Public Hunting Lands

Department Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries maintains 41 management areas totaling more than 200,000 acres for the benefit of all citizens for a variety of wildlife-related outdoor recreational opportunities. Thirty-nine management areas are open for some type of hunting. These lands are purchased and maintained with hunting, fishing, and trapping license fees and with Federal Assistance in Wildlife Restoration funds, derived from the sale of hunting-related equipment. We encourage the public to visit these areas to enjoy wildlife, habitats, and the bountiful natural resources found there.

National Forests

Day use fees are required on certain recreation areas. Please visit George Washington/Jefferson National Forest website or contact the appropriate office below for more information on fees and seasonal pass information.

Office Telephone
Supervisor’s Office (540) 265-5100
Clinch (276) 679-8370
North River (540) 432-0187
Glenwood-Pedlar (540) 291-2188
James River (540) 962-2214
Lee (540) 984-4101
Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area (276) 783-5196
Eastern Divide (540) 552-4641
Warm Springs (540) 839-2521

Regulations Specific to National Forest and Game Department Lands

It shall be unlawful to have in possession a bow, crossbow, or any firearm which is not unloaded and cased or dismantled on all National Forest lands statewide, or on Department-owned lands and on lands managed by the Department under cooperative agreement in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains except during the period when it is lawful to take bear, deer, grouse, pheasant, quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, turkey or waterfowl on these lands; and on Department- owned lands and on lands managed by the Department under cooperative agreement in counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains except during the period when it is lawful to take bear, deer, grouse, pheasant, quail, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, turkey, waterfowl or migratory game birds on these lands. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders).

It shall be unlawful to possess or transport a loaded firearm or loaded crossbow in or on any vehicle at any time on National Forest lands or Department-owned lands. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders).

“Loaded firearm” is defined as a firearm in which ammunition is chambered or loaded in the magazine or clip, when such magazine or clip is found engaged or partially engaged in a firearm.

The definition of a loaded muzzleloading firearm will include a firearm which is capped, or has a charged pan, or has a primer, or battery installed in the firearm.

The definition of a “loaded crossbow” is a crossbow that is cocked and has either a bolt or arrow engaged or partially engaged on the shooting rail or track of the crossbow, or with a “trackless crossbow” when the crossbow is cocked and a bolt or arrow is nocked.

The word “possession” shall include, but not be limited to, having any bow, crossbow, or firearm in or on one’s person, vehicle, or conveyance.

It is unlawful to chase with a dog or train dogs on National Forest lands or Department-owned lands except during authorized hunting, chase, or training seasons that specifically permit these activities on these lands.

Collecting any portion of the American ginseng plant for personal or commercial use from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Department-owned lands is prohibited.

Commercial hunting or fishing outfitter activities on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests require a permit from the National Forest.

Access Roads

Hunter access roads on Department lands seasonally open to motor vehicles will be open (weather permitting) from the last Saturday in September to the 2nd Saturday in February and the 1st Saturday in April to the 3rd Saturday in May.

Opening and closing dates of hunter access roads on National Forest lands may vary by ranger district. Opening and closing dates are determined by management considerations for the areas accessed by these roads. Contact the local ranger district listed at left for opening and closing dates on specific roads.

Any motor driven vehicle using roads normally open to motor vehicles on Department and National Forest lands shall conform with all state laws for highway travel. No cross country travel is permitted. All terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-road vehicle (ORV) travel is permitted only on designated National Forest roads and trails.

Camping Policy

Primitive camping (no water, electric hookups, bathrooms or other facilities) is permitted on Department-owned lands, except as otherwise posted. Camping is prohibited on or within 100 yards of any Department-owned or controlled boat ramp or fishing lake. Camping on Department-owned lands is not to exceed 21 consecutive days. No more than 3 camping units are permitted per site.

Camping on the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests for more than 21 consecutive days without terminating occupancy for a minimum of 10 consecutive days within a 31-day time period is prohibited. For more information, please visit the National Forest website or call the appropriate office. No trash service is provided. “Pack it in, Pack it out.”


