Bag Limits in Virginia

East of the Blue Ridge (excluding specific National Forest lands): Deer hunters are subject to a daily limit of two deer and a yearly limit of six. Within the annual six-deer quota, a maximum of three may be antlered, and a minimum of three must be antlerless, with certain exceptions detailed below.

West of the Blue Ridge & Specified National Forest Areas: The regulation stipulates a daily limit of two deer and a yearly limit of five. Of the five allowed deer, only two may be antlered, and at least three should be antlerless, subject to noted exceptions.

Specific Regulations and Exceptions

  1. Unlimited Daily Bag in Certain Areas: In Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, along with most cities east of the Blue Ridge (excluding Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach), hunters may take an unlimited number of deer daily. However, the total number of antlered deer taken in a license year cannot exceed three. This unlimited bag rule also applies to cities and towns west of the Blue Ridge, with a yearly cap of two antlered deer.
  2. Restricted Areas: On National Forest lands and Department-managed areas east and west of the Blue Ridge, only one deer may be harvested per day.
  3. Special County Regulations: In Alleghany, Bath, Highland, or Rockbridge County, if a hunter takes two antlered bucks in a license year, one must have a minimum of four points, each at least one inch long, on one side of the antlers.
  4. Elk Hunting: Statewide, only one elk may be taken per day.

Additional Considerations for Deer Hunters

Deer hunters, irrespective of their need to purchase a license, may exceed the license-year bag limit of antlerless deer on private and authorized public lands through bonus deer permits or special deer permits (DCAP, DMAP, and DPOP). Notably, tags from DCAP, DMAP, and DPOP are not counted against the daily or season bag limits.

Archery Seasons

  • Early Archery Season: October 7, 2023 - November 17, 2023
  • Late Archery Seasons:
    • December 3, 2023 - January 6, 2024
    • December 1, 2023 - January 6, 2024
    • December 17, 2023 - January 6, 2024
  • Urban Archery Deer Season:
    • September 2, 2023 - October 6, 2023
    • January 7, 2024 - March 31, 2024
  • NOVA Late Archery Season: April 1, 2024 - April 28, 2024

Muzzleloader Deer Seasons

In all areas where hunting with a muzzleloading rifle is permitted.

Note: Deer hunters west of the Blue Ridge Mountains may take their season limit of two antlered deer during the early muzzleload- ing season. In designated areas, EAB regulations would apply.

Muzzleloader deer hunters and persons accompanying a muzzleloader deer hunter shall wear a blaze color, except when physically located in a tree stand or other stationary hunting location.

  • Early Muzzleloader Season: November 4, 2023 - November 17, 2023
  • Late Muzzleloader Season (East of the Blue Ridge):
    • December 16, 2023 - January 6, 2024
    • January 1, 2024 - January 6, 2024
  • Late Muzzleloader Season (West of the Blue Ridge):
    • December 16, 2023 - January 6, 2024
    • January 1, 2024 - January 6, 2024

Firearms Seasons

  • General Firearms Deer Seasons:
    • November 18, 2023 - December 2, 2023 (Multiple periods)
    • November 18, 2023 - January 6, 2024
    • October 1, 2023 - November 30, 2023
    • November 18, 2023 - December 16, 2023
    • November 18, 2023 - January 6, 2024

Antlerless Only Firearms Deer Seasons

  • Early and Late Seasons:
    • September 2, 2023 - October 6, 2023
    • January 7, 2024 - March 31, 2024
    • January 7, 2024 - January 31, 2024

Youth and Apprentice Deer Hunting Weekend

Youth and Apprentice Deer Hunting Weekend Questions and Answers

September 30 and October 1

  • Statewide.
  • Resident and nonresident youth hunters 15 years of age and under or holders of a valid apprentice hunting license, when in compliance with all applicable laws and licenses, may hunt when accompanied and directly supervised by an adult over the age of 18 who has a valid Virginia hunting license or is exempt from purchasing a hunting license. Nonresident youth of any age need to have the appropriate licenses (unless exempt from purchasing a license).
  • Deer of either sex may be taken.
  • Antlerless deer taken on the youth and apprentice deer hunting weekend are in addition to an antlerless deer taken under the youth and apprentice antlerless deer regulation and on either-sex deer hunting days.
  • Deer harvested by youth or apprentice hunters count against their daily and season bag limit.
  • Blaze colored requirements and exceptions for firearms deer season are in effect.
  • Deer hunting with dogs is prohibited, except that tracking dogs are allowed (see Hunting with Dogs).
  • Adult hunters accompanying youth or apprentice deer hunters:
    • do not need a deer/turkey license on this weekend.
    • shall not carry or discharge a weapon.
    • shall maintain close visual and verbal contact with, provide adequate direction to, and can immediately assume control of the firearm.
  • Unless specified above, all other normal firearm deer regulations apply (e.g., daily and season bag limits, tagging and reporting, EAB, antler point restrictions, etc.).

