The S.C. Department of Natural Resources scheduled 10 public meetings during early 2006 to receive input from hunters concerning limits for white-tailed deer bucks and potential changes to antlerless deer and wild turkey tag programs in South Carolina.
"With respect to buck limits, hunters have been encouraging the Department to consider a statewide buck limit for some time," said Charles Ruth, SCDNR deer-and-turkey project leader. "However, the agency would like to attempt to measure public support prior to recommending any changes to the South Carolina General Assembly."
Each meeting will include a presentation by SCDNR about the background and data related to the concept, as well as public comment and questions. Contact SCDNR at (803) 734-3886 in Columbia with any questions about agendas or sites.
All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and the dates and locations are:
* Jan. 10 - Greenwood, Piedmont Technical College, Continuing Education Building Auditorium, Room 136, 620 North Emerald Road.
* Jan. 12 - Clemson, Ramada Inn, intersection of US 123 and US 76.
* Jan. 17 - Florence, Pee Dee Research and Education Center Auditorium, 2200 Pocket Road.
* Jan. 19 - Chester, Chester Park Complex Little Theater, 835 Lancaster Highway.
* Jan. 24 - Orangeburg, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Building C Room 118, 3250 St. Mathews Road.
* Jan. 26 - Kingstree, Williamsburg County Complex Auditorium, 147 West Main St.
* Jan. 31 - Walterboro, Hampton Street Auditorium, 491 Hampton Street.
* Feb. 2 - Hampton, Hampton County Courthouse, 1 Elm St., Courthouse Square.
*Feb. 7 - Columbia, Riverbanks Zoo Auditorium, From I-126 take Greystone Blvd. exit and follow signs to Riverbanks Zoo.
*Feb. 9 - Moncks Corner, Santee Cooper Auditorium, One Riverwood Drive off Highway 52 Bypass.
"Many hunters indicate it's time for South Carolina's deer management program to become more proactive and that they would support a move to reduce the harvest pressure on bucks in order to increase both the chance of seeing more bucks and the opportunity to harvest more mature bucks," Ruth said.
Advocates of the proposal also feel that law enforcement measures should be implemented, as well, to ensure that limits would have the desired effect. This could take the form of hunters receiving a set of buck tags.
SCDNR staff will discuss the possibility of issuing buck tags, antlerless deer tags, and turkey tags using several methods, including the possibility that tags could be associated with the hunting license.
"This grass roots effort originally began in 2000 when a group of deer hunters in Saluda County approached SCDNR officials about buck limits in their county," Ruth said. "Since that time interest among hunters has spread."