When Is Deer Season in Virginia?

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This state has the most well-endowed deer hunting grounds, and that’s why everyone wants to know ‘when is deer season in Virginia?’ This year, our deer season in Virginia takes off from late September till late April, starting with young apprentices followed by the archery hunters. Deer season in Virginia focuses around the rut or breeding time, alongside the animal’s feeding patterns.

In late summer, the deer are in the fields and food plots before proceeding into the woods. They follow a delicacy of theirs, acorns, which are just beginning to fall.

There are different times to take deer in Virginia, depending on your hunting tool of choice. Deer hunting seasons vary; there’s one for archery, muzzleloader, and firearm deer hunting from September through to March.

Regulations also exist in Virginia for taking each sex of deer or when antlered versus antler-less deer may be hunted. There are also special regulations for young or apprentice deer hunters throughout the state’s east or western parts.

What Deer Hunting Dates Should a Hunter Keep in Mind?

When hunting deer in Virginia, you must keep in mind that it’s one of the few states that don’t usually allow hunting on Sunday. This is regulated even on private lands, except where exceptions like the youth and apprentice weekend occur.

The state sets different deer seasons for;

  • The youth hunt
  • Early bow hunting
  • Late archery 
  • Urban archery
  • Early and late muzzleloading firearms
  • The general season

The Youth and Apprentice Deer Hunt

In Virginia, we have a passion for introducing the young ones to deer hunting. The state holds to tradition, and you’ll see signs everywhere that hunts are more than deer harvests. 

Youth and apprentice deer hunters are given priority, where they are taught basic safety, season patterns, and deer behavior.  

The youth deer season this year is on September 26th and 27th. During this weekend, everything from hunting strategy, stand placement, and the complexities of each deer shooting methods are explained.

Factors that impact deer, meat harvesting, and habitat management are imparted in an environment for learning that creates passion.

Unless otherwise indicated, all the regulations that pertain to firearms, bag limits, checking, and tagging will apply.

Muzzleloader Deer Season in Virginia

Muzzleloader deer season opens in the first two weeks of November. This is the middle of the deer rut, which will flow through to when the temperatures begin to drop.

By now, the deer are foraging the last of the green grasses, packing on fat for winter. Bucks have been impoverished during the rut and are trying to re-fuel their run-down energy reserves. 

During muzzleloader firearms season, hunters can only use guns that load through the muzzle. Your muzzleloader for taking Virginia deer must also fire only a single round for each loading. 

The season is divided into the early muzzleloader and the late muzzleloader that will run from December through to early January.

Any hunter west of the Blue Ridge Mountains can harvest a bag limit of two antlerless deer. Earn a Buck regulation will apply for other designated areas during the early muzzleloading firearm deer season.

The late muzzleloader deer season takes place for the twenty-one days before the first Sunday of January.

Restrictions for Muzzleloader Firearms

When hunting deer in Virginia during the muzzleloader season, you shouldn’t possess any other firearm type. Other than those that involve concealed carry handguns, you can only use muzzle loading single shots to take out deer.

Your muzzleloader must also use at least 50 grains of black powder, or similar equivalents. You can hunt deer with smokeless powder if your firearm is designed for it. 

When transporting your muzzleloading firearm to the hunting grounds, ensure that all powder has been removed from the percussion cap, flash pan, or primer.

Early and Late Bow Hunting Deer Seasons

The early part of the archery season will run from October the 3rd till November the 13th, statewide in Virginia.  

Some season exceptions for counties and private land have been set for the late bowhunting. This will run from November the 29th through to January the 2nd

During the archery deer season, deer of either sex can be harvested in Virginia. This applies to both the early or late bow hunter’s season segments and includes all cities east of the dismal swamp line.

The Urban Archery Deer Season 

In Virginia, the urban archery deer season runs from December the 13th to January the 2nd. Only antlerless deer can be harvested during this season, except for hunters with Earn a Buck or EAB tags.  

This season doesn’t involve Suffolk and Chesapeake’s cities, and restrictions exist for National Forest and Department or DOD lands.

Crossbow and archery deer hunting require that you wear blaze colors, especially on the youth and apprentice weekend.

The urban archery is a popular season in Virginia, mainly because of its three whole weeks before the bow hunting season. This gives many hunters a chance to bag their first deer of the season, and you can set up a stand a stone’s throw away from the urban areas.

The deer harvested during the urban archery season doesn’t count towards your regular harvest limit. However, only two antlered bucks can be harvested during this special season, and the first must be antlerless.

You can take the extra deer to fill your freezer while impacting on helping to control the urban deer population. If you take too many deer, any meat leftovers can be donated to charities that accept wild game meat like Hunters Helping the Hungry. 

The General Firearms Deer Season 

This is the most popular deer hunting season in Virginia, during which firearms such as shotguns and rifles can be used. The general firearms deer season starts from November the 19th up to December the 3rd, with some counties offering an additional two weeks. 

While general firearm deer harvesting regulations may differ from county to county, some Virginia regions have similar rules for simplicity. 

Throughout the first weekend of January, most counties in the eastern part of the dual state allow general firearms for taking deer. 

Conclusion

More restrictions concerning deer hunting season times exist for Virginia and West Virginia. It’s always best to consult with the Virginia Department of game & inland fisheries before heading out since these seasons can change each year.

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