The S.C. Department of Natural Resources governing board adopted revisions to the comprehensive deer management recommendations last month.
The board recommends a statewide limit of five bucks per hunter per year with no more than a total of three bucks per hunter in Game Zones 1 and 2 combined. The board supports a mandatory deer tagging program whereby all harvested deer (bucks and does) must be tagged with tags provided by the department.
The fee structure for the recommended program -- resident hunters would receive all necessary deer tags for $20 and nonresidents would receive their tags for $30. This means that each hunter would get five buck tags and four doe tags as part of the deer hunting privilege. Resident hunters who currently get four optional doe tags would pay no more than they currently do under these recommendations.
It is also recommended that a "limited deer tag" option be made available in which more casual hunters could receive one buck tag and one doe tag for $10 for residents. Nonresidents could receive the limited tag option for $15. Youth hunters could receive the full compliment of buck and doe tags at no cost. Hunters who hunt exclusively on properties in the Deer Quota Program would not be required to purchase the regular tag package because tags for the property would be in place. All other hunters would have to purchase their tags annually.
Revenue generated from the program would be earmarked for the administration of the program and for deer research, management and law enforcement.
The number of doe tags available to each hunter would be determined annually based on management needs in addition to the proposed limit of five buck tags per hunter. The current recommendation is set at four doe tags per hunter, with tags being valid on any day starting Sept. 15 in Game Zones 2-6 and Oct. 1 in Game Zone 1 (a lower number of doe tags would be valid in Game Zone 1 due to the lower deer population density).
Under the new program, statewide "doe days" would be eliminated because all hunters would have doe tags as part of the deer hunting privilege.
The Antlerless Doe Quota Program (ADQP) currently available to property owners and hunting clubs will continue and be expanded to a Deer Quota Program (DQP) in which quotas for bucks and does would be issued for tracts of property based on the size of the property and the deer management and agricultural objectives of the owner or manager. It is recommended that the application fee for the program be increased from $50 to $200.