Bear, Deer, and Turkey Tag Validation & Checking Requirements
Validation of Tags
- All hunters (unless license exempt) killing a bear, deer, elk, or turkey are required to validate an appropriate tag on their bear, deer, turkey license (big game license), bonus deer permit, or special permit (DCAP, DMAP, or DPOP) at the place of kill prior to moving the animal in any way. To validate a tag, hunters must completely remove the designated notch area from the appropriate license or permit tag.
- DO NOT detach license or permit tags to attach to the animal. Validation only requires the removal of the designated notch area from the appropriate license or permit tag.
- It is unlawful for any person to validate (notch) a tag from any license or special permit prior to the killing of an animal. A tag that is mistakenly validated (notched) prior to the killing of an animal must be voided immediately by the licensee or permittee by writing, in ink, the word "VOID" on the line provided on the tag.
- Hunters killing an elk are required to validate an appropriate deer tag.
- Remove the designated notch area from the appropriate tag on license prior to moving the animal in any way. Do not remove the tag from your license.
- Check your animal by the appropriate method, whether by calling 1-866-468-4263, taking it to a check station or on the Internet.
- Write the check card number or the confirmation number (from telephone or Internet checking) in ink on the license tag next to the notch.
Checking Bear, Deer, Elk, and Turkey
- All bear, deer, elk, and turkey must be checked by all hunters, including license exempt hunters, upon vehicle transport of the carcass or at the conclusion of legal hunting hours, whichever occurs first and without unnecessary delay.
- It is unlawful to destroy the identity (sex) of any animal until it is checked. After the appropriate tag has been validated (notched), successful hunters are allowed to dismember the carcass to pack it out from the place of kill as long as they do not destroy the identity of the sex and all the parts of the carcass (excluding internal organs) are present when the animal is checked
- Entries for the State Big Game Contest and for the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show: Deer and turkey checked by telephone or Internet, with the proper confirmation number, are eligible to be entered in the Eastern or Western Regional State Big Game Contest or the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show. To enter a turkey in a State/Regional Big Game Contest, successful hunters must weigh their birds on a certified scale and create a "Weight Certification" card.
- Bears can only be checked at an official bear check station.
- It is mandatory for the successful bear hunter to remove or allow to be removed a premolar (tooth) from the carcass. This tooth shall be sealed in the envelope attached to the check card and left with the Check Station operator.
- Deer must be checked at either a check station, or by using the telephone or Internet checking system. All deer killed after the first Saturday in January must be checked by telephone or Internet.
- Elk can only be checked at a check station. Please refer to the section of this website on elk hunting for additional instructions in the event you have harvested an elk.
- Successful hunters, upon checking an elk, must contact the Department at (804) 367-0044 to schedule the collection of biological samples for disease testing as part of an ongoing elk restoration program in southwest Virginia. This number is intended only to make arrangements to obtain tissue samples from harvested elk. No other game checking or other wildlife issues will be answered using this number. For general wildlife questions, call (804) 367-1000 during regular business hours.
- Fall turkeys (except those killed in January) must be checked at either a check station, or by using the telephone or Internet checking system.
- Fall turkeys killed in January must be checked using the telephone or Internet checking system.
- Spring turkeys must be checked using the telephone or Internet checking systems.
Check Stations for Bear, Deer, Elk, and Fall Turkeys
- Check station locations are listed on this site or call a Department office
- Hunters checking animals at a check station will be given a check card furnished by the Department. The hunter shall immediately write the check card number in ink on the line labeled "check card or confirmation number" of the tag that was validated (notched) at the place of kill.
- The check card must be kept in possession with the carcass until processed.
- If the carcass of an animal that was checked at a check station is left unattended, the check card must be securely attached to the carcass.
- Hunters needing a copy of a lost check card should call the appropriate Department region office after March 1st.
- Black bears must be checked at an official black bear check station. Locations can be obtained online, or from any check station, Conservation Police Officer, or Department office. In counties without established bear check stations, hunters may transport their kill to a bear check station in an adjoining county.
Using Telephone and Internet Checking
Before using either system, you will need your big game license, a pen and paper to record your confirmation number. If you are exempt from purchasing a big game license, you will need your driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
Telephone Checking System:
- Call the toll-free number, 1-866-GOT-GAME (468-4263).
- Only touch-tone phones may be used (rotary phones will not work).
Internet Checking System:
- Go to the Online Game Check Website.
- Hunters have the option of printing a check card at the end of Internet-checking sessions.
- Follow the instructions and provide the requested information.
- You will be given a confirmation number at the end of the telephone or Internet session. Write it down. Licensed hunters must then immediately write this confirmation number, in ink, on the line labeled "check card or confirmation number" of the tag that was validated (example, bottom of page 26). When using the telephone or Internet, be sure that the confirmation number is a letter followed by up to 11 digits. If your telephone or Internet checking session is cut off or your confirmation number is not complete, start the session again and repeat steps until the complete confirmation number is obtained.
- Bucks that have shed their antlers are considered antlerless deer and may be tagged with an antlerless-only deer tag. For the process of checking in these shed-antlered bucks on the telephone and Internet, they should be checked in as an antlered deer with zero antler points.
- The telephone deer checking system will only accept antlered bucks with up to 29 antler points. If you kill a buck with more than 29 points that is checked in by telephone, just enter antler points as 29.
- Hunters checking two deer on the same day may get the same confirmation number for both animals. This is okay.
Carcass Transferred or Unattended
- If the kill is reported using the telephone or Internet checking system by a hunter who validated a tag, no personal check card is required as long as the hunter is in possession of the carcass.
- If the carcass is transferred to the possession of another individual or left unattended, a personal check card or Internet check card must be created and kept with the carcass until the carcass is processed. If the carcass is left unattended, the personal check card or Internet check card must be securely attached to the carcass.
- License-exempt hunters: If the kill is reported using the telephone or Internet checking system by a hunter who is license exempt (for example, a landowner who did not have a license tag to validate at the place of kill), the hunter must create a personal check card or print an Internet check card. The check card must be kept with the carcass until the carcass is processed. If the carcass is left unattended, the check card must be securely attached to the carcass.
- Optional Courtesy Check Card for Exempt Hunters - This form can be downloaded here. This allows license exempt hunters to record confirmation check numbers for bear, deer, turkey checked online or by calling the toll-free checking system 1-866-468.4263. A copy can also be requested by contacting our Customer Service Center at 1-866-721-6911 during normal business hours.
Exempt Hunter Optional Courtesy Check Card
This form (PDF) allows for license exempt hunters to record confirmation check numbers when checking a deer, bear or turkey online or by calling the toll-free checking system 1-866-468-4263.
Personal Check Card
An animal reported using the telephone or Internet checking system will require the creation of a personal check card if:
- The hunter is license exempt.
- The hunter possesses a Veteran's Disabled Lifetime License.
- The carcass is transferred to someone else.
- The carcass is left unattended.
The personal check card may be written on any type of paper using a pen and must include the hunter's:
- full name
- date of kill and
- the confirmation number.