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February 27, 2008

Youth turkey hunts deadline approaching

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has designed its youth turkey hunts to strongly encourage more participation by youth who have never been turkey hunting, and the time is drawing near to apply for many of the hunts.

"We feel that one of the best ways to recruit new hunters is for youth who hunt to encourage one of their friends who do not hunt to apply for the hunt," said Willie Simmons, wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. "We especially want to introduce these new hunters to the challenges, thrills and enjoyment associated with hunting. Equally as important, we also want to make sure that this introduction is done safely and ethically."

A number of youth turkey hunts are available for youth sportsmen this year, and for several of them, the deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 29. For information on youth turkey hunts, call Simmons at (803) 734-3898 or e-mail him at SimmonsW@dnr.sc.gov.

Bonneau Ferry Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was acquired from MeadWestvaco by DNR in 2004. The area covers 10,700 acres of pine savannahs, bottomland hardwoods, wildlife openings, wetlands and reservoirs. DNR is working hard to manage this special property to provide quality outdoor experiences for the public as well as habitat for native wildlife of all kinds. Applications must be post-marked or delivered to the Columbia DNR office by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29 to be eligible for drawing. Mail application to Adult-Youth Turkey Hunt, PO Box 167 Columbia, SC 29202 or 1000 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29201.
           
The 8,048-acre Donnelley Wildlife Management area is located in Colleton County near Green Pond. The main entrance to the area is immediately north of the junction of SC 303 and US 17. This unique property is a cross section of the Lowcounty, encompassing a diversity of wetland and upland habitats, managed ricefields, forested wetlands, tidal marsh, agricultural lands, and a variety of upland forest types, including a natural stand of longleaf pine. The area is intensively managed by the DNR to provide optimum habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and to provide public recreation and education. Applications for youth turkey hunts must be post-marked or delivered to the Columbia DNR office by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29 to be eligible for drawing. Mail application to Adult-Youth Turkey Hunt, PO Box 167 Columbia, SC 29202 or 1000 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29201.

MeadWestvaco in cooperation with DNR will conduct a special youth turkey hunt at the company’s Walworth Farms unit in Orangeburg County. The youth turkey hunt is scheduled on April 5. Four youths will participate in the hunt. The adult/ mentor must accompany the youth on the hunt. The adult /mentor accompanying the youth must also have a hunting license, but only the youth is allowed to shoot during the hunt. Historically, MeadWestvaco’s Walworth Farms unit was a part of the DNR’s Wild Turkey Restoration Program in the 1990s, which brought turkey numbers back to a sustainable level to provide hunting opportunities. The Wild Turkey Restoration Program was established in South Carolina to increase the turkey population in areas that had suitable acreage and habitat and where population numbers were determined to be low. MeadWestvaco played an active role in this effort.

Walworth Farms was stocked with wild turkeys—seven gobblers and 10 hens—in 1994. This area remained closed to hunting for several years, which enabled the turkeys to reestablish on the Walworth Farms unit. The property was opened for turkey hunting in 1998. DNR has expressed appreciation to MeadWestvaco for providing this great hunting experience for these South Carolina youngsters. Youth Turkey Hunts will occur on Saturday mornings and will conclude at 10 a.m. DNR staff will provide comments regarding sportsmanship and hunter ethics, and there will be a thorough review of firearms safety. More detailed instructions and directions to the hunt sites will be provided to applicants who are selected. Applications are available from the Columbia DNR Office. If parents have further questions regarding safety, supervision, etc., for MeadWestvaco youth turkey hunts they may contact Willie Simmons, DNR wildlife biologist, at (803) 734-3898 or e-mail him at SimmonsW@dnr.sc.gov.
           
Santee Cooper WMA has youth draw hunts scheduled for Saturdays (April 5, 12, 19, and 26). Santee Cooper Wildlife Management Area is located in Orangeburg County about one-quarter mile east of Eutaw Springs. This 3,144-acre is a diverse example of upper coastal plain wildlife habitat, with a wide range of wildlife species present. The management area is surrounded on three sides by Lake Marion and includes Sixteen Island and 850 acres of shallow water and "cypress flats" with the boundary. Two hundred acres of high ground are planted annually for wildlife, with the remaining acreage being in mixed pine-hardwood, bottomland hardwood and regenerated pine stands. Applications for the youth turkey hunt must be post-marked or delivered to the Columbia DNR office by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29 to be eligible for drawing. Mail application to Adult-Youth Turkey Hunt, PO Box 167 Columbia, SC 29202 or 1000 Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29202.

Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area in Aiken County is open to youth turkey hunting. The check station gate opens at 4:30 a.m., and all hunters must exit by 10 p.m. Anyone unfamiliar with the area and wanting to scout before the youth hunt can do so on selected Saturdays (1, 8, 15, 22) during the month of March. Hours for scout days are 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Mike Caudell, DNR wildlife biologist, at (803) 725-3663 or e-mail CaudellM@dnr.sc.gov.
           
Stump House Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is about 900 acres and is located in Game Zone 1 near Walhalla. Adults hunting at this youth turkey hunt must bring a youth 17 or younger with them in order to hunt. For further questions about the Stump House WMA hunts, call Richard Morton, DNR wildlife biologist at (864) 654-1671, extension 16, or send an e-mail to MortonR@dnr.sc.gov.

For information on other youth turkey hunts scheduled around the state, contact Lynwood Kearse, of the “Take One Make One Program” at (803) 734-4011 in Columbia or send an e-mail to KearseL@dnr.sc.gov.

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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