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July 22, 2009

Coastal draw deer hunts opportunities available

Several draw deer hunting opportunities exist throughout the Lowcountry, but do not let the deadline for applications slip up on you. Draw hunts for still deer hunting occur on the following coastal Wildlife Management Areas: Bear Island, Bonneau Ferry, Donnelley, Hamilton Ridge, Palachucola, Webb, and Botany Bay Plantation.

For just $25 per hunter one can enjoy two and a half days of still gun hunting for deer on one of the above listed Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) except for Webb Center. Hunting on the six coastal areas (except Webb Center), begins with an orientation at 1 p.m. on the first day of the hunt and ends on the evening of the third day. All WMA rules and regulations apply for these hunts. If you want a chance to harvest a quality buck or just some meat for the freezer, try one of the coastal draw deer hunts. The crowds are limited, and the application fee is much less expensive than today's hunting lease rates. Applications are available online. All applications must be received no later than Aug. 7.

Located in Colleton County, the 12,028-acre Bear Island WMA and the 8,048-acre Donnelley WMA both offer quality hunting without the crowd. The limit is three deer; however, only one buck may be harvested and it must have at least four points on one side or a 12 inch minimum outside spread. Spike bucks are not legal. Hunters must bring their own portable stands. A primitive campground is located at Bear Island.

Dean Harrigal, DNR wildlife biologist located at Donnelley WMA, believes the antler restrictions make a difference in the quality of bucks harvested from the area. "Twelve bucks and 21 does were harvested during the draw hunts from Bear Island while Donnelley's harvest was 18 bucks and 44 does," Harrigal said. "Several wildlife openings are planted in winter grains to facilitate deer harvest."

The 4,687-acre Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area/Heritage Preserve, located on Edisto Island, will conduct limited draw still gun hunts. Deer harvested during the draw hunts last season include 26 bucks and 39 does. Deer limits and restrictions are the same as Bear Island and Donnelley WMAs. Hunters must bring their own portable stands and no lodging or camping facilities are available on site. For more information on Donnelley, Bear Island, or Botany Bay Plantation call (843) 844-8957.

Hunts for deer will be held on half of the 10,700 acre Bonneau Ferry WMA located in Berkeley County along the eastern branch of the Cooper River near the town of Cordesville. You can hunt as much or as little as you like in order to harvest your allowance of three deer (only one may be a buck). The 25 randomly selected hunters may hunt anywhere on the designated side of 5,350 acres. No stands are provided therefore hunters must use their own climbing stands. Several wildlife openings have been planted in small grains. According to DNR wildlife biologist Will Carlisle, located at the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau, total of 12 bucks and 16 does were harvested on draw hunts from the area during the 2008 season. For more information, call (843) 825-3388. There is no lodging or camping facilities on site.

The 6,757-acre Palachucola WMA located in Hampton and Jasper Counties and the 13,281 acre Hamilton Ridge WMA located in Hampton County offer the same style of hunting as Donnelley and Bear Island as well as the same bag limits and buck restrictions. A location for primitive camping, and a skinning shed are provided at each location during your selected hunt period. No meals, lodging, nor permanent stands are provided. "Antler restrictions have also allowed for nicer bucks to be harvested from the area," said Jay Cantrell, DNR wildlife biologist. "Hunters harvested 35 bucks and 40 does from Palachucola along with 34 bucks and 42 does from Hamilton Ridge last season during the draw hunts." 

The 5,866-acre Webb WMA in Hampton County offers more than just a quality hunting experience. For those who are unable, or do not want to deal with the scouting and erecting of climbing stands, this hunt is for you. For the $125 application fee, one is able to hunt for one afternoon and the following morning. The limit is two deer per hunter, only one may be a buck, with the same antler restrictions as Donnelley, Bear Island, Palachucola, Hamilton Ridge, and Botany Bay Plantation. Also included in the package are accommodations and meals (supper and breakfast) at the Webb Center lodge. More than one hundred permanent stands are located on the WMA with a random drawing held for stand selection. Staff transports you to and from the stand, cleans any harvested deer or hogs and hangs them in a cooler during your stay. New this season will be a draw antlerless deer only hunt and a draw archery hunt. "Seventy-three bucks and 86 does were harvested from Webb WMA last season," said Cantrell. For more information on Palachucola, Hamilton Ridge or Webb hunts call (803) 625-3569.

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