Botany Bay damage (copy)

Hurricane Matthew in 2016 left downed trees and other debris on land and in the lakes and rivers across South Carolina. File/Provided

Like many of you, I spent the earlier part of this week nervously anticipating the latest updates on Hurricane Florence, wondering whether I should stay or evacuate. What should I do with my belongings?

I also began to contemplate our wonderful hunting and fishing opportunities and how they would be affected by a major hurricane. Looking at the forecast early this week, I immediately thought back to Hurricane Matthew, a storm that pummeled the East Coast in 2016 and brought lots and lots of rain.

Shortly after Matthew paid its visit to South Carolina, Charles Ruth, Deer and Wild Turkey Program coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said there typically "isn't a lot of direct mortality, other than an occasional animal."

Ruth said the biggest impact is to the hunter, who is more concerned about recovering from the storm. Homes need to be repaired, debris cleaned up. There's also the issue of access to your hunting property, which may be flooded or the roads in may not be cleared.

Depending on the severity of the storm, public hunting lands may be closed for long periods of time and public hunts are likely to be canceled. Check dnr.sc.gov to find out on possible closures of Wildlife Management Areas or updated hunting or fishing news.

Dissolved oxygen levels are a big concern for fisheries, particularly for the oyster population. Finfish and shrimp have the advantage of mobility but fish kills are certainly a possibility.

When you do decide to see if the fish are biting, wear your life jacket and use the boat's kill switch. There's an increased chance you may encounter submerged logs and other debris.

Stay safe so you can enjoy and appreciate the outdoors in the weeks to come.