Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

Dove Hunting Regulations

Statewide Dove Hunting Seasons

  • First Segment: September 2 - October 22
    • Hours:
      • September 2: 12:00 noon until sunset.
      • September 3 - October 22: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.
  • Second Segment: November 18 - 26
  • Third Segment: December 22 - January 20
    • Hours for Second and Third Segments: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

  • 15 doves per day, 45 in possession. This includes mourning doves and white-winged doves, either singly or in combination.

Dove Hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)

Rails & Gallinules Hunting Regulations


  • September 11 - November 5
  • November 13 - November 26
    • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

  • Clapper/King Rails: 15 daily (only 1 can be a king rail), 45 in possession (only 3 king rails).
  • Sora/Virginia: 25 daily, 75 in possession.
  • Gallinules (Common and Purple): 15 daily, 45 in possession.

Attention: Non-toxic Shot Requirement

  • In Virginia, non-toxic shot is compulsory for hunting rails, gallinules, and snipe, along with all waterfowl, mergansers, and coots.

Snipe Hunting Regulations


  • September 25 - November 26
  • December 19 - January 31
    • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

  • 8 snipes per day, 24 in possession.

Woodcock Hunting Regulations


  • November 10 - November 27
  • December 26 - January 21
    • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

  • 3 woodcocks per day, 9 in possession.

September Teal Hunting Regulations


  • East of I-95: September 17 - 30
  • West of I-95: September 21 - 30
    • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Bag Limit

  • 6 teals per day, 18 in possession. This applies to any combination of blue-winged and green-winged teal.

Special Requirements

  • Hunters require HIP registration, a Federal Migratory Duck Stamp, and a Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp (unless license exempt) to hunt teal.

Mergansers Hunting Regulations


  • October 6 - 9
  • November 15 - 26
  • December 19 - January 31

Bag Limit

  • 5 mergansers daily, 15 in possession. This includes any combination of hooded, red-breasted, and common mergansers.

Ducks Hunting Season and Regulations


  • October 6–9 (Black duck closed)
  • November 15–26
  • December 19–January 31
  • Youth and Veterans Waterfowl Hunting Days: October 21 & February 3

Bag Limit:

  • Daily limit of 6 ducks, with species-specific restrictions:
    • Maximum 4 mallards (only 2 hens)
    • 3 wood ducks
    • 2 black ducks (closed Oct. 6–9)
    • Scaup: 1/day for 40 days, 2/day for 20 days
    • 2 redheads, 2 canvasback, 1 pintail, 1 mottled duck, 1 fulvous whistling duck
    • 4 total sea ducks (max 3 of each type)


  • Half-hour before sunrise until sunset.

Special Regulations:

  • Closed season on harlequin ducks.
  • Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.
  • No more than one daily bag limit per day.
  • Change in area for pursuing crippled waterfowl under power in the new “Special Sea Duck Area.”

Coots Hunting Season and Regulations


  • October 6–9
  • November 15–26
  • December 19–January 31

Bag Limit:

  • 15 per day, 45 in possession.

Canada Goose Hunting Season and Regulations

Atlantic Population Zone (AP):

  • November 22–26; December 23–January 31
  • Bag Limit: 2 geese per day (6 in possession).

Resident Population Zone (RP):

  • November 15–26; December 19–February 24
  • Bag Limit: 5 geese per day (15 in possession).

Shooting Hours:

  • Half-hour before sunrise to sunset.


  • AP Zone: East of the “Blue Ridge” to North Carolina border.
  • RP Zone: West of the AP Zone boundary.

Light Goose Hunting Season and Regulations

Regular Season:

  • October 17–January 31 statewide
  • Bag Limit: 25 per day, no possession limit.

Conservation Order:

  • February 1, 2023–April 5, 2024
  • No bag or possession limit.
  • Special Hunting Methods allowed.
  • Registration required.

September Canada Goose Hunting


  • September 1–25 statewide


  • Vary based on location (East or West of I-95).

Bag Limit:

  • 10 per day, 30 in possession.

Atlantic Brant Hunting Season


  • December 23–31; January 11–31
  • Bag Limit: 1 per day, 3 in possession.

Tundra Swan Hunting Season


  • November 15–January 31

Bag Limit:

  • 1 per permittee per season.

Permit Requirements:

  • Application deadline: September 20, 2023.
  • Limited to 532 permits.
  • Mandatory survey submission by February 15, 2024.