It is unlawful to construct, maintain, or occupy any permanent structure, except by permit, on Department-owned lands and National Forest lands.

It is unlawful to maintain any temporary dwelling on Department-owned land for more than 14 consecutive days. Persons constructing or occupying such structures are responsible for complete removal of temporary structures.

Tree Stands

It is unlawful to construct, maintain, or occupy any permanent tree stand on Department owned lands, National Forest lands, and on Department of Conservation and Recreation owned or controlled lands. Portable tree stands, which are not permanently affixed, may be used. Use of a full body safety harness while hunting from tree stands is strongly recommended.

Public Access Lands For Sportsmen (PALS)

PALS is a program that opens additional lands for public use. Through this cooperative private/ public program the Department has opened more than 30,000 acres of private land in Dickenson and Wise counties and 260 acres in James City County to public hunting, fishing and trapping. The property in Dickenson is owned by Heartwood Forestland Fund IV and managed by The Forestland Group, LLC.

The Department manages access to both properties for hunting, fishing, and trapping. PALS permits are only sold through license agents or on the DGIF website, and the fee is $18.00. Hunters, anglers, and trappers must buy the permit from a license agent or online. Inquiries about these areas should be directed to the website or to the Marion Region 3 Office at (276) 783- 4860 (Dickenson and Wise County property) or Charles City Region 1 office at (804) 829-6580 (James City County property) for recreational opportunities in their respective regions.

The Department hopes to provide additional PALS lands in the future across other parts of the Commonwealth.

Burning Ban in Effect at Dickenson County (Coalfields) PALS Area

Updated 11/7/2016: The Department of Emergency Management has issued a burning ban. Open air fires are prohibited until further notice in Washington, Dickenson, and Wise Counties.

Sunday Hunting Rules

The 2014 General Assembly enacted legislation that allows hunting on Sunday on private lands with written permission of the landowner and under certain other conditions. A permission letter for Sunday hunting on the Dickenson County PALs area will be needed, in the possession of the hunter, to hunt on the area on Sundays and is provided here (PDF). After downloading and printing the permission letter, the hunter’s name should be written in the space provided. The permission letter must be in possession of the hunter when hunting on Sunday on the area.

Sunday hunting is not permitted on the James City County Property.

State Forests

The State Forests of Virginia serve as demonstration sites for multiple use management which focuses on the advantages and benefits of managing the total resource. Environmental protection, water quality, aesthetics, wildlife habitat, forest research and recreation are as important as a sustained timber harvest. The State Forests are operated under a separate, self-supporting budget. Most of the funds are generated through timber sales, but use permits for hunting and other activities and important as well.

Hunting is allowed on many of the State Forest properties in Virginia including: Appomattox- Buckingham State Forest, Big Woods State Forest in Sussex County, Browne State Forest in Essex County, Channels State Forest in Washington and Russell Counties, Chilton Woods State Forest in Lancaster County (archery and blackpowder only), Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County (lottery permit only), Cumberland State Forest, Dragon Run State Forest in King and Queen County, Lesesne State Forest in Nelson County (archery and black-powder only within designated dates), Matthews State Forest in Grayson County (archery only in designated areas), Prince Edward-Gallion State Forest, and Sandy Point State Forest in King William County.

A valid State Forest Use Permit and valid hunting license is required and may be purchased from licensed agents or online. Hunting is allowed on these properties only in accordance with state hunting regulations. No motorized vehicles, including ATVs, are permitted on gated roads and trail whether the gate is open or closed.

Further information on regulations governing the use of specific State Forest properties for hunting or other recreational activities is available at the Virginia Department of Forestry’s website.

State Parks

Virginia State Parks offer a wide variety of hunting opportunities as well as countless other outdoor activities for the entire family. Hunting opportunities range from open hunting in designated areas to managed deer hunts where individuals participate through a reservation or lottery system.

