As the Big Game program coordinator for SC’s Department of Natural Resources, Charles Ruth has digested a lot of numbers over the past 30 years.
So, with South Carolina’s deer season opening just weeks away, Ruth isn’t too concerned about some of the numbers that have emerged from the state’s 2021 deer hunting season.
“The harvest is down about 12% in 2021 compared to 2020. And that’s easily explained on the surface, because we’ve had about a 12% decrease in hunters,” Ruth said. “But (the reason for the decrease) is not so easily explained.
“My explanation is that (the deer harvest) is up about six percent in 2020, and I would attribute that to people having more time due to COVID, doing more outdoor activities and harvesting jumped six percent.”
The 2021 harvest was a return to more usual figures.
“I think we were getting back to normal in 2021 and people were saying ‘God, I hunted a lot last year’ and I’m going to do other things that I couldn’t do last year” , did he declare.
That being said, I would expect harvest numbers to increase simply because you have more carryover (larger population due to less deer being harvested). »
Ruth said since new regulations were enacted in 2017, the harvest has generally picked up. Prior to that, he said, South Carolina had been in a downward trend for about a decade.
“We still harvest between 175,000 and 200,000 deer a year, and that’s a lot. It’s not like 20 years ago, but we didn’t need the deer (numbers) we had there. 20 years and I think most hunters understand that,” Ruth said.
“We have a more moderate deer population now. Here’s what I tell people. You can’t have a lot of deer and have good deer at the same time. We’ve sacrificed some quantity for better quality.”
One numerical increase Ruth and her SCDNR associates could be proud of was a record streak of 2,022 antler scoring sessions, held each spring to recognize harvested deer that qualify for state records.
Deer with typical antlers (symmetrical or matching) must score at least 125 using the Boone and Crockett scoring system to qualify for the South Carolina Book of Records, while deer with non-typical antlers must score 145.
“As a staff, we measured 624 sets of wood, which was a record. Normally we measured somewhere in the 500s. We had 278 that did the minimum and made it onto the record list. was a record for a cycle,” said Ruth.
A partial explanation for the record number of timbers measured also dates back to COVID.
Some of the remote scoring sessions normally done at sporting goods stores did not take place, and the largest of the annual scoring sessions, during the Palmetto Sportsman’s Classic, did not take place with the PSC a been canceled in 2020 and 2021.
“We were probably playing a bit of catch-up,” Ruth said of the increased number of woods scored this spring.
South Carolina’s long deer season opens Aug. 15 on private land in the Lowcountry, with this year’s youth deer hunting day set for Aug. 13.
For complete information, Ruth said hunters should consult Rules and Regulations 2022-23 which will be posted soon.
Resident hunters who already have the required big game license will soon receive their basic set of deer tags – three unrestricted deer tags and two antlerless or doe tags. There is also an option for resident hunters to purchase 2 additional restricted antler tags for bucks that have at least 12 inches inside on the antlers or 4 dots on one side.
Resident hunters can purchase four optional antlerless deer tags, and if they do, they receive two more free tags. If a resident hunter avails himself of all deer tags, the hunter may harvest five antlered deer and eight antlerless deer.
“For 99 percent of hunters,” Ruth said, “that’s way more than they use.”
American yacht club
America’s Boating Club Charleston will be hosting boating safety classes August 6 and 27 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. The course starts at 9 a.m. and ends around 4 p.m. Successful participants are awarded the SC Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Card. The cost is $45 for adults and $15 for additional household members sharing the text. Bursaries are available for young people between the ages of 12 and 18. Call 843-312-2876 or email [email protected]