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2019 Hunting Season Regulations – Updates and Changes

The 2019 – 2020 South Carolina Hunting and Fishing regulations from the Department of Natural Resources is available this week online and in print. The management of white-tailed deer in S.C. continues to evolve and the 2019 changes expand the dates when antlerless deer tags can be utilized. Another change concerning deer hunting season is the ban of deer lures and attractants for the purpose of reducing deer exposure to disease. One hunt tradition that remains unchanged is the start of dove season on Sept. 2, allowing wingshooters to enjoy Labor Day in the outdoors.
Each year the biologists with the SCDNR work with the S.C. General Assembly to tweak hunting and fishing regulations to address management needs. In the realm of deer harvest regulations, it took years to gather information from hunters and to assess the declining deer population data, before implementing buck limits. It is worth noting that a reduction in deer herd numbers is yielding higher quality racks on bucks, and brings better balance to the entire ecosystem regarding the carrying capacity of the land.
By far the biggest change for 2019 is that it is now illegal to possess any deer lure substance or material that contains excretions from a deer including urine, feces, blood, gland oil or other fluid. The reason behind this change in regulations is that natural urine products from captive deer in other states can be tainted with chronic wasting disease (CWD), which affects deer in other regions of the United States. Just because S.C. does not have CWD presently, there is no guarantee that it will stay that way, so keeping tainted products out of the woods seems prudent.
Whether individual hunters used products like Tink’s or Code Blue in the past, they can relate that many stores carried large quantities of those products in the hunting supplies section. There did not seem to be much outreach to the public prior to the ban of deer lure products in S.C., and that type of sudden regulatory change can lead to hunter fatigue. A common frustration among some is that hunting is becoming too much of a hassle, and that added costs and regulations in S.C. are hurting participation.
The decision to ban deer lure use is not unlike the change made when buck limits were put in place in South Carolina. For some, they enjoyed years and years of tinkering around with scent products for the chance to lure a deer. The hunting industry makes scent elimination products for hunters to wear, which is a discipline that some hunters adhere to strictly. It’s only human nature that the 2019 ban of deer lures will hurt more for those who believe in the use of deer scent products, and who have been practicing with them for years.
Dove hunting regulations are likely some of the most tricky rules in all of the Hunting and Fishing Regulations. The daily bag limit will be 15 doves per hunter and during September 2 – 7 the legal shooting times are from noon until sunset. Then from September 8 – October 12 the legal shooting time is 1/2 hour before sunrise until sunset. The holiday dove seasons are slated from November 16 – November 30, and from December 28 until January 30.
In 2018 some of the antlerless deer tags, or doe tags, were date-specific. In an effort to simplify the tagging program and to increase hunter opportunity for resident hunters, now there are two doe tags that may be used on any date. Doe season begins on September 15 in Game Zones 2, 3 and 4, and doe season begins October 1 in Game Zone 1. The tagging system has changed hunting white-tailed deer in South Carolina for the better, but don’t forget to have your deer tags in your possession at all times for a quick reference of the current regulations.

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (361 Posts)

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