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West Virginia Hunting

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Written by:  Devn Schumacher 

May, 10 2021

West Virginia Hunting

Hunting is one of the major sources of economy for West Virginia. Even though it is one of the smallest states in the USA, more than 300,000 people partake in West Virginia hunting season to large game such as deer, bears, turkeys, and the various small game animals.

West Virginia Hunting Regulations

Like all other states in the nation, hunting, and trapping is regulated in West Virginia with laws and requirements that hunters must compulsorily follow.

Some of the most important hunting regulations in West Virginia include the following:

Hunting License in West Virginia

Before you can hunt any game in West Virginia, you must obtain a state hunting license. West Virginia has various licenses for resident and non-residents hunters. It is a prohibition to hunt without a valid state hunting license.

Tagging Requirements in West Virginia

It is compulsory to tag certain animals after hunting them. Some of such animals are deer and turkeys. Hunters must know about all tagging requirements for the games they want to take and the animals must be tagged appropriately to avoid violations.

Before hunting games like turkeys and deer, hunters must first purchase their hunting tag. After hunting the game, the tag must be attached immediately, and this must be before the animal is transported from the hunting field.

Hunters must also mark their tags with the necessary details like a date, a zone where the hunting took place, and every other important information. After tagging the game, the tag must be left on the carcass when it is being transported for storage or to the hunter's home. Also, the tag must remain on the carcass while the hunter is still in camp.

Checking and Validating Tags

It is compulsory to validate game tags for animals like turkeys and deer. The validation must be within at least 72 hours of taking the game. It can be done with the West Virginia game check system.

Tags can also be validated by calls or via the West Virginia Department for Fishery and Wildlife website. Hunters who harvest deer in certain Wildlife Management Areas can validate their deer tag within the WMA if there is a check station available. It is the responsibility of a hunter to know if a WMA has a deer check-in station and if the station is available for the hunting period.

Hunter Dressing Requirements in West Virginia

Orange and pink are the accepted colors for certain game animals in West Virginia like white-tailed deer, and it does not matter the type of hunting firearm that is used. However, the amount of pink or orange color accepted for the hunting will vary based on hunting types and if the hunter is on West Virginia public hunting lands or private lands.

Some of West Virginia’s hunting cloth regulations in the state include the following:

Hunters that are on private lands in the state are allowed to wear at least 400 square inches of the required pink or orange color in body parts like chest, back and head. They can also wear an orange or pink cap of the required inch size according to this regulation.

Hunters that are harvesting deer in the legal deer firearm season must wear the minimum 400 square inches required of the pink or orange color either on their head, chest, or back.

Hunters that take games from stands or elevated floors in private lands areas of the state do not need to follow the dressing requirement. But there is an exception if private land allows the use of hunting firearms. In this case, they must adhere to the minimum 400 square inches for the orange or pink color to be worn on their head, back or chest when they are going to the stand or elevated floor, and when they are coming down.

Archery hunters that are taking games on hunting lands that do not permit the use of firearms are not required to abide by the dressing regulation.

Hunting Bag Limits in West Virginia

Hunters must abide by the bag limit for the game they want to take and the hunting season they are a part of. Bag limits are enforced to restrict the number of specific game animals that can be taken in a hunting season.

Bag limits may either be daily or seasonal, based on the type of animal. Daily bag limits will restrict the number of games that can be taken within a day. Seasonal bag limits will restrict the number of games that can be taken within the start date and ending date of a hunting season.

Bag limits are defined by the West Virginia Department of Wildlife and Fishery, and they vary based on the number of species that are available for that year. Violating bag limits will carry penalties which could be a fine or license revocation.

Open Carry While Hunting in West Virginia.

Open carry during hunting is legal in West Virginia. Also, while bow hunting, you can make use of any caliber of firearm.

West Virginia Hunter Harassment Law

West Virginia also has hunter harassment laws for the protection of such activity within the state.

Nobody, in the state, shall involve in activities, on wildlife and in waters owned by the government or private individuals, where a license for hunting activities is available to carry out the following:

  • Disturb lawful hunting of wildlife animals by hunters, or aquatic animals by fishermen, to prevent the taking of such animals.
  • Disturbing animals in the wild by engaging in activities or erecting a barrier that will affect animal behaviors in such a way that interferes with hunting.
  • Disturb any hunter or fisherman that is lawfully carrying out his or her activity with the intention to dissuade or discourage them from carrying out such activity.
  • Trespass of any wildlife or aquatic body with the intention to violate any section of the hunter harassment law.
  • Trespass on any unnavigable water body that is privately owned, with the intention to hunt any animal without gaining permission from the landowner.

West Virginia Hunting License, Permits, and Tags

West Virginia hunting licenses are issued based on the age and residency or applicant, there are also licenses available for military members. Permits and tags are issued to give hunters access to take specific game animals.

West Virginia licenses, permits, and tags available in the state include the following:

Basic Season License

This license will allow holders to take games in various hunting seasons in West Virginia. However, you cannot make use of this license to take big games. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $15 and $150 respectively.

