COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Attention deer hunters: the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said new regulations will go into effect this year.
DNR officials said deer hunters should see deer tags for the 2019 season in their mailboxes soon, and there are significant changes to the antlerless tagging system that all hunters need to be aware of before taking to the field.
A new law was passed by the General Assembly, resulting in the elimination of the eight date-specific antlerless tags, replacing them with two antlerless tags that may be used on any day beginning Sept. 15 in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4, and Oct. 1 in Game Zone 1.
“Hunters in the past were limited by specific days to harvest antlerless deer,” said Jay Cantrell, SCDNR Big Game Biologist. “This improvement gives people more opportunity and the flexibility to harvest deer when it is convenient for them.”
Cantrell went on to say: “SCDNR and numerous legislators had heard from hunters over the last two years that were limited by tags that were only valid on certain Saturdays. A lot of folks have to work on Saturdays or have athletic events, family obligations and other constraints that limited their ability to hunt on Saturday. Throw in some weekends of bad weather or bad luck and opportunity was severely limited for the date-specific tags.”
DNR said the General Assembly came to them with the idea.
“In working with the General Assembly, we knew that this change could negatively impact sales of the optional tags which would affect revenue for the deer program,” said Cantrell. “However, we believe this change is so important in terms of providing simplification to the tagging program and increased opportunity and flexibility for resident hunters to take antlerless deer that we will make necessary adjustments related to the potential loss of funds.”
Harvest statistics show that 92% of South Carolina hunters harvest two or fewer antlerless deer each season.
For hunters who want additional opportunity to take antlerless deer, they are still able to purchase up to four optional antlerless tags for $5 each or participate in the property-based Deer Quota Program.
Optional tags may also be purchased by phone at 1-866-714-3611 or online. Hunters should allow 7-10 days for tags ordered or requested online, or by phone, to arrive in the mail.