WV Hunting Season Should Be Protected Tradition

by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

On Nov. 25, approximately 290,000 West Virginians will head to the woods for the opening day of buck gun season. It is a tradition for many West Virginia families that is passed from father to son and mother to daughter.


The annual hunting season also is one of the most visible ways that West Virginians actively practice their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Our Office regularly works with the Division of Natural Resources and the Legislature to protect hunters’ rights, as well as the rights of law-abiding gun owners who do not hunt.


Earlier this year, we were involved in a rule change that permits hunters to harvest up to two deer a day, with only one of those being an antlered deer, before being required to check them in.  Our Office also reviewed a law change that, for the first time, allows law-abiding firearm owners to engage in lawful recreational shooting within 500 feet of their homes, so long as the shooter obeys all other laws and no other dwelling houses are located within 500 feet of the shooting activity.


The Office also has worked diligently to expand the number of states that recognize West Virginia concealed handgun licenses. So far this year, we have reached reciprocity and mutual recognition agreements pertaining to CHLs with five states, bringing the total number of states in which West Virginia licenses are recognized to 36. We are working to secure additional agreements with other states all the time.


We also work within the court system to advocate for legal gun owners and ensure their constitutional rights are protected. In February, West Virginia joined with 19 other states in a “friend of the court” brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a New York statute requiring a person to show a particular need to obtain a permit to carry a firearm outside the home. The law was upheld by an appellate court, which said the Second Amendment’s core protections do not extend outside of the home. In the brief, the attorneys general argued the decision was troublesome because it concluded the Second Amendment’s protections end at a person’s front door. While the Supreme Court opted to not hear that particular case, it is expected that the Court will weigh in on similar cases in the future. When that happens, our Office will be there to defend citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms.


As West Virginians head to the woods for buck season, we encourage everyone to be safe.


•        The woods will be crowded, so all hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of visible blaze orange during any deer firearm season.

•        Make sure you have appropriate written permission if hunting on private land. Do not trespass.

•        Hunters in tree stands should use appropriate safety harnesses and climbing belts.

•        Always make sure you know what you are shooting at, and what is beyond your target, before you pull the trigger.

•        Let people know where you are hunting and take your cell phone even if the area doesn’t have reliable reception.

•        If you aren’t in physical condition to carry out a deer, ensure that you have a friend or family member who can help you if necessary.


Hunting season is a wonderful time in West Virginia, and hundreds of thousands of residents cherish owning guns for sport, hobby, or self-protection. Our job is to make sure those rights are protected year round.


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