State forest land in Virginia amounts to about 50,000 to 60,000 acres. DWR works with the Department of Forestry intermittently to restore wildlife habitat and forest management. Hunting and other activity permits benefit state forest funding.
A map of current wild turkey populations illustrates the variation of population levels throughout the state by county. Our biologists ensure that habitats are kept at optimum level to ensure the species continues to thrive throughout the state.
- A state forest permit is required for hunting on state forest land in Virginia.
- Hunting opportunities on state land varies by location.
Virginia occupies nearly 1.6 million acres of national forest between the George Washington and Jefferson national forests. The Game Department funds a portion of direct habitat work annually. This funding is used as a source to maintain and enhance habitats on the national forest in Virginia.
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests stretch through the western portion of Virginia, providing additional hunting opportunities. Hunting is not permitted in designated campgrounds or recreational areas, but there are campgrounds for hunters to lodge during turkey season.
- A permit is required to hunt on National Forest property.
- Always check the regulations specific to National Forest and Department Lands before heading out.
DWR manages over 40 WMAs, totaling more than 203,000 acres across the state, most of which offer hunting opportunities. WMAs provide quality habitats for a variety of game and non-game species that showcase the habitat improvement practices that benefit numerous species.
“Public lands can make great areas for spring turkey hunting because of the diversity of habitats, providing users access to WMAs and other public lands that have a wide mix of opportunities to find game,” says Katie Martin, a Region II DWR District Wildlife Biologist.
There are ten WMAs in Region II and one cooperative land area on Smith Mountain Lake. These areas provide a variety of turkey hunting opportunities since the geographic range of Region 2 stretches from the eastern Piedmont to the mountains. Amelia and Featherfin WMAs have high turkey hunting pressure and are therefore enrolled in the Quota hunt program to provide hunters with a high-quality experience on these areas.
“While spring turkey hunting is not an easy pursuit as gobblers are smart and wary, we do get feedback from many hunters stating their success during the spring season on our WMAs,” says Martin. “And to many of these hunters, success doesn’t necessarily mean harvesting a bird, it may just mean hearing a few gobbles, watching a gang of birds strutting in a field, or seeing a group of hens feeding as they work out the pecking order.”
All four DWR regions of Virginia offer spring turkey hunting on public lands. Whether hunting the blue ridge mountains of Blacksburg or the pines of the southeast, spring turkey hunting success is viable.