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Hunting in South Carolina

Hunting in South Carolina is managed by their Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). And they have released a number of documents in that regard. The purpose of this particular text is to take relevant information from each and outline them in an easy-to-read format. As such, when you come across details that require more of an explanation, click on the hyperlinks pertaining to particular subjects found throughout this document.

How to Get a South Carolina Hunting License

For those interested in buying a license to hunt in South Carolina, here are the four ways you can go about successfully doing so. First is accessing the SCDNR’s Online Customer Service Portal. Second is the over-the-counter method where registrants visit a licensed dealer personally and apply. Some of these licensed dealers include the likes of Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. And the SCDNR has provided a number of PDF documents listing authorized dealers for your convenience. Licenses can also be bought over the telephone by calling the phone number listed on the SCDNR’s Hunting and Fishing Licenses webpage. Finally hunting licenses can be applied for by conventional mail. And the applications for this procedure can be found on the previously-mentioned webpage. Mail-in purchases must be paid for through check or money order. During the registration process, all eligible applicants are normally required to produce an official ID along the lines of a driver’s license or passport.

Who Is Eligible for a South Carolina Hunting License?

All hunters in South Carolina, both residents, and nonresidents, who are at least 16 years of age are required to be licensed. And in order for an applicant to qualify for a license, he/she should be born after 30 June 1979, must first complete an approved Hunter Education Course and present proof of such when applying.  And even though hunters under 16 are not required to be licensed, they still must possess necessary permits for whatever particular species they may be hunting. In some cases, such as when hunting turkey, youth hunters must be companioned by a licensed hunter who is at least 21 years of age.

Where to Hunt in South Carolina

The SCDNR manages three different types of land that give the public access to hunters.  First, are the over 40 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that they oversee.  A map of all WMAs can be found online.  Hunters should be advised that these sections have a separate set of rules and regulations. Second, are the Heritage Preserves that also belong to the SCDNR. They also maintain a few State Forests. Visitors should note that these areas also have a particular set of rules and regulations which must be followed.  A list of recommended public hunting areas in South Carolina can be found here.

Of course, there is also the option of hunters utilizing private lands. However, they should get permission from the landowner before doing so.

General Hunting Regulations in South Carolina

Below are some of the basic hunting regulations that govern hunting in the State of South Carolina. All hunters who intend hunting in this state must endeavor to respect these rules in order to avoid facing legal issues or having their hunting privileges taken away from them. Also abiding by these rules can also help to protect the environment and prevent unnecessary hunting accidents.

  • It is illegal to hunt any kind of game in South Carolina without possessing the requisite licenses or permits. That said, it is noteworthy to mention that some WMAs host “free hunting days” near the beginning of the year where interested parties can hunt without a license or required permits.
  • As of the writing of this post, the buying or selling of a protected game animal or any part of it is prohibited throughout the State of South Carolina. The only time one is allowed to sell protected wildlife is with a special permit from the authorities.
  • Hunting in WMAs is not permissible on Sundays. However, if the hunt is going to take place on private lands, Sunday hunting is permissible.
  • There are hunter-orange requirements on WMAs during deer seasons.
  • Using artificial lights to hunt game animals is illegal. These lights can only be used to observe wildlife by private landowners on their properties and those they grant permission to. Moreover, they can only be utilized before 11:00 pm.
  • Deer must be tagged on-site.
  • Deer carcasses cannot be kept in cold-storage facilities unless they are labeled with the hunter’s contact information, including hunting license number.
  • Turkeys cannot be hunted with the use of dogs.
  • In South Carolina, just like other jurisdictions, it is against the law to trespass. Trespass in this context means entering someone’s land to hunt, trap, fish or retrieve dogs without first receiving the permission of the owner or caretaker of the land.
  • Hunting from any public road in South Carolina is generally frowned upon by the law. The only time the law allows a hunter to hunt from public roads is when he/she has been given permission to hunt the property that is directly adjacent to him/her.
  • In South Carolina, hunters are not allowed to hunt, catch or kill game animals or birds with the use of electronic calls or electronically amplified devices.
  • It is illegal to hunt any game animal outside the legal hunting season(s).

For a complete list of all the hunting regulations governing the Palmetto State, please follow this link.

Hunting Seasons in South Carolina

Below are the various lawfully established hunting seasons for game animals in South Carolina. In order to get access to the complete and updated version of the various seasons for hunting in the State of South Carolina, take a moment to peruse the SCDNR’s Hunting Regulations PDF document.

Big Game Seasons

Species classified as big game in South Carolina are bear, deer, and turkeys.  Bears have two seasons, one for private lands and the other for WMAs. They both occur shortly before the middle of the year. Deer seasons encompass the Fall and the early part of the new year. Turkey seasons are held for a brief time shortly before the exact middle of the year.

