travel 15 round-trip miles to get a set of turkey tags that represents 750,000 miles driven. With the average vehicle getting around 20 miles per gallon that represents nearly 40,000 gallons of fuel and a cost of more than $100,000 dollars. This analysis does not account for hunters’ lost time. Even though it costs DNR to purchase the tag forms and mail them, streamlining the issuance of turkey tags is a better approach.

In order to legally hunt turkeys, all hunters including hunters under the age of 16, must possess a set of turkey tags. Hunters 16 and older must also possess a hunting license and big game permit. Hunters may not possess more than one set of turkey tags and all harvested birds must be tagged prior to being moved from the point of kill. 

Spring gobbler season runs April 1 through May 1 for all Wildlife Management Areas where turkey hunting is allowed and on private lands in Game Zones 1-5. The season opens March 15 and runs through May 1 on private lands only in Game Zone 6. Saturday, March 29 is a Youth Turkey Hunt Day in areas where the season opens on April 1. On this day, youths 17 and younger who are accompanied by a properly licensed adult (age 21 and older) may hunt turkeys. Only the youth can take or attempt to take turkeys. Tagging requirements remain in place for this special youth day.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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