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Resident Deer Hunting License Classes and Privileges in West Virginia

Understanding the Varied License Classes and Their Hunting Rights

In West Virginia, resident deer hunting licenses are categorized into several classes, each offering distinct hunting opportunities. The annual licenses, encompassing classes X, X3, XP, XJ, and AHJ, along with lifetime licenses A-L, AB-L, and XS*, are designed to cater to a wide range of individuals including military members, disabled veterans, former prisoners of war (POWs), senior citizens, and underage hunters. These licenses generally allow for:

  • The hunting of one deer during either the archery or crossbow seasons.
  • The taking of one antlered deer during the buck firearms season.
  • The hunting of one deer in the muzzleloader season.

Additional Stamps for Enhanced Hunting Opportunities

To expand hunting privileges, hunters can purchase additional stamps, each offering specific rights:

  • Class RG: Enables the hunting of an additional antlered deer in the buck firearms season.
  • Class RB: Permits the taking of an additional deer during archery or crossbow seasons.
  • Class N: Allows for the hunting of antlerless deer in the antlerless season.
  • Class RM: Grants the right to hunt an additional deer in the muzzleloader season.
  • Class A1: Authorizes hunting with a handgun.

Special Permissions for Annual Class A and AH License Holders

Holders of the Annual Class A and AH licenses, when combined with a Class CS, are granted the following specific hunting rights:

  • The hunting of one antlered deer during the buck firearms season.

To broaden their hunting scope, they can also purchase additional stamps, mirroring the options available in other annual and lifetime classes.

Privileges for Resident Landowners

West Virginia resident landowners enjoy a unique advantage. They are entitled to hunt on their own land without requiring a license, adhering to the same deer limits as licensed hunters. However, once a deer is taken under this privilege, they cannot use a license to harvest another deer for which the privilege has already been exercised.

Special Class DT License for Youth with Life-Threatening Conditions

A notable provision exists for youth under 21 with life-threatening conditions. Holders of the Class DT license can hunt and take the legal number of deer allowed in each season, complying with county and statewide regulations, without needing additional licenses or stamps. These young hunters must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or a competent licensed adult aged 21 or older, and must follow all other relevant laws and regulations.

State Park Deer Hunting Seasons in West Virginia

Season Dates and Locations

West Virginia's State Parks offer specific deer hunting seasons, with details available from July 1 on the WV DNR website, district offices, and directly at the State Parks. The 2022 season dates for various parks are:

  • Beech Fork State Park: October 31-November 2, November 7-9
  • Cacapon Resort State Park: October 31-November 2, November 7-9
  • North Bend State Park: October 24-26, November 7-9
  • Twin Falls Resort State Park: November 7-9

The application process for these hunts is conducted online at WVdnr.gov.

Licensing for Nonresident Youth Hunters

Nonresident youth hunters, aged 8-17, who have completed a Hunter Education Course, are eligible for specific hunting licenses and privileges in West Virginia:

  • Class XXJ or AAHJ License: Allows hunting one deer during archery or crossbow seasons, one antlered deer in the buck firearms season, and one deer in the muzzleloader season.
  • Required Stamps: Nonresident youth must obtain a Class CS/LE stamp.

Additional Stamps for Expanded Hunting

Additional stamps are required for nonresidents to extend their hunting privileges:

  • Class RRG: For an additional antlered deer in the buck firearms season.
  • Class RRB: For an additional deer during archery or crossbow seasons.
  • Class NN: For antlerless deer in antlerless season.
  • Class RRM: For an additional deer in muzzleloader season.

Other nonresidents must purchase an annual Class E or AAH license and a Class CS/LE stamp for hunting one antlered deer during the buck firearms season. Additional stamps for various categories, such as national forest lands and handgun use, are also available.

Baiting and Feeding Wildlife

It is strictly prohibited to bait or feed any wildlife on public land in West Virginia at any time. This regulation is enforced to maintain the natural behavior and health of wildlife populations.

Blaze Orange Requirement

During deer firearms season, hunters in certain counties or areas must wear blaze orange garments of at least 400 square inches. This rule is applicable in counties or parts with special youth/Class Q/QQ/XS antlerless deer seasons and the Mountaineer Heritage Season. Exceptions include waterfowl hunters and individuals engaged in farming on their own land.

Deer Hunting Hours and Legal Restrictions

Timing for Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is allowed from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. This timeframe must be strictly adhered to for legal hunting activities.

Post-Limit Hunting Restrictions

Once a hunter has reached their daily or seasonal deer limit, they must cease hunting activities for deer, including the use of bows, crossbows, and firearms, for the remainder of the day.

Firearm Restrictions After Limit

After achieving the deer limit, hunters are prohibited from carrying firearms with solid ball ammunition, except when legally hunting bears, or shot shells with larger than No. 4 shot, except in the case of legally hunting waterfowl with nontoxic shot.

Small Game Hunting During Muzzleloader Season

During the muzzleloader season, it is permissible to hunt small game using a .22 caliber rimfire weapon.

Limit on Antlered Deer

A maximum of three antlered deer may be hunted across regular deer seasons and the subsequent Mountaineer Heritage Season.

Replacement Costs for Unlawful Antlered Deer Hunting

Base Replacement Value

The base replacement value for illegally injuring or killing antlered deer is set at $500. This fee is in addition to other penalties.

Incremental Costs Based on Antler Size

The replacement costs escalate based on the inside spread of the deer's antlers:

  • 14” to less than 16” Spread: $2,500
  • 16” to less than 18” Spread: $5,000
  • 18” to less than 20” Spread: $7,500
  • 20” or greater Spread: $10,000

Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Repeat offenders face double the replacement costs for subsequent violations involving the injury or death of antlered deer.

Revocation of Hunting and Fishing Privileges

Conviction under these regulations can also lead to a five-year revocation of hunting and fishing privileges, emphasizing the seriousness of these regulations.

