Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9AM-5PM M-F

TTY 711

4500 West Ox Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Dr. Katherine Edwards,
Wildlife Management Specialist

Department Resources

Individual Archer Standards

Archer Standard Operating Procedures 2019-2020

Mission: The mission of the Fairfax County Deer Management Program is to reduce the deer population in selected Fairfax County and Regional Parks without confrontation or incidents with park patrons. Sustainability of deer harvests in developed areas will depend on mutual respect between hunters, park visitors and nearby residents.  

Method: To foster a high level of respect among park users and archers, Fairfax County sets high standards for archer skills and behavior. Archers are responsible for complying with and Group Leaders are responsible for enforcing the following Standard Operating Procedures.

Operating Procedures

1. Archers must pass a criminal background check.  Disqualifying convictions include, but are not limited to, any type of child exploitation violation, domestic violence, weapons charges, game violation, animal cruelty or any felony. Archers must have successfully completed a hunter safety course – OR - be exempted from this requirement ("grandfathered in") by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Archers must have completed the International Bowhunter Education Program safety course.

2. Sunday hunting is not permitted in this program.  Hunters who violate this rule will immediately be removed from the program.

3. Baiting of any kind, before or during the season is not permitted in this program.  Hunters who violate this rule will immediately be removed from the program and reported to the VDGIF.

4. Removal of trees is prohibited. Hunters who violate this rule will immediately be removed from the program

5. Each member of a Group will harvest deer only in their assigned park(s) and will have on their person or inside their vehicle the following documents when in the park(s):

  • Valid Virginia Hunting license
  • Valid Virginia  Deer/Turkey license (aka: Big Game license)
  • Valid Virginia Archery License
  • Archery Group ID & lanyard must be worn on the outside of clothing by all archers while entering and exiting the park, during any scouting, set-up or take down activities and when tracking any wounded deer.  It’s not necessary to wear the ID outside of clothing while in a stand.
  • Archery Vehicle Parking Pass
  • VDGIF Deer Population Reduction Program (DPOP) Tags

6. Archer’s unique ID number (first letter of last name followed by the last four numbers of the archer’s driver’s license) must be visible on all arrows, tree stands, and game/trail cameras.

7. Vehicle parking will be in designated parking areas. Parking passes will placed on the dashboard and clearly visible from the outside. It is suggested that the archer’s ID number be written on the parking pass.

8. Earn-A-Buck (EAB) is in effect per VDGIF Regulations. All deer taken in Fairfax County count for the EAB program.  During a license year, it shall be unlawful to take a second antlered deer in Fairfax County prior to taking at least two antlerless deer in Fairfax County, and it shall be unlawful to take a third antlered deer in Fairfax County prior to taking at least three antlerless deer in Fairfax County.

9. After retrieving a deer:

  • Archers must notch a deer tag (DPOP or Personal Tag) before moving the deer.
  • Personal tags will be used for antlered bucks except distressed or diseased animals as approved for harvest by Sergeant Earit Powell. Antlered bucks can only be harvested from the first Saturday in October through the first Saturday in January in accordance with VDGIF regulations. 
  • Deer must be moved from public view before field dressing. Gut piles are to be left in the woods away from the public and, preferably, covered with leaves or buried.
  • Archers must call “I Got Game” (1-866-GOT GAME or 1-866-468-4263) or go to the Internet (www.HuntFishVA.com) to check their deer and get a VDGIF confirmation number.  Deer harvested in the parks are considered to be on private land. Archers must record the confirmation number on their tag. One DPOP tag per harvest is to be used, you cannot document multiple harvest on any one tag. 
  • Archers must cover harvested deer completely while transporting.

10. Each archer will keep an accurate log of their participation to include:

  • Date
  • Cluster, Park and, as required by their group leader,  sector
  • Activity start and end times from vehicle departure until return to  vehicle before leaving the park
  • Number of deer observed from the start of your activity until the end
  • Number of shots taken
  • Number of arrows retrieved
  • Number of deer shot
  • Number of deer retrieved
  • Sex & age (fawn, yearling, adult) of deer retrieved
  • Disposition of each deer (archer, landowner, Hunters for the Hungry, private charity).
  • A brief narrative describing any significant events or observations that influenced your behavior in the field or that might be interpreted as a violation of these rules.
  • Enter log/harvest information within 24 hours of the end of each harvest attempt.

11. Archers will submit an Incident Report as soon as possible for:

  • Non-retrieved deer (incident form for unrecovered deer must be submitted by end of the hunt day)
  • Lost arrow
  • Poaching
  • Hunter injury
  • Theft or damage of equipment
  • Archer harassment or sabotage

12. Any change in, or update to, an Incident Report will be reported through the Incident Update Form. 

13. Archers must report any question or violation of these Operating Procedures to their Group Leader.

14. Safety harnesses, attached by some means to the tree, are required and will be used from the time the archer leaves the ground until the archer returns to the ground. Screw in steps or similar devices that damage trees are not permitted. The use of “life ropes” is highly encouraged.

