Virginia, one of the states in the United States, offers avid hunters some of the best big game hunting experiences. From turkeys and black bears to elks and deer, hunters have the opportunity to pursue large-sized animals in the picturesque landscapes of Virginia. The state’s Appalachian Mountains provide the perfect backdrop for an exciting hunting season.
Virginia Hunting Regulations
Before heading out on a hunting expedition in Virginia, it is essential to be aware of the regulations set forth by the state to ensure responsible and ethical hunting practices.
Restrictions for Convicted Felon Hunters
Convicted felons in Virginia are prohibited from possessing firearms while hunting, including muzzleloaders. However, exceptions are made for those whose rights to possess firearms have been restored at either the state or federal level. The restriction applies only to firearms and not to archery equipment, air rifles, or bows.
Restriction for the Use of Loaded Firearms
In Virginia hunting, a firearm is considered loaded if the magazine or chamber contains shells, the nipple has a percussion cap, or the frozen pan contains gunpowder. For crossbows, they are deemed loaded when cocked.
Restrictions for Plugged Shotguns
Shotguns used for taking migratory birds in Virginia can only have a maximum of three shells in both the chamber and magazines. A plug may be used to limit the firearm capacity, but it must be removable.
Restriction for Suppressors
Hunters in Virginia may use suppressors for lawful hunting activities with the permission of the landowner on private lands.
Archery Equipment Regulations
Virginia allows the use of compound bows, recurve bows, longbows, and crossbows for hunting games, wildlife, and feral hogs. However, for hunting games like bears, deer, and feral hogs, only broadhead arrows are permitted.
Prohibited Hunting Activities in Virginia
Virginia enforces strict prohibitions on certain hunting activities to ensure the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats. Some of these prohibited activities include:
- Hunting on private lands without the landowner’s permission.
- Hunting under the influence of alcohol.
- Possession, import, or release of wildlife without a valid permit from the Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
- Concealing illegally obtained game or wildlife parts.
- Hunting farm deer and exotic wild animals.
- Hunting or shooting game animals from the opposite side of a major road.
- Hunting from vehicles, motorboats, powerboats, or aircraft.
- Buying or selling game or wildlife parts, except for certain exceptions like antlers and hides.
- Using remote devices to discharge firearms for hunting purposes.
- Using chemicals, drugs, explosives, poisons, or similar substances to hunt games.
- Using baits, pitfalls, hooks, nets, snares, decoys, deadfalls, or similar devices to take games.
- Using communication devices while pursuing games and wildlife.
- Disturbing or unsettling games and wildlife in their dens or homes.
Hunters Dressing Regulations
During specific hunting seasons in Virginia, hunters and their escorts are required to wear fluorescent yellow outer clothing with a minimum of 550 square inches above the waist. A headcover may also be included for added visibility.
Open Carry While Hunting in Virginia
Virginia allows open carry for hunting activities, meaning hunters can legally possess, handle, and use firearms and other weapons while engaged in legal hunting, fishing, wildlife gaming, and camping.
Hunter Harassment Laws in Virginia
Virginia has enacted hunter harassment laws to protect legal hunting activities. It is illegal to deliberately interfere or disturb hunting activities in state-owned or private wildlife areas or aquatic bodies. Altering the natural habitat to disrupt legal hunting activities is also prohibited.
Virginia Hunting Licenses, Permits, and Tags
To participate in hunting activities in Virginia, hunters must obtain the appropriate licenses, permits, and tags. These are issued based on age and residency, and they come with various validity periods.
Hunting and Fishing License
The hunting and fishing license is a combination permit that allows holders to take part in both hunting seasons and fishing in Virginia. It is available for residents and nonresidents and is issued with various validity periods. The annual license costs $30 for residents and $150 for non-residents. A one-day license costs $5 for residents and $30 for non-residents. Additionally, there is an additional day Hunting and fishing license for $1 for residents and $10 for non-residents.
Apprentice Hunting and Fishing License
This license is designed for beginners who require supervision while hunting or fishing. It is valid for one day and costs $5 for residents and $30 for non-residents.
The regular hunting license is available for residents aged 16 to 64 and nonresident hunters. It is issued with various validity periods. The annual license costs $15 for residents and $100 for non-residents, while a one-day license costs $5 for residents and $20 for non-residents. There is also an additional day Hunting and fishing license that costs $1 for residents and $6 for non-residents.
