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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 are available on each WMA; check the WMA section for specific WMA information.

National Forests

For up-to-date information on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, visit the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests website.

Day use fees are required on certain recreation areas. Please visit the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests 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 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”.


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


The Department manages access to these properties for hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing. A PALS Permit ($18) is required to access these lands. PALS Permits ($18) are available through DWR license agents, online at the DWR website, and through the Go Outdoors mobile app. Existing properties include:

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.


The Department was recently awarded federal grant funding to secure more public access for wildlife related recreation on private lands in the Coalfields region of southwest Virginia over the next few years. The Public Opportunities for Wildlife Related Recreation (POWRR) program will open private lands for the public to enjoy hunting, fishing, trapping, boating and wildlife viewing. The program also provides funding for access infrastructure (parking, gates, signs etc.) and habitat improvements. New properties are being evaluated and enrolled continuously.

For more information about opportunities and rules, check out our website to view POWRR properties or call the Marion Regional Office at 276-783-4860.

State Forests

The 26 State Forests of Virginia serve as working forests and research and demonstration sites for multiple use management. Environmental protection, water quality, aesthetics, wildlife habitat, forest research and recreation are as important as a sustained timber harvest. The State Forests are administered under a self- supporting budget. Most operating 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, Charlotte State Forest (waterfowl hunting limited to Monday, Wednesday and Saturday), Chilton Woods State Forest in Lancaster County (dogs may not be used to hunt bear or deer), Cumberland State Forest, Devil’s Backbone State Forest in Shenandoah County (archery & black powder only), Dragon Run State Forest in King and Queen County, First Mountain State Forest in Rockingham County (archery & black powder only), Lesesne State Forest in Nelson County (archery & black powder), Moore’s Creek State Forest in Rockbridge County (must be accessed by hiking across George Washington & Jefferson National Forest) and Prince Edward Gallion State Forest. All of the above State Forests will allow Sunday hunting. Hunting is not allowed on 8 State Forests — some with Deed Restrictions such as Niday Place State Forest & Bourassa State Forest, Crawfords State Forest, and others with access limitations for the public such South Quay State Forest, Old Flat State Forest and Hawks State Forest, and some with such high public use that safety is a concern such as Zoar State Forest and Paul State Forest.

Hunting will also be allowed on Matthews State Forest in Grayson County (archery only in designated areas), Chesterfield State Forest in Chesterfield County (archery only for deer, does not including the urban archery season), and Sandy Point State Forest in King William County, however these State Forests will remain closed to Sunday hunting. Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County and Whitney State Forest in Fauquier County will remain lottery permit only hunts.

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 including on lands of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Permission must be obtained to track dogs from Parkway lands for the purpose of retrieving them within Parkway boundaries and to transport game across Parkway lands. For permission, contact (828) 348-3473. Hunters may park their vehicle in a safe location on Parkway lands (e.g., parking areas and pull-outs) and take a direct route to non-Parkway lands open to hunting. Contact (828) 298-2491 (Parkway dispatch) to report any hunting violations. For other current information, view Park-specific websites or contact via Park public information telephone lines.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Military Areas

Fort A.P. Hill (name change pending), Fort Barfoot (formerly Fort Pickett), Fort Belvoir, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Fort Eustis only) and Marine Corps Base Quantico provide hunting opportunities. See each installation’s iSportsman website (below) for details on access procedures and rules and regulations for hunting on base.

Fort A.P. Hill (name change pending), Fort Barfoot (formerly Fort Pickett), and Marine Corps Base Quantico provide hunting dog training opportunities. See each installation’s iSportsman website for details on access procedures and rules and regulations for hunting dog training on base.

Federal Refuges

Hunting is allowed on the following National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia. For more information:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

John H. Kerr Reservoir

The John H. Kerr Reservoir is a federally man- aged 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 units located around Kerr Reservoir.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

1930 Mays Chapel Road, Boydton, VA 23917 (434) 738-6143 or 434-738-6633 or see the USACE 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

2207 Flannagan Dam Rd., Haysi, VA 24256-9739 (276) 835-9544 or see the website.

Philpott Lake

Philpott Lake lies along the border of Henry, Patrick, and Franklin counties and includes a total of approximately 9,500 acres with 2,880 acres of water and approximately 6,500 acres of federally owned land and 240 acres of flowage easement lands on state property. Approximately 4,270 acres of this federal land are designated as wildlife management units, where hunting is permitted. Popular game species include deer, turkey, and bear. Other game includes squirrel, rabbit, fox, beaver, waterfowl, etc.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

1058 Philpott Dam Road, Bassett, VA 24082, (276) 629-2703, or see website, or on the Philpott Lake Facebook page.

State Parks

Virginia State Parks Hunting Opportunities 2023–2024 Season

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.

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.

Visit the State Parks website for the most up-to-date information regarding hunting dates, opening dates for reservation periods, number of hunters per day, allowable weapon types, and other special requirements. All reservation hunts have a $15 reservation fee. Hunter education certification is required.

To make a reservation, visit the reservations website or call the State Parks Customer Service Center at 1-800-933-PARK (7275), Option 5, to participate. All hunts have special regulations.

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

Cooperative Hunts

Wheelin’ Sportsmen Hunt

There are three special opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in hunts. Special Muzzleloader hunts will be held at Shenandoah River State Park and at Lake Anna State Park. A special General Firearms hunt will be held at Staunton River State Park. Applications will be available August 1, and the deadline is September 30. Apply or download the application at Contact Robin Clark, 434- 249-6154, for more info.

Mason Neck State Park

This hunt is run in conjunction with the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Permits are $20 for adults, $10 for those with a senior or access pass. Permits will be available for purchase September 23, 2023 at 12:00 PM and will be sold on a first come first serve basis. Orientation and permit sales are administered on this website.

Claytor Lake State Park Youth Deer Hunting Workshop

This workshop and hunt for youth (ages 12–17) is held in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife Resources. Workshop includes a Friday evening seminar on deer biology/management, hunting safety/ethics and muzzleloader safety, and a Saturday guided muzzleloader hunt. Participants must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, and meet all hunter education and licensing requirements. For more information and to register, contact Tracy Howard at 540-641-4455,

Widewater State Park Novice Hunter Workshop

This workshop is for novice hunters, age 18 and older, who would like to receive a supplemental education that goes beyond the required hunter education course. Held in cooperation with the Department of Wildlife Resources, novices will be paired one-on-one with an experienced mentor who will offer invaluable knowledge and expertise. Any interested novice must e-mail or mail a completed application to or to Widewater State Park at 101 Widewater State Park Road, Stafford, VA 22554. Instructions for the final payment of $30 for the State Park hunting permit will be provided during the selection notification process.

Overnight Accommodations

Virginia State Parks also provides comfortable and economical overnight accommodations, with housekeeping cabins and campsites ranging from primitive sites to sites with electric and water hookups.

Accommodations are available at many sites during part of the hunting season. To make hunting reservations, as well as to make reservations for overnight accommodations in Virginia State Parks, visit the reservations website or call the State Parks Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275 (PARK) option 5. Reservations may be made up to two days prior to the requested day of the hunt, provided payment can be made at the time of reservation, and that space is available. Learn about park cabins, camping and lodges at the State Parks website.

Visit online for the most up-to-date information.