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Lancaster County needs public dover field

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By The Staff

I grew up as a hunter and especially a dove hunter in Lancaster as a result of my father’s enthusiasm for the sport. He and I spent many years together on hot opening days of dove seasons sitting in a field listening to Clemson football and waiting for the birds.

In those days it was easy to go dove hunting. There was plenty of farmland and plenty of farmers only too happy to let us hunt it. It was a perfect father-and-son outing then. Now it is not so easy. There is a lot less farming and virtually no farmers willing to let people hunt their land. Too much lack of concern and care from the hunters, I presume, lead to the end of it.

It quickly came to be that if you wanted to go dove shooting, which is as a Southern tradition as Southern football, you had to go to a public field. Unfortunately, 25 years ago public fields weren’t, well let’s just say, they weren’t much good. So, I gave it up.

When I retired a few years ago, my interest

rekindled and I tried the S.C. Department of Natural Resources fields in Chesterfield County just to see for myself. What a nice surprise. The fields are excellent. What a great job the DNR has done. These fields are outstanding. They are as well done as any field you could hope for, and I can’t wait for the season to open in a week. I won the drawing to hunt the Draper Tract on opening day down near McConnels at Brattonsville.

Sadly, there are no public fields in Lancaster County now. There used to be. You have to drive 40 to 50 miles to get to a field. There are 46 counties in South Carolina and 26 have SCDNR fields. Some have more than one, but there are none in Lancaster County.

The good news is, we can have one. All we need is the land, and SCDNR will do the rest, as much or as little as the land owner wants. The state will lease the land and arrange everything with the owner. SCDNR would like to have a minimum of 20 acres, but will work with less.

I have talked to Billy Dukes, the Small Game Project director, Tim Ivey of SCDNR and the coordinator of our region in the state, Jeff Witt. They are all great guys and very interested in a project for Lancaster County. They will help with other counties nearby, like Kershaw or Chester. All we have to do is hunt and take care of the land by picking up our trash. That’s not much to ask.

If you have land and are interested in the project, call Jeff Witt in Union at (864) 427-5140. He will get it going. We need to start now for a field in 2009.

Tom Carothers

Lancaster