General Information on Hunting
Hunting is defined as trying to find, seek, obtain, pursue, or diligently search for game.
Regulations in this section apply to both private and public lands statewide, unless otherwise specified.
Licenses and Permits
Licenses and permits are required for hunting in South Carolina. Detailed information on types of licenses and permits is located on section General Privilege Fees. All residents and nonresidents born after June 30, 1979 must successfully complete a hunter education course that is approved by the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) before a hunting license can be obtained. For exceptions, see section Licenses Recreational Hunting & Fishing.
Game Zones & WMAs
South Carolina is divided into six game zones, as defined on the maps on section Deer Rules & Regulations.
The SCDNR sets and regulates the methods of harvest, bag limits and other requirements for hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) statewide.
The SC General Assembly establishes seasons, limits and methods for private land statewide. The SCDNR is responsible for law enforcement statewide.
The following species may be hunted ONLY during legally established seasons: bear, beaver, bobcat, deer, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, rabbit, raccoon, skunk, squirrel, weasel, waterfowl (goose, brant and duck), bobwhite quail, mourning dove, rails (marsh hen), coot, gallinule, ruffed grouse, crow, wild turkey, common snipe and woodcock.
The following species are protected and may not be hunted, molested, caught, transported, sold or possessed in any manner: birds of prey (eagles, hawks, osprey, owls, kites and vultures) and nongame birds (except English sparrows, pigeons, Eurasian collared doves and starlings). Falconers must possess a SCDNR permit.
Importation and Possession
It is unlawful to import, possess or transport for the purpose of release, or to introduce or bring into this state any live wildlife of the following types without a permit from the SCDNR: a member of the family Cervidae (deer, moose, elk, etc.), bear, turkey, furbearers (fox, raccoon, opossum, muskrat, mink, skunk, coyote, otter, bobcat, weasel and beaver), a nondomestic member of the families Suidae or Tayassuidae (pigs), or Bovidae (bison, antelope, mountain goat, mountain sheep) (50-16-20). The importation or possession of live alligators is illegal without a permit from the Department (50-15-50).
The importation or sale of live wolves is prohibited in South Carolina, except for exhibition or scientific purposes upon the approval of the SCDNR as provided by regulations (50-11-1765). It is unlawful to import coyotes. The possession and sale of live foxes and coyotes is restricted by law (50-11-2630). A person may not have a live wolf in his possession without a SCDNR permit. Federal law prohibits importing, exporting, selling, buying, receiving or acquiring big cats across state lines. For information and exceptions, contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, 1875 Century Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30345. Prohibition of Sale, Purchase, Donation, or Transfer of Ownership Wildlife as Pets – The Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Rabies Control Act (47-5-50) prohibits the sale, purchase, donation, or transfer of ownership of nondomesticated carnivores (raccoons, foxes, skunks, bobcats, coyotes, wolves, wolf dogs, weasels, civet cats, spotted skunks, and lynx or the offspring born to any combinations of crossbreeding (hybrids) between these wild animals and domestic dogs or cats) to private individuals in this State. It is illegal to import native furbearing species into the state for any purpose except with a permit issued by the SCDNR. Requests for importing furbearing animals for private possession violate the spirit of the Rabies Control Act and will be denied.
Note: The SCDNR does not advocate or encourage keeping wildlife in captivity.
Equipment and Methods
Archery means a longbow, recurve bow, compound bow or crossbow (50-11-565). There are no restrictions on draw weight/length, arrow weight/length, or broad head weight, width, or style.
Crossbows may be used on private lands and WMA lands statewide during all archery, muzzleloader or gun seasons for deer, bear and turkey.
For special primitive weapons seasons, primitive weapons include bow and arrow, crossbows and muzzleloading shotguns of twenty gauge or larger, and rifles of .36 caliber or larger with open or peep sights or scopes, which use black powder or a black powder substitute that does not contain nitrocellulose or nitro-glycerin components as the propellant charge. There are no restrictions on ignition systems including flintstone, percussion cap, shotgun primer, disk, or electronic. During primitive weapons season, no revolving rifles are permitted (50-11-310). Falconry Allowed.
