It is that time of year again when so many South Carolinians catch buck fever. Starting on October 11th and running until January 1st, the Upstate of South Carolina’s deer season allows hunters to harvest up to two bucks per day (with no more than five bucks per season regardless of the weapon used) during South Carolina’s gun hunting period. Hunters may also take one antlerless deer per day with proper tags during this same period.
Before you run into the woods and try to shoot that trophy buck, you should be aware that South Carolina has specific laws which regulate hunting in this state. First and foremost, in South Carolina, it is unlawful to hunt, fish, or take fish or wildlife without obtaining a license and applicable permits, tags, or stamps which allow these activities.
- 50-9-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws states that a person convicted of hunting without a license is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for up to thirty days in jail.
All residents and non-residents born after June 30, 1979 who desire to hunt in South Carolina must first successfully complete an approved hunter education course before a hunting license can be obtained.
So, you now have the proper license to go get the buck of your dreams now, but does that mean you can just drive around in your car until you see a deer and then shoot it? Of course not, and in South Carolina, hunting from a public roadway or shooting deer from a motorboat, raft, or other water conveyance is a violation of the natural resource laws of this state. In fact, hunting deer from a boat will land you with a misdemeanor conviction and fined $100 to $500 or put in jail for 30 days to 90 days.
Even if you have a proper license to hunt, convictions for violations of the natural resource laws of South Carolina can result in your license being suspended in addition to the criminal penalty. South Carolina law has established suspension systems based upon the accumulation of points for convictions of those offenses. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources must suspend your privileges to hunt if you accumulate eighteen (18) or more points. Half the points on your record are reduced for each full year in which you receive no points. Below are some examples of the points for certain violations:
- Hunting without a proper license, permit, stamp or tag—6 points
- Unlawful hunting over bait—8 points
- Using a borrowed or altered hunting license, permit stamp or tag—10 points
- Trespassing to hunt—14 points
- Night hunting deer—18 points
The potential penalties for convictions of many of this state’s natural resource laws carry significant penalties as well. For example, § 50-11-710 of the South Carolina Code of Laws states that a conviction for night hunting subjects the violator to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 1 year in prison for a first time offense.
Many laws pertaining to natural resources also contain mandatory suspensions of your hunting license. These suspensions start upon conviction and run for specified times according to law. These suspensions will affect your privileges and may affect your licenses, permits, stamps, tags or registrations. Examples of violations for which suspensions are mandated include, but are not limited to:
- Hunting from a public road—1 year
- Obtaining a license, permit, stamp, or tag by fraud—1 year
- Altering, post-dating, borrowing, or lending a license, permit, stamp, or tag—1 year
If you find that you have run a-fowl of South Carolina’s natural resource laws, contact the attorneys at Harrison, White, Smith and Coggins P.C. Within our dedicated group of attorneys, many are also active sportsmen who enjoy hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors just as much as you do, and who are ready to go to work for you.