outdoors

Youth hunters are a big part of the Bulls Island archery hunts for white-tailed deer. Provided/Patricia Midgett

Deer hunters, especially those who practice their craft with bow and arrow, love a challenge. A unique opportunity awaits those willing to go the extra mile with the upcoming white-tailed deer archery hunts on Bulls Island.

"It's the only time people can camp on Bulls Island," said Patricia Midgett, Visitor Services Manager for the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in Awendaw. The 2019 hunts are scheduled Nov. 4-9 and Dec. 2-7.

The hunts began in 1954 as a way for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer something to the public besides fishing on the barrier island that can be reached only by boat. That means transporting all your hunting gear as well as your camping gear and food for the week across the Intracoastal Waterway to the scenic island.

Hunts help in maintaining the island's deer population at a level compatible with the environment and results vary from year to year. But one thing that is assured is a good amount of camaraderie, Midgett said. Typically, 60 to 80 archers will participate in the hunts.

"Most of the archers have been coming year after year. We have folks that came as boys and now they're bringing their sons," Midgett said. "It's basically a tradition for families to come back year after years. For some it's like a mini family reunion. But we also have a few first-timers. It's very low key.

"It's a really good group of people. They enjoy the island and they love being out there. They welcome other archers. It's an enjoyable time for everyone, and it's an enjoyable time for (the Cape Romain staff). They are friends. They come over and we get to know them well.

"They're very mindful about cleaning up their campsite. Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and they're very respectful of that. It's a great way for hunters to meet new hunters and tell their stories."

The camping area opens at 9 a.m. on the Sunday prior to each hunt (Nov. 3 and Dec. 1) and remains open until noon on the Sunday following the hunt. Only registered hunters are allowed to camp. Water and restroom facilities are the only amenities provided on the island. Overnight parking is permitted for hunters at Garris Landing during the archery hunt.

Hunters must check in and register before setting up camp or starting to hunt. At 5 p.m. on the Sunday before hunts begin, the Federal Wildlife Officer and Refuge Manager conducts a meeting to discuss hunt regulations.

Hunters must possess the required state hunting license, and hunters under the age of 16 must have completed a state-approved hunter education course and be under the immediate supervision of an adult.

Hunters need to provide their own transportation or they can make transport arrangements through Coastal Expeditions (843-884-7684).

Only portable hunting stands that will not injure living trees are allowed. Crossbows, firearms and ammunition, motorized equipment, poison arrows, dogs, nails, wire, paint and flagging are prohibited. Bicycles are allowed for use on service roads.

For complete information, visit ws.gov/refuge/cape_romain for a copy of the hunt permit. For additional information, call the Refuge office at 843-928-3264. Hunt permits are available at the refuge headquarters office at the Sewee Visitor & Environmental Education Center in Awendaw.

Free fishing seminar 

Haddrell's Point Tackle will hold a free Fishing 101 seminar 6-8 p.m. Nov. 13 at its West Ashley location. The seminar will cover what, when, where and how to catch fish in Charleston. For more information, call 843-573-3474.

Contact Tommy Braswell at braswellsports@hotmail.com.