Updates Related to COVID-19 »

Public Hunting Lands

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs): General Rules and Regulations

These lands are held in trust by the Department to conserve habitat for wildlife. The goal of the Wildlife Management Area system is to maintain and enhance habitats that support game and nongame wildlife while providing opportunities to hunt, fish, trap, and view wildlife.

Other uses of WMAs may be allowed by written authorization of the Director, as long as they do not interfere with the goals and uses of WMAs.

NOTE: Not all activities listed below are available on each WMA; check our website for specific WMA information.

Access Permit

Any person 17 years of age or older accessing a DWR Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake must have in possession one of the following valid Virginia licenses/permits: freshwater fishing license, hunting license, trapping license, boat registration, or DWR Access Permit.

Camping/Fires

  • Primitive camping is permitted for up to 21 consecutive days when occupants are engaged in authorized activities. No more than 3 camping units are permitted per site.
  • Camping is prohibited on or within 100 yards of any boat ramp, fishing lake, or at other specific sites as posted.
  • It is unlawful to leave a campfire unattended. From February 15 to April 30 campfires are allowed only between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and midnight.

Cave Access

  • All caves are closed to access without written authorization from the Department.

Disabled Hunter Access

  • Trails are open to manual and power wheelchairs and personal mobility assistive scooters (for indoor/outdoor use) designed primarily to assist people with disabilities. Individuals are encouraged to use caution when selecting trails, as many were designed for foot traffic only. Terrain may make them unsuitable for personal mobility devices.
  • Electric vehicles up to 54 inches in width are permitted only on designated trails.

Dogs

  • It is lawful to chase with dogs or train dogs on Department-owned lands only during authorized hunting, chase, or training seasons that specifically permit these activities.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times outside of open hunting, chase, or training seasons.

Firearms

  • It is unlawful to have in possession a firearm or any hunting weapon that is not unloaded and cased or dismantled:
    • While on Department-owned lands statewide, except during the period when it is lawful to take bear, deer, grouse, pheasant, quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, turkey, waterfowl or migratory game birds on these lands.
    • Except when possessing a permit issued by the Department.
    • Except when possessing a handgun and a valid concealed carry permit issued by a Circuit Court.
  • It is unlawful to possess or transport any loaded firearm or loaded hunting weapon in or on any vehicle at any time on Department-owned lands statewide. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders on page 20.)
  • Target shooting is permitted only on designated ranges.

Fishing, Boating, & Swimming

  • Refer to the current Freshwater Fishing & Boating in Virginia guide and posted signs for special fishing rules which apply to this WMA.
  • It is unlawful to use boats propelled by a gasoline motor, sail, or mechanically operated recreational paddle wheel unless otherwise posted.
  • Swimming is prohibited unless otherwise posted. Anglers, hunters, and trappers actively engaged in fishing, hunting, or trapping may wade in public waters.
  • Only rod and reel angling is permitted. All other methods of take (trotlines, juglines, limblines, etc.) are prohibited.

General

  • Activities involving groups of more than 12 persons require written authorization from the Department.
  • Display or consumption of alcoholic beverages in public is prohibited.
  • Commercial activities are prohibited except by written authorization from the Department.

Horseback/Bicycle Riding & Hiking

  • Horseback and bicycle riding only on roads and trails designated for these uses. No riding in cultivated or planted fields, or on eroded areas.
  • Hiking is welcome.
  • Riders, cyclists, and hikers should be mindful of all open hunting and trapping seasons. Please avoid engaging in these activities when they may interfere with hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers.
  • A blaze colored hat or clothing is recommended for non-hunters during hunting seasons.

Resource & Property Damage

  • It is unlawful to construct or occupy any per- manent structure (including a permanently-affixed tree stand) except by Department permit.
  • It is unlawful to cut, mutilate, destroy, or remove vegetation or to remove other minerals, artifacts or other property from this area. Metal detecting/artifact hunting is prohibited.
  • Berry picking and gathering of mushrooms or other fruits is allowed.
  • It is unlawful to damage, deface, or remove any building, gate, fence, sign or other property.
  • No posting of unauthorized signs, notices, and flyers anywhere on the WMA.