West Virginia Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Containment and Regulations

West Virginia Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Geographic Scope of the CWD Containment Area

West Virginia's efforts to contain Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) encompass several counties. The containment area includes Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, and Morgan counties. This strategic inclusion is aimed at managing and controlling the spread of CWD among cervid populations such as deer and elk.

Carcass Transport Regulations within the Containment Area

To prevent the spread of CWD, strict carcass transport regulations are in place within Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Morgan counties. These regulations prohibit the transportation of dead cervids or their parts beyond these county boundaries, with specific exceptions:

  • Boned-Out Meat: Meat that has been completely separated from bones.
  • Meat Portions: Quarters or other parts of meat without any part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Cleaned Hide: Hide with no head attached, thoroughly cleaned.
  • Skull Plate: A cleaned skull plate with no meat or tissue, but with antlers attached.
  • Antlers: Antlers devoid of any meat or tissue.
  • Taxidermy Mounts: Fully processed and finished taxidermy mounts.

However, hunters may transport whole cervid carcasses through the containment area if they were harvested outside the specified counties.

Baiting and Feeding Restriction Regulations

In the CWD containment area, baiting or feeding cervids or other wildlife is illegal. This regulation is enforced by the Director and is a crucial measure for the management, control, or eradication of CWD and other wildlife diseases. Exceptions exist for:

  • Feeding Song and Insectivorous Birds: This is permitted as long as it doesn't lead to the congregation of cervids or other wildlife.
  • Captive Cervids: Feeding is allowed within state-permitted cervid facilities.

Special Note for Hampshire and Hardy Counties

Hunters in Hampshire and Hardy counties are advised to refer to the Designated CWD Sampling Stations for specific guidelines and instructions related to CWD management in these areas. These stations play a critical role in monitoring and controlling the disease spread.

Regulations for Firearms, Bows, and Crossbows in Deer Hunting

Prohibited Firearms and Ammunition

Certain firearms and ammunition are not permitted for deer hunting in West Virginia. The illegal equipment includes:

  • Shotguns: Using ammunition loaded with more than one solid ball.
  • Rifles: Using rimfire ammunition of less than .25 caliber.
  • Automatic Firearms: Fully automatic rifles, shotguns, or handguns are prohibited.
  • Handguns: Using a straight-walled case less than .357 magnum cartridge or a bottle-necked case less than .24 caliber.
  • Muzzleloaders: Less than .38 caliber during the muzzleloader deer season.

Restrictions on Carrying Multiple Weapons

Hunters are not allowed to carry both a gun and a bow or a gun and an arrow simultaneously. However, for self-defense purposes, a person legally allowed to possess firearms may carry a firearm.

Crossbow Specifications

When hunting with a crossbow, the following specifications must be met:

  • Draw Weight: Minimum of 125 pounds.
  • Safety: Must have a working safety mechanism.
  • Bolts and Arrows: At least 16 inches long, including the insert and the nock.
  • Broadheads: Must have at least two sharp-cutting edges and be at least 3/4 inch in width.

Bow Regulations

Specific requirements for bows include:

  • Broadheads: Must have at least two sharp-cutting edges and measure at least 3/4 inch in width.
  • Bow Locking Devices: Prohibited unless a modified bow permit is issued by the Director.
  • Arrow Restrictions: Cannot use arrows with explosive, drug-laced, or poisoned heads or shafts.

Area-Specific Regulations

Additional equipment restrictions apply in certain Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs):

  • Green Bottom and Fox Forest WMAs: Only bows, crossbows, or single-shot muzzleloaders are allowed.
  • Bright McCausland Homestead WMA: The use of bows or crossbows is prohibited.

Miscellaneous Prohibitions

Other banned equipment and practices include:

  • Electronic Calls: The use of electronic calls is prohibited in deer hunting.
  • Explosive or Poisoned Arrows: Using arrows with explosive, drug-laced, or poisoned heads or shafts is illegal.

Guidelines for Field Tagging, Checking, and Transporting Deer

Field Tagging Requirements

Upon killing a deer, the hunter is required to immediately attach a completed field tag to the deer. Alternatively, the hunter must stay with the deer and carry a completed field tag. This is mandatory before moving the carcass from the kill site. If a field tag is unavailable, the hunter must create one. The tag should include the hunter’s name, address, hunting license number (if required), and the details of the kill (date, time, and county).

Attachment of Field Tag

Once the hunter reaches a residence, camp, hunting lodge, vehicle, or vessel, the field tag must be securely attached to the deer. This tag must remain on the carcass until replaced with a DNR-issued game tag number.

Electronic Registration and Game Check Number

Each deer must be electronically registered with the following details:

  • A DNR-issued 13-digit game check number.
  • The hunter’s name and address.

This should be done under these conditions:

  • Before transporting the deer beyond the adjacent county to the county of the kill.
  • Within 72 hours from the time of kill or 24 hours from the close of the respective season, whichever is earlier.

The game tag number and hunter’s details must remain attached to the deer until it is prepared for consumption.

Regulations for Harvesting Multiple Deer

A hunter may harvest two deer in one day, with a restriction of only one antlered buck. The first deer need not be electronically registered before taking the second deer on the same day. However, all harvested deer must be registered and tagged before hunting on a subsequent day.

Transportation and Possession of Wildlife

A person may not transport or possess wildlife killed by another unless accompanied by a paper tag. This tag must be legibly filled out with the signature, address, date of kill, hunting license number (if required), and the DNR-issued 13-digit game check number (if required) of the hunter who killed the wildlife. The tag should also specify the species and quantity of wildlife.

West Virginia Game Check and CWD Testing Procedures

Mandatory Game Check for Hunters in West Virginia

In West Virginia, all hunters are required to check their big game, which includes beaver, otter, fisher, and bobcat, using one of three electronic methods:

  1. Online Check: Hunters can check their game online at WVdnr.gov.
  2. License Agent: Visiting a licensed agent is another option for game checking.
  3. Telephonic Check: Hunters can also call 844-WVcheck (844-982-4325) to check their game.

