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Friday, September 8, 2017

Deer hunting program in parks starts Sept. 9

Signs like this one are posted in parks where deer hunting is allowed.
The Fairfax County deer management program begins Saturday, Sept. 9, and runs through Feb. 24, 2018.

During that period, teams of bowhunters that have been approved by Fairfax County will be allowed to shoot deer in designated parks.

In the Annandale/Mason District area, deer hunting is allowed in these parks: Holmes Run Stream Valley, Roundtree, Mason District, Lillian Carey, Accotink Stream Valley, Eakin, Eakin Community, Long Branch Stream Valley, Lake Accotink, Accotink Stream Valley, and Deerlick. See the map for boundary details.

Parks remain open to the public during the archery program. Bowhunting in designated parks is limited to Monday through Saturday, from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Bowhunters must carry program ID cards stating they are certified by the county.

The use of hunters to reduce the white-tailed deer population started in 2010 to minimize hazards related to an overabundance of deer, such as deer-vehicle collisions, the potential spread of diseases, and environmental damage.

Bow hunters are required to shoot from elevated tree stands that must be at least 100 feet away from property lines and at least 50 feet from established park trails. Archers who violate the rules could be suspended from the program.

To be approved for the program, archers must meet state hunter licensing, education, and safety requirements; must meet certain qualifications to demonstrate skill and marksmanship; and must pass a criminal background check. Beginning this year, archers also must have completed a course through the International Bowhunter Education Program.


  1. I'm hardly enamored of the prospect of having numerous deer "harvested" in the the most barbaric manner available. Until you've seen deer carrying crossbow bolts and arrows, you cannot imagine just how imprecise bow hunting really is. Making the county complicit in this practice merely compounds the outrage.

    1. Anonymous, it sounds as if you've already made up your mind regarding bowhunting but in offering another perspective, your generalizations, misinformation, and worst case scenarios hardly paint an accurate picture of the majority of ethical and capable bowhunters - the kind of hunter vetted by the county. Further, today's modern crossbows and compound bows, when paired with modern and highly effective arrows and broadheads, provide for an effective, accurate, and quick kill. That is not to say there will be times when an animal may be wounded and not recovered. That is a risk with all forms of hunting. An ethical hunter does everything possible, however, to ensure that does not happen. One could also argue, however, that the loss of a wounded animal occurs far less in hunting than an animal being hit by a car only to wonder off and die later - which is no less "barbaric," violent, or inhumane. The downside of the car versus deer scenario is that in most instances most, if not all, of the meat is wasted, leaving the deer to have died an even more needless death.

      As for seeing a deer with an arrow or bolt as an example of "imprecise" hunting - winter-kill, inbreeding, and disease from overpopulation (not to mention cars) are all far more indiscriminate and "imprecise" killers of deer than ethical and well-trained bowhunters. Even more inhumane is the way natural predators kill their prey. Normally, this will consist of chasing the animal until it is so winded that it can hardly stand, only to have its entrails and organs ripped out while it's still very much alive. Few opponents of hunting ever witness, acknowledge, or even ponder that aspect of these animals' potential demise.

      There is no more precise and discriminate way of managing wildlife populations than well-regulated and well-executed hunting programs carried out by ethical and well-trained hunters.

      Lastly, revenue generated from sales of hunting licenses and hunting equipment have supported conservation of both animal and land for generations. If it weren't for the hunter, the state of our wildlife - both game and non-game species - would be much worse. Those who take advantage of, and enjoy, the great outdoors, and its wildlife, should owe a certain amount of gratitude, rather than disdain, for the hunter. That is if they really understand the hunter's role in conservation and the more long-term well-being of all species of wildlife as a result.

      That all being said, if you personally do not agree with hunting, I respect your stance but I feel an alternate line of thinking has to be injected for others to consider.

    2. Perhaps the humans are overpopulated in the area, not the deer.

    3. 4:55--Precisely. If it weren't for the obscene over-population of our species, and the resulting over-development, people wouldn't consider hunting for any other purpose than providing food, clothing, and tools. I'm a firm supporter of prevention and proactivity, but I guess it's a little too late for much of that.

    4. 4:01, you're spending a lot of time arguing with someone who thinks "Until you've seen deer carrying crossbow bolts and arrows, you cannot imagine just how imprecise bow hunting really is," is a great argument.

      So, 8:22. What are you suggesting? burn Annandale to the ground to make way for the deer? I'm a city jake but lots of people out in the country where there is no development can't stand deer just as much. They're mice with long legs

    5. Adam, as the author of the 4:01 pm entry, let me clarify one thing and I'm trying to be sincere in this point compared to making a purely semantic statement.

