Each year, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources holds hunts for hogs with dogs at North Island in Georgetown County. The hunts are conducted on the 3,100-acre island in an attempt to rid it of feral hogs because they damage the island's plant life and critical nesting grounds for sea turtles and ground-nesting birds.

The hunts are normally scheduled over three weekends during February, and SCDNR typically announces dates through its website (www.dnr.sc.gov) in January. Hunting parties are allowed to carry one shotgun with buckshot per party; sidearms are also allowed. Parties are limited to four dogs, and all participants must wear a hat, coat or vest of international orange. As is the case across the state, the transporting of live hogs off the island is strictly forbidden.

The long-term goal is the complete removal of feral hogs from the barrier island. SCDNR staff are on-site to collect data, and hunting parties are required to launch and return to the South Island Ferry Landing, checking in any harvested hogs.

Orangeburg's James Vallentine has participated on these hunts for the past few years and said he has the most success on the first available hunt weekend.

"Hogs are smart - a lot smarter than most people think. They've been living pretty safe for some time, so they are comfortable until that first weekend hunt. It doesn't take long for them to feel pressured enough to swim over to the mainland or another island," he said.

For more informations, keep watch on www.dnr.sc.gov, or call the Yawkey Wildlife Center at 843-546-6814.