Many changes are coming to South Carolina deer hunters this year, for both resident and non-resident hunters. One big change is where and when you can obtain your deer hunting tags. In the past, hunters in South Carolina have only been required to tag antlerless deer, but beginning this season, bucks will also have to be tagged.

This makes getting your deer tags before you’re ready to hunt much more important than in the past. In previous years, if you decided to go hunting and you had not purchased a license yet, you could swing by Walmart to buy your license, or better yet, you could get on your computer or smart phone and purchase one at the SCDNR’s website. Then, you could hunt that same day.

You can still purchase your license on the SCDNR’s website, and you can still buy a hunting license at Walmart. But neither of those will allow you to deer hunt immediately. Walmart (and other vendors) will not sell the tags required. And you can’t print them out at home if you purchase a hunting license from SCDNR. And you must tag each deer you kill with SCDNR-provided tags.

So how do you get your tags? If you are a South Carolina resident and already have your hunting license and Big Game Permit, you will receive your tags in the mail prior to the start of deer hunting season. If you purchase your hunting license and Big Game Permit after the season starts, your tags will be sent to you within 7 to 10 days. This means you’ll have to wait that amount of time before hunting deer.

For hunters with a Lifetime License, and for hunters with a Senior License, they will not automatically have their deer tags sent to them. Instead, they must request their tags be sent by calling the SCDNR at 866-714-3611, or by visiting http://dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html.

Another option for all hunters is to visit one of the SCDNR locations that are located in Charleston, Clemson, Columbia, Florence, and York. These locations sell hunting licenses, and can provide hunters with their deer tags.

Non-resident hunters should purchase their tags online or by visiting one of the SCDNR’s offices listed above. Keep in mind processing and mail times so that you’re not left out when opening day comes.

Don’t wait until the last minute to get your South Carolina deer tags. You could miss out on more than you’d like.