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Virginia

Hunting

Deer Hunting

General Information

Bag Limits

East of the Blue Ridge (except on National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford, and Nelson counties)

The bag limit for deer shall be two a day, six a license year. Of the six-deer limit, no more than three may be antlered deer and at least three must be antlerless deer (unless noted in the exceptions below).

Exceptions
  • The daily bag limit for deer shall be unlimited in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and in all cities and towns east of the Blue Ridge except in the cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. However, no more than three antlered deer may be killed in a license year.
  • Only one deer per day may be taken on National Forest lands and Department-owned and Department-managed lands east of the Blue Ridge.

West of the Blue Ridge and on National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford, and Nelson counties

The bag limit for deer shall be two a day and five a license year. Of the five-deer limit, no more than two may be antlered deer and at least three must be antlerless deer (unless noted in the exceptions below).

Exceptions
  • The daily bag limit for deer shall be unlimited in all cities and towns west of the Blue Ridge. However, no more than two antlered deer may be taken in a license year.
  • Only one deer per day may be taken on National Forest lands and Department-owned and Department-managed lands west of the Blue Ridge.
  • If a deer hunter kills two antlered bucks in a license year in Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Highland, or Rockbridge County, at least one of the bucks must have at least four antler points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers.
  • Only one elk per day may be taken statewide.

Bag Limit Exceptions

  • Deer hunters, including those exempt from purchasing a license, on private land and authorized public lands may take more than the license-year bag limit of antlerless deer by using bonus deer permits or special deer permits (DCAP, DMAP, and DPOP).
  • DCAP, DMAP, and DPOP deer tags do not count against the daily or season bag limit.

Antlered and Antlerless Deer

Deer Tags

  • Either-sex deer tags (commonly called “buck” tags) may be used on antlered or antlerless deer.
  • Antlerless-only deer tags (commonly called “doe” tags) may only be used on antlerless deer.

Antlered Deer

  • Antlered deer must have antlers visible above the hairline.
  • An antlered deer must be tagged with an either-sex deer tag.

Antlerless Deer

  • Antlerless deer may only be taken during designated either-sex deer hunting days during the archery season(s), muzzleloading season(s), and firearms season(s). Youth deer hunters, see Youth and Apprentice Deer Hunting Weekend and Youth and Apprentice Antlerless Deer Regulation provisions on Deer Hunting Youth Hunting.
  • Antlerless deer (does, button bucks, and shed-antlered bucks) may be tagged with an antlerless-only deer tag or an either-sex deer tag.
  • Button bucks, male fawns approximately six months old, are considered antlerless deer. The hair covered bumps on a button buck’s head are not antlers. They are the pedicels from which the antlers will grow the next year.
  • Antlered deer that have shed their antlers, usually in late December or early January, are also considered antlerless deer.

Antler Point Restrictions

Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Highland, and Rockbridge Counties

If a deer hunter kills two antlered bucks in a license year, at least one of the bucks must have at least four antler points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers (in each of the counties listed above).

Wildlife Management Areas

Antler point restrictions (APRs) are in effect on the Parkers Branch Tract of the Big Woods WMA and Featherfin WMA. Antlered deer must have at least four antler points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers to be legally harvested. See informational kiosks at these locations for specific details and APR boundaries.

Shed-antlered buck (antlerless deer)
©Leonard Lee Rue III

Button buck (antlerless deer) ©Wyman Meinzer

Antlered buck ©Thomas Kirkland

Bonus Deer Permits

  • Are valid for one year from date of purchase.
  • Are valid for antlerless deer only.
  • Are valid only on private lands and authorized public lands.
  • Are valid only on designated either-sex deer hunting days.
  • Are valid during all archery (including urban archery), all muzzleloader, and all firearms (including early and late antlerless-only) deer seasons.
  • Allow deer to be taken in addition to the license year bag limit.
  • Do not allow the daily bag limit to be exceeded.
  • Are not valid on National Forest and Department-owned lands.
  • Are not valid in Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise counties.
  • Come with no restriction on number that may be purchased and used.

Q: Are deer calls legal for deer hunting in Virginia?

A: Yes, as long as they are not electronic (i.e., have batteries). It is unlawful to take or attempt to take wild animals and birds with recorded or electronically amplified calls, except for bobcat, coyote, crow, fox, and raccoon.

Tree Stand Safety Guidelines

  • Use a full-body safety harness to secure yourself to the tree. Stay attached whenever you are off the ground. Minimize slack in the tether so that if you fall, it will not be very far. This reduces the risk of injury and may allow you to climb back into your stand. Hanging in a harness for a long time may cause irreversible injury or death. Have a plan for self-rescue.
  • Never climb with equipment; use a haul line to get your unloaded gun or bow into and out of the tree stand. Crossbows may be raised while cocked, but should never be loaded with an arrow until you are securely in the stand and ready to hunt. It can be dangerous to try to cock a crossbow while in a tree.
  • Keep manufactured tree stands in good working condition. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Many falls occur because of the failure of homemade stands, especially as they age. It is best to avoid them.
  • While most manufactured tree stands are safe if used properly, they are occasionally found to be defective and recalled. To find out if your stand has been recalled, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.CPSC.gov.

Additional Information on safety harnesses:
www.virginiawildlife.gov/hunting/education/treestand-safety

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