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Regulations by Species

Virginia Bird Hunting

Dove

Statewide Dove Hunting Seasons

First Segment

September 2–October 29

Hours:

September 2–8

  • 12:00 noon until sunset.

September 9–October 29

  • One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

No Sunday hunting of dove on public waters or on public lands.

Second Segment

November 22–29

Third Segment

December 23–January 15

Hours for Second and Third Segments:

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

15 per day, 45 in possession. Composed of mourning doves and white-winged doves, singly or in combination.

Dove Hunting On Wildlife Management Areas

Dove hunting is permitted within the boundaries of the following wildlife management areas: Amelia, Briery Creek, Cavalier, Chickahominy *, Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, Dick Cross, Fairystone, Featherfin, Gathright, Goshen, Hardware River, Highland, Horsepen, James River, Little North Mountain, Mattaponi, Pettigrew, C.F. Phelps, Powhatan, Rapidan, Thompson, Ware Creek, and White Oak Mountain. The dove fields at the Carlisle Tract of Hog Island are being renovated/expanded this year and will not be planted for the 2017 season.

First Segment

September 2–October 29

Hours:

September 2–8

  • 12:00 noon until sunset.
  • Hunting permitted on Saturday, Labor Day, and Wednesday.

* Hunting on Chickahominy WMA during the first week is by Quota hunt only (see pg. 20).

September 9–October 29

  • One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.
  • Hunting permitted on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.

Second Segment

November 22–29

Third Segment

December 23–January 15

Hours for Second and Third Segments:

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Hunting permitted daily except Sundays.

Bag Limit

15 per day, 45 in possession. Composed of mourning doves and white-winged doves, singly or in combination.

Rails

Season

September 9–November 17

Hours:

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

Clapper/King 15 — counted together daily, 45 in possession.

Sora/Virginia 25 — counted together daily, 75 in possession.

Attention Rail and Snipe Hunters

Virginia requires the use of non-toxic shot for hunting rails and snipe. Non-toxic shot is required for hunting all waterfowl, mergansers, coots, rails, snipe, moorhens, and gallinules.

Sunday hunting for rails, gallinule, and moorhens is allowed on private lands and public lands as permitted by the landowner.

Gallinule and Moorhen

Season

September 9–November 17

Hours

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

15 per day, 45 in possession.

(singly or in combination)

Sunday hunting for rails, gallinule, and moorhens is allowed on private lands and public lands as permitted by the landowner.

Woodcock

Season

November 20–December 8

December 21–January 15

Hours

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

3 per day, 9 in possession.

No Sunday hunting of woodcock on public waters or on public lands.

Snipe

Season

October 6–9

October 21–January 31

Hours

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

8 per day, 24 in possession.

Attention Rail and Snipe Hunters

Virginia requires the use of non-toxic shot for hunting rails and snipe. Non-toxic shot is required for hunting all waterfowl, mergansers, coots, rails, snipe, moorhens, and gallinules.

No Sunday hunting of snipe on public waters or on public lands.

September Teal

Season: East of I-95

September 16–September 30

Season: West of I-95

September 21–September 30

Hours

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

6 per day, 18 in possession.*

(any combination of blue-winged and green-winged teal only)

*Note: Hunters are cautioned to positively identify their ducks before shooting, since other species, such as wood ducks, may be in the area.

Special Requirements

In addition to a HIP registration, a federal migratory duck stamp and a Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp (unless license exempt) are also required to hunt teal during this season.

Ducks

Seasons

October 6–9 (Black duck closed)

November 15–26

December 16–January 28

Bag Limit

Daily Bag Limit: 6 ducks of any species except for the following restrictions: can include no more than 4 mallards (only 2 can be hen mallards), 4 scoters, 4 long-tailed ducks, 4 eiders, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 2 scaup, 1 pintail, 2 black ducks (except closed during Oct. 6–9), 2 canvasbacks, 1 mottled duck, and 1 fulvous whistling duck.

Hours

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Closed season on harlequin ducks.

The possession limit is three times the daily bag limit. No person may take more than one daily bag limit in any one day.

Special
Sea Duck Season in the *Special Sea Duck Zone

Sea duck species are scoter, long-tailed duck (formerly oldsquaw), and eider.

Season

November 10–January 8

Bag Limit

5 per day (15 in possession), but may include no more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders or 4 long-tailed ducks.

*Special Sea Duck Zone Boundary

Those waters at a distance greater than 800 yards from any shore, island, or emergent vegetation in the following areas: the ocean waters of Virginia, the tidal waters of Northampton and Accomack counties, and the Chesapeake Bay and each of its tributaries up to the first highway bridge. Back Bay and its tributaries are not included in the special sea duck hunting area.

