Wild turkey tags, which are required in South Carolina, will no longer be available over the counter at local vendors this spring for turkey hunters.

Tags will be available over the counter at S.C. Department of Natural Resources offices in Clemson, Charleston, Columbia, Conway, Florence and York, and they can be ordered by telephone at 866-714-3611 and online at the SCDNR website, www.dnr.sc.gov/turkeytags, where hunters can download a pdf file to be printed and mailed.

All harvested birds must be tagged prior to being moved from the point of kill.

Turkey hunters should request turkey tags when they purchase their hunting licenses. For hunters who purchase their license over the counter they should request the tags at the license vendor. Tags will be mailed before the season, and hunters can tell if they will receive tags by mail if “Seasonal Wild Turkey Tags” is printed on their hunting license.

“The decision to eliminate the availability of turkey tags at local vendors was made for a number of reasons,” according to Charles Ruth, SCDNR’s deer and turkey project leader. Hunters have been able to request turkey tags when they purchase their hunting license for a number of years, so most are already pre-ordering their tags.  Second, this updated process provides a more efficient and reliable means to collect information on turkey hunters. Finally, turkey tags are free, and since there is no dedicated source of funding for SCDNR’s Wild Turkey Program, funds to administer the tagging program must come from other sources.

“It is expensive and simply not good business to duplicate the effort in manufacturing and distributing two types of tags,” Ruth said. “We encourage turkey hunters to remember to request their tags when they get their hunting license or order the tags before the season by phone or online, allowing four to seven days for the tags to arrive in the mail.”