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General Regulations
2014-2015 Hunting Regulations

Trapping | Archery | Tagging and Transporting | HANDGUN Laws and Regulations | When License or Permits are not Required | Dog Training | Mandatory Hunter Education and Identification Requirement | Point System for Hunting Violations | Sunday Hunting | Coyote Hunting | Reporting Hunting Law Violations | National Forests | National Wildlife Refuges | Wildlife Management Areas and State Forests | 2015 Regulations Meeting Schedule | Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses Information (Class AH, AHJ, AAH and AAHJ)


It is illegal to:

  • hunt in state parks (except as otherwise designated), in safety zones in state forests or wildlife management areas, and in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
  • shoot, hunt or trap upon the fenced, enclosed or posted lands of another person without having in possession written permission from the landowner.
  • have a crossbow with a nocked bolt, a loaded firearm or a firearm with an attached magazine from which all shells have not been removed in or on any vehicle or conveyance (including ATVs) or its attachments. You can have a loaded clip or magazine in the vehicle as long as it is not in or attached to the firearm. Exception for concealed weapons permit holders (see page 6).
  • carry an uncased or loaded firearm in the woods, except during open firearms hunting seasons. It is legal to hunt unprotected species of wild animals, wild birds and migratory game birds during the open season in fields, waters and marshes.
  • hunt with a fully automatic firearm.
  • hunt small game in counties having a buck firearms season during the first three days of this season. It is legal to hunt waterfowl during this period on lakes, rivers, and waterways during the open waterfowl season, to hunt bear in specified counties, and to hunt coyotes.
  • hunt deer, bear or boar between ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before sunrise or with an electronic call.
  • be afield with a gun and bow, or with a gun and any arrows, except for concealed weapons permit holders (see page 5).
  • carry an uncased gun or crossbow in or on a vehicle or conveyance between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. E.S.T. from October 1 – June 30; and between 8:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. E.S.T. from July 1 − September 30; provided, time periods can be extended for one hour before or after times established above if transporting uncased gun or crossbow to or from a hunting site, campsite, home or other place of abode.
  • carry an uncased or loaded gun after 5 a.m. on Sunday in counties which prohibit Sunday hunting except as provided in the trapping regulations.
  • shoot a firearm within 500 feet of a school, church or dwelling, or on or near a park or other place where persons are gathered for pleasure; provided, a resident or guest of a dwelling may shoot a firearm within 500 feet of the dwelling where the person lives, if all residents of the dwelling consent and no other dwellings are within 500 feet.
  • hunt while under the influence of alcohol.
  • for anyone under the age of 15 to hunt on public land or the lands of another unless accompanied by a licensed adult, at least 18 years of age, who remains near enough to render advice and assistance (see exception for youth seasons pages 32 and 35).
  • hunt or fish with a modified bow without a special permit issued by the Director.
  • get out of a motor vehicle along a public road and shoot a bow, crossbow or firearm unless you are at least 25 yards from the vehicle.
  • shoot at or to shoot any wild bird or animal unless it is plainly visible.
  • shoot at a deer or boar while it is in water.
  • hunt or conduct hunts for a fee where the hunter is not physically present in the same location as the wildlife being hunted.\
  • use or take advantage of artificial light in hunting, locating, attracting, or trapping wild birds or wild animals while in possession or control of a firearm, whether cased or uncased, bow, arrow, or other implement suitable for taking, killing or trapping a wild bird or animal. However, artificial lights may be used for taking coyote, fox, raccoon, skunk and opossum, provided the lights are not attached to or used from a vehicle or other land conveyance. Coyotes and fox may be hunted using any color artificial light in open season (see pages 2 and 7). No person shall be guilty of using an artificial light to look for, at, or attract a wild bird or animal, unless in possessionof a firearm, whether cased or uncased, bow, arrow, or other implement suitable for taking, killing or trapping a wild bird or animal, or unless the artificial light (other than the headlamps of a vehicle or other land conveyance) is attached to, a part of, or used from a vehicle or other land conveyance.
  • smoke wildlife from its den or place of refuge except as provided by law or regulation.
  • hunt with a crossbow or have a crossbow afield except that Class Y and Class YY permit holders may hunt with a crossbow in established archery seasons.
  • catch or kill, or attempt to do so by seine, net, bait,  trap, deadfall, snare, or like device, any bear, game bird, protected bird or mammal, or wild boar.
  • bait or feed bear at any time.
  • hunt or shoot at wild animals or birds from an airborne conveyance, from a vehicle or other land conveyance,  from a motor-driven water conveyance, or from or across a public road, unless specifically authorized to do so by law or regulation. You may shoot from a motorized watercraft if the motor has been completely shut off and progress from the motor has ceased.
  • use poisons, chemicals or explosives in taking any furbearing animal, game animal, game bird or protected song and insectivorous bird, provided that groundhogs may be controlled on private land by landowners, their resident children or resident parents, or a resident tenant from April 1 ‒ September 30.
  • use shot larger than No. 4 or solid ball ammunition, except for .22 caliber or smaller centerfire during the buck deer season in the four counties closed to the buck season.
  • hunt between ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before sunrise with any firearm larger than .22 caliber centerfire, a shotgun using solid ball ammunition or shot shells larger than No. 2 shot.
  • dispose of animal carcasses by dumping them along any public road or highway.
  • bait or feed any wildlife on public land between September 1 and December 31 and during the spring gobbler seasons.