15. Harvest attempts will be accomplished from elevated tree stands. Hang on, climbers, tripods, and ladder stands are permitted. The desired minimum tree stand height over level terrain is 10 feet. Tree stands must not be located closer than 100 feet from any property line where the adjacent property is not a part of the approved Archery Program boundaries or closer than 50 feet from a park trail. There is no hunting within this 100 or 50 foot buffer. While adjacent to off-limit County property, archers may place their stands up to the edge of the park boundary as long as they face the approved park. It is the responsibility of the hunter to make sure they are aware of all property lines and park trails when setting up their tree stands. No shots are to be taken where the arrow or bolt will impact outside of the Park property line. Ground blinds may not be used in any park within the Fairfax County Archery Program.

16. While archers are on the ground, arrows and bolts will be quivered (not knocked on the bow string or in crossbows).  For safety, all arrows or bolts taken into the harvest area must be accounted for before leaving the area. Taking a shot from the ground is strictly prohibited for any reason.

17. Deer are the only animals to be harvested. Shots of twenty-yards, or less, are encouraged to increase the probability of quick kills. Archers must identify targets with 100% certainty.  They may not take shots at moving deer.  Shots must be limited to broadside and quartering away shots only – no head, neck, or rump shots.  If a deer is wounded and not recovered, it will be reported immediately to the Group Leader and in the Incident Report option of the Activity Log.

18. Game/trail cameras are permitted. Filming/taping of harvesting activities is not permitted.

19. Every effort will be made to recover wounded deer. Utilizing the scope on any bow to scan an area while on the ground is strictly prohibited.  Any action you take while on the ground that places you in a shooting position is also strictly prohibited.  If you need to scan the area while tracking a deer or scouting an area needs to be done with some sort of binoculars or other device. If a deer leaves the authorized park area and goes on private property, landowner permission to recover the deer will be obtained before recovering the deer. If a landowner refuses permission to recover a deer, the archer will call the FCPD Animal Protection Police or Conservation Police Officer and inform the Group Leader. Recovery permission is already granted for wounded deer that travel off of the park and onto other County property.

20. If an archer must remain in their assigned park more than 60 minutes after sunset to recover a deer, they must call the police non-emergency number 703-691-2131 and notify the dispatcher.  The archer should also notify their Group Leader. 

21. Establishing good public relations with park patrons and nearby residents is critical. Archers are not required to make contact with the public and are encouraged to remain unseen. In case of confrontation archers may provide park patron with their archer ID number and Sgt. Powell’s office number (703) 324-0280. They should then disengage, notify their Group Leader and report the incident in the Activity Log. If the archer feels their personal safety is threatened, they should call the Fairfax County Police at the non-emergency number 703-691-2131 or, if it is serious enough, 911. All media inquiries should be referred to Dr. Katherine Edwards 703-246-6868 or Sergeant Earit Powell. Archers should make sure that parking areas are clean of trash.

22. Individuals Violating the Law:

If poachers are observed, archers should immediately call the police at 911. Signs of poaching should be reported by archers in the Incident Report section of the Activity Log.

Attempted sabotage or interference of harvest activities should be reported through the police non-emergency number.

A detailed description of everything observed to include GPS coordinates, compass bearings and license plate numbers should be recorded as quickly as possible to help police identify the individuals and vehicles involved. Archer should not confront any of these individuals. Cell phone videos of these instances are permitted and have proven to be invaluable. 

23. Distressed or Diseased Animals – In the event that an injured, distressed or diseased animal needs to be put down, your Group Leader and Sergeant Earit Powell or Animal Protection Police must be called for permission to harvest the animal.  Any antlers should be removed and provided to Sergeant Earit Powell.  Deer harvested under these conditions should be reported on a DPOP tag.  If given permission, the injured, distressed or diseased animal shall not be shot while the hunter is on the ground. As indicated above, shots can only be taken from an elevated tree stand. 

24. Disciplinary Actions: Violations of program rules, regulations or guidelines, unsportsmanlike behavior and/or incidents that could discredit the Fairfax County Deer Management Program will be immediately reported to the Group Leader and Sergeant Earit Powell.  Group Leaders will deal with each incident and determine what actions/restriction(s), if any, will be taken/imposed with regard to the individual(s) involved.  These can range from temporary suspensions to termination from the Group.  All decisions by the Group Leader and approved by Sergeant Earit Powell are final and may not be appealed.  Actions taken by the Group Leader in the name of the Group may or may not be independent from actions taken by Fairfax County or the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

25. Acceptance: An archer’s acceptance of DPOP tags constitutes agreement to abide by all laws, regulations, procedures, and teachings set forth by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the County of Fairfax, and the Group Leader.

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