To successfully check big game, hunters must have their DNR ID number, which is valid for their lifetime. It's vital for hunters and trappers to ensure that their DNR ID account is up-to-date with current information and a secure password before going afield.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Testing Availability

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) provides CWD testing for adult deer harvested in the CWD Containment Area. This testing can be availed during any deer season at the following locations:

  • DNR District 2 Office: Located at 1 Depot St., Romney, WV, in Hampshire County.
  • Sleepy Creek WMA Manager's Headquarters: Situated in Berkeley County, contactable at 304-754-4449.

Hunters planning to get their harvest tested in Romney are advised to call ahead to confirm staff availability for sample collection. However, during the first two days of the buck season, staff will be available, and no prior call is necessary.

Antlerless Firearms Season Deer Hunting in West Virginia

Class N Stamp Requirements for Residents

West Virginia residents planning to hunt during the antlerless season must generally purchase a Class N stamp, except in the following scenarios:

  • Resident Landowners: Can hunt antlerless deer on their land in counties open to antlerless hunting without a license.
  • Family of Resident Landowners: Resident children and parents of landowners, as well as resident tenants permanently living on the land, are also exempt.
  • Resident Corporations: Shareholders in resident corporations owning no less than 1,000 acres and formed primarily for hunting or fishing may hunt antlerless deer on their land in open counties.

Class N Stamp Exemptions

Certain individuals are exempt from the need to purchase Class N or NN stamps, but must follow other regulations:

  • Class DT License Holders: Residents or nonresidents with Class DT licenses.

Class N Stamp for Nonresidents and Other Categories

All nonresidents, military personnel, senior citizens, Class Q and QQ, Class XS, disabled veterans, former POWs, and underage hunters, unless specifically exempted, are required to obtain a Class N or NN stamp for antlerless deer hunting during the season.

Purchasing Class N or NN Stamps

These stamps can be acquired:

  • Locations: Any license agent, DNR offices in South Charleston and Elkins, or online at the DNR website.
  • Specifics: Stamps are nontransferable and not county-specific. In some cases, a valid eligibility card is required.

Hunting with Bows and Crossbows

Holders of Class N or NN stamps may use a bow or crossbow instead of a firearm to hunt antlerless deer during the season.

Harvest Regulations

Regarding the harvesting of deer:

  • Multiple Deer: Hunters can harvest two deer on the same day, but only one can be an antlered buck.
  • Electronic Registration: The first deer does not need to be electronically registered before harvesting the second deer on the same day. However, all deer must be registered and tagged before hunting on subsequent days.

Participation in Antlerless Deer Hunting

No person is allowed to actively participate in antlerless deer hunting (including driving) without possessing a valid Class N or NN stamp or being exempt from needing one.

Bag Limits for Antlerless Deer in Select Counties and Regulations

Special Regulations in 10 Counties

In 10 designated counties or parts thereof, hunters are permitted to take up to three antlerless deer (Class N or NN) during the antlerless season. This is achievable by purchasing multiple Class N or NN stamps. However, there are specific conditions:

  • The total number of antlerless deer taken must not exceed the bag limit set for each county or part thereof.
  • The total must also not surpass the annual statewide bag limit of three antlerless (Class N or NN) deer.
  • A unique regulation in these 10 counties mandates hunters to harvest an antlerless deer within the county before they can hunt a second antlered deer. This rule is applicable across all regular deer seasons, including the Mountaineer Heritage Season.

Bag Limits in 18 Counties

In another set of 18 counties or parts thereof, similar regulations apply:

  • Hunters are allowed to harvest up to three antlerless deer (Class N or NN) during the antlerless season.
  • This is also contingent on the purchase of multiple Class N or NN stamps.
  • The limits per county or part thereof must not be exceeded, and the harvest must comply with the annual statewide bag limit of three antlerless (Class N or NN) deer.

Additional Information

For specific antlerless regulations on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and other public lands, hunters should consult the relevant local guidelines to ensure compliance with all hunting regulations.

West Virginia Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Regulations for Concurrent Hunting During West Virginia's Antlerless Deer Season

Overview of Concurrent Hunting Permissions

During the antlerless deer season in West Virginia, hunters are afforded the flexibility to concurrently hunt for small game (with some limitations) and bear, where the season permits. Additionally, specific rules are in place for hunters using firearms, archery equipment, and those hunting waterfowl.

Small Game and Bear Hunting

  • Small Game Hunting: Permitted concurrently during the antlerless deer season, except for the first three days of the buck firearms season.
  • Bear Hunting: Concurrent bear hunting is legal in areas where the bear season is open.

Firearm Restrictions for Small Game Hunters

  • Hunters who are not legally hunting deer or bear are restricted in their choice of ammunition:
    • Prohibited from using solid ball ammunition.
    • Shot shells used must not contain shot larger than No. 4, except for waterfowl hunters.
  • Waterfowl Hunting: Waterfowl hunters are exempt from this ammunition restriction but must use nontoxic shot.

Archery and Crossbow Hunting

  • Concurrent hunting for both antlered and antlerless deer with archery and crossbows is allowed during the antlerless season.
  • All archery and crossbow deer hunting regulations remain applicable.

Safety Regulations: Blaze Orange Requirement

  • All hunters (excluding those engaged in farming on their own land and waterfowl hunters) must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange as an outer garment during deer firearms seasons. This is a crucial safety measure to increase visibility.

Waterfowl Hunting

  • Concurrent waterfowl hunting is permitted.
  • Hunters should refer to the separate West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations publication for detailed guidelines.

Unlimited Class N or NN Stamps in Certain Counties

In West Virginia, there are nineteen counties or parts thereof where resident and nonresident hunters can obtain an unlimited number of Class N or NN stamps for antlerless deer hunting. Key points include:

  • No Application Needed: Hunters do not need to apply for these stamps in these areas.
  • Bag Limit: Hunters are allowed to take one antlerless deer (Class N or NN) in each of these counties, subject to the statewide annual bag limit of three antlerless deer.

