How to make hunting a family affair this hunting season

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RICHMOND, Va. — General firearms hunting season begins this weekend in Virginia and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is encouraging families to turn this hunting season into a family affair.

“Hunting is a tradition that is often passed on from one generation to the next creating a special bond between family members and friends, “the department posted on its website. “For most hunters it’s not the killing of game that’s key to hunting, but the experiences and life lessons they gain. People who hunt have a special connection with the outdoors and an awareness of the relationships between wildlife, habitat, and humans.”

VDGIF biologist Ron Hughes and his nine--year-old son Tyler show the joy and excitement they shared when Tyler got his first deer taken at the start of muzzleloader season. (PHOTO: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)

VDGIF biologist Ron Hughes and his nine–year-old son Tyler show the joy and excitement they shared when Tyler got his first deer taken at the start of muzzleloader season. (PHOTO: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)

The department provided some helpful ideas and tips to turn new hunters and children into successful and lifelong hunter:

Help new hunters prepare. Get them excited by sighting in or patterning firearms, selecting equipment, planning hunts, and fine tuning their hunting skills.

Make sure they have adequate clothing for the weather.

Make sure the gun or bow are appropriate for the novice’s size and skill level.

Do not focus on killing an animal. Instead, stress enjoyment of the hunt.

Keep hunts to reasonable length according to age. Take reasonable bathroom breaks. Be conscious of uncomfortable weather. If you insist that you both stay in the treestand all day, in freezing weather with strong winds, it will likely be the last time the novice goes hunting.

It is your responsibility to keep them safe. Make sure everyone follows firearm and treestand safety rules.

Safety also includes boats if they are used.

When the new hunter is very inexperienced, it’s best for the two of you to carry only one firearm. It’s safer, and your focus should be on the novice. If both of you will shoot, then take turns (the novice should get the first shot, of course).

Hunter Education is mandatory for hunters 12-15 years of age and for all first-time license purchasers. Avoid the last-minute rush just before the fall hunting season, when the class you want may already be full. Consider an Apprentice License if time is too short to schedule a Class.

Firearms Deer Seasons

November 14 through 28
In the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Amherst (west of Rt. 29), Bedford*, Botetourt, Carroll, Craig, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Nelson (west of Rt. 151), Pulaski, Roanoke*, Shenandoah, Warren*, and Wythe

Either-sex Deer Hunting Days:

November 14 through 28 (full season): In all areas unless otherwise noted below.

  • November 21 and November 28: On National Forest lands and Department-owned lands in Carroll and Roanoke counties and on National Forest lands in Craig, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Wythe counties and on Big Survey WMA.
  • November 28: On National Forest lands and Department-owned lands in Botetourt County and on National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford, Nelson, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
  • Antlered deer only-no either-sex deer hunting days:  On National Forest lands in Grayson County and on portions of Grayson Highlands State Park. Special Youth Antlerless Deer Regulation applies.

November 14 through 28
In the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Lee, Page, Rockbridge, Russell, and Tazewell.

Either-sex Deer Hunting Days

November 21, November 27 and 28: In all areas unless otherwise noted below.

  • November 28: On National Forest and Department- owned lands in Rockbridge County and on National Forest lands in Page County.
  • Antlered deer only-no either-sex deer hunting days: On National Forest lands in Lee and Tazewell counties and on Clinch Mountain WMA, Channels State Forest, and Hidden Valley WMA. Special Youth Antlerless Deer Regulation applies.

November 14 through January 2

In the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Accomack, Albemarle, Arlington*, Clarke*, Culpeper (see season exception for C. F. Phelps WMA below), Fairfax*, Fauquier (see season exception for C. F. Phelps WMA below), Frederick* (see season exception for National Forest lands below), Greene, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, Isle of Wight, James City, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun*, Madison, Northampton, Northumberland, Orange, Prince George, Prince William*, Rappahannock*, Richmond, Southampton, Stafford, Suffolk (west of the Dismal Swamp line), Surry, Sussex, Westmoreland, and York. (*denotes EAB county)

  • In Arlington County*, City of Hampton, and City of Richmond (in the City of Richmond: archery only, no special permit is required for archery deer hunting). Note: Local Ordinances prohibit the discharge of firearms in these areas (see Local Firearms Ordinances). (*denotes EAB county)
  • In the City of Lynchburg (on private lands for which a special permit has been issued by the Chief of Police).
  • In the City of Newport News: archery only, no special permit is required for archery deer hunting.
  • In Fairfax County* a special landowner permit is required to firearms deer hunt on private lands. Contact the Div. of Animal Control, 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 for details. No special police permit is required for archery deer hunting.

Season Exception

  • November 14 through 28: On C.F. Phelps WMA and National Forest lands in Frederick County.

Either-sex Deer Hunting Days

November 14 through January 2 (full season): In all areas unless otherwise noted below.

  • November 21, November 28, December 5, and December 7 through January 2: On Rapidan WMA.
  • November 21 and January 2: On G.R. Thompson WMA.
  • November 21 and November 28: On C.F. Phelps WMA.
  • November 28: On National Forest lands in Frederick County.
  • Antlered deer only-no either-sex deer hunting days: On the Carlisle Tract of the Hog Island WMA, and Ragged Island WMA. Special Youth Antlerless Deer Regulation applies.
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