Hunting Regulations for the State of Virginia

By now, I am sure those who live in the state of Virginia, are waiting in anticipation for rifle season to begin this year. Warm apparel has been bought or drug out from where the dust bunnies lie, the proper amount or more orange apparel has been brought forth and plan have already been made on where to go and who with. Yes people, we are speaking of rifle season! You either love it or you hate it. I have never met anyone who is in between. So to help those of you looking for some last minute information, fresh and updated for the great state of Virginia, just to make sure you have not forgotten anything, you have come to the right place!

First things first, you must have a license to go rifle hunting, bow hunting or for any season, be it squirrel, bear or deer. In this instance we are speaking of deer hunting and throwing in a bit on bear hunting for good measure! You must carry this license on you and be able to show it immediately if requested for it to be shown by any officer of the game and inland fish laws departments.

In order to get a resident Virginia hunting license you must have lived in the state of Virginia or been a resident of a city or county of Virginia. You may also have lived in a Virginia residence for at least two months, but then you must have an affidavit filled out by the Game department to get a license. You can be a legal voter in Virginia, a member of the armed forces in you normally reside in the state of Virginia and are serving at a military installation in Virginia or on a ship located at Virginia’s Oceanside. You can get a license if you are a student, residing in Virginia, even if you are a nonresident and attending a Virginia school/college/university. You may also get a Virginia hunting license if you own property in Virginia, have lived in the state of Virginia for at least five years prior to applying for a license and be an unnaturalized citizen. Unnaturalized citizens can only apply for a hunting license in the county in which they live.

Exceptions to those regulations in the previous paragraph are:

You do not need to get a hunting license if you are going to be hunting on your own property if you are a landowner, resident or not, in the state of Virginia. Also family members such as a spouse, a child or grandchild, spouse of the children, or grandchildren or the landowners’ parents are allowed to hunt on that property.

If you have written permission from a landowner that you are renting from or where you live, you do not have to get a Virginia
hunting license.

If you are 65 or older you can hunt on private property within the county in which you live.

You do not need to get a license if you are 12 or younger, as long as the child has an adult with them, in direct sight while hunting, who has a valid hunting license of their own.

If you are helping someone who is disabled to go hunting, you do not need a hunting license as long as the person who is disabled has a Virginia Disabled Resident or Veteran Lifetime hunting license.

Indians, who live in the state of Virginia, must have on their person an identification card stating from which

Virginia tribe they are a part of, signed by the chief of their tribe. They may also use a valid tribal ID card, a certification from a tribal office or written confirmation through a central tribal registry, to be able to legally hunt in the state of Virginia without obtaining a Virginia hunting license.

If you are 16 or older and have never had a hunting license, you are required to take a Hunter Education class and receive a certificate from it, before you may obtain a Virginia hunting license. Also if you are between the ages of 12 and 15, you are required to take the Hunter Education class and receive the certificate before purchasing a license or going hunting. You may though, take these classes usually for free, sponsored by different agencies around rifle hunting season every year. Check you local papers to see when a class will be offered around you to make sure you are prepared ahead of time!

If you are between the ages of 12 and 15 and purchase you license online electronically you must carry your electronically purchased license, unless you are being supervised, within immediate distancing, by a properly licensed adult.

If you 12 years or younger you must have adult supervision and be within their sight at all times. This adult must have a valid

Virginia hunting license on their person while you are hunting with them.

If you have received a hunting certificate from another state, under the age of 12 or 16 or older, you may present it at the time of applying for a hunting license and Virginia will accept it in place of a Virginia hunting education certificate.

Also, if you hunt without firearms, or for foxes with hounds, while on horseback, you are not required to have a hunter safety education certificate before applying for a Virginia hunting license.

The license year for the state of Virginia runs from July first through June 30th of every year and is the time period used for bad limits and hunting seasons per permit. If you happen to lose your license you may obtain a replacement but it must be received from where you originally got your Virginia hunting license.

License fees to receive a Virginia Hunting license run from the low end of $1.00 for a resident senior annual license to hunt for bear, deer and turkeys, to as high as $500.00 for a Nonresident Lifetime License. The second license listed there is only available from the RichmondVirginia office and is valid for bear, turkey, and deer hunting in the state of Virginia. If you would like more information on license pricing refer to the resources associated with this article.

If you are a hunter who enjoys hunting with a bow and arrow, crossbow or with a muzzleloader, make sure you have the proper licenses when considering hunting during these seasons. These would be a crossbow/archery license and /or a muzzle loading license.

There are 32 management areas, consisting of 195,000 acres for outdoorsman’s activities. Some of these areas are Wildlife Management Areas, National Forests, State Forests, National Parks and more! Groups larger than 12 hunters must have authorization from the Game department in order to go hunting on public lands together. The use of hunting dogs may be used during their designated seasons. You are not allowed to have alcoholic beverages on any of the public management areas. Do not attempt to drive a vehicle around a barricade specifically meant to keep vehicles off of or out of a public management area. You also may not use ATV’s or off road vehicles on public management areas. You may not construct a ‘permanent’ style tree stands or any other type of permanent structure on public management lands. Primitive camping is available on these public lands, with only 3 units permitted per site and a time limit of only 14 consecutive in any given section at one time. You must put out any campfires when leaving your campsite and are only allowed to have a camp fire between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight during the months of February 15 to April 30th. For more information on these parks and individual regulations for these parks, please consult the resources for this article.

A last few important regulations to remember: If you are hunting during muzzle loading season, hunting waterfowl or during bow and arrow season, the requirement of wearing Blaze Orange is not necessary. All other times you as a hunter are required to wear either a blaze orange hat or a blaze orange vest. This orange apparel must be covering at least 100 square inches of orange material at least at shoulder height and be able to be seen for at least 360 degrees. At the least the blaze orange must be visible for 360 degrees period. “Camo” style hats are not allowed because they prevent visibility but another color hat is okay as long as there is nothing on it to distract visibility or to be mistaken for a ‘deer tail’, etc. Personally I would suggest you never go out into the woods with anything that would have white on it whatsoever just for your own safety and others as well.

Legalized nuisance species may be taken day or night. Opossums, raccoons, foxes and bobcats may be hunted day or night during their authorized hunting seasons. For spring gobbler season you may hunt from one half hour before sunrise until noon. The last twelve days of that season you may hunt from one half hour before sunrise until sunset. When hunting for nonmigratory birds and game animals the hours are from one half hour before sunrise until one half hour after sunset except during spring gobbler season. The only people who may hunt on Sundays are raccoon hunters and only till 2 a.m.

For anything else that you are not sure of please visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website (listed in the resources) or a local office near you. Always when in doubt, contact someone in authority so as to make sure you are following proper guidelines and are able to have a great and safe hunting trip, for yourself and all those around you who are hunting around you!

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