When Is Hunting Season? The Ultimate Guide to Hunting in the U.S.

November 11, 2021 10 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Hunting in the U.S.

Millions of Americans prepare for hunting season every year, hoping to return home with enough meat to fill the freezer. However, every state has different laws and regulations regarding hunting seasons. There are many critical variables to consider, including who is allowed to hunt, which age groups, which species you can hunt, how long the season lasts and which hunting weapons are allowed. Follow this complete 50-state guide to deer hunting seasons in the United States for the 2021-2022 period and never miss a hunting day.


For most hunters in the U.S., hunting season refers to deer hunting. In most regions, the fall season signals the opening of big game hunting season, as it roughly corresponds with the start of the breeding period (also known as the rut). However, many local environmental factorscan change when the rut starts, and each state adapts its hunting season accordingly. The primary reason behind modern hunting seasons is wildlife conservation. If the deer population within a particular area is too high,they may cause overgrazing, depriving many small animals of nesting habitats. 

What is a limiting factor? A limiting factor is a biological term referring to an element that reduces the population of a given species in a specific area. They include natural circumstances like disease, food, water supply fluctuations, predators and human factors like hunting and urban development. By allowing people to hunt within a designated period, the deer population in each surveyed area can be maintained at a healthy level, protecting it from the damages of overpopulation.


If you’reeager to start placing your deer blinds, you’ll need to know about your state’s deer season periods. Here is a complete list of deer hunting seasons for the 2021-2022 period.


Alabama divides the state into five zones for deer hunting. Each zone has its own rules and hunting periods. Refer to theAlabama wildlife conservation website for more details.


Alaska deer season opens on August 1 and closes on December 31. Hunters may not hunt deer or any other big game species with archery weapons and muzzleloaders.

hunting season arizona


Deer hunting in Arizona is delineated into five categories:

  • General season: October 22-December 31
  • Youth hunters (ages 10-13): October 1-November 28
  • CHAMP category: September 17-23, October 22-28 and November 12-18
  • Archery: August 20-September 9 and December 10-31.


Statewide deer season opening dates depend on your hunting weapon:

  • Archery: September 25
  • Muzzleloaders: October 16
  • Modern firearms: November 13

Arkansas isdivided into 20 hunting zones, each with its season end dates and restrictions by weapon and age group.


The Golden State’s deer season opens on August 14 and closes on November 7. A second archery-only period begins on July 10 and ends on October 2. Like many other states,California divides its land into hunting zones. Inside each zone, specific localities may impose different start and end dates.


General deer hunting season dates in Colorado are:

  • Archery: September 2-30
  • Muzzleloader: September 11-19
  • Rifle: October 30-November 7, November 13-19 and November 24-28

Note that specific deer and elkspecies may be subjected to different start and end dates.


Deerhunters looking to place their hunting ground blinds in Connecticut must follow these start and end dates:

  • Archery, all locations: September 15-December 31
  • Shotgun and rifle, public and private land: November 17-December 7
  • Shotgun and rifle, landowners: November 1-December 31
  • Muzzleloader, private land: December 8-31
  • Muzzleloader, public land: December 8-21

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Delaware divides its deer season into several categories. Even within a designated deer season, hunting on Sundays is typically illegal:

  • Archery and crossbows: September 1-January 31
  • Muzzleloaders: October 8-17 and January 24-30
  • Rifles and shotguns: November 12-21 and January 15-23
  • Handguns: October 1-3, 18, 22-25, 29-31 and December 11-19
  • Youth and reduced-mobility hunters: November 6-7


The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission divides the state into four zones, some possessing multiple subzones. Each area is further divided by hunting weapon and species, with dates for each combination.


General deer season dates in the Peach State are:

  • Archery: September 11-January 9 (extends to January 31 in select counties)
  • Primitive weapons: October 9-January 9
  • Firearms: October 16-January 9


There are no white-tailed deer in Hawaii. Instead, you will find black-tailed deer on Kauai and axis deer on Maui, Lanai and Molokai. Black-tailed deer may be hunted year-round, while axis deer season runs from February to March. Visit theHawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife website for more details.


Idaho deer season is open to hunters of all categories from October 10 to December 1.


The Prairie State divides its deer season into these categories:

  • Archery:
    • Cook, DuPage, Lake counties, Kane county east of Route 47: October 1-January 16
    • All other areas: October 1-November 18, November 22-December 1 and December 6-January 16
  • Muzzleloaders: December 10-12
  • Firearms: November 19-21 and December 2-5
  • Youth hunters, firearms: October 9-11

indiana hunting season


Indiana deer hunting seasons are as follows:


Iowa offers numerous opportunities for deer hunters:

  • Archery: October 1-December 3 and December 20-January 10
  • Muzzleloaders: October 16-24 and December 20-January 10
  • Firearms: December 4-8 and December 11-19
  • Youth and reduced mobility hunters: September 18-October 3
  • Non-residents, antlerless deer only: December 24-January 2


Kansas has two deer seasons: a general deer season divided into subgroups and a whitetail antlerless-only (WAO) season. General deer season dates:

  • Archery: September 13-December 31
  • Firearms: December 1-12
  • Firearms, pre-rut WAO: October 9-11
  • Muzzleloaders: September 13-26
  • Youth and reduced mobility hunters: September 4-12

WAO season starts on January 1 statewide and ends on January 9, 16 or 23, depending on the locality.Check your local laws for more details.


