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Tag Validation & Checking Requirements

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Validation of Tags

  • All hunters (unless license exempt) killing a bear, deer, elk, or turkey are required to validate an appropriate tag on their bear license, deer/turkey license, bonus deer permit, or special permit (DCAP, DMAP, or DPOP) at the place of kill prior to moving the animal in any way.
  • Beginning with the 2018-2019 hunting seasons, hunters with deer/turkey tags and bonus deer tags will have the choice of two options for tagging a harvested deer or turkey. These two options are an electronic “e-notching” of the tag on the Department’s mobile app and the traditional physical removal (notching) of a notch on their paper license.
  • To validate a license tag:
    • Electronic license tag validation (e-notching): Requires use of the Department’s Go Outdoors Virginia mobile app. Applies only to deer/turkey license tags and bonus deer tags. When viewing the electronic license within the mobile app, touch the designated notch area of the appropriate license tag. See www.dgif.virginia.gov/enotch for a demonstration.
      • Electronic validation provides convenient instant checking of the animal and provides a confirmation number that is stored in the app requiring no additional steps for the hunter.
    • Paper license tag validation: Applies to all license tags, bonus deer permit tags, and DPOP/DCAP/DMAP program tags. Hunters must completely remove the designated notch area from the appropriate paper license or permit tag.
  • Hunters killing an elk are required to validate an appropriate deer tag.
  • It is unlawful for any person to validate (notch) a tag from any license or special permit prior to the killing of an animal. A paper tag that is mistakenly validated (notched) prior to the killing of an animal must be voided immediately by the licensee or permittee by writing, in ink, the word “VOID” on the line provided on the tag.

Checking Bear, Deer, Elk, and Turkey

General Information

  • It is unlawful to destroy the identity (sex) of any animal until it is checked. After the appropriate tag has been validated (notched), successful hunters are allowed to dismember the carcass to pack it out from the place of kill as long as they do not destroy the identity of the sex and all the parts of the carcass (excluding internal organs) are present when the animal is checked.
  • After the carcass of a game animal has been processed (i.e., disassembled), its parts may be legally transported; however, upon request of a law enforcement officer, sufficient verbal or written information must be furnished to establish legal possession.
  • All bear, deer, elk, and turkey must be checked by all hunters, including license-exempt hunters, upon vehicle transport of the carcass or at the conclusion of legal hunting hours, whichever occurs first and without unnecessary delay.

Bear

  • Bears can only be checked at an official bear check station.
  • It is mandatory for the successful bear hunter to remove or allow to be removed a premolar (tooth) from the carcass. This tooth shall be sealed in the envelope attached to the check card and left with the check station operator.

Deer

  • Deer must be checked at either a check station, or by using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone checking system. All deer killed after the first Saturday in January must be checked by mobile app, Internet, or telephone.

Elk

  • Elk must be checked at either a check station, or by using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone checking system. All elk killed after the first Saturday in January must be checked by mobile app, Internet, or telephone.
  • Successful hunters, upon checking an elk, must contact the Department at (804) 367-0044 to schedule the collection of biological samples for disease testing. This number is intended only to make arrangements to obtain tissue samples from harvested elk. No other game checking or other wildlife issues will be answered using this number. For general wildlife questions, call (804) 367-1000 during normal business hours.

Turkey

  • Fall turkeys (except those killed in January) must be checked at either a check station, or by using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone checking system.
  • Fall turkeys killed in January and spring turkeys must be checked using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone checking system.

Check Stations for Bear, Deer, Elk, and Fall Turkeys

  • Bear, deer, elk, and fall turkey check stations can be found online at www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/check-stations. You may also call a Department office listed on Contact Information during normal business hours for locations.
  • Bears must be checked at an official black bear check station. In counties without established bear check stations, hunters may transport their kill to a bear check station in an adjoining county.
  • Hunters checking animals at a check station will be given a check card furnished by the Department. The hunter shall immediately write the check card number in ink on the line labeled “check card or confirmation number” of the tag that was validated (notched) at the place of kill.
  • The check card must be kept in possession with the carcass until processed.
  • If the carcass of an animal that was checked at a check station is left unattended, the check card must be securely attached to the carcass.
  • Hunters needing a copy of a lost check card should call the appropriate Department regional office listed on Contact Information after March 1st.

Using Mobile App, Internet, or Telephone Checking

Only deer, elk, turkey, and bobcat (see Furbearer Hunting Regulations) can be checked using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone. Before using either system, you will need your deer/turkey license and a pen and paper to record your confirmation number. If you are exempt from purchasing such license, you will need your date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY) and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Telephone Checking System

Call the toll-free number, (866) GOT-GAME (866-468-4263). Only touch-tone phones may be used.

Mobile App

Download for free. See Go Outdoors Virginia (PDF).

Internet Checking System

Go to www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com and click on “Game Check & Harvest Reporting”. Hunters have the option of printing a check card at the end of the Internet-checking session.

  • Follow the instructions and provide the requested information.
  • You will be given a confirmation number at the end of the telephone or Internet session. Write it down. Licensed hunters must then immediately write this confirmation number, in ink, on the line labeled “check card or confirmation number” of the tag that was validated (see Tag Validation & Checking Requirements). When using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone, be sure that the confirmation number is a combination of 5-7 letters and numbers. If your telephone or Internet checking session is cut off or your confirmation number is not complete, start the session again and repeat steps until the complete confirmation number is obtained.
  • Bucks that have shed their antlers are considered antlerless deer and may be tagged with an antlerless-only deer tag. For the process of checking in these shed-antlered bucks on the telephone and Internet, they should be checked in as an antlered deer with zero antler points.
  • The telephone deer checking system will only accept antlered bucks with up to 29 antler points. If you kill a buck with more than 29 points that is checked in by telephone, just enter antler points as 29.

Carcass Transferred or Unattended

  • If the kill is reported using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone checking system by a hunter who validated a tag, no personal check card is required as long as the hunter is in possession of the carcass.
  • If the carcass is transferred to the possession of another individual or left unattended, a personal check card or Internet check card must be created and kept with the carcass until the carcass is processed. If the carcass is left unattended, the personal check card or Internet check card must be securely attached to the carcass.

License-Exempt Hunters

License-exempt hunters such as resident hunters under the age of 12, hunters age 65 and over hunting private lands in the county of residence, holders of the disabled veteran’s lifetime license and those using the landowner exemption must check all bear, deer, elk, turkey (see Tag Validation & Checking Requirements) and bobcat (see Furbearer Hunting Regulations). When using the telephone or Internet system the license-exempt hunter will be classified as “exempt from purchasing a hunting license” or “exempt hunter” when prompted as to what type of license they have. When prompted, license-exempt hunters must enter their date of birth in a MM/DD/YYYY format followed by the last four digits of their social security number. If the telephone or Internet was used, the license-exempt hunter must create a personal check card (see below) which must be kept with the carcass until it is processed. If the carcass is left unattended, the personal check card must be securely attached to the carcass.

Personal Check Card

An animal reported using the mobile app, Internet, or telephone checking system will require the creation of a personal check card if:

  1. The hunter is license exempt.
  2. The hunter possesses a Veteran’s Disabled Lifetime License.
  3. The carcass is transferred to someone else.
  4. The carcass is left unattended.

The personal check card may be written on any type of paper using a pen and must include the hunter’s full name, date of kill, and confirmation number.