4,400 acres of public land open for deer hunting

Published 10:48 am Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WAKEFIELD—There are new hunting opportunities for folks in Western Tidewater.

Last summer, two state agencies acquired 4,400 acres of pine forest near Wakefield, which is inhabited by white-tailed deer, eastern wild turkeys and bobwhite quail.

Interest in hunting this public land during this first season is increasing, said Phil West, Region 1 Land and Facilities Manager for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

“Things are going well,” West said. “We were real surprised at the amount of archery hunters in here in October. We’ve had a lot of calls about the place.”

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Department of Forestry acquired the property, commonly known as Big Woods, from The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy purchased the land from International Paper in 2006.

Funding for the $6.4 million acquisition came from a $4.1 million Virginia land conservation bond. U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program provided $900,000; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program, $550,000; and the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, $850,000.

Big Woods straddles the Nottoway and Blackwater River watersheds. Each agency manages half of the property.

Hunting regulations and seasons are generally the same as those for Sussex County. No rifles are permitted for deer hunting, but hound hunting is allowed. Muzzleloaders are permitted during a special muzzleloader season

The gun season is under way in Sussex County and runs through Jan. 1. The bag limit for deer is two a day, six a license year. Of the six-deer limit, no more than three may be bucks and at least three must be doe.

Hunters are not required to report deer kills, so West isn’t sure how well they are doing.

“I haven’t heard either way, but one staff member saw the harvest of a nice buck,” he said.

Anyone hunting the 2,200 adjoining acres managed by the Department of Forestry has to buy a state forest stamp, which can be done online. West believes the stamp is $16.

The Big Woods Wildlife Management Area is at 32775 Cedar Sign Post Road, Wakefield. Take Route 460 to Wakefield. Turn south on route Courtland Road and travel one mile. Turn west on Brittles Mill Road.

For more information, call (804) 829-6580.