Bluefield/Moultrie Hunt Unit youth hunts conducted by Santee Cooper, DNRA series of youth draw deer hunts conducted jointly by Santee Cooper and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will be continued this fall.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17. Call the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau at (843) 761-8820 or (843) 825-3388 to request an application. Past participants are encouraged to tell their friends about their experience to spread the word about this opportunity. Participants must be 17 or younger and capable of safely handling a firearm. They must also be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old. While the youth and adult sit together in the stand, only the youth may actually hunt. All 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. The areas hunted on youth draw hunts are located within Sandy Beach and Cross Generating Station, both part of the Santee Cooper owned Moultrie Hunt Unit.
Last year's participation was high, with 139 young hunters, and a success rate up from the previous year, with 45 youth taking home a deer, 11 of which represented the hunter's first deer ever! This hunting program has steadily grown since its inception in 1998, when 23 youth hunters took to the field.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife staff based in Bonneau, including technicians Mike Parker and Blake DuBose, work in partnership with Santee Cooper staff to manage the Moultrie Hunt Unit for wildlife of all descriptions, and to provide recreational opportunity for the public, especially youngsters who might be new to the outdoors. DNR and Santee Cooper staff members give a hunting safety talk to all participants upon their arrival. The hope is that young hunters will take a renewed energy away from a positive experience and continue to value the hunting tradition into adulthood.
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.
In addition to the draw youth hunts, youths are encouraged to hunt on the 800-acre Bluefield Wildlife Management Area, also part of the Moultrie Hunt Unit. Each youth must be 17 or younger, and accompanied by an adult who is at least 21. The youth must carry a firearm and hunt. Unlike the strictly youth-only draw hunts on the Moultrie Hunt Unit, on Bluefield the adult may also carry a firearm and hunt. See the 2010-2011 "Rules & Regulations" booklet for specific season dates and limits.