Specific sites that offer hunting may change from year to year. Managed deer hunts are a tool in Virginia State Parks’ overall deer management program. Participating hunters are asked to support our management efforts by following harvest guidelines associated with each hunt. See this detailed hunting opportunities chart for specific information (PDF).

For more information about hunting in a Virginia State Park or to make reservations, call 1-800-933-PARK, or on the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s website. Overnight accommodations are available at many sites during part of the hunting season; contact the Customer Service Center or visit the website for additional information and to reserve cabins or campsites.

National Parks

Hunting is prohibited in all National Parks in Virginia. For current information related to any permitted hunting activities view Park specific websites or contact via Park public information telephone lines.

Military Areas

Fort A.P. Hill

  • Archery Season: October 1 through November 4. Either-sex all season.
  • Muzzleloading Season: November 5 through 18. No Either-sex hunting.
  • General Firearms: November 19 through January 7. See Fort A.P. Hill Hunting Regulations for either-sex hunting days.
  • One deer per day, two bucks total combining all seasons. See Fort A. P. Hill Hunting Regulations for antler restrictions.
  • Closed: at 12:00 p.m. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and closed all day Christmas.

Contact Fish and Wildlife Branch (804) 633- 8984 for details. Fort A.P. Hill regulations and requirements differ from state and county regulations.

Fort Pickett

  • Deer:
    • Archery Season: October 1 through November 18
    • Muzzleloading Season: November 5 through 18
    • General Firearms: November 19 through January 7. Two per day, six per year. Either-sex deer hunting on November 26, December 3 and January 2 through 7.
  • Quail:
    • Hunting permitted on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only.
  • Dove:
    • Hunting permitted on Wednesday and Saturday only

All persons 12 years of age and older must present a hunter education certificate in order to purchase a Fort Pickett hunting permit. No apprentice licenses will be accepted. Contact the Ft. Pickett Game Check Station at (434) 292-2618 for further details about seasons and special restrictions. Open Tuesday-Saturday and closed on state-recognized holidays.

Quantico Marine Reservation

  • Deer:
    • General Firearms: November 19 through January 7. Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Open half day on Thanksgiving Day.
    • Archery Season: October 1 through November 18.
    • No Muzzleloading Season.

For hunting information, contact the Game Checking Stations at (703) 784-5523 or online.

The Game Checking Station is open seasonally, September-January and April-May.

Fort Belvoir

  • Archery Only: Qualification required.
  • Deer: September 3 through March 25. September 24 is Youth/Apprentice Day.
  • Fall Turkey: Oct. 1-Nov. 5; Nov. 24; Nov. 28-Dec. 24 and Jan. 14-Jan. 28

Waterfowl hunting is also available during prescribed seasons.

Contact Outdoor Recreation staff at (703) 805-3081 for further details.

Federal Refuges

Hunting is allowed on the following National Wildlife Refuges in Virginia. For more information, contact the appropriate refuge manager at:

Refuge Telephone
Back Bay* (757) 301-7329
Chincoteague (757) 336-6122
Great Dismal Swamp* (757) 986-3705
Eastern Shore (757) 331-2760
Rappahannock River Valley* (804) 333-1470
James River* (804) 829-9020
Plum Tree Island* (804) 829-9020
Presquile* (804) 829-9020 or
Mason Neck/Occoquan (703) 490-4979

* Quota hunts are offered through VDGIF Quota Hunt program.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

John H. Kerr Reservoir

The John H. Kerr Reservoir is a federally managed multipurpose facility located on the Virginia-North Carolina border. It consists of a 50,000 acre reservoir and 55,000 acres of land surrounding the lake which offers 40,000 acres open to hunting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains 26 wildlife management areas located around Kerr Reservoir. For more information contact:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1930 Mays Chapel Road
Boydton, VA 23917
(434) 738-6143 or

John W. Flannagan Reservoir

The John W. Flannagan Reservoir in western Dickenson County provides 6,400 acres of land open to public hunting. The area offers deer, black bear, wild turkey, and small game hunting opportunities. For further information contact: (276) 835-9544 or