Why It Matters: Lack of access is one of the biggest issues facing sportsmen and women today and is reported as a primary reason that lapsed hunters and anglers no longer hunt or fish. Despite its relatively small size compared to other Southeastern states, South Carolina offers abundant access to public land hunting opportunities. With the addition of new Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), opportunities for sportsmen and women to enjoy the time-honored tradition of hunting continues to grow.
- With the sportsmen and women of the Palmetto State currently enjoying fall hunting seasons, they may have new public land hunting opportunities coming soon.
- On October 27, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources proposed a regulation that added new hunting opportunities on four WMAs, among other changes.
- The four WMAs that would experience a significant expansion of hunting opportunities are Bobwhite Hills WMA, Coosawhatchie WMA, Ramsey Grove WMA, and Santee Island WMA.
Providing new access opportunities benefits hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts. The R3 movement is critical to the continuation of our hunting heritage since hunter participation has been generally declining since the 1980s, in part, due to lack of access. In addition to playing a critical role in the R3 effort, new public access opportunities for hunters contribute important conservation dollars through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding that, among other sources, supports the management of WMAs and the public trust resources that many hunters enjoy.
Below is a summary of the proposed changes:
- Bobwhite Hills WMA – Add archery deer hunts, quail hunts, small game hunts, and still hunts for deer;
- Coosawhatchie WMA – Add archery deer hunts, dove hunts, quail hunts, small game hunts, and still hunts for deer;
- Ramsey Grove WMA – Add still hunts for deer;
- Santee Island WMA – Add still hunts for hogs;
- Category I Designated Waterfowl Area – Add Ramsey Grove WMA;
- Category II Designated Waterfowl Area – Add Coosawhatchie WMA, Francis Marion National Forest, and Santee Island WMA;
- Waterfowl hunting will be permitted Monday – Saturday on Francis Marion National Forest, Wednesday – Saturday mornings on Coosawhatchie WMA, and Monday – Saturday on Santee Island WMA; and
- Ramsey Grove WMA waterfowl hunts are designated as youth or mobility impaired only.
Public comments may be directed to Emily Cope, Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Post Office Box 167, Colombia, SC 29202, no later than November 27, 2023.