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Trapping Regulations

A trap is a device used to catch and hold animals and includes box traps, body gripping or killer-type traps, foot or leghold traps, encapsulating traps and snares.

No traps shall be set before 8 a.m. on the first day of the season or either set or left set after 12 noon on the last day of the season.

All traps MUST be checked and tended daily.

Traps previously and legally set may be tended after 5 a.m. on Sunday, if the person so doing shall have no firearm greater than .22 caliber rimfire in possession.

Nonresidents must possess a valid Class E, XXJ, AAH or AAHJ license and a CS/LE stamp to trap.

All traps used for taking game or furbearing animals shall be marked with a durable plate or tag attached to the snare, trap or trap chain bearing the owner's name and address.

A person who unintentionally traps and kills more than the season bag limit shall deliver excess animals to a Natural Resource Police officer within 24 hours.

West Virginia trappers will be allowed to sell live foxes to hound coursing pens in West Virginia during the 2014-2015 trapping season. All foxes used in hound coursing pens must be live- trapped in the county in which the pen is located.

Foot snares are legal when the snare loop:

  1. does not exceed 6½ inches in diameter.
  2. is at ground level.
  3. is horizontal to ground level.

Terrestrial body-gripping snares are legal when the snare:

  1. has a relaxing-type lock system with a breaking point of 350 pounds or less or a stop with a minimum loop diameter of at least 2 inches.
  2. is set with an average loop diameter not greater than 15 inches.
  3. is anchored at the trap site.

It is illegal to:

  • have in possession an untagged beaver, bobcat, otter or fisher pelt or parts thereof, after 30 days following the close of the respective season.
  • set deadfalls for taking wildlife.
  • set or use foothold traps with an open inside jaw spread of more than 6½ inches unless the trap is used underwater.
  • set traps or trapping devices in human foot trails or livestock paths.
  • set body-gripping or killer-type traps with an inside jaw spread of more than 5 inches, as measured between striking surfaces of jaws when set for terrestrial trapping. These types of traps may be used in water sets.
  • set spring pole snares.
  • use exposed animal or bird carcasses or parts thereof to bait an animal to a trap set that is within 50 feet of the carcass. Animal or bird carcasses or parts thereof that are completely covered and concealed from sight may be used as a lure at the immediate trap site.
  • trap on fenced, enclosed or posted lands of another person without written permission of the landowner.
  • take beaver, fisher, mink, otter or muskrat by any means other than by trap.
  • use steel jaw traps with any teeth on or attached to them.
  • set a trap, trapset or snare upon a tree, post or other natural or man-made object at any point more than three (3) linear feet from the surface of the earth (whether such surface is water, soil or rock) measured at right angle from the surface to the trap or trapset. Traps may be set on natural earthen mounds, such as ant hills or muskrat houses, constructed without human assistance.
  • set traps during the month of March for the taking of beaver unless the traps are in water.
  • trap in state parks, in safety zones located in state forests and wildlife management areas, in Harpers Ferry NHP and on National Park Service land within the New River Gorge NR.
  • trap on a WMA or State Forest without obtaining a permit from the District Wildlife Biologist.

Tagging and Shipping Requirements

Bobcat hunters and trappers and otter trappers should obtain a plastic Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) seal for each bobcat and/or otter pelt they plan to sell out of state. All bobcat and/or otter pelts being sold by licensed fur dealers must have a CITES seal from the state where the animal was harvested before being sold on the international market. CITES seals are only available at DNR offices (see inside front cover).

Trappers shall present beaver*, bobcat, otter and fisher pelts to a game checking station or DNR representative within 30 days after the close of the respective trapping season. The official game checking tag provided by the DNR shall be attached and remain attached to each beaver, bobcat, otter and fisher pelt until it has been sold, tanned, processed into commercial fur or mounted.

