Deer Hunting in Virginia

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  • B
  • 1,270,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 190,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $46-64

    Resident hunting license is $23. A deer license is $23. Archery, crossbow and muzzleloading licenses are $18.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $197-228

    Nonresident hunting license is $111. A deer permit is $86. Archery, crossbow and muzzleloading licenses are $31.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • 189 2/8"

    Taken by Jerry James in Buchanan County in 1999.

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • 108

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 257 4/8"

    Taken by James W. Smith in Warren County in 1992.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 53

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Virginia has some solid deer hunting. (Tony Campbell)

Season Dates (2021):

The early archery season spans October 2 to November 12, statewide. Late archery is in late November, through January, location depending. For most hunters, muzzleloader season is October 30 through November 12 and December 11 through January 1. And in most cases, rifle season opens November 13, has various closing dates, and has additional details based on the county. Deer season dates and regulations vary greatly by location. Please check the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries website to confirm.

The Grade: B

The Old Dominion is an outstanding deer hunting destination, and gets a solid B grade. Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Deer Project Coordinator Matt Knox says the population has been stable for the past decade. A strong outbreak of EHD in 2014 hurt the herd, but it has since bounced back. The buck age structure has gotten older, too, which Knox says is mostly due to hunters being more selective on their buck harvest. Plus, deer hunters enjoy a 60% success rate here, which is among the highest in the nation. The combination of large deer densities, abundant public lands, and good season structures all make it a top deer state.

“Statewide, the deer population has been fairly stable overall for several decades,” Knox said. “Our new deer population estimate of 1.27 million is higher that our normal/traditional 1 million estimate, but is primarily a result of a change we have made in how we calculate the buck age structure and resultant buck mortality rate, not an actual change or increase in the deer population (i.e., a recalibration).”

There are some fairly new changes. According to Knox, liquid deer scents that contain actual deer urine are outlawed in Virginia. This is a guard against the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). While this is a CWD-positive state, the disease is confined to a small pocket along the West Virginia border. Knox says there will be numerous changes to CWD disease management area boundaries and mandatory testing days for fall 2021. Check the wildlife department’s website for more details.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

Top areas for trophy bucks continue to be the south central counties, but good deer come from all across the state. Some of the top producers include Amherst, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Botetourt, Buchanan, Fairfax, Fauquier, Floyd, Franklin, Frederick, Loudoun, Montgomery, Page, Patrick, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Rockingham, Wythe, and more.

If you’re looking for a good public land deer hunt, there are eight different property types available, including wildlife management areas (WMAs), Public Access (PALS), national forests, state forests, state parks, federal refuges, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and military areas.

And, if you end up with more meat than your freezer can handle, consider supporting the Virginia Hunters for the Hungry program.

Virginia Harvests

  • Bill Hall

    Alexandria, Virginia

  • Bobby Duck

    Buckingham, Virginia

From the Realtree Trophy Den