Pavey: South Carolina hunters benefit from early firearms season date

Deer season in most states opens long after whitetail bucks scrape the velvet from their antlers, but not in South Carolina, where the season opened Aug. 15 in some areas.

South Carolina ushered in the nation’s earliest firearms season for whitetails last Monday, even if Georgia hunters are still working on food plots and dove fields.


The Aug. 15 opening, which affects Aiken County and other selected portions of the Palmetto State, is also one of the rare opportunities for hunters to take a buck before they shed their velvet, which typically occurs in early to mid-September.

Charles Ruth, coordinator of South Carolina’s deer and wild turkey management programs, said deer harvest numbers have continued to decline statewide over the past decade – with the 2015 harvest totaling 195,030.

That figure, he added, represented a 4 percent decline over 2014 and could be attributable - at least partly - to poor hunting conditions last fall that also plagued Georgia hunters. The adverse conditions included above normal rainfall with flooding; and warmer than average temperatures.

Georgia’s first deer season is archery, which opens Sept. 10, followed by muzzleloader opening Oct. 15 and statewide firearms season beginning Oct. 22. The statewide seasons end Jan. 8.


DOVE TIME: Georgia’s mourning dove season is a popular harbinger of autumn, and will commence statewide Sept. 3, according to the Wildlife Resources Division. That first season runs through Sept. 18 with additional seasons scheduled for Oct. 8-28 and Nov. 24-Jan. 15.

“Hunting for doves brings a lot of joy to families that are anxious to kick off the fall hunting season,” said John Bowers, Georgia’s game management chief. “Georgia has a great choice of fields to choose from with approximately 40 state public dove fields, plus opportunities on private land available to the public through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program called the Voluntary Public Access (VPA)/Habitat Incentive Program.”

The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Collared doves may be taken, but do not affect the count of your daily limit. Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves. And, as always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property.


CRACKERNECK OPENS: Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area in Aiken County will be open for scouting and other activities on Saturdays from Sept. 3 through Oct. 14 on the following Saturdays: Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24 and Oct. 1

The 10,600-acre site near Jackson, S.C., is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Access is through a check station gate off Brown Road.

Maps and copies of regulations can be requested by e-mailing and providing a name and postal mailing address. For more details, call (803) 725-3663.



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