A person may not ship or transport any raw furs, pelts, or skins of wild furbearers outside of the state unless such shipment has a special shipping tag visibly attached. Shipping tags must be obtained from the DNR. One part shall be attached to the outside of the package or container and the other part completed and returned to the DNR within 24 hours of shipping furs out of state.

The dealer or buyer of raw furs, pelts, or skins of furbearers in this state shall have a dealer's license and shall submit to the Director a completed fur dealer transaction report as provided by the Director.


The DNR is requesting river otter trappers turn skinned carcasses in to a District DNR office (see inside front cover) or a local DNR representative. Data collected from carcasses will be used to refine population models
used by biologists to monitor river otter populations and guide future management decisions.

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Archery Regulations

Nonresident bow hunters, except holders of Class DT licenses, must possess a Class EE license, and Class CS/LE and DS stamps to hunt bear.

For bow fishing, a resident or nonresident is required to have a valid fishing license.

A bow, but not a crossbow, may be substituted for a firearm during any season for which firearms are legal except during muzzleloader firearms deer seasons.

A Class Y or YY permit allows a qualified, physically  challenged person to hunt with a crossbow during designated archery seasons.

It is illegal to:

  • have a gun and bow afield together, except that persons who have a concealed weapon permit may carry a concealed handgun for self-defense only.
  • have a crossbow with a nocked bolt in or on any vehicle or conveyance or its attachments.
  • carry an uncased crossbow in or on a vehicle between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. E.S.T. from October 1 – June 30; and between 8:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. E.S.T. from July 1 – September 30; provided, time periods can be extended for one hour before or after times established above if transporting uncased gun or crossbow to or from a hunting site, campsite, home or other place of abode.
  • hunt with a crossbow except for the holder of a Class Y or YY permit during designated archery seasons. A crossbow must have
    • a draw weight of at least 125 pounds.
    • a working safety.
    • bolts at least 18 inches long.
    • broadheads with at least two edges at least ¾-inch wide.
  • hunt wild turkey, bear, deer or boar with arrows having less than two sharp cutting edges, measuring less than ¾ of an inch in width.
  • use an arrow with an explosive, drug-laced or poisoned head or shaft.
  • have a bow in the woods during closed seasons on game animals and non-migratory game birds.
  • use dogs while bow hunting for black bear except when the use of dogs is legal during the bear firearms season (this exception is only for counties where dogs are legal – see pages 39).
  • hunt with a locking device capable of holding a bow at full draw, except with a modified bow permit issued by the Director.
  • bow hunt on state parks (except as otherwise designated) and wildlife refuges, Harpers Ferry NHP, and safety zones on state forests and wildlife management areas. All wildlife refuges are appropriately posted.

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Tagging and Transporting

Refer to deer, bear, wild turkey, boar and trapping sections for specific tagging and transporting requirements.

No persons may transport or possess wildlife killed by another hunter, unless the wildlife or parts thereof is accompanied by a paper tag filled out legibly bearing the signature, address, date of kill, hunting license number (if required) and the official game checking tag number (if required) of the hunter who killed the wildlife. The tag shall also specify the species and quantity of wildlife.

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HANDGUN Laws and Regulations

Individuals who possess a valid concealed carry permit may carry a concealed handgun while afield hunting, hiking, camping, fishing or in or on a motor vehicle for purposes of self- defense only.

Only persons 21 years old or older are eligible for a Class A-1 stamp.

Only revolvers or pistols having a barrel at least 4 inches in length are legal for hunting.
While hunting, the licensee shall carry the revolver or pistol outside his/her outer clothing, in an unconcealed and easily visible place.

A revolver or pistol may be used only during established hunting seasons. Only single-shot muzzleloading pistols of .38 caliber or larger are legal for hunting deer during the muzzleloader season.

It is legal to hunt groundhogs in open fields with a revolver or pistol.

It is illegal to:

  • take migratory game birds with a pistol.
  • hunt between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise with a revolver or pistol larger than .22 caliber centerfire.
  • hunt bear, deer, or wild boar with a revolver or pistol using a straight-walled case of less than .357 agnum cartridge or a bottle-necked case of less than .24 caliber.
  • hunt bear, deer or wild boar with a muzzleloading pistol of less than .38 caliber.

