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Deer Rules & Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon South Carolina Hunting & Fishing

New Deer Tag Information

Effective deer season 2017, all harvested deer in South Carolina are required to be tagged at the point of kill.
For Additional Deer Tag Information visit
www.dnr.sc.gov/deertags/

Deer tags WILL NOT be available over the counter at point of sales vendors (Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc.). They will be available over the counter after August 1 at SCDNR offices located in Charleston, Clemson, Columbia (downtown and Farmer’s Market), Florence, and York. Tags may be requested after July 1 by phone at 1-866-714-3611 or online at: www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase. Tags will not be mailed until early August. Allow 7-10 days for tags to arrive in the mail for online and telephone orders.

Tags are valid for the entire deer season, however, hunters must maintain an active License/Big Game Permit to legally deer hunt. The statewide limit on antlered bucks using personal tags is 5 for residents and 4 for non-residents. In each case, 2 of these bucks must have at least 4 points on one antler or a 12-inch inside spread. Daily limit of 2 for antlered bucks or antlerless deer using personal tags for residents and non-residents.

Residents

When a resident purchases a Hunting License/Big Game Permit OR if they have an active Hunting License/Big Game Permit that will be valid when deer season begins they will automatically receive a free base set of deer tags prior to deer season or 7-10 days following the purchase of the Hunting License/Big Game Permit if deer season has begun.

Youth hunters and Lifetime and Senior/Gratis/Disability Licensees must request the free base set of tags annually. (Note: Lifetime Licensees that now live out-of-state should call SCDNR Licensing directly at 803-734-3833.)

The base set of resident tags consist of the following:

  • 3 Unrestricted Antlered Buck Tags
  • 8 Date Specific Antlerless Deer Tags
    Each antlerless tag is only valid on one specific day and cannot be used on any other day. These tags replace the “doe days” in the past.

Note: Resident archery hunters may use any of the date specific tags to take antlerless deer on any day during archery only or primitive weapons seasons beginning September 15. The archery notation and actual date must be validated on the tag. Once used these tags would no longer be available for use later in the season on the designated date.

Residents – optional deer tag purchases

Residents including youth hunters and Lifetime and Senior/Gratis/Disability Licensees may purchase 2 additional antler restriction buck tags for $5 each. The restriction is the buck must have 4 points on one antler or a minimum 12-inch inside spread. There is no particular order in which the antlered buck tags must be used.

As in the past, all residents may purchase up to 4 individual antlerless tags for $5 each. Tags are valid on any day beginning September 15 in Game Zones 2, 3, 4 and October 1 in Game Zone 1 until the end of the deer hunting season.

Non-Residents

Non-Resident adults receive no free tags with the purchase of their Hunting License/Big Game Permit and must also purchase deer tags in order to deer hunt.

Non-Resident deer tags are as follows:

  • May purchase up to 4 antlered buck tags.
  • 2 Unrestricted Antlered Buck Tags
  • 2 Antler Restriction Buck Tags
    4 points on one antler or a minimum 12-inch inside spread. Cost: $50 for first antlered buck tag- $20 for each additional ($110 for all 4).
  • After the purchase of an unrestricted buck tag, there is no particular order in which the buck tags must be purchased or used.

May purchase up to 4 Individual Antlerless Tags ($10 each) as in the past.

Non-resident youth receive base set of tags for free by request like resident youth. May then purchase one antler restriction buck tag ($50) and up to 4 Individual Antlerless Tags ($10 each).

Deer

All deer must be tagged with a valid deer tag as prescribed by the department before the animal is moved from the point of kill (50-11-320).

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.

Antlered Deer

An antlered deer is defined as a deer with antlers 2 inches or more above the hairline.

Residents who purchase or hold a current Hunting License/Big Game Permit will receive 3 unrestricted antlered buck tags that are valid for any antlered deer. Youth hunters and Lifetime, Senior and Disability Licensees must request their base set of tags. Residents including youth hunters and Lifetime, Senior and Disability Licensees have the option of purchasing 2 Antler Restriction Buck Tags for $5 each which are valid only on bucks with a minimum of 4 points on one antler or a 12-inch inside antler spread. There is no particular order in which these buck tags must be used. Residents may take a total 5 antlered bucks statewide annually. (Note: Antlered bucks taken on Deer Quota Program properties with a buck quota do not count towards a hunter’s personal limit because the limit is on the property not the persons hunting the property).

Non-Resident adults receive no free tags with the purchase of their Hunting License/Big Game Permit and must also purchase deer tags in order to deer hunt. Nonresidents may purchase up to 4 antlered buck tags. Two (2) unrestricted antlered Buck Tags and 2 Restricted Antlered Buck Tags. The cost for the first buck tag is $50 and $20 for each additional tag ($110 for all 4). After the purchase of an unrestricted buck tag there is no particular order in which buck tags must be purchased or used. Nonresident youth may receive a base set of tags for free by request like resident youth. Nonresidents may take a total of 4 antlered bucks statewide annually. (Note: Antlered bucks taken on Deer Quota Program properties with a buck quota do not count towards a hunter’s personal limit because the limit is on the property not the persons hunting the property).

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

All antlerless deer must be tagged at the point of kill prior to being transported.

Resident Hunters will receive a base set of antlerless deer tags with their Big Game Permit. Youth hunters and Lifetime, Senior and Disability licensees receive tags for free by request. These antlerless tags are specifically dated for use only on certain days during the season similar to the “doe days” in the past. Resident archery hunters may choose to use any of their date specific tags to tag an antlerless deer taken on any day during archery-only or primitive weapons season beginning Sept. 15 provided that the archery notation and actual date of kill is validated on the tag as prescribed by SCDNR. However, once used these tags would no longer be available for use on the designated days during firearms season.

