North Carolina Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

General Deer Hunting Regulations in North Carolina

Hunter Orange Requirement

During any deer firearms season, it is mandatory for hunters to wear hunter orange clothing that is visible from all sides. This rule applies to all hunters, including those using archery equipment on Sundays and participants in the Youth Deer Hunting Day, regardless of the hunter's age or weapon used. An exception is made for landholders, their spouses, and children when hunting on their own property, who are not required to wear hunter orange.

Definitions and Regulations for Antlered and Antlerless Deer

  • Antlered Deer: Deer with visible antlers are considered antlered. Visible antlers are defined as bony structures protruding through the skin. Small knobs or buttons covered by skin or velvet are not classified as visible antlers.
  • Seasons for Hunting Deer: Antlered deer may be hunted during any open season designated for antlered deer. In contrast, antlerless deer can only be hunted during specific seasons set for antlerless deer.

Baiting Restrictions

  • Prohibition of Processed Food Products as Bait: Using processed food products as bait is illegal in areas with established seasons for black bears. Processed foods are those altered by adding ingredients or treatment to change their chemical composition, enhance aroma or taste. This includes substances like sugar, honey, syrups, oils, salts, spices, peanut butter, grease, meat, bones, blood, candies, pastries, gum, and sugar blocks, as well as extracts of such products.
  • Mineral Supplements: The use of commercially available mineral supplements exclusively marketed for attracting or feeding deer is permitted, except on game lands and in Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Areas.

Restrictions on Natural Deer Excretions

There are specific regulations on the possession and use of natural deer excretions, such as urine, due to concerns about spreading diseases like CWD. Hunters should refer to the section on Baiting and Attractants in the General Hunting Regulations for comprehensive guidelines.

These regulations are critical for maintaining a balanced and healthy deer population, ensuring ethical hunting practices, and preventing the spread of wildlife diseases. Hunters must adhere to these rules for the conservation of the deer species and the safety of the ecosystem.

Hunting Weapons and the Use of Dogs in North Carolina

Archery Season Weapons

During the archery season, the following weapons are legally permitted:

  • Bows and Arrows: Traditional bows, including longbows and recurved bows, as well as modern compound bows.
  • Crossbows: These are considered legal for archery hunting.
  • Slingbows: A hybrid hunting tool combining elements of a slingshot and a bow.

Blackpowder Season Weapons

In the blackpowder season, hunters are allowed to use:

  • Bows and Arrows: As in the archery season, all types of bows are permissible.
  • Crossbows and Slingbows: These remain legal during this season.
  • Blackpowder Firearms: This includes rifles, shotguns, and handguns that operate using a blackpowder mechanism.

Gun Season Weapons

The gun season expands the range of permissible weapons to include:

  • Bows and Arrows, Crossbows, and Slingbows: Continued legality from the archery and blackpowder seasons.
  • Blackpowder Firearms: As in the blackpowder season.
  • Shotguns: Limited to a maximum gauge and other specifications.
  • Rifles: Various types, excluding fully automatic rifles.
  • Handguns: Specific regulations apply based on the game hunted.

Use of Dogs in Hunting

  • Hunting Deer with Dogs: Dogs can be used to hunt deer during open deer seasons in certain counties. Hunters should refer to the General Hunting Regulations for a list of these counties.
  • Retrieving Wounded Deer: Dogs may also be utilized for tracking and retrieving wounded deer, provided the guidelines in the General Hunting Regulations are followed.

Each of these weapon categories and the use of dogs in hunting are governed by specific regulations detailed in the General Hunting Regulations. These rules ensure that hunting practices in North Carolina are safe, ethical, and in line with wildlife conservation goals. Hunters must be familiar with and adhere to these regulations to maintain the integrity of the sport and the safety of the environment and its inhabitants.

Deer Bag Limits in North Carolina

Season and Possession Bag Limits

The regulations for deer hunting in North Carolina include specific bag limits to manage the deer population sustainably:

  • Season and Possession Limit: Each hunter is allowed to harvest a total of six deer during a season.
    • Antlered Deer: Out of these six deer, a maximum of two may be antlered.
    • Antlerless Deer: Up to four of the deer can be antlerless.

Daily Bag Limit

There is no daily bag limit on deer hunting in North Carolina, allowing hunters flexibility within the confines of the overall seasonal limit.

Bonus Antlerless Harvest Report Cards

  • Purpose: These cards are designed to manage deer populations effectively in urban areas.
  • Additional Harvest: Each card permits the harvesting of two additional antlerless deer.
  • Usage: They are exclusively valid during the Urban Archery Season within participating municipalities, as detailed in the Deer Regulations.
  • Availability: Hunters can obtain an unlimited number of these cards from January 1 each year. They are available at most wildlife service agents or online.
  • Exclusion from Regular Limits: Deer harvested and reported using these cards do not count towards the standard season or possession limit.

Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP)

  • Separate Tagging System: Deer harvested under the DMAP are tagged with specific harvest tags provided by the program.
  • Exclusion from Statewide Limits: Deer harvested and tagged under the DMAP are not included in the normal statewide bag limits.

