2013 Changes to the Deer Hunting Regulations

Questions and Answers

  1. Why were changes made to the Deer Hunting Regulations?
  2. What weapons can be used under each deer hunting stamp?
  3. What is the definition of muzzleloader?
  4. Are the seasons separated or do they overlap?
  5. What stamps are needed in order to have a valid deer hunting licence?
  6. What are the fees for the 2 stamps?
  7. Why do bowhunters now have to pay so much more for a deer hunting licence than in previous years?
  8. Will it be possible for a hunter to take 2 deer in 2013?
  9. Can a hunter take 2 deer with a bow?
  10. Can a hunter take 2 deer with a rifle?
  11. Is it possible for a hunter to take 2 antlerless deer?
  12. Won’t allowing hunters to potentially take a second deer have a negative impact on the Nova Scotia deer population?
  13. How will DNR determine if adjustments to the antlerless deer stamp allotment are needed?

Regulations imageQuestion 1: Why were changes made to the Deer Hunting Regulations?
Answer: Crossbow hunters have been requesting their own deer hunting season, comparable to that of bowhunters, for several years. Rather than creating a new season outside of existing seasons, or reallocating time from those seasons to crossbow-only hunting, we opted to simplify by combining bows, crossbows and muzzle-loaded firearms under a single new licence (the Archery and Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Licence). Taking this approach also enhanced the range of hunting experiences available in Nova Scotia by creating a new licence with a separate bag limit and a longer hunting period, specifically for those opting to hunt with primitive weapons. Because hunter success is relatively low with these weapons, this can be accomplished without negatively impacting deer population level.

Question 2: What weapons can be used under each deer hunting stamp?
Answer: Under the Archery and Muzzleloader stamp, a hunter may use a bow, crossbow or muzzleloader. The General deer hunting stamp allows the use of all weapons approved in the Firearm and Bow Regulations for hunting big game, including shotgun, rifle, muzzleloader, bow and crossbow.

Question 3: What is the definition of muzzleloader?
Answer: A muzzleloader, as defined in the Firearm and Bow Regulations, means a firearm in which the charge and propellant can be loaded only from the muzzle of the barrel. The name of the weapon has been shortened to “muzzleloader” from “muzzle loaded firearm”, but the definition has not changed.

Question 4: Are the seasons separated or do they overlap?
Answer: The 2 seasons overlap. The open season for the General Deer Hunting Licence extends from the last Friday in October until the first Saturday in December (the same as our previousopen season). The period for hunting deer under an Archery and Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Licence is from the second Monday in September to the second Saturday in December.

Question 5: What stamps are needed in order to have a valid deer hunting licence?
Answer: In addition to the Wildlife Habitat Stamp, at least one of the two deer hunting stamps is required to be attached to the base licence card in order to have a valid deer hunting licence. If a hunter has purchased both stamps, both will be attached to the same base licence card along with the Wildlife Habitat Stamp.

Question 6: What are the fees for the 2 stamps?
Answer: In addition to the $5.00 Wildlife Habitat Stamp, each deer hunting stamp will cost $27.04 (plus HST) for Nova Scotia residents, and $133.09 (plus HST) for non-residents.

Question 7: Why do bowhunters now have to pay so much more for a deer hunting licence than in previous years?
Answer: Actually, the cost to a resident bowhunter last year, not including the Wildlife Habitat Stamp, was $5.71 (plus HST) for the Bowhunting Stamp required to hunt during the 3 week “Special Open Season for Bowhunting Deer” plus the cost of the Deer Hunting Stamp ($25.57 plus HST) This year, bowhunting falls under the Archery and Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Stamp, so a bowhunter now has to purchase only one licence for approximately the same cost as a full season of bowhunting in 2012, and may hunt for a longer period.

Question 8: Will it be possible for a hunter to take 2 deer in 2013?
Answer: Yes it will be possible. Each of the 2 separate deer hunting stamps available (General, Archery and Muzzleloader) has a bag limit of 1 deer. In order to harvest 2 deer, a hunter must have the required qualifications to purchase each licence, and at least one of the deer has to be taken using a bow, crossbow or muzzleloader.

Question 9: Can a hunter take 2 deer with a bow?
Answer: It is possible for a hunter take 2 deer with a bow if the hunter has purchased both stamps, because bows (as well as crossbows and muzzleloaders) are a permitted big game weapon under both stamps, and each stamp has a 1 deer bag limit. However, if a deer is taken in the Archery and Muzzleloader season before the start of the General season, the hunter must wait until the opening of the General season to hunt under that stamp.

Question 10: Can a hunter take 2 deer with a rifle?
Answer:No, this would be illegal. Use of a rifle is only permitted under the General Deer Hunting Stamp which has a bag limit of 1 deer. If a rifle hunter has the required qualifications and purchases the Archery and Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Stamp, then he or she also has the opportunity to hunt for and harvest a bag limit of one deer using a bow, crossbow or muzzleloader.

Question 11: Is it possible for a hunter to take 2 antlerless deer?
Answer: The Deer Hunting Regulations specify that both deer hunting stamps authorize the taking of one antlered deer. Hunters have the option of taking an antlerless deer to fill the bag limit for their licence only if: (a) they have applied for and have received an antlerless deer stamp for the deer management zone in which they are hunting, or (b) they are hunting in a zone where either sex of deer may be taken. Each hunter may only hold a maximum of one antlerless permit, so unless that person is hunting in an either-sex zone, harvesting an antlerless deer under both stamps is unlikely.

Question 12: Won’t allowing hunters to potentially take a second deer have a negative impact on the Nova Scotia deer population?
Answer: We want to provide hunting opportunities for Nova Scotians where possible, but obviously not at the expense of our deer population. It is important to remember that in order for a hunter to attempt to harvest two deer, at least one of their deer would have to be taken with one of the low success weapons permitted under the Archery and Muzzleloader stamp, and rifle hunters cannot take a second deer with a rifle. While a rise in the overall deer harvest may occur, it is also important to remember that we are managing deer in Nova Scotia by primarily focusing the harvest on antlered deer, and limiting the number of antlerless deer taken. Adjustments will be made to the number of antlerless deer stamps available in some zones, if necessary.

Question 13: How will DNR determine if adjustments to the antlerless deer stamp allotment are needed?
Answer: In addition to deer harvest level and other sets of data we currently collect, we will be examining the results of the 2 licence system after the 2013 hunt to determine how many hunters opted to get both stamps, how many were successful in taking 2 deer, the hunting effort level, type of hunting and weapons used. The mandatory deer report introduced in 2011 will function to provide the information needed to make this assessment.


If you have further questions, please contact the Large Mammals Program.