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South Carolina Hunting Guide

South Carolina has fewer hunting opportunities than many Southern states. Although the state’s diverse habitats support several different types of game, there is very little public land and hunting is prohibited on Sundays. These regulations aside, hunters can find enjoyable game in the state.

What to Hunt

South Carolina boasts an incredibly diverse range of habitats, from wetlands and swamps, to the mountainous piedmont area. These habitats support many different popular game species.



South Carolina has fairly dense deer populations, and less hunt pressure than many neighboring states. Although the state lacks trophy buck hunting opportunities, South Carolina has fairly liberal bag limits and long seasons. Hunters in South Carolina can generally expect a high success rate.



Eastern turkeys present a very challenging hunt, but experienced turkey hunters will enjoy the state’s offerings. There is a statewide bag limit of three gobblers per season for residents and two gobblers per season for nonresidents, with no more than one per day for either. Sunday hunting is permitted on private lands (with written permission), but not on state lands. It is not permitted to use bait, use dogs, or use live decoys or electronic calls.



South Carolina offers a brief alligator hunting season. Tags are by permit only, and strict regulations are in place. Regardless, South Carolina reports an annual alligator harvest between 300 and 400. Hunters may take one alligator per permit, and alligators must be at least four feet in length. Interested hunters may apply to a drawing, which is a random automated process. Hunters can generally apply in May, with notifications sent out in July for a September-October season.



Wood ducks are the dominant waterfowl hunting species in South Carolina. The state’s wetlands provide ample hunting opportunity, and annual harvests are generally significant. As hunters move towards the state’s coastal regions, waterfowl hunting opportunities are much more diverse. South Carolina does not permit the possession of lead shot, and all waterfowl hunting must be done with nontoxic shot. Nontoxic shot includes steel, bismuth, or another Federally approved shot.

Other South Caronlina game species include: Bear, Coyote, Crow, Quail, Raccoon and Opossum, Grouse, Mourning Dove, Rails, Early Teal, Woodcock, Common Snipe, Gallinules, Early Canada Geese, Ducks, Mergansers, Coots, Geese, Blue and Snow Geese, Brant, Rabbit, Squirrel, Beaver, Grouse, Raccoon & Opossum, etc. found in the "Hunting Seasons" section at bottom of the page.

Where to Hunt

Over 90% of the land in South Carolina is privately owned. Although this leaves little area for hunters, South Carolina does maintain some land for outdoors recreation.

Wildlife Management Areas

Most of South Carolina’s huntable land is found in Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). These areas are found throughout the state and are maintained by the state government. South Carolina WMAs present a wide variety of hunting and outdoor recreation activities.

Public Access Lands

Because much of South Carolina’s land is privately owned, the state has made efforts to allow public hunting access on private lands. There are over 180,000 areas that allow hunting and fishing through this program.

State Forests

The State Forest Service maintains the Sand Hills, Manchester, Harbison, Poe Creek, and Wee Tee forests. All hunting on these areas is regulated under the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management Area Program. Be sure to check with the appropriate office before hunting in any South Carolina State Forests.

Licensing Fees

All hunters age 16 or older must have a hunting license in South Carolina. Additional licenses and fees may be required depending on the species being hunted.

License Resident Nonresident
​State Hunting License ​$36.00 (3 year) ​$125.00 (Annual)
​$12.00 (Annual) ​$75.00 (10 day)
​$40.00 (3 day)
​Apprentice License (Small Game Only) ​$33.00 ​$125.00
​Big Game Permit ​$6.00 (Annual) ​$100.00 (Annual)
​Wildlife Management Area ​$30.50 (Annual) ​$76.00 (Annual)

Hunter Education

Anyone born after June 30, 1979 must complete a hunter education course before obtaining a hunting license in South Carolina. This course may be taken online, or in a traditional classroom setting.

Youth Hunting

Youth under age 17 may participate in any of South Carolina’s youth hunting events. A hunter’s education certificate is required to participate. Youth who are 16 or 17 years of age must have a Junior Sportsman's License.


The following species are designated as furbearers and may be taken by hunting or trapping: beaver, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, red fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, spotted skunk, striped skunk, and weasel. A Commercial Fur Harvest License is required for anyone taking these species for recreation or commercial purposes.

Trappers must also possess a valid South Carolina hunting license. A Fur Buyer’s License is required for anyone who purchases a whole animal, raw or green furs, pelts, or hides. Trappers may use foothold traps, enclosed foothold traps, body gripping traps, live traps, and small snap or box traps. Snares may only be used in water sets.

Hunting Seasons

Game Season Begins Season Ends
Alligator Sep 19 2023 Oct 14 2024
Bear* Oct 17 2023 Oct 30 2023
Coyote no closed season no closed season
Deer* Aug 15 2023 Jan 1 2024
Crow Nov 1 2023 Mar 1 2024
Quail Nov 20 2023 Mar 1 2024
Raccoon and Opossum Sep 15 2023 Mar 1 2024
Grouse Nov 23 2023 Mar 1 2024
Mourning Dove Sep 2 2023 Jan 31 2023
Marsh Hens/Rails Sep 1 2023 Dec 1 2023
Early Teal Sep 15 2023 Sep 30 2023
Woodcock Dec 18 2023 Jan 31 2024
Common Snipe Nov 12 2023 Feb 26 2024
Moorhens & Purple Gallinules Sep 1 2023 Dec 1 2023
Early Canada Geese Sep 1 2023 Sep 30 2023
Ducks Nov 18 2023 Jan 31 2024
Mergansers Nov 18 2023 Jan 31 2024
Coots Nov 18 2023 Jan 31 2024
Canada Geese/White Fronted Geese Nov 18 2023 Mar 1 2024
Blue and Snow Geese Nov 18 2023 Mar 1 2024
Brant Jan 2 2023 Jan 31 2024
Rabbit* Sep 1 2023 Mar 1 2024
Squirrel-gray & Fox* Sep 1 2023 Mar 1 2024
Fox* Sep 1 2023 Mar 1 2024
Turkey* Apr 1 2024 Apr 30 2024

*Hunting dates for this species may vary by zone, method of take, or subspecies of animal. Visit the state’s website hereto find out more.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information.