What deer population control options are available for Fairfax County residents on Private Property?
Currently, the Fairfax County Deer Management Program only implements deer population control on public lands, primarily county and regional parks, which represent <20% of total county acreage. The county program does not currently coordinate hunting on private property which also provides refuge and food that sustains deer and contributes to unregulated growth of white-tailed deer populations. Reduction of deer densities to more sustainable, healthy levels to minimize human-deer conflicts in urban areas is likely to require coordination of hunting on both public and private lands within Fairfax County. Population control options are available to residents on private properties in Fairfax County and are regulated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
Firearms Use on Private Property
There are strict firearms restrictions in Fairfax County. A private property owner must have 20 acres or larger property in Appendix J area of Fairfax County to legally discharge a firearm. Property owners must post the perimeter of their property where shooting will take place and ensure that anyone hunting on their property (other than the property owner or family) has written permission or be able to prove they are allowed to be hunting.
A valid hunt permit, kill permit (year-round) or Damage Control Assistance Program (DCAP) permit must be obtained from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Below are general local firearm ordinances for hunting on private property in Fairfax County:
No rifles larger than .22 for hunting.
No hunting with firearms of game species from within 100 yards of a road.
All rifles, pistols, or shotguns loaded with slugs prohibited for any hunting.
It is unlawful to feed deer September 1st through the end of the hunting season in Virginia, which is the last Sunday in April for Fairfax County.
Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline: (855) 571-9003 (toll-free), 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday
Archery Use on Private Property
Archery has been shown to be a safe and effective deer management tool to control deer populations on public and private lands in urban and suburban environments. Hunting on private property is overseen by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and is separate from the Fairfax County Deer Management Program that is operated by the county on public lands. The DWR sets the hunting seasons and bag limits within Virginia and has authorized archery deer hunting on private lands in Fairfax County during the Urban Archery Season, Early Archery Season, Firearms Deer Season (archery tackle allowed; strict firearms restrictions apply in Fairfax County), and a Late NOVA Archery Season. According to DWR regulations, bowhunters may legally hunt on private property in Fairfax County from the first Saturday in September through the last Sunday in April. All hunting must be conducted in accordance with county and state laws and regulations.
General information and restrictions for Fairfax County is provided on the DWR website:
Hunters must abide by all VA state laws, hunting regulations, and local ordinances. Hunters are required to have a valid big game license, archery license, and crossbow license (if applicable).
Property owner must provide written or verbal consent to grant permission for a bowhunter to hunt deer on private property.
It is prohibited to discharge an arrow in a manner reasonably expected to result in the impact of the arrow upon the property of another without permission from the property owner or tenant.
The ground should be used as a backstop (e.g. hunting from a tree stand or elevated platform).
There is no minimum parcel size (acreage) required for a landowner to permit a bowhunter to hunt deer on the property. The property owner should consider notifying adjacent neighbors, as a courtesy, before hunting due to the proximity of residences and small parcel sizes.
Hunters are obligated to make every reasonable attempt to retrieve a wounded deer. Hunters must obtain permission from other landowners to track or retrieve deer from a neighboring property.
Hunters are not permitted to charge for their services. Hunters must provide own equipment.
There are many archery groups, clubs, and associations in Fairfax County. It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure only the most qualified bowhunter(s) is permitted on their property. Bowhunters with superior skill, ethics, and experience can efficiently and discreetly hunt deer in areas where firearm use is restricted or prohibited.
A list of archery groups and associations is provided below as an information resource. Fairfax County does not endorse the use or services of any individual bowhunter, archery organization, or archery group for deer management on private lands. In addition, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has developed the DWR Hunter Finder (H-Finder) Application to help connect landowners with hunters to assist in meeting their deer management goals. This application is a tool for landowners to identify and initiate communication with hunters that are willing to hunt on their property.
Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern VA, Inc.