Outside the Special Sea Duck Zone

In addition to the “Special Season in the Special Sea Duck Zone,” scoters, long-tails and eiders can also be taken during the regular duck season (Oct. 6–9, Nov. 15–26 and Dec. 16–Jan. 28) in areas outside the Special Sea Duck Zone since these species are included as part of the regular duck season bag limit (6 ducks total which can include no more than 4 scoters, 4 long-tails or 4 eiders.

Mergansers

Seasons

October 6–9

November 15–26

December 16–January 28

Bag Limit

5 birds daily, of which only 2 birds may be a hooded merganser (15 in possession, only 6 of which may be hooded mergansers).

Waterfowl Hunting On Wildlife Management Areas

For information about quota or managed hunts for waterfowl and dove on Department WMA’s, go online at www.dgif.virginia.gov.

Waterfowl hunting on the James River WMA is permitted only on the opening day, Wednesdays, and Saturdays of the duck and goose seasons.

Waterfowl hunting on the Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area is permitted only on October 6, 7, 8 and 9, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays of the duck and goose seasons.

Game Farm Marsh WMA is open for hunting on Friday, Saturday and Monday of the October segment of the duck season (Oct. 6, 7 and 9), and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays during the November (Nov. 15–26), and December–January (Dec. 16–Jan. 28) segments of the duck season. Hunters may not occupy the area before 5:00 a.m. and must vacate the area by 1:00 p.m. Hunting on Friday and Saturday of the October segment (Oct. 6 & 7) and on the opening day of the November segment (Nov. 15) and the December–January segment (Dec. 16) will be by Quota hunt only. Outside of the duck season segments listed above, waterfowl hunting on Game Farm Marsh is open with no restrictions on hunt days, times, or hunter numbers.

Waterfowl hunting on and within 500 yards of the Ware Creek WMA is permitted (except portions of Philbates Creek) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays of the duck and goose seasons. Hunters may not occupy their hunting location until 5 a.m. and hunting must end by 1 p.m.

Waterfowl hunting at Doe Creek WMA is open to walk-in hunting on Saturdays only for half days during the last two segments of the general waterfowl season. Hunters may hunt until 1:00 p.m. and must have all decoys up and be away from the impoundments by 2:00 p.m. The area is open on Sundays for scouting and wildlife viewing.

For information about waterfowl hunting on other State WMAs see our website at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wma.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

October 21, 2017 and February 3, 2018

Statewide. Resident and nonresident youth hunters 15 years of age and under may harvest the allowed daily bag limit of ducks (see above), and other waterfowl, including Atlantic brant, coots, mergansers, gallinules, moorhens, light geese, 2 Canada geese in the Atlantic Population Zone, 5 Canada geese in the Southern James Bay Population and Resident Population zones, 1 tundra swan (if the youth possesses a tundra swan permit) on the designated youth days. Resident youth age 12–15, and nonresident youth age 15 or under, need a valid Virginia hunting license, unless license exempt. All participating youth must be Virginia HIP registered (www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com). All youth must be accompanied and directly supervised by an adult at least 18 years of age or older who has a valid Virginia hunting license (unless license exempt). The accompanying adult cannot hunt ducks, but may hunt for those species for which there is an open season.

Coots

Seasons

October 6–9

November 15–26

December 16–January 28

Bag Limit

15 per day, 45 in possession.

Canada Goose

(Includes White-fronted Geese)

Atlantic Population Zone (AP) Seasons

November 15–26

December 22–January 28

Bag Limit

2 geese per day (6 in possession).

Resident Population Zone (RP) Seasons

November 15–26

December 16–February 21

Bag Limit

5 geese per day (15 in possession).

Southern James Bay Population Zone (SJBP) Seasons

November 15–26

December 18–January 14

January 15–February 15

Bag Limit

3 geese per day: Nov. 15–26 and Dec. 18–Jan. 14.

5 geese per day: Jan. 15–Feb. 15.

Canada Goose Zones

The dividing lines between the hunting zones are as follows:

Atlantic Population (AP) Hunt Zone

The area east of the Stafford/King George County line from the Potomac River south to the Rappahannock River, then west along the Stafford County line to Interstate 95, then south along Interstate 95 to Route 460 in Petersburg, then southeast along Route 460 to Route 32 in the city of Suffolk, then south along Route 32 to the North Carolina border.

Southern James Bay Population (SJBP) Hunt Zone

The area to the west of the AP Hunt Zone boundary and east of the following line: the “Blue Ridge” (Loudoun County-Clarke County line) at the West Virginia-Virginia border, south to Interstate 64 (the Blue Ridge line follows county borders along the western edge of Loudoun-Fauquier-Rappahannock-Madison-Green-Albemarle and into Nelson counties), then east along Interstate 64 to Route 15, then south along Route 15 to the North Carolina line.

