Turkey Hunting in South Carolina

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  • B
  • 120,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 50,000

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $18

    Hunting license ($12) and big-game permit ($6).

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $225

    Annual hunting license ($125), and big-game permit ($100). Ten-day ($75) and 3-day ($40) hunting licenses are available.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Just over a decade or so ago, the Palmetto State probably would have pulled an “A” grade, but turkey populations have declined due to poor hatches over recent years.

We're inclined to give the state a "B" for an outlook this season. Some additional recent history on regulation changes from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources:

Legislative changes that went into effect in 2016 provided an earlier starting date and increased number of days in the turkey season in 34 of 46 South Carolina counties. The effect of this season change was a 50% increase in opportunity (days) for the majority (74%) of the state. Although the harvest was up a combined 24% the first two years of the new framework, it has been down 10% the last two years.

This apparent up-and-down cycle related to harvest under the new season framework may be explained in two ways. First, perhaps turkey numbers initially increased when the new season went into place, leading to an increase in harvest because more birds were available for harvest on the landscape. Alternatively, more hunter effort associated with the new framework may have increased the harvest regardless of the number of turkeys on the landscape.

South Carolina hunters had long enjoyed a generous bag limit of five spring turkeys.

In some ways, they’d been the envy of some of us living in states with just a one- or two-bird limit.

That’s changed.

[Learn more about the 2021 South Carolina turkey season.]

Then again, three gobblers. That's still a higher season limit than other spring states around the country, perhaps owing to the fact the state offers no fall turkey hunting.

Traditionally, South Carolina has a deep turkey hunting tradition and good numbers of birds in the right habitat areas.

If you're willing to hike a little, you can find seclusion in the state's 630,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas.

Turkey Hunting in South Carolina (c) Tes Randle Jolly photo

Add to this another million acres of public hunting on U.S. Forest Service lands (600,000-plus acres between the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest), more than a quarter-million acres of DNR lands, plus state Forestry Commission lands as well as timber company properties open to public hunting.

Fun Fact: Edgefield, South Carolina, is the longtime home of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

– Steve Hickoff

[Learn more: Southeast Turkey Hatch Results]

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