Results of the 2008 Deer Hunter Survey conducted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources indicate that the statewide harvest of deer last season totaled 248,778, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year.

     An estimated 131,346 bucks and 117,432 does made up this total, according to Charles Ruth, Deer/Turkey Project supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Ruth said: "Although the deer harvest was up slightly in 2008, it may simply be a response to a slight increase in hunter participation last season rather than a substantive increase in deer numbers across the state."

Complete details of the 2008 Deer Harvest Report is available on the DNR Web site at the following address: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/deer/2008DeerHarvestReport.html.

    Top counties for harvest in 2008 included Bamberg, Union, Allendale, Hampton, and Abbeville, with each of these counties exhibiting harvest rates in excess of 15 deer per square mile, which should be considered extraordinary. Very few areas in the United States consistently yield comparable harvest figures.

     All areas of South Carolina have long and liberal firearms seasons, and the majority of deer (192,057) were taken with centerfire rifles in 2008. Shotguns (29,605 deer) and archery equipment (17,663 deer) also contributed significantly to the overall deer harvest, whereas muzzleloaders, crossbows and handguns combined (9,453 deer) produced less than 5 percent of the total statewide harvest.

     Other survey statistics indicate that 129,975 South Carolina residents and 16,413 non-residents deer hunted in the state in 2008. Based on hunters that deer hunted at least one day, overall hunting success in 2008 was 72 percent, which is outstanding. Resident hunters averaged about 16 days of deer hunting, non-residents about 13 days, and the total effort expended deer hunting in 2008 was estimated at 2,319,924 days.

     Orangeburg, Colleton, Williamsburg, Laurens, and Union counties topped the list of counties with the most deer hunting effort. "The number of days devoted to deer hunting in South Carolina is very significant and points not only to the availability and popularity of deer as a game species, but to the obvious economic benefits related to this important natural resource," Ruth said. About $200 million in direct retail sales is related to deer hunting in South Carolina annually.