Big Game License

This license will allow the taking of various big games during their hunting season. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $14 and $150 respectively.

Bow Hunting License

Hunters that want to make use of archery to take games in West Virginia must purchase this license. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $10.5 and $26.

Primitive Firearm Hunting License

Hunters that want to make use of primitive firearms to take games in West Virginia must purchase this license. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $10.5 and $26.

LA Duck License

Hunters that want to take LA ducks must first purchase this license. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $5.5 and $25.

Federal Electronic Duck Stamp

To take migratory fowls and ducks in West Virginia, you need to purchase a federal electronic duck stamp. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $27.22.

Wild West Virginia Stamp

This stamp is compulsory for anyone that does not have a valid West Virginia license and wants to hunt or fish in the state. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $9.5.

One Day Wild West Virginia Stamp

This stamp is compulsory for anyone that does not have a valid West Virginia license and wants to hunt or fish in the state. It is valid for one day and available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $2.

Senior Hunting and Fishing License

This is a combination license available for senior residents of West Virginia. The age requirement to apply for this license is at least 65 years. It costs $5.

  • WMA Hunting Permit

To gain access to some Wildlife Management Areas in West Virginia, you need to obtain a WMA hunting license. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $15.

  • Small Game and Migratory Bird Permit

This permit allows holders access to hunting small games and migratory birds in the state. It is only available for non-residents, and it is valid for 1 day. It costs $29.

  • Deer Hunting Permit

This permit allows holders access to hunt deer in West Virginia. It is only available for non-residents, and it is valid for 1 day. It costs $36.

  • Turkey Hunting Permit

This permit allows holders access to hunt turkeys in West Virginia. It is only available for non-residents, and it is valid for 1 day. It costs $36.

  • Hunting Preserve Permit

Hunters with this permit will be allowed access to hunting preserves in West Virginia. The license is always available from the 1st of October to the 30th of April. It is only available for non-residents, and it is valid for 1 day. It costs $15.

  • 5 Days Native Basic Trip Permit

This permit is only available to non-residents and it is valid for 5 days. The permit allows them to take various games except for big games. It costs $15.

  • 5 Days Native Big Game Trip Permit

This permit is only available to non-residents and it is valid for 5 days. The permit allows them to take various only big games. It costs $14.

  • 5 Days Native Bow Trip

This permit is only available to non-residents and it is valid for 5 days. The permit allows them to take part in archery season. It costs $10.5

  • 5 Days Native Primitive Firearm Trip

This permit is only available to non-residents and it is valid for 5 days. The permit allows them to take part in primitive firearm seasons. It costs $10.5

  • 5 Days Native Turkey Trip

This permit is only available to non-residents and it is valid for 5 days. The permit allows them to take various only turkeys. It costs $14.

  • 5 Days Native Duck Trip

This permit is only available to non-residents and it is valid for 5 days. The permit allows them to take various only ducks. It costs $5.5

West Virginia Fishing Licenses, Permits, and Tags

Fishing licenses, permits, and tags available in West Virginia include the following:

Hook and Line Fishing License

Residents that want to harvest fishes with hook and line need to purchase this license. It is not available for non-residents. It costs $2.5

Basic Fishing License

People that want to fish in various West Virginia water bodies need to purchase this license. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $9.5 and $60 respectively.

Saltwater Fishing License

This license allows holders to harvest fishes in salt waters in West Virginia. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $13 and $30 respectively.

One Day Basic Trip License

This fishing license is valid for one day. It is available for non-residents at a cost of $5.

One Day Basic Saltwater License

This fishing license is valid for one day. It is available for non-residents to harvest fish in salt water at a cost of $17.5.

Cans and Buckets Fishing License

To harvest fishes with cans and buckets in West Virginia, you must purchase this license. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $10 and $40 respectively.

  • Crab Trapping Permit

To trap crabs in West Virginia, you must obtain a crab trapping license. The required number of crap to be harvested for this license is 10. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $15 and $60 respectively.

  • Crawfish Trap Permit

To trap crawfish in West Virginia, you must obtain a crawfish trapping license. The required number of crap to be harvested for this license is 35. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $15 and $60 respectively.

  • Slat Trapping Permits

To trap slats in West Virginia, you must obtain a crab trapping license. The required number of fishes to be harvested for this license is 5. It is available for residents and non-residents at a cost of $20 and $80 respectively.

West Virginia Hunting Season

West Virginia hunting seasons are based on the game animals and the hunting weapons used to take them.