Vehicles

  • Motor vehicles are prohibited behind barricades or gates designed to prevent entry or within areas otherwise posted to prohibit motor vehicles.
  • Operation of ATVs and other unlicensed motor vehicles is prohibited.
  • Cross-country motor vehicle travel is prohibited.
  • Motor vehicles, campers, and trailers may be parked on Department-owned lands only when the owners/responsible party are engaged in authorized activities.
  • It shall be unlawful to use a drone or other unmanned aircraft on department-owned lands.

More Information

National Forests

COVID-19 Information: Nationwide, the vast majority of National Forest System lands remain open for public use. However, based on consultation with local governments and public health agencies, temporary area closures may be enacted in some local situations due to COVID-19 related concerns. For up-to-date information on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, visit the GW&J National Forest website.

Day use fees are required on certain recreation areas. Please visit the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest website or contact the appropriate office below for more information on fees and seasonal pass information.

Office Phone Number
Supervisor’s Office (540)265-5100
Clinch (276) 679-8370
North River (540) 432-0187
Glenwood-Pedlar (540) 291-2188
James River (540) 839-2521
Lee (540) 984-4101
Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area (276) 783-5196
Eastern Divide (540) 552-4641
Warm Springs (540) 839-2521

Regulations Specific to National Forest and Department Lands

It shall be unlawful to have in possession a firearm or any hunting weapon which is not unloaded and cased or dismantled on all National Forest lands, all Department-owned lands and on lands managed by the Department under
cooperative agreement statewide except during the period when it is lawful to take bear, deer, grouse, pheasant, quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, turkey, waterfowl or migratory game birds on these lands. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders.)

It shall be unlawful to possess or transport any loaded firearm or loaded hunting weapon in or on any vehicle at any time on National Forest lands or Department-owned lands. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders.)

“Hunting weapon” is any weapon allowable for hunting as defined in 29.1-519 of the Code of Virginia.

The word “possession” shall include, but not be limited to, having any firearm or weapon used for hunting in or on one’s person, vehicle or conveyance.

It is unlawful to chase with a dog or train dogs on National Forest lands or Department-owned lands except during authorized hunting, chase or training seasons that specifically permit these activities on these lands.

Collecting any portion of the American ginseng plant for personal or commercial use from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Department-owned lands is prohibited.

Commercial hunting or fishing outfitter activities on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests require a permit from the National Forest.

Access Roads

Hunter access roads on Department lands seasonally open to motor vehicles will be open (weather permitting) from the last Saturday in September to the 2nd Saturday in February and the 1st Saturday in April to the 3rd Saturday in May.

Opening and closing dates of hunter access roads on National Forest lands may vary by ranger district. Opening and closing dates are determined by management considerations for the areas accessed by these roads. Contact the local ranger district listed at left for opening and closing dates on specific roads.

Any motor driven vehicle using roads normally open to motor vehicles on Department and National Forest lands shall conform with all state laws for highway travel. No cross country travel is permitted. All terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-road vehicle (ORV) travel is permitted only on designated National Forest roads and trails.

Camping Policy

Primitive camping (no water, electric hookups, bathrooms or other facilities) is permitted on Department-owned lands, except as otherwise posted. Camping is prohibited on or within 100 yards of any Department-owned or controlled boat ramp or fishing lake. Camping on Department-owned lands is not to exceed 21 consecutive days. No more than 3 camping units are permitted per site.
Camping on the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests for more than 21 consecutive days without terminating occupancy for a minimum of 10 consecutive days within a 31-day time period is prohibited. For more information, please visit the National Forest website or call the appropriate office. No trash service is provided. “Pack it in, Pack it out.”

Structures

It is unlawful to construct, maintain, or occupy any permanent structure, except by permit, on Department-owned lands and National Forest lands.