The Bluegrass State divides its deer hunting season into six groups:

  • Archery, youth, and senior hunters with crossbows: September 4-January 17
  • Crossbow only: September 18-January 17
  • Youth hunters, firearms: October 9-10
  • Muzzleloaders: October 16-17 and December 11-19
  • Modern firearms: November 13-28
  • Youth hunters, free weekend: January 1-2


Although hunting season generally starts on September 18 and ends on February 15, theLouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries divides the state into ten hunting areas and five different categories, each with its own dates.


Deer hunting in Maine includes four periods by weapon type, plus two special days:

  • Archery: October 2-29 and September 11-December 11
  • Firearms: November 1-27
  • Muzzleloader: November 29-December 4 or December 6-11 (depending on the region)
  • Youth hunter day: October 23
  • Residents only day: October 30
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Deer season in Maryland includes white-tailed and sika deer and is open to hunters with firearms, muzzleloaders, archery weapons and primitive weapons. The state is divided intomultiple management regions, each with its own dates, bag limits and antlered or antlerless restrictions. Specific counties may also impose restrictions on Sunday hunting.

hunter sitting with shotgun


Massachusetts is unique forprohibiting hunters from using rifles and handguns, leaving archery, shotguns and primitive firearms as the only options for local hunters.

  • Archery: October 18-November 27 (Zones 1-9), October 4-November 27 (Zones 10-14)
  • Shotguns: November 29-December 11
  • Primitive firearms: December 13-31
  • Youth hunter day: October 2
  • Paraplegic hunters: October 28-30


Regular deer hunting season in Michigan is divided into six categories:

  • Antlerless only, firearms: September 18-19, December 13-January 1
  • Archery: October 1-November 14, December 1-January 1
  • Firearms: November 15-30
  • Muzzleloaders: December 3-12
  • Liberty Hunt (youth and reduced mobility hunters): September 11-12
  • Independence Hunt (reduced mobility hunters): October 14-17


Deer hunters in the Gopher State have many opportunities:

  • Archery: September 18-December 31
  • Firearms:Varies by area and series 
  • Muzzleloaders: November 27-December 12
  • Youth hunters and early antlerless period: October 21-24

minnesota hunting season


Although deer season generally opens on October 1 and ends in February,deer hunting in Mississippi is subjected to complex regulations based on the buck’s antler sizes, a hunting region system and your choice of hunting implements.


If you’re looking to hunt deer in Missouri, here are the dates to know:

  • Archery: September 15-November 12, November 24-January 15
  • Firearms: November 13-23
  • Alternative methods: December 25-January 4
  • Antlerless only, firearms: December 4-12
  • Youth hunters, firearms: October 30-31, November 26-28


The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks organizationdivides the state into hunting districts (HD). Districts 150, 151, 280 and 316 are considered backcountry districts for deer and elk hunting, subject to their own dates.

  • Archery: September 4-October 17
  • Archery, backcountry: September 4-14
  • General deer season: October 23-November 28
  • General deer season, backcountry: September 15-November 28


Deer hunters in Nebraska, aka the Cornhusker state must know the following dates:

  • Archery: September 1-December 31
  • Firearms: November 13-21
  • Muzzleloaders: December 1-31
  • Antlerless only: January 1-16


Nevada is one of the rare few states without a significant white-tailed deer population. Instead, you’ll find opportunities to hunt elk and mule deer. 

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is notable for allowing Sunday hunting. White-tailed deer hunters should know the following dates:

  • Archery: September 15-December 15 (closes one week early inUnit A)
  • Muzzleloader: October 30-November 9
  • Firearms: November 10-December 5 (closes one week early in Unit A)
  • Youth week: October 23-24

New Jersey

Deer hunting season in New Jersey is divided into two categories, with one day in each devoted to youth hunters:

  • Archery: September 11-October 29, October 30-January 31
  • Youth hunters, archery: September 25
  • Firearms: December 6-11
  • Youth hunters, firearms: November 20

New Mexico

New Mexico has three deer seasons: a general season for all hunters, two archery-only periods and a muzzleloader-only period.

