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WMA Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon South Carolina Hunting & Fishing

WMA Abuse

Any person who damages, destroys or misuses WMA lands or improvements on them including, but not limited to, roads, vegetation, buildings, structures or fences, leaves refuse, trash or other debris on the property, or sets, makes or builds a fire (except in an area specially designated as a campfire area), operates a motor conveyance on areas or roads closed to operation, target practices, camps in areas except for designated campsites, disregards safety or restrictive postings as designated by the landowner or who otherwise abuses, damages, destroys or misuses wildlife man­agement areas is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined $200 and be required to make restitution to the landowner in an amount determined by the court to be necessary to repair, rebuild, restore or clean up the property to its condition before the abuse occurred. A person who is convicted of damaging, destroying, abusing or misusing Wildlife Management Area land shall lose the privilege of entering WMA land for one year (50-11-2210).

WMA Public Lottery Hunts

The SCDNR offers a variety of WMA hunts through computerized drawings. Hunt fees range from $5 to $25 per hunter and must be submitted at the time of application. Applications for alligator hunt are available May 1, deer hunts are available in July, waterfowl and quail hunts in Sept. and youth/adult only turkey hunts in Feb. Deadlines to apply for draw hunts are June 15 (alligator), mid-Aug. (deer), mid-Oct. for quail and waterfowl and early Mar. for youth turkey hunts. Applications are available at SCDNR offices statewide (write SCDNR Public Drawing Hunts, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202 or visit our website at www.dnr.sc.gov/hunting/drawhunts). A hunter’s privilege to participate in a Wildlife Management Area lottery hunt may be revoked for the remainder of the hunt for any violation of law or WMA regulations (SC 50-11-2240).

General Regulations

  • On all SCDNR-owned WMA lands the removal of artifacts or ecofacts (including arrowheads) from the surface or subsurface is prohibited except when approved by the State Historic Preservation Office and carried out in accordance with their guidelines.
  • Statutes 50-11-2200 and 50-11-2210 authorize the promulgation of WMA regulations R123-40. See specific game zones for seasons.

2.1 – Except as provided in these regulations, no person may hunt or take wildlife on areas designated by SCDNR as Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lands.

2.2 – Entry onto WMA land is done wholly and completely at the risk of the individual. Neither the landowners nor the State of South Carolina nor SCDNR accepts any responsibility for acts, omissions, activities or conditions on these lands which cause or may cause personal injury or property damage.

2.3 – Entry onto WMA land constitutes consent to an inspection and search of the person, game bag or creel.

2.4 – No person may hunt or take wildlife on WMA land unless an individual is in possession of a valid South Carolina license; a valid WMA permit; and other applicable federal or state permits, stamps, or licenses.

2.5 – No Sunday hunting is permitted on any WMA lands.

2.6 – On all WMA lands, baiting or hunting over a baited area is prohibited. As used in this section, “bait” or “baiting” means the placing, depositing, exposing, distributing, or scattering of shelled, shucked, or unshucked corn, wheat, or other grain or other food stuffs to constitute an attraction, lure, or enticement to, on, or over any area. “Baited area” means an area where bait is directly or indirectly placed, deposited, exposed, distributed, or scattered and the area remains a baited area for ten (10) days following the complete removal of all bait. Salt/minerals are not considered bait.

2.7 – On WMA lands construction or use of tree stands and temporary climbing devices is prohibited if the tree stand or temporary device is constructed by driving nails, screws or other devices into the tree; or the tree stand or temporary climbing device is constructed by wrapping wire around the tree. Other tree stands and temporary climbing devices are permitted provided they are not permanently affixed or embedded in the tree. All stands and temporary climbing devices must be removed by the end of deer hunting season.

2.8 – On WMA lands any hunter younger than sixteen (16) years of age must be accompanied by an adult (21 years or older). Sight and voice contact must be maintained.

2.9 – Notwithstanding any other provision of these regulations, the Department may permit special hunts on any day during the regular hunting season.

2.10 – No person may release or attempt to release any animal onto WMA lands without approval from the Department.

