Logo

Lawful Hunting Methods

Virginia Bird Hunting

Lawful Hunting Methods

It is legal to take migratory game birds including waterfowl and coots on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas:

  • Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics);
  • Standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice;
  • From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation;
  • From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of grain or other feed; or
  • Standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.

It is legal to take migratory game birds, except waterfowl and coots, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation. See Definitions & Terms for definition of Normal Agricultural Operation.

Wanton Waste of Migratory Game Birds

No person shall kill or cripple any migratory game bird without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bird, and retain it in his actual custody, at the place where taken or between that place and either (a) his automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) his personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.

Non-toxic Shot

No person may take ducks, geese (including brant), swans, coots, mergansers, moorhens, gallinules, rails or snipe while possessing shot (either in shotshells or as loose shot for muzzleloading) other than approved non-toxic shot. For a list of approved non-toxic shot, see www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/CurrentBirdissues/nontoxic.htm.

Opening Day of a Season

No person on the opening day of the season shall possess any freshly killed migratory game birds in excess of the daily bag limit, or aggregate daily bag limit, whichever applies.

Field Possession Limit

No person shall possess, have in custody, or transport more than the daily bag limit or aggregate daily bag limit, whichever applies, of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged, at or between the place where taken and either (a) his automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) his personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.

Tagging Requirement

No person shall put or leave any migratory game birds at any place (other than at his personal abode), or in the custody of another person for picking, cleaning, processing, shipping, transportation, or storage (including temporary storage), or for the purpose of having taxidermy services performed, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter, stating his address, the total number and species of birds, and the date such birds were killed. Migratory game birds being transported in any vehicle as the personal baggage of the possessor shall not be considered as being in storage or temporary storage.

Custody of Birds of Another

No person shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged.

Termination of Possession

Subject to all other requirements of this part, the possession of birds taken by any hunter shall be deemed to have ceased when such birds have been delivered by him to another person as a gift; or have been delivered by him to a post office, a common carrier, or a migratory bird preservation facility and consigned for transport by the Postal Service or a common carrier to some person other than the hunter.

Gift of Migratory Game Birds

No person may receive, possess, or give to another, any freshly killed migratory game birds as a gift, except at the personal abodes of the donor or donee, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter who took the birds, stating such hunter’s address, the total number and species of birds and the date such birds were taken.

Transportation of Birds of Another

No person shall transport migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged.

Species Identification Requirement

No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

Marking Package or Container

No person shall transport by the Postal Service or a common carrier migratory game birds unless the package or container in which such birds are transported has the name and address of the shipper and the consignee and an accurate statement of the numbers of each species of birds therein contained clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof.

More restrictive regulations may apply to National Wildlife Refuges opened to public hunting. For additional information on refuge specific regulations see www.fws.gov/refuges/.

Attention Hunters: Migratory Bird Banding Projects

Wildlife agencies around the country, including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, capture and leg-band a number of migratory game bird species, including ducks, geese, brant, swans, and doves as part of our annual monitoring programs. Analysis from the recoveries of banded birds provides biologists with important information on bird distribution, harvest rates, and survival. Hunters recovering any banded migratory game bird can keep the band, but remember to report the recovery information. Please note that the toll-free band reporting phone number has been discontinued (even though some bands you recover may still be inscribed with that number). You must now report all bands online at the USGS website, www.reportband.gov or by sending your information by mail to: Bird Banding Lab, 12100 Beach Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708. People that call the toll-free number will be directed to report their bird bands using the REPORTBAND website or by mail. After reporting the band you will receive a “Certificate of Appreciation” that includes information about where and when the bird was banded. For more information on the banding projects or other Department migratory bird programs, visit our website at www.dgif.virginia.gov.

Please help us help you manage migratory game birds in Virginia by reporting banded birds.

Please report ONLY USFWS bands. Private bands cannot be reported on this website.