Limited Class N or NN Stamps in Specific Counties and Public Lands

There are also areas with limited availability of Class N or NN stamps, requiring prior application:

  • Counties and Public Lands: This includes six counties or parts thereof, one Wildlife Management Area (WMA), portions of the National Forest in Randolph and Pocahontas counties, and two state forests (SFs).
  • Application Process: Hunters must apply online by a specific deadline (e.g., August 13, 2021, for the 2021 season) to be eligible for hunting in these areas.
  • Notification: Successful applicants will be notified by the DNR, with information available on the WVdnr.gov website.
  • Resident Landowners: Resident landowners are exempt from needing a permit to hunt on their own land in these areas.
  • Bag Limit in Limited Areas: Hunters can only take one deer in the antlerless season in these limited areas.

Counties with Specific Bag Limits

In certain counties or parts thereof, there is a specific bag limit of one Class N or NN deer during the antlerless season. This regulation ensures sustainable deer populations and proper management of wildlife resources.

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Archery and Crossbow Seasons

Daily Bag Limit: 1

Opening Date: November 22

Closing Date: December 5

Three deer may be taken with a bow or crossbow during the archery and crossbow seasons. One deer may be taken on one of the following valid base licenses or license combinations: resident license (Class X, Class X3, Class XP, Class XJ, Class AHJ, Class AB-L, Class A-L, Class XS, Classes A+CS+BG or Classes AH+CS+BG); or a free license (Military, Disabled Veteran, former POW, Senior Citizen or Class DT); or nonresident license (Classes E+CS/LE+UU, Classes AAH+CS/LE+UU, Classes XXJ+CS/LE, Classes AAHJ+CS/LE or Class DT). Underage residents and resident landowners hunting on their own land may take an archery or crossbow deer without a license. Up to two additional deer may be taken with Class RB or Class RRB stamps (one per stamp) or on a Class DT license or by resident landowners hunting on their own property. If two deer are taken on Class RB or RRB stamps, or on a Class DT license or by a resident landowner using those privileges, one of the two must be an antlerless deer taken in a county open to Class N antlerless hunting. Class DT license holders must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or with written consent of the parent or guardian or any other competent licensed adult 21 years of age or older

A hunter may take no more than three antlered deer during the regular deer seasons and the following Mountaineer Heritage Season combined.

A hunter may harvest two deer per day, but only one antlered deer may be harvested per day. The first deer does not have to be electronically registered prior to harvesting the second deer in the same day. However, all deer legally harvested must be electronically registered and legally tagged prior to hunting during a subsequent day.

Deer of either sex may be hunted statewide with a bow or crossbow during the archery and crossbow seasons, except that crossbows are not permitted in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties, except by the holders of Class Y/YY permits. A bow or a crossbow may be substituted for a firearm during any deer firearms season except that a bow or crossbow cannot be substituted in the muzzleloader season.

IT IS ILLEGAL TO:

  • hunt with a crossbow that does not have:
    • a draw weight of at least 125 pounds.
    • a working safety.
    • bolts and arrows at least 16 inches long, including the insert and the nock.
    • broadheads with at least two sharp-cutting edges at least 3/4 inch in width.
  • hunt deer with arrows with broadheads having less than two sharp-cutting edges, measuring less than 3/4 inch in width.
  • use a bow-locking device, except with a modified bow permit issued by the Director.
  • use an arrow with an explosive, drug-laced or poisoned head or shaft.
  • use an electronic call to hunt deer.
  • use a bow or crossbow on Bright McCausland Homestead WMA.
  • be afield with both gun and bow or with gun and an arrow, except that a person who is not prohibited from possessing firearms by law may carry a firearm for self-defense.

Guide to Additional Deer Archery Stamps in West Virginia: Class RB and Class RRB

Purchase Limits and Requirements

  • Resident Hunters: Can purchase up to two Class RB stamps.
  • Nonresident Hunters: Limited to two Class RRB stamps.
  • Purchase Timing: These stamps must be acquired before the opening of the statewide archery season.

Usage and Limitations

  • Deer Per Stamp: Each Class RB or RRB stamp allows the taking of only one deer.
  • Order of Checking: Deer taken on a base license, license stamp combination, or with Class RB or RRB stamps can be checked in any order.
  • Restriction on Use: These stamps cannot be used for taking deer with a firearm.

Additional Deer Hunting Privileges

  • Class DT License Holders and Resident Landowners: Those with Class DT licenses or resident landowners hunting on their own land can take two additional deer during the archery and crossbow seasons with Class RB or Class RRB stamps.
  • Mandatory Antlerless Deer: If two deer are harvested using Class RB or Class RRB stamps, Class DT license, or as a resident landowner, one must be an antlerless deer taken in a county open to Class N antlerless hunting.

County-Specific Regulations

  • 10 Counties with Special Requirements: In certain counties or parts thereof, hunters must take an antlerless deer within the county before killing a second antlered deer. This rule spans all regular deer seasons and the Mountaineer Heritage Season.
  • Four-County Area Limit: In Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties, the annual archery deer limit is two, one of which must be antlerless. Specific rules apply regarding the validity of one Class RB or RRB stamp in these counties, especially if the first archery deer was taken in a county open to firearms deer hunting.

Additional Archery/Crossbow Deer Requirements

  • Residents: All residents, except holders of Class DT licenses and resident landowners hunting on their land, must purchase Class RB stamps to take additional archery or crossbow deer.
  • Nonresidents: All nonresidents, except holders of Class DT licenses, need Class RRB archery stamps for the same purpose.

