Fanning/reaping for turkeys not allowed on WMAs

The practice of fanning, also known as reaping, is no longer allowed on South Carolina's WMA lands.

Fanning illegal on public lands, still legal on private properties

A number of new regulations are in place for South Carolina turkey hunters for 2020. One includes the practice of fanning, also known as reaping. It is now illegal to use this method on WMAs, but still legal on private hunting land.

When fanning/reaping, hunters hold — or mount on their shotgun — a tail fan or a turkey decoy with a tail fan while stalking turkeys. It’s an effective method that gives gobblers a sense that another gobbler is encroaching on his territory. This infuriates the real gobbler, which charges toward the concealed hunter, often in a reckless manner.

Of course, once the turkey is in range, it gets two ounces of No. 5 to the face instead of the fight it’s looking for. It makes for an exciting and entertaining hunt for sure. But crawling through public land when other hunters may be present is risky business.

So to minimize the risk of hunters shooting other hunters that look like turkeys crawling through the woods or fields, the SCDNR has outlawed it on the state’s WMA. Again, it’s still legal on private land. But wildlife officials caution hunters to insure other hunters know they are using this technique to be on the safe side.

Turkey hunting season starts soon in South Carolina

South Carolina has a split turkey season. Private land in Game Zones 3 & 4 runs from March 22 through April 30. Private land in Game Zones 1 & 2 opens April 1 and runs through May 10. Turkey hunting on WMA lands, regardless of which game zone they are located in, is April 1 through May 5.

Youth hunting season on private lands took place March 14 – 15 in Game Zones 3 & 4. Game Zones 1 & 2 open for private youth hunts on March 28 – 29. The public land youth day is March 28 except on Keowee WMA.

Not all WMAs are open for turkey season. Click here to find the list of WMAs open to turkey hunting. All WMAs are closed to hunting on Sundays.

About Brian Cope 2800 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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