Numerous opportunities are available for hunters to harvest small game this fall and winter throughout the Lowcountry.
According to Sam Chappelear, Lowcountry regional wildlife coordinator for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Charleston, hunters will have ample opportunity to hunt about 277,000 acres that are a part of the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Program lands in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties. Private land seasons and bag limits apply to many of these WMAs with some restrictions; therefore it is important to reference 2006-2007 “South Carolina Rules & Regulations” booklet for specific information and dates.
The 1,375-acre Edisto River WMA in Dorchester County contains upland pines as well as extensive bottomland hardwood habitat along the Edisto River. Small game season begins after deer hunts have concluded in November and continue until March 1. For more information, contact the DNR Donnelley WMA office in Colleton County at (843) 844-8957.
DNR Wildlife Biologist Jim Westerhold reminds the public that quail hunting on Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown counties will be conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Jan. 24-Feb. 28. Other small game may also be hunted during this time frame on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. Raccoon season is open on the area from Jan. 23-Feb. 27 on Tuesday and Friday nights. For more information, contact Westerhold at (843) 546-8665.
Individuals who hunt the 250,000-acre Francis Marion National Forest have been able to harvest certain small game species since Sept. 2. One should note that the small game seasons are closed during scheduled deer and hog hunting periods on the Waterhorn WMA and when dogs are used for deer hunts on the Wambaw, Northampton, Hellhole and Santee WMAs. Fox hunting is not allowed in the Francis Marion National Forest.
The Moultrie Hunt Unit in Berkeley County is comprised of four WMAs that are open to small game hunting. Porcher WMA is open in January after the deer season. North Dike and Greenfield WMAs allow small game hunting to occur concurrently with the deer season. Note, however, that North Dike WMA is closed to small game hunting on Wednesdays and Fridays during the months of November and
December to allow for youth deer hunts. The Sandy Beach Waterfowl Area, which is located within the North Dike WMA and is closed to all public access from Nov. 1 until March 1, is open for raccoon hunting only Feb. 1 through March 1. Bluefield WMA is an adult/youth only area in which youth 17 years of age or younger who are accompanied by an adult may small game hunt. The youth must be actively participating in the hunt and the adult may also hunt. Small-game season begins Sept. 1 and continues until March 1 except for no small game hunting during scheduled deer hunts.
The Corps of Engineers-owned Canal WMA in Berkeley County is open for quail hunts only on a first-come-first-serve basis every other Wednesday beginning Nov. 22. Upon entering the area, hunters must pick up and keep in their possession a data card. At the end of the hunt, hunters must accurately fill out and return the data card into one of the receptacles located at the various access points.
“The 10,697-acre Bonneau Ferry WMA located along the Cooper River in Berkeley County will provide numerous small game opportunities,” said DNR Wildlife Biologist Will Carlisle. “In an effort to provide quality hunting so as to recruit youth hunters, one half of the property is open for adult/youth hunts only.” In order to hunt on the adult/youth side, a youth must be 8-17 years of age and must be accompanied by one adult 21 years of age or older. The youth hunter must carry a firearm and actively participate in the hunt. The adult is also allowed to carry a firearm and hunt.
The remaining half of the property is open to small game hunting for everyone. Both sides are open from Jan. 2 through March 1 except during scheduled quail hunts. Raccoon and opossum season for both sides occurs from Jan. 2 until Feb. 27 on Tuesday and Saturday nights only, and fox hunting is not allowed. Draw quail hunts will be conducted on one side of the property with adult/youth quail hunts occurring on the adult/youth portion. Dates for scheduled quail hunts are Feb. 3 and 17 only. Maps of the area indicating closed areas, open roads, and hunt boundaries can be picked up at the kiosk located at the entrance to the property off of SC Highway 402. For more information, call the DNR Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau at (843) 825-3388.