Senior Sportsman’s License
This license is exclusive to Virginia residents aged 65 and above. It provides access to hunting and fishing activities but is not valid for elk hunting. The license is valid for one year and costs $7.
Big Game Licenses
Big game licenses are available for residents and nonresident hunters who wish to take big game animals in Virginia. They come with various validity periods. The annual license costs $25 for residents and $225 for non-residents, while a one-day license costs $10 for residents and $130 for non-residents. Additionally, there is an additional day Hunting and fishing license for $2 for residents and $8 for non-residents.
This license is issued for game trapping in Virginia and is available to residents and non-residents. It is valid only during the specific trapping season for the desired game and costs $40 for residents and $325 for non-residents.
Shooting Preserve License
The shooting preserve license is valid for two years and is available for both residents and non-residents. It costs $12 for both categories.
Migratory Birds and Waterfowl Stamps
This annual stamp allows the taking of migratory birds and waterfowls in Virginia. It is valid for two years and costs $5 for both residents and non-residents.
Disability Hunting License
This license is available to disabled residents of Virginia who wish to participate in state hunting activities. It comes with two validity periods: an annual license for $3 and a three-year license for $9.
Virginia Fishing License, Permits, and Tags
Virginia also offers various fishing licenses, permits, and tags for residents and non-residents.
Virginia Hunting Season 2023/2024
Virginia’s hunting seasons are divided into different periods and weapons allowed for hunting specific games. Here are the hunting seasons for various wildlife in Virginia for the year 2023/2024:
Virginia Deer Hunting Seasons
- Archery Season: September 12 to January 10
- Extended Archery Season: September 12 to January 31
- Primitive Weapons Season: October 10 to January 10
- Firearms Season: October 17 to January 10
Virginia Bear Hunting Seasons
- Archery Season: September 12 to January 10
- Primitive Weapons Season: October 10 to January 10
- Firearms Season: October 17 to January 10
Virginia Turkey Hunting Season
- General Hunting Season: March 20 to May 15
- Special Opportunity Youth and Mobile Impaired Season: March 13 to March 14
Virginia Elk Hunting Season
- General Hunting Season: Sunset of August 14 to Sunrise of October 5
Virginia Small Games Hunting Season
- Fox and Bobcat Season: December 1 to February 28
- Grouse Season: October 15 to February 28
- Opossum Season: October 15 to February 28
- Quail Season: November 14 to February 28
- Rabbit Season: November 14 to February 28
- Raccoon Season: October 15 to February 28
- Squirrel Season: August 15 to February 28
- Woodcock Season: December 5 to January 18
Please note that hunting seasons and regulations may vary based on different hunting zones and game types.
Virginia Wildlife Games and Fish
Virginia offers diverse wildlife for hunters to pursue. Here are some of the popular wildlife games and fish available for hunting in the state:
Virginia Deer Hunting
Deer hunting is immensely popular in Virginia, with numerous Wildlife Management Areas providing excellent opportunities for deer hunting. The white-tailed deer is found throughout the state, particularly in coastal marsh and forest regions.
Virginia Black Bear Hunting
Black bear hunting is on the rise in Virginia due to the increasing bear population. The state boasts thousands of black bears that are found in various habitats, including swamps, wetlands, ponds, lakes, rivers, and forests.
Virginia Elk Hunting
Elk hunting in Virginia primarily takes place in wetland areas, such as swamps, ponds, lakes, and rivers. Elks have also been sighted near human settlements, making the hunt all the more thrilling.
Virginia Bobcat Hunting
Bobcats are among the most common predators in North America and can be found throughout Virginia, particularly in agricultural and forested areas where prey is abundant.
Virginia Fox Hunting
The red fox is the species of fox found in Virginia, distributed widely across the state’s wood forests, grasslands, and croplands.
Virginia Turkey Hunting
Turkey hunting is widespread in Virginia, with the state hosting five different species of the game. Wild turkeys can be found across various landscapes in the state.
Virginia Grouse Hunting
Grouse hunting in Virginia primarily targets the bird species found in the mountainous regions of northern Virginia.