It is unlawful to maintain any temporary dwelling on Department-owned land for more than 14 consecutive days. Persons constructing or occupying such structures are responsible for complete removal of temporary structures.

Tree Stands

It is unlawful to construct, maintain, or occupy any permanent tree stand on Department-owned lands, National Forest lands, and on Department of Conservation and Recreation-owned or controlled lands. Portable tree stands, which are not permanently affixed, may be used. Use of a full body safety harness while hunting from tree stands is strongly recommended.

Public Access – POWRR (PALS)

Public Opportunities for Wildlife-Related Recreation (POWRR) is a new program encompassing and expanding upon Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS).

This program opens additional private lands for public wildlife-related recreational use. Through the cooperative private/public POWRR (PALS) program the Department will expand upon the more than 30,000 acres of private land already open for public access. Existing properties include:

  • Dickenson and Wise counties – 30,000 acres
  • James City County – 260 acres

The Department manages access to these properties for hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, and/or wildlife viewing. POWRR (PALS) permits, currently sold as PALS permits, are available through DWR license agents, online at the DWR website, or through the Go Outdoors mobile app. The fee is $18.00.

Inquiries about these areas should be directed to the appropriate regional office.

The Department was awarded federal grant funding to secure public access for wildlife-related recreation on additional private lands across Virginia over the next few years.

Coalfields (Dickenson & Wise Counties) PALS

Goshen Boy Scout Reservation (Rockbridge County) PALS

  • The Goshen Scout Reservation and Lake Merriweather are no longer enrolled in our Public Access Lands program and are closed to public hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing. We appreciate the Scouts’ willingness to partner with us for the past three years to provide public access to their property.

James City County PALS Rules & Map

State Forests

The State Forests of Virginia serve as demonstration sites for multiple use management which focuses on the advantages and benefits of managing the total resource. Environmental protection, water quality, aesthetics, wildlife habitat, forest research and recreation are as important as a sustained timber harvest. The State Forests are operated under a separate, self-supporting budget. Most of the funds are generated through timber sales, but use permits for hunting and other activities are important as well.

Hunting is allowed on many of the State Forest properties in Virginia including: Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest, Big Woods State Forest in Sussex County, Browne State Forest in Essex County, Channels State Forest in Washington and Russell Counties, Chilton Woods State Forest in Lancaster County (archery and blackpowder only), Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County (lottery permit only), Cumberland State Forest, Dragon Run State Forest in King and Queen County, Lesesne State Forest in Nelson County (archery and black-powder only within designated dates), Matthews State Forest in Grayson County (archery only in designated areas), Prince Edward-Gallion State Forest, and Sandy Point State Forest in King William County. Moore’s Creek State Forest in Rockbridge County is also open to hunting, however, there is no public road access at this time.

A valid State Forest Use Permit and valid hunting license is required and may be purchased from license agents or online. Hunting is allowed on these properties only in accordance with state hunting regulations. No motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are permitted on gated roads and trails whether the gate is open or closed.

Further information on regulations governing the use of specific State Forest properties for hunting or other recreational activities is available at the Virginia Department of Forestry’s website or by calling 804-492-4121.

National Parks

Hunting is prohibited in all National Parks in Virginia. For current information related to any permitted hunting activities view Park specific websites or contact via Park public information telephone lines. Example: Blue Ridge Parkway or (828) 298-0398.

Military Areas

Fort A.P. Hill

Youth and Apprentice Day:

September 26. Either-sex

Archery

October 3 through November 13.

Muzzleloading

October 31 through November 13.

General Firearms

November 14 through January 2.

See Fort A.P. Hill Hunting Regulations for either-sex hunting days.

One deer per day, two bucks total combining all seasons. See Fort A. P. Hill Hunting Regulations for antler restrictions.

Turkey, Small Game, and Waterfowl

See Fort A. P. Hill Hunting Regulations for specific season dates and hunting times.

Closed: at 12:00 p.m. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and closed all day Christmas. Contact Fish and Wildlife Branch (804) 633-8984 for details. Fort A.P. Hill regulations and requirements differ from state and county regulations.

