North Carolina hunting season

John Lewis

North Carolina Hunting Seasons 2024 New Regulations & Dates!

NC Hunting Season, north carolina, North Carolina Hunting Seasons

If you are planning for the deer season or any other games in North Carolina. You’re in the correct spot! Here are the dates for the forthcoming archery, primitive weapons, and guns period, as well as the basic laws and guidelines you need to be aware of.

North Carolina Hunting Categories & Seasons

The dates and general rules for North Carolina’s hunting seasons are listed below, but hunters should refer to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Rules Compendium for a more comprehensive summary of laws, schedule, and bag limits. It should be noted that the period for deer shooting with different firearms correspond with the county in which they are found on the game areas located in Buffalo Cove, Nicholson Creek, Rockfish Creek, Sandhills, and South Mountains. Hunters should consult the “Game Lands” portion of the Rules Compendium for special limitations regarding particular game lands seasons.

NC Deer Season

Northeastern9-Sep – 29-Sep30-Sep – 13-Oct14-Oct – 1-Jan
Southeastern9-Sep – 29-Sep30-Sep – 13-Oct14-Oct – 1-Jan
Central9-Sep – 27-Oct28-Oct – 10-Nov11-Nov – 1-Jan
Northwestern9-Sep – 3-Nov4-Nov – 17-Nov18-Nov – 1-Jan
Western9-Sep – 1-Oct2-Oct – 14-Oct20-Nov – 9-Dec
 15-Oct – 19-Nov  
 10-Dec – 1-Jan  (Antlered Only)  
Urban Deer13-Jan – 18-FebEither-Sex: All open days;  First open Saturday (applicable gun season)Either-Sex :All open days; First open Saturday (applicable blackpowder )

You may also read our NC Deer Hunting Season article if want to know complete details.


Mountain Bear16-Oct – 18-NovIn and west of Surry, Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke and Cleveland
 11-Dec – 1-JanIn and west of Surry, Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke and Cleveland
Piedmont Bear11-Nov – 1-JanAlamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Caswell, Chatham, Davidson, Durham, Granville, Guilford, Lee, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanly, and Union
 14-Oct – 1-JanFranklin, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Moore, Richmond, Scotland, Vance, Wake, and Warren
 18-Nov – 1-JanAlexander, Catawba, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Stokes, and Yadkin
Coastal Bear Zones  
1Nov 11 – Nov 26Dare, Hyde, and Tyrrell
2Nov 10 – Nov 19Camden, Chowan, and Pasquotank
2Nov 11 – Nov 19Gates, Currituck, and Perquimans
3Nov 11 – Nov 19Beaufort, Bertie, Craven, Hertford, Jones, Martin, and Washington
4Nov 18 – Dec 17Edgecombe, Greene, Halifax, Lenoir, Nash, Northampton, Pitt, Wayne, and Wilson
513-Nov – 1-JanBladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico (use of dogs for hunting bears prohibited in this county), Pender, Robeson, and Sampson


YouthApril 6 – April 12, 20241 per day, 1 max– Male or bearded turkey only
   – Only one may be taken during the youth
Statewide SpringApril 13 – May 11, 20241 per day, 2 max– Male or bearded turkey only
   – Possession and season limit: 2 Top of Form Bottom of Form

If you want to learn more about the 2024 North Carolina turkey, be sure to check out our full article on it for all the details.

NC Furbearer

Coyote, Groundhog, Nutria, Skunk, Armadillo, Feral Swine (Hogs)

January 01 – December 31No LimitsPrivate lands

Bobcat, Raccoon, Opossum, Rabbit

  • 16-Oct – 29-Feb


Gray and Red Squirrels16-Oct – 29-Feb
Spring Squirrel (Gray Squirrel) Private Lands13-May – 27-May
Fox Squirrels16-Oct – 31-Jan


Beaver Beaver may be taken with guns or a bow and arrow throughout the year, providing that permission has been acquired from the land’s owner or lessee.


