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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

December 11, 2015Deer hunters remain supportive of limits and tagging

Results of the most recent series of public meetings hosted by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continue to indicate significant support among deer hunters for a statewide limit on antlered bucks and a tagging program for deer in South Carolina.

“Senate Bill 454 was filed on DNR’s behalf in February and passed the Senate in March of this year. The legislation proposes a limit of four antlered bucks per year and that all deer harvested be tagged. The Antlerless Deer Quota Program (ADQP) that many landowners and hunt clubs utilize would continue to be available with quotas being issued for both bucks and does. The bill currently resides in the House of Representatives and the recent meetings were an effort by DNR to work with House leaders to address any remaining questions or concerns related to the legislation which will be up for debate when the legislative session reconvenes in January 2016.”

Seven meetings were held with three in the piedmont and four in the coastal plain. Total attendance was 685 and approximately 76 percent of meeting attendees supporting both a limit on antlered bucks and a tagging system for deer in South Carolina. Additionally, a “virtual meeting” was posted on the DNR website for those who could not attend a meeting in person. Over 4,500 individuals participated in the virtual meeting with over 80 percent supporting a limit on antlered bucks and a tagging system for deer.

A comprehensive summary (PDF) of the meetings is available.

According to Charles Ruth, DNR Deer and Wild Turkey Program coordinator, “The state's deer population has changed in recent years and although there are still some areas where deer numbers and reports of agricultural damage remain high, the overall population has decreased as indicated by a 35 percent decline in harvest. Reasons for the decline include habitat changes related to forest management, extremely liberal deer harvests over the last two decades, and the complete colonization of the state by coyotes since the turn of the century.”

Although there is a 5-buck limit prescribed in the two upstate Game Zones, these limits have never been enforceable due to no tagging or reporting requirement. In the coastal Game Zones state law specifies there is “no limit” on antlered deer, a situation that has never been a function of DNR. This lack of a reasonable bag limit on bucks is in stark contrast to other states and to the approach with other fish and game species in South Carolina, which typically have limits. From a management standpoint, tagging all deer is beneficial because it would allow better regulation and manipulation of the harvest of antlerless deer (doe deer). This is important as we attempt to mitigate the impact of coyotes on future deer populations.

For more information on deer in South Carolina visit the following address on the DNR website: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/deer/index.html

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