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COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) – South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources said Monday deer hunters in the state should start begin receiving deer tags for the 2019 season in their mailboxes soon, and want all hunters to be aware of significant changes to the antlerless tagging system before taking to the field.

DNR said several improvements were made to the Antlerless Deer Tag program. A new state law  eliminated the eight date specific anterless tags, replacing them with two anterless tags that may be used on any day beginning Sept. 15 in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4, and Oct. 1 in Game Zone 1.

"Hunters in the past were limited by specific days to harvest antlerless deer," said Jay Cantrell, SCDNR Big Game Biologist in a news release. "This improvement gives people more opportunity and the flexibility to harvest deer when it is convenient for them. SCDNR and numerous legislators had heard from hunters over the last two years that were limited by tags that were only valid on certain Saturdays. A lot of folks have to work on Saturdays or have athletic events, family obligations and other constraints that limited their ability to hunt on Saturday. Throw in some weekends of bad weather or bad luck and opportunity was severely limited for the date specific tags.”

DNR said state lawmakers came to the agency with the idea, and staff helped by providing recommendations. 

"In working with the General Assembly, we knew that this change could negatively impact sales of the optional tags which would affect revenue for the deer program," Cantrell said in the news release. "However, we believe this change is so important in terms of providing simplification to the tagging program and increased opportunity and flexibility for resident hunters to take antlerless deer that we will make necessary adjustments related to the potential loss of funds."

DNR said 92 percent of South Carolina hunters harvest two or fewer antlerless deer each season. Hunters can now take more antlerless deer by purchasing up to four optional antlerless tags for $5 each or participate in the property-based Deer Quota Program.

DNR said hunters who have an active Annual or Three-year Hunting License and Big Game Permit, Combination License or Sportsman License that will be valid when deer season begins on Aug. 15 should automatically receive a base set of deer tags at no cost.

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