WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: When and What to Hunt

Thayne Muthler

Introduction to WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) plays a crucial role in managing hunting seasons in the state. Their primary goal is to ensure the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife populations while providing opportunities for hunters to enjoy their sport. Each year, the WVDNR establishes hunting seasons and regulations based on scientific data and input from hunters and other stakeholders.

Knowing the hunting seasons and regulations is essential for a successful and legal hunting trip. It is important to be aware of the specific dates when hunting is allowed for different game species, as well as any restrictions or bag limits that may apply. By following these regulations, hunters can contribute to the conservation efforts and help maintain healthy wildlife populations.
WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: When and What to Hunt

Big Game Hunting Seasons in West Virginia

Deer Hunting: Precision and Patience Deer season is one of the most anticipated times of the year. Archery enthusiasts can prepare to draw their bows starting September 30, with the season closing on December 31. This extended period allows for ample opportunity within the vibrant West Virginia autumn and early winter landscapes. The firearm season welcoming rifles begins on November 20 and runs through December 3, offering a two-week window for those who prefer a more traditional hunting approach. Specialty seasons for muzzleloaders and antlerless deer are also available – for these, hunters should confirm dates as they may adjust annually.

Bear Hunting: Strength and Strategy Bear hunters can ready themselves for the season commencing on September 30 for archery and crossbow, extending through December 31, aligning with the deer archery season. For those employing firearms in pursuit of the bear, a keen eye should be on the distinct split seasons – an initial phase typically in the fall (September 2 to September 10, October 7 to October 13, October 26 to October 29) and a latter portion aligning with the firearm deer season from November 20 to December 3. Hunters should note the requirement of a special permit and adhere strictly to the conservation-focused regulations protecting cubs and sows.

Wild Turkey: Stealth and Skill Wild turkey hunting provides an engaging springtime activity, with the general season kicking off on April 15 and running through May 19. The echoing gobbles of turkeys add to the vibrant spring chorus throughout West Virginia's woods. Youth hunters get their own dedicated window to engage with the traditions of the hunt, offering them the chance to learn and apply their skills in a focused environment.

Scouting: The Foundation for Success Renowned as a game-changing practice, scouting allows hunters to fuse their understanding of the game with the intricacies of West Virginia's varied landscapes. Knowledge of terrain, trails and feeding patterns transform a hunt from a game of chance to one of informed strategy.

WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: When and What to Hunt

Small Game Hunting Seasons in West Virginia

West Virginia a wealth of small game hunting experiences, offering sportsmen and women the chance to track a diverse array of wildlife. Whether it’s the quiet rustle of leaves by a foraging squirrel, the sudden darting movement of a rabbit, or the flush of a grouse, small game hunting is a treasured pastime in the Mountain State.

Squirrel: Agility in the Trees The pursuit of squirrel offers a long season from September 9 to February 29. This extended period allows hunters to enjoy the autumnal colors and the snowy backdrop of winter. A shotgun or a .22 caliber rifle are the tools of choice, with regulations allowing the use of dogs for aid in hunting. The daily bag limit is six, ensuring the sustainability of the squirrel population. It's also an ideal way for new hunters to learn patience and marksmanship.

Rabbit: Speed on the Ground Hunters eager to match wits with cottontail rabbits can commence their season from November 4 to February 29. Armed with a shotgun or .22 caliber rifle, accompanied by beagles or other hunting dogs, a well-orchestrated rabbit hunt is both exhilarating and a means to foster camaraderie among hunters. The daily bag limit is set to ensure a continued abundance of rabbit populations throughout West Virginia's diverse habitats.

Ruffed Grouse: The Drummer of the Woods For the ruffed grouse, hunters can take to the woods starting October 14 through February 29. The grouse, known for its explosive takeoff, provides a challenging target for those using shotguns. Adaptability and quiet movements are key to a successful grouse hunt. As with all hunting pursuits in West Virginia, it's important to be mindful of bag limits – the daily take for ruffed grouse is set at four.

Choosing the correct ammunition is vital in small game hunting. Hunters are advised to select shot sizes appropriate to their quarry – smaller shot sizes like #6 for squirrels and rabbits prevent undue damage and maximize the quality of the meat. Furthermore, understanding and targeting the right habitats increases success rates. Squirrels thrive in areas with dense tree coverage, while rabbits favor brushy, dense areas where cover is abundant.

West Virginia's Department of Natural Resources diligently manages the small game populations to ensure balance and sustainability. This includes careful setting of seasons and bag limits based on ongoing wildlife research and management strategies. As a hunter in West Virginia, staying informed about the latest regulations and practicing ethical hunting is paramount to the conservation of the state’s natural resources.

WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: When and What to Hunt

Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons in West Virginia

West Virginia's skies and fields become a hunter's haven as migratory bird seasons go into full swing. With duck, geese, and dove seasons set against the backdrop of the state's rich natural tapestry, hunters are presented with opportunities that call for skill and adherence to tradition.

Dove Season's Beginnings Dove hunters can mark their calendars for the onset of the season on September 1, and prepare for its culmination on October 30. These swift birds offer an engaging hunting experience, demanding accuracy and a quick response from those who walk the fields in pursuit.