There are no SCDNR restrictions on transporting firearms by licensed hunters and fishermen in a vehicle to and from the place of hunting and fishing except on WMA lands. For regulations on WMA lands see Weapons 3.4 on section WMA Regulations.
Calls, Recorded or Electronically Amplified
It is illegal to hunt, catch, take, kill or attempt to hunt, catch, take or kill any game bird or game animal with the aid of recorded calls or sounds or recorded or electronically amplified imitations of calls or sounds (50-11-40). Crows, coyotes or hogs are not game birds/animals and therefore can be hunted using electronic calls on private lands and WMA lands.
There were substantive changes in law this year. Trapping regulations are available in a separate publication or online at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/furharvest.html.
Commercial Fur Harvest
There were substantive changes in law this year. Regulations are available in a separate publication or online at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/furharvest.html.
Youth Hunting Days
Youth Hunting Days are scheduled for many species of game and allow youth 17 years of age and younger to hunt as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult 21 years or older. Only the youth may take or attempt to take game and license requirements are waived for the youth hunter (50-9-740). See section Special CSDNR Hunts for youth hunt day list.
Free Hunting Days December 27 & 28
Free hunting days allow all South Carolina residents to hunt without a state hunting license or other required permits, to include Wildlife Management Area (WMA) permit, or Migratory Waterfowl Permit (formerly State Duck Stamp). It is important to note that Free Hunting Days are offered by the State of South Carolina and do not waive any Federal requirements for a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp) to hunt migratory waterfowl.
Free hunting days are available only to SC residents and apply to all lands in which hunting is allowed, to include private lands and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) throughout the state that are not otherwise closed to hunting. The list of open WMAs can be found by visiting the Managed Lands tab of the DNR website at https://www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/lookup/. Please note that all existing seasons, bag limits and methods of take still apply.
In all game zones, the use of artificial lights for the purpose of observing or harassing wildlife is unlawful, except that a property owner, lessee, or person with written permission from the property owner may use artificial lights to observe wildlife prior to 11:00 PM. This section does not prohibit an owner of real property from using artificial lights for the purpose of protecting the property. This section does not prohibit the use of remote trail monitors or cameras from fixed locations on a property, nor does it prohibit a person or group, with written permission of the landowner or leaseholder of the property, from observing wildlife with the use of artificial lights who is engaged in research or documentary filming (50-11-708). This section does not prohibit a person from lawfully hunting coyotes, armadillos, and hogs at night as provided for by law (See section Migratory Birds, Crows, Feral Hogs, Coyotes & Armadillos Regulations).
Hunting is prohibited on Sundays on all WMA lands. On private lands statewide, Sunday hunting for all game is legal.
Selling Game Animals
It is unlawful to sell, except by special permit, any protected wildlife (50-1-290). Furbearing animals may be sold with a valid commercial fur harvest license. Contact the SCDNR for a copy of the commercial fur harvest regulations.
It shall be unlawful to enter upon the lands of another for the purpose of hunting, fishing, trapping or retrieval of dogs without the consent of the landowner or manager.
Hunting from Public Roads
It is unlawful to hunt from a public road unless the hunter has permission to hunt the adjacent property. Hunting as used in this section includes possessing, carrying or having readily accessible a loaded centerfire rifle, or a shotgun loaded with shot size larger than number four. Loaded means a weapon within which any ammunition is contained. This does not include weapons contained in a closed compartment, closed vehicle trunk, or a vehicle traveling on a public road. A person convicted of unlawful road hunting forfeits hunting privileges for one year. See WMA Regulations for restrictions on WMA lands.
It is unlawful to use a firearm or archery tackle in a criminally negligent manner while in preparation for, engaged in the act of, or returning from hunting. Criminal negligence is defined as the reckless disregard for the safety of others.
Night is defined as that period of time between one hour after official sunset of a day and one hour before official sunrise of the following day (50-11-710).