These varied seasons provide hunters with ample opportunities to engage in deer hunting using different methods, such as archery, muzzleloading, and firearms. It's crucial to be aware of the specific dates and regulations for each season, especially considering the regional differences and restrictions on hunting methods. Remember to adhere to all hunting laws and regulations, including licensing requirements and bag limits.

Archery Tackle and Local Firearms Ordinances

Understanding Archery Tackle Regulations

Archery Tackle: This term refers to the equipment used in bow hunting, which includes a range of bows such as compound, recurve, and longbow, as well as crossbows. Understanding and adhering to the regulations regarding archery tackle are crucial for both the safety of the hunter and the ethical harvesting of wildlife.

Key Regulations for Archery Tackle

  1. Broadhead Requirements: Hunters must use broadheads that are at least 7/8-inch wide or expandable to 7/8-inch upon impact. This ensures a quick and humane kill.
  2. Prohibitions:
    • Explosive or poisoned arrows are illegal.
    • Arrows with any drug, chemical, or toxic substance added are prohibited.

Compliance with Local Firearms Ordinances

Local Firearms Ordinances: These are regulations specific to different localities regarding the use, carrying, and discharge of firearms. Hunters using archery tackle during deer seasons must be aware of and comply with these ordinances, as they might affect where and how hunting can be conducted.

Considerations for Hunters

  • Overlap with Firearms Seasons: During certain periods, archery hunters may find themselves hunting during overlapping firearms seasons. Understanding local firearms ordinances is crucial during these times to ensure safety and legal compliance.
  • Firearm Possession: Generally, carrying firearms during archery seasons is prohibited to maintain the distinction between the different hunting methods. Exceptions might include having a muzzleloader during an overlapping muzzleloading season or for individuals with valid concealed handgun permits, subject to specific local ordinances.
  • Safety Precautions: Hunters should take additional safety precautions during overlapping seasons, such as wearing blaze orange and being aware of their surroundings.

Earn a Buck (EAB) Program: Detailed Guidelines

Understanding Earn a Buck (EAB)

Earn a Buck (EAB) is a critical deer management strategy that aims to maintain a healthy deer population and ecological balance. The EAB initiative requires hunters to "earn" the right to hunt additional antlered deer by first harvesting antlerless deer in the same management unit.

Earn a Buck (EAB) Specifics

Individual Management Units

  • Each county, city, or town with EAB rules operates as its own management unit. The "earn" from one unit does not carry over to another, emphasizing the localized nature of the Earn a Buck program.

Private Lands in Specified Counties

  • Under the Earn a Buck program, on private lands in designated counties, hunters must adhere to EAB requirements. Before taking a second antlered deer, one must have harvested an antlerless deer to "earn" this opportunity. The same principle applies to taking a third antlered deer, where two antlerless deer must be harvested first.

Earn a Buck in Northern Virginia Counties

  • In counties like Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, the Earn a Buck rules specify that before a hunter can take additional antlered deer, they must first "earn" their opportunity by harvesting the required number of antlerless deer, thus contributing to the EAB objectives.

Cities and Towns Following Earn a Buck

  • Similar to counties, cities, and towns that implement Earn a Buck have their own set of requirements. Hunters must adhere to these rules, earning the right to additional antlered deer by first focusing on antlerless deer population management.

Earn a Buck Examples

  • In any Earn a Buck county or city, the principle is consistent: to "earn" the right to additional antlered deer, hunters must first contribute to population management through the harvest of antlerless deer, as stipulated by the Earn a Buck requirements.

Earn a Buck Exceptions and Exemptions

  • Certain locations and circumstances, such as kill permits or specific cities like Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach, may have exemptions from the Earn a Buck rules. It's crucial for hunters to be aware of these as they plan their hunting activities under the Earn a Buck program.

Checkout Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for more information.

Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.