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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

March 14, 2016Hunters should order tags for spring turkey season now

As was the case last year, handwritten wild turkey tags are no longer available over the counter at local vendors. Turkey tags are available over the counter at S.C. Department of Natural Resources offices located in Clemson, Charleston, Columbia, Florence and York.

Turkey tags can be ordered online at the following link on the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website http://www.dnr.sc.gov/turkeytags/. Also, an application can be printed at the following website and mailed: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/speciallicenseapp.pdf.

In order to legally hunt turkeys, all hunters, including hunters under the age of 16, must possess a set of turkey tags. Hunters 16 and older must also possess a hunting license and big game permit. Hunters may not possess more than one set of turkey tags, and all harvested birds must be tagged prior to being moved from the point of kill.

Legislation passed by the S.C. General Assembly last year sets new season dates and bag limits. Season dates for private lands are now March 20 to May 5 statewide. For all Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where turkey hunting is allowed the season will continue to open on April 1 as it traditionally has, but will close on May 5. The statewide bag limit is now three gobblers per hunter with no more than two taken in one day.

Hunters should remember to specifically request their turkey tags each year when they get their hunting license. For hunters who purchase their license over the counter they should request the tags at the license vendor. Tags are mailed in February prior to the turkey season each year. Hunters can tell if they will receive tags by mail if "Seasonal Wild Turkey Tags" is printed on their hunting license.

"The decision to eliminate the availability of handwritten turkey tags at local vendors following the 2014 season was made for a number of reasons," said Charles Ruth, DNR's Deer and Wild Turkey Program coordinator.

Hunters have been able to request turkey tags when they purchase their hunting license for a number of years so most are already pre-ordering their tags. Secondly, this updated process provides a more efficient and reliable means to collect information on turkey hunters. Finally, turkey tags are free, and since there is no dedicated source of funding for DNR's Wild Turkey Program, funds to administer the tagging program must come from other sources.

"It is expensive and simply not good business to duplicate the effort in manufacturing and distributing two types of tags," said Ruth. "We encourage turkey hunters to remember to request their tags when they get their hunting license or order the tags prior to the season online, allowing four to seven days for the tags to arrive in the mail."

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