West Virginia Guide for Beginner Hunters

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Some hunting seasons in West Virginia have already begun, and deer season is right around the corner. If you’re new to the woods, here are some tips from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources that can help you have a successful first hunt.

When are the seasons?

Squirrel and bear seasons have already started in West Virginia for 2022, but most hunters in the state are looking forward to deer season. Deer bow season begins September 24, gun season begins October 20, and buck season begins November 21. The fall turkey season also begins in October. The dates for the seasons are determined by the Natural Resources Commission each year, so the dates for 2023-2024 and so on will be slightly different. Dates for all seasons in 2022-2023 can be found here.

What license do I need?

Obtaining a hunting license in West Virginia can get quite complicated. Those who want to kill deer need at least a hunting and trapping license (Class A) and a conservation stamp, which would cost $24 plus a processing fee. Hunters between the ages of 19 and 64 can purchase a Class X license, which includes Class A, B, and BG license clearances and the conservation stamp for $35 plus a processing fee.

All persons born on or after January 1, 1975 must either pass a certified hunter education course before purchasing a basic hunting license or be approved for the learner’s hunting license which does not require the course. A full list of valid license combinations is available here.

West Virginia also offers lifetime hunting licenses for $805 for adults. Some unique and even free licenses are also available for military, veterans, children (under 15), and over 65s.

Information on how to obtain a hunting license in West Virginia can be found here.

What is a baggage limit?

Each season has a limit for the number of deer hunters can take – per day per season – and the number a person can possess at a time. For example, bear hunters can harvest a maximum of one bear per day during the season and a total of two bears during each season. Squirrel hunters can take up to six per day during the season with no total season limit.

For deer, it’s a bit more complicated. In general, deer hunters can take two deer per day during buck season as long as one of the deer is antlerless, but deer limits vary depending on the county you are hunting in. Specific limits can be found on pages 15-17 and 20 of this document. Some public land areas also have unique limitations which can be found on pages 18-19. During male season, the season limit is one per day during the season and two per season in total.

If you wish to harvest more than the bag limit, your license stamps must be purchased before the start of the season. More information on additional stamps can be found here.

where to hunt

Many hunters in the state hunt on their own land or are granted permission to hunt on the land of other residents, but the state also has public hunting grounds, including 92 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) which make up 8% of West Virginia’s land. The West Virginia WMA Usage Rules are available here.

Before you go hunting, you should…

  • Shoot your weapon before the start of a season with the same arrows or ammunition you plan to use while hunting. Changing the weight of the arrows or the bullet weight of an ammunition could dramatically affect accuracy.
  • Check gun sights to make sure they haven’t been bumped or moved during storage.
  • If you are bow hunting, check the bow strings for frays and the bow arms for cracks. If either breaks during a draw, there is a risk of serious injury.
  • If you hunt with a bow, make sure the broad points are sharp, which will facilitate a quick and ethical kill.
  • Check all tree stand and safety harness straps for wear and replace anything that shows signs of fraying.

You should also make sure that you pack everything you will need. The WVDNR has recommended the following packing list to ensure you are ready for your hunt.

  • West Virginia Hunting License
  • Appropriate firearm
  • Appropriate clothing for hunting
  • Change of dry clothes
  • A water bottle with extra water
  • A rain jacket in case of rainy days
  • A small backpack
  • Solar cream
  • Insecticide

You have one ! Now what?

After harvesting an animal, it must be registered and tagged in the field. Registration can be done online using your DNR number; this will give you a game registration number, which should be written on a piece of paper or a lot tag along with your name, address, date and time of the murder and the county in which it took place, then attached to the animal. For deer, it is usually placed in the animal’s ear.

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