MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Deer hunting season starts in the Lowcountry on Friday and this year hunters won't be able to kill as many deer as last season.
The Department of Natural Resources is cutting back the number of days when hunters can kill does from 12 to eight. Hunters are also only allowed to kill one doe on those days with personal tags instead of two, like last year.
Tony Thornley worked for the Department of Natural Resources for more than 30 years and now operates a hunting service in Moncks Corner and he can tell the deer population has dropped off.
"A lot of the hunters feel that it's gone down, and it has," Thornley said.
In 2000, the South Carolina deer population was around one million but since then it's dropped off about 30 percent. The DNR said they're limiting kills because they want to make sure that in five years, it doesn't drop off another 30 percent.
Thornley says hunters are only part of the reason for the decline and blames new housing replacing old farms.
"Almost every field was some kind of agriculture that deer would feed on, which boomed the population," Thornley said. When those fields went away, those deer have nothing left to eat."
Both the DNR and Thornley also blame a boom in coyote population.
"Personally this year I've seen a lot more does and fawns on my property than I have in past years," Thornley said "It seems to be an increase but I've also noticed a decline in the coyotes in the area."