Hunting in some form is legal in all 50 states. Just like with most states, the Commonwealth of Virginia has rules governing permits, locations, safe practices, and much related to hunting.
If you are younger than 16 or if you are 16 or older and obtaining a license for the first time, you must also complete a hunter education course.
Here is what happens if you get caught hunting in Virginia without a license: you will be required to…
- Pay a fee equal to the cost of the license.
- Pay up to $500 in fines as decided by the judge.
- Purchase a license before hunting again.
The offense is a Class 3 Misdemeanor and will remain on your record. If you purchase a hunting license before going to court, the judge is not allowed to let you off the hook with the fines/charge; the law requires the punishment be carried out regardless.
If you are caught hunting in Virginia without carrying your license, or if you cannot provide it to any officer who asks for it, that is a Class 4 Misdemeanor and will remain on your record. The fine is up to $250 as determined by the judge.
There are three major safety hunting laws in Virginia. They deal with:
- Hunting under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Reckless handling of firearms
- Blaze color requirements
Hunting under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Is it illegal to drink while hunting? No, but proceed with caution: it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor if you are convicted of hunting while under the influence of
- drugs (including legal narcotics)
- a combination of alcohol and drugs
A Class 1 Misdemeanor is punishable by up to $2,500 and up to 1 year in jail. Check out this Virginia hunting law for the complete list of weapons prohibited while under the influence.
Reckless handling of a firearm
The law states that it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor for “any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.”
If you handle a firearm recklessly and injure or impair someone permanently and significantly, you will be charged with a Class 6 Felony.
A Class 6 Felony is punishable by up to $2,500 and up to 1 year in jail OR 1 to 5 years in prison. Check out the law for further information, including rules about license revocation for reckless handling of firearms.
Virginia blaze orange requirements
In order to be visible to other hunters, anyone hunting during deer season must wear blaze orange or blaze pink. The Virginia hunting regulations state:
During any firearms deer season […] every hunter and every person accompanying a hunter shall
(i) wear a solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink hat, except that the bill or brim of the hat may be a color or design other than solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink, or solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink upper body clothing that is visible from 360 degrees,
(ii) display at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink material at shoulder level within body reach visible from 360 degrees, or
(iii) when hunting from an enclosed ground blind, display at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink material visible from 360 degrees attached to or immediately above a blind.
Anyone not following these laws is subject to a $25 fine. There are some exceptions to this rule; check out the law for the complete list.
REVOCATION OF LICENSE
The first time you are found guilty of violating VA hunting regulations, you pay the penalty fee or serve the time. But if you are found guilty of violating a hunting law twice within three years, you will be prohibited from hunting or obtaining a new license for 1 year. At the court’s discretion, that can be extended up to 5 years.
If you are caught hunting, fishing, or trapping while you have been banned from doing so, the court will find you guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor and may extend the ban for 1 to 5 years longer.
A Class 2 Misdemeanor means you will be sentenced with a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail.
Hunting on someone else’s land in Virginia
Some private property owners allow hunting on their grounds, some do not, and some allow it only in certain places. Before you go hunting on private property in VA, you should be absolutely sure it is allowed.
If you hunt on private property where it is clearly labeled that hunting is prohibited, then you could be found guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If you hunt on property where it is not labeled, you could pay a fine of up to $500.
If you are hunting by special permission on private property, it’s a good idea to keep written permission (hard copy or electronic) on you just in case anyone questions your right to be there.
Hunting on your own land in Virginia
But what if it’s your own property? You might be thinking, “Can I shoot a gun on my property in Virginia?” The answer is “yes,” as long as it is in a secluded location, and you and the target are more than 100 feet from any occupied structure.
Another question we hear is, “Do you need a hunting license to hunt on your own property?” or, “Can you hunt on your own land?” Yes, you can hunt, game, fish, and trap on your own property without a license.
OTHER RULES & REGULATIONS
For a comprehensive list of other hunting rules and regulations, including hunting hours, the answer to “Can you hunt on Sunday in VA?”, and hunter education requirements, see the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
From the sheer amount of Virginia hunting regulations, you can tell the Commonwealth takes it seriously. You should always do your best to follow all the laws, but if you are caught or charged with breaking hunting laws, don’t hesitate to contact Cook Attorneys today.
We have local defense attorneys standing by, and we offer free consultations. Visit our website or fill out the form below to schedule an appointment today.