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When Licenses or Permits are not Required

  1. Resident landowners or their resident children or their resident parents or resident tenants of such land, may hunt or trap on their own land without a license during open seasons (see definition of resident landowner privileges on page 9).
  2. Residents honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces receiving total permanent service connected disability benefits or former prisoners of war as determined by the Veterans Administration or resident disabled veterans who qualify under West Virginia Code 17A-10-8 and are exempted from payment of a motor vehicle registration fee by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, may hunt or trap without a license during open seasons. Such individuals shall carry on their person an identification card issued by the Director. Some additional stamps may be required (see pages 10 and 41).
  3. Ohio residents who carry valid Ohio hunting licenses may hunt waterfowl on the Ohio River and its embayments or tributaries to points identified by the Director or from the West Virginia banks of said river without obtaining West Virginia licenses, and West Virginia residents who carry valid West Virginia hunting licenses may hunt waterfowl on Ohio River embayments or tributaries to designated points in Ohio or from the river's banks in Ohio without obtaining Ohio licenses. Ohio hunting laws apply to residents of Ohio and West Virginia while hunting or fishing from Ohio banks or in Ohio embayment areas. West Virginia hunting laws apply to residents of Ohio and West Virginia while hunting on the Ohio River proper or from West Virginia banks and embayment areas.
  4. Residents 65 years of age or older, who have attained that age prior to January 1, 2012, do not need a license to hunt or trap, but shall carry a WV driver's license or WV photo ID card issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles (see page 41). Residents who have not reached their 15th birthday may hunt without a license but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult who remains near enough to the youth to render advice and assistance. Some additional stamps may be required (see pages 10 and 41).
  5. West Virginia residents on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, while on military leave, may hunt or trap in season without obtaining a license. Leave papers shall be carried while hunting or trapping. Some additional hunting stamps may be required (see pages 10 and 41).
  6. Persons participating in field trials permitted by the Director shall not be required to have a hunting license.
  7. Persons under 16 years of age do not need a migratory waterfowl stamp.

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Dog Training

Persons training dogs shall not have a firearm or other implement for taking wildlife in their possession during closed seasons on wild animals and birds. Persons participating in dog training must have a hunting license.

A person may not be guilty of hunting without permission just because their dog, without their direction or encouragement, travels onto another person's land where they do not have permission to hunt, providing no game is taken, livestock or domestic animals killed or damage done to that property. Dogs may not be retrieved without the landowner's permission.

No person, other than the owner of a registered dog, may remove a tag, collar or other identifying apparel, nor remove or turn off a radio transmitting collar without the permission of the owner unless it is necessary to prevent or treat an injury to the dog, or is done by a law enforcement officer for law enforcement purposes.

Residents may train dogs and hold field trials on wild animals and birds on public lands or on private land with the landowner's written permission at any time. Prohibitions on Sunday hunting also apply to dog training. Dogs may not be trained on deer or wild turkey.

Nonresidents may train dogs during any open small game hunting season, or if their state offers WV hunters reciprocal dog training privileges, they may train dogs on raccoons from August 15 through February 28. See additional information on bear dog training on page 37.

Bird Dog Training

A permit may be obtained to train dogs on pigeons or commercially pen-raised quail on private land if training during a closed season and if birds are being killed.

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Mandatory Hunter Education and Identification Requirement

No base hunting license may be issued to a person born on or after January 1, 1975, (exemption - see Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses information below) unless the person presents to the license agent: a certificate of satisfactory completion of a Hunter Education Course approved by the Hunter Education Association or the Director, or the previous years resident or nonresident WV hunting license bearing certification, or attests to certification when purchasing a license online. Persons who purchase a lifetime hunting license before their 15th birthday must complete a certified hunter education course before using the license.

A person may not legally hunt unless he/she has on his/her person: a) the proper licenses, stamps or permits, b) a photo ID, and c) proof of hunter safety certification (if required).

Hunters who have lost their hunter education card may obtain a duplicate from their local DNR District Law Enforcement Office. Applications for duplicate cards are available at license agents or www.wvdnr.gov. The fee is $10.

Hunter Education Classes Information

Contact the WVDNR District Office closest to you or visit www.wvhuntered.com or www.wvdnr.gov and follow the Hunter Education prompts.

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Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses Information (Class AH, AHJ, AAH and AAHJ)

Persons who wish to try hunting and/or trapping without taking a hunter education course may buy an Apprentice Hunting License, which can only be purchased online at www.wvhunt.com (see page 41).

No one who has ever had a base hunting license may buy the Apprentice License. No person can buy more than three Apprentice Licenses, and those purchases must be made within five consecutive years. A hunter who buys the Apprentice Hunting License must possess all other required documentation and stamps while hunting and must be directly supervised by a licensed adult.

See page 42 for license fees.

Point System for Hunting Violations

Persons found guilty of negligent shooting of humans or livestock will have their hunting licenses revoked for five years.