Waterfowl: Torrents and Timelines Duck and goose hunting in West Virginia is a treasured pursuit, with seasons traditionally opening in early October and tapering off by January 31. Specific dates are contingent upon annual schedules established by federal regulations, which means checking for the current year's calendar is a must.

Good scouting pays dividends. Identifying key habitats where ducks and geese feed or rest can make your effort fruitful. Prepare your decoys and calls, keeping in mind that the art of waterfowl hunting is in replicating the birds' natural environment to entice them within range.

Adhering to the bag limits is a critical aspect of migratory bird hunting—this not only ensures sustainable hunting practices but also aligns with ethical hunting standards. Utilize non-toxic shot and abide by any restrictions on hunting methodologies to support conservation efforts.

A Conservation Step Every hunter targeting migratory birds must be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) – an initiative that aids state and federal agencies in managing these bird populations and setting accurate seasons in the future.

For the most current and detailed information, hunters must turn to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources or the official hunting regulations guide. Be sure to check not just for dates but for the specific hunting zones, as regulations may differ based on the zone.

As you gear up for the season, remember that each hunter plays a significant role in conservation. By complying with the set dates, respecting bag limits, and staying educated on ecological impacts, hunters contribute to the longevity of migratory bird hunting traditions in West Virginia.

2023 - 2024 Key Migratory Bird Hunting Dates

Doves: September 1 – October 30

Ducks/Geese: Early October – January 31 (varies annually)

For real-time information, always consult the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to verify dates before planning your hunting excursions, ensuring a legal and fruitful season.

WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: When and What to Hunt

Hunting Regulations and Requirements in West Virginia

In West Virginia, abiding by the state’s game laws is the mark of a responsible and ethical hunter. Acquiring the appropriate license is a fundamental step in this process, as it validates a hunter's right to harvest game within legal bounds and contributes to conservation efforts.

Resident and Non-resident Licenses: The state offers specific licenses tailored to the residency status of individuals, ensuring that both locals and visitors can the hunting opportunities available. Whether it's a lifelong resident looking to explore the familiar terrain or an out-of-state visitor attracted to the state's rich wildlife, there's a suitable license available.

Youth and Senior Opportunities: Understanding the importance of including all age groups in hunting activities, West Virginia provides distinct licenses for young hunters and seniors, fostering a culture of hunting and wildlife conservation across generations.

Responsibility Towards Bag Limits

Every species has a defined bag limit to prevent overharvesting and to manage wildlife populations sustainably.

Reporting Harvests: For species like whitetail deer and black bears, accurate reporting of each harvest is not just a regulatory requirement—it's a conservation action that informs wildlife management decisions.

Ethics in Hunting Practices

Responsible hunting extends to the methods used in the pursuit of game. Legal restrictions are in place to uphold fair chase ethics.

No Baiting or Electronic Calls: These restrictions underscore the state’s commitment to maintaining the natural behavior and welfare of wildlife, ensuring that all hunters engage in the sport with integrity and respect for the quarry.

Regulations on Land Use

Whether choosing to hunt on public lands rich in biodiversity or private lands that may offer a more secluded hunting experience, being aware of the distinct rules governing these areas ensures both compliance and respect for the property.

Conservation Through Compliance

By observing these laws and guidelines, hunters play an essential role in conservation. Their adherence bolsters the state's initiatives to protect and sustain West Virginia's wildlife populations for future generations to revel in and enjoy.

Each regulation, from the licensing process to bag limits, and from hunting methods to land use, has been carefully crafted to balance the enjoyment of the sport with the preservation of nature. Hunters are, therefore, not just sportsmen but stewards of the environment, tasked with upholding the state’s rich hunting heritage in a sustainable manner.

WVDNR Hunting Seasons 2023-2024: When and What to Hunt

Tips for Planning Your Hunting Trip in West Virginia

When planning a hunting trip in West Virginia, there are several factors to consider to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience.

Location is one of the key factors to consider. West Virginia offers a diverse range of habitats, from mountains and forests to wetlands and rivers. Researching the different hunting areas and their specific game populations can help you choose the best location for your trip.

Lodging is another important consideration. West Virginia offers a variety of accommodations, including cabins, lodges, and campgrounds. It is important to book your lodging in advance, especially during peak hunting seasons.

Having the right equipment is crucial for a successful hunt. This includes firearms or archery equipment, as well as appropriate clothing and gear for the specific hunting conditions. It is important to ensure that your equipment is in good working condition and to practice shooting or archery skills before your trip.

Resources such as the WVDNR's website and local hunting guides can provide valuable information and assistance in planning your hunting trip. The WVDNR's website offers detailed information on hunting seasons, regulations, and licensing, as well as maps and other resources for hunters.


Knowing the hunting seasons and regulations in West Virginia is essential for a successful and legal hunting trip. The WVDNR plays a crucial role in managing hunting seasons and ensuring the conservation of wildlife populations. By following the regulations and requirements, hunters can contribute to the conservation efforts and help maintain healthy wildlife populations.

When planning a hunting trip in West Virginia, it is important to consider factors such as location, lodging, and equipment. Resources such as the WVDNR's website and local hunting guides can provide valuable information and assistance in planning your trip.

By planning ahead and following the regulations, hunters can have a safe and enjoyable hunting experience in West Virginia. So, grab your gear, study the regulations, and get ready for an exciting hunting adventure in the beautiful state of West Virginia.