South Carolina has a storied tradition of turkey hunting and a quality population to boot. Harvest totals in 2011 were around 17,000 birds, which is about where the harvest has been over the past ten years. South Carolina is one of the smallest states in the US but still boasts well over a million public hunting land acres. You will also find a diverse array of habitats to hunt turkeys in South Carolina. From coastal swamps to rugged mountains, South Carolina has something for everyone. Here’s a look at some of the best public land destinations for Palmetto State gobblers.
Francis Marion National Forest
This 250,000+ acre forest is located just north of Charleston. It’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean caused the forest to be almost completely wiped out by Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. Only young growth survived the storm. Much like forests devastated by fire, new plant life has spawned excellent habitat for wildlife. The forest is well managed with prescribed burns and cuttings. These areas are often hotspots for turkeys. The forest’s many swamps are also popular hunting areas.
Sumter National Forest
This 370,000 acre property is the sister forest to Francis Marion. Sumter National Forest is located in the western Piedmont area of South Carolina. There are three main parcels; Enoree Ranger District, Long Cane Ranger District, and the Andrew Pickens Ranger District. All three offer quality hunting but the Enoree Ranger District is tops for my money. Hardwoods creek bottoms are favorite roosting locations and managed forest areas seem to be best bets for later in the day.
Hamilton Ridge Wildlife Management Area
This Hampton County property stretches over 13,000 acres and is adjacent to another 12,000+ acres of public hunting land in the Webb Wildlife Center and the Palachucola WMA. There is over 8.5 miles of frontage along the Savannah River and thousands of acres of swamp and hardwoods bottomlands. You will also find upland habitat dominated by various species of pine.
Woodbury Wildlife Management Area
Acquired in 2006, this former paper company property is new ground to many South Carolina turkey hunters. With over 25,000 acres along the Big Pee Dee River and Little Pee Dee River, there is plenty of room for hunters to spread out. Again, hardwood bottoms, swamps, and forest pine plantations are the primary habitat on this property.
Other excellent public land spots to hunt turkeys include Bonneau Ferry WMA, Donnelley WMA, Mason WMA, Marsh WMA, Oak Lea WMA, and Sandhills State Forest WMA.