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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2013

Deer hunting season opens on base

By Terrence Larimer Joint Base Charleston Natural and Cultural Resources manager

The 2013 deer season began August 16 at Joint Base Charleston Weapons Station and North Auxiliary Airfield. More than 13,000 acres of JB Charleston are undeveloped, providing excellent white-tailed deer habitat and plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. Deer hunting has long been a tradition on the base providing thousands of hours of outdoor recreation for hunters. It is also the only practical way of controlling the deer population which would quickly get out-of-hand if not hunted.

An over abundance of deer is a widespread problem in South Carolina. Too many deer have resulted in an increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions and in many areas, damage to urban flowers and shrubs and over-browsing of natural habitats. If unchecked, the end result of too many deer can be a malnourished, disease-susceptible deer population ending in a deer herd die-off.

Numerous deer-vehicle collisions do occur on base, mostly on the Weapons Station side, so it pays to be alert when driving especially at dawn and dusk when deer are moving.

Habitat damage and diseased deer have not been an issue on JB Charleston because of the active deer hunting program. Last year 80 deer, 43 bucks and 37 does, were harvested on the Weapons Station. More than 272 hunters participated in the deer hunting program with 1,625 individual hunts occurring on base during the course of the season.

Base deer hunts on the Weapons Station are conducted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, as well as morning and evening hunts on Saturday and Sunday. All hunts are supervised by JB Charleston Game Wardens and originate and end at the Marrington Hunter Check Station. At North Auxiliary Airfield hunts, some areas are open daily while others are limited to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The check-in/out location is at the NAAF Fire Station.

According to Game Warden Tech. Sgt. Frank Douglas, "The base is a great place to hunt. I hunted dozens of times last year and harvested two deer. I had a great time out there."

To be eligible to hunt on base, hunters must have the appropriate state and federal licenses as well as a JB Charleston hunting license. Proof of graduation from a state approved hunter safety course is necessary to purchase a base license. These licenses are available at the JB Weapons Outdoor Recreation Center for $20. To avoid confusion, base licenses run concurrent with state licenses expiring on June 30 of each year. Hunting fees are used solely to support base hunting and fishing management activities such as maintaining access roads, bush hogging wildlife food plots, deer stand maintenance, erecting wood duck nest boxes, planting native fruit producing trees and purchasing the tools and equipment to carry out these projects.

Deer hunting will continue through Jan. 1, 2014. Hikers, bikers, and joggers in the Marrington Outdoor Recreation Area are reminded to stay off the trails and on the paved or gravel roads after 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and until 9 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Base's instruction on hunting and fishing, JB Charleston Instruction 32 7064, contains complete base rules and regulations. CAC holders can download this document from AFPUBS at http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/jbcharleston/publication/jbcharlestoni32-7064/jbcharlestoni32-7064.pdf. Hardcopies are available at the Weapons Stations Outdoor Adventure Center where base hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Questions regarding hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activity on base can be answered by calling the Natural Resources Office at 794-7951.