White-tailed deer are the most sought after, big game species in West Virginia. Every year, more than 200,000 resident and non-resident hunters take to the woods to hunt whitetails. White-tailed deer are found in every county and in every habitat in the Mountain State. The opportunities to hunt whitetails in West Virginia are as diverse as the habitats in which they live. Hunters can pick the type of hunting experience they are looking for and cater their hunt to meet their needs.
Deer seasons in West Virginia span more than four months. The intensity of the hunt can range from urban, backyard hunts in some of our cities and homeowners associations to a true wilderness experience on one of our two national forests. Hunters can also explore one of 96 state-owned or leased wildlife management areas that encompass over 493,000 acres.
For hunters looking for an opportunity to harvest an older buck, West Virginia has seven wildlife management areas designated as “older-age deer management areas.” Bucks on these areas need to have a 14-inch outside antler spread to be legal for harvest. In addition, West Virginia has four counties that are designated “archery-only” for deer hunting, where large-antlered bucks are harvested each year.
For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
The growth and expansion of the black bear population in West Virginia is one of the state’s greatest conservation success stories. In the early 1970s, black bears were limited to parts of ten of the eastern mountain counties and believed to number fewer than 500 individuals. Changes to hunting seasons based on field research coupled with maturing forests have allowed the black bear population to expand across the mountain state. Current population estimates put West Virginia’s bear population near 15,000 animals, and bears have been harvested in 53 of 55 counties in recent years.
West Virginia offers some of the most liberal bear hunting opportunities in the lower 48 states. Bear seasons begin in late August and continue until early January the following year. For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
The growth of West Virginia’s wild turkey population is another conservation success story. Wild turkeys had become restricted to the most remote regions of the eastern mountain counties, following the wide-scale logging and subsequent fires that were common in the state during the first two decades of the 1900s. Early wild turkey research revealed wild-trapped birds were far superior to pen-raised stock for establishing wild turkey populations. The first trapped wild birds were released on Coopers Rock State Forest in 1950 and helped establish turkey population.
Trapping methods improved over time and became highly efficient with the use of mortar and rocket-propelled nets. Wildlife biologists and managers trapped and released hundreds of wild turkeys in suitable habitats around the state. By 1989, West Virginia had finished its trap-and-transfer program with turkeys successfully established in all 55 counties.
Turkey hunting opportunities are plentiful in the Mountain State. For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
European wild boar were released in the Spruce-Laurel drainage of Boone County in the spring of 1971. The animals were originally released to provide the people of southern West Virginia with a big game species to hunt when deer, bear and turkey were scarce. Although it was believed that the animals would spread wildly like feral swine around the country, these animals never strayed far from their original release area.
A hunting season for wild boar occurs in Boone, Logan, Raleigh and Wyoming counties. Hunting is limited to West Virginia residents. For specific hunting season dates, bag limits other information, go the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.
Five ways you can help protect wild woodland box turtles
When was the last time you saw a box turtle in the wild? Did you, like so many of us, enjoy watching its slow, steady plod through the grass? Were you treated to the sight of a turtle stretching its…
WVDNR highlights habitat and stream restoration project in Monongahela Forest
GLADY, W.VA. — More than 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the Monongahela National Forest is being restored thanks to a collaborative project between the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and United States Forest Service. The work is being…
What you can do to help West Virginia’s official butterfly
The next time you notice a monarch butterfly, with its brilliant orange and black wings rimmed with white dots, take a good long appreciative look. Monarchs used to number in the billions. Since 1976, the world population of monarch butterflies…
40,700 pounds of trout stocked in 38 waters throughout West Virginia
The year might be coming to an end, but there’s still plenty of fish to catch in West Virginia. In October, we stocked more than 40,000 pounds of trout in 38 waters around the state. The final trout stocking of…
Updated license system makes buying license and checking game easier
Buying a hunting and fishing license and checking game in West Virginia just got a lot easier thanks to our upgraded electronic licensing and game check system.
Second split of WV’s fall turkey season to open Oct. 25
West Virginia’s second split of the fall wild turkey hunting season will open in select counties on Oct. 25. The first fall season, which included all 55 counties, opened on Oct. 9 and closed on Oct. 17. “The first week…
2022 West Virginia Wildlife Calendar available to purchase
In advance of the holiday shopping season, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is reminding hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to purchase their copy of the 2022 West Virginia Wildlife Calendar while supplies last. The popular and award-winning calendar…
Want to get your art featured in the WV Wildlife Calendar? Here’s how.
If you’re an artist who’s painted popular game or fish species or other West Virginia wildlife such as snakes, frogs, turtles, salamanders, bats, songbirds, small mammals or non-game fish, the WVDNR is seeking artwork for next year’s calendar and offering…
Trout stockings return to West Virginia lakes and streams Oct. 18
Don’t pack up your fishing gear just yet. Fall trout stockings return to nearly 40 lakes and streams around the state starting Oct. 18. Fall trout stocking only lasts two weeks, so make sure you plan a trip while there’s…
Why you need to buy RB/RRB stamps before the deer archery season
The start of West Virginia’s 2021 deer archery season is Sept. 25, which means time is running out to purchase your hunting license and RB/RRB stamps if you want to harvest additional deer. Hunting licenses and stamps can be purchased…
West Virginia’s archery/crossbow seasons start Sept. 25. Get ready with this preseason checklist.
If you’ve spent the last few weeks anxiously waiting for the fall hunting seasons to start, your patience is about to be rewarded because West Virginia’s archery/crossbow seasons for deer, bear and wild boar open on Saturday, Sept. 25. If…
WV State Parks reconstructing original gateway entrance at Coopers Rock
An iconic wooden gateway that welcomed visitors to Coopers Rock State Forest in the 40s and 50s is being reconstructed as part of a series of improvements at the popular state forest. The project is a collaboration between the West…