Public Lands & Waters photo

Woodbury Wildlife Management Area
: northeast South Carolina
Size: 25,688 acres
ZIP: 29918

Two years ago, Woodbury was paper company land leased to a private hunting club. Now anyone with a state hunting license and the proper permits can take a crack at South Carolina’s newest quality deer management tract, which opened to public hunting last season. Two-thirds of this vast spread is bottomland, and the confluence of the Little Pee Dee and Great Pee Dee rivers on the property creates a unique landscape that combines a black river swamp on one side and a red river swamp on the other. Antler restrictions limit the take to bucks with at least four antler points or a minimum outside spread of 12 inches, and planned habitat improvements should transform what is essentially a pine plantation (and a haven for wild hogs) into better deer habitat. But don’t wait. “The club managed it as a quality deer area,” says DNR regional wildlife coordinator Sam Stokes, “so there’s got to be a pretty good age structure and a chance for some decent deer on the property.”

Sumter National Forest
: northwest South Carolina
Size: 280,000 acres
ZIP: 29835 (Long Cane), 29178 (Enoree)

“You can go to Sumter from September 15 to January 1 and do your thing,” Ruth says. “You’ll find no antler restrictions, a three month firearms season, and virtually every kind of terrain this part of South Carolina offers.” Three main tracts of national forest are scattered across the state’s Piedmont region, but the 119,076-acre Long Cane District and the 161,216-acre Enoree District feature higher deer densities and better hunting access than the mountainous Andrew Pickens District. Big bucks are hard to come by, but hunter success is high, with an average harvest rate of 12 deer per square mile. Commercial pines dominate some areas, but streams and ridges are good spots to look for mast-producing hardwoods. “Hunting pressure is not what it used to be,” Ruth says, “and good deer numbers make this a great opportunity for the average guy who needs a place to go.”