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Monday, August 29, 2016

Deer hunting season starts Sept. 10 in Fairfax County parks

A deer on the Cross County Trail in Accotink Stream Valley Park.
Fairfax County’s deer management program begins Saturday, Sept. 10, and runs through, Feb. 25, 2017. The program is aimed at reducing the deer population in designated parks mainly through the use of archery.

Bow hunting is allowed in several parks in the Annandale/Mason District area:
  • The Lake Accotink Cluster includes Lake Accotink Park, Wakefield Park, Americana Park, and Long Branch Stream Valley.
  • The Accotink Stream Valley Cluster consists of seven parks, including the Accotink Stream Valley, covering 656 acres, and the much smaller Eakin Community Park and Eakin Park (Mantua section).
  • Several Annandale/Mason area parks – Holmes Run Stream Valley, Lillian Carey Park, Mason District Park, and Roundtree Park – are in the Huntley Meadows Cluster, which includes the 933-acre Huntley Meadows Park off Route 1 in Alexandria.
According to Katherine Edwards, Fairfax County’s wildlife management specialist, “the name of the cluster itself is arbitrary. We could assign them as Cluster 1, Cluster 2, etc. but have kept the area names for simplicity sake. Huntley Meadows is the largest park in this cluster, which is why we kept the name.”

In addition to bow hunting, the county’s deer management program includes sharpshooting events by law enforcement officers at night in designated parks. 

Sharpshooting is scheduled to occur again this year at Annandale Community Park and Green Spring Gardens.

In a change from last year, sharpshooting will be carried out at Bren Mar Park and Turkey Cock Run Stream Valley in Mason District instead of bow hunting, Edwards says.

Bow hunting is allowed from elevated tree stands in approved sites Monday through Saturday from 30 minutes prior to sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Tree stands must not be located closer than 100 feet from property lines or closer than 50 feet from established park trails.

Florescent orange signs are posted in parks where hunting is authorized. Hunters are required to park in designated areas and wear official ID cards.

The deer management program is supervised by the Fairfax County Police Department in collaboration with the Fairfax County Park Authority and Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

The objective is to minimize the safety and health hazards related to an overabundance of deer, including deer-vehicle collisions, the potential spread of diseases, and environmental damage caused by deer.

Organizations opposed to deer hunting, however, believe there are more humane and more effective methods of controlling the deer population, such as sterilizing female deer.

Archers allowed to participate in the bow-hunting program must meet state hunter education and safety requirements, pass a marksmanship test, pass a criminal background check, and meet other criteria.

According to the county, there have been no injuries related to archery reported by bystanders anywhere in Virginia since the state began tracking hunting injuries in 1959. Fairfax County’s bow hunting program started in 2010.

During the 2015-16 deer hunting season in Fairfax County, a total of 1,142 deer were killed, the vast majority (1,052) by archery. Another 54 deer were killed during sharpshooting events and 36 during managed hunts.

Here are the deer harvest totals from last year for parks in the Annandale/Mason area:
  • Accotink Stream Valley: 19
  • Annandale Community Park: 16
  • Bren Mar Park/Turkeycock Run Stream Valley: 23
  • Eakin Park (Mantua section): 5
  • Eakin Community Park: 6
  • Green Spring Gardens: 6
  • Holmes Run Stream Valley: 1
  • Lillian Carey Park: 6
  • Long Branch Stream Valley: 11
  • Mason District Park: 0
  • Roundtree Park: 15
  • Wakefield Park/Americana Park: 8


  1. It is not reasonable to put everything except for the main trails off-limits for nearly half the year. How are we even supposed to know which trails are considered main trails?

    Deer hunting should only be for one or two months at a time in each park. It can be staggered so that there is always a park with deer hunting somewhere in the area during the Sept-Feb time period.

    1. Isn't reasonable to expect people to stay on established trails anyway? I'd do that even if there wasn't bow hunting going on.

  2. There are lots of trails in the woods. It is not clear which ones are considered "established." A hunter wouldn't necessarily know about any particular trail.

    You know a trail is "established" if it is paved, but the paved trails have cyclists, which make them inconvenient for walking a dog, for instance.

  3. Apparently even the deer are smarter in Mason District. Can't wait for Penny to crow about that.

  4. Glad to see no deer were killed at Mason District Park, at least. The way of the future for control of animal populations is BIRTH CONTROL. Spaying is labor-intensive, but a number of for-profit and nonprofit organizations are working on methods that use a single injection that causes sterilization, or by using a chemical that can be placed in food.