Game zone consolidation legislation that became law on July 1 reduced the size of Game Zone One in Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties, a move requested by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to reduce the antlerless deer harvest in the upper portion of Game Zone One while increasing deer hunting opportunities in the lower portion of the old game zone.
"We have been concerned about the low deer populations in the mountains of South Carolina for some time," said Richard Morton, DNR wildlife biologist based in Clemson. "The removal of areas that have higher deer populations from Game Zone One allows us to manage the mountain deer populations separately from the piedmont deer populations."
The deer herds in South Carolina's mountains are healthy but low in numbers, according to Morton. Mountain deer have later breeding seasons than other areas of the state and lower productivity. Basically the deer in Game Zone One are mast dependent and when mast crops (especially hard mast-acorns) are low, reproduction can be severely affected.
Also, timber management has declined over the years in Game Zone One, and this has affected the amount of early successional habitat, which can directly affect deer reproduction. Many hunters have contacted DNR with concerns about doe harvest in the mountain area.
Anterless deer harvest will still be allowed on either-sex days, but the individual antlerless deer tags will not be valid in Game Zone One.
Hunters with questions about this change can contact the Clemson DNR office by phone at (864) 654-1671, extension 24, or by e-mail at MortonR@dnr.sc.gov.
DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people. Find out more about DNR at www.dnr.sc.gov.