Saturday, January 30, 2016

Looking Ahead to the 2016 Deer Season

S.C. Deer Limits may be nearing reality
With one of the longest deer seasons in America, the South Carolina coastal plain has a right to claim deer hunting season as a way of life. Winter wheat and oats planted in food plots will provide green sustenance for whitetails. Why is over wintering of your deer herd important? If quality bucks are in focus, then biologists have stated that the better shape a buck is in when spring arrives, the better his chance for optimum antler production. Remember that a buck’s rack is affected by three main factors: age, genetics and health.

Seven state-wide public input meetings were held this fall by SCDNR to gauge support for the change to a four-antlered buck limit per hunter per year. A comprehensive summary from those meetings can now be found on the SCDNR website, with a nearly 80-percent majority in favor of the changes. The days of a ‘no limit’ deer season for hunters in South Carolina is likely to become a thing of the past, as we catch up to all other Southeast states that have already implemented deer limits.

What is unsettling to this observer is the number of hunter reports that state a sharp decline in deer numbers during the 2015 season. These sources cite historical harvest reports, up to date trail camera surveys, and a lower frequency of whitetail encounters. While nearly everyone points to the coyote for plundering the deer herd, but managers should also remember that depravation permits also are in wide use. The 2016 General Assembly may well bring historic buck limits to South Carolina, since public support for such changes remains high. 

To read the entire article in the newspaper click on Charleston Mercury.

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