Bear hunting season set to open in Horry, Georgetown counties

Thirty hunters across Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties are again going to try their luck at nabbing a black bear.

Saturday is the start of the two-week coastal black bear hunting season.

It’s the second consecutive year for the hunt, which was brought back in 2011 for the first time in 50 years because of the growing bear population.

Deanna Ruth, coastal bear biologist for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said one bear was harvested last year in Georgetown County.

The number of hunting tags issued – 10 per county – hasn’t changed for this year. What has changed is the number of applications the SCDNR received, which was down compared to last year.

Patty Castine, draw hunt coordinator, said there were 281 applications this year for one of the 30 hunting tags. There were 297 submitted in 2011.

“It’s not very significant,” Castine said of the drop.

Ruth said many hunters who applied for tags did so because they saw bears on their property eating corn that they left as bait for deer. However, one of the rules for the bear hunt prohibits hunting over bait.

Plus, once all the bait is gone, the bears move on.

“I think it wasn’t as easy as some hunters thought it would be,” Ruth said in explaining a possible reason for the drop in applications.

This year’s hunt won’t see any deviation from the rules adhered to in 2011. Other guidelines are no dogs, a bear 100 pounds or less can’t be harvested, and the kill must be reported within 12 hours, if not sooner.

The 2012 coastal black bear hunt ends Dec. 15