Virginia Rabbit Hunting
The Eastern cottontail rabbit is the most common species hunted in Virginia, with other species like the Appalachian cottontail and marsh rabbit also present.
Virginia Raccoon Hunting
Raccoons inhabit various landscapes in Virginia, including marshes, lakes, streams, swamps, rivers, and places with hardwood trees.
Virginia Shooting Ranges
For hunters looking to practice their shooting skills or sight-in their firearms, Virginia offers several public shooting ranges. Some of the popular shooting ranges include:
- White Oak Mountain WMA Shooting Range
- Timber Ridge Shooting Grounds
- The Marksman
- The Range
- Silver Eagles Group
- Sharpshooters Small Arms Range
- Old Forge Sporting Clays
- NRA Range Fairfax
- Norfolk County Rifle Range
- NAS Oceana Skeet & Trap Range
- Hite Hollow Shooting Range
- Gathright WMA Shooting Range
- Franklin County Gun Club
- Chickahominy WMA Shooting Range
- Clark Brothers
- C. F. Phelps WMA Shooting Range
- Amelia Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Shooting Range
- Blue Ridge Arsenal
- Bull Run Public Shooting Center
Virginia Hunting Land for Sale and Lease
For those interested in owning or leasing hunting lands in Virginia, there are various opportunities available. Some of the hunting lands for sale or lease in the state include:
- 315 acres located in Carroll County, featuring a beautiful remodeled farmhouse and cottages with barns and a ridge top view.
- 106 acres with a spectacular log cabin nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Vesuvius, Amherst County.
- 228 acres of prime hunting land with deep water lakefront access in Lynch Station, Bedford County.
- 47 acres of development and hunting potential in Suffolk, Suffolk City County.
- 73 acres of recreational land with hunting opportunities in Bandy, Tazewell County.
- 20 acres of land suitable for development, recreation, and hunting in Suffolk City County.
- 302 acres of hunting land with an abundance of wildlife in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County.
- 114 acres of hunting and recreational land in Axton, Henry County.
- 148.18 acres of property with excellent hunting opportunities in South of Stanley, Page County.
Virginia Public Hunting Lands
Virginia offers numerous public hunting lands that provide opportunities for hunting various game species. Some of the public hunting lands in Virginia include:
- 447 Acres in Accomack County, suitable for hunting whitetail deer, turkey, and duck.
- 7500 Acres in Wythe County, offering hunting opportunities for whitetail deer, turkey, predators, and exotics.
- 3164 Acres in Prince Edward County, providing hunting opportunities for turkey and exotics.
- 14283 Acres in Highland County, offering hunting for whitetail deer, turkey, predators, and exotics.
- 1400 Acres in Mecklenburg County, providing hunting opportunities for dove, quail, duck, and exotics.
- 5217 Acres in Charles City County, suitable for hunting whitetail deer, turkey, dove, duck, and exotics.
Virginia offers some of the best big game hunting opportunities in the United States. With an abundance of wildlife and diverse hunting seasons, hunters can pursue games like deer, turkey, black bears, elks, and small games across the state. However, hunters must adhere to Virginia’s hunting regulations, which cover restrictions for convicted felons, use of firearms, plugged shotguns, suppressors, and archery equipment.
Can convicted felons hunt in Virginia?
Convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms while hunting in Virginia, including muzzleloaders. Exceptions are made for convicted felons whose firearm rights have been restored either at the state or federal level.
Are loaded firearms allowed during hunting in Virginia?
In Virginia, a firearm is considered loaded if the magazine or chamber contains shells, the nipple possesses a percussion cap, or the frozen pan contains gunpowder. Crossbows are considered loaded when cocked.
How many shells are allowed in shotguns for taking migratory birds in Virginia?Shotguns used for taking migratory birds in Virginia can have a maximum of three shells in both the chamber and magazines.
Can suppressors be used for hunting in Virginia?
Suppressors lawfully allowed for hunting in Virginia can be used to take games. However, permission from the landowner is required when hunting with suppressors on private lands.
What are some prohibited hunting activities in Virginia?
Prohibited hunting activities in Virginia include hunting on private lands without permission, hunting under the influence of alcohol, and using certain devices or substances to take games. It is also prohibited to hunt from vehicles, shoot across public roads, and hunt exotic wild animals kept for recreation or amusement.