Concurrent Hunting Regulations during Deer Archery and Crossbow Seasons in West Virginia

Small Game Hunting with Bows and Crossbows

Hunters using bows and crossbows for deer have the opportunity to concurrently hunt small game under specific conditions:

  • Bow Hunters: Can hunt small game during open small game seasons, with the exception of the first three days of the buck firearms season in counties where such a season exists.
  • Crossbow Hunters: Similarly, may hunt small game during the deer crossbow season, except during the first three days of the buck firearms season in applicable counties.

Archery and Crossbow Hunting during Muzzleloader Season

During the muzzleloader deer season, archery and crossbow hunting for both antlered and antlerless deer is permitted, subject to certain regulations:

  • Compliance with Regulations: Hunters must adhere to all archery and crossbow deer hunting regulations.
  • Blaze Orange Requirement: During any deer firearms seasons, archery and crossbow hunters are required to wear a blaze orange outer garment. This garment must cover at least 400 square inches for visibility and safety.

Special Hunting Seasons and Key Restrictions

Urban Deer/Bear Archery/Crossbow Split Season

Season Dates and Locations

  • Duration: September 4−December 31, 2021, and January 10-31, 2022.
  • Eligibility: Incorporated cities, towns, villages, and incorporated homeowner associations.
  • Application: Homeowner associations must request participation in writing to the Director by March 1 of the hunt year.

Bag Limits and Requirements

  • Deer: Up to seven deer, with a maximum of two antlered bucks. The first deer must be antlerless.
  • Bear: One bear can be taken, requiring a DS Stamp (exceptions for underage residents and resident landowners on their own land).
  • Season Exclusivity: Deer and bear taken in this season do not count towards regular archery and crossbow seasons' bag limits.

Additional Information

  • Contact local municipal government, homeowner associations, or the appropriate DNR office for more details.

Older-aged Deer Management Areas

Areas and Regulations

  • Locations: Beech Fork Lake, Bluestone Lake, Burnsville Lake, Little Kanawha River, McClintic WMAs, Coopers Rock, and Calvin Price State Forests.
  • Requirement: All antlered deer must have a minimum outside antler spread of 14 inches.
  • Limit: Only one antlered deer is allowed per area for all combined seasons.

General Rule

  • Baiting and Feeding: Illegal to bait or feed wildlife on all public lands.

Specific WMA Restrictions

Wilson Cove Deer Study and Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area

  • Check Local Restrictions: Refer to specific guidelines for these areas.
  • General Rule: Baiting and feeding wildlife is illegal on public land.

McClintic and Green Bottom WMAs – Controlled Waterfowl Hunting

  • Specific Use: Restricted to waterfowl hunting during the early segment of the season.
  • Season Information: Refer to the 2021-2022 WVDNR Migratory Bird Hunting Regulation for exact dates.

 

Buck Firearms Season

Daily Bag Limit: 1

Opening Date: November 21

Closing Date: December 4

Only deer having one or both antlers more than 3 inches in length above the hairline are legal during the buck firearms season (see concurrent hunting for antlerless deer during buck firearms season).

Two deer may be taken with a gun, crossbow or bow during the buck firearms season. One may be taken on one of the following valid base licenses or license combinations: resident license (Class X, Class X3, Class XP, Class XJ, Class AHJ, Class AB-L, Class A-L, Class XS, Classes A+CS or Classes AH+CS); or free license (Military, Disabled Veteran, former POW, Class DT or Senior Citizen); or nonresident license (Classes E+CS/LE, Classes AAH+CS/LE, Classes XXJ+CS/LE, Classes AAHJ+CS/LE or Class DT). Underage residents and resident landowners hunting on their own land may take an antlered deer without a license. An additional deer may only be taken with a Class RG stamp, Class RRG stamp, Class DT license or by resident landowners hunting on their own property. Class DT license holders must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or with written consent of the parent or guardian, any other competent licensed adult 21 years of age or older.

A hunter may take no more than three antlered deer during the regular deer seasons and the following Mountaineer Heritage Season combined.

A hunter may take no more than one antlered deer per day.

Legal firearms for hunting deer during the buck firearms season shall include:

  • a rifle using centerfire ammunition.
  • a rifle using .25 caliber or larger rimfire ammunition.
  • a single-shot muzzleloading rifle, with or without scope, and muzzleloading pistol of .38 caliber or larger.
  • a handgun using a straight-walled case of .357 magnum cartridge or larger or a bottle-necked case of .24 caliber or larger. A Class A1 handgun stamp is required.
  • a shotgun loaded with solid ball ammunition.

West Virginia Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Regulations for Additional Buck Firearms Season Gun Stamps: Class RG and Class RRG

Purchase Limits for Buck Firearms Season Stamps

  • Resident Hunters: Limited to purchasing one Class RG stamp per calendar year.
  • Nonresident Hunters: Can purchase only one Class RRG stamp per calendar year.

Usage Rules and Validity

  • Single Deer per Stamp: Each Class RG or RRG stamp allows for the taking of only one deer.
  • Purchase Deadline: These stamps must be acquired before the start of the buck firearms season.
  • Valid Hunting Areas: Class RG and Class RRG stamps are valid for buck hunting in all counties where buck firearms season is open.

Requirements for Taking an Additional Deer

  • Residents: All residents, excluding resident landowners hunting on their own land and holders of a Class DT license, must purchase a Class RG stamp to hunt an additional deer.
  • Nonresidents: Required to either purchase a Class RRG stamp or possess a Class DT license to take an additional deer.

Special County-Specific Regulations

  • 10 Counties with Mandatory Antlerless Deer Harvest: In certain counties or parts thereof, hunters are required to harvest an antlerless deer within the county, which can be taken during any regular season open to antlerless deer hunting, before taking a second antlered deer. This rule is applicable across all combined regular deer seasons and the Mountaineer Heritage Season.

Registration of Harvested Deer

  • Order of Electronic Registration: Deer taken with a base license, license stamp combination, or with Class RG or RRG stamps can be electronically registered in any order, offering flexibility to hunters in managing their harvests.

