2016 - 2017 Deer Hunting Regulations

Legal hunting time for deer is the time between one hour before official sunrise until one hour after official sunset (50-11-710).

In Game Zones 1 and 2 it is unlawful to pursue deer with dogs (50-11-310).

It is unlawful to hunt, shoot or in any way kill deer from a motorboat, raft or any other water conveyance, or to molest a deer while any part of the deer is in water (50-11-730). Possessing any deer with the head detached while in transit from the point of kill is prohibited (50-11-400).

It is unlawful to hunt deer with a firearm within three hundred yards of a residence when less than ten feet above the ground without permission of the owner and occupant. The provisions of this section do not apply to a landowner hunting on his own land or a person taking deer pursuant to a department permit.

Archery, muzzleloaders and crossbows are allowed during gun hunts.

Antlerless Deer

An antlerless deer is defined as a deer with no antlers or an antlered deer with less than two inches of antler visible above the hairline. Antlerless deer may not be possessed, hunted, shot or in any way killed except during special seasons or by special permit (50-11-410).

Antlerless Deer Harvest Programs

These programs are conducted statewide using either-sex days and 2 optional antlerless deer tag programs. The dates for either-sex days are shown in the hunting season section on pages 60-61.

Optional antlerless deer tag programs that hunters may choose to participate in include the Individual Antlerless Deer Tag Program and the Antlerless Deer Quota Program (ADQP).

Individual Antlerless Deer Tag Program

With the Individual Antlerless Deer Tag hunters may purchase up to 4 personal tags, for $5 each, which can be used on any day open to deer hunting with the following Game Zone restrictions: Only 1 tag is valid in Game Zone 1 on WMA or private land. In Game Zones 1 and 2, tags are valid on WMA and private land starting Oct. 1. In Game Zones 3-4, tags are valid on WMA and private land starting Sept. 15. Limit of one (1) antlerless deer per day using Individual Tags on WMA and private land statewide. No more than two (2) Individual Tags may be used on all WMAs combined in Game Zones 2-4. Up to 4 individual tags may be used on private land in Game Zones 2-4. Tags do not have to be used on scheduled county-wide either-sex days. Tags are not valid on properties enrolled in the Antlerless Deer Quota Program. Tags do not alter the daily or seasonal bag limits prescribed for Game Zones or alter the type of weapon allowed. Tags must be attached to the deer at the point of kill and validated as specified on the tag form.

All persons purchasing individual tags last year will be sent a renewal notice in August. Tags are available over the counter at DNR offices in Charleston, Clemson, Columbia, Florence, and York. Tags can be ordered by telephone a 1-866-714-3611 or online at: http://dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html. A handwritten application can be obtained on page 118 of this publication or at http://dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/speciallicenseapp.pdf. The possession and use of these tags is limited to the individual whose name appears on the tags.

Antlerless Deer Quota Program

Antlerless deer quotas are issued to qualifying landowners or lessees statewide who complete and submit an application along with a $50 fee prior to July 18 each year. This program is generally better suited for landowners or lessees with larger acreages.

Under the ADQP, a quota of tags is issued for a particular tract of land based on criteria including: density of the local deer population, condition of the local deer population, the size of the tract of land and the recreational and agricultural objectives of the property owner. Utilization of tags issued under the ADQP is subject to the following Game Zone restrictions. In Game Zone 1 (Mountains) tags are valid beginning Oct. 1. in Game Zone 2 (Piedmont) and Game Zones 3-4 (Coastal Plain) tags are valid beginning Sept. 15. Tags issued for a particular tract of land can only be used on that tract and they must be used on all antlerless deer that are harvested at the point of kill, including antlerless deer harvested on either-sex days or by bow and arrow. Tags do not alter the use of weapons during special weapons seasons. Game Zone season and daily limits on antlerless deer do not apply on properties enrolled in the ADQP. A harvest report must be completed by the applicant at the close of the season.

Deer Processors

It is unlawful to keep any deer in cold storage or refrigerating plants unless the carcass is clearly marked with the hunter’s name, address and hunting license number (50-11-1700). This does not apply to storage at a private residence or to deer that have an Individual Antlerless Deer Tag Program tag attached to the hamstring since the hunter’s name, address and tag number appear on the face of the tag. Deer processors should recognize that it is unlawful to sell deer meat to regain the processing fee for deer that have not been picked-up by the owner (50-11-1910). The best practice is to take a deposit for the processing service when deer are left at the facility. If meat is not picked-up by the owner, it can be given to another individual at no charge.

CWD Carcass Importation Regulations

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of cervids (deer family) that represents a significant risk to deer in North America. In order to protect against the spread of CWD into SC, the following regulations are in place - No person may import or possess a whole cervid carcass or carcass part from an infected state except the following may be imported: quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; meat that has been boned out; hides with no heads attached; clean (no meat or tissue attached) skulls or skull plates with antlers attached; antlers (detached from the skull plate); clean upper canine teeth, also called “buglers,” “whistlers” or “ivories;” and finished taxidermy heads. Hunters traveling elsewhere should check with the wildlife agency in their destination state to determine its CWD status and to determine what restrictions the state may have on the movement of carcasses (Reg. 123-54).

The 2016-2017 Deer Hunting Regulations are also available as a downloadable document in the PDF format.