South Dakota Deer Hunting Season 2023-2024

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South Dakota is a deer hunter’s paradise with an estimated white-tailed deer population of over 400 000 and 80 000 mule deer. Deer conservation efforts, in the 1900s, by the South Dakota Department of Fish and Game have led to the increase of mule and white-tailed deer populations in the state.

The South Dakota Department of Fish and Game enforces seasonal deer hunting regulations and dates. If you plan on targeting your share of South Dakota deer this season, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know for a successful hunt.

Season Dates 2023-2024

South Dakota has six different deer hunting seasons, each with its own regulations. In addition, South Dakota is divided into separate wildlife management areas, and each area has its own seasonal deer hunting dates. 

SeasonDates (start-to-end)
ArcherySeptember 1st – January 1st
General SeasonNovember 1st – December 18th
Apprentice and Mentored HuntsSeptember 9th – January 1st
MuzzleloaderDecember 1st – January 1st
National Wildlife Refuge DeerSee application for dates
Black HillsNovember 1st – November 30th
East & West River AntlerlessDecember 9th – December 17th
East RiverNovember 19th – December 4th
Custer State ParkNovember 1st – December 15th
East River LandownerNovember 18th – December 3rd
West River LandownerNovember 11th – November 26th 

License Costs

Hunters are required to purchase a Big Game hunting license to hunt deer in South Dakota. The easiest way to purchase a hunting license in South Dakota is by applying online. All you need to do is create an account and select the type of deer season you are applying for and the unit. 

Hunters can only apply for two deer hunting seasons (not the same one twice). After the license draws have taken place, if there are any surplus licenses available, hunters can apply for these licenses. Hunters that are rejected for a season may apply for any other season. 

Big Game License$25$225
Archery- Any Deer Tag $40 $286 
Archery- Doe Tag$20$80
Muzzleloader- Any Deer Tag $40 
Muzzleloader- Doe Tag$20$80
Black Hills- Any Deer Tag$40$286
Black Hills- White-tail Tag$40$286
Black Hills- Doe Tag$20$80
Custer State Park- Any Deer Tag$156N/A
Custer State Park – Antlerless White-tail Tag $31N/A
East River- Any Deer Tag$40$286
East River- Any Deer Tag + Doe Tag$50$336
East River- Doe Tag$20$80
East River- Two (2) Doe Tags$30$120
West River- Any Deer Tag$40$286
West River- Any Deer Tag + Doe Tag$50$336
West River- Doe Tag$20$80
West River- Two (2) Doe Tags$30$120
Special Buck East River$175N/A
Special Buck West River$175$560
National Wildlife Refuge- Any Deer Tag$40$286
National Wildlife Refuge- Doe Tag $20$80

In addition to the hunter’s license fees, a $6 surcharge is mandated by state law. The funds derived from the surcharge are allocated to hunting access and wildlife damage management programs.

Bag Limits

South Dakota has no bag limit restrictions for the amount or type of deer a hunter may harvest. However, hunters are only allowed to harvest the amount of deer specified by the license and tag.

Hunters can only purchase deer tags through a lottery system; every deer hunting license has a single deer tag that permits a hunter to harvest the allocated deer. They can apply for additional deer tags through the lottery system.

No hunter can transfer their deer license to another hunter when hunting. Hunters must at all times have (such as wild turkeys) their hunting licenses and deer tags. Once a hunter has used their deer tag, they can shoot other game with the same license.

What Weapons can you Hunt Deer with in South Dakota?

Like most states in the US, hunters are restricted to the type of weapons they may legally hunt deer with in South Dakota. The state of South Dakota allows any legal weapon. However, there are archery-only and muzzleloader-only seasons. Weapons that are permitted:

  • Archery- Bow & Arrow
  • Muzzleloading rifles 
  • Shotguns
  • Crossbows


Projectile All firearms must require the hunter to reload the weapon; no self-loading weapons are permitted. It must not be capable of holding more than six (6) cartridges, nor can it be automatic. Only weapons that produce 1000 foot-pounds of energy are permitted.
AmmunitionSingle lead or alloy projectile, including rifled slugs or sabot rounds of at least one ounce. Expanding bullets are allowed.
Prohibited ammunitionBuckshot is prohibited at all times.

Bow and Arrow

ArrowsOnly broadhead-tipped arrows with at least two (2) cutting edges are permitted.
BroadheadsBroadheads, including mechanical broadheads, must be seven-eighths of one inch (7/8″) or greater at the widest point.
Bow characteristicsMinimum draw weight for hunting deer is 30 lbs for archers.


Crossbow draw weightCrossbow must have a minimum pull of 120lbs, a working mechanical safety
Arrows/ boltsOnly broadhead-tipped arrows with at least two (2) cutting edges are permitted. 
BroadheadsBroadheads, including mechanical broadheads, must be seven-eighths of one inch (7/8″) or greater at the widest point.

Muzzleloading Rifle

Powderblack powder or black powder substitute only.
CaliberMuzzleloading rifles must be .44 caliber or larger. Muzzleloading handguns must discharge a projectile of .50 caliber or larger.
Legal projectileMust be a single barrel.
IgnitionPercussion caplock, flintlock, and in-line ignition systems using percussion caps, rifle, or shotshell primers.
AmmunitionSingle lead or alloy projectile, including rifled slugs or sabot rounds of at least one ounce. Expanding bullets are allowed.

What Types of Deer Are Popular to Hunt in South Dakota?

Deer hunting in South Dakota is extremely popular, with close to 100 different Wildlife Management Areas in the state. Each area guarantees a hunter an opportunity to harvest their seasonal deer. In addition, the state allows hunters to hunt two species of deer.

Mule deer and white-tailed deer are the only two species of deer that roam the prized public hunting areas of South Dakota. However, these two species of deer are relatively common throughout the US. White-tailed deer can be found in almost every state except Hawaii.  

What else is Popular to Hunt in South Dakota?

This may shock many, but South Dakota offers various Big and Small game animals for hunters to target. Popular species of game  to hunt in South Dakota are:

  • Elk
  • Mountain Lion 
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Pronghorn Antelope 
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Coyote 
  • Mountain Goat 
  • Pheasant
  • American Bison
  • Turkey 

Hi there! I'm a passionate bowman and a fan of all target sports in general. You'll often find me at my local archery and shooting ranges honing my skills.

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