Urban Archery Season

September 1 –October 5, 2018 and January 6 through March 31, 2019, within the incorporated limits of the cities of Charlottesville, Chesapeake (except on Department-owned lands), Colonial Heights, Danville, Emporia, Franklin, Fredericksburg, Galax, Hopewell, Lexington, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Newport News, Poquoson, Radford, Richmond, Staunton, Suffolk, and Winchester; and, in the towns of Altavista, Amherst, Bedford, Blacksburg, Blackstone, Boones Mill, Buchanan, Chatham, Christiansburg, Farmville, Front Royal, Halifax, Hurt, Independence, Irvington, Kenbridge, Pearisburg, Pulaski, Richlands, Rocky Mount, Saltville, Smithfield, Stuart, Tazewell, Victoria, West Point, and Wytheville; and, in the counties of Chesterfield, Fairfax, James City, Prince William, Roanoke (except on National Forest and Department-owned lands), Stafford, and York. Buchanan, Newport News, Prince William County, and Stafford County are new participants for the 2018-2019 season. NOTE: Arlington and Loudoun counties have antlerless deer hunting seasons during the same dates as the urban archery season (see Deer Seasons).

This page is organized into the following sections below:

  1. General restrictions for all participating localities,
  2. Restrictions and other information specific to each participating locality,
  3. Background information about the urban archery season.

General Information (for all urban archery localities)

  • NEW! Earn A Buck rules are in effect in all towns and cities in Virginia (except Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach). Antlerless deer killed during urban archery season count toward Earn A Buck.
  • In addition to the Urban Archery Deer Season, archery deer hunting is also allowed during the Early Archery Deer Season, the Firearms Deer Season, and the Late Archery Deer Season (where applicable). In other words, from the first Saturday in October through the first Saturday in January. See “Seasons and Bag Limits”.
  • An archery license is required to hunt with archery tackle during the Urban Archery Deer Seasons, the Early Archery Deer Season, or the Late Archery Deer Season. See “License Requirements“.
  • Crossbows are defined by law as a type of bow and are therefore legal during all archery deer seasons.
  • All other normal deer regulations, including bag limits and tagging/checking requirements, apply during the Urban Archery Deer Seasons, including Earn-A-Buck and antler point restrictions, where applicable. See “Seasons and Bag Limits”.
  • The season bag limit for deer cannot be exceeded unless bonus deer permits are purchased. See “Bonus Deer Permits“.
  • Deer must be checked by calling 1-866-GOT-GAME, online, or at a big game check station.
  • Only antlerless deer may be taken during the Urban Archery Deer Seasons (see dates above). Antlerless deer include does, button bucks, and bucks that have shed their antlers.
  • Antlerless deer may also be taken on any day during the Early Archery Deer Season and the Late Archery Deer Season.
  • Antlerless deer may also be taken on any day during the Firearms Deer Season except in the City of Chesapeake, Chesterfield County, and Suffolk (east of the Dismal Swamp line), where antlerless deer can be taken only on the prescribed firearms deer season either-sex hunting days.
  • Antlered deer (bucks with antlers visible above the hairline) may not be taken during the Urban Archery Season but may be taken on any day during the Early Archery Deer Season, the Late Archery Deer Season, and during the Firearms Deer Season (i.e., during the “normal” deer seasons, from October through early January).
  • Deer hunting is permitted on Sundays in Virginia under the following circumstances (Code of Virginia §29.1-521):
    • During designated deer seasons.
    • On private property with written permission from the landowner.  The written permission should state that Sunday hunting privileges are included.
    • Sunday deer hunting is not allowed on public property.
    • It is illegal to hunt within 200 yards of a house of worship or other building physically associated with a house of worship on Sunday.
  • Lists of properties available for hunting are not maintained by the Virginia Department of Game of Inland Fisheries or local governments. To find available properties, visit with or contact local landowners, deer hunters, archery clubs, check stations, the agency’s HunterFinder website, or the Outdoor Access website. Hunters in Fairfax County may wish to contact Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia, Inc. or visit the Fairfax County Archery Program web page.
  • Hunters must obtain permission from the landowner and must also obtain permission to pursue or retrieve deer from neighboring landowners. Due to the small size of parcels and proximity of residences, the hunter or the owner of the hunted property is encouraged to notify adjacent property owners or tenants in advance.
  • Hunters must abide by all applicable sections of the Virginia State Code, Virginia Hunting Regulations, and local ordinances. See local restrictions in the next section below.

Local Urban Archery Restrictions

Please check back here for local restrictions, which will be posted this summer.

Background Information

Human-deer conflicts are increasing in urban areas throughout the Commonwealth. Numerous cities, towns, and urbanized counties have requested assistance regarding damage caused by deer to vehicles and personal property. Residential, commercial, and industrial development has altered the landscape of Virginia. In many cases, more favorable habitat conditions for white-tailed deer populations have resulted, and deer populations have flourished. Additionally, many jurisdictions have enacted local ordinances to prohibit the discharge of firearms. This creates large tracts of land that act as refuges (sanctuaries) for unregulated growth of deer populations.

The objective of the urban archery season is to reduce human/deer conflicts in urban areas by concentrating archery-hunting pressure in urban/suburban areas. Archery deer hunting is an effective, quiet method for harvesting deer in urban settings. The concept is modeled after a successful urban archery season initiated several years ago in West Virginia. Additionally, urban archery seasons have been used as an effective deer management option for numerous years in several Midwestern states.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries established an urban archery season during 2002 to assist towns and cities across the Commonwealth with urban deer management issues. The urban archery season gives localities a means to reduce deer populations within their limits while at the same time providing hunting recreation. The regulation that establishes this season is permissive, and the season is available to every incorporated city and town in Virginia and to every county with a human population density of 300 persons per square mile or more. Therefore, the season is only “open” in those towns, cities, and counties that requested to participate in writing.

Any locality participating in the urban archery season will remain in the program until it notifies the Department otherwise. Any city, town, or county no longer participating in this season shall submit by certified letter to the department prior to April 1 notice of its intent not to participate in the special urban archery season. On the other hand, a locality that is not currently participating, but wishes to do so, shall submit by certified letter to the department prior to April 1 notice of its intent to participate in the urban archery season.

To make this season a success, urban archery deer hunters are asked to be extra careful regarding safety, to respect the property rights of all landowners, and to report any questionable behavior or violations they may witness. Because many urban archers may be hunting on small acreages and/or near dwellings, they are reminded to pay close attention to property lines and to notify adjacent landowners or tenants as a courtesy before they hunt. State law does not allow a hunter to follow a wounded animal on to another person’s property without the landowners’ permission.

We as an agency are very pleased with this season that provides a permissive proactive approach for urban deer management to local governments. Hunters or citizens who have questions or comments about the urban archery season are asked to call Nelson Lafon, Deer Project Coordinator, at nelson.lafon@dgif.virginia.gov or (540) 569-0023.