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December 10, 2009

Lowcountry small game hunting opportunities available

Numerous opportunities are available for hunters to harvest small game on over 281,000 acres of wildlife management area land located in the Lowcountry counties of Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester.
           
The 1,375 acre Edisto River Wildlife Management Area in Dorchester County contains upland pines as well as extensive bottomland hardwood habitat along the Edisto River. Small game season begins after deer hunts have concluded in November and continue until Mar. 1. 
           
According to Dean Harrigal, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife biologist, the 4,687-acre Botany Bay Plantation WMA will be open for small game hunting from Jan. 2 until Feb. 27 on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. Raccoon season is open on the area from Jan. 6 thru Feb. 26. Sign-in is required at the kiosk located at the main entrance. For more information, contact the Donnelley WMA office at (843) 844-8957.
           
On Santee Coastal Reserve, quail hunting will be conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Jan. 27–Feb 27, according to Jamie Rader, DNR wildlife biologist. Other small game may also be hunted during this time frame on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. Rader noted that raccoon season is open on the area from Jan. 26–Feb. 26 on Tuesday and Friday nights. For more information, contact Rader at (843) 546-8665.
           
Individuals who hunt the 250,000-acre Francis Marion National Forest could begin harvesting certain small game species as early as Sept. 1. One should note that the small game seasons are closed during scheduled deer and hog hunting periods on the Waterhorn WMA and when dogs are used for deer hunts on the Wambaw, Northampton, Hellhole and Santee WMAs. No fox hunting is allowed in the Francis Marion National Forest.
           
The Moultrie Hunt Unit is comprised of five WMAs (Porcher, Greenfield, North Dike, Halls, and Bluefield) that are open to small game hunting. Refer to the current 2009-2010 Rules & Regulations booklet for specific dates. Note, however, that North Dike WMA is closed to small game hunting on Wednesdays and Fridays during the months of November and December to allow for youth deer hunts. Sandy Beach Waterfowl Area is located within the North Dike WMA and is closed to all public access from Nov. 1 until March 1, but is open for raccoon hunting only Feb. 1 thru March 1. Bluefield WMA is an adult/youth only area where youth 17 years of age or younger who are accompanied by an adult may small game hunt (except during scheduled deer hunts). The youth must be actively participating in the hunt and the adult may also hunt. 
           
The Corps of Engineers-owned Canal WMA is open for quail hunts only on a first-come, first-serve basis every other Wednesday and Saturday beginning Nov. 25. Upon entering the area, hunters must pick up and keep in their possession a data card. At the end of the hunt, hunters must accurately fill out and deposit the data card into one of the receptacles located at the various access points. 
           
"The 10,697-acre Bonneau Ferry WMA located along the Cooper River in Berkeley County provides numerous small game opportunities, according to Will Carlisle, DNR wildlife biologist. In an effort to provide quality hunting and recruit young hunters, one half of the property is open for adult/youth hunts only, according to Carlisle. In order to hunt on the adult/youth side, the same guidelines are adhered to on Bonneau Ferry WMA as on Bluefield WMA. The remaining half of the property is open to small game hunting for everyone. Both sides are open from Jan. 2–March 1 except for being closed during scheduled quail hunts (Feb. 6 and 20). Raccoon and opossum season for both sides occurs from Jan. 2 until Feb. 27 on Tuesday and Saturday nights only. Maps of the area indicating closed areas, open roads, and hunt boundaries can be picked up at the kiosk located at the entrance to the property off of SC Highway 402. For more information call Dennis Wildlife Center at (843) 825-3388.
           
Private land seasons and bag limits apply to many of these WMAs with some restrictions; therefore it is important to reference 2009-2010 Rules and Regulations booklet for specific information and dates.

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