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Deer Hunting in North Carolina

Antler Nation, Deer Hunting in North Carolina, North Carolina Deer Hunting

North Carolina



Est. Whitetail Population


No. Licenses Sold Annually


Resident hunting license and deer permit


Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

181 7/8”

Taken by Terry E. Daffron in Guilford County in 1987.

Record B&C Typical Stat


Total B&C Typical Entries

228 4/8”

Taken by Don C. Rockett in Person County in 1998.

Record B&C Non-Typical Stat


Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Image: ImageBy_Tom_Tietz_NC

Check out the latest info for North Carolina. Image by Tom Tietz

Season Dates (2023):

Season dates are segmented and vary greatly for various areas of the state. Please check the NORTH CAROLINA WILDLIFE RESOURCES COMMISSION WEBSITE to confirm season dates.

The Grade: C

Looking at data from the past 10 years, the harvest of trophy bucks and older-age-class bucks in general has been relatively stable. There is potential to grow bigger bucks, though. North Carolina has more than 2 million acres of public hunting access, and with better management, even public hunting could get better.

But for now, North Carolina isn’t a major producer of trophy bucks or jaw-dropping opportunities. Thus, it gets a C grade. However, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Deer Biologist Jonathan Shaw said the agency surveyed hunters to determine what they want in terms of deer management. So, that’s good news. Further, he says the buck age structure and adult sex ratio continue to improve.

“In 2022, CWD was detected in the state for the first time,” said Moriah Boggess, a deer biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “As a result, there are surveillance areas in the northwestern and southeastern corners of the state with special regulations. Hunters should be aware in these areas that with a few exceptions, deer carcasses may not be moved out of these areas, mandatory testing is in effect certain weeks, and wildlife feeding is prohibited from Jan. 2 to Aug. 31.”

Further, Boggess said antlerless season days have been increased in nine western counties, including Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Cleveland, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, and Yancey.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Interested in a stud Tar Heel State buck? Certain counties have better reputations than others. Ashe, Chatham, Durham, Forsyth, Granville, Guilford, Orange, Person, Rockingham, Stokes, and Wake counties are notable hotspots. Still, the best bet to take a trophy is in the northern piedmont area of the state. Other good options are the counties along the Yadkin and Pee Dee rivers.

Shaw noted an URBAN ARCHERY SEASON, and obtaining permission from landowners within participating municipalities can produce solid opportunities at herds with older age structures.

If public is your poison, though, best use AVAILABLE RESOURCES. GAME LANDS and U.S. FOREST SERVICE lands abound. Use the interactive map to find A GOOD PLACE TO GO deer hunting.

Regardless of access types, according to Shaw, there is a lot of variation in the timing of the rut. This gives hunters who are willing to travel an opportunity to hunt peak-rut deer at numerous locations throughout the state, which PLAYS OUT OVER SEVERAL MONTHS.

“The timing of the rut in North Carolina varies widely across the state with peaks in breeding as early as Oct. 4 in the east, and as late as Dec. 19 in the west,” Boggess said. “Hunters can view the timing of peak rut in their respective county using the NCWRC Peak Rut Map.”

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