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Public Hunting Lands

Wildlife Management Areas: 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 the WMA section for specific WMA 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 their 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.

  • 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 Wildlife 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 and loaded weapons definitions).

“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, or trailer, using roads normally open to motor vehicles on Department-owned and National Forest lands shall conform with all state laws for highway travel, including valid inspection and registration. No cross country travel is allowed. All-terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-road vehicle (OHV) travel is permitted only on designated National Forest roads and trails.

Camping Policy

Temporary dispersed primitive camping (no water, electric hookups, bathrooms or other facilities) is allowed at many of the Department’s WMAs across the Commonwealth, when occupants are engaged in authorized activities. However, a camping authorization (no cost) is required to camp on WMA’s. The free authorization can be obtained at any license agent or at GoOutdoorsVirginia.com. The camping authorization can be found in the list of “Special Licenses”. Primitive camping is allowed for up to 14 consecutive nights and no more than 14 nights in any 28-day period. Camping is prohibited on or within 300 feet of any boat ramp, fishing lake or at other specific sites as posted or marked on WMA maps. All campers are required to store food in such a manner that it is not accessible by wildlife. Detailed camping regulations are found in 4VAC-15-20-155.

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 Ranger District Office.

No trash service is provided. WMA and National Forest users should practice “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.

Other Public Access

PALS

The Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS) program provides public access for hunting through agreements with landowners. A PALS Permit (currently $18 annually) is required to hunt these properties. Two PALS areas are available at this time.

Coalfields (Dickenson & Wise Counties) PALS

The Coalfields PALS Area offers approximately 30,000 acres in Dickenson and Wise Counties. The Coalfields PALS is possible because of an agreement between the Cumberland Forest Highlands LLC, The Nature Conservancy and DWR. Maps and Rules can be found at the links below.

James City County PALS

The James City County PALS area offers 260 acres for hunting in James City County. The James City County PALS area is possible because of an agreement between James City County and DWR. Maps and Rules can be found at the links below.

Public Opportunities for Wildlife-Related Recreation (POWRR)

Public Opportunities for Wildlife-Related Recreation (POWRR) is a new public land program in Virginia. This program is possible because of funding through the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). This USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program provides funding for state and tribal governments to open access on private property to public use for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation. This new program will enable the Department of Wildlife Resources to provide public access to a wider variety of wildlife-related recreational opportunities.

Information and maps related to individual POWRR properties will be available soon.

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 EdwardGallion State Forest, Sandy Point State Forest in King William County, First Mountain State Forest in Rockingham County (archery and black-powder only), and Devil’s Backbone State Forest in Shenandoah County (archery and black-powder only). 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 neighboring land access, wildlife transport, or permitted hunting activities, view Park specific websites or contact via Park public information telephone lines.

Military Areas

Fort A.P. Hill

  • Youth and Apprentice Day: September 25.
  • Either-sex Archery: October 2 through November 12.
  • Muzzleloading: October 30 through November 12.

General Firearms

November 13 through January 1.

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 2 through November 12
  • Muzzleloading: October 30 through November 12
  • General Firearms: November 13 through January 1. 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 visit their website. Open Tuesday-Saturday and closed on state-recognized holidays.

Marine Corps Base Quantico

Youth and Apprentice Day: September 25

Deer

  • Archery Season: October 2 through November 12
  • General Firearms November 13 through January 1. 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 2-November 12
  • General Firearms: October 9 is Youth/Apprentice Day; October 16-29; November 24-25; November 29-December 25; January 8-22

Spring Turkey

April 2 is Youth/Apprentice Day; April 9-May 14

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

Fort Belvoir

Refer to https://ftbelvoir.isportsman.net/ for registration, policies, and to purchase permits.

Archery Only

Qualification required.

Deer

September 4 through March 27; September 25 is Youth/Apprentice Day

Fall Turkey

Oct. 16-29; Nov. 24-25; Nov. 29-Dec. 25; and Jan. 8-22

Spring Turkey

April 2 is Youth/Apprentice Day; April 9-May 14

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:

* 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 or https://CorpsLakes.erdc.dren. mil/visitors/projects.cfm?ID=K708350.

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 hunting opportunities. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2207 Flannagan Dam Rd., Haysi, VA 24256-9739 (276) 835-9544 or https://CorpsLakes.erdc.dren/mil/visitors/ projects.cfm?ID=H108550

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 go on the web 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.

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