78-percent of the turkeys were adults
SCDNR has released South Carolina’s harvest numbers for the 2021 spring turkey hunting season. Hunters in the Palmetto State killed 9797 turkeys. Hunters in all of the state’s 46 counties killed birds this year.
The vast majority of harvested turkeys were adults. A total of 9112 (93 percent) were gobblers compared to 685 (7 percent) jakes. The vast majority, 8932 birds, were also killed on private land (91 percent). Public land hunts accounted for 865 turkeys (9 percent).
Seventy-eight percent of the birds (7655 total) were killed during morning hours. Twenty-two percent (2142 total turkeys) were killed on afternoon hunts.
In every county, the vast majority of turkeys killed were adults. Jasper County was the only county to record no jakes at all, and hunters there killed 126 adults. Only one jake was killed in Dillon County, where hunters killed 120 adults.
Top 5 producing counties
The top producing county overall was Williamsburg County. Hunters there accounted for 510 turkeys (487 adults, 23 jakes). Berkeley County was the second top producing county with a total of 396 birds killed (361 adults, 35 jakes). The third most productive county was Fairfield, with a total of 389 birds killed (359 adults, 31 jakes). Florence County was fourth with 389 total birds killed (367 adults, 22 jakes). Horry County produced the fifth most turkeys with a total of 366 (338 adults, 28 jakes).
Lowest producing counties
Beaufort County saw the fewest harvested birds in the state, with a total of 45 turkeys killed (42 adults, 3 jakes). Lexington County hunters killed 58 birds (53 adults, 5 jakes). Calhoun County was the third county to not reach triple digits, accounting for 95 total harvested turkeys (91 adults, 4 jakes).
Public land turkeys
Hunters in Berkeley County killed the most public land turkeys in 2021. They killed 124 birds on public land. This made up 31 percent of their total numbers, with 272 turkeys coming on private land (69 percent).
As a percentage of total public kills, Oconee County was first. Hunters in the state’s Golden Corner killed 38 percent of their birds (56 out of 149 birds) on public land. McCormick County was right behind with 36 percent of their harvested birds (38 out of 106 turkeys) coming on public land.
Two counties had zero public land kills during the season. Beaufort and Calhoun county hunters killed 100-percent of their birds on private lands. Only one turkey was killed on public land in each of the following counties: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, and Georgetown.
Not-so early birds
Florence County hunters killed the most total afternoon birds of all counties. They killed 120 during later-in-the-day hunts, which made up 31 percent of that county’s total harvests). The county also led the state in percentage of afternoon kills.
Hunters from two other counties killed at least 100 birds during afternoon hunts. In Williamsburg County, 119 birds were killed in the afternoon. In Horry County, 103 birds were killed after lunch.
The county with the fewest afternoon kills was Beaufort County (5 afternoon kills) giving them a state-low of 11 percent afternoon birds (tied with Jasper County’s 11 percent).
Williamsburg County accounted for the most morning harvests with a total of 391. Berkeley County hunters killed 315 of their birds in the morning. In Fairfield County, their hunters accounted for a total of 313 morning turkeys.
Numbers must be taken with a grain of salt
Charles Ruth, Big Game Coordinator for SCDNR, said while these numbers do reflect the final tally of reported kills for the 2021 turkey season, the actual number is likely slightly higher due to noncompliance from a certain percentage of hunters. He said SCDNR is looking at other numbers gathered through post-season surveys to bridge the gap between the numbers.
Due to many factors, these numbers can’t be looked at to definitively say which county has the best turkey hunting. Population, square miles of available land, hunter effort, weather patterns, public acreage vs. private acreage from one county to the next, and other details must be considered to determine where a hunter can reasonably expect to have the best chance of killing a turkey.
But these numbers are still interesting and useful in many ways to hunters, land managers, and SCDNR biologists. Later in the year, SCDNR sometimes produces more in-depth harvest numbers, which include details like hunter effort and per-square-mile numbers. We will look for those numbers and update when available.
Click here to see the 2021 harvest numbers in all 46 counties.
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