South Carolina’s 2018 turkey season starts in less than two weeks, and according to wildlife biologists with the SCDNR, the outlook is good for most of the state. Hunter participation is also expected to be up.

Charles Ruth, SCDNR Big Game Program Coordinator, said the agency expects around 50,000 hunters to head to the woods to hunt turkeys this year.

For several years, turkey reproduction rates were down across the Palmetto State, which led to declines in harvest numbers, but the past couple of years have seen higher reproduction numbers, and in 2016 and 2017, hunters killed a combined 24 percent more turkeys than in 2015.

Ruth said the higher harvest numbers could be a result of the increase in reproduction rates, or they could be a result of an increase in hunter effort. Hunter effort, which is based on the amount of time each hunter spends in the woods to kill a turkey, was also up in the SCDNR’s latest polling. 

The season starts on March 20 and runs to May 5 on private lands. On all WMAs that allow turkey hunting, the season runs from April 2 to May 5. A special two-day youth turkey season runs March 17-18, giving hunters 17 and younger (while accompanied by a non-shooting adult) an opportunity to bag a turkey before the birds feel the intense hunting pressure the season will bring.

The season bag limit for all 46 counties is three gobblers per hunter, with a maximum of two taken in one day. All hunters must possess turkey tags, even youth hunters who are not required to have a hunting license.

The SCDNR has mailed out turkey tags, so look for them between now and March 20. Even if your license lists turkey hunting, you must have your actual turkey tags with you while turkey hunting. It’s not too late to order turkey tags, which are provided at no cost to hunters. Click here to get yours.