2.11 – While participating in a hunt on WMAs, no person may possess, consume or be under the influence of intoxicants, including beer, wine, liquor or drugs.

2.12 – On WMA lands, during the designated statewide youth deer hunt day, only still hunting is allowed. The limit is two deer total to include no more than one antlerless deer.

2.13 – Taking or destroying timber, other forest products or cutting firewood on WMA lands without written permission from the landowner or his agents is prohibited. Users of WMA lands are prohibited from planting, attempting to plant, burning or otherwise attempting to manipulate crops, natural vegetation or openings without written permission from the landowner or his agent.

2.14 – On WMA lands, hunting armadillos and coyotes at night is prohibited. Armadillos and coyotes may be hunted during any open season for game during daylight hours with no bag limit. Weapon(s) used to hunt armadillos and coyotes are limited to the weapon(s) that are allowed for the current open season on WMA.

2.15 – On WMA lands during special designated hunts, a WMA may be closed to other public access.

2.16 – Still hunting for hogs is permitted on WMAs during any open season for game during daylight hours with only the weapons allowed during the hunting season in progress unless otherwise prohibited. No hog may be transported alive from a WMA. Hogs may not be hunted at night. There is no bag limit on hogs. Hunters must wear a hat, coat, or vest of solid international orange while hog hunting. Buckshot is prohibited. During hog hunts with dogs, no still or stalk hunting is allowed and only handguns are permitted. No hog hunting with dogs is allowed except during special designated seasons.

2.17 – Unless otherwise specified, small game hunting seasons and bag limits are the same as Game Zone seasons and bag limits except no hunting before Sept. 1 or after Mar. 1.

Weapons

3.1 – On WMA lands hunters may use any shotgun, rifle, bow and arrow, crossbow or hand gun except specific weapons may be prohibited on certain hunts. Small game hunters may possess or use shotguns with shot no larger than No. 2 or .22 or smaller rimfire rifles/handguns or primitive muzzle-loading rifles of .40 caliber or smaller. Small game hunters may not possess or use buckshot, slugs or shot larger than No. 2. Blow guns, dart guns, drugged arrows or arrows with exploding tips are not permitted. Small game hunters using archery equipment must use small game tips on the arrows (judo points, bludgeon points, etc.).

3.2 – For Special Primitive Weapons Seasons, primitive weapons include bow and arrow, crossbow and muzzle-loading shotguns (20 gauge or larger) and rifles (.36 caliber or larger) with open or peep sights or scopes, which use black powder or a black powder substitute that does not contain nitro-cellulose or nitro-glycerin components as the propellant charge; there are no restrictions on ignition systems (e.g. Flintstone, percussion cap, shotgun primer, disk, electronic, etc.). During primitive weapons season, no revolving rifles are permitted. (Falconry Allowed).

3.3 – On WMA lands, big game hunters are not allowed to use armory-piercing, tracer, incendiary, or full metal bullets or .22 or smaller rimfire. Shotguns with only buckshot or slugs are allowed. Buckshot is prohibited during still gun hunts for deer on WMA lands in Game Zones 3-4.

3.4 – On WMAs all firearms transported in vehicles must be unloaded and secured in a weapons case, or in the trunk of a vehicle or in a locked toolbox. On the Francis Marion Hunt Unit during deer hunts with dogs, loaded shotguns may be transported in vehicles. Any shotgun, centerfire rifle, rimfire rifle or pistol with a shell in the chamber, magazine or muzzleloader with a cap on the nipple or flintlock with powder in the flash pan is considered loaded.

3.5 – No target practice is permitted on WMA lands except in specifi­cally designated areas.

3.6 – On WMA lands during still gun hunts for deer or hogs there shall be no hunting or shooting from, on or across any road open to vehicle traffic. During any deer or hog hunt there shall be no open season for hunting on any designated recreational trail on U.S Forest Service or SC Public Service Authority property.

Deer

All deer must be tagged with a valid deer tag as prescribed by the department before the animal is moved from the point of kill (50-11-320).

