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Deer & Elk

  • Kill Permit required from DWR to kill during closed season.
  • Department regulation makes it illegal to place or distribute food, salt, or minerals to feed or attract deer or elk from September 1 through the first Saturday in January, statewide (unless noted in the exception below). It is also illegal to put out these substances to attract deer or elk during any deer or elk season within any county, city, or town that allows deer or elk hunting. This prohibition does not include the planting of agronomic crops or wildlife food plots.
  • It is illegal to feed deer year-round in certain localities (see list).

Deer are generally considered a nuisance when they are eating gardens or expensive landscaping plants. The best way to solve this problem is to plant things deer don’t like to eat. This usually includes plants like juniper, hawthorne, or other prickly/thorny plants. The next best way to prevent them is to exclude them from coming at all.

  • Build a 5–8 foot fence around your garden. This is the single best method.
  • Have a dog roam your yard. Deer will usually not visit properties with dogs.
  • Loud noises or hazing sometimes works, but they can become accustomed to these activities.

After trying these, you can also attempt to use chemicals which taste bad or smell bad to the deer.

  • There are a variety of products that can be used to make the plants unpalatable. Most of these have a pepper or sulfur-base. You can make your own out of cayenne pepper and rotten eggs. Some of the commercially available products are supposed to last through a couple of rain events, but most will wash off with the first rain.
  • Products to scare the deer away generally contain predator urine, sulfur, or human scents. You can try to make your own with human hair, soap, or perfume/cologne. There are also fertilizers that are made from bio-solids that have shown some success, but they have a very bad odor, even to humans.

For instances where non-lethal deer management has not worked, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has created 5 management options available to landowners and/or municipalities. These five programs, Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), Damage Control Assistance Program (DCAP), Kill Permits, Deer Population Reduction Program (DPOP), and Urban archery season all require meeting with a DWR representative to determine if an area qualifies for one of the programs. The objectives of each of these programs are as follows.

Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP)

DMAP is a site-specific deer management program that increases a landowner’s or hunt club’s management options by allowing a more liberal harvest of antlerless deer than offered under general hunting regulations. The primary goal of DMAP is to allow landowners and hunt clubs to work together on a local level to manage their deer herds. Landowners/hunt clubs have the option to increase, decrease, or stabilize deer populations on their property enrolled in DMAP. These objectives are accomplished by harvest strategies that control the numbers of antlerless deer taken, primarily through the issuance of DMAP tags. DMAP tags can be used only to harvest antlerless deer (does and male fawns) and are not valid for antlered bucks.

Damage Control Assistance Program (DCAP)

Like DMAP, DCAP started in 1988 and also is a site-specific deer damage management program designed to increase a landowner’s management options by allowing a more liberal harvest of antlerless deer than offered under general hunting regulations. The primary objective of DCAP is to provide site-specific assistance to control crop depredation or other property damage by deer. A land owner who demonstrates damage from deer can use a kill permit at the time of damage (see below) or may defer removing deer until the hunting season using DCAP tags. DCAP permit tags can be used only to harvest antlerless deer (does and male fawns). DCAP is not available in cities and counties east of the Blue Ridge in which the general firearms deer season is full season either-sex (except Fairfax County).

Kill Permits

As provided by Virginia State Statute §29.1-529. Killing of deer damaging fruit trees, crops, livestock or personal property or creating a hazard to aircraft or motor vehicles, the DWR is authorized to permit owners or lessees of land to kill deer where deer cause commercial or personal property damage. Under the kill permit system, a landowner/lessee who sustains deer damage must report the damage to the local conservation police officer for investigation. If, upon investigation, the officer (or designee of the Director) determines that deer are responsible for the reported damage, he/she may authorize in writing that the owner/lessee, or other person(s) designated by the officer, be allowed to kill deer when they are found upon the property where the damage occurred.

Deer Population Reduction Program (DPOP)

DPOP is a site-specific urban deer management tool that allows managers of public properties with unique deer management needs (e.g., parks, airports) to use deer hunters to kill extra antlerless deer outside of traditional established seasons or with weapons generally reserved for other seasons (e.g., rifles during muzzleloading season).

Urban Archery Season

An urban archery season was initiated in 2002 to help reduce deer-human conflicts in urban areas while providing additional hunting recreation. Only antlerless deer may be taken during this season. This special season provides hunters with 4 additional weeks before the statewide archery season begins in October and 3 additional months after general firearms season ends in January. Several urban counties and all but a few cities and towns are eligible to participate in this urban archery program. In order to participate, a locality must submit a letter of intent to DWR by April 1 and advise DWR of any applicable weapons ordinances or other restrictions. The season offers maximum flexibility to localities. No special hunting licenses or permits are required beyond archery and big game licenses.