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South Carolina Department
of Natural Resources

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Turkey Season Legislative & Regulatory Changes starting in 2020

February 7, 2020

Photograph of Wild Turkey

Turkey Season Changes for 2020

South Carolina turkey hunters need to be aware of several changes going into effect this season that impact season dates, bag limits and tag fees. These changes are a result of legislation passed by the S.C. General Assembly in 2019 (Act 51, S.575). This legislation was in response to declining trends in turkey numbers and harvests, as well as, recent research in South Carolina related to the timing of gobbling and nesting.

The decline in turkeys in South Carolina and other southeastern states has been well documented. Although causes of this decline remain uncertain, they are rooted in poor reproductive success and may include changes in habitat and forestry management practices, fire suppression, predation, and potentially the timing and intensity of hunter harvest. Keep in mind that the only factor that can be managed from a regulatory standpoint is hunter harvest activities, which are typically dictated by season framework and bag limits.

Unlike other game birds, wild turkeys are hunted during spring, a timeframe coinciding with reproductive activities such as breeding and nesting. There is a delicate balance between the timing of spring gobbler season and the timing of nesting because hens must breed in order to successfully nest. Given this period’s biological importance, wildlife managers and legislators are challenged to avoid negative population impacts due to harvest while simultaneously providing quality hunting opportunities.

New Turkey Season Dates, Effctive 2020:

Some WMAs may be more restrictive, refer to page 64 in the 2019-2020 SCDNR Hunting Regulations Guide for specific dates.

South Carolina Region Map

Bag Limits, Statewide Private and WMA Lands:



Some WMAs may be more restrictive, refer to the 2019-2020 SCDNR Hunting Regulations Guide for specified limits

Fees for Turkey Tags:

Youth, Lifetime, Senior, Gratis & Disability licensees may receive a free set of tags by request.

**Turkey tag fees are dedicated and will be used for wild turkey research, turkey habitat management, costs associated with production and distribution of turkey tags and administration of the upcoming electronic harvest reporting program which will begin during the 2021 turkey season.

2020 Youth Turkey Hunting Days:

For youths 17 years old and younger. Youth hunters who have not completed the hunter education program must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age. No license or tags required for youth or adult on these designated youth days. Adult may call or guide, however, only the youth may take or attempt to take.

Private Lands in Game Zones 1 and 2: March 28-29 - Limit one (1) gobbler total for the weekend which counts towards the season limit.

Private Lands in Game Zones 3 and 4: March 14-15 - Limit one (1) gobbler total for the weekend which counts towards the season limit.

Wildlife Management Areas: March 28 Limit one (1) gobbler total which counts towards the season limit.

All WMAs normally open to turkey hunting except: Bear Island, Donnelley, Keowee, Santee Coastal Reserve, Santee Cooper, Hatchery Waterfowl Area, Bonneau Ferry, Belfast, Wateree River HP

For those who have already ordered or requested their turkey tags, they should begin arriving in mailboxes the week of Feb. 17.

Tags can be purchased online or by phone anytime and will also be available over the counter beginning March 2 at SCDNR offices in Clemson, York, Florence, Charleston and West Columbia (The Market).

If you have purchased or requested tags and don’t receive them by early March, please reach out to SCDNR Licensing at (803) 734-3833.

Once you receive your tags, please read them carefully and become familiar with them. Due to the staggered season dates in different game zones and WMAs and the limitation on harvest during the first 10 days of the season, each tag is different. Depending on when and where you are hunting, tags may not necessarily be used in the order they are printed.

Please refer to the detailed information on the back of your tag form and the 2019-2020 Hunting Regulations Guide for all laws and regulations for turkey hunting in South Carolina.