There are more designated bird dog training areas in South Carolina than residents may realize, and a state agency has just added three more to the list.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources lists 137 Wildlife Management Area Areas, including 24 in the Pee Dee, 26 in central South Carolina, 44 in the Coastal region and 37 in the Piedmont.
The three that have been added to the list include: the entire Angelus in Chesterfield County; a portion of Cliff Pitts in Laurens County; and a portion of the Landsford Canal in Chester County.
The tri-county area has 17 WMAs, including 10 in Charleston, six in Berkeley and one in Dorchester.
These designated areas include a lot of land. The Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley County is the largest WMA, and it covers 258,916 acres. The smallest is a single acre at the Stony Creek Battery in Beaufort.
“The average person that does not own a sizable tract of rural land has little opportunity for training a bird dog,” said Michael Hook, the small game program leader at DNR. “We borrowed this idea from Georgia, where public dog training areas have proven very popular, and we believe our constituents will appreciate the opportunity as well.”
Anyone who wants to use an area for training must first have a valid hunting license and a Wildlife Management Area permit.
Bird dog training in South Carolina takes place in six month intervals, from Sept. 15 to March 15.
Several safety steps are a must. For example, all training participants must wear a hat, coat or vest of “solid visible international orange.” In addition, participants cannot possess any firearms or other equipment for taking game except: handguns; shotguns with blank cartridges; or shotguns with number 8 shot or smaller. Those may be used while training dogs using pen-raised quail or pigeons.
For more information, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/smallgame/birddog.html, or call 803-734-3609.