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations on Virginia Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)


Virginia offers diverse opportunities for waterfowl hunting across various Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Each area has specific regulations and schedules to ensure a balanced and sustainable hunting experience.

Specific WMA Hunting Regulations

James River WMA

  • Hunting Days: Open on the opening day, Wednesdays, and Saturdays of the duck and goose seasons.

Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area

  • Hunting Days: Open on October 6–9, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays of the duck and goose seasons.

Game Farm Marsh WMA

  • October Segment: Open for hunting on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays (Oct. 6, 7, and 9).
  • November and December-January Segments: Open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays (Nov. 15–26, Dec. 19–Jan. 31).
  • Quota Hunts: Quota hunts apply on specific dates (Oct. 6 and 7, Nov. 15, Dec. 19).
  • Occupancy and Vacating Times: Hunters may enter at 5:00 a.m. and must leave by 1:00 p.m.
  • Outside Duck Season: Open with no restrictions on hunt days, times, or hunter numbers.

Ware Creek WMA

  • Hunting Days: Open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays of the duck and goose seasons (excluding certain areas).
  • Occupancy and Vacating Times: Hunters may enter at 5:00 a.m. and must conclude hunting by 1:00 p.m.

Doe Creek WMA

  • Hunting Days: Walk-in hunting open on Saturdays only during the last two segments of the general waterfowl season.
  • Hunting Times: Hunting permitted until 1:00 p.m.; all decoys must be collected and hunters away from impoundments by 2:00 p.m.
  • Non-Hunting Days: Open for scouting and wildlife viewing on Sundays.

Robert W. Duncan WMA

  • Hunting Days: Open on October 6–9 and on Thursdays and Sundays of the duck and goose seasons.

Mattaponi Bluffs WMA

  • Hunting Days: Open on October 6–9, during the multi-species quota hunt period for selected individuals and guests, and on Wednesdays and Saturdays after the quota hunt period (January 8–February 3, 2024).

Additional Information

For details on waterfowl hunting regulations in other WMAs, hunters should visit the Virginia Wildlife website at These regulations are designed to manage wildlife populations sustainably and provide safe, equitable hunting opportunities. Hunters are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the specific rules of their chosen WMA to ensure compliance and a successful hunting experience.

Waterfowl Blind Regulations Overview

Introduction to Waterfowl Blind Laws

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, waterfowl blind laws are dictated by the Code of Virginia and are enforced by the Department of Wildlife Resources. These laws cover the licensing, placement, and use of waterfowl blinds, both stationary and floating, across various counties in Virginia.

Exemptions and Specific Rules

Blinds west of Interstate 95, as well as those in Accomack and Northampton counties, are exempt from these regulations. Virginia Beach has a special rule: no new licenses for additional stationary blinds are issued. Hunting near residences or other licensed blinds is restricted: no hunting is allowed within 150 yards of a residence or 500 yards of a licensed blind without appropriate consent.

Types of Blinds

  1. Stationary Blind: A fixed structure for hunting, substantial enough to hide one or more hunters or a boat. Specific design requirements apply.
  2. Floating Blind: A mobile or anchored device, camouflaged beyond just paint, used for waterfowl hunting on public waters.
  3. Offshore Blind Stake Site: A licensed stake location in public waters designated for hunting from a floating blind, specifically in Caroline, King George, Essex, Westmoreland, and Richmond counties.

Licensing Information

Licenses for these blinds are obtainable online or via any license agent. A blind plate and decal are provided upon licensing. The license must be visibly affixed to the blind.

Licensing Limitations and Blind Spacing

  • Floating blinds are limited to two per season per applicant.
  • Non-riparian users can license up to two stationary blinds per season.
  • There's a mandatory 500-yard spacing between licensed stationary blinds, modifiable only with mutual licensee consent. Similar rules apply for floating blinds relative to stationary ones.

Riparian and Nonriparian Rights

  • Riparian landowners have exclusive rights to license blinds along their shoreline.
  • Nonriparian landowners have specific regulations and deadlines for licensing blinds.

Penalties and Legal Implications

Violations like hunting close to another's licensed blind without permission or erecting a blind too near another can result in criminal charges and loss of license.

