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When Does Deer Season Start?

Last Updated: 16.06.24


If you want to take up hunting as a hobby, you should know that there is a hunting season for each species. This information is essential when you go out there hunting and so is getting reliable hunting gear, and if you want more details about the latter, check it out here. Read on and learn when the deer hunting season starts, so that you can properly prepare beforehand.

When Is the Proper Hunting Season for Different Types of Deer?

The deer species include different sub-categories. Each one has its particular characteristics and environment. Below, see what the most common species of deer are and when the hunting season begins for each one of them.


The White-Tailed Deer

This is the most common type of cervid on the American continent. They can be found all over North America. This is the most frequently hunted type of deer due to its popularity. If you want to hunt such a type of game, you should know that it weighs around 175 pounds, if we are talking about a mature male. Females typically weigh less, around 100 pounds.

The name of this deer is very suggestive. They are called white-tailed because their tail is white. The rest of the body is covered with brown hair. The antlers of the white-tailed can have different sizes and shapes. The antlers reach their maximum growth potential by the time the specimen is 4-5 years old. An adult specimen normally has 9-10-point antlers.

Because this is the most widespread deer type across the continent, its hunting season is more generous. The season starts in the second half of August or in September and it may last until February. To hunt whitetails, you can try to identify the areas where they feed or rest or you can take advantage of the breeding season when the males are focused on chasing does.


 The Black-Tailed Deer

This type of deer is present on the Pacific coast in the US, and Canada, in British Columbia. As its name suggests, it has a black tail. Their coat is also darker than in other deer types. This deer is smaller than the white-tailed. Their average weight is around 125 pounds.

The hunting season for the blacktails starts as soon as August in California. The end of the season is in December. The best period to catch them is October-November. The black-tailed deer might not be the easiest game. It is used to roaming and, when hunted, it will run and require a lot of chasing. Therefore, you will need proper boots when hunting for this specimen.


The Moose Deer

The Moose Deer can be found in different regions and countries; Canada, New England, Alaska and different parts of Europe. This is a large deer with palmate antlers. It can weigh even up to 1200 pounds. It has a dark coat and a short tail. The hunting season for this deer is shorter compared to other species and it begins in September.


The Mule Deer

The Mule Deer can be found in the western part of North America. It is a large deer that can weigh up to 350 pounds. Nonetheless, most specimens weigh around 250 pounds. The ears of this deer are quite long, hence its name. The hunting season for the mule deer starts in August or September and lasts throughout the fall.

Why Does the Deer Hunting Season Begin in Fall?

Fall is the right period to start hunting deer for different reasons. On the one hand, this choice lies in the life cycle of this species. On the other hand, there are several practical reasons for which the hunting season for deer begins in fall.

Let’s start with the first. Hunting only during a particular period of the year is essential in order to allow the species to recover and procreate. Before the 1800s, deer hunting was widely practiced year-round which posed risks to this species growth and survival. Moreover, there was no precise limit regarding how many deer specimens one could shoot.

If you hunt deer during the summer, for example, there are high chances you kill a doe that recently gave birth to a fawn. Even if the fawn is already a few weeks old, it still needs its mother as its source of food is milk. Most deer are born in spring and summer – roughly in the months of May-June.

The fawns need their mother at least for 10 weeks because they are still being nursed during this period. Therefore, hunting during these months and killing a female specimen may actually imply killing the fawn as well as it will not survive without the mother.

In order to ensure the continuity of this species, strict rules were necessary to regulate their hunting. In the beginning, the laws on hunting deer were more permissible. Hunting was only banned for as little as 5 months per year. This was not enough for the species to recover.

In the US, back in the 30s, over-hunting was practiced on a large scale. The whitetails were in serious danger due to this. As a result, in some states, the hunting season had to be halted for a while. Afterward, the regulations started to become stricter and hunting was allowed for fewer months.

The months of October and November were designated as the best period to start the hunting season because by then, the fawns should be independent enough. In other words, even if you shoot the mother, the young deer who are already able to feed themselves can survive and perpetuate the species.

Nowadays, the habit of hunting in fall and winter is so embedded, that most people would not even think about doing this in a different period. Every experienced hunter knows that fall is the best season to begin deer hunting and follows this basic rule that governs this activity.

Moreover, fall is an appropriate period as, in most states, it coincides with the beginning of the cold season. The summer holidays are long-gone and people are back at work and also ready to indulge in their long-time hobbies. Hunting in the cold season is also more practical as it can be quite difficult to stay outdoors for a long time during hot summer days while carrying your firearm or bow.

Finally, the best time to hunt deer and most other animals is when they are fully grown. This way, you can make the most out of each specimen as you have plenty of meat to sell or cook.

In the case of bucks, there is another aspect you should consider. In young specimens, the antlers are not fully developed until autumn, roughly around the month of October. Hunting a buck that has small antlers will impact the price you can get for that animal.

If you are wondering what you can do with the beautiful antlers of a buck, the answer is plenty of things. You can use them as a trophy or sell them to someone who makes customized objects using antlers.

What Happens If You Don’t Respect the Deer Hunting Season?

Different hunting seasons were established during precise periods of the year in order to preserve animal populations. Endangering one species by overhunting means endangering all species as in the wild, everything is connected based on a prey-predator relationship.

It is first a matter of integrity to respect the hunting season in order to protect the wild specimens and, subsequently, the environment itself. Secondly, there are different legal consequences for those who don’t obey the law. Depending on each state’s regulation, people who have been caught hunting outside the season get a fine. Additionally, their permit gets suspended.

The interval during which a person is banned from hunting after their permit was suspended depends on the gravity of the situation. In some cases, the revocation only lasts for a season. In others, it can be a matter of years before that person is allowed to hunt again.

Finally, breaking the rules of the hunting season is not fair to other fellow hunters. Once the season begins, everybody should have the same chances of catching the game. If one or several hunters begin hunting earlier, they take more than a fair share and eliminate some of the game everybody else was entitled to.

There are different ways to benefit from hunting a deer, besides selling its meat. However, to make sure killing this precious animal was worth it, you should only hunt during the permitted season when the animal is mature and the law permits its hunting.



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