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January 23, 2009

Most hunters receive spring turkey tags by mail, also available online

With spring gobbler season just around the corner, hunters will be happy to know that turkey tags are now being mailed to most hunters. Thanks to changes in the licensing system administered by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), most spring turkey hunters will receive a set of turkey tags in the mail the end of February, according to DNR's Deer/Turkey Project supervisor, Charles Ruth.  

Tags will still be available over-the-counter at some of the old turkey check stations after the first of March and they are currently available online.

Over the last three years, an increasing number of hunters have received tags by mail thanks to changes in the licensing system that has allowed DNR to build a larger database of turkey hunters.  The old licensing system involved hand written licenses which resulted in no digital database of hunters.  Now, more hunters are getting their license through renewals, telephone, internet, and point of sales license vendors.  These new licenses are issued digitally resulting in a database that allows DNR to conduct business in a more efficient manner.  Also, this July when the 2009-2010 licensing year begins, all licenses will be issued digitally and there will no longer be any handwritten licenses, Ruth said. 

Depending on how a hunter purchased their license for the current season, they had the opportunity to request turkey tags at that time.  A hunter can determine if he or she will receive turkey tags by mail by looking at their hunting license.  If "turkey tags" or "turkey tags will be sent by DNR" appears on the license then they are on the list to receive tags by mail. Turkey hunters are encouraged to remember to request turkey tags each year when they get their new hunting license.

Modernizing these programs is important to DNR and not only allows the agency to operate more efficiently; it saves hunters time and money.  In the past, all hunters had to make a special trip prior to the turkey season to receive a set of hand written turkey tags.  Not only is this inconvenient, it is expensive.  There are approximately 50,000 turkey hunters in South Carolina and if the average hunter has to travel 15 roundtrip miles to get a set of turkey tags that represents 750,000 miles driven and fuel costs of over $100,000.  This analysis does not account for hunters' lost time.  Even though it costs DNR to purchase the tag forms and mail them, streamlining the issuance of turkey tags is a better approach.

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. 

Spring gobbler season runs April 1 through May 1 for all Wildlife Management Areas where turkey hunting is allowed and on private lands in Game Zones 1-5.  The season opens March 15 and runs through May 1 on private lands only in Game Zone 6.  Saturday, March 28 is a Youth Turkey Hunt Day in areas where the season opens on April 1.  On this day, youths 17 and younger who are accompanied by a properly licensed adult (age 21 and older) may hunt turkeys. Only the youth can take or attempt to take turkeys. Tagging requirements remain in place for this special youth day. 

More information on wild turkeys in South Carolina.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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