Deer Bag Limits: East and West of the Blue Ridge

East of the Blue Ridge (Excluding Certain National Forest Lands)

Standard Limit: The bag limit for deer east of the Blue Ridge, except on specific National Forest lands, is two per day and six per license year. Within this six-deer limit, a maximum of three can be antlered, and at least three must be antlerless.


  1. Unlimited Bag in Selected Areas: In Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, and in most cities and towns east of the Blue Ridge, hunters may bag an unlimited number of deer daily. The only constraint is that no more than three antlered deer can be harvested per license year.
  2. National Forest and Department Lands: Only one deer per day is permissible on National Forest lands and lands owned or managed by the Department east of the Blue Ridge.

West of the Blue Ridge and Specific National Forest Lands

Standard Limit: West of the Blue Ridge, including National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford, and Nelson counties, the limit is two deer per day and five per license year. Of these five, no more than two may be antlered, and at least three should be antlerless.


  1. Unlimited Bag in Cities and Towns: In all cities and towns west of the Blue Ridge, the daily bag limit is unlimited. However, the annual limit for antlered deer remains at two.
  2. One Deer on National Forest and Department Lands: Similar to the east, only one deer per day may be taken on National Forest and Department-owned or -managed lands west of the Blue Ridge.
  3. Specific County Requirements: In Alleghany, Bath, Highland, or Rockbridge County, if two antlered bucks are harvested in a license year, at least one must have a minimum of four antler points, each one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers.
  4. Elk Hunting: Statewide, only one elk per day is allowed.

Bag Limit Overriding Exceptions

  • Bonus Permits on Private and Public Lands: Deer hunters, including those exempt from license requirements, may exceed the license-year bag limit for antlerless deer on private and authorized public lands. This is possible through bonus deer permits or special deer permits like DCAP, DMAP, and DPOP.
  • Special Permit Tags: Tags from DCAP, DMAP, and DPOP do not count against the daily or seasonal bag limits.

Understanding Deer Tagging and Antler Point Restrictions

Virginia Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Deer Tag Categories

Either-Sex Deer Tags ("Buck" Tags):

  • Usage: These tags are versatile, applicable to both antlered and antlerless deer.
  • Purpose: Allows flexibility in harvesting deer of either sex.

Antlerless-Only Deer Tags ("Doe" Tags):

  • Usage: Restricted to antlerless deer only.
  • Importance: Ensures the controlled harvest of antlerless deer, aiding in population management.

Definitions and Regulations

Antlered Deer:

  • Identification: Must have visible antlers above the hairline to qualify as antlered.
  • Tagging: An either-sex deer tag is required for tagging antlered deer.

Antlerless Deer:

  • Hunting Seasons: Harvestable during specific either-sex hunting days across archery, muzzleloading, and firearms seasons. Special exceptions apply for youth and apprentice deer hunters.
  • Types and Tagging: Includes does, button bucks, and shed-antlered bucks. They can be tagged with either an antlerless-only tag or an either-sex tag.
  • Button Bucks: Classified as antlerless, these are young male fawns with hair-covered bumps (pedicels) for future antler growth.
  • Shed-Antlered Bucks: After shedding antlers (typically late December or early January), these deer are also categorized as antlerless.

Antler Point Restrictions (APRs)

Specific Counties (Alleghany, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge):

  • Requirement: If two antlered bucks are harvested in a license year, at least one must have a minimum of four antler points, each one inch or longer, on one side.

Wildlife Management Areas (Flippo-Gentry WMA, Featherfin WMA):

  • APR Guidelines: Antlered deer must have at least four points, one inch or longer, on one side to be legally harvested.
  • Additional Information: Hunters should consult informational kiosks at these locations for detailed APR boundaries and specifics.

Guide to Bonus Deer Permits

Key Features of Bonus Deer Permits

  1. Validity Period: These permits are active for one year from the purchase date.
  2. Target Species: Exclusively for antlerless deer (does, button bucks, shed-antlered bucks).
  3. Applicable Locations: Valid on private lands and authorized public lands.
  4. Usage During Designated Seasons: Can be used on designated either-sex hunting days across various deer seasons:
    • Archery Seasons: Including urban archery.
    • Muzzleloader Seasons: Covering all muzzleloader hunting periods.
    • Firearms Seasons: Applicable during all firearms deer seasons, including early and late antlerless-only periods.
  5. Bag Limit Enhancement: Permits enable hunters to harvest deer beyond the standard license year bag limit.
  6. Daily Bag Limit: The use of these permits does not increase the daily bag limit.
  7. Restricted Areas: Not valid on National Forest lands or lands owned by the Department.
  8. Excluded Counties: Inapplicable in Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise counties.

Purchase and Utilization

  • No Purchase Limit: Hunters can buy and use an unlimited number of bonus deer permits.
  • Strategic Use: These permits offer flexibility for hunters to manage deer populations on their lands, especially in areas with high deer densities or where antlerless deer need to be selectively harvested for population control.

