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Deer Season Opens and Waterfowl Seasons are Set

The entire Lower State of South Carolina is comprised of Game Zones 3 and 4 and hunting for white-tailed deer gets underway on the traditional start date of August 15. In fact, youth deer hunters in Colleton County were able to climb in a deer stand on August 10 for a special youth hunt date, but with temperatures in the upper 90’s the conditions were tough. The migratory waterfowl seasons for 2019 – 2020 were just set for S.C. with early seasons on Canada geese, blue-winged teal and marsh hens for wingshooting enthusiasts in September.
Deer hunters that are S.C. residents are allowed a buck limit of five bucks per season, and they must be tagged using the SCDNR tags and regulations. Nonresident hunters are allowed a total of four S.C. bucks in one season. Colleton County lies in Game Zone Three where there is a limit on antlerless deer of eight does per hunter, except for properties enrolled in the SCDNR deer quota program. Baiting deer with corn and hunting over it is legal on private lands statewide, but new for 2019 is the ban on deer scent products.
The official opening day for duck hunting season is now set for November 23, making the traditional Thanksgiving holiday duck hunt plans possible. When all of the migratory seasons were published on August 7, hunters also learned that the early season on Canada geese will open on September 1, one day before the dove hunting season opens on Labor Day, Monday, September 2. The early Canada goose season runs Sept. 1 – 30 and includes a liberal bag limit of fifteen geese per hunter per day, with the intention of thinning resident geese populations.
The early teal hunting season runs from September 13 – 28 for both blue-winged teal and green-winged teal. Shooting hours are slated from sunrise until sunset, and the limit per hunter is six teal per day. Teal are highly migratory, but history records that this season usually sees blue-winged teal in our area, with green-winged teal coming later in the fall when greater duck migration occurs. Federal and state duck stamps are required to hunt geese and teal, and the use of nontoxic shot is also required.
The early season for marsh hens runs from September 27 – October 2 and the shooting times are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. The daily limit is 15 marsh hens per hunter per day, and this hunt requires a boat and a high tide that floods the spartina marsh. It seems with climate change, the high tide cycle is more common and more frequent, so scouting for scrub habitat where marsh hens can escape too frequently is a good way to prepare for your time on the water.
Duck seasons will run from November 23 – 30 and from December 12 to January 31. The daily limit on ducks remains at six ducks per hunter per day, but some of the bag limits for individual species did change. Most notably, the bag limit on mallard ducks has decreased from four per day to only two per day, and only one of them can be a hen. A long-term decline in mallard ducks using the Atlantic Flyway is the reason for this change, but it is still shocking to think such an abundant species is now on the decline. Mallard populations in other flyways in North America are holding stable.
The daily bag limit of Northern pintails was also reduced from two per day down to just one per day per hunter. Pintails are one of the most highly sought after ducks in the Atlantic flyway, and after enjoying a two pintail limit for several years, this is another blow to the menu of ducks available to harvest. Another change is that only one black duck and only one mottled duck per hunter may be harvested east of I-95. One bright spot is that wood ducks remain a sustainable natural resource, and the bag limit of three woodies per day per hunter will go unchanged.
A limit of two ducks per hunter per day goes for mallards, redheads, scaup, and canvasbacks. A limit of one duck per hunter per day goes for pintails, fulvous whistling ducks, and black-bellied whistling ducks. There are some youth duck hunt dates set including the state youth hunt on November 16 and the federal youth hunts on February 1 and February 8. Make sure to check to the SCDNR website for public duck hunting applications which open in early September.

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

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (362 Posts)

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