The best of South Carolina’s small-game WMAs

Rabbits, squirrel, gamebirds have their followings

Small game hunters may not present the overall number of deer hunters in the Palmetto State, but they still put up an enormous number of days afield. Biologist Michael Hooks is SCDNR’s small-game project leader. His WMA picks follow.


Woodcock is an often under-utilized small-game species in South Carolina, and ample hunting opportunities and good numbers of woodcock are available at both the Francis Marion National Forest and the Sumter National Forest.

Biologist Michael Hooks of SCDNR said the woodcock is a ground-dwelling bird that is generally hunted like quail, except that they prefer wetter areas.

South Carolina’s statewide woodcock season runs from Dec. 18, 2018, to Jan. 31, 2018, to take advantage of the birds’ migration. Daily bag limit is three birds.


Biologist Michael Hooks of SCDNR said two of the top quail WMAs in South Carolina are the Webb Center in Hampton County and the Marsh WMA along the Great Pee Dee River in Marion County.

The Webb Center was the first WMA property purchased by SCDNR,  obtained in 1941. The property has developed into one of the top areas for several species, including quail.

“A tremendous amount of quail habitat work has been accomplished at the Marsh WMA,” Hooks said. “While part of the 8,660 acres of this land is low and swampy, plenty of upland areas exist and these are proem areas for quail hunting. A lot of thinning and burning has been accomplished during recent years and the quail population has responded very well.”


The Wateree Heritage Preserve WMA on the Wateree River in Richland County off of US 378 is a prime area to find excellent rabbit hunting.

“This area is 3,600 acres and is only 17 miles east of Columbia,” said biologist Michael Hooks of SCDNR. “Very good small game hunting in general exists here and the SCDNR manager of the area has done an outstanding job of ensuring plenty of top-notch rabbit habitat is available.”

This area does not open for small game until after deer season closes but offers outstanding hunting from that time until the end of the season.


Squirrels are abundant statewide and are a species that can withstand more hunting pressure in most areas.

One particularly good WMA is the Watson Cooper Heritage Preserve in Greenville County, near the North Carolina and South Carolina state line.

“This area is excellent for squirrel hunting and has the advantage of being a very scenic hunting opportunity,” said biologist Michael Hooks of SCDNR.

“The Watson Cooper Heritage Preserve is a WMA where the grouse population is actually high enough to provide reasonable grouse hunting opportunities in South Carolina.”

About Terry Madewell 809 Articles
Award-winning writer and photographer Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C., has been an outdoors writer for more than 30 years. He has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager.

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