Regulations for Concurrent Hunting during Buck Firearms Deer Season in West Virginia

Antlerless Deer Hunting

Antlerless deer can be hunted during the buck firearms season under specific conditions:

  • Counties and Dates: Legal in 51 counties or parts thereof and all public lands with an antlerless season, from November 22 to December 5, 2021.
  • Licensing Requirements: Hunters must have a valid Class N or NN stamp or a Class DT license, except resident landowners hunting on their own land.
  • Daily Harvest Limit: Two deer per day, with only one being antlered. The first deer does not need to be electronically registered before harvesting the second deer on the same day, but all deer must be registered and tagged before hunting on subsequent days.

Small Game Hunting Restrictions

Specific rules apply to small game hunting during the buck firearms season:

  • Prohibition Period: Small game hunting is not allowed during the first three days of the buck firearms season.
  • Exceptions: Waterfowl hunting on lakes, rivers, and waterways during the open season, bear hunting in specific counties, coyote hunting, and trapping of furbearing animals are permitted.
  • Resumption of Small Game Hunting: Legal during open small game seasons starting November 25, 2021.
  • Ammunition Restrictions: While hunting small game during buck firearms season, hunters may use No. 4 shot or smaller, and slugs may only be carried if the hunter is also legally hunting deer or bear.

Use of Combination Rifle-Shotgun

A combination rifle-shotgun is permissible for deer hunting and concurrent small game hunting.

Post-Harvest Regulations

After taking the legal daily or season bag limit of deer:

  • Ammunition Restrictions: Hunters should not carry firearms with solid ball ammunition (unless hunting bear) or shot shells larger than No. 4 shot. Waterfowl hunters may use nontoxic shot larger than No. 4.
  • Prohibition on Certain Firearms: Hunting small game with any centerfire, rimfire larger than .22 caliber, or shotguns using solid ball ammunition or shot larger than No. 4 is illegal in counties not open to buck firearms season.

Archery and Crossbow Hunting

Archery and crossbow hunting for antlered and antlerless deer are legal during the buck firearms season, subject to all relevant regulations. Bows or crossbows can be substituted for firearms.

Blaze Orange Requirement

All hunters, except those engaged in farming activities on their own land and waterfowl hunters, must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange as an outer garment during the deer firearms season.

Special Hunting Seasons and Restrictions

Wilson Cove Deer Study Area and Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area

Special Muzzleloader Season

  • Duration: November 22–December 5, 2021.
  • Location: Wilson Cove Deer Study Area (Hardy County, George Washington National Forest) and Hillcrest WMA (Hancock County).
  • Allowed Equipment: Only single shot muzzleloaders, including “in-lines” of .38 caliber or larger, are legal for deer hunting.
  • Exclusion: These areas are not open for the traditional buck firearms season.
  • License and Registration: All muzzleloader season license requirements apply. Harvested deer must be registered as a Muzzleloader Season harvest.
  • Bag Limit: Only one antlered deer may be taken in each area across all seasons (archery, crossbow, muzzleloader, and Mountaineer Heritage).

Older-aged Deer Management Areas

Antler Spread Requirement

  • Locations: Beech Fork Lake, Bluestone Lake, Burnsville Lake, Little Kanawha River, McClintic WMAs, Coopers Rock, and Calvin Price State Forests.
  • Minimum Antler Spread: All antlered deer must have an outside antler spread of at least 14 inches (ear tip to ear tip).

Bag Limit

  • Limitation: Only one antlered deer is permitted to be taken in each area across all seasons (archery, crossbow, buck firearms, muzzleloader, and Mountaineer Heritage).

Wildlife Feeding and Baiting

  • Legality: It is illegal to bait or feed wildlife on all public lands, reinforcing the commitment to ethical hunting practices.

West Virginia Muzzleloader Season Regulations

Daily Bag Limits and Season Dates

  • Daily Bag Limit: Two deer per day.
  • Opening Date: December 12.
  • Closing Date: December 18.

Deer Hunting Privileges with Muzzleloaders

  • Two Deer Allowed: Hunters can take two deer during the muzzleloader season.
  • Base License Requirements: One deer can be taken using various valid base licenses or combinations, including resident licenses (Class X, X3, XP, XJ, AHJ, AB-L, A-L, XS, A+CS+BG, AH+CS+BG), free licenses (Military, Disabled Veteran, former POW, Class DT, Senior Citizen), or nonresident licenses (E+CS/LE+VV, AAH+CS/LE+VV, XXJ+CS/LE, AAHJ+CS/LE, Class DT).
  • License Exemptions: Underage residents and resident landowners hunting on their own land may take a deer without a license.
  • Additional Deer: An additional deer can only be taken with a Class RM or RRM stamp, Class DT license, or by resident landowners on their land. Class DT license holders must be accompanied by a designated adult.

Specific Hunting Areas and Regulations

  • Antlered Deer: Legal to hunt in all counties open to the buck firearms season.
  • Either Sex Deer: Can be taken in counties or parts open to the Class N season.
  • Additional Deer: One more deer may be taken using a Class RM or RRM stamp or Class DT license in counties with muzzleloader season.

Muzzleloader Specifications

  • Legal Muzzleloaders: Only single-shot muzzleloaders of .38 caliber or larger, including “in-lines”, are legal.
  • Illegal Firearms: Converted firearms, double-barreled, or swivel-barreled muzzleloaders are prohibited.
  • Telescopic Sights: Allowed.
  • Transportation: Muzzleloaders are considered unloaded when uncapped, priming charge removed from the pan, or if electronic ignition with the battery removed.

Regulations for the Use of Class RM, RRM Stamps, and Class DT Licenses during Muzzleloader Season in West Virginia

Usage of Class RM and RRM Stamps

In West Virginia's muzzleloader season, specific regulations apply to the use of Class RM and RRM stamps:

  • Stamp Limit: Only one Class RM or RRM stamp can be used in the muzzleloader season.
  • Deer Limit: Only one deer may be taken with either a Class RM or RRM stamp.
  • Purchase Requirement: These stamps must be bought before the opening of the muzzleloader season.