Importance in Wildlife Management

  • Population Control: Bonus deer permits are an essential tool for managing deer populations, particularly in areas where antlerless deer are overabundant.
  • Conservation Balance: By allowing the harvest of additional antlerless deer, these permits contribute to a balanced ecosystem and healthier deer herds.
  • Responsible Hunting: Hunters using these permits play a significant role in wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Deer Calls Legality in Virginia

Use of Deer Calls

  • Permitted Calls: Traditional, non-electronic deer calls are legal for deer hunting in Virginia.
  • Prohibition of Electronic Calls: The use of recorded or electronically amplified calls is unlawful for hunting deer. This includes any calls powered by batteries or other electronic means.

Exceptions for Certain Species

  • Allowed for Specific Wildlife: Recorded or electronically amplified calls are permitted for hunting bobcat, coyote, crow, fox, and raccoon. This exception does not extend to deer hunting.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management in Virginia

Overview of CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal neurological disease affecting deer, with 179 confirmed cases in Virginia since 2009. Its presence in counties such as Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, and others necessitates proactive management by the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and hunter cooperation.

Disease Management Areas (DMA)

DMAs are established within 10 miles of CWD detections:

  • DMA1: Includes Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
  • DMA2: Covers Arlington, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Page, Prince William, and Rappahannock counties.
  • DMA3: Encompasses Carroll, Floyd, Montgomery, Patrick, and Pulaski counties.

CWD Surveillance and Mandatory Testing

  • Importance of Testing: Critical for monitoring infection rates and geographical spread.
  • Mandatory Testing Dates: November 18 in selected DMAs:
    • DMA1 (Shenandoah only)
    • DMA2 (Prince William only)
    • DMA3 (Carroll, Patrick, and Pulaski)

Voluntary Testing

  • Statewide: Free CWD testing through refrigerator stations at selected DWR offices.
  • DMA-Based: Available for any deer harvested in a DMA during the deer season.

CWD Management Strategies

  • Early and Late Antlerless-Only Seasons: In all DMAs to control deer populations.
  • Earn a Buck Program: Implemented in all counties within the DMAs.

Deer Carcass Transport Regulations

  • Restrictions: To prevent CWD spread, strict rules govern carcass transport within, between, and out of DMAs.
  • Permitted Parts: Includes boned-out meat, quarters, hides, capes, cleaned skulls, antlers, teeth, and jaw bones.
  • Labeling Requirements: For imported deer parts, including species, origin, and possessor details.

Carcass Disposal

  • Dispose of remains in dumpsters, landfills, or regular trash pick-up destined for landfills.
  • If burying, do so near the kill site and deep enough to deter scavengers.

Deer Feeding and Attractants

  • Feeding Prohibition: Year-round in specified counties and cities.
  • Attractants: Use of natural deer urine attractants is illegal in Virginia.

Hunter's Role in CWD Management

  1. Continue Hunting: Vital for population control and surveillance.
  2. Adhere to Regulations: Including feeding prohibitions and carcass transport.
  3. CWD Testing Participation: Especially for deer harvested in DMAs.
  4. Informed Practices: Stay updated on CWD information and guidelines.

Further Information

For detailed information on CWD management in Virginia, visit This resource provides comprehensive guidance on how hunters and the community can assist in controlling the spread of CWD.

Virginia Deer Hunting Laws & RegulationsVirginia Deer Hunting Laws & RegulationsVirginia Deer Hunting Laws & RegulationsVirginia Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Understanding Earn a Buck (EAB) in Virginia Deer Hunting

What is Earn a Buck (EAB)?

The Earn a Buck program is designed to manage deer populations by incentivizing the harvesting of antlerless deer. It operates on the principle that before a hunter can take a second or third antlered deer (buck), they must first harvest a certain number of antlerless deer (does) within the same license year and the same county, city, or town.

EAB Rules for Private Lands

  • Separate Management Units: Each county, city, or town enforces its own EAB requirements. Deer taken under EAB in one area do not carry over to another.
  • Requirement for Second Buck: Before taking a second antlered deer in a specified area, a hunter must first harvest at least one antlerless deer in that same area.
  • Requirement for Third Buck: In certain areas east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, before taking a third antlered deer, at least two antlerless deer must be harvested in that area.

Specific County EAB Regulations

  • Listed Counties: Includes Accomack, Albemarle, Amherst, Augusta, Bedford, and several others.
  • Northern Virginia Counties: Special rules apply in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties (excluding Department of Defense lands).

EAB in Cities and Towns

  • General Rule: Similar to county regulations, before taking a second or third buck in a city or town, one or two antlerless deer (respectively) must be harvested in that same city or town.
  • Exceptions: EAB does not apply in the cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.

Examples of EAB Application

  • Private Lands in Albemarle County: Before hunting a second buck, one antlerless deer must be harvested; for a third buck, two antlerless deer.
  • Fairfax County: Similar requirements apply, with the need to harvest antlerless deer before pursuing additional bucks.
  • City of Lynchburg: The same rule applies, aligning with the general EAB requirements.

Importance of EAB in Deer Management

  • Population Control: EAB helps balance deer populations, ensuring a healthy ratio of antlered to antlerless deer.
  • Ecosystem Health: This program contributes to the overall health of ecosystems by preventing overpopulation and associated problems.

Further Information

For detailed FAQs and specific regulations related to EAB in Virginia, hunters can visit DWR Virginia's Earn a Buck Section. This resource provides comprehensive guidelines and clarifications regarding the EAB program.

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