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Small Game Hunting

General Information

Legal Methods and Restrictions

Special restrictions apply to specific firearms use during this season. See Legal Use of Firearms & Archery Tackle, and Local Firearms Ordinances, for details.

  • Modern firearms.
  • Arrowguns are allowed.
  • Archery tackle.
  • Muzzleloading firearms.
  • Dogs may be used.


Season Dates

August 21 through March 18 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

September 1 through March 9

On National Forest Lands and Department lands on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only.

  • Crows are a federally regulated migratory species; however, no HIP registration is required and hunters may use unplugged shotguns to hunt them.
  • Electronic calls may be used on private and public lands. Written permission of the landowner is not required to hunt crows with electronic calls, except when hunting on posted property.


Season Dates

Continuous open season on private lands.

  • Groundhog hunting on National Forest lands and Department lands is permitted from September 1-March 10 and during the spring turkey season.
  • Groundhog hunting is permitted during the spring squirrel season on Department lands that are open for spring squirrel hunting.
  • Groundhog hunting is not permitted on National Forest lands during the spring squirrel season.


Season Dates

October 23 through February 12: west of I-95.

Continuous closed season: east of I-95.

Bag Limit

Three per day.

Quail & Pheasant

Season Dates

November 6 through January 31

Quail is closed on all public lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Bag Limits

Quail: six per day.

Pheasant: no daily or seasonal bag limit.


New Carcass Disposal Regulations, see “Attention Rabbit Hunters” below.

Season Dates

October 30 through February 28

Bag Limit

Six per day.

Squirrel (Gray, Red, Fox)

Bag Limit

All squirrels combined–six per day.

Fall Seasons

Gray and Red Squirrels: September 4 through February 28


Fox Squirrels: September 4 through January 31 in the following designated areas only:

Counties west of the Blue Ridge and in the counties of Albemarle, Bedford, Culpeper, Fauquier, Franklin, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Patrick, Prince William, and Rappahannock.

Spring Season

June 4 through 18, 2022: Closed on National Forest lands.

During the Spring Season:

Gray and red squirrels may be harvested statewide, unless otherwise posted, and on the following WMAs: Amelia, Big Survey, Big Woods, Briery Creek, Cavalier, Chickahominy, Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, Dick Cross, Doe Creek, Fairystone (including Fairystone State Park and Philpott Reservoir), Featherfin, Gathright, Goshen, Hardware River, Havens, Hidden Valley, Highland, Hog Island (Carlisle Tract only), Horsepen, James River, Lake Robertson, Lands End (Salem Church tract only), Little North Mountain, Mattaponi, Mattaponi Bluffs, Merrimac Farm, Oakley Forest, Pettigrew, Phelps, Powhatan (including the Goochland Tract), Rapidan, Short Hills, Stewarts Creek, G. Richard Thompson, Robert W. Duncan, Turkeycock Mountain, Ware Creek, and White Oak Mountain.

Fox squirrels may be harvested on all lands, unless otherwise posted, in all counties with an open fall fox squirrel season and on the following WMAs: Big Survey, Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, Gathright, Goshen, Havens, Hidden Valley, Highland, Lake Robertson, Little North Mountain, Merrimac Farm, C. F. Phelps, Rapidan, Short Hills, Stewarts Creek, and G. Richard Thompson.

Hunting Preserves

Pen-raised game birds may be taken on licensed hunting preserves from September 1 through April 30, including Sundays. A list of hunting preserves open to the public may be obtained at the Department’s Henrico office or at A resident hunting on a licensed hunting preserve is required to have a hunting license. A nonresident is required to have either a nonresident hunting license or a special nonresident hunting (shooting) preserve license which is valid only within the boundaries of licensed hunting preserves.

We need your help!

Grouse Hunting Survey

The Department annually monitors fall populations of ruffed grouse by surveying avid grouse hunter success rates flushing and harvesting grouse. Grouse populations have been declining so we are very interested in getting more help with this survey. If you are an avid grouse hunter and are willing to participate please consider joining the survey. Hunters are asked to provide information on the number of grouse they flush and kill on a daily basis. In addition, we ask cooperators to send us some tail and wing feathers so we can estimate age and sex ratios of hunter-killed birds. All survey instructions and materials will be provided. The Department provides cooperators with a summary report at the end of the season. To participate, send your name and mailing address to with “grouse survey” in the subject line.

Quail Hunting Survey

Please consider joining our quail hunter cooperator survey. Help us keep records on wild quail hunting success rates and habitats where quail are being found. Contact Marc Puckett at:

Attention Rabbit Hunters

DWR is closely monitoring the status of a highly infectious virus of rabbits, known as rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus 2 (RHDV2). RHDV2 is not a human health concern. The virus causes significant mortality in wild and domestic rabbits and was detected for the first time in North American wild rabbits in the southwestern United States in 2020. While RHDV2 has not been detected in Virginia, spread across the U.S. is anticipated. RHDV2 outbreaks typically involve at least three dead rabbits of any age in a small, localized area, over a period of less than seven days. Most infected rabbits are in good body condition with no obvious wounds at the time of death. Bright red blood may be observed around the nose. Actions that can help minimize the introduction into or spread of RHDV2 within Virginia include:

  • Reporting multiple dead rabbits fitting the description above to the nearest DWR regional office
  • NEW! Per regulation, properly disposing of all portions of rabbits harvested in Virginia not saved for human consumption via burial (at least two feet), incineration, or double-bagging and placing in trash for transport to a landfill
  • NEW! Per regulation, fully dressing (skin, feet, head, and internal organs removed) all rabbits harvested out-of-state before importing into Virginia (rabbits harvested on out-of-state properties that span the Commonwealth’s boundary will not be considered imported and should be handled as described for rabbits harvested in Virginia)
  • Wearing gloves when dressing rabbits and avoiding contact with pet rabbits before showering and changing clothes after handling wild rabbits