Sportsmen in South Carolina face some interesting things in the coming weeks.
First, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a series of public meetings around the state to discuss legislation that would change the way the state’s whitetail deer are managed. That legislation, which provides for a statewide bag limit of four bucks per year and requires tagging of deer killed, was sponsored by Sen. Chip Campsen of Charleston. It was passed by the S.C. Senate last spring but did not pass the S.C. House before the legislative session adjourned. SB 454 will be considered when the next session begins in January.
SCDNR is holding the meetings because it would love legislators to hear from hunters who believe the state needs to change the way it is managing deer, in view of a 35-percent drop in the statewide harvest since 2002. Changes in habitat, the explosion of the coyote population and years of liberal harvest regulations are seen as a veritable triple crown of reasons for the decline.
The danger is, not everybody is on board with SB 454. Will hunters whose tracts still have strong deer herds put up enough of a fuss to get the bill sidelined for longer than the near future?
Deer hunters should study what’s happened to striped bass on the Santee Cooper reservoirs. On Oct. 1, the harvest season will re-open after four months of closure, but regulations will not likely fit the fishery.
After seven years of operating under regulations designed to help the fishery recover — a three-fish daily limit, 26-inch size minimum and summer season closure — stripers in Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie have rebounded; there’s no doubt about it. So when it came time to sit down and hammer out how a healthy striper fishery will be managed in the future, well, nothing happened.
The Stakeholders Committee, made up of guides and operators of businesses around the lakes, couldn’t come to agreement on what they wanted to do. SCDNR reported that the committee had come to an agreement at one point, but discussions fell apart, and no consensus was reached in time for new regulations to move through the legislature in time for the 2015-2016 season.
It has been reported that an agreement has since be reached, and it will be up for SCDNR and legislative review in time for the next session. The effects of not having new, more relaxed regulations in place this fall probably won’t have long-lasting effects on the fishery, but it’s a lesson in how putting up a united front can sometimes be extremely important.