Hunting in State Forests: What you Need to Know Before you Go

October in Virginia brings cooler weather, eye-popping fall foliage and Pumpkin spice-flavored everything. But October in this state of natural beauty and abundant resources is also the beginning of hunting season for many game species in the state. Before heading out this season, become familiar with State Forest regulations and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Hunting & Trapping Regulations, and then check out the information below about hunting in Virginia State Forests.

Is hunting allowed in State Forests?

Hunting is allowed in the following State Forests:

 How is hunting in Conway Robinson and Whitney State Forests different from the other State Forests that allow hunting?

Hunting in these two locations is by lottery, is shotgun slugs only this season and the hunting season is limited to two days only (see above for specific dates).

You may apply to the lottery for hunting at the Conway Robinson, the Whitney, or both hunting locations with one application submission.  Only one submission will be accepted per person. The lottery officially closes Sunday, October 8th at 11:59 pm. More information and lottery application.

When are the hunting seasons in State Forests?

With the exception of the stated hunting seasons in Lesesne, Conway Robinson and Whitney State Forests, hunting regulations and seasons generally follow those of the county in which the State Forest is located. Contact the State Forest Office if you have specific questions.

Do I need a Special Use Permit to hunt in the State Forests?

On forests where hunting and fishing are allowed, a valid State Forest Use Permit and valid hunting or fishing license are required for persons aged 16 years-old or older in accordance with state regulations.

Where do I get a Special Use Permit?

Permits cost $16 and are valid for one year from date of purchase. Permits can be purchased two ways:

  • Go to any location where you purchase a hunting license. Ask the clerk for the “State Forest Permit” to be added to your license.
  • Use your credit card and purchase a permit online from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) website. After you sign in, find “Special Licenses” and select “State Forest use Permit.”

What time of day may I hunt in a State Forests?

State Forests are open daily from dawn to dusk. Hunting is permitted during non-daylight hours when Department and Game and Inland Fisheries allows hunting of a particular species at these times.

Do I have to pay to enter a State Forest?

There are no charges to visit the State Forests. A State Forest Use Permit is required for some activities, including hunting and fishing.

Can I bring my bike or ride my horse in a State Forest?

Foot travel, non-motorized bikes, and horses are permitted. A special use permit is required for mountain bikes and horseback riding.

Can I ride my ATV in a State Forest?

ATVs are not permitted on any of the State Forests. Vehicles on forest roads open to vehicular traffic must be licensed for travel on Virginia public highways and operated by a licensed driver.

I have specific questions about a State Forest. Who do I contact?

You may contact the State Forest Office at  804.492.4121 or contact the specific State Forest about which you have questions.

Other resources:

Local Firearms Ordinances. Please be familiar with the ordinances in the locality in which you are hunting.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Hunting Regulations

Photo courtesy of Meghan Marchetti, DGIF


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