The youth turkey hunts at Santee Coastal Reserve are set for April 7, 14, 21 and 28. All S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) youth turkey hunts will be on Saturday mornings and will conclude at 10 a.m. For more information or questions, contact Willie Simmons, DNR wildlife biologist, at (803) 734-3898 or SimmonsW@dnr.sc.gov.
Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown counties is comprised of 24,000 acres, but only 4,000 acres are available for turkey hunting. The reserve is made up of a patchwork of former plantations, including the remains of El Dorado, built by Revolutionary War hero Thomas Pinckney.
Applications are available from the Columbia DNR Office (1000 Assembly St., Room 255) or the DNR Web site at www.dnr.sc.gov/hunting/huntapp.html. Applications can also be copied.
Completed applications must be received at the Columbia DNR Office by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 30, for the April 7 and April 14 youth turkey hunts. The deadline is Friday, April 6 (5 p.m.) at the Columbia DNR Office for the April 21 and April 28 youth turkey hunts.
Return the applications to: DNR-Youth Turkey Hunts, Attn: Willie Simmons, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202. Applications may also be faxed to (803) 734-6020.
"DNR feels that one of the best ways to recruit new hunters or youth sportsmen is to encourage one of their friends who doesn't hunt to apply, and then if selected, actually bring them to the hunt," Simmons said. "DNR wants to introduce the new hunters to the challenges, thrills and enjoyment associated with hunting. Equally as important, we also want to make sure that this introduction is done safely and ethically."
DNR has designed youth turkey hunts to strongly encourage more participation by youngsters who have never been turkey hunting.
Sportsmen's children are welcome to apply for the hunts, but are encouraged to bring with them another youth who has never been turkey hunting or has very limited hunting experience.
The age requirements for these special youth turkey hunts are 10 through 15, inclusive. No application fee or any other costs are associated with the hunts. A hunting license will not be required since all participants must be age 15 and under. Turkey tags are required for all hunters.
Both youth sportsmen and new hunters who wish to apply for these hunts must fully complete and return an application. It includes a questionnaire about their hunting experience along with a completed liability waiver form. A parent or legal guardian must sign the application and waiver.
Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area will be divided into three sections for the youth turkey hunts. Each party will hunt one section, so there will be three groups hunting each Saturday. A party will consist of one adult and one or two youth.
Only the youth will be allowed to shoot, but the adult/mentor must accompany the youth on the hunt. The adult/mentor must also have a hunting license, but a Wildlife Management Area permit is not required. A thorough review of firearms safety is included in the hunt.
More detailed instructions and directions to the hunt sites will be provided to applicants who are selected.