Night hunting is unlawful except that raccoons, opossums, foxes, mink, skunk, coyotes, armadillos and hogs may be hunted at night. Information related to hunting coyotes, armadillos and feral hogs during night is provided on section Migratory Birds, Crows, Feral Hogs, Coyotes & Armadillos Regulations of this document under specific headings for these animals.
Raccoons, opossums, foxes, mink, and skunk may not be hunted with artificial lights except when treed or cornered with dogs. Devices that amplify light using some type of power source (including night vision and infrared devices) are considered artificial light. No buckshot or any shot larger than a No. 4, or any ammunition larger than .22 rimfire may be used. It is unlawful to use artificial lights at night, except vehicle headlights while traveling in a normal manner on a public road or highway, while in possession of or with immediate access to, both ammunition of a type prohibited for use at night and a firearm capable of firing the ammunition (50-11-710).Rabbit hunting at night without weapons is lawful on private land.
The SCDNR operates multiple shooting ranges that are open for use during certain hours which are subject to change according to time of year, hunting seasons, etc. All SCDNR ranges are 100 yards or less. To confirm hours of operation, call the SCDNR Clemson office at 864-654-1671 ext. 18 or for the Palachucola Range call 803-625-3569.
Pickens County Range (Pickens Co.)
From Easley, take SC Highway. 8 approximately 4 miles towards Pickens. Turn left on Breazeale Road. Drive 1/2 mile beyond SC Dept. of Transportation Maintenance Shop and turn left on Porter Rd. Go approximately 1/2 mile and turn left at the red gate. The range is located at the end of the gravel road.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9 AM – 5 PM (EST) or as posted. Closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, call 864-855-5747.
SCDNR James O. Thomason Shooting Range (Spartanburg Co.)
From Pauline, take SC Highway. 215 approximately .5 mile east toward Glenn Springs. Turn left on Foster Mill Circle and drive 2.5 miles (paved road becomes gravel road). Range is on the left side of the road.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9 AM -5 PM (EST). Closed Sun. and Mon.
Palachucola Range (Hampton Co.)
Wednesday-Saturday: 8:00am – dark and Sunday 1:00pm – dark except during deer and turkey hunts. Dates are posted at the range or call 803-625-3569 for more information.
Manchester State Forest Shooting Range (SC Forestry Commission, Sumter Co.)
$5.00 per day or $25.00 per year. Hearing protection required. For more information, call 803-494-8196.
Hours: Open Saturday 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM and Sunday 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM.
SCDNR Belfast WMA Shooting Range (Laurens Co.)
6655 Highway 560, Kinards, SC 29355
Hours: Open Wednesday – Saturday. Daylight hours only, Sunday 2 PM – Dark Closed Monday and Tuesday.
US Forest Service Shooting Ranges
Cedar Creek Shooting Range (Oconee Co.)
Year round. Fully accessible to disabled visitors. Three of five shooting tables are under a shelter. For more information, call 864-638-9568 or fax 864-638-2659.
Candy Branch Shooting Range (Abbeville Co.)
Year round, sunrise to sunset. Five firing lines with left or right benches including one accessible to disabled visitors. For more information call 803-637-5396 or fax 803-637-2273.
Beaverdam Shooting Range (Edgefield Co.)
Year round, sunrise to sunset. Eight open firing lines with left or right benches. For more information call 803-637-5396 or fax 803-637-2273.
Fairforest Shooting Range (Union Co.), Leeds Shooting Range (Chester Co.), Philson Crossroads Shooting Range (Laurens Co.), Indian Creek Shooting Range (Newberry Co.)
Year round, day use. All have six firing lanes, left and right benches are available, including one bench accessible to disabled visitors. For more information call 864427-9858 or fax 864-427-3529.
Francis Marion Shooting Ranges
Year round, daylight hours only. Shooting tables, including one fully-accessible to disabled visitors. For more information call Wambaw District at 843-887-3257 or fax 843-887-3848 or Witherbee District at 843-336-3248 or fax 843-336-4789.
For additional shooting ranges visit http://www.dnr.sc.gov/shooting/
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.