Fort Pickett

Deer:

Archery

October 3 through November 13

Muzzleloading

October 31 through November 13

General Firearms

November 14 through January 2. Two per day, six per year. See Fort Pickett Hunting Regulations for either-sex hunting days.

Quail:

Hunting permitted on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only.

Dove:

Hunting permitted on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.

All persons 12 years of age and older must have a hunter education certificate in order to purchase a Fort Pickett hunting permit. No apprentice licenses will be accepted. For more information about seasons and special restrictions, contact Ft. Pickett Game Check Station at (434) 292-2618 or online. Open Tuesday-Saturday and closed on state-recognized holidays.

Quantico Marine Reservation

Youth and Apprentice Day:

September 26

Deer:

Archery Season

October 3 through November 13

General Firearms

November 14 through January 2. Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Open half day on Thanksgiving Day.

No Muzzleloading or Urban Archery Seasons.

Fall Turkey

Archery Season

October 3-November 6

General Firearms

October 10 is Youth/Apprentice Day October 17-30; November 25-26; November 30-December 26; January 9-23

Spring Turkey

  • April 3 is Youth/Apprentice Day
  • April 10–May 15

For hunting information, contact the Game Check Station at (703) 784-5523/5329 or online. The Game Check Station is open seasonally, September–January and April–May. A valid base access credential is required to utilize the base for hunting.

Fort Belvoir

Refer to this website for registration, policies, and to purchase permits.

Archery Only

Qualification required.

Deer:

September 5 through March 27 September 26 is Youth/Apprentice Day

Fall Turkey:

Oct. 17-30; Nov. 25-26; Nov. 30-Dec. 26; and Jan. 9-23

Spring Turkey:

  • April 3 is Youth/Apprentice Day
  • April 10-May 15

Waterfowl hunting is also available during prescribed seasons.

Contact Conservation Branch at (703) 805-3969 for further details.

Federal Refuges

Hunting is allowed on the following National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia. For more information, contact the appropriate refuge manager at:

Refuge Phone Number
Back Bay (757) 301-7329
Chincoteague (757) 336-6122
Great Dismal Swamp* (757) 986-3705
Eastern Shore (757) 331-2760
Rappahannock River Valley* (804) 333-1470
James River* (804) 829-9020
Plum Tree Island* (804) 829-9020
Presquile* (804) 829-9020
Mason Neck/Occoquan (703) 490-4979

* Quota hunts are offered through the DWR Quota Hunt program.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

John H. Kerr Reservoir

The John H. Kerr Reservoir is a federally managed multipurpose facility located on the Virginia-North Carolina border. It consists of a 50,000 acre reservoir and 55,000 acres of land surrounding the lake which offers 40,000 acres open to hunting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains 26 wildlife management areas located around Kerr Reservoir.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1930 Mays Chapel Road, Boydton, VA 23917
(434) 738-6143
Website

John W. Flannagan Reservoir

The John W. Flannagan Reservoir in western Dickenson County provides 6,400 acres of land open to public hunting. The area offers deer, black bear, wild turkey, and small game hunt- ing opportunities.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
192 White Water Rd., Haysi, VA 24256-9739
(276) 835-9544
Website

State Parks

Virginia State Parks offer a wide variety of hunting opportunities as well as countless other outdoor activities for the entire family. Hunting opportunities range from open hunting in designated areas to managed deer hunts where individuals participate through a reservation or lottery system.

Specific sites that offer hunting may change from year to year. Managed deer hunts are a tool in Virginia State Parks’ overall deer management program. Participating hunters are asked to support our management efforts by following harvest guidelines associated with each hunt.

For more information about hunting in a Virginia State Park or to make reservations, see the State Parks website or call (800) 933-PARK (7275).

Overnight accommodations are available at many sites during part of the hunting season; contact the Customer Service Center or visit the website for additional information and to reserve cabins or campsites. Detailed hunting opportunities are listed below.

See this detailed hunting opportunities chart for specific information (PDF).