CountyFox Trapping Datesw/Weapon Dates
AlexanderNo Fox Trapping 
AveryDec 1 – Feb 1
BertieNov 18 – Jan 1
CurrituckNov 18 – Jan 1
DuplinDuring any open for a game animal
GreeneNov 18 – Jan 1
HertfordNov 18 – Jan 1
IredellDec 1 – Jan 1, Nov 18 – Jan 1
JonesNov 18 – Jan 1
LenoirNov 18 – Jan 1
OnslowNov 18 – Jan 1
MooreNov 18 – Jan 1
RandolphNov 18 – Jan 1
WakeNov 18 – Jan 1
WayneNov 18 – Jan 1
WilsonNov 18 – Jan 1
BeaufortOct 1 – end of FebDec 1 – Jan 1, Jan 2 – Feb 28
CabarrusOct 1 – end of Feb
CaldwellOct 1 – end of Feb
ChowanOct 1 – end of Feb
HydeNov 15 – Jan 1, Jan 2 – end of Feb
McDowellOct 1 – end of Feb
New HanoverNov 18 – Jan 1
RowanOct 1 – end of Feb
Winston-SalemNov 18 – Jan 1
StokesOct 1 – end of Feb
CaswellJun 1 – Feb 28Nov 2 – Feb 10, Jan 5 – Feb 10
ChathamDec 1 – Feb 15Nov 18 – Jan 1
ColumbusJan 2 – Jan 31Dec 1 – Jan 1
EdgecombeNov 18 – Jan 1
HokeDec 1 – Jan 1
RichmondNov 18 – Jan 1
RobesonDec 1 – Jan 1
StanlyNov 18 – Jan 1
ScotlandDec 1 – Jan 1, Nov 18 – Jan 1
FranklinOct 1 – Jan 31
BrunswickDec 1 – Jan 1
ClayJan 6 – Jan 27Jan 6 – Jan 27
AlleghanyOct 15 – Mar 1Oct 15 – Mar 1
AsheNov 1 – Feb 28Year-round
CravenJan 2 – Feb 28Nov 18 – Jan 1
GranvilleOct 1 – Jan 31Oct 1 – Jan 31
HalifaxJan 7 – Feb 10Year-round
HendersonJan 6 – Jan 27Year-round
JohnstonDec 1 – Feb 20Dec 1 – Feb 20, Nov 18 – Jan 1
NorthamptonJan 5 – Feb 10Nov 2 – Feb 10
PersonSept 1 – Sept 30Dec 1 – Jan 1, Dec 1 – Feb 20
RockinghamJune 1 – Feb. 28Oct. 16 – Feb. 28
 May 13 – May 27, 2024 
SurryOct 15 – Mar 1Oct 15 – Mar 1
VanceOct 1 – Jan 31Oct 1 – Jan 31
YadkinOct 1 – Feb 28Year-round

For complete bag limits and local restriction you may download the NC Fox Hunting Digest.

NC Upland Birds


  • 18-Nov – 29-Feb


  • 16-Oct – 29-Feb


Pheasant18-Nov – 1-Feb
Trapping1-Oct – 28-Feb

NC Migratory Birds


  • 2-Aug – 28-Feb

Note: Crows may be hunted on the third Wednesday, sixth Friday, and seventh Saturday of every week, as well as on the following holidays: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Independence Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Thanksgiving Day, unless they occur on a Sunday.


2-Sep – 7-OctDaily Limit 15; either singly or in the aggregate


2-Sep – 22-NovDaily Limit 15 King or Clapper Rails either singly or in the aggregate
Daily Limit 25 Virginia Rails or Sora either singly or in the aggregate

Gallinule and Moorhen

2-Sep – 22-NovDaily Limit 15 Gallinules and Moorhens either singly or in the aggregate


11-Dec – 31-JanDaily Limit 3


27-Oct – 28-FebDaily Limit 8

NC Waterfowls

Waterfowl Days
Youth Waterfowl Day(s)Feb 3 & Feb 10 (statewide)Same as regular waterfowl season(s)
Veterans/Military Waterfowl Day(s)

Duck, Coots, Mergansers
Inland Zone4-Nov – 25-Nov
 19-Dec – 31-Jan
 27-Oct – 28-Oct
Coastal Zone4-Nov – 25-Nov
18-Dec – 31-Jan
Sea Ducks27-Oct – 28-Oct
4-Nov – 25-Nov
18-Dec – 31-Jan

September Teal
13-Sep – 30-SepDaily Limit 6

  • Dec 28 – Jan 31

Ducks, Coots, and Mergansers Bag Limit
GameDaily LimitAdditional Restrictions
Ducks6• 4 total sea ducks, with limits on specific species.
• 4 mallards (only 2 hen mallards).
• 3 wood ducks
• 2 black ducks
• 2 redheads
• 2 canvasbacks
• 1 pintail.
• 1 mottled duck
• 1 fulvous whistling duck
• Scaup bag limit changes on Jan. 9, from 1 to 2.
• Season closed for harlequin ducks
• Season closed for black and mottled ducks until Nov. 18.
Sea Ducks4• Limits on specific sea duck species.
Mergansers5• No more than 2 hooded mergansers.
Goose SeasonSeason DatesDaily Limit
September Canada Goose SeasonSept 1 – Sept 30 (statewide)15
Resident Population ZoneOct 19 – Oct 28,
Nov 4 – Nov 25,
Dec 18 – Feb 10
5 Canada geese or whitefronted geese either singly or in the aggregate
Northeast Hunt ZoneDec 28 – Jan 312 Canada geese or white-fronted geese either singly or in the aggregate
Light Geese (Regular Season)Oct 10 – Feb 1025; no possession limit
Light Geese (Conservation Order Season), Permit required Feb 12 – Mar 31No daily limit; no possession limit
Tundra Swan (By Permit Only)Nov 4 – Jan 311 per season with special permit

