Federal officials are planning to expand the acreage allowed for hunting within the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge and to include more opportunities for area youth to participate in the sport.
A new draft proposal adds nearly 8,000 acres to allowable hunting areas within the refuge that now encompasses 30,000 acres in Horry, Georgetown and Marion counties. The federally-managed property is a prime spot for hunting white-tailed deer, feral hog, turkey, squirrel, raccoon, opossum, snipe, woodcock, and waterfowl.
The refuge also promotes hunting as a sport for teenagers, and the draft proposal includes a plan to use a smaller unit of 15 acres inhabited by mourning doves to create a new youth program.
“Our idea is to offer it as a youth dove hunt in a controlled setting, limited to a certain amount, to provide them with a hunting experience they couldn’t have elsewhere,” said Jason Hunnicutt, visitor services manager for the refuge.
“Our main goal with the hunting program is to introduce kids to hunting. We we want to promote hunting as a tradition, and we want young people to get out and continue those traditions,” Hunnicutt said.
New hunting plans and public comment are required when the refuge acquires new property, even when the area has been used historically for hunting as it was in this case. The current proposal includes land near Sandy Island and Yauhannah, which were acquired since the last hunting plan was issued three years ago.
The proposal will remain open for public comment until Tuesday, with expected approval for the new hunting expansion completed by the fall 2016 season.
Copies of the plan are available at the refuge headquarters at 21424 N. Fraser Street in Georgetown. Comments on the proposal should be addressed to Refuge Manager Craig Sasser, P.O. Box 1439, Georgetown, S.C., 29440, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audrey Hudson can be contacted at 843-444-1765.