Hunting in South Carolina: A Guide for Hunters
South Carolina is a state with a rich hunting heritage and a diverse landscape that offers a variety of game species. Whether you are looking for deer, hogs, bears, turkeys, alligators, or small game, you can find them in South Carolina. Here are some tips and information to help you plan your hunting trip in the Palmetto State.
Hunting Seasons and Regulations
South Carolina has different hunting seasons and regulations depending on the game zone, species, and type of land you are hunting on. You can find the current hunting seasons and regulations on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) website1 or on the eRegulations website2. You should always check the latest rules and updates before you go hunting.
Some of the general hunting regulations in South Carolina are:
- You need a valid hunting license and tags or permits for the species you are hunting. You can buy them online, by phone, or at authorized vendors.
- You need to complete a hunter education course if you are born after June 30, 1979. You can print your hunter education card online if you have completed the course.
- You need to wear at least 500 square inches of solid international orange above the waist when hunting deer, bear, or wild hog during daylight hours on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) or on private lands where required by law.
- You need to label your deer stands and temporary climbing devices with your SCDNR Customer ID number if you use them on WMAs. You cannot place them on WMAs before August 10 or leave them after January 15 of each year.
- You need to register for night hunting if you want to hunt coyotes or hogs at night on private lands. You can register online or by phone.
- You need to apply for special hunts such as lottery hunts, mobility impaired hunts, or youth hunts if you want to participate in them. You can apply online or by mail.
Hunting Locations and Opportunities
South Carolina has four game zones that have different seasons, bag limits, and regulations for different species. You can find a map of the game zones on the SCDNR website1. The game zones are:
- Game Zone 1: Covers most of the mountain region in the northwest corner of the state. It has some of the best opportunities for bear and turkey hunting in the state.
- Game Zone 2: Covers most of the piedmont region in the north-central part of the state. It has abundant deer and hog populations and some WMAs that offer quail hunting.
- Game Zone 3: Covers most of the coastal plain region in the eastern part of the state. It has diverse habitats and game species, including deer, hogs, turkeys, alligators, doves, waterfowl, and small game.
- Game Zone 4: Covers most of the lowcountry region in the southern part of the state. It has some of the longest deer seasons and highest deer densities in the state. It also has excellent waterfowl hunting opportunities along the coast.
South Carolina also has over one million acres of public hunting lands that are managed by SCDNR or other agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These lands include WMAs, national forests, national wildlife refuges, state parks, heritage preserves, and more. You can find a list and a map of public hunting lands on the SCDNR website1. Some of these lands require a WMA permit to hunt on them.
Some of the popular public hunting lands in South Carolina are:
- Francis Marion National Forest: A 259,000-acre forest that offers hunting for deer, hogs, turkeys, doves, waterfowl, and small game. It also has a quail focal area that is managed for bobwhite quail habitat and hunting.
- Sumter National Forest: A 371,000-acre forest that offers hunting for deer, hogs, bears, turkeys, doves, waterfowl, and small game. It also has two quail focal areas that are managed for bobwhite quail habitat and hunting.
- Santee Cooper WMA: A 24,000-acre WMA that offers hunting for deer, hogs, turkeys, doves, waterfowl, and small game. It also has a draw hunt for alligators on Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie.
- Webb WMA: A 5,800-acre WMA that offers hunting for deer, hogs, turkeys, doves, waterfowl, and small game. It also has a special youth hunt for deer and a draw hunt for quail.
- Savannah River Site: A 198,000-acre federal facility that offers hunting for deer, hogs, turkeys, doves, waterfowl, and small game. It also has a draw hunt for coyotes. You need to apply for a permit and pass a background check to hunt on this site.
Hunting Tips and Resources
Hunting in South Carolina can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience if you are prepared and follow the rules. Here are some tips and resources to help you have a successful hunt:
- Plan ahead and scout your hunting area before the season. Look for signs of game activity such as tracks, trails, rubs, scrapes, droppings, or food sources. Use maps, aerial photos, or online tools such as Google Earth or OnX Hunt to identify potential hunting spots and access routes.
- Practice your shooting skills and make sure your firearm or bow is sighted in and functioning properly. Use the appropriate caliber or draw weight for the game you are hunting and use ethical shot placement. You can find shooting ranges on the SCDNR website or on the Wing It website.
- Be safe and respectful when hunting. Follow the Hunt S.A.F.E. guidelines from SCDNR: S – Shoot only at what you can positively identify as legal game; A – Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded; F – Focus on your safe zone-of-fire; E – Every hunter should wear international orange. Respect other hunters and landowners and do not trespass on private property without permission.
- Report your harvests to SCDNR using the electronic tagging system. You can report your harvests online, by phone, or by using the SC Game Check app. You need to report your harvests within 24 hours of taking the animal or before processing the animal or leaving the state.
- Enjoy your hunt and share your stories and photos with others. You can find more information and tips on hunting in South Carolina on the SCDNR website, the eRegulations website, the Wing It website, or other online sources such as blogs, forums, or social media.
Hunting in South Carolina is a great way to experience the outdoors and connect with nature. Whether you are a beginner or an expert hunter, you can find a hunting opportunity that suits your interests and skills in South Carolina