For bear hunting violation penalties see page 36.

Persons making false application for a license will have their license privileges suspended for one year.

Points are assigned for other hunting violations:

10 points use of spotlight with firearms or other implement.
6 points illegal possession or sale of wildlife or illegally killing deer, boar, or turkey.
6 points hunting from a motor vehicle.
4 points all other hunting violations.

When a person accumulates 10 or more hunting and/or fishing violation points combined, his/her licenses will be revoked for a period of two years.

Points will be removed on the second anniversary or upon restoration of the license.

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Sunday Hunting

In any county where Sunday hunting has not been prohibited by local election, Sunday hunting is legal on private land  only with written permission of the landowner. Hunting is prohibited on any Sunday (November 23, 2014,
December 7, 2014 and April 26, 2015) preceding the Monday opening of a big game season.

For a current list of counties open to Sunday hunting, visit www.wvdnr.gov/Hunting/SundayHunt.shtm or check with your county DNR officer or county clerk.

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Coyote Hunting Regulations

Coyotes may be hunted year round.

Hunting coyotes at night using any color artificial light is legal from January 1 through July 31.

Firearms legal for night coyote hunting are shotguns with #2 or smaller shot and rifles and handguns of .22 caliber centerfire or smaller and .22 caliber rimfire or smaller.

During closed small game season, coyotes may only be hunted in open fields. Guns must be cased while being transported to and from the open field.

Electronic calls are legal.

There is no daily, annual or season bag limit.

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Reporting Hunting Law Violations

In progress – dial 911

Not in progress – call your DNR District Law Enforcement Office during normal operating hours or online at www. wvdnr.gov/LEnforce/Poachers.shtm.

  1. Observe and write down all of the information concerning the violation.
  2. Don’t confront the violator.
  3. Contact a local Natural Resource Police Officer or county communication center as soon as possible.

Become involved in protecting your sport, be willing to testify in court.

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National Forests

National Forests are managed under cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service.

  1. Each wildlife management area on the national forests contains interspersed private land within its boundaries. Written permission is required on all private land before hunting, fishing or trapping.
  2. Contact each National Forest for current rules and regulations applicable to the WMA areas.

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

5162 Valleypointe Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019
(540) 265-5100
Toll Free: 1-888-265-0019

Monongahela National Forest

200 Sycamore Street
Elkins, WV 26241
Voice and TDD: (304) 636-1800

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National Wildlife Refuges

A free refuge hunting permit is required to hunt on the National Wildlife Refuges in West Virginia. Please contact the appropriate National Wildlife Refuge to obtain a permit and for rules and regulations governing hunting and fishing;

Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge
3982 Waverly Road
Williamstown, WV 26187
(304) 375-2923

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
6263 Appalachian Highway
Davis, WV 26260
(304) 866-3858

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Wildlife Management Areas and State Forests

Rules and regulations governing hunting and trapping on state owned and leased lands are the same as on adjacent private lands except as follows:

  1. Trapping permit, available from District Wildlife Biologist, required on all areas.
  2. It is illegal to bait or feed any wildlife on public land between September 1 and December 31 and during the spring gobbler seasons.
  3. Beech Fork Lake, Bluestone Lake, Burnsville Lake, Green Bottom, Hillcrest and McClintic WMAs and Calvin Price and Coopers Rock State Forests — Hunting only in accordance with special rules established for the area (see pages 12, 16-17, 27, 29 and 31).
  4. WMAs and state forests with camping areas require a permit and fee (see regulations posted at each area).
  5. Camping is lawful ONLY in designated areas.
  6. Use of ATVs and snowmobiles is prohibited. All- Terrain Vehicle (ATV) means any motor vehicle designed for off-road use not subject to the vehicle registration requirements of Chapter 17A of the West Virginia Code.
  7. Driving a vehicle, ATV, or snowmobile so as to harass or chase wildlife is prohibited.
  8. Maximum speed limit for vehicles on WMAs and state forests is 30 miles per hour, unless otherwise posted. All traffic signs and directions must be observed.
  9. Driving a vehicle in a manner which creates a nuisance to other persons by repetitive or continuous cruising is prohibited.
  10. Class Q/QQ hunting access is available on some WMAs. Contact the District Wildlife Biologist for more information or check online at www.wvdnr.gov under Disability Services.
  11. Only portable tree stands may be used on public lands.

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Regulations Meeting Schedule

March 16, 2015

Fairmont, Flatwoods, Harrisville, Princeton, Martinsburg, and Milton

March 17, 2015

Elkins, Fayetteville, Glen Dale, Logan, Moorefield, and Parkersburg

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