Virginia Hunter Safety Course


Rules and Regulations

Hunting Hours

Legal hunting hours are generally from ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset.  This can vary for federal migratory birds, spring turkeys, and other species.

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Blaze Orange

Hunters during any firearms deer season must wear a blaze orange hat or upper body garment. The blaze orange may be removed during the special muzzleloading season while in a treestand or other stationary location. Alternatively, a minimum of 100 square inches of blaze orange material, visible from 360 degrees, may be displayed at shoulder height within arm's reach.

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Private Property

  • If following a hunting dog onto the property of another, vehicles and firearms are prohibited. The hunter must walk and may not take a firearm onto the property.
  • Hunters must have oral permission to hunt on un-posted property.
  • Hunters must have written permission to hunt on posted property.
  • Landowners may post property with signs or with vertical paint marks. The color of the paint marks must be “aluminum”.
  • Landowners who allow hunting are protected from liability by Virginia Code Section 29.1-509.

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Legal Firearms and Archery Tackle 

  • Spring turkey hunters are not permitted to use any shot size larger than #2 fine shot.
  • Maximum shotgun size is 10 gauge.
  • Shotguns for migratory birds must not be capable of holding more than 3 shells.
  • Shotgun barrels must not be shorter than 18 inches.
  • Rifles for deer and bear must be .23 caliber or larger.
  • Localities may restrict firearms use (See 2013-14 Va. Hunting Regulations Digest, pages 23 – 25).
  • Crossbows and archery equipment may be used during all seasons.
  • Hunting on Sunday is now permitted with written permission from the landowner. Dogs may not be used for hunting deer and bear on Sunday. Hunting within 200 yards of a place of worship is prohibited. 

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Tag and Checking Requirements for Deer, Bear, Elk and Turkey


  • When a bear, deer, turkey or elk is killed by a hunter, the appropriate tag on the bear-deer-turkey license must be validated (notched) before removing the animal from the place of kill.
  • Any tag mistakenly validated prior to the killing of an animal must be voided by writing “VOID” in ink on the line provided.
  • Hunters killing an elk are required to validate an appropriate deer tag.



  • Deer must be checked by either phone, internet or at a check station.  
  • Elk must be checked at a check station.
  • Bear must be checked at an official black bear check station.
  • All deer killed after the first Saturday in January must be checked by phone or internet.
  • License-exempt hunters must check bear, deer, elk, turkey and bobcat. 

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