4.1 – On WMA lands with designated check stations, all deer bagged must be checked at a check station. Deer bagged too late for reporting one day must be reported the following day.

4.2 – Unless otherwise specified by the Department, only antlered bucks (male deer) may be taken on all WMA lands. Male deer with visible antlers of less than two (2) inches above the hairline are considered antlerless deer and must be tagged with an antlerless deer tag issued by the Department. A point is any projection at least one inch long and longer than wide at some location at least one inch from the tip of the projection.

4.3 – On WMA lands, man drives for deer are permitted between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. only. A man drive is defined as an organized hunting technique involving two (2) or more individuals whereby an attempt is made to drive game animals from cover or habitat for the purpose of shooting, killing, or moving such animals toward other hunters. On WMA lands, drivers participating in man drives are prohibited from carrying or using weapons.

4.4 – In all Game Zones during archery-only or primitive weapons seasons beginning September 15, resident archery hunters may use any of the date specific antlerless deer tags issued to them to tag an antlerless deer on any day provided that the archery notation and actual date of kill is validated on the tag as prescribed by SCDNR. WMA Limits apply.

  • On special mobility impaired and youth deer hunts sanctioned by the Department and during the statewide youth deer hunt day, participants may take two deer total.

4.5 – For all WMAs combined statewide, the limit for all seasons and methods combined is two deer per day, 5 deer total, no more than two antlered bucks, unless otherwise specified. Antlerless deer limit is two deer per day, unless otherwise specified. All antlerless deer must be tagged with either a date specific antlerless deer tag or an individual antlerless deer tag.

4.6 – Individual Antlerless Deer Tags: Tags are valid in Game Zone 1 beginning Oct. 1 and in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4 beginning Sept. 15. For all WMAs combined a maximum of two (2) individual antlerless deer tags may be used in all Game Zones, except only one individual antlerless deer tag may be used in Game Zone 1.

4.7 – Deer must be tagged immediately after harvest and before being moved from the point of kill and the tag must be validated as prescribed by the SCDNR.

4.8 – For WMAs designated as Quality Deer Management Areas, all antlered bucks must have a minimum 4 points on one side or a minimum 12-inch inside antler spread except during designated special youth hunts. Inside antler spread is measured at a right angle to centerline of the skull at its widest point between the main beams.

4.9 – On WMA lands, deer, hogs, or bear may not be hunted with a firearm within 300 yards of a residence.

Dogs

5.1 – On all WMA lands, dogs may be used for small game hunting unless otherwise specified.

5.2 – Dogs may be trained for squirrel, quail and rabbit hunting from Sept. 1 through Sept. 14 (no guns).

5.3 – On WMA lands, dogs may be used for hunting foxes, raccoons, bobcats or opossums only between thirty (30) minutes after official sunset and thirty (30) minutes before official sunrise.

5.4 – Unless otherwise specified, deer hunting with dogs on WMA lands is prohibited. The Department may permit deer hunting with dogs on WMA lands not located in Game Zones 1 & 2. For the purposes of tracking a wounded deer, a hunter may use one dog which is kept on a leash.

5.5 – Dogs may be used to hunt bear on WMA lands in Game Zone 1 during the special party dog bear season.

5.6 – On WMA lands, dogs may be used to hunt hogs only during special designated hog hunts with dogs.

Vehicles

All terrain vehicles are not allowed on any Heritage Preserve Reg. 123-203 D.1.

6.1 – On all WMA lands, no hunter may shoot from a vehicle unless permitted by the department.

6.2 On WMA lands, motor-driven land conveyances must be operated only on designated roads or trails. Unless otherwise specified, roads or trails which are closed by barricades and/or signs, either permanently or temporarily, are off limits to motor-driven land conveyances.

6.3 – A person may not obstruct, or cause to be obstructed travel routes on WMA lands.