Special Cases and County-Specific Regulations

  • Floating blinds are banned in certain counties and specific public waters.
  • In Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford counties, additional restrictions on blind placement and usage are enforced.
  • Blind licensing adjacent to certain Wildlife Management Areas is prohibited.

Licensing Periods and Renewal

Licenses for various blinds have specific available periods for purchase, with distinct rules for riparian and nonriparian owners.

Obligations of Blind Owners

Licensed blind owners are responsible for maintaining the site and complying with removal and cleanup regulations, particularly concerning materials hazardous to wildlife.

Detailed Overview of Waterfowl Managed Hunts for 2023–2024

Managed Hunt Applications

Managed Hunts on Department Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and National Wildlife Refuges are generally allocated through on-site random drawings or application at the local Resource Office.

Managed Waterfowl Hunts

Hog Island WMA - September Waterfowl Hunts

  • Target Species: Resident Canada geese and teal (when in season).
  • Dates: Third and fourth Wednesdays in September, until 11:00 a.m.
  • Party Size: 10 parties selected each morning, up to 3 hunters per party.
  • Access: One vehicle per party authorized through the security checkpoint.
  • Equipment: No blinds or decoys provided. Hunters should call (757) 357-5224 for field conditions.
  • Dog Use: Dogs are allowed and recommended.

Hog Island WMA - Youth Hunter Waterfowl Days

  • October Youth Hunt: Specific to youths (15 years and under) accompanied by a licensed adult. Registration required; first-come, first-served. No blinds or decoys provided. Dogs allowed.
    • Registration: Contact Hog Island WMA between October 2–6, 2023, at (757) 357-5224.
  • February Youth Hunt: Similar format as the October hunt. Registration required; first-come, first-served.
    • Registration: Contact Hog Island WMA between January 15–19, 2024, at (757) 357-5224.
  • Arrival Time for Both Hunts: Hunters to arrive by 4:30 a.m.

Princess Anne WMA Impoundments - September Canada Goose/Teal Hunts

  • Format: First-come, first-served basis for half-day hunting on Saturdays.
  • Hunting Time: Stop hunting at 1:00 p.m., decoys retrieved and area vacated by 2:00 p.m.
  • Parking: Designated areas off Munden Road.

Princess Anne WMA - Light Goose Conservation Order Season (Snow and Ross’ Geese)

  • Availability: After the general duck season.
  • Areas: Float blind stakes and impoundments at Back Bay.
  • Hunting Time: Half-hour before sunrise to sunset.
  • Hunting Days: Impoundments open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and state holidays. Blind stakes available Mondays–Saturdays.
  • Equipment: A boat is required for float blind stakes.

Princess Anne WMA - Youth/Veteran Hunter Waterfowl Days

  • Eligibility: Youth (15 years or younger) with an adult, and veteran hunters.
  • Areas: Float blind stakes and impoundments.
  • Hunting Days: Saturday and Sunday for float blind stakes.
  • Restrictions: Only youth or veterans may hunt and carry a firearm. No blinds or decoys provided.

General Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting Regulations

  • Legal Hunting Areas: Include standing or flooded crops, natural vegetation, harvested croplands, and areas with seeds scattered due to normal agricultural activities.
  • Illegal Practices: Include hunting in areas with top-sown grain not recommended by the Cooperative Extension Service, trampled unharvested crops, or areas with redistributed harvested grain.

Additional Regulations

  • Sunday Hunting: Allowed under specific conditions.
  • Wanton Waste: Hunters must make a reasonable effort to retrieve and retain any migratory game bird taken.
  • Non-toxic Shot: Required for hunting ducks, geese, swans, coots, mergansers, gallinules, rails, or snipe.
  • Opening Day Limit: Possession of freshly killed birds cannot exceed the daily bag limit.
  • Field Possession Limit: Limits apply to the transportation and storage of migratory game birds.
  • Tagging and Transportation: Specific requirements for tagging, transporting, and gifting migratory game birds.

Comprehensive Guide to 2023–2024 Waterfowl Quota Hunts

Overview of Quota Hunts

Quota hunts offer exclusive hunting opportunities on public lands. They encompass various game including waterfowl, deer, bear, and more. The application process is pre-season, with a non-refundable fee of $7.50 per hunt. Selection is random and no guarantees are provided for hunt allocation.

Application Procedure

Applications are exclusively online at Notifications are via email. Successful applicants access hunt details on the Quota Hunts landing page. No postal mail materials are provided.