Requirements for Additional Muzzleloader Deer

To harvest an additional deer during the muzzleloader season:

  • Residents: All residents, except resident landowners hunting on their own land and holders of a Class DT license, must purchase a Class RM stamp for an additional muzzleloader deer.
  • Nonresidents: All nonresidents, except those with a Class DT license, must acquire a Class RRM stamp to take an additional muzzleloader deer.

Counties and Bag Limits

Class RM and RRM stamps, as well as Class DT licenses, allow for certain hunting privileges:

  • Antlered Deer: Can be used to take one antlered deer in all counties having the muzzleloader season.
  • Either-Sex Deer: In the 46 counties or parts thereof with a Class N or NN antlerless season bag limit of one unlimited or three antlerless deer, these stamps/licenses can be used for one either-sex deer.

Checking In Deer

Deer harvested on a base license or license stamp combination, or with Class RM or RRM stamps, can be checked in any order.

Concurrent Waterfowl Hunting

Concurrent waterfowl hunting is legal and governed by separate WVDNR Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations.

Antlerless Deer Requirement in Specific Counties

In ten counties or parts thereof, hunters are required to harvest an antlerless deer within the county during any regular deer season open to antlerless hunting before taking a second antlered deer. This regulation spans across all combined regular deer seasons and the Mountaineer Heritage Season.

Concurrent Hunting Regulations During Muzzleloader Season

Archery and Crossbow Hunting

  • Legality: Concurrent archery and crossbow hunting for both antlered and antlerless deer is permissible during the muzzleloader season.
  • Regulations: All existing archery and crossbow deer hunting regulations apply during this period.

General Concurrent Hunting Rules

  • Muzzleloader Season: Concurrent hunting is allowed during the muzzleloader season.
  • Ammunition Restrictions: It is illegal to use solid-ball ammunition or shot larger than No. 4 during this season, except under specific conditions:
    • Bear Hunting: Legal for those hunting bear.
    • Waterfowl Hunting: Permitted for waterfowl hunters using nontoxic shot.

Safety and Visibility Requirements

  • Blaze Orange Garment: During deer firearms seasons (which includes the muzzleloader season), hunters (except those engaged in farming activities on their own land and waterfowl hunters) must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange as an outer garment for safety and visibility.

Small Game Hunting

  • Firearm Limitation: Hunting small game with a .22 caliber or smaller rimfire firearm is legal during the muzzleloader season. This allows for a diverse range of hunting activities while maintaining specific weapon restrictions for safety and conservation purposes.
West Virginia Deer Hunting Laws & Regulations

Muzzleloader Special Seasons and Restrictions in Selected West Virginia Areas

Wilson Cove Deer Study Area and Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area

Special Muzzleloader Season

  • Dates: November 21–December 4, 2022.
  • Location:
    • Wilson Cove Deer Study Area in Hardy County, part of the George Washington National Forest.
    • Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Hancock County.
  • Firearm Restrictions: Only single-shot muzzleloaders, including “in-lines” of .38 caliber or larger, are permitted for deer hunting in these areas.
  • Exclusion from Traditional Buck Firearms Season: These areas are not open for the traditional buck firearms season.
  • License and Registration Requirements: All standard muzzleloader season license requirements apply, and harvested deer must be electronically registered as a Muzzleloader Season harvest.
  • Limit on Antlered Deer: Only one antlered deer may be taken across all seasons (archery, crossbow, muzzleloader, and Mountaineer Heritage) combined on each of these areas.

Older-aged Deer Management Areas

Minimum Antler Spread Requirement

  • Areas Affected:
    • Beech Fork Lake, Bluestone Lake, Burnsville Lake, Little Kanawha River, and McClintic WMAs.
    • Coopers Rock and Calvin Price State Forests.
  • Antler Spread Minimum: All antlered deer harvested in these areas must have a minimum outside antler spread of 14 inches (ear tip to ear tip).
  • Seasonal Deer Limit: Only one antlered deer may be taken on each area across all seasons (archery, crossbow, buck firearms, muzzleloader, and Mountaineer Heritage) combined.

Special Split Youth, Class Q/QQ, and Class XS Deer Season in West Virginia

Season Dates and Deer Limit

The special split antlerless deer season for youth, Class Q/QQ, and Class XS hunters is scheduled for:

  • Dates: October 16-17 and December 26-27, 2021.
  • Deer Limit: Only one antlerless deer may be taken per day. Hunters may use a bow or crossbow as a substitute for a firearm.

Special Regulations and Prohibitions

  • Containment Area Regulations: Specific regulations apply to carcass transport and baiting in the West Virginia Containment Area.
  • Baiting and Feeding: It is illegal to bait or feed wildlife on public land at any time.
  • Eligible Lands: The season is open on private land in all counties with a firearms deer hunting season and on all public lands within these counties.

Bag Limit Considerations

  • Annual Bag Limit: The bag limit of one antlerless deer per day does not count towards the hunter's annual deer season bag limit.
  • Antlerless Deer Requirement: An antlerless deer taken during this special season does not count towards the requirement to kill an antlerless deer before a second antlered deer in specific counties.
  • Stamp Requirements: Youth hunters do not require a Class N or NN stamp for this season. Seniors with a Class XS license do not require a Class N stamp.
  • Registration: Each deer must be field tagged and electronically registered within 24 hours of the close of each portion of this season and before hunting another deer.

Blaze Orange Requirement

  • Participants: All hunters, except waterfowl hunters and those engaged in farming on their own land, must wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange.
  • Youth Hunters: Must be aged 8 to 17. Those aged 15-17 must comply with all licensing requirements (except Class N or NN stamp). Hunters aged 8-14 must be accompanied by a licensed adult, who cannot carry a gun, crossbow, or bow, and must wear blaze orange.

