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EDITORIAL: Some deer hunters put sport at risk
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EDITORIAL: Some deer hunters put sport at risk

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An Orangeburg woman recently reported to the sheriff's office a grisly discovery. Deer remains had been placed in her mailbox.

While such an act is ugliness beyond the norm, the more common crime is improper disposal of deer remains.

For example, in December 2017, Bamberg County's environmental officer found four illegally dumped deer carcasses on the dirt portion of Church Street in Denmark.

After an investigation, two individuals were charged with four counts of illegal dumping. The case also led to additional charges from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for the same individuals.

Perhaps knowing that you can be prosecuted will be enough to dissuade others from such “littering.” History says that’s doubtful, and for the sake of hunting and the conservationists out front in promoting the sport, that’s tragic.

The misdeeds of some are magnified by a public that by and large does not understand and relate to hunting.

When a hunter casts the sport in a negative public eye, it tends to color all hunters as blood-thirsty villains interested only in killing. The illegal dumping of deer carcasses, in particular, turns non-hunters off to the sport. It happens far too often during our state’s longest-in-the-nation season from August to January.

As one Orangeburg man has told us: “You couldn’t miss seeing it.” Seven deer carcasses dumped beside the road and in a ditch near his home. “They shoot the deer and take the hind quarters and throw the rest away. I mean that’s bad.”

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources gets such reports often.

The “callers are usually pretty disgusted,” according to Charles Ruth of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

“Proper preparation of harvested deer from the forest to the table is an important part of hunting,” Ruth has said. Heads, hides and entrails should be buried at least 2 to 3 feet deep so dogs or other animals won’t dig up the remains and drag them around.

“Properly disposed deer remains will soon be taken care of by decomposition and insects,” Ruth said, “because nature wastes no nutrients.”

Improper disposal of deer remains is not only a littering crime, it threatens the sport of hunting through creating a negative public image.

For those who love the sport, that may be the bigger crime.

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Violators of laws on disposing of deer remains should be reported to the DNR’s Operation Game Thief by calling 1-800-922-5431. The 24-hour, toll-free number is printed on the back of hunting and fishing licenses. Those reporting violators through Operation Game Thief do not have to identify themselves, and rewards are offered for information leading to arrests.

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