Frequently asked questions and answers on the new law and Sunday hunting in Virginia
The 2014 General Assembly passed legislation that was signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe allowing hunting on Sundays in Virginia under certain circumstances. The law took effect July 1, 2014.
The new law allows Sunday hunting under the following circumstances:
- Allows a landowner and his family or a person with written permission from the landowner to hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including nuisance species, on the landowner’s property on Sunday, except within 200 yards of a house of worship or any accessory structure thereof. “Landowner” refers to all private landowners (including persons and entities). Public lands are not included.
- It also allows for waterfowl (ducks, coot, geese, brant and swans) hunting on Sundays subject to restrictions imposed by the Director of the Department and except within 200 yards of a house of worship or any accessory structure thereof.
- Continues to allow raccoon hunting until 2 a.m. Sunday mornings.
Other than these exceptions and other allowances that had been made specifically by law in the past, it will continue to be unlawful to hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species, with a gun, firearm, or other weapon on Sundays. It will also continue to be unlawful to hunt or kill any deer or bear with a gun, firearm, or other weapon with the aid or assistance of dogs on Sundays.
May I use dogs to hunt on private land on Sunday as long as I have the written permission of the landowner?
Yes, except you may not hunt or kill any deer or bear with a gun, firearm or other weapon with the aid or assistance of dogs on Sundays.
I hunt with a hunt club and the club president has obtained written permission from the landowner for club members and guests to hunt on Sunday. Does each member need to carry a copy of that permission document?
They should, but your club president can act as the representative of the landowner to pass on written permission to members and guests to hunt on Sunday so long as the landowner grants the president that authority. Language granting permission to hunt on Sundays should be included in the written permission.
I obtained written permission to hunt on Sunday from the landowner on whose property I hunt. The landowner also gave me permission to bring guests. My son and daughter want to hunt with me on Sunday. Do they also need written permission from the landowner?
You can act as the representative of the landowner to pass on written permission to your son and daughter as long as the landowner gave you written permission authorizing you and your guests to hunt on Sunday, however language granting permission to hunt on Sundays should be included in the written permission.
What is meant by “written permission” as used in the new law?
A plain meaning interpretation of “written permission” involves four pieces of information: (i) the identity of the person who has been granted permission to hunt; (ii) the scope of the permission, which may include limitations; (iii) the identity of the landowner who gave the written permission, and (iv) the date the permission is given and expires. Such written permission must be provided after the effective date of the Act.
Can I hunt rabbit, squirrel, and quail with dogs on Sundays?
If you are the landowner, a member of his or her family, or have the landowner’s written permission to hunt on Sunday, you may use dogs for rabbit, squirrel, and quail hunting.
I have verbal rather than written permission from Mr. Smith to hunt his property because he does not post his property. Do I still need written permission from him to hunt his property on Sunday?
Yes and language granting permission to hunt on Sundays should be included in the written permission.
Is Sunday hunting of waterfowl on private or public lands permissible except for those places within 200 yards of places of worship or for which geographical limitations are established by the Director?
Yes as long as no other prohibition precludes hunting waterfowl under the circumstances existing at the time hunting occurs.
Is written permission required for someone waterfowl hunting on private property?
The new law does not require someone hunting waterfowl on private property on Sunday to have written permission. However, this does not displace any other laws or regulations that otherwise prohibit, limit or regulate hunting on private property. Written permission to hunt on posted property is required as with all other days of the week.
The new law retained existing language that permits the hunting of raccoons until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Is Sunday hunting of raccoons limited to this time period only, or may raccoon hunters also hunt on Sundays in accordance with other provisions of the new law?
Lawful hunting of raccoons on Sunday ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. No other Sunday hunting of raccoons is allowed on either public or private lands.
Prior to the new law Sunday hunting was permitted on licensed shooting preserves. Does this new law impact the Sunday hunting operation of the shooting preserves in any way?
The new law will not change anything with the current law for the operation of shooting preserves on Sunday for penraised game birds.