Visible Color Clothing

7.1 – On WMA lands during any gun and muzzleloader hunting season for deer, bear and hogs, all hunters, including small game hunters, must wear either a hat, coat, or vest of solid visible international orange. Archery hunters during archery only deer seasons and hunters for dove, turkey, ducks, geese and other migratory birds (including crows) are exempt from this requirement while hunting for those species.

50-11-365 – All users except hunters for dove, ducks, geese, and other migratory birds including crows must wear a hat, coat, or vest of solid international orange during any deer hunting season.

Camping

8.1 – Camping is not permitted on WMA lands except in designated camp sites.

Trapping

9.1 – Trapping on WMA lands is not permitted.

Waterfowl & Dove Regulations

Dates, times, locations and regulations for hunts on designated Dove Management Areas (public dove fields).

10.1 – Unless specially designated by the Department as a Wildlife Management Area for Waterfowl or a Wildlife Management Area for Dove, all Wildlife Management Areas are open during the regular season for hunting and taking of migratory birds except where restricted.

10.2 – The Department may designate sections of Wildlife Management Areas and other lands and waters under the control of the Department as Designated Waterfowl Management Areas or Designated Dove Management Areas. All laws and regulations governing Wildlife Management Areas apply to these special areas. In addition, the Department may set special shooting hours, bag limits and methods of hunting and taking waterfowl and doves on those areas. All State and Federal migratory bird laws and regulations apply. Regulations pertaining to the use of Dove Management Areas will be filed annually.

10.3 – On areas where blinds are not provided, only portable blinds which are removed at the conclusion of the hunt or temporary blinds of native vegetation may be used. Temporary blinds once vacated may be used by other hunters.

10.4 – On Designated Waterfowl Areas, no species other than waterfowl may be taken during waterfowl hunts. On Designated Dove Management Areas no species other than doves may be taken during dove hunts. Only dove hunting is allowed at Lake Wallace WMA.

10.5 – No fishing is permitted in any Category 1 Designated Waterfowl Management Area during scheduled waterfowl hunts.

10.6 – The Bordeaux Work Center Area is closed to hunting except for special hunts as designated by the SCDNR.

10.7 Impoundments on Bear Island, Bonneau Ferry, Broad River, Donnelley, Samworth, Sandy Beach, Santee Coastal Reserve and Santee Delta WMAs are closed to all public access during the period Nov. 1 until Feb. 8, except during special hunts designated by the Department. All public access during the period Feb. 9 until Oct. 31 is limited to designated areas. On Bear Island WMA, Matthews Canal is closed to all hunting from Nov. 1 – Feb. 15 beyond a point 0.8 mile from the confluence of Matthews Canal with the South Edisto River.

10.8 – Potato Creek Hatchery Waterfowl Area is closed to public access and fishing one week prior to and two weeks after the Federal Waterfowl Season, except for scheduled waterfowl hunts. All hunters must enter and leave the Potato Creek Hatchery Waterfowl Area through the designated public landing on Secondary Road 260 and complete a data card and deposit card in receptacle prior to leaving the area. No airboats are allowed for hunting or fishing and no hunting from Secondary Road 260.

10.9 – On Hatchery WMA, hunters must leave the area by 1 PM except on the last Sat. of waterfowl season when hunters may hunt until sunset. Each hunter is limited to 25 Federally-approved nontoxic shot shells per hunt. No airboats are allowed in the Hatchery WMA for hunting or fishing during the period Nov. 15 – Jan. 31. No fishing is allowed during scheduled waterfowl hunts.

10.10 – On Crackerneck WMA waterfowl may be hunted only on Friday, Saturday and Thanksgiving Day within the regular migratory bird seasons and no hunting on Dec. 25; Fant’s Grove WMA is open AM only on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the regular migratory bird seasons; Palachucola WMA, Tillman Sand Ridge WMA, Hamilton Ridge WMA and Webb WMA are open AM only for waterfowl hunting during the regular migratory bird seasons only on days when small game hunting is allowed.

