South Carolina Eyes Repeal of Antiquated Public Lands Sunday Hunting Prohibition

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

Highlights

  • Sunday hunting is prohibited on all Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in South Carolina while Sunday hunting on private lands is legal statewide.
  • South Carolina is one of only three states in the country with an absolute ban on public lands Sunday hunting. The other two states are Maine and Massachusetts.
  • Hunters contribute to the purchase and management costs of WMAs through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding yet sportsmen and women are barred from hunting these very WMAs on Sundays. 
  • South Carolina is on an island - Georgia has no Sunday hunting restrictions, and North Carolina recently approved opening most of their Game Lands to Sunday hunting.

Why It Matters: Sunday hunting prohibitions are Blue Laws with no basis in wildlife management that impede hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts (R3). Other user groups are not prohibited from accessing WMAs on Sundays like hunters are, and South Carolina hunters want equal access to their public lands.

Despite South Carolina’s strong sporting heritage, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a regulation on the books which stipulates that, “No Sunday hunting is permitted on any WMA lands.” Unlike some other states where the hurdle to expand Sunday hunting opportunities is a legislative issue, the hurdle to opening Sunday hunting on WMAs in South Carolina is a regulation under the purview of the DNR.

At a time when two of the biggest buzz words in the hunting community are “access” and “R3,” the DNR, which is funded in part by hunter-generated dollars, has until recently been reluctant to go to bat for its public land hunter constituency. In fact, as recently as October 2020, the DNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Committee unanimously supported retaining the WMA Sunday hunting prohibition.

On a positive note, the DNR held a public meeting this month in Pickens to discuss the prospect of opening Sunday hunting on WMAs. Public opinion was mixed, but Sunday hunting advocates presented strong arguments in favor of allowing Sunday hunting. This summer, the DNR and Clemson University will hold more public meetings and conduct a survey to gather additional public input.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation strongly supports opening Sunday hunting on WMAs and looks forward to continuing to work with the DNR to expand hunter access by repealing the regulation prohibiting Sunday hunting on WMAs.

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