Hunting in South Carolina

A hunter wearing a hunting camo and holding a rifle while hunting in South Carolina

Imagine this, 

You’re hunting year-round with thrilling, bountiful game species and generous bag limits. Sounds like heaven, right? 

Well, that’s what you would enjoy when hunting in South Carolina! 

South Carolina’s deer hunting may not be as abundant as in North Carolina, Georgia, or other states. However, many experienced hunters still prefer it for exceptional duck and bear hunting experiences.

This guide blends in-depth research from official sources with valuable advice from seasoned hunters. It’s designed to familiarize you with South Carolina’s hunting culture and opportunities.

Let’s pump things up!

Hunting Seasons in South Carolina

South Carolina is a frontrunner when it comes to the topic of wildlife diversity in the US. 

Making the state famous for having a variety of game species that hunters can seek and hunt down.

But to maintain a healthy balance between hunters, wildlife, and the environment, SC DNR manages the state’s hunting seasons.   

Here are the seasons for you to hunt a specific game species:

TurkeyMarch 22 to May 10 
DeerAugust to January
BearOctober 17 to October 30
Wild HogDuring any open season
Small GameYear-round on private lands

Turkey Hunting Season

Every hunter knows that the state of Carolina is a must-hunting place if you’re looking for wild turkeys. 

In fact, the state has a healthy population of healthy-sized and alluring eastern wild turkeys. That made the state a constant frontrunner in turkey hunting throughout the US. 

Interested in hunting turkeys in South Carolina? 

Here are the dates and hunting areas for hunters to legally hunt turkeys in South Carolina:

  • WMA areas: April 1 to April 29
  • Private land (Game zones 1 and 2): April 1 to May 10 
  • Private land (Game zones 3 and 4):  March 22 to April 30

Shotguns and archery weapons are the only allowed weapons for turkey hunting. The state prohibits hunters from hunting turkeys using rifles, pistols, slugs, and buckshot. 

Turkey Tag Prices

HuntersAdult YouthAdultYouth
Price$5 (set of 3 tags)Free upon request$100 (set of 2 tags)Free upon request

Deer Hunting Seasons

Are you after the well-sought white-tailed deer? Then, hunting deer in South Carolina must be on top of your bucket list! 

South Carolina is home to over 700,000 deer, most are white-tailed deer roaming year-round. Pretty sweet, right? 

Well, what makes it best to hunt deer in South Carolina is its hunting pressure. The state has a lower hunting pressure than other states in the US.

And that makes deer hunting a popular activity in South Carolina as it is easier and more accessible! And lucky you, the state has a long deer season that runs from mid-August to January.

  • Archery Season: Mid-September to January 1
  • Primitive Weapon Season: 1st half of October
  • Gun/Firearm Season: 2nd half of August to January 1
  • Youth Season:  August 13, September 10 and 24 (1 antlered deer only), and January 7 (2 either-sex) 

Deer Tag Prices

HuntersAdult and YouthAdultYouth
PriceFree- base set of tags Three antlered buck tags Two antherless deer tags
$5- extra antlered bucks tags (up to 2 purchases)
$10- Antlerless Tag (up to 4 purchases, with two bonus tags if bought all four.)
$50- Antlered bucks tag ($20 for extra purchases, max of 4)
$10- Antlerless Tag (up to four purchases)
$50- Antler restriction buck tag (strictly one per season)

You can buy a deer tag only after July 15 over the counter at SCDNR offices/ and through the SC DNR website.

Bear Hunting Seasons

Unfazed by the risk of bear hunting? South Carolina’s black bears are waiting for you to chase them down.

Black bears are in the western part of the state. And while they are not as common as other species on this list, they are a coveted trophy for most SC hunters. 

But, the SCDNR is keeping a close eye on bear hunting due to the declining population of black bears. 

  • Game Zone 1: Oct 17-23 (Still hunt) and Oct 24-30 (Party dog hunt)
  • Game Zone 2: Oct 17-30 (Still hunt)
  • Game Zone 4: Oct 17-30 (Still hunt)

Bear Tag Prices

Price$25Free upon request$100Free upon request

Wild Hog Hunting Season

Wild hogs have been literally everywhere in South Carolina in recent years. It almost seems as if they’re alluring hunters to seek them out. 

So, if you want to harvest tons of them all year, then the wild hogs of South Carolina are just for you! 

In private land, hunters can trap a feral hog, but ONLY a feral hog, at any open season and without a bag limit. The state allows hunters to hunt only during daylight. 

On WMAs lands, you can take down hogs using weapons used during the current and open seasons. 

Small Game Season

Many hunters kickstart their hunting interests by taking down small games. 

And news flash! South Carolina is not an outcast when it comes to the plenty of small game species. Hunters in this state can feast over these species almost all year round:

  • Quail
  • Squirrel
  • Rabbit
  • Raccoon 
  • Opossum
  • Fox
  • Beaver
  • Bobcat
  • Mink
  • Muskrat
  • Otter, 
  • Skunk
  • Grouse 
  • Weasel

What’s more exciting is that South Carolina has a running season for small game hunting. Meaning you can’t use any weapons or guns—well, aside from your feet!

Chase them in the wild. Like literally! Learn more about the small game hunting season in South Carolina. 

Quality Public Alligator Hunting

Alligators lovers, check this out!

Alligators may be hunted if you’re daring and lucky enough. SCDNR does an annual drawing to choose one lottery applicant to receive the hunting pass.

If you win, the alligator hunting pass entitles you to take down one US alligator. And take note, without competitors AT ALL!  

Want to test your luck? Well, joining the lottery is as easy as 1,2,3!

