State Trad Bowhunting Orgs > VIRGINIA - Traditional Bowhunters of Virginia

VA Hunters MUST Read About Deer Dogs

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Virginia allows deer hunting with dogs during firearm season in the eastern 2/3 of the state.
In a nutshell Virginia's current laws allow the use of dogs (any kind and number) to be turned loose on permitted land (any size) and then "hunters" can wait on permitted land for the deer to run by.

Most all of you are familiar with the many problems this causes. The dogs will run miles away and screw up uncountable other hunters. In most counties the firearm season is longer than the bow season. Dogs can be run virtually all year (including bow season) if they are in "training". Deer turn nocturnal where dogs are common, screwing up bowhunters. Non-hunters see the "hunters" (aka deer herders) lined up on the sides of public roads and mistakenly believe that this is how most hunters pursue deer hunting. If you tune in to the CB channel that a hunt club is using it sounds like a war battle. Your efforts to improve your hunting land with food plots and the like are ruined by dogs running deer away.

Perhaps the worst part is that the dogs are ALLOWED to go anywhere without any responsibility of the dogowners. On top of this any person can wander anywhere they choose (even if posted) if he says that he's looking for a dog. He doesn't have to even own a dog. Even on private posted land you can't know who else is on the property. You can't even make them leave your own land.

In the last three years Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina (not quite done yet) have enacted legislation to control deer dogs with the use of permits and penalties if the dogs leave the permitted land.


The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is currently considering changing laws regarding the use of deer dogs. Public input is encouraged up until the deadline of June 15. The website's link is  

Please let your opinion be known by posting on their website.

A common argument made by the dog hunters is that the use of dogs allows for a greater harvest keeping down deer numbers so that car/deer accidents are minimized. My opinion is that deer being chased by dogs CAUSE more accidents.

Dog hunters also say that they contribute more to the economy. I disagree because I own over a dozen treestands and hunt a good deal from the ground too.

Dog hunters insist that bow hunters wound more deer. I've personally found way too much buckshot in the deer I've killed to believe this. After a deer herder unloads five loads of buckshot if the deer doesn't die within sight they simply assume that they missed.

The dog hunters commonly also mistreat their dogs but let's not bring this up too much or else we'll sound like bunny huggers.

I'm sure that you've experienced these problems and others too.

Please respond briefly to this message and then respond in a longer letter to the DGIF's website.

Thank you

I fully agree with Elkstabbers views on dog use in VA.  Please stop by the link he provided, and give your feedback regarding this extremely important item.
All the best,

I generally agree with Elkstabbers portrayal of dog hunters but I have known the exceptions.  A few times in my younger days I hunted with a family that used short legged beagles to get deer to move.  These dogs moved slowly and the deer slowly grazed 200 yards in front of the dogs.  We used these dogs to push deer pine thickets too hard for a man drive towards standing hunters.  I also admit that this style is the exception rather than the rule.  I have had nothing but problems with hunt clubs that "hunted" the adjacent properties where I hunted in eastern VA.  Road hunting, shooting at us!, vandalism, and false reports to game wardens.  All because we stand hunt without dogs and will shoot deer their dogs run on our property.

   The reason that I'm torn though is that the origin of our dog hunting is our English heritage and their tradition of using dogs in hunts, since we were an English colony.  I guess I'm being unrealistically romantic about the issue and the reality bears no resemblance to that image.

I have added my comments as follows:

The abuses do not warrent the continuation of this type of hunting.  Sadley, we must police our own from within.  The actions of a few can be detimental for all types of deer hunting.  People and times have changed, so must the laws.  Hunting is not a right, it is a privilege.  Privileges can be altered or taken away by the voting population.  Dog hunting has become a hunting black eye.  It does far more harm than good.  I have seen the abuses and I think if everyone here has also.  It's time to end dog hunting for deer.


This is a SORE subject. I love to hunt. I belong to 2 different hunting clubs that use dogs during the general firearms seasons. One is a huge supporter of community Fire Department and Little League Teams and helps with fundraisers and sponsorships without any profit to the Hunt Club. I fully understand the concerns involved with dog hunting but also know that there is strength in numbers. We are all hunters and need to stick together to maintain our priviledge to hunt. Most of these Houndsmen take great pride in their dogs and if not allowed to use them would probably not hunt. If they are not hunting then why would they be worried about a small majority of still hunters being allowed to do so?

 I have had a many a bowhunt screwed up by a dog. But it doesnt happen all of the time. I also have enjoyed listening to the "music" so to speak and still participate in organized deer drives. Don't get me wrong, I Love to bow hunt but enjoy firearms too.   Just be careful what you wish for, it may look good in the beginning but later down the road could mean a bitter end to hunting altogether.


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