Hunting Regulations

2014-2015 Summary of Changes in Hunting Regulations

Hunters should be aware that significant changes have been made to hunting seasons and bag limits on WMAs across the state. Changes have also been made to either-sex days and antlerless deer limits on private lands. A brief summary of major changes is included below.

WMA Changes

Deer bag limits on all WMAs combined statewide were standardized as follows (except Crackerneck WMA and all DNR lottery hunts):

Deer seasons on WMAs have been standardized throughout the state (especially by Game Zone). Refer to the specific Game Zone and the specific WMA seasons.

Many small game seasons and bag limits on WMAs have been standardized throughout the state. Refer to individual WMAs for exact hunt dates and bag limits.

Many feral hog hunts on WMAs have been standardized and strategically placed to maximize the harvest. Feral hog hunting regulations on WMAs have been consolidated into Regulation 2.16.

On WMAs in Game Zones 3–6, the use of buckshot during still gun hunts for deer is prohibited.

Private Land & WMA Changes

Deer either-sex days for Game Zones are as follows:

The antlerless deer limit for Game Zone 1 has been changed to 5 total for all seasons and methods combined.

The antlerless deer limit for Game Zone 2 has been changed to 5 total for all seasons and methods combined.

On WMA and private lands statewide, the daily antlerless bag limit is 1 antlerless deer per day when using either individual antlerless deer tags or on designated either-sex days.

The daily bag limit for deer on the Statewide youth deer hunt day (both private and WMA) is 2 deer total with only 1 being an antlerless deer. On WMA and private lands, hunters using archery equipment may harvest antlerless deer without tagging them during all archery only deer hunts and primitive weapons deer hunts beginning September 15.

Individual antlerless deer tags are valid in all Game Zones on both private and WMA lands as referenced below:

Why Fewer Either-Sex Days?

In response to an ever increasing deer population in the 1980s and 1990s, SCDNR increased opportunities for hunters to take antlerless deer by increasing either-sex days and the availability of antlerless deer tags.

Over the last 10-12 years deer numbers and harvest trends have declined in many areas of the state. In addition to extremely liberal antlerless deer harvests, other factors like habitat changes related to forest management have played a role in the reduction in deer numbers. Also, coyotes are a recent addition to the landscape and are another part of the equation.

While coyotes do kill deer, hunters continue to be far and away the No. 1 source of deer mortality and the only source that hunting regulations can affect. Just as antlerless harvest opportunities were increased to address increasing deer numbers in the past, SCDNR believes that adjusting antlerless harvest opportunities at the present time is important.

Keep in mind that although some hunters are concerned with significant declines in deer, there are still areas in the state that receive high levels of agricultural damage from deer. Regardless of whether there are too few or too many deer locally, hunters continue to have flexibility to adjust antlerless harvest rates to meet their goals by using either-sex days and antlerless deer tagging programs offered by SCDNR. Ultimately, SCDNR relies on hunters to make good decisions related to deer harvest management at the local level.