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Buck Tags are NEW for 2017 Deer Season

The 2017 South Carolina deer hunting season has not yet officially begun, but with the newly mandated buck tags now arriving in mailboxes this topic is changing social media commentary from vanilla to blaze orange. The concept is simple in that South Carolina is establishing a limit on the number of bucks that one hunter may harvest, join the ranks of many other states that manage their deer herd with tags. Years from now this buck tagging system will be routine, but in 2017 there is anxiety about when these tags would be available and how to utilize them correctly.
The first conversation of buck limits began in 2003 when the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources began hearing from deer hunters that they wanted to see some management changes. For instance, in the Lowcountry, there had never been a limit on antlered bucks during the entire 4.5-month long season. The call for conservation of bucks grew louder as coyotes moved into S.C. and began predating deer fawns, and overall deer herd numbers decreased. Public meetings like the one held at the Colleton Center in October 2015 brought news that the buck limit changes were likely to pass in the S.C. General Assembly and become law.
August 15th remains as the normal starting date of deer season, and many hunters are already well into planning and planting for the first month of deer hunting season when it is legal to harvest a buck. As the summer heat of July settled in over the Lowcountry, and time grew short before any opening day deer hunt, people naturally began to wonder when their buck tags would arrive. After all, hunters in the Lowcountry never needed anything more than a valid S.C. big game hunting license before climbing into a deer stand with aspirations of harvesting a buck in full velvet.
I spoke to SCDNR big game biologist Charles Ruth earlier in July and he said that they planned to mail out the buck tags by the first of August, and that is exactly when the new buck tags arrived in my mailbox. “We know that folks are going to have some questions about these changes, and I would refer them to our website and the 50-minute video where biologist, Jay Cantrell, and I explain it all in depth,” said Ruth. If any questions remain regarding the new deer tag regulations hunters may send them via email to DeerTags@dnr.sc.gov.
Sharing information with S.C. deer hunters using a video on the Internet is just another signal how changing times and technology are impacting the management of our natural resources. In the big picture, this is just another aftershock from the realization that our game and fish stocks are not limitless, and that conservation measures are the surest way to protect and preserve sustainable hunting and fishing. But that doesn’t mean that the changes will not be questioned by some, and those opinions may persist over time, like how changing season dates and bag limits for wild turkeys is also affecting big game hunters.
The mail out of the 2017 buck tags is tied to having a valid S.C. hunting license, so with my license set to expire around the first of August, I visited the SCDNR licensing office at Fort Johnson in Charleston to make sure my license would be renewed. People both ahead of me in that line at the licensing office and behind me were there with questions about the buck limit changes and trying to make sure that they would experience a smooth transition into the 2017 deer hunting season.
The ninth annual Hunters Day Out one-day sale at Westbury ACE Hardware in Walterboro is Saturday, August 5th from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. This is not only their largest sale for the year, it is a day when vendors are at the store to promote their deer stands, deer scents, camo, ammo and much more. Door prize drawings will be held all day long but only the first 100 customers will receive a free t-shirt with their purchase. Hunters can buy a deer feeder and some deer corn in hopes of getting a stand baited and ready for the upcoming hunting season.
Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (305 Posts)

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