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Temporary tags now available for 2017 deer season

The August 15 traditional starting date for deer hunting season remains unchanged, and blistering hot weather greeted big game hunters during the first week of hunting. The new deer tagging system put in place by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources is now in effect, as hunters revisit the outdoors in hopes of bringing some venison back to the skinning shed. Every deer must be tagged in 2017, including both bucks and does, and those tags come in the mail with purchase of a big game hunting license, but temporary tags can be obtained online if needed.
The deer tags for 2017 were mailed out to license holders prior to the August 15 start date, placing the responsibility on hunters to keep them with them while hunting. The tags for doe deer came with the buck tags, and doe season begins on September 15. Charles Ruth is a big game biologist with the SCDNR, and he stresses that hunters in possession of a gratis license for seniors or a youth hunting license, must reach out to SCDNR to obtain their 2017 deer tags. It wasn’t cost-effective to mail out deer tags to all of the senior and youth license holders since the majority of them are not big game hunting.
“In order to address any hunter in need of deer tags on short notice, we are providing a temporary 10-day tag on our SCDNR website,” said Ruth. “After purchasing their tags, customers can print them out on their own printer, and they include the date of issue and the word TEMP stamped on them. This option also works well for anyone that might be traveling to S.C. to deer hunt one day as a guest. Keep in mind that nonresident hunting license fees went up in 2017, the first increase for nonresidents in 15 years.”
“Tagging every deer in 2017 will allow SCDNR deer research to put together solid numbers for buck and doe harvests,” said Ruth. “Read the instructions printed on the back of each of the deer tags to understand exactly how and when to use them.” Law enforcement officers will be checking to see that all deer are tagged, and venison processors should also be looking for those tags also. For hunt clubs already enrolled in the antlerless deer quota program in the past, tagging deer is nothing new, but for many others including newbie hunters, it will take time to get used to tagging their deer.
No one discounts the fact that certain areas of the Lowcountry still have a plentiful deer population, particularly in agricultural areas. Farmers can still be issued deprivation permits by SCDNR in order to shoot deer and protect their crops. However, most of the state is seeing a 30-percent decrease in deer population since about the 1990’s when habitats began to change. The first coyotes arrived around that same time and they have become an active player in modern deer management.
“The deprivation permits will continue to exist because they are part of an existing state law,” said Ruth. “Our study of coyotes doesn’t provide much evidence that these predators are taking adult doe deer, rather it is almost exclusively deer fawns.” The fees associated with SCDNR big game hunting licenses provide for more white-tailed deer research, and these funds also help to provide lottery hunts for the public on Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state.
The 2017 deer tagging changes are here to stay, as management of the state’s deer herd continues to evolve. The presence of coyotes is also providing a steady drumbeat of change that is serving as a catalyst to leaders like Joe Hamilton, founder of the Quality Deer Management Association. “Coyotes are tenacious and they are unpredictable and they are not done predating S.C. deer,” said Hamilton. “Besides taking deer fawns, coyotes can sense if a mature deer is not well and will single them out for attack. We need to start predator control efforts for coyotes, and then continue these efforts indefinitely for the sake of our future deer hunts.”

Hog Dog Hunt Opportunity in August
A sport that is increasing in popularity very quickly is hunting feral hogs with packs of dogs. Hog Dogging has become all the rage with specialty gear, dedicated magazines and an enthusiasm that resembles coon hunting. There are 25,000-acres of WMA land in Hampton County that will be open for hunting hogs with dogs on August 24 – 26 for those who have a hunting license and a WMA permit. Bay and catch dogs do the work before hunters move in for the kill. These hog doggers are providing a valuable service that benefits the natural resources of S.C. and serves as a positive example to the general public too.


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

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (390 Posts)

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