Over the past year, I have shared with you, the readers of South Carolina Wildlife, some of my experiences growing up “on the farm” in rural South Carolina and how they influenced my love for the outdoors. I have vivid memories of “bird” hunting (quail) with my dad and our two fine pointers, who had the unusual names of Spot and Sport, and I can still feel the excitement of seeing Dad waiting to pick me up at school with dogs and hunting gear in hand so we could find one more covey of birds. I am not sure that my mother approved — she was a school teacher — but it was a great time and thrilling for me.
But there were no deer or turkeys to be found on our farm at that time. Not true today! The fact that both deer and turkeys are present there in abundance in 2013 is a testament to the unflagging persistence of many dedicated wildlife biologists and technicians who had the determination to restore those prized game animals across the state. The feature article “A Day in the (Wild) Life” in this issue of South Carolina Wildlife is focused on that tenacious spirit and the diversity of tasks that must be accomplished every day to ensure the sustainability of all of our big and small game species. (I am not forgetting those staff who work for the non-consumptive outdoor enthusiasts as well as for endangered species, but that is a story to be told on another day!)
There have been many successes that the DNR and our sportsmen can be extremely proud of. The recovery of the white-tailed deer and Eastern wild turkey have been well documented. Equally important has been the success of our Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) across the state. WMAs in South Carolina provide public opportunities for hunting and other outdoor activities on 1.3 million acres of land. And believe me, it takes a lot of time and a ton of effort to manage these lands for the sportsmen and women of South Carolina. Maintaining roads, planting dove fields and food plots, conducting controlled burns, draining waterfowl impoundments, planting and flooding those impoundments — the list goes on and on. In addition, our staff members believe in the importance of setting aside areas for youth-only hunts so that the next generation of hunters can have the experiences that so many of us had growing up in South Carolina. It is not as easy now to find a place to hunt as it was when I rambled the fields with Spot and Sport. This makes our WMAs more valuable today than ever. I often refer to our WMA properties as special places. I call them special because they ARE. Maybe you have visited the Webb Wildlife Center, Botany Bay, Jocassee Gorges, Santee Coastal, Woodbury or one of our many other WMAs. If you haven’t, you should. Then you will know why I say they are special!
The conservation, protection and management of our state’s natural resources is a responsibility that the employees of our Wildlife Section take very seriously. Their tireless work is evident across South Carolina. It is just pure fun to work with a staff who are so passionate about what they do and who are always ready to meet the next challenge.
Job well done!
— Alvin Taylor, Director
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources