If you live in the country, you might hear quite a bit of shooting this week. Don’t worry — it’s just dove hunters enjoying the start of this year’s season.
In a typical year, about 45,000 dove hunters bag 900,000 doves in South Carolina. This year’s action cranks up Monday, when the first segment of the statewide dove season starts.
Hunters should note that this week, Sept. 2-7, dove hunting is allowed in the afternoons only, from noon until sunset. During all other parts of the season, shooting hours are from half-hour before sunrise until sunset.
The first segment of the season continues through Oct. 5 and is followed by more segments Nov. 23-30 and Dec. 19-Jan. 15.
The bag limit for mourning doves is 15 per day. There is no limit on Eurasian collared doves. In addition to a hunting license (and WMA permit for public land), all dove hunters must carry a migratory bird permit. The free permit is available at any hunting and fishing license vendor.
Special regulations apply to all Wildlife Management Area (WMA) public dove fields. Hunters are limited to 50 shells per hunt, and hunting on all public fields is afternoon-only. Hunters may not enter fields before noon, and there’s no shooting after 6 p.m. during the Sept. 2–Oct. 5 segment of the season.
Dove hunting also gives hunters the interesting opportunity to bag a banded specimen. Since 2003, wildlife biologists have banded more than 19,500 doves across the state. Biologists use these bands to determine population trends and help guide harvest management decisions.
Captured birds are marked with a metal leg band containing a unique number and the 1-800-327-BAND telephone number. Operators will be on duty 24 hours a day, Monday-Friday during the hunting season. Banded birds also be can be reported online at reportband.gov.
Hunters can keep the bands (often viewed as trophies) and will be provided a certificate identifying the age and sex of the bird, as well as the date and location the bird was banded.
Red snapper tally
South Carolina anglers participating in this year’s fishing season for red snapper, which lasted for just three days last weekend, provided state fisheries scientists with 42 fish for sampling, of which 25 came from the Charleston area.
Robert Wiggers, public information director for the state’s Marine Resources Division, said the overall fishing effort was hard to gauge. The weather dictated when people could fish, with Friday being the best day. Winds picked up Saturday, and very few boats fished on Sunday, he said.
“Overall, we were very pleased in the number of samples we did get,” he said via email. “Last year the season was open for two weekends and we only sampled around 60 fish.”
Federal fisheries managers prohibited red snapper harvest in early 2010 to protect the population from too much fishing pressure. In 2012, the managers approved a limited red snapper harvest after new information indicated that the population would continue to improve.
Landings data from the 2012 red snapper season showed that South Carolina anglers contributed very little to the overall catch throughout the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council’s area, which extends from North Carolina south to Key West, Fla. Of the 13,896 red snapper landings estimated by scientists for this region, South Carolina accounted for only 13.
The total catches recorded by NOAA for the 2012 season — data that was used to set a shorter, three-day season in 2013 — showed that recreational anglers on private boat and charter trips caught 8,463 in Florida, 2,707 in Georgia, 1,026 in North Carolina and 13 in South Carolina.
Headboats in the entire management area accounted for another 1,687 landings, according to the fisheries analysis.
All information collected during this year’s season be made available for the 2014 red snapper population assessment. Check safmc.net for updates.
Archery deer hunts
Bow hunters along the coast can take their pick of about 387,000 acres of wildlife management areas (WMAs) open to deer hunting.
Many of these WMAs offer good opportunities to harvest a hog as well as a deer.
All Wildlife Management Area regulations apply, including hunter-orange requirements if archery hunting during specified gun hunts. Specific season dates and bag limits for these WMA’s can be found in the 2013-2014 Rules and Regulations brochure or online at dnr.sc.gov.
Archery-only hunts are open in the Francis Marion National Forest from Sept. 1-30, except for scheduled deer hunts with dogs. Bow hunting is also allowed during the rest of the season, except on days scheduled for deer hunting with dogs.
In the Sewee Special Use Area, located within the Wambaw WMA, only archers may hunt deer throughout the entire four-month season.
Bonneau Ferry WMA off of Highway 402 in Berkeley County is open for archery hunting (Side A of the property) during specified dates in September and November. Be sure to read all pertinent regulations which are located at the entrance to the property.
Archery-only areas near the Santee-Cooper lakes include the Hall, Hatchery (islands in the Hatchery itself), and Porcher WMAs.
Archers hunting south of Charleston should check out Botany Bay Plantation WMA off S.C. Highway 174 on Edisto Island, the Edisto River WMA in Dorchester County, Dungannon HP/WMA off of S.C. Highway 162 near Hollywood and Bear Island and Donnelley WMAs in Colleton County.
North of Charleston, archers can hunt in the Santee Coastal Reserve WMA near McClellanville and the Samworth and Santee Delta WMAs in Georgetown County.
Check deer from WMAs
DNR officials are reminding hunters that they must check in all deer harvested on WMAs in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties, including the Francis Marion National Forest.
Check stations near the national forest include: Dennis Wildlife Center, Elmwood Check Station (selected hunts only), Alvin One Stop, Handy Mart, Arrowhead Motel & Campground, P&C Grocery, Village Grocery, Atlantic Game & Tackle, Haddrell’s Point Tackle and Supply and the USDA Forest Service Station.
For check-in requirements at other WMAs, go to dnr.sc.gov.
New Tideline available
The new edition of Tideline hits the streets this week with a cover story on “Best Bites for Fall.” This edition also includes a new outdoors section featuring expert tips for deer hunting in the Lowcountry.
Reach Matt Winter, editor of Tideline magazine, at 843-937-5568 or email@example.com.