Small Game Seasons

In general, small game seasons last for a long duration. Quail, foxes, rabbits, raccoons, and opossums can be hunted year-round depending on whether or not a firearm is used. Mourning doves can be pursued through the Fall. Bobcats, grouses, minks, muskrats, otters, skunks and weasels can be hunted throughout virtually the entire year, barring a few months around the New Year.

Migratory Birds/Waterfowl

Geese, as with mourning doves, rail, moorhens, and gallinules, can be hunted throughout most of the last quarter of the year and briefly into the next one. Teals can be captured briefly around the beginning of Fall.

Duck season, which includes brant and mergansers, is for about two months before the New Year and one month afterward. The same basically applies to coots, snipes, and woodcocks. Hunters should note that different species that fall into this category have different hours upon which they can be legally pursued with firearms.

Other Species

There currently is no closed season on the hunting of armadillos, coyotes and feral hogs during daylight hours. The same goes for the night hunting of these species, with one additional-important rule. That is properties, where night hunting takes place, must be registered with the SCDNR beforehand. “Night” hours are defined as one hour after sunset ’til one hour before official sunrise. And official times are used for determining such.

Alligators can be hunted for a month during the early part of Fall.

Hunting Guides & Outfitters Located in South Carolina

Hunting guides and outfitters can really edify the experience of pursuing game. After all, no one knows these animals and their habitats better than the people who spend the majority of their time there.  Here are a few professionals who offer such services in the State of South Carolina:

Hunting Lodges in South Carolina

Many of the outfitters in South Carolina have also gone the extra mile of setting up official hunting lodges. Below are some hunting lodges in South Carolina that offer decent accommodations to hunters:

Back Woods Quail Club
Address: 647 Hemingway Lane, Georgetown 29440
Telephone: 843-546-1466

Buck Run Hunting Lodge
Address: 580 Bens Road, Estill 29918
Telephone: 803-625-3791

Buckeye Hunting Lodge
Address: 2524 Cherry Grove Road, Brunson 29911
Telephone: 843-812-6562

Cedar Knoll Hunting Lodge
Address: 757 Cedar Knoll Road, Fairfax 29827
Telephone: 844-868-5348

Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge
Address: P.O. Box 1768, Indian Trail 28097
Telephone: 704-301-7650 (Tom Naumann)

Cypress Creek Hunting Lodge
Address: P.O. Box 36, Estill 29918
Telephone: 877-520-2245 (Danny or Becky)

Deerfield Plantation
Address: 709 Gum Branch Road, Saint George 29477
Telephone: 843-563-7927

DOA Outfitters
Address: 10206 Sharptown Road, Mardela Springs 21837
Telephone: 410-603-1400

Red Bluff Lodge
Address: 130 Boone Trail, Allendale 29810
Telephone: 803-584-7363

Registering Hunting Harvests in South Carolina

Bear harvesters have until midnight on the day of the take to report their success to the SCDNR. This can be done either by telephone or online. Deer are to be accounted for at an SCDNR check station. Turkeys must be properly tagged and validated before they are moved from the harvesting site.

Successful alligator hunters are obliged to submit a harvest report within 12 hours of the take.  Moreover, all alligator hunters, who intend to reapply for an alligator license the next year must submit a harvest report by a specified date, whether they have engaged in a hunt or not.


South Carolina has many attractive game animal and birds to satisfy hunters. There are also a plethora of professionals dedicated to ensuring the success of hunting expeditions. And what’s more, acquiring a hunting license seems to be simpler than it is in other parts of the country. So anyone planning to hunt on the East Coast should strongly consider South Carolina as a destination.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the accepted forms of identification when applying for a hunting license in South Carolina?

A. Hunters can use a driver’s license or any other form of State-issued identification. Military personnel can also use the Department of Defense IDs. Foreigners can use a passport, even if it is expired.

Q. Which deer classify as antlered?

A. “Antlered deer” are those whose antlers are at least two inches above their hairline.

Q. Can I bait deer on my own land?

A. It is unlawful to bait deer in South Carolina. However, hunters can do so on private lands.

Q. How many game zones do South Carolina have?

A. This state is divided into approximately four game zones.

Q. What are some of the most common game animals/birds a hunter can hunt in South Carolina?

A. Common huntable game animals and birds in South Carolina include the following: rabbit, bear, bobcat, fox, beaver, mink, opossum, squirrel, muskrat, deer, weasel, bobwhite quail, rails, coot, goose, duck, brant, woodcock, crow, wild turkey, gallinule and common snipe.

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