Extended Falconry

Dove (Mourning & White-Winged Dove)Oct 9 – Oct 213
King, Clapper and Virginia Rail, Sora, Gallinule, and MoorhenDec 9 – Jan 133
WoodcockDec 1 – Dec 9 & Feb 3 – Feb 243
Ducks, Mergansers, and CootsOct 2 – Oct 14 & Feb 1 – Feb 103

North Carolina Hunting Bag Limits

Deer hunters in North Carolina can shoot a certain amount of deer each season. Each shooter can only take down six deer, with two having horns and the remaining four being antlerless. Unlike some other states, North Carolina does not have a daily limit on the number of deer that may be taken.

The state-wide bag restriction does have one exception, though. Deer management assistance program (DMAP) participants can take extra antlerless deer without putting them against their national quota. The DMAP program’s capture identifiers must be used to identify these animals.

It is significant to observe that deer with bone protrusions through the skin are regarded as having antlers in North Carolina, but those with spikes or buttons wrapped in skin or velour are not.

Hunters must fill out Extra Antlerless Report Cards during the Urban Archery Season to record how many antlerless they bag. Hunters are permitted a limitless number of cards, and these deer are not included in the state quota. There are two antlerless allowed per card.

Either Sex-Days

Youth Deer Hunting Day

The day set aside for youth deer hunting allows shooters under 18 to pursue either male or female. This indicates no limits on whether they can take male or female.

Hunting is permitted on game properties in and to the east of Watauga, Wilkes, Alexander, Catawba, Cleveland, Rutherford, Polk counties and other areas during the bow season. This indicates that during the bow season, shooters in these areas can kill both male and female.

Hunters may capture deer of either sex during the first and second bow seasons in any area, including wildlife areas, in or west of the counties of Henderson, Buncombe, McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, and Avery. This indicates that during the first and second bow seasons, shooters can take both male and female in these areas.


There are rules that hunters must abide by during the black powder firearm season. Hunters can capture deer of either species on the first Saturday of this season in and around Henderson, Buncombe, Yancey, Mitchell, and Avery counties. This includes going shooting on wildlife properties in these regions.

Hunters may capture deer of either sex at any moment during the black-powder rifle season in regions where the maximum either-sex gun season is in force and in and east of Polk, Rutherford, McDowell, Burke, Caldwell, Watauga, and Ashe counties. Hunting on wildlife properties within these regions is also included.

To guarantee that they are shooting morally and lawfully, hunters must abide by these rules.


Hunters are only permitted to harvest deer of either sex during the North Carolina gun season on the days specified on the Deer Zone Charts and Game Lands Rules. Hunters should use these charts to determine when they can go hunting because the times for the rifle differ based on the area.

North Carolina has four types of gun or-sex seasons: Maximum, Average, Cautious, and Introductory.

Hunters who fall under the Highest group can capture either-sex deer for the full firearms. From the first open day of the regular season until the second Friday after, the either-sex gathering is permitted in the Average group. From the first available day of the regular season until the first Saturday after, either-sex picking is allowed under the Republican group. Lastly, in the Introductory group, either-sex capture is only permitted on the first open Saturday of the regular rifle season.

To ensure they are hunting within reasonable restrictions, hunters must take notice of which group pertains to their hunting area.

Lawful weapons

Deer hunting is permitted in North Carolina using a variety of tools. Longbows, recurves, composite bows, crossbows, and projectile bows are all acceptable forms of archery. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 100 pounds, and compound bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds. Sling bows recurve, and longbows must, however, be able to drag at least 40 pounds. Hunters can use motorized and fixed-blade broadheads if the cutting width is at least 7/8 inches.

Hunters in North Carolina are permitted to use muzzle-loading firearms that cannot fire fixed ammo and are made to fire black powder, a substitute for black powder, or any other explosive inserted through the muzzle, cylinder, or barrel during the black powder season. This applies to rifles, shotguns, and muzzle- or cylinder-loading pistols. The weapon’s size is unrestricted. Hunters are also permitted to use shooting gear during the black powder seasons.