Licensing for Youth and Senior Hunters

  • Youth Hunters (Nonresidents): Must possess a Class XXJ license + CS/LE stamp, Class AAHJ + CS/LE stamp, or Class DT license.
  • Senior Hunters: Residents aged 65 or older must have a Class XS license.

Class Q or QQ Hunters Licensing Requirements

  • Residents: Need a Class Q permit and one of several license types, including Class A + CS stamp, various Class X licenses, free licenses, or be underage accompanied by a licensed adult.
  • Nonresidents: Require a Class QQ permit and a combination of Class E, AAH, or XXJ licenses with CS/LE stamps, or a Class DT license.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) - Understanding and Management

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

  • Definition: CWD is a neurological disease affecting deer and related species, classified under transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE).
  • Cause: It is caused by abnormal proteins called prions.
  • Detection and Treatment: There's no practical test for live animals to detect CWD, nor any known treatment or vaccine.

How is CWD Spread?

  • Transmission: Primarily through saliva, feces, urine, and possibly other body secretions of infected animals.
  • Environmental Persistence: Infectious prions can persist in the environment.
  • Human Contribution: The disease has been spread over long distances, notably by the movement of live infected animals.

Is CWD Dangerous to Humans?

  • Current Understanding: There's no conclusive evidence of CWD affecting humans.
  • Precautions: Public health officials advise avoiding human exposure to CWD agents, including not consuming meat from infected or visibly sick animals.

Where Has CWD Been Found?

  • Geographical Spread: Detected in free-ranging and captive deer and elk in various parts of North America and Europe, including many U.S. states and Canadian provinces.
  • Specifics in West Virginia: Over 450 cases in white-tailed deer across several counties, with continuous monitoring since 2002.

Actions Against CWD in West Virginia

  • Threat Assessment: Recognized as a significant threat to the white-tailed deer population.
  • DNR Actions: Increased surveillance around infected areas, discouragement of supplemental feeding and baiting, and specific transport and disposal restrictions in affected counties.
  • Management Strategy: Adaptive, based on ongoing surveillance and findings.

WV Chronic Wasting Disease Containment Area

  • Inclusion: Several counties in WV are designated as the CWD containment area.
  • Restrictions: Baiting and feeding deer is illegal in this area. There are also strict regulations on transporting deer carcasses and their parts.

Recommendations for Hunters

  1. Reporting: Contact WV DNR if you find a severely emaciated or obviously sick deer, or one with an ear tag.
  2. Feeding and Baiting: Avoid these practices to prevent disease spread.
  3. Population Management: Harvest adequate numbers of antlerless deer to maintain a balanced population.
  4. Use of Lures: Avoid natural deer urine-based lures and ensure they are not accessible to deer.
  5. Out-of-State Hunting: Follow specific guidelines for transporting deer parts from CWD-positive areas.
  6. Local Regulations Compliance: Adhere to special regulations in certain WV counties, including cooperation with WVDNR for CWD testing and information.

Mountaineer Heritage Season in West Virginia: Key Regulations

Season Limit and Dates

  • Season Limit: One deer, one bear, and one turkey.
  • Opening Date: January 12, 2023.
  • Closing Date: January 15, 2023.

Deer Hunting Guidelines

  • Allowed Firearms: Percussion side-lock rifle or pistol, flintlock rifle or pistol, long bow, or recurve bow.
  • Deer Sex: One either-sex deer may be taken.
  • Valid Licenses: Various resident licenses (Class X, X3, XP, XJ, AHJ, AB-L, A-L, XS, A+CS+BG, AH+CS+BG), free licenses (Military, Disabled Veteran, former POW, Senior Citizen, Class DT), or nonresident licenses (E+CS/LE, AAH+CS/LE, XXJ+CS/LE, AAHJ+CS/LE, Class DT) are valid for deer hunting. Underage residents and resident landowners on their own land can hunt without a license. Class DT license holders need to be accompanied by an adult.
  • Antlered Deer Limit: A maximum of three antlered deer during regular seasons and Mountaineer Heritage Season combined. In Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties, only one antlered deer during Archery and Mountaineer Heritage Seasons combined.

Deer, Bear, and Turkey Hunting Specifics

  • Open Statewide: The season is open statewide, with specific weapon restrictions in Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties.
  • Nonresident Hunters: Required to purchase a Class I stamp for hunting on National Forest land.
  • Legal Firearms and Bows: Only single-shot side-lock or flintlock muzzleloading rifles and pistols (.38 caliber or larger), long bows, and recurve bows are legal. Telescopic sights are prohibited. In-line muzzleloaders and converted firearms are illegal.
  • Turkey Hunting: Single-shot side-lock and flintlock muzzleloader shotguns with iron sights may be used.

Transport and Legal Restrictions

  • Transportation of Muzzleloaders: Considered unloaded when uncapped or priming charge is removed.
  • Illegal Activities: Hunting with crossbows or compound bows, bear hunting with dogs (except when tracking wounded game), and turkey hunting with bait and electronic calls are prohibited. Dog use for turkey hunting is permitted.
  • Bear Harvesting: Hunters must submit a first premolar tooth of harvested bears.

CWD Containment Area and Special Restrictions

  • Refer to specific regulations for deer carcass transport and wildlife feeding within the West Virginia CWD Containment Area.
  • Special restrictions apply in the Older-aged Deer Management Areas and Wilson Cove Deer Study Area and Hillcrest Wildlife Management Area. Baiting or feeding wildlife on public land is always illegal.

Blaze Orange Requirement

  • Outer Garment: Hunters must wear a blaze orange garment of at least 400 square inches, except in Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties. This does not apply to waterfowl hunters and persons engaged in farming on their own land.

Licensing Reminder

  • 2023 Hunting License: Required for hunting during the Mountaineer Heritage Season in 2023. Licenses can be purchased at local agents, area DNR offices, or online at WVdnr.gov.
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Disclaimer:

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.