EDGEFIELD, S.C. — South Carolina has recently taken a progressive step by overturning its outdated ban on Sunday hunting on public lands. This decision comes as a result of extensive public support for allowing hunting activities on Sundays.
“We are pleased that the regulations that allow Sunday hunting on a significant portion of the public land in South Carolina for a large part of deer season and some weekends during small game season have been approved,” said Larry Deas, NWTFSC State Chapter President.
A majority of states already practice this regulation, as the prohibition on Sunday hunting in South Carolina has its origins in outdated Blue Laws, lacking scientific foundations in wildlife management principles. These restrictions not only impede efforts to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters (known as R3), but also unfairly limit hunter access to public lands, while allowing other user groups to enjoy these areas on Sundays.
This decision will provide hunters in the Palmetto state with unprecedented seven-day access to public lands, marking a historic milestone. It's worth noting that Sunday hunting has already been legal on private lands statewide since 2004.
“The NWTFSC State Board of Directors have been on record as supporting the regulatory changes required to allow Sunday hunting on Wildlife Management Areas in South Carolina,” said Deas. "This is a major step in the direction of leveling the playing field on public and private land, and we are hopeful that the experience gained through the implementation of these regulations will allow for broader opportunities for Sunday hunting on public lands in the very near future.”
In 2021, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Clemson University collaborated to conduct a comprehensive assessment of public opinion regarding Sunday hunting on Wildlife Management Areas. They conducted a series of public meetings as well as an online poll to gauge the opinions of the community, and the results revealed a clear and overwhelming support for opening Sunday hunting on public lands. Approximately 75% of participants expressed their favor for Sunday hunting during the public meetings. The online poll responses further confirmed this sentiment, with a ratio of approximately 2:1 in favor of Sunday hunting on SCDNR WMAs.
During 2022 and 2023, Representative Bobby Cox, the Co-Chair of the Caucus, introduced legislation to repeal the Sunday hunting prohibition in South Carolina. This initiative gained significant attention within the sportsmen's community, bringing the issue to the forefront of discussions. In March 2023, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation showed their support for these new regulations by submitting comments to House and Senate Committees.
“We applaud the SCDNR and the SC Legislator for proposing and approving regulations to allow for Sunday hunting on public lands,” NWTF District Biologist Ricky Lackey said. “There is great public support for Sunday hunting in South Carolina, and the NWTF is supportive of increased access and opportunities for hunters on public land.”
Starting May 26, 2023, new regulations will go into effect, allowing Sunday hunting on eight specific WMAs and two National Forests from October 15 to January 31, 2023.
WMAs in South Carolina are funded through the "user pays - public benefits" American System of Conservation Funding, wherein sportsmen and women contribute financially to support conservation efforts. In 2021 alone, the sportsmen and women of South Carolina generated over $31 million for state-based conservation initiatives. Allowing Sunday hunting access on these lands, which are purchased, managed, and conserved with the contributions of the state's outdoor sporting community, represents a significant triumph.
“In fiscal year 2023, the NWTFSC Board of Directors, in partnership with the SC DNR, have approved $197,415 from our Super Fund for habitat improvement on public lands in South Carolina in our ongoing efforts to improve the quality and quantity of wildlife and the hunter opportunity for years to come,” said Deas.
This decision to overturn the Sunday hunting ban not only recognizes the contributions of hunters towards conservation but also serves as an essential step towards fostering the next generation of hunters by creating more opportunities and expanding their access to hunting activities.
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.
2023 is the NWTF's 50 th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization's mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF's people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.
National Wild Turkey Federation
PO Box 530
Edgefield South Carolina 29824