North Carolina has few restrictions on the gun used for deer shooting except for entirely automatic firearms. For deer shooting, hunters can use any other kind of firearm or handgun. However, it should be mentioned that only a.22 rimfire pistols can be used to dispatch an injured deer during the hunting season.

Hunter Orange Conditions

Hunters in North Carolina who are partaking in the weapons season for deer must don hunter-orange apparel that is noticeable from all directions. Anyone using a shooting firearm on Youth Deer Hunting Day, regardless of age, and anyone using bow equipment to pursue deer on Saturdays is also subject to this rule. However, you are excused from donning orange hunter apparel if you are shooting on your land and you are the owner’s proprietor, companion, or child. This provision only applies if you have the authorization to fire on property that you own, lease, or hire. The prerequisite for hunter-orange apparel exists for safety reasons, to prevent unintentional killings, and to make it simpler for hunters to recognize one another in the field. There may be sanctions or other consequences if this rule is not followed.

NC Hunting License Fees

Combination hunting and inland fishing licenses

Resident Annual$35
Disabled Veteran Lifetime$11
Totally Disabled Lifetime$11

Sportsman licenses

Adult Resident$530
Age 70 Resident$16
Resident Disabled Veteran$106
Resident Totally Disabled$106

Hunting licenses

Resident State$25
Lifetime Resident Comprehensive$265
Controlled Hunt Preserve$22
Resident Annual Comprehensive$39
Nonresident State $100
Nonresident State (Ten-Day)$80

Special activity licenses      

Resident Big Game$14
Nonresident Bear$239
Bear Management Stamp$11
Nonresident Big Game $100
Nonresident Big Game (10-Day)$80
Bonus Antlerless Deer$11
Migratory Waterfowl$14
Resident American Alligator$250
Nonresident American Alligator$500
Resident Elk$500
Nonresident Elk$1,000

Hunting and fishing guide licenses


Trapping licenses

Resident State$32
Resident Lifetime$300
Nonresident State$133

Hook-and-line licenses in inland and joint fishing waters

Resident State Inland$25
Lifetime Resident Comprehensive Inland$265
Nonresident State Inland$45
Resident 10-day Inland$9
Nonresident 10-day Inland$23
Age 70 Resident Lifetime Inland$16
Resident Disabled Veteran Lifetime Inland$11
Resident Totally Disabled Lifetime Inland$11
Special Landholder and Guest$106
Mountain Heritage Trout Waters 3-Day$8

Special device licenses


Non-refundable fees fee for a collection license 


Non-refundable fees shall apply to captivity licenses

Captivity License for Holding$50
Captivity License for Rehabilitation$10

Non-refundable fees shall apply to dealer licenses

Resident Fur-dealer$64
Nonresident Fur-dealer$318
Fur-dealer Station$128
Controlled Hunt Preserve Operator$100
Controlled Hunt Preserve Rabbit Operator$25
Game Bird Propagation$10
Furbearer Propagation$27
Taxidermy Cervid Certification$5
Wildlife Control Agent$50
Wildlife Control Technician Certification$25
Alligator Control Agent Certification$25

Non-refundable fees shall apply to permits

Exportation or Importation$10
Trophy Wildlife Sale$10
Endangered Species$10
Field Trial$10

Please note that these costs may not cover all of the expenses associated with obtaining a deer hunting license in North Carolina, such as any additional fees or permits. In order to ensure you have the most up-to-date information on regulations and costs, it is recommended that you contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website.

North Carolina Hunting Important Links

Frequently Asked Question

What are the different hunting seasons for small game in North Carolina?

The calendar covers seasons for Gray, Red, Fox, Rabbit, Quail, Grouse, Bobcat, Pheasant, Raccoon, Opossum, and others. For example, Gray and Red Squirrel, Grouse, and Raccoon run from October 16 to February 29. Hunters may also anticipate Fox Squirrel from October 18 to January 31 and Quail from November 20 to February 28.

What are the bag limits for turkey hunting in North Carolina?

Turkey hunting in North Carolina is regulated to maintain the population. Hunters may only harvest two turkeys each season and one per day. One turkey is allowed during the youth season for hunters under 18.

What are the requirements for obtaining a hunting license in North Carolina?

State regulations for North Carolina hunting licenses are set by the Wildlife Resources Commission. Completing an authorized hunter education course and carrying the certification card at all times are required, except for individuals possessing a hunting license before July 1, 2013. Hunters must choose the right license based on age and residence. Pursuing bear or ducks requires special permits. Wildlife Resources Commission licenses and permits are available to disabled residents. If convicted of certain felonies or serious offenses, including domestic abuse, hunters cannot carry a gun.

John Lewis
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