Can You Shoot A Deer In Your Backyard

Can You Shoot A Deer In Your Backyard

Many property owners feed deer during the cool season, but did you know that it’s not good for their health? When you feed deer foods without nutritional value, you can starve the deer accidentally.

Moreover, if you plan to hunt deer, feeding them may make it illegal to hunt on your property. Can you shoot a deer in your backyard?

Can You Shoot A Deer In Your Backyard

If you live in a rural area where it’s legal to discharge a firearm, you can shoot a deer in your backyard. However, there are limitations to what, when, and where you can shoot. Most states require you to hunt a certain distance from the property line or buildings for safety, and cities often have laws against firing guns.

Can You Shoot A Deer If It’s On Your Property

As a licensed hunter, you can shoot a deer if it’s on your property during deer hunting season. The land is yours, but animals are under the umbrella of state protection/property.

As the owner, it is your job to prevent unwanted animal trespass, but that doesn’t mean you can kill anything that walks up to your door.

The term deer covers many species. Depending on where you live, and the season, your shooting location or the deer in question may not be allowed.

For example, city dwellers in most places cannot hunt animals on their property for public safety reasons. Meanwhile, some species are considered invasive pests and can be killed without the need for licensing or seasons.

Rural property owners often hunt deer and other animals on their property. Additionally, you can give permission to other hunters to enter and hunt on your property.

In many states, you cannot hunt if the area is within a hundred to a hundred fifty yards of a dwelling without the owner’s permission. Laws apply even when hunting on your property.

Can You Shoot A Deer On Your Property Without A License

It is generally not legal to shoot deer on your property without a license. I haven’t found any exceptions to this rule. Some areas allow you to hunt nuisance species, or subsistence food animals out of season but a license is still required.

Some hunting licenses are different and do not apply to hunting season, but these are always particular circumstances.

Farmers can often obtain a special permit to hunt deer regardless of season because they are damaging to crops.

According to Hunting Leases, “A deer depredation permit essentially grants landowners and authorized lessees the option of shooting deer outside of the traditional legal hunting season.”

Is It Legal To Kill A Deer In Your Backyard

The location of your backyard, the season of the year, and proximity to other dwellings impact whether it’s legal to kill a deer in your backyard.

If the deer was attacking you during rutting season, you might have cause to kill it in self-defense. However, this is incredibly rare, and you’d have a hard time producing any evidence to show that the gentile, mostly skittish deer came after you.

An excellent example of where it is legal to kill a deer in your backyard all year long comes from Alaska, where subsistence hunting for food is a way of life for many people.

While you still have to obtain a license and follow all applicable laws, the limits are different, and the season doesn’t matter. This permission often extends to public lands as well.

Can You Shoot A Deer In Your Yard With A Bow

You can shoot deer in your yard with a bow conditionally. To shoot the deer legally, you have to have all the relevant licenses and permits.

A bowhunting license is similar to but typically separate from a standard hunting license.

To obtain a bowhunting license, you will probably have to take a hunter education course. Even if you’ve been hunting or shooting a bow your whole life, this is standard practice in most places.

After that, you can use the id number to apply for your bowhunting license. Always check your local laws, as these may vary.

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State Laws About Shooting Deer In Your Backyard

Every state is unique, though the general rules are the same. You need a hunting license, and you have to stay away from houses and roads in most cases.

Here is a brief overview of where to find the state hunting laws for a few states. Each area has unique rules about deer, the ages of legal hunters, and other relevant information.

You’ll also find links to the state hunting and licensing websites where you can read the specific laws for local deer hunting.


​​​​​​​Georgia has made some changes to its deer hunting regulations this year. For example, “One of the two antlered bucks must have a minimum of 4 points, 1-inch or longer, on either antler or a minimum 15-inch outside antler spread to be legal.”

Find out more on the E Regulations website.


​​​​​​​In Maryland, “Resident Junior hunters (under 16 years of age) will be entitled to a FREE one-year hunting license upon successful completion of a Hunter Safety and Education course.”


​​​​​​​If you want to hunt antlerless deer, the permit application period is from July fifteenth to August fifteenth.

The 2021 Michigan Hunting Digest, published on Michigan’s government website, has all the other information you need to hunt deer this year.


Minnesota just updated its rules and regulations for hunting and trapping this month. Notably, children under nine cannot hunt in MN, but those as young as four can trap.


​​​​​​​If you’re planning to bow hunt white-tailed deer, the minimum draw weight is forty pounds. After all, you need a weapon that can do the job.

You’ll find the rest of the rules and regulations for hunting deer in Ohio on the state website.


The Pennsylvania Game Commission handles bag limits and licensing for the state. Notably, it is illegal to hunt most animals on Sundays, even during hunting season.


Tennessee has a website dedicated to deer hunting, where you can see the updated rules and regulations. Since CWD is an issue in Tennessee, you will also find information on testing for the disease.


​​​​​​​Whether you hunt deer in your yard, on public land, or even not at all, licensed hunters in Washington must submit a hunter report for the year.

Find out everything you need to know about being licensed in Washington and learn the limits for deer this year.

Helpful Tips To Know About Shooting A Deer In Your Backyard

Most of the limitations on shooting deer in your backyard are in place for two reasons:

First, licenses, reporting, and regulations exist to prevent people from wiping out the deer population.

Second, it’s about safety and not accidentally shooting the neighbors.

Here are more helpful tips to know about shooting a deer in your backyard.

  • Rules for hunting are often very different on indigenous lands. If you live on a reservation, ask your specific governing body what the laws are for hunting in your yard.
  • The laws and limits for hunting change every year because the department of wildlife is responsible for maintaining the population of animals.
  • CWD is not known to be zoonotic (so it probably won’t pass to humans), but it is crucial to report it. There are strains of Chronic Wasting Disease in deer that have the potential to evolve for human hosts.

Final Thoughts

Just as you have to apply for mineral rights on your land, you also have to apply for hunting rights.

The use of the surface space is yours as the owner so long as you don’t break the law, but natural resources like deer are the responsibility of the wildlife department even if they wander onto your land.

If you don’t want deer in the yard, you need to put up a fence. Otherwise, a hunting license, bag limits, and basic safety procedures still apply in your yard.

Drew Thomas

My name is Drew Thomas and I’m the creator of Fun In the Yard, your one stop site for all your outdoor games, sports, party activities, outdoor gear, and lawn & gardening tips.

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