      I wasn't "arguing" with the person who wrote the original post. I was trying to be careful to offer alternative information for those whose positions may not as solid as those of the original author.

      That's the problem today. Too many people cannot simply discuss an issue. They have to argue or force their own ideas and opinions on everyone else - almost to the point of being militant.

      8:22 pm - You are absolutely correct in that it is too late to do something about the human population in this area. I understand your notion of being able to somehow turn back time and do things differently. It does sound, however, that you've come to a pragmatic conclusion that is not possible and today's problems need solutions that are as achievable as they are sensible. Good on ya'.

    6. Deer are beautiful, graceful animals and I enjoy seeing them out and about.

    7. 8:22 here.

      Adam, use your brain. I said that I'm in favor of PRO-ACTIVE solutions, and that it's TOO LATE for much of that. Don't even think about putting words in my mouth when you apparently read my post with your eyes half closed.

      As far as those living out in the country who don't like deer? Tough!! Wild animals are what they are--that's kind of what makes them *wild*. They can either get over it, or move back to the city, where people are allowed to (and need to) kill all the rats and mice they want. Those self-centered germophobic wussies have NO business living in a natural surrounding if they can't accept the most basic realities of it.

      11:54, thank you. :)

    8. Wow you got angry real quick. Cool.

    9. Fwiw I was referring to my in-laws and their neighbors, who are farmers. Farmers don't like deer. Kind of tough for them to "get over that and move back to the city" considering they're fifth gen on their place.

  2. I would rather they use birth control. Several years back a female was killed and her two fawn got away in the Mason District park. It was pretty horrific. There have also been numerous violations of the rules that the county ignores through this program. I have friends that are capable bow hunters. But don't be fooled by this program. Hunters have been out after hours, removed their "harvest" without covering them up, there are deer stands set up right outside schools and homes in unpermitted areas. Complaints have been made to the county but they still allow these same people in the program. The county does not care.

    1. Anonymous, while such products are available, there really isn't an effective form of birth control (in terms of cost, resources, application, and results) for wild populations of deer. Birth control for deer is not a "one and done" type scenario. There is a litany of reasons why its not effective. The manpower and time alone needed to conduct such a program would make it cost prohibitive.

      Also, while I am sure it was not pleasant for you to see two fawns after the doe had been harvested, the fawns should have been more than capable of taking care of themselves by September when the hunting season begins. Most fawns are born in the May/June time frame, start eating forage about two weeks after birth, and are weaned at the 10 week mark.

      And while I understand those who do not wish to see (or their children to see) a harvested animal, one could argue that it is still much less graphic than seeing a deer mangled on our roads.

      As for the miscreants who you label as hunters, I would offer that these are not the types of ethical hunters anyone wants or needs. Further, it may be presumptuous to associate them with the county's program. They may not even be vetted through the program. I would offer, though, that these degenerates are no different than those who break other laws and ordinances within the county. They should be caught and punished. Rather than the program itself, I put that burden on those who break the rules/laws and the county for lack of enforcement.

      That lack of enforcement of rule/law is not unique to the hunting program and is rampant throughout our county though (at least in Mason District) - from code compliance, to tax evasion, to simple traffic laws. Our Board of Supervisors seems more than capable of coming up with rules, laws, and programs but not the resources required to regulate, manage, or maintain such rules, laws, and programs. It seems that the county doesn't about those programs either.

      So, in this case, I would rather see the revenue spent on a deer population program go from a liability (a birth control program which would cost several to hundreds of thousands of dollars) to an asset-generating (license fees) or resource neutral program (hunting) and apply the funding to help resource the enforcement of rules and laws already on the books across myriad county programs as well as the maintenance of county parks, roads/streets, and property etc.

  3. Remember: Stay on ESTABLISHED trails. What is "established?" These are trails that the hunters know about. What if someone goes on a trail that the hunters weren't aware of and gets shot? Tough luck. It wasn't "established."

    1. Has anyone ever been shot by bow hunters in fairfax county?

  4. I'm kind of late to this discussion, but a primary reason for controlled hunting is to save the parks. Deer are decimating foliage, and killing new trees, shrubs and perennials. So, there will be no new plants to replace the mature ones once they die. Think of all the wildlife that these trees and shrubs support, along with how much they cool the environment, and how beautiful they are. We HAVE to control the deer population or we (all living things in the area) will all suffer for it.