  • General deer season: September 1-January 31
  • Archery: September 1-24, January 1-15
  • Muzzleloaders: September 27-October 3

New York

Deer hunters in New York must follow the hunting laws and regulations applicable to their local Wildlife Management Unit and hunting weapon of choice.Check the table on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website for specific dates.

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North Carolina

Hunters looking for deer in North Carolina can look forward to these dates:

  • Archery: September 11-November 5
  • Archery, urban areas: January 15-February 20 (only in specific cities)
  • Firearms: October 16-January 1
  • Muzzleloaders: October 2-November 19

North Dakota

Deer season in North Dakota includes both white-tailed and mule deer.

  • Archery: September 3-January 2
  • Firearms: November 5-21
  • Muzzleloaders: November 26-December 12
  • Youth hunters: September 9-26


Although deer hunting season dates apply nationwide, individual counties have varying bag limits, ranging from two to four deer. Check your local county’s laws for more details.

  • Archery: September 25-February 6
  • Firearms: November 29-December 5 and December 18-19
  • Muzzleloader: January 8-11
  • Youth hunters: November 20-22


With anestimated deer population of approximately 650,000, Oklahoma has no shortage of opportunities for deer hunters.

  • Archery: October 1-January 15
  • Firearms: November 20-December 5
  • Muzzleloader: October 23-31
  • Youth hunters: October 15-17
  • Antlerless only: December 18-31


Depending on the county and hunting weapon, deer hunting in Oregon mayrequire a special permit.

  • Firearms: October 2-November 5
  • Archery: August 28-September 26


As with many other states, the Pennsylvania Game Commission divides the state territory into multiple wildlife management units (WMU), creating many combinations of areas, species, legal hunting weapons and other circumstances, each with its own season dates. Consult the PGC’sseasons and bag limits page for more information.

Rhode Island

Deer hunting on Rhode Island is allowed only by lottery permit, and only muzzleloaders, archery weapons and shotguns loaded with slugs may be used. The state is divided into four zones, andeach combination of zone and legal hunting weapon has its own dates.

South Carolina

If you’re planning to go deer hunting in the Palmetto State,check which Game Zone your county belongs to before consulting this calendar:

  • Firearms: October 11-January 1 (Zones 1-2), August 15-January 1 (Zone 3), September 1-January 1 (Zone 4)
  • Archery: September 15-30 (Zone 2), August 15-31 (Zone 4)
  • Primitive weapons: October 1-10 (Zones 1-2)
  • Youth days: September 25-January 8 (Zone 1), September 11-January 8 (Zone 2), August 14-January 8 (Zones 3-4)

South Dakota

South Dakota divides deer hunting season dates by region and hunting weapon, formingeleven different start and end dates.


The Volunteer State offers many opportunities to hunt deer, from late summer until mid-winter.

  • Early season: August 27-29
  • General season: November 20-January 2
  • Archery: September 25-October 29, November 1-5
  • Youth hunters: October 30-31
  • Muzzleloaders and archery: November 6-19
  • Private lands only: January 3-7

texas hunting season


White-tailed deer hunters in the Lone Star State can look forward to the following dates:

  • General season: November 6-January 2 (North), November 6-January 16 (South)
  • Late season: January 3-16 (North), January 17-30 (South)
  • Archery: January 17-30
  • Muzzleloaders: January 3-16
  • Youth hunters: October 30-31, January 3-16


Utah’s deer season dates are:

  • Early season: October 13-17
  • General season: October 23-31
  • Late season: October 28-November 5
  • Archery: August 17-21
  • Muzzleloaders: September 29-October 7


In addition to bagging no more than four deer per year, including one legal buck, there are strict limits on hunting antlerless deer and hunting within the seasonal dates, which include:

  • General season: November 13-28
  • Archery: October 1-December 15
  • Muzzleloaders: December 4-12
  • Muzzleloaders, antlerless-only: October 28-31
  • Youth and novice hunters: October 23-24


If you plan to go on a deer hunt in Virginia, theapplicable season dates depend on your weapon of choice and the local county or wildlife management area.


Washington state is divided into six Game Management Units, withdates for each combination of weapon, hunter age group and location.

West Virginia

Hunters from the Mountain State may go deer hunting on the following dates:

  • Archery and crossbows: September 25-December 31
  • Firearms, buck: November 22-December 5
  • Muzzleloaders: December 13-19
  • Antlerless deer:Varies by county


Hunters in Wisconsin may use the following calendar for deer hunting:

  • Archery and crossbows: September 18-January 9
  • Firearms: November 20-28
  • Muzzleloaders: November 29-December 8
  • Antlerless only: December 9-12
  • Holiday hunt: December 24-January 1
  • Reduced mobility hunters: October 2-10
  • Youth hunters: October 9-10


Deer hunters in Wyoming may hunt both white-tailed and mule deer. The state is divided into hunting areas,each possessing different dates depending on hunting weapon, deer type and whether the land is public or private.

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