Deer Rules & Regulations
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. Tag must remain attached until the deer/carcass is quartered or received by a processor. Processors see below. (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, crossbows, and pneumatic weapons are allowed during gun hunts.
An antlered deer is defined as a deer with antlers 2 inches or more above the hairline.
An antlerless deer is defined as a deer with no antlers or a 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).
Optional Antlerless Deer Harvest Programs
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
SC Resident deer hunters receive two (2) Individual Antlerless Tags free of charge as part of their base set of deer tags. Additionally all hunters may purchase up to 4 Individual Antlerless Tags ($5 each for residents and $10 each for nonresidents). The following Game Zone and WMA limitations include the 2 free resident base set tags combined with any additional Individual Antlerless Tags that are purchased:
In Game Zone 1 only three (3) Individual Antlerless Tags are valid on private or WMA land starting October 1. In Game Zones 2, 3, and 4 Individual Antlerless Tags are valid on private or WMA land starting September 15. No more than five (5) total Individual Antlerless Tags may be used on private land in Game Zone 2 and on all WMAs combined in Game Zones 2, 3, and 4. All Individual Antlerless Tags may be used on private land in Game Zones 3 and 4. Individual Antlerless 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.
Hunters who purchase 4 Individual Tags will receive 2 free bonus tags valid only on private land in Game Zone 3 & 4 to help control deer damage to agriculture.
Tags are available over the counter at SCDNR offices in Clemson, Charleston, Conway, West Columbia (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 be obtained on Applications, 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.
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. Processors may not accept untagged deer; however they are not responsible for any missing information on a deer tag, e.g. notches, marking, etc. The deer tag may be removed by the processor once processing begins or the deer is quartered. Processors are encouraged to report tagging violations to SCDNR Law Enforcement. 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.
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. CWD has been diagnosed in 26 states and 3 Canadian provinces. A current list of these locations can be viewed at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/deer/chronicwasting.html. (Reg. 123-54).
CWD Natural Cervid Urine Regulation
Commercial natural deer urine products are made of urine collected from deer in other states, many of which have diagnosed CWD. The CWD agent can be found in deer urine. Distributing this urine may contaminate the environment. For this reason no person shall possess or use any substance or material that contains or purports to contain any excretion collected from a cervid (deer) including urine, feces, blood, gland oil, or other body fluid for the purpose of taking, attracting, or scouting any wild animal in SC. This does not prohibit the use of synthetic products or substances collected by a hunter from deer legally harvested in SC. (Reg. 123-54).