Hunters will be able to return to the Savannah River site this fall.
The annual hunts are expected to begin on Friday, November 4, and continue every Wednesday and Friday through December 9.
The hunts take place on approximately 150,000 acres of land in the 310-square-mile complex owned by the Department of Energy and managed by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.
All hunts begin in the deer building where hunters’ equipment and weapons are inspected. At the building, hunters will be asked to present identification, their hunting license, and proof that they have been selected to hunt.
Hunts typically last about three to four hours and two methods of deer hunting are used: food plots and dog driving.
The dog-leading method uses dogs to chase deer past hunters waiting in trees or on shutters. Food Plots place a food source that attracts deer to a location where hunters can take them.
As the hunters search for deer, they are also offered the opportunity to capture any wild boar they find.
Once a deer or boar is taken, the animal is tagged and taken to an inspection area where it is checked for radiation.
A page on the SRS website says that the soil, plants, and land animals at the site have some amount of caesium-137 in their bodies due to nuclear weapons testing and work at the site. The DOE limit for exposure to caesium-137 is 22 millirems per year, and no animal with more than that amount in its body will be released.
Once the inspection is complete, the animals are dressed in the field (the animal’s internal organs are removed to prevent the meat from spoiling) and placed in a refrigerated truck to await the end of the hunt.
With the exception of 2021, the hunts have been held every year since 1965. The site also regularly hosts a hunt for injured current and former military and people with mobility issues. The hunt for the Wounded Warrior has been going on for more than 20 years.
Opportunities to participate in hunts are awarded through an application lottery. Lottery applications are expected to open in mid-June and close in early August.