Specific Hunts and Deadlines

  1. Princess Anne WMA Early Season Waterfowl Hunt #112: Deadline - July 28, 2023.
  2. Land’s End WMA Dove Hunt #610: Deadline - August 18, 2023.

Waterfowl Hunt Details

  • Hog Island WMA (#101): Saturday hunts till 11:00 a.m. during the duck season's last two segments. Includes blind and boat provisions. Application due: September 22, 2023.
  • Princess Anne WMA (#102): Half-day hunts on Saturdays. Hunters must bring decoys; no blinds provided. Application due: August 25, 2023.
  • Dutch Gap Conservation Area (#103): Hunts from floating blinds. Application due: September 22, 2023.
  • Tundra Swan Permit (#104): Permit required, limited to designated areas. Application due: September 22, 2023.
  • Lake Orange (#105): Designated section hunts with specific blind rules. Application due: September 22, 2023.
  • Dick Cross WMA (#106): Wednesday hunts with personal decoys and no direct vehicular access. Application due: September 22, 2023.
  • Princess Anne WMA Floating Blind Stake Hunts (#107): Half-day hunts with blind stake selection system. Application due: September 22, 2023.
  • Princess Anne WMA Early Season Floating Blind Stake Hunt (#112): Specific dates for September and October. Application due: July 28, 2023.
  • Game Farm Marsh WMA (#113): Specific quota hunt dates with floating blind option. Application due: August 25, 2023. Open for hunting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays after quota dates.
  • Land’s End WMA Dove Hunt (#610): Specific hunt dates with shell and shot restrictions. Application due: August 18, 2023.

Key Regulations and Recommendations

  • Hunters must adhere to specific check-in times and procedures.
  • Dogs are generally allowed and recommended in many areas.
  • Specific gear requirements (like decoys) and restrictions (like non-toxic shot) are in place.
  • Access to some WMAs requires boats, and hunters should familiarize themselves with the area pre-season.

Department's Rights

The Department of Wildlife Resources maintains the authority to manage access and use of lands for hunting as necessary.

Areas Closed to Waterfowl Hunting in Virginia

Prohibited Activities in Specific Areas

Certain activities related to waterfowl hunting are restricted in specified areas across Virginia. These include:

  1. Firearm Discharge Near Sanctuaries: Discharging firearms within 750 yards of wildlife sanctuaries in any city in Virginia is prohibited.
  2. Specific No-Hunting Zones in Virginia Beach: Includes Crystal Lake, Linkhorn and Broad Bay, Long Creek, and their tributaries.
  3. Hog Island State Waterfowl Refuge: Hunting is restricted around this refuge in Surry County and surrounding waters of the James River.
  4. Presquile National Wildlife Refuge: Restrictions apply to the waters around this refuge on the James River.
  5. Gaston Reservoir (Roanoke River): Hunting is prohibited from High Rock to the John H. Kerr Dam.
  6. Lands End WMA: A 1,000-yard no-hunting zone extends from the shoreline on the Rappahannock River.
  7. Great Hunting Creek and Potomac River in Alexandria and Fairfax County: Restrictions include waters within specific coordinates.
  8. Kane Creek Waterfowl Refuge: Located within Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County.
  9. Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge: Extends from Sycamore Point to Hallowing Point on the Potomac River.
  10. New River (Radford Army Ammunition Plant): Covers the section within Montgomery and Pulaski counties.
  11. Kittewan Creek Refuge: Restrictions apply to the area west of the posted markers.
  12. James River (Bosher’s Dam to I-95 Bridge): No hunting in this section of the river.
  13. Firearm Discharge in Fairfax County: Specific regulations for the Potomac River north of Accotink Creek.
  14. Dutch Gap, James River in Chesterfield County: Hunting is allowed only during special Quota Hunts.

Additional Notes and Resources

  • Adjacent Landowners' Rights: Some areas, like Lands End WMA, allow adjacent landowners to exercise their riparian rights despite general restrictions.
  • Quota Hunts: For certain restricted areas, like Dutch Gap, hunting is permissible only through special quota hunts.
  • Local Ordinances: Hunters should check local ordinances, especially in Fairfax County, for additional restrictions.
  • Maps and Further Details: For precise locations and boundaries, maps and detailed information are available on the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website.
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.