Governor Haley signed Senate Bill 454 into law on June 8, which makes some sweeping new changes to South Carolina’s deer hunting. While the law will not go into effect until the 2017 season, it has many outdoorsmen talking already.
So what’s in the new law, and what does it mean to hunters? One of the biggest changes is that starting with the 2017 deer hunting season, all harvested deer must be tagged, including bucks (antlered deer). This is a first for the state of South Carolina, and is one way in which the SCDNR can monitor that any given hunter is sticking to the new deer limits.
And what are those limits? The short answer is, with the purchase of a South Carolina hunting license and big game permit, 11 total deer. This includes eight antlerless deer which can only be taken on certain dates, and three bucks which can be taken on any legal deer hunting day.
But, for an additional fee, hunters can also purchase additional anterless deer tags at five dollars per tag. Hunters may purchase up to four of these tags. For the same price, they can also purchase two more antlered deer tags, and unlike the three that come with the basic license fee, these two deer tags carry antler restrictions. Any deer killed with these tags must have a minimum of four points on one antler, or at least a 12-inch inside antler spread.
That brings the total number of deer allowed by each hunter to 17, all of which must be tagged after harvest.
For farmers, land managers, and plantations with large amounts of acreage, the Deer Quota Program is in effect. This requires an application with a fifty dollar fee per tract of land. The number of deer hunters can harvest on these properties varies by acreage and is determined by the SCDNR.
A study will be conducted for a 4-year period under the new regulations. A new report will be issued to the Chairman of the Senate Fish, Game, and Forestry Committee and the Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.