FAQs and Answers: Is it legal to sell a mounted white-tailed deer buck?
[Note: This is the first in a series of “FAQ” posts based on common questions we receive from the public. If you have a question you’d like answered in a future installment of “FAQs and Answers,” just include it in the comments section below, or e-mail it to Blog Editor David Lucas at lucasD@dnr.sc.gov.]
With the ever-increasing popularity of social media in general, and social media-linked “Buy-Sell” online marketplaces in particular, one recurring question that the SCDNR gets from the public involves the sale of white-tailed deer mounts, which are sometimes posted “for sale” by folks who may not know any better. Obviously, most hunters who spend the time and money it takes to harvest a trophy whitetail (or even just one that has sentimental value) would not part with them for the world, but tough economic times can cause people to do things they would maybe not otherwise do. While of course you feel badly for someone who is in that kind of predicament, the fact is, this activity is against the law, and you can and will be prosecuted if you are caught--- Don’t do it!
However, the sale of antlers not connected to a mount (such as might be used to fashion a knife handle or ink pen,ARE legal. As veteran SCDNR wildlife biologist and Deer Project Coordinator Charles Ruth explained recently in response to one of these inquiries, the state law that prohibits the sale of antlers “is related only to antlers that are attached to the skull (pedicle), therefore, if this is a mounted buck then it cannot be sold because the antlers are still attached to the skull within the mount. Shed antlers or parts of antlers are okay to sell.”
The complete text of the law reads as follows:
SECTION 50-11-1910. Sale of deer or deer parts; penalties.
(A) It is unlawful to buy or sell, offer for sale, barter, or have in possession for sale the following: any live deer (family cervidae), the venison of any deer except as provided in Section 50-11-1920, any whitetail deer gametes or antler velvet, or any whitetail deer antlers attached to the pedicel.
(B) For a violation of this section, upon conviction, the guilty party for a first offense must be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than three hundred dollars or be imprisoned for not more than thirty days; for a second offense within three years of the date of conviction for a first offense, the person must be fined not less than three hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for not more than thirty days; for a third or subsequent offense within three years of the date of conviction for a first offense, the person must be fined one thousand dollars or be imprisoned for not more than sixty days.
If you see or hear of someone selling or attempting to sell any live deer, venison (except as provided in Section 50-11-1920), gametes, antler velvet or antlers still attached to the pedicel (skull), you can report that information directly to SCDNR Law Enforcement via text, telephone or e-mail using our through our Operation Game Thief (1-800-922-5431) or SCDNR Tips programs. This can be done anonymously.
In discussions of this law that have popped up on various discussion or social media groups online, someone will invariably make the suggestion that, “what you have to do is offer to sell the plaque and just throw in the head for free” or similar advice. This is terrible advice. It would be hard to think of a more transparently obvious way to try and evade the law, and it seems unlikely that any magistrate hearing such a case (you would be arrested if caught and have to make your case to the judge) would agree with such a poor excuse. In any case, would it be worth it to risk the potential fine and jail time to find out?