10.11 – Category I Designated Waterfowl Areas include Beaverdam, Bonneau Ferry, Broad River, Clemson, Sandy Beach, Santee Coastal Reserve, Samworth, Santee-Delta, Tibwin, Bear Island, Wateree River HP, and Donnelley Wildlife Management Areas. Hunting in Category I Designated Waterfowl Areas is by special permit obtained through annual computer drawing.

10.12 – Category II Designated Waterfowl Areas include Biedler Impoundment, Carr Creek (bounded by Samworth WMA), Little Carr Creek (bounded by Samworth WMA), Lake Cunningham, Lake Blalock, Russell Creek, Monticello Reservoir, Parr Reservoir, Duncan Creek, Dunaway, Dungannon, Enoree River, Moultrie, Hatchery, Hickory Top, Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir, Lancaster Reservoir, Turtle Island, Little Pee Dee River HP Complex (including Ervin Dargan, Horace Tilghman), Great Pee Dee River HP, Potato Creek Hatchery, Sampson Island Unit (Bear Island), Tyger River, Marsh, Wee Tee, 40 Acre Rock, Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve, Ditch Pond, Santee Cooper and Woodbury Waterfowl Management Areas. Hunting on Category II Designated Waterfowl Areas is in accordance with scheduled dates and times.

10.13 – On Hickory Top WMA, public waterfowl hunting without a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) permit is allowed on all land and water below 76.8’. Waterfowl hunting at or above elevation 76.8’ requires a WMA permit. A WMA permit is required for waterfowl hunting in Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir.

10.14 – Designated Dove Management Areas include all dove management areas as published by the Department in the annual listing of WMA public dove fields and are subject to regulations filed annually.

10.15 – Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir is closed to hunting access Nov. 1 until Mar. 1, except for special hunts designated by SCDNR. All hunters must accurately complete a data card and deposit card in receptacle prior to leaving the area. Hunting hours are from 30 minutes before legal sunrise until 11:00 AM. Hunters may not enter the area prior to 5:00 AM on hunt days. No open season from roads or the dike system. Hunters may only use electric motors on boats.

10.16 – On all state-owned, US Forest Service and other federally-owned Category I and II Waterfowl Management Areas, each hunter is limited to 25 Federally-approved non-toxic shells per hunt.

10.17 – On Enoree River, Lake Blalock, Dunaway, Duncan Creek, Russell Creek and Tyger River Waterfowl Areas, data cards are required for hunter access during scheduled waterfowl hunts. Completed data cards must be returned daily upon leaving each of these areas. Hunters may not enter the areas prior to 5:00 AM on hunt days.

10.18 – Woodbury Waterfowl Management Area includes all SCDNR/owned property south of US Highway 378 and bounded on the west by the Great Pee Dee River and Bluff Road and to the east by the Little Pee Dee River except no waterfowl hunting allowed in the area known as Hass Pond that is bounded on all sides by Hass Pond Road.

Amphibians & Reptiles

11.1 – Taking of any amphibian or reptile, except the bullfrog, is prohibited on any Department owned Wildlife Management Areas without written permission of the Department.

Property Watch Program

For many years the agency has experienced sharp increases in the number of complaints and cases for trespassing and road hunting. We are also receiving an increasing amount of landowner complaints due to deer dogs interfering with still hunting or other activities. While many of these complaints arise out of conflicting hunting styles in limited areas, the majority of these complaints are the result of unethical hunting practices. The increasing number of these type incidents requiring a law enforcement response is growing at an alarming rate. It is unfortunate that hunters are facing off over these incidents. All hunters should be standing together in support for ethical hunting practices. Unethical and unthoughtful hunters are doing a great harm to the sport of hunting. While many complaints come from hunters, many are coming from non-hunting landowners and homeowners. Many non-hunting landowners and homeowners tolerate hunting, but may become avid “anti-hunters” after repetitive problems and confrontations with unethical or unthoughtful hunters. If this trend continues, the sport of hunting may well be effected in the long run.

To aid the property owners and lease holders of South Carolina the Property Watch Program allows for immediate enforcement of trespassing cases without the land owner or lease holder being present. For more information or to enroll in the Property Watch Program contact 803-734-4002.