Jim Casada

Turkey time returns to all of South Carolina

For those of us who long ago surrendered a corner of their sporting soul to His Majesty, the wild turkey, the time of magic is at hand.

Turkey season opens on private lands all across South Carolina on March 20 and continues through May 5. This is a change from past seasons when 11 Low Country counties opened on private lands on March 15 with the rest of the state starting April 1.. The bag limit for the season has also changed from five to three birds.

Biologists said the changes were needed – at least in the case of the smaller seasonal limits – because of reduced bird populations. The longer season is something hunters wanted. I have mixed feelings. The longer season will mean more pre-dawn risings and more weeks where I’m sleep-deprived, but the flip side of that is the undeniable joy of being afield in the time of greening up.

I do have one serious worry about the longer season. It gives those shameful folks who are prone to poach or violate game laws more time afield with a gun and thus more temptations to violate regulations. All of this is of course somewhat experimental, and no doubt there will be adjustments as needed after this first year of new regulations.

One undeniable fact is that those who love the sport rejoice in this time of year. As is typically the case, the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. will whet one’s appetite for the upcoming rites of spring with its annual fundraising banquet. This year’s event is March 17, at the Magnolia Room at Laurel Creek, 401 Laurel Creek Drive in Rock Hill. The doors open at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $55 for a single (includes a year’s membership in the federation), $100 for a couple (includes one membership), $300 for a sponsor and guest, and $1,000 for a sponsor table (seven regular membership tickets, special gun drawing participation, and a full page ad in the program) or a $500 sponsor table (three regular membership tickets and a half-page ad in the program. Tickets for those under 18 are $25. Tickets are available by contacting John Robbins at 803-517-5247 or by email at robbinsjm@comporium.net

There will be a scrumptious meal and an array of live auction, silent auction, and raffle items.

While all of this makes for great fun, perhaps the most enjoyable part of the Hunting Heritage Banquet is the camaraderie, the sense of knowing you are a small part of one of the great wildlife comeback stories in American history, and an evening of sharing your passion with like-minded enthusiasts.

I’ve been privileged to hunt most of the states in this country as well as travel abroad to every province in Canada, New Zealand, Austria, Mexico, and Africa. Each trip has had its special moments and memories. Yet I can honestly say that nothing stirs me more than the quest for gobblers. Attendance at an National Wild Turkey Federation gathering is the ideal way to get the juices flowing and heighten the sense of anticipation.