Deer Hunting Season in North Carolina 2022-2024

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North Carolina is one of the top 10 hunting states with almost 700,000 paid license holders. And these hunters are serious about whitetail deer. It’s the most popular game animal with nearly 250,000 hunters spending an average of 15 days per season going after their quarry. If you want to harvest one of the more than 200,000 deer taken in the state each year, be sure you’re aware of the season dates and regulations.

2022-2024 Season Dates

North Carolina deer hunting seasons vary by region, though it’s worth noting that the archery season starts on September 10 everywhere.

Also be aware that the “gun” season for each zone applies to antlered deer only. You can only hunt antlerless deer in an “either-sex gun” season. These are a bit more complicated, so it has its own separate section below.

The archery seasons are either sex unless otherwise specified.

Northeastern and Southeastern Zones

WeaponDates

Central Zone

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Northwestern Zone

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Western Zone

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Either-Sex Deer Seasons

Regardless of their zone, each county in North Carolina follows one of five types of either-sex season in which both antlered and antlerless deer can be taken. These often coincide with part of the standard antlered-only gun season.

Type of Either-Sex SeasonDatesCounties

North Carolina Bag Limits

North Carolina has a pretty high bag limit of six deer, though there’s a season maximum of two antlered deer. There is no daily bag limit.

If you want to hunt more than six deer, it is possible to get bonus antlerless harvest report cards that allow for an additional two antlerless deer per card during the special urban archery season in the participating towns and cities.

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Urban archery season lasts from January 14-February 19, and you can find the participating municipalities on page 66 of the North Carolina Inland Fishing, Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest. The report card costs $11 for both residents and non-residents.

North Carolina Licenses and Costs

North Carolina is a fairly hunter-friendly state in that all you need is a license to hunt deer and any other game animal. In fact, you can even get a combo license that covers both hunting and fishing.

That said, there are many different kinds of licenses divided between annual and lifetime licenses with different prices for residents and non-residents. To be considered a resident, you have to have lived in North Carolina for six months or have established a permanent residence for 60 days. Students attending a university in North Carolina as well as active-duty military stationed in North Carolina or from North Carolina and stationed outside the state.

Anyone hunting in North Carolina needs a license except for:

  • A landowner, their spouse or their dependents under 18 hunting on their own land
  • Members of the armed forces serving outside of North Carolina in the state on leave for 30 days or less
  • Youth under age 16 as long as they have completed a hunter safety course or are accompanied by an adult

Combo Licenses

Annual LicenseDetailsResident CostNon-Resident CostLifetime LicenseDetailsResident CostNon-Resident Cost
*For those born on or before August 1, 1953, residents can buy senior lifetime licenses when they turn 65. For those born after that date, they may purchase the senior lifetime license at age 70.

Hunting-Only Licenses

Annual LicenseDetailsResident CostNon-Resident CostLifetime LicenseDetailsResident CostNon-Resident Cost

Big game includes deer, bear and wild turkey, so if you’re a whitetail hunter, make sure to get the appropriate license. If you already have a lesser license but want to hunt deer, you can add it on. It costs $14 for residents and $100 for non-residents.

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In addition to the above prices, residents of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia receive specific discounted non-resident prices for licenses, so make sure you check the digest.

Hunter Education Requirement

You must take a hunter education course and receive a certificate of completion to get a hunting license in North Carolina. The only exceptions are if you have a valid license acquired before July 1, 2013, or obtain an apprentice permit. Hunters with an apprentice permit must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years old or older. The Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit is free.

What Weapons Can You Hunt With in North Carolina?

Archery

North Carolina allows bowhunting with longbows, recurve bows, compound bows and crossbows. Recurve and longbows must have a draw weight of at least 40 pounds while compound bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds. Crossbows have a minimum draw weight of 100 pounds. Broadheads must have a cutting diameter of at least ⅞ inch.

Blackpowder

During blackpowder season, North Carolina only allows firearms manufactured before 1898 that cannot use fixed ammunition or replicas of such a weapon that haven’t been modified to fire fixed ammunition.

Gun

During deer gun season, North Carolina allows the use of shotguns no larger than 10 gauge and pistols with no restrictions on length or caliber. Additionally, any rifle is legal except for fully automatic rifles or those prohibited by specific counties.

Can You Hunt With an AR-15 in North Carolina?

Yes, you can hunt with an AR-15 in North Carolina. The only exceptions are if you have modified your AR-15 or similarly styled rifle for automatic fire or if the specific county has a law that supersedes the state regulation.

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What Types of Deer Are Popular in North Carolina?

Whitetail deer are the only species of deer native to North Carolina. There are around 200 elk present in the state, but it is not legal to hunt them. As a result, whitetail deer is by far the most popular game animal, which is also true for the country in general. In 2022 North Carolina deer hunting season, nearly 250,000 hunters spent 3.7 million days harvesting overing 200,000 deer.

What Else Is Popular to Hunt in North Carolina?

Although more people hunt deer in North Carolina than any other game, it’s actually only the fourth most harvested animal. In 2022, doves were by far the most heavily hunted with a total harvest of more than 830,000. Ducks and squirrels were second and third respectively.

Other popular game animals include:

  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons
  • Coyotes
  • Geese
  • Quail
  • Wild swine
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>