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August 11 is New Early Season Youth Deer Hunt Date

The South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation in 2018 establishing a brand new deer hunting opportunity for youth. The drumbeat of hunter recruitment strategies from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources is loud and clear, and this pre-season deer hunt is their latest innovation. Other important dates regarding deer season include lottery hunt application deadlines and procurement of personal deer tags. The youth hunt on Saturday August 11 is only allowed on private lands, with one antlered deer per allowed per hunter.

The new law specifies that this youth deer hunting date will be held on the Saturday before deer season begins. In the past several years, a youth deer hunting date following the close of deer season has been very popular. The new hunt date might serve to get youths involved during the regular deer season, and the after season hunt is still on the calendar too. To make things easier for these special youth deer hunts, the requirements for hunting licenses and deer tags are waived. There are no weapons restrictions so the youth can hunt with centerfire rifles, shotguns or primitive weapons like archery equipment.

This hunt is for youth 17 years old and younger, who have completed the SCDNR hunter education program. Any youth that have not completed the program can hunt, but an adult must accompany them who is at least 21 years old. While adults may serve as guide on these hunts, only the youth may take or attempt to take a deer. Early season hunts in the Lowcountry almost always include hot weather, so plan to bring water for the youths during these hunts. Special arrangements with your local deer processor will be prudent, since they may not be open until August 15, but are likely willing to accept any early season customers.

The 2018 personal deer tags program has begun mailing the paper tags to individual hunting license holders. This hunter has received tag in the mail, and so have most everyone. However, if anyone still needs their personal deer tags from SCDNR they began accepting inquiries for lost or missing tags on August 3 at 803-734-3833. Remember that deer tags are no longer available at individual vendors like Wal-Mart, but they are available to purchase by phone at 1-866-714-3611. This base set of deer tags includes both antlered deer and antlerless deer, and they must be in your possession while hunting.

The deadline for the 2018 Public Drawing Deer Hunt applications is Friday, August 17 by 5 p.m. and can be filled out on the SCDNR website. There are multiple sites near Walterboro that offer still hunting for deer on the public hunt roster. Donnelly WMA and Bear Island WMA are both in Colleton County, while Hamilton Ridge WMA and Palachucola WMA are both in Hampton County. Even Botany Bay WMA on Edisto Island offers a public drawing for deer hunters. The Webb Center WMA in Hampton County offers a draw hunt for archery hunters and also still hunting dates including meals and overnight accommodations.

Searching the SCDNR website for all youth hunting opportunities further reveals the surge in youth-oriented hunting emphasis. The Saturday after deer season ends is January 5, 2019 and youth hunters will have a bag limit of two deer. The after season youth hunt will apply on private lands as well as all WMA’s that are normally open to deer hunting. There are several youth only deer lottery hunts around the state for those willing to travel to hunt, and these applications are coming due between late August and early September.

Multiple youth dove hunts are coming up on September 1 and each public field has a corresponding phone number listing to call, since there will be a limited number of hunters at each site. Other upcoming special youth hunt dates include raccoon hunting on September 8, squirrel hunting on September 29, and quail hunting on November 17. The popular Take One Make One hunting program conducts various youth hunts throughout the state so hopeful hunters can stay tuned to the outdoors grapevine for these hunt offerings.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com.

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (376 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com