The 2020/21 hunting season for various wildlife in West Virginia includes the following:

West Virginia Deer Hunting Season

  • Archery Hunting Season (19th of September to 31st of January)
  • Muzzleloader Hunting Season (10th of October to 31st of January)
  • Firearms Hunting Season with No Dogs (17th of October to 24th of January)

The various seasons for deer hunting in West Virginia are different for the state hunting zones. Hunters should confirm specific dates for their hunting season from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

West Virginia Wild Turkey Hunting Season

  • General Hunting Season (2nd of April to 2nd of May)
  • Youths and Disables Hunting Season (27th of March to 28th of March)

West Virginia Small Game Hunting Season

  • Raccoons Hunting Season (Open Season)
  • Opossum Hunting Season (Open Season)
  • Bobcat Hunting Season (Open Season)
  • Squirrel Hunting Season (3rd of October to 28th of February and 1st of May to 23rd of May)
  • Rabbit Hunting Season (3rd of October to 28th of February)
  • Quail Hunting Season (21st of November to 28th of February)

Bag limits for small games vary based on the animal. Hunters are to visit the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources website to learn about the bag limits for games that they want to take.

West Virginia Wildlife Games and Fishes

Wildlife and games found in West Virginia include the following:

West Virginia Deer Hunting

There are plenty of white-tailed deer in West Virginia, and the state sustains them for hunting pretty well. This is why white-tailed deer is the most common game taken by hunters in the state. They are well distributed in the state and you can find them in almost all areas, including some coastal locales.

West Virginia Turkey Hunting

Turkey hunting in West Virginia is more common today than it was in past decades. Wild turkeys are distributed in almost all parts of the state and can be found in every suitable habitat. 

West Virginia Duck Hunting

Duck hunting in West Virginia takes place in wetland areas of the state like ponds, rivers, and lakes. Hunters with access to wildlife refuge areas can also hunt ducks there. Ducks tend to stick to the shallow part of water bodies.

West Virginia Dove Hunting

Mourning Dove hunting in West Virginia is very common, and it is the most popular species of dove found in the state. They can be found in trees where they perch or even on phone cables outside residential areas. They also roam the grounds a lot, especially when looking for food.

West Virginia Bobcat Hunting

The only wildlife area where bobcats can be found in West Virginia is the West Virginia bobcat refuge. Bobcats inhabit wooden areas of the state and are only the species of wildcat found in West Virginia.

West Virginia Raccoon Hunting

Raccoons are well distributed in West Virginia and this is because they can survive in most habitats of the state. You can find them in thickly forested areas, woodland regions, and pine areas. Hunters recognize raccoons because of the black mask on their face and their tails’ distinctive yellow and black color.

West Virginia Shooting Ranges

Some of the shooting ranges open to public use in West Virginia include the following:

  • Putnam County Gun Club.
  • Sleepy Creek Sports.
  • Savannah Lane Shooting Association.
  • Wadcutters.
  • White Horse Firearms and Outdoor Education Center.
  • Sportsman's Gun Club.
  • Oak Flat Sport Ranges.

West Virginia Hunting Land for Sale and Lease

Hunting lands for sale in West Virginia include the following:

  • 213.44 acres for nice hunting located approximately 25 minutes from Leon, Mason County.
  • Albright, West Virginia (Preston County), 42 acres.
  • Terra Alta, West Virginia (Preston County), 215 acres.
  • 116 acres located approximately 45 minutes from Huntington and a little over an hour from Charleston, Branchland Lincoln County.
  • Tunnelton, West Virginia (Preston County), 76.5 acres.
  • Milam, West Virginia (Hardy County), 8.1 acres.
  • Augusta, West Virginia (Hampshire County), 21 acres.
  • Proctor, West Virginia (Marshall County), 237 acres.

Hunting lands for lease in West Virginia include the following:

  • 12 members needed for Yearly membership due by June 30th for hunting land lease in Fayette county, 2600 acres.
  • 300 Acres Hunting Leases available in Hardy County West Virginia.
  • 145 acres for lease in Jefferson county for only archer hunting for deer, turkey ducks, and predators.
  • Hunting lease available in 130 acres, Upshur county with Treehouse for 2 people hunting privilege. Woodstove to keep warm, no electricity.
  • 58 acres on Courtney Ridge in Wirt county with great access to wooded sites.

West Virginia Public Hunting Lands

Public hunting lands in West Virginia include the following:

  • 6000 Acres in Lincoln county for hunting Turkey, Predator and Exotics.
  • 388 Acres in Webster county for hunting Duck and Exotics.
  • 3061 Acres in Fayette county for hunting Turkey, Dove, Duck, and Predators.
  • 85 Acres in McDowell county for hunting Whitetail Deer, Turkey, and Exotics.
  • 7531 Acres in Wayne county for hunting Whitetail Deer, Turkey, Dove, Duck, Predator, and Exotics.
  • 6202 Acres in Mineral county for hunting Whitetail Deer, Turkey, Predator, and Exotics.
  • 7061 Acres in Putnam county for hunting Whitetail Deer, Turkey, and Exotics.
  • 6202 Acres in Mineral county for hunting Whitetail Deer, Turkey, Predator,  and Exotics.
  • 242 Acres in Marshall county for hunting Whitetail Deer, Turkey, Duck, Predator, and Exotics.
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