Archery In Fairfax County


Why is archery used as a method to control the deer population in Fairfax County?

Archery has been shown to be a safe and effective deer management tool to control deer populations on public and private lands in Fairfax County and other high-density jurisdictions. Qualified bowhunters with superior skill, ethics, and experience are able to efficiently and discreetly hunt deer in areas where firearm use is restricted or prohibited, or not an effective or sustainable deer management tool. There are strict firearms restrictions in Fairfax County.

Archery is the primary deer management tool used in Fairfax County to help manage high density deer herds at:

  • Selected Fairfax County Parks
  • Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge
  • Fort Belvoir
  • Private property


Deer in Yard

Should park visitors at public parks selected for the Archery Program be concerned about public or personal safety?

No. Archery is one of the safest, most efficient, and sustainable methods for deer population control on public and private property in Fairfax County. Since Virginia began tracking hunting injuries in 1959, no bystanders have been injured by an archer hunting deer anywhere in the State.  Park users likely run higher risks driving their cars to our parks than they do walking through a park during the Archery Program Season. 

Authorized archery hunting activity in Fairfax County Park Authority and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority properties is closely monitored by the Fairfax County Police Department with the assistance from the Park Authorities. Archery groups are assigned to hunt specific parks.  Each group is lead by an experienced leader and alternate leader.  Every archer assigned to one of the groups must pass a target proficiency test every two years using the same equipment they hunt with.  Group leaders and archers are bound by Standards which are enforceable by group leaders and the Fairfax County Deer Program Manager.  Each archer carries a list of specific procedures and rules of conduct to be followed during hunts. 

How long has archery been used as part of the Fairfax County Deer Management Program?

Archery was first approved as a deer management tool by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in October 2000. Archery has been re-approved as a deer management tool each year. Managed half-day archery hunts were conducted in fiscal year 2002 and 2003 with limited success.  A pilot Archery Program was developed by the Fairfax County Wildlife Biologist in collaboration with Fairfax County Park Authority in fiscal year 2010 at two parks.

The Fairfax County Archery Program was successfully implemented and now in its sixth season. The FY2014 harvest yield was 848 deer from 27 park sites. The wounding rate (deer hit by an arrow but not retrieved) was 3.66% (31 of 879 deer) and lower than that of nighttime sharpshooting or public managed hunts.

Letter from the Governor About Archery

Excerpt from a letter sent to a Fairfax County resident by Molly Joseph Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources of the Office of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia on August 27, 2014.

“Regulated hunting is considered to be the most practical and cost-effective means to control free-ranging deer populations in most settings. Hunting is also strongly supported by the public (75%-80% in recent national surveys). Since 1960, there have only been five archery incidents statewide involving a victim other than the hunter, the last one occurring in 1996.

Archery hunting is compatible with other land uses, including parks and residential areas. No safety incidents have been reported during the urban archery season, which started in 2002 and now includes 42 cities, towns, and counties throughout the Commonwealth. It is noteworthy that several of the larger, more populous localities participating in this season (e.g., the City of Richmond, Fairfax County) have reported no safety incidents despite having no acreage or distance minimums for discharge of archery equipment. Fairfax County allows archery hunting on private parcels, resulting in over 1500 deer killed each year and utilizes archery hunting in community parks because of the inherent safety of this method. Last year, 848 deer were safely removed from the parks by over 800 hunters that participate without the need to close the parks to the public during the hunts.

Hunters utilize tree stands which allow the hunter to engage the target from above. The resulting downward trajectory of the arrow means that the ground acts as a natural backstop. Additionally, archery tackle is only effective at short range, which means that the hunter is close to the target, allowing clear views and easy identification of the target. These two factors combined result in the exceptional safety record archery hunting has amassed.”

Who can provide additional information about the Fairfax County Deer Management Program?

Fairfax County welcomes your questions.  If you have questions, concerns or comments, please contact the Program Manager Sergeant Earit Powell at 703-324-0280. You may also directly email Sergeant Earit Powell at earit.powell@fairfaxcounty.gov

The Fairfax County Police Department works closely with the Fairfax County Park Authority, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and other stakeholders to implement the Fairfax County Deer Management Program each year. 

 


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