The opening day of whitetail deer hunting is only days away.
While many of South Carolina’s 200,000 deer hunters will choose to bypass the August 15 opening of private lands in the Lowcountry in anticipation of cooler fall weather, there are plenty of hunters eager to take advantage of an opportunity rarely found in other states.
This is an opportunity to harvest a gazelle in “Velvet”.
Each year, male deer shed their antlers in late winter and begin growing new antlers during the summer. During this growth period, the new pods contain nerves and blood vessels and the hairy skin looks like velvet.
But the velvet period lasts only a few weeks. Once the antlers reach their peak size, the blood vessels begin to dry out and the velvet becomes irritating to deer. They rub their horns on trees to scratch this itch and scrape the velvet.
Kenneth Cordray, of Cordray in Ravenel (cordrays.com, 843-766-7922), is at the same time a voracious deer hunter as well as a mummified. Working at the family processing business gives him a chance to see deer all season long, including deer in velvet, and he keeps a close eye on deer in the areas he hunts.
“Some deer have been on camera (a couple of weeks before opening day), and they are really hard-horned,” Cordray said, noting that dollars had already started dumping the velvet. “It’s too early. The bigger dollars that appear on my camera seem to be losing, literally, the day before the season opens.
“But I had 8 little spots that actually lost their velvety. It’s really amazing to me.”
Cordray, who graduated from Clemson with a degree in zoology, said he couldn’t explain the early shedding of velvet he witnessed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of dollars that will still be wearing velvet or a few days after opening day.
And if you’re very lucky to land one of these awards and want a piece of velvet, you should start planning now.
“You have to treat (the pods) like meat,” he said. “Get it cold quickly and don’t leave it in the sun.”
Cordray said hunters should avoid grabbing deer by the antlers to remove them from the wood.
“Do your best to pick it up and put it in the ATV or something else and protect that velvet. It’s mushy. Get it to the (embalmer) quickly, and if you can’t get it there quickly get it nice. Don’t do that. Knock those horns around , “He said.
“I see a lot of deer coming in here, and the outer half of the antler is being cleared from where they have dragged the deer by the hind legs. Now it’s time to get ready.”
Deer signs on the road
According to the Supreme Committee’s Department of Natural Resources, deer hunters who have an annual or three-year hunting license and a large game permit, vehicle license or sports license, which will be valid on August 15, should automatically receive a basic set of deer tags.
Additionally, Lifetime, Seniors, Insane, Disability, and Catawba license holders who previously ordered deer tags will continue to receive a free base set of tags automatically this year, and in the future. Those license type holders who did not receive marks automatically last year must request that they be added to the automatic fulfillment list.
Youth license holders still have to request their free base token set each year.
Keep in mind that about 200,000 sets of tags are printed and mailed. To allow enough time for tags to reach you, please wait until at least August 10 before inquiring about licensing at 803-734-3833 about the status of your tags.
Deer Marks will also be available over-the-counter starting August 8 at SCDNR offices located in Charleston, Clemson, Western Columbia (Farmers’ Market), Florence, Ainor, and York.
South Carolina’s long deer season begins August 15 on private lands in the Lowcountry, with this year’s Youth Deer Hunting Day on August 13. Deer season ends on January 1.
For complete information, fishermen should review the Rules and Regulations 2022-23 (dnr.sc.gov). Resident hunters who already have the required large game hunting license will receive their basic set of deer tags – three unrestricted buck tags and two antler tags or doo tags.
There is also an option for resident hunters to purchase two additional antler tags for dollars that have at least 12 inches of inside on the antlers or 4 points on one side. Resident hunters can purchase four optional deer antler tags, and if they do, they will receive two additional free tokens. If a resident hunter takes advantage of all the signs of deer, the hunter can harvest five antler deer and eight deer without antler.
Tarpon Bluff Tarpon Championship
The March Wear team, consisting of Logan Roberts, Kay Williams, fisherman Josh Boyles and Jake Parker, won the Tarpon Bluff Invitational on July 30 from Tarpon Bluff in St. Helena Island.
The crew, who also won the 2021 event, was the only release of the day in the 15-boat event. They caught tarpon at 9:42 a.m., using a 7-inch mullet caught at the bottom as bait.
American Boat Club
The Boat Club of America Charleston will be holding its Boat Safety Lesson on August 27 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. Class starts at 9 a.m. and ends around 4 p.m. Successful participants receive the Higher Committee Natural Resources Boat Flash Card. The cost is $45 for adults and $15 for additional family members who share a text. Scholarships are available to young people between the ages of 12 and 18. Call 843-312-2876 or email [email protected]