Resident and Nonresident hunters have the option of participating in the Individual Antlerless Deer Tag Program and the Deer Quota Program.

Individual Antlerless Deer Tag Program

Hunters may purchase up to 4 personal tags ($5 each for residents and $10 each for nonresidents) which can be used on any day open to deer hunting with the following restrictions: Game Zone 1 only one (1) tag is valid on private or WMA land starting October 1. Game Zones 2, 3, and 4 tags are valid on private or WMA land starting September 15. Limit of two (2) antlerless deer per day using Individual Tags on WMA and private land in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4. No more than two (2) Individual Tags may be used on all WMAs combined in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4. Up to 4 Individual Tags may be used on private land in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4. Individual tags are not valid on properties which are enrolled in the Deer Quota Program for antlerless deer. Tags do not alter the daily or seasonal bag limits for Game Zones or alter the type of weapon allowed. Tags may only be possessed or used by the person whose name appears on the tag.

Tags are available over the counter at SCDNR offices in Clemson, Charleston, Columbia (downtown and Farmer’s Market), Florence, & York or by calling 1-866-714-3611 or at the following website: http://dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html A handwritten application may obtained in the 2017-2018 Hunting and Fishing Rules & Regulations guide, by calling SCDNR at 803-734-3886 or at http://dnr.sc.gov/regs/pdf/speciallicenseapp.pdf

Deer Quota Program (DQP)

Deer quotas are issued to qualifying land owners or lessees statewide who complete and submit an application along with a $50 fee prior to July 1. This program is generally better suited for landowners or lessees with large acreages. Under the DQP, a quota of antlerless deer tags is issued to 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, presence of agriculture or agricultural damage, and the overall deer management objectives of the owner. Participants in the DQP also have the option of receiving a quota for antlered bucks. Buck quotas are based on the average number of acres per buck harvested as reported by program participants in the county in recent years.

Utilization of DQP antlerless tags is subject to the following restrictions. In Game Zone 1 tags are valid beginning Oct. 1. In Game Zones 2, 3, and 4 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 deer (antlerless and/or antlered) for which a quota was issued. Tags do not alter the use of weapons during special weapons seasons. Statewide, Game Zone, and daily limits do not apply on properties enrolled in the DQP because the limit is on the property not the persons hunting the property. 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 on which a hunter’s personal tag remains attached to the hamstring because the tag identifies the hunter. 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).

Deer Seasons on Private Lands

  • All harvested deer must be tagged at the point of kill prior to being transported.
  • Antlered bucks statewide limit:
    • Residents – 2 per day, 5 total all seasons and methods combined.
    • Nonresidents – 2 per day, 4 total all seasons and methods combined.
  • Antlerless deer – limit 2 per day. Must be tagged with date specific Antlerless Deer Tag or optional Individual Antlerless Deer Tag. Only one (1) Individual Antlerless Deer Tag may be used in Game Zone 1. Tags are valid in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4 beginning Sept. 15 and in Game Zones 1 beginning Oct. 1. Individual tags are not valid on properties enrolled for anterless deer in the Deer Quota Program. Individual tags do not alter the daily (2 per day) or seasonal limit or change the type of weapon that can be used during special weapons seasons.
  • Limits listed include deer taken on private & WMA lands.
  • Limits listed do not apply to quota deer taken on properties enrolled in the Deer Quota Program.
  • Sunday hunting allowed on private lands.
  • Archery and crossbows allowed during all seasons.
  • Crossbows are considered archery equipment.
  • In Game Zones 1 and 2 it is unlawful to pursue deer with dogs.
  • Baiting or hunting deer over bait is permitted on private lands statewide.

Game Zone 1 (Private Lands)

Antlered Buck Limit: Statewide limits apply.

Antlerless Limit: 2 per day, 4 total all seasons and methods combined.

Primitive Weapons: Oct. 1-10

Gun Hunts: Oct. 11-Jan. 1

Game Zone 2 (Private Lands)

Antlered Buck Limit: Statewide limits apply.

Antlerless Limit: 2 per day, 5 total all seasons and methods combined.

Archery Only: Sept. 15-30

Primitive Weapons: Oct. 1-10

Gun Hunts: Oct. 11-Jan. 1

Game Zone 3 (Private Lands)

Antlered Buck Limit: Statewide limits apply.

Antlerless Limit: 2 per day.

Archery & Gun Hunts: Aug. 15-Jan. 1

Game Zone 4 (Private Lands)

Antlered Buck Limit: Statewide limits apply.

Antlerless limit: 2 per day.

Archery Only: Aug. 15-31

Gun Hunts: Sept. 1-Jan. 1

Need Deer Tags Immediately?

If you have an active Hunting License and Big Game Permit, have just purchased a Hunting License and Big Game Permit, or have just requested or purchased deer tags and want to deer hunt immediately, a temporary set of deer tags can be downloaded and printed by accessing the Customer Privileges Portal on the SCDNR website at https://www2.dnr.sc.gov/customerprivilegesportal.

These self-printed temporary tags are only valid until your permanent tags arrive in the mail. Any deer that is tagged with temporary tags must be reported to the Customer Privileges Portal on SCDNR website at https://www2.dnr.sc.gov/customerprivilegesportal by midnight of the day of harvest. You will need the deer tag identification number and county of kill as part of the reporting process.