The best SC WMAs for whitetails

Local habitat makes a huge difference on public land

Game Zone 1

Charles Ruth, SCDNR’s big-game coordinator, said some of the best WMA deer hunting in Game Zone I is found on small, isolated, tracts that are part of the Sumter National Forest. Management activities, such as timber harvests, can alter habitat dramatically, so hunters should check specific areas to ensure good habitat exists. A timber harvest can make a dramatic change for the better in terms of habitat, as dense growth creates areas of prime habitat for several years after cutting.

Ruth said the Jocassee Gorges, 43,500 acres of land owned primarily by the SCDNR, has a very low density of deer, but that makes it potentially productive for hunters seeking trophy bucks.

“Low density and big-racked deer go together, and the Jocassee Gorges area has the potential to yield some big bucks,” Ruth said. “The terrain is rugged and hunters may not see many deer, but the potential exists to see big deer.” 

Game Zone 2

Fant’s Grove, an 8,540-acre archery only WMA, offers a real chance for big bucks.

“Fant’s Grove sits smack in an area where a lot of big bucks are harvested on private lands, based on our historical data,” Ruth said. “With archery only hunting, the population remains very good, and the large acreage and somewhat limited access lends itself