Deer Hunting in South Carolina

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  • D
  • 715,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 150,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $18 and Up

    Hunting license is $12 and big-game license is $6. A WMA license is $30.50.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $235 and Up

    This includes a $135 hunting license and a $100 big-game permit. A WMA license is an additional $76.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 176"

    Taken by William C. Wyatt in Pickens County in 1994.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 10

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 208 5/8"

    Taken by John M. Wood in Beaufort County in 1971.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 3

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Scott Richardson poses with a dandy South Carolina stud. (Photo courtesy of Scott Richardson)

Season Dates (2021):

Season dates vary greatly by zone and by private or public land. Please check the South Carolina DNR (SCDNR) website to confirm regulations and season dates.

The Grade: D

Hunting velvet bucks with a gun? That’s a thing down here. Part of the state sees almost a month of this, and it’s a rare opportunity to experience it elsewhere.

South Carolina has slightly less hunting pressure than some southern states, so there is opportunity to find some undisturbed hunting spots at times. There are decent deer densities in areas, too. Still, South Carolina has a lot working against it. There's not much public land available, and no Sunday hunting on WMAs. The potential for taking a really big buck is slim. South Carolina has only placed 13 bucks in the Boone and Crockett record books.

SCDNR Deer Project Coordinator Charles Ruth says fairly new legislation places a limit on the number of antlered bucks a hunter could harvest (up to five for residents and up to four for nonresidents). In each case, two of these bucks have an antler restriction (a minimum of four points on one antler or a minimum 12-inch inside antler spread). Prior to this legislation, historically, 2/3 of the state had no daily or seasonal limits on antlered deer. While the reduction is good, that’s still a massive buck bag limit.

People are optimistic, though. “We don’t talk about having bad deer seasons because we rarely do,” Ruth said. “I expect the harvest to be similar to 2020. The good old days are now.”

Analyzing all factors, while it’s difficult to give a state the dreaded D grade, the Palmetto State gets it.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Ruth says South Carolina is more known for long seasons and liberal bag limits than as a trophy buck destination. However, some of the better areas for larger bucks include Anderson, Aiken, Allendale, Hampton, and Orangeburg counties. Up-and-coming hotspots include Horry and Spartanburg counties. The remaining Boone and Crockett entries don’t follow a strong pattern and are scattered throughout the state. Even coastal Beaufort County is home to one of the three non-typical entries.

For those hunting here, in certain regions of the state, hunters have the longest modern firearms season in the country, which is 140 days. Regardless of location, deer hunters generally enjoy a 70% success rate each season. If traveling from out of town, note that the bulk of breeding for most of the state is from October 6 to November 16, and over 80% of does breed during that time. The peak spans late October to early November.

If a South Carolina public land hunt is in your future, give one of its wildlife management areas (WMAs) or heritage preserves a try. There are also state parks and national forests with opportunities. Use the SCDNR public lands search to find a place for your next adventure. And definitely don’t overlook the public lottery hunts.

South Carolina Harvests

  • Barry Bair

    Orangeburg, South Carolina

  • Matt Cunningham

    Jonesville, South Carolina

From the Realtree Trophy Den