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Virginia

Game Bird Hunting

Regulations by Species

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Dove

Statewide Dove Hunting Seasons

First Segment

September 4-October 27

Hours:

September 4

  • 12:00 noon until sunset.

September 5-October 27

  • One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

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

Second Segment

November 20-28

Third Segment

December 22-January 17

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, Big Survey, Briery Creek, Cavalier, Chickahominy, Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, Dick Cross, Fairystone, Featherfin, Gathright, Goshen, Hardware River, Hidden Valley, Highland, Horsepen, James River, Little North Mountain, Mattaponi, Mattaponi Bluffs, Oakley Forest, Pettigrew, C.F. Phelps, Powhatan, Rapidan, Robert W. Duncan, Stewarts Creek, Thompson, Ware Creek, and White Oak Mountain. Additional information on specific Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) can be found at www.dwr.virginia.gov/wma/, and the Managed Dove Fields section of our website www.dwr.virginia.gov/hunting/dove-fields/ provides a summary of WMAs that have actively managed dove fields for this year.

First Segment

September 4-October 27

Hours:

September 4

  • 12:00 noon until sunset.

September 5-October 27

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

Second Segment

November 20-27

Third Segment

December 22-January 17

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 & Gallinules

Season

September 7-November 15

Hours

One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

Clapper/King Rails — 15 counted together daily, only one of which may be a king rail. Possession limit 45, only 3 of which can be king rails.

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

Gallinules (including Common and Purple Gallinule) — 15 per day counted together, 45 in possession.

Attention Rail and Snipe Hunters

In Virginia, non-toxic shot is required for hunting rails, gallinules, and snipe, in addition to all waterfowl, mergansers, and coots.

This recommendation provides 30 days of 3-ft or greater lunar tides.

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

Snipe

Season

October 8-11

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

In Virginia, non-toxic shot is required for hunting rails, gallinules, and snipe, in addition to all waterfowl, mergansers, and coots.

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

Woodcock

Season

November 11-December 8

December 27-January 12

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.

September Teal

Season: East of I-95

September 17-30

Season: West of I-95

September 21-30

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 reminded 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 8-11 (Black duck closed)

November 17-28

December 18-January 30

Bag Limit

Daily Bag Limit: 6 ducks of any species except for the following restrictions: can include no more than 2 mallards (only 1 hen mallard), 4 scoters, 4 long-tailed ducks, 4 eiders, 3 wood ducks, 2 black ducks (except closed Oct. 8-11), scaup: 1/day for 40 days (October 8-11, November 17-28, December 18-January 10), and 2/day for 20 days (January 11-30), 2 redheads, 2 canvasback, 1 pintail, 1 mottled duck, 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.

Waterfowl Hunting On Wildlife Management Areas

For information about quota or managed hunts for waterfowl and dove on Department WMAs, see Waterfowl Quota Hunts or go online at www.virginiawildlife.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 8-11, 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. 8, 9, and 11), and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays during the November (Nov. 17-28), and December–January (Dec. 18-Jan. 30) 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. 8 and 9) and on the opening day of the November segment (Nov. 17) and the December–January segment (Dec. 18) will be by Quota hunt only—see Waterfowl Quota Hunts. 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.

Waterfowl hunting on the Robert W. Duncan WMA is permitted only on October 8-11 and on Thursdays and Sundays of the duck and goose seasons.

Waterfowl hunting on Mattaponi Bluffs WMA is permitted only on October 8-11, and at any time during the multi-species quota hunt period by the selected individuals and guests, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays after the quota hunt period (Jan 4 - end of waterfowl season).

For information about waterfowl hunting on other WMAs see our website at www.virginiawildlife.gov/wma.

Special Sea Duck Season in the *Special Sea Duck Zone

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

Season

November 11-January 9

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

Sea ducks cannot be taken in the Sea Duck Zone after January 9. Sea ducks can, however, be taken during the regular duck season (Oct. 8-11, Nov. 17-28, and Dec. 18-Jan. 30) in all other areas outside of the sea duck zone (i.e.: within 800 yards of any shore, island or emergent vegetation…), since they are included in the regular season duck bag. No more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders or 4 long-tails can be included in the regular season daily limit of 6 ducks.

Mergansers

Seasons

October 8-11

November 17-28

December 18-January 30

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).

Youth & Veterans Waterfowl Hunting Days

October 23, 2021 and February 5, 2022

Statewide. Open to Youth 15 years of age and under, Military Veterans (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code) and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training). Participants may harvest the allowed daily bag limit of ducks (see pg. 12), sea ducks (including in the Special Sea Duck Zone), and other waterfowl, including Atlantic brant, coots, mergansers, gallinules, moorhens, light geese, 1 Canada goose in the Atlantic Population Zone, 3 Canada geese in the Southern James Bay Population Zone and 5 Canada geese in the Resident Population Zone, and 1 tundra swan (if in possession of a tundra swan permit) on the designated days. Resident youth aged 12-15, nonresident youth age 15 or under, and Veterans need a valid Virginia hunting license, unless license exempt. All hunters participating 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 (unless they are a Veteran), but may hunt for those species for which there is an open season.

Coots

Seasons

October 8-11

November 17-28

December 18-January 30

Bag Limit

15 per day, 45 in possession.

Canada Goose

(Includes White-fronted Geese)

Atlantic Population Zone (AP) Seasons

December 18-31

January 15-30

Bag Limit

1 goose per day (3 in possession).

Resident Population Zone (RP) Seasons

November 17-28

December 18-February 23

Bag Limit

5 geese per day (15 in possession).

Southern James Bay Population Zone (SJBP) Seasons

November 17-28

December 18-February 15

Bag Limit

3 geese per day for the entire season, (9 in possession)

Shooting Hours - All Zones

One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Note: All seasons also include White-fronted geese along with Canada geese.

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 1-25

Hunt Zone

Statewide.

Hours: East of I-95

September 1-16

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

September 17-25

  • 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.

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.

Light Goose Conservation Order

(See hunt zone in blue below.)

February 1-April 5, 2022

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 in the Light Goose Conservation Order must register either online (www.virginiawildlife.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 5, 2021.

Conservation Order 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 23-28

December 18-January 30

Bag Limit

2 per day, 6 in possession.

Tundra Swan

Seasons

November 17-January 31

Bag Limit

1 per permittee per season.

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 24, 2021. The Department will issue no more than 638 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 DWR is required to obtain hunter participation and harvest information to offer this tundra swan hunting season. Hunters are required to complete the tundra swan hunt questionnaire (survey) and submit their results to the Department by February 16, 2022. Those who fail to submit their results are ineligible for future drawings.

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
Wildlife Resources
Waterfowl Homepage

www.virginiawildlife.gov/wildlife/waterfowl

USFWS and Flyway
Council website

www.flyways.us

Federal Register Documents

www.fws.gov/policy/