Antlerless Deer Hunting Seasons in North Carolina

Youth Deer Hunting Day

  • Who Can Participate: This day is designated for hunters under the age of 18.
  • What Can Be Hunted: Both antlered and antlerless deer are permissible for hunting.
  • Location: This includes game lands.

Archery Deer Season

  • Areas for Hunting Both Antlered and Antlerless Deer:
    • Eastern Counties: In and east of Watauga, Wilkes, Alexander, Catawba, Cleveland, Rutherford, and Polk counties, hunters can take both antlered and antlerless deer during the archery season.
    • Western Counties: In and west of Henderson, Buncombe, McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, and Avery counties, antlered and antlerless deer may be taken during the first and second archery seasons.
  • Special Game Lands Seasons: Certain game lands may have unique deer seasons that differ from the general county archery deer season. Hunters are advised to check the "Game Lands" section for specific seasons and rules.

Blackpowder Firearm Deer Season

  • Restrictions on Antlerless Deer: Hunters can only take antlerless deer during specific blackpowder firearm season dates, which are indicated on Deer Zone Maps and in the General Game Lands Regulations.
  • Game Lands Specific Seasons: As with archery season, some game lands have special deer seasons that do not align with the general county blackpowder deer season. Hunters should consult the "Game Lands" section for detailed information.

Gun Deer Season

  • Antlerless Deer Hunting: During the gun deer season, the taking of antlerless deer is limited to specific dates, as outlined on Deer Zone Maps and in the General Game Lands Regulations.

Urban Archery Season in North Carolina


The Urban Archery Season, spanning from January 13 to February 18, 2024, is an initiative designed for cities, towns, and villages to control urban deer populations through increased hunting opportunities. This season is archery-only and is available only in participating municipalities.

Information for Hunters

  • Participation: Hunting during Urban Archery Season is permissible exclusively in municipalities that have opted to participate.
  • Municipal Regulations: Each participating area can establish its own rules regarding hunting on public and private property within its limits. Hunters should contact the relevant municipality or visit its website for detailed maps and specific hunting restrictions.
  • Landowner Permission: Hunters must obtain written permission to hunt on posted private property, and it is considered an ethical obligation to seek permission from landowners before hunting on their land.
  • Bag and Possession Limits: The standard bag and possession limits for deer, including the use of Bonus Antlerless Harvest Report Cards, apply during the Urban Archery Season.

Participating Cities, Towns, and Villages

The 2023 participating cities, towns and villages are:

Albemarle - 704-984-9565

Ansonville - 704-826-8404

Archer Lodge - 919-359-9727

Boiling Springs - 704-434-9691

Chapel Hill - 919-968-2784

China Grove - 704-857-2466

Clayton - 919-553-5002

Cleveland - 704-278-4777

Concord - 704-920-5000

Denton - 336-859-4231

East Bend - 336-699-8560

Eden - 336-623-9687

Elkin - 336-258-8917

Fairview - 704-753-1981

Franklinville - 336-824-2604

Glen Alpine - 828-584-2622

Granite Quarry - 704-279-5596

Harrisburg - 704-455-0709

Huntersville - 704-875-6571

Indian Trail - 704-821-5401 Ext. 226

Jamestown - 336-454-1138

Jefferson - 336-846-9368

Jonesville - 336-835-3426

King - 336-983-8265

Landis - 704-857-4114

Lattimore - 704-434-2620

Lenoir - 828-757-2100

Lewisville - 336-945-5558

Locust - 704-888-5260

Midland - 704-888-2232

Mineral Springs - 704-243-0505

Mooresboro -

Morganton - 828-432-2345

Nags Head/Kill Devil Hills -

New London - 704-463-5423

North Wilkesboro - 336-667-7129

Norwood - 704-474-3416

Oakboro - 704-485-3351

Oak Ridge - 336-644-7009

Pleasant Garden - 336-674-3002

Randleman - 336-495-7500

Red Cross - 704-485-2002

Reidsville - 336-349-1030

Richfield - 704-463-1308

Ronda - 336-835-2061

Sanford - 919-777-1104

Shelby - 704-484-6801

Stallings - 704-821-8557

Stanfield - 704-888-2386

Stokesdale - 336-643-4011

Summerfield - 336-643-8655

Trent Woods - 252-637-3030

Troutman - 704-528-7600

Unionville - 704-226-1989

Valdese - 828-879-2100

Wake Forest - 919-435-9609

Waxhaw - 704-843-2195 Ext. 278

Weddington - 704-846-2709

Wentworth - 336-342-6288

Yadkinville - 336-679-8732

Information for Municipalities

  • Participation Procedure: Cities, towns, and villages interested in participating in the Urban Archery Season must submit a letter of intent to the Wildlife Resources Commission by April 1 of each year.
  • Required Documentation: Along with the letter of intent, a map (no larger than 11” X 17”) clearly defining the area included in the season must be provided.
  • Contact Information: Municipalities seeking to participate should contact the Wildlife Management Division at 919-707-0050 for further assistance and coordination with a district wildlife biologist.

The Urban Archery Season is a targeted approach to manage deer populations in urban environments effectively. It offers a specialized hunting opportunity while ensuring safe and regulated hunting practices in densely populated areas. Hunters and municipalities alike must adhere to the specific guidelines to ensure the success of this program and the safe coexistence of wildlife and urban communities.

Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.