Many veteran hunters say it’s too hot to take to the field for deer, though the season is underway as of Aug. 15.
It began in T&D Region and other, mostly Lowcountry, counties with more new regulations that the S.C. Department of Natural Resources says are important to ensuring the future of the deer herd in the state.
One new law passed by the General Assembly resulted in the elimination of the eight date-specific anterless tags, replacing them with two anterless tags that may be used on any day beginning locally on Sept. 15. Hunters do have an option to purchase extra anterless tags.
Another new law pertains to deer attractants, making it unlawful in South Carolina to possess or use any substance or material that contains or claims to contain any excretion collected from a deer. The law does not prohibit the use of synthetic products or substances collected by a hunter from deer legally harvested in South Carolina.
The new regulations come two seasons after the state put a limit on the number of bucks that can be harvested, implementing a tagging system for male deer for the first time.
At least for now, the dates for deer hunting have not changed locally. Critics of the new laws believe that is next as SCDNR argues changes are needed in the face of threats to the deer population such as predation by coyotes.
Those contending the agency’s approach is off the mark are as interested in safeguarding the resource as those believing limits and other regulations are necessary and overdue. Contrary to what many think, hunters are the state’s leading conservationists.
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As such, they must be vigilant in preserving the image of the sport. 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.
One high-profile misdeed, in particular, turns non-hunters off to the sport: illegal dumping of deer carcasses. It happens far too often.
In recent years, we’ve reported on deer remains being left on a Denmark street and deer carcasses being dumped beside the road and in a ditch near an Orangeburg residence.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources gets such reports often. The callers are disgusted, according to Charles Ruth, Big Game Program coordinator for SCDNR.
Ruth stresses that proper preparation of harvested deer from the forest to the table is an important part of hunting. 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.
Improper disposal of deer remains is not only a littering crime, it erodes the public image of hunting.
For those who love the sport, that may be the bigger crime.
Violators of laws on disposing of deer remains should be reported to the SCDNR'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. Sportsmen and sportswomen reporting violators through Operation Game Thief do not have to identify themselves, and rewards are offered for information leading to arrests.