Hunting Regulations

GENERAL REGULATIONS - Prohibitions

In West Virginia, it is illegal to:

  • hunt in state parks (except as otherwise designated), in safety zones in state forests or wildlife management areas, and in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
  • shoot, hunt or trap upon the fenced, enclosed, purple paint marked or posted lands of another person without having in possession written permission from the landowner.
  • have a crossbow with a nocked bolt, or a rifle or shotgun with cartridges that have not been removed or a magazine that has not been detached, in or on any vehicle or conveyance (including ATVs) or its attachments. You can have a loaded clip or magazine in the vehicle as long as it is not in or attached to the firearm. Exception for legally carried concealed weapons (see page 6).
  • carry an uncased or loaded firearm in the woods, except during open firearms hunting seasons. It is legal to hunt unprotected species of wild animals, wild birds and migratory game birds during the open season in fields, waters and marshes.
  • hunt with a fully automatic firearm.
  • hunt small game in counties having a buck firearms season during the first three days of this season. It is legal to hunt waterfowl during this period on lakes, rivers, and waterways during the open waterfowl season, to hunt bear in specified counties, and to hunt coyotes.
  • hunt deer, bear or boar between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise or with an electronic call.
  • be afield with a gun and bow, or with a gun and any arrow, except that a firearm may be carried for self-defense purposes only.
  • carry an uncased gun or crossbow in or on a vehicle or conveyance between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. E.S.T. from October 1 − June 30; and between 8:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. E.S.T. from July 1 − September 30; provided, time periods can be extended for one hour before or after times established above if transporting uncased gun or crossbow to or from a hunting site, campsite, home or other abode.
  • shoot a firearm within 500 feet of a school, church or dwelling, or on or near a park or other place where persons are gathered for pleasure; provided, a resident or guest of a dwelling may shoot a firearm within 500 feet of the dwelling where the person lives, if all residents of the dwelling consent and no other dwellings are within 500 feet.
  • hunt while under the influence of alcohol.
  • for anyone under the age of 15 to hunt on public land or the lands of another unless accompanied by a licensed adult, at least 18 years of age, who remains near enough to render advice and assistance (see exception for youth seasons pages 32 and 36).
  • hunt or fish with a modified bow without a special permit issued by the Director.
  • get out of a motor vehicle along a public road and shoot a bow, crossbow or firearm unless you are at least 25 yards from the vehicle.
  • shoot at any wild bird or animal unless it is plainly visible.
  • shoot at a deer or boar while it is in water.
  • hunt or conduct hunts for a fee when the person is not physically present in the same location as the wildlife being hunted within West Virginia.
  • use or attempt to use any artificial light or any night vision technology, including image intensification, thermal imaging or active illumination while hunting, locating, attracting, taking, killing or trapping wild birds or wild animals. However, artificial lights or night vision technology may be used for taking coyote, fox, raccoon, skunk and opossum. Coyotes and fox may be hunted using any color artificial light in open season (see pages 2 and 7).
  • smoke wildlife from its den or place of refuge except as provided by law or regulation.
  • catch, kill, or attempt to do so by seine, net, bait, trap, deadfall, snare, or like device, any bear, game bird, protected bird or mammal, or wild boar.
  • bait or feed bear at any time.
  • hunt or shoot at wild animals or wild birds from an airborne conveyance, a drone or other unmanned aircraft (including the use of a drone or unmanned aircraft to drive or herd any wild bird or wild animal for the purpose of hunting, trapping or killing), from a vehicle or other land conveyance, from a motor-driven water conveyance, or from or across a public road, unless specifically authorized to do so by law or regulation. You may shoot from a motorized watercraft if the motor has been completely shut off and progress from the motor has ceased.
  • use poisons, chemicals or explosives in taking any furbearing animal, game animal, game bird or protected song and insectivorous bird, provided that groundhogs may be controlled on private land by landowners, their resident children or resident parents, or a resident tenant from April 1 ‒ September 30.
  • use shot larger than No. 4 or solid ball ammunition, except for .22 caliber or smaller centerfire during the buck firearms season in the four counties closed to the buck firearms season.
  • hunt between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise with any firearm larger than .22 caliber centerfire, a shotgun using solid ball ammunition or shot shells larger than No. 2 shot.
  • dispose of animal carcasses by dumping them along any public road or highway.
  • bait or feed any wildlife on public land between September 1 and December 31 and during the spring gobbler seasons.

PURCHASING A LICENSE

Licenses may be obtained as follows:

  1. At approximately 175 license agent locations throughout the state. ($3 issuing fee for first purchase and $1 for subsequent purchases.)
  2. www.wvhunt.com (Official DNR website – $2 fee per transaction.)
  3. Directly from the Hunting and Fishing License Unit by phoning (304) 558- 2758. ($2 fee per transaction.)

