South Carolina turkey hunters need to be aware of several changes going into effect this season that impact season dates, bag limits and tag fees. These changes are a result of legislation passed by the S.C. General Assembly in 2019 (Act 51, S.575). This legislation was in response to declining trends in turkey numbers and harvests, as well as, recent research in South Carolina related to the timing of gobbling and nesting.
The decline in turkeys in South Carolina and other southeastern states has been well documented. Although causes of this decline remain uncertain, they are rooted in poor reproductive success and may include changes in habitat and forestry management practices, fire suppression, predation, and potentially the timing and intensity of hunter harvest. Keep in mind that the only factor that can be managed from a regulatory standpoint is hunter harvest activities, which are typically dictated by season framework and bag limits.
Unlike other game birds, wild turkeys are hunted during spring, a timeframe coinciding with reproductive activities such as breeding and nesting. There is a delicate balance between the timing of spring gobbler season and the timing of nesting because hens must breed in order to successfully nest. Given this period’s biological importance, wildlife managers and legislators are challenged to avoid negative population impacts due to harvest while simultaneously providing quality hunting opportunities.
Private Lands in Game Zone 1 and 2: April 1 – May 10
Private Lands in Game Zone 3 and 4: March 22 – April 30
WMA Lands Statewide: April 1 – May 5
Some WMAs may be more restrictive, refer to page 64 in the 2019-2020 SCDNR Hunting Regulations Guide for specific dates.
– Three (3) gobblers per season, no more than one (1) gobbler per day.
– No more than one (1) may