Wildlife Commission Proposes Changes in Deer Regulations for 2018-2019

Author: NCWRC blogger/Friday, December 1, 2017/Categories: Blog, Hunting, Regulations

Wildlife Commission Proposes Changes in Deer Regulations for 2018-2019

Proposed Regulation Changes for Deer Season (PDF)

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is proposing changes to the statewide deer hunting regulations for 2018-2019, the culmination of years of extensive biological research coupled with hunter engagement and feedback.

The biological evaluation of the statewide deer herd suggested that the deer herd can be improved by reducing young buck harvest, shifting the timing of harvest later in the year and adjusting doe harvest rates. Of the 33,750 hunters responding to the 2016 Deer Hunting and Management Survey, 81 percent of respondents were willing to accept changes in deer hunting seasons to improve buck age structure and the quantity of the herd. Since the last survey conducted in 2006, hunter satisfaction has declined and more hunters indicated that deer numbers had deceased in the last three years, 36 percent compared to 15 percent in 2006. In addition, 88 percent of deer hunters are hunting on properties less than 1,000 acres and 68 percent think there are too few mature bucks in North Carolina’s herd.

Analysis of the 2016 survey responses indicated that the length of the gun season is the most important attribute to hunters, with the lengths and timing of the other seasons being less important. With these preferences in mind, staff identified the highest hunter preference for season attributes and the most biologically important attributes for each zone. Comparing these two sets of attributes, staff proposed season options balancing hunter preference and biological data to optimize the hunting seasons around the peak of the rut and provide earlier-season opportunities for doe harvest in some areas. In addition, staff proposed changes to both the antlered and antlerless deer bag limits to address appropriate harvest levels and hunter desires.

The results of this analysis and potential season changes that could improve the condition of the deer herd and positively impact the deer hunter’s experience, were presented at 9 public forums in 2017. The majority (eighty percent) of forum attendees indicated that they either supported or would accept options that would improve quality of the deer herd.

The proposed changes were developed to improve the deer herd by reducing young buck harvest, shifting the timing of harvest relative to peak conception dates, and adjusting doe harvest rates. Proposed season zones in the map and table below represent these balanced options.

Proposed Deer Regulations Changes:

Modify statewide deer hunting seasons by establishing five deer season zones.




Implement deer hunting seasons for each of the five season zones, that include changes to season length and time frames, and antlered and antlerless bag limits, as seen in the chart below. (Note: Archery season opening dates would remain the same, but archery season would last longer in zones where other seasons begin later.)



Shift either-sex days to the beginning of Introductory, Conservative and Moderate Antlerless Deer Seasons in the western NC counties indicated in the table below.


The public is encouraged to submit comments, opinions and suggestions by Feb. 1, 2018. Nine public hearings will be held across the state in January to discuss these and other proposed regulations changes. Comments can also be submitted by e-mail, (please include your name and address) online or by mail (Rule-making Coordinator, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1701).


View a narrated presentation explaining these proposed changes.

If you are unable to view the video below, view it on YouTube


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