Resident Population (RP) Hunt Zone

The portion of the state west of the SJBP
Hunt Zone.

September Canada Goose

Season

September 1–September 25

Hunt Zone

Statewide.

Hours: East of I-95

September 1–15

  • One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

September 16–25

  • One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Hours: West of I-95

September 1–20

  • One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

September 21–25

  • One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Bag Limit

10 per day, 30 in possession.

September Canada goose hunting is not permitted within the boundaries of the Amelia and Dick Cross Wildlife Management Areas.

Special Requirements

In addition to a HIP registration, a federal migratory duck stamp and a Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp (unless license exempt) are also required to hunt geese during this season.

Note: Electronic calls and unplugged shotguns are not allowed for hunting Canada geese.

Light Goose

(Greater and Lesser Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese)

Regular Season

October 17–January 31: statewide

Bag Limit

25 per day, no possession limit.

Shooting Hours

One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Conservation Order Season

(See hunt zone in blue below.)

February 1–April 5

Bag Limit

No daily or possession limit.

Special Hunting Methods: Electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, and extended shooting hours are allowed.

Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

All hunters who plan to participate during this season must register either online (www.dgif.virginia.gov/lightgoose) or by phone (866-721-6911), and obtain a Hunter Activity Report prior to hunting. The Hunter Activity Report must be submitted to the Department within two weeks following the close of the season, either through the agency website (above) or by mail (Light Goose Conser­vation Order, 3801 John Tyler Memorial Highway, Charles City, VA 23030). Registration will begin December 1, 2017.

Conservation Order Season Zone

Same as the AP Canada Goose Zone — the area east of the Stafford/King George County line from the Potomac River south to the Rappahannock River, then west along the Stafford County line to Interstate 95, then south along Interstate 95 to Route 460 in Petersburg, then southeast along Route 460 to Route 32 in the city of Suffolk, then south along Route 32 to the North Carolina border.

Atlantic Brant

Seasons

November 15–26

December 16–January 31

Bag limit

2 per day, 6 in possession.

Tundra Swan

Seasons

November 15–January 31

Bag limit

1 per permit.

Tundra Swan Hunt Area

Hunting will be permitted in all counties and portions of counties lying east of I-95 and south of the Prince William/Stafford County line in Chopawamsic Creek at Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Tundra Swan Permit

Before any person may hunt tundra swans in Virginia, he or she must first apply for and receive a tundra swan hunt permit. Permits are issued through a special drawing. The deadline to submit applications for this drawing is September 30, 2017. The Department will issue no more than 750 swan hunting permits. The drawing is open only to holders of a valid Virginia hunting license. A hunter may only apply for a swan permit online through the Department’s website at www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com.

Swan hunting permits are non-transferable and are valid for use only by the person to whom issued. Permits must be in the immediate possession of the permit holder while swan hunting. Immediately at the time and place of kill successful permittees must cancel their swan hunting permit by permanently recording the month and day of kill and by attaching the permit to the swan as instructed. The DGIF is required to obtain hunter participation and harvest information to offer this tundra swan hunting season. Hunters are required to complete a tundra swan report online on our website (www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com) at the end of your hunt. Those who fail to submit their hunt report by February 15, 2018 are ineligible for future drawings.

Sportsmen: Boat Smart, Wear Your Life Jacket

Wearing a life jacket may save your life. It is estimated that 80 percent of boating-related drownings could have been prevented had the victim been wearing a life jacket.

The newest type of life jacket, the manual or automatic inflatable, is lightweight and comfortable. They are versatile enough to be worn at any time of the year, and fit easily over a hunting coat or sweater.

Safety Tips

  • Check the weather before leaving.
  • Wear a life jacket or float coat.
  • Remain seated and keep weight evenly distributed.
  • Anchor from the bow, never from the stern.
  • Properly load your boat.
  • Stay with your boat if it should capsize.
  • Dress for the water temperature—guard against hypothermia.
  • Leave the alcohol at home.

For more information, contact Boating Education at: BoatSafety@dgif.virginia.gov.

Waterfowl Information

The web is a wonderful tool for waterfowlers. Information on season dates and bag limits can be found along with information on waterfowl population status, habitat conditions, as well as current waterfowl research being conducted in Virginia. Sites we recommend include:

Virginia Department of
Game & Inland Fisheries
Waterfowl Homepage

www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/waterfowl/

USFWS and Flyway
Council website

www.flyways.us

Federal Register Documents

www.fws.gov/policy/