All you need to do is apply for the lottery by paying a $10 nonrefundable application fee. When selected, the applicant must cover the alligator hunting permit or tag of $100. 

If a non-resident wins, the hunter must pay an extra $200 for the non-resident alligator fee. That is on top of the permit/tag fee– a total of $300. 

Sounds a lot? Don’t worry, it’s all worth it. 

Go-to Places When Hunting in South Carolina

Bummed whenever your competition interferes with your most-awaited hunt? Well, we all are!

But it’s less likely to happen in South Carolina. 

There is almost little-to-no competition when you’re hunting in South Carolina. That is because the state has a pre-dominant private land that outsizes public land.

And what’s more awesome is because it is less crowded, the species are relatively less conscious in SC. In fact, the state is one of the US hunting places that have little hunting pressure. 

Here are the available hunting areas for you:

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

South Carolina has several WMAs. Open for every permitted hunter to explore bountiful hunting opportunities on either public or private lands.

SC DNR divides the state into four main game zones:

Game Zone 1 

This game zone is the upstate zone of the state. The zone includes the mountainous regions of South Carolina: 

  1. Oconee 
  2. Pickens 
  3. Greenville 

These countries in this zone have plenty of white-tailed deer. 

Game Zone 2 

This is the midland zone of South Carolina. It has the most diverse hunting opportunities throughout the whole state.

The zone covers a majority of counties in the state, including partial parts of the game zone 1. The counties within Game Zone 2 include are as follows:

  1. Abbeville
  2. Anderson
  3. Cherokee 
  4. Chester
  5. Edgefield
  6. Fairfield
  7. Greenville 
  8. Greenwood 
  9. Lancaster
  10. Laurens
  11. McCormick 
  12. Newberry
  13. Oconee
  14. Pickens
  15. Saluda 
  16. Spartanburg 
  17. Union
  18. York

Game Zone 3

The SC DNR assigned the Coastal Plain region of South Carolina as the third game zone. 

This zone is the second largest zone in the states, covering a total of 15 counties. 

  1. Allendale
  2. Bamberg 
  3. Barnwell 
  4. Beaufort 
  5. Berkeley 
  6. Calhoun
  7. Charleston 
  8. Colleton
  9. Dorchester 
  10. Hampton 
  11. Jasper
  12. Orangeburg 
  13. Richland 
  14. Sumter
  15. Williamsburg

Game Zone 4 

The fourth game zone covers the lower coastal plain of the state. This gaming zone includes the countries of 

  1. Chesterfield
  2. Clarendon
  3. Darlington
  4. Dillon
  5. Florence
  6. Georgetown
  7. Horry
  8. Kershaw
  9. Lee
  10. Marion
  11. Marlboro
  12. Sumter
  13. Williamsburg

Private Land

Do you prefer the comfort and amenities of private property? 

Private hunting preserves are everywhere in the state. Permitted hunters can enjoy a variety of game species; deer, turkey, quail, and pheasant.

Hunting leases are also a popular option for hunters in South Carolina. Many landowners lease their private land for hunting. 

These services offer you exclusive access to particular private lands. And with the opportunity to hunt a variety of game species!

Hunting License and Regulation in South Carolina

Planning to hunt in South Carolina? Well, familiarize yourself with the state’s law first.

Hunters’ main requirement is to get hunting licenses. They also need big game permits and game tags for some occasions. 

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR) manages the issuance of a hunting license and permit. They are responsible for implementing hunting rules and regulations.

The state offers different types of hunting licenses and permits. Price varies depending on whether you’re a resident or non-resident hunter.

South Carolina Hunting License Price

Type of LicenseResidentNon-resident
Combination License (Fishing and Hunting)$25 (1-year validity)
$75 (3-year validity)
State Hunting License $12 (1-year validity)
$36 (3-year validity)
$40 (3-day validity)
$50 (3-day validity, apprentice license)
$75 (10-day validity)
$125 (1-year validity)

South Carolina Big Game Permit

Getting a big game permit is a must when hunting deer, bears, and wild turkeys in South Carolina. No hunter is legally allowed to hunt big game species without one unless you own private land. 

The game permits serve different purposes, benefiting wildlife, the state, and hunters.

  1. Ensures that every species’ populations remain healthy and sustainable
  2. Helps to make informed data on the number of animals harvested each year. It is helpful in curating hunting regulations and seasons.
  3. Provides a more exclusive hunting experience for you. It limits competition among hunters which gives them a better chance of harvesting their desired animal.

Here are the available game permits’ prices and their validity in South Carolina. 

1 year$6$100
3 years$18N/A

You can buy the license and big game permits over the counter at SCDNR offices:

  • Charleston
  • Clemson
  • Columbia (Farmers Market)
  • Florence
  • York

Big game permits are also available in local stores and through the SC DNR website

South Carolina Hunting Bag Limits 

South Carolina’s bag limits vary depending on the species and hunting areas. Bag limit promotes animal conservation and gives fair hunting opportunities for everyone. 

Violating bag limits can result in fines, penalties, and other legal consequences.

Game speciesResidentNon-resident
Eastern Wild TurkeyThree for the whole season
Daily limit of one
Two for the whole season
Daily limit of one
White-tailed DeerFive for the whole season
Daily limit of two
Four for the whole season
Daily limit of two
Black BearOne for the whole season
Wild HogN/A


Planning yet another hunting adventure is surely tough, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the state’s hunting regulations and the species you’re coming across with. 

Hopefully, this guide will provide you with the needed details you need when hunting in South Carolina. 

Remember that hunting is more fun when you do it responsibly!