For additional information contact:

Hunting and Fishing License Unit

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources 324 4th Avenue • South Charleston, West Virginia 25303

(304) 558-2758 | wvdnrcustomerservice@wv.gov

HUNTING SEASON - White-tailed Deer

Archery and Crossbow September 30 − December 31

Maximum season bag limit: 2

  • Crossbow Season closed, except for Class Y/YY holders.
  • Only one antlered deer may be taken per year.
  • One deer may be taken on a valid base license, free license, resident underage,
    or by a resident landowner hunting on his/her own land and one deer may be taken on a class RB or RRB stamp or by a resident landowner using that privilege;
  • OR, if the hunter’s first archery deer was taken in a county open to firearms deer hunting, two deer (one must be antlerless) may be taken on Class RB or RRB stamps or by a resident landowner using those privileges.

It is illegal to hunt deer with:

  • a shotgun using ammunition loaded with more than one solid ball, or a rifle using rimfire ammunition of less than .25 caliber.
  • a fully automatic rifle, shotgun or handgun.
  • a handgun using a straight-walled case of less than .357 magnum cartridge or a bottle-necked case of less than .24 caliber.
  • a muzzleloader of less than .38 caliber during the muzzleloader deer season.
  • both a gun and a bow or with a gun and an arrow, except that persons having a valid concealed weapon permit or those West Virginia residents who are legally permitted to carry without a concealed weapon permit may carry a concealed handgun for self-defense only.
  • a crossbow that does not have:

›  a draw weight of at least 125 pounds.

›  a working safety.

›  bolts at least 18 inches long.

›  broadheads with at least two sharp-cutting edges at least 3/4 inch in width.

  • a bow with arrows with broadheads having less than two sharp-cutting edges, measuring less than 3/4 inch in width.
  • a bow locking device, except with a modified bow permit issued by the Director.
  • an arrow with an explosive, drug-laced or poisoned head or shaft.
  • anything other than a bow, crossbow or single-shot muzzleloader on Green Bottom and Fox Forest WMAs.
  • an electronic call.

HUNTING SEASON - Turkey

Bow, Crossbow or Gun October 14 − 21

Maximum season bag limit: 1

Shooting hours: 1/2 hour before

sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Only one either-sex turkey may be taken during the fall hunting season with either bow, crossbow or gun.

It is illegal:

  • to use electronic calls.
  • to hunt with the use of bait.

HUNTING SEASON - Bear

Firearms September 23-29 and December 4-31

Maximum season bag limit: 2

Two bears may be taken during the bear firearms season provided that at least one bear must be taken in Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Nicholas, Raleigh or Wyoming counties. Only one bear may be taken per day. No person may take more than two bears annually in archery, crossbow and firearms seasons combined.

A bow or a crossbow may be substituted for a firearm during bear firearms season.

The use of dogs for bear hunting is illegal during the bear archery and crossbow seasons. A bow or a crossbow may be substituted for a firearm during the bear firearms season while hunting with dogs in counties where hunting with dogs is legal.

Bear hunters are required to wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange over his or her outer clothing while hunting in a county or part thereof during a deer firearms season. This does not apply to waterfowl hunters and persons engaged in farming activities on their own land.

It is illegal:

  • to hunt bears with the use of bait (includes, but not limited to, corn and other grains, animal carcasses or animal remains, grease, sugars in any form, scent attractants and other edible enticements, and an area is considered baited for ten days after all bait has been removed).
  • to bait or feed bears at any time.
  • hunt a bear with:
    • a pistol or revolver using a straight-walled case of less than .357 magnum cartridge or a bottlenecked case of less than .24 caliber.
    • a shotgun using ammunition loaded with more than one solid ball.
    • a muzzleloading pistol of less than .38 caliber.
    • a rifle of less than .25 caliber using rimfire ammunition.
    • a crossbow that does not have:

›  a draw weight of at least 125 pounds.

›  a working safety.

›  bolts at least 18 inches long.

›  broadheads with at least two sharp-cutting edges at least 3/4 inch in width.

›  use an arrow with an explosive, drug-laced or poisoned head or shaft.

  • to hunt bear between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise.
  • to kill or attempt to kill any bear through the use of bait, poison, explosives, traps or deadfalls.
  • to shoot at or kill a bear weighing less than 75 pounds live weight or 50 pounds field dressed weight or to kill any bear accompanied by a cub or to kill any cub accompanied by another bear, regardless of its weight.
  • to kill more than one bear per day or more than two bears per year.
  • to organize for commercial purposes, or to professionally outfit a bear hunt, or to give or receive any consideration whatsoever or any donation in money, goods or services in connection with a bear hunt.
  • for nonresidents to hunt bear with dogs, except in certain designated counties during the bear firearms season.
  • to use an electronic call.

The hunting regulations information contained on this site are for informational purposes only. For complete information on West Virginia hunting and trapping regulations set by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, visit www.wvdnr.gov.