Governor announces start of buck firearms season, return of Big Buck Photo Contest

CHARLESTON, WV — Gov. Jim Justice today reminds hunters that West Virginia’s buck firearms season will start Monday, Nov. 20, and that they need to purchase their license and deer stamps before the season starts if they want a chance to take an additional buck during the state’s most popular hunting season.

“West Virginia’s buck firearms season is a cherished tradition that spans generations and unites us in our love for the outdoors,” Gov. Justice said. “I want to encourage every hunter, whether you’re a resident or non-resident to get into the woods and enjoy a hunting adventure and experience all of the goodness and beauty of West Virginia.”

The two-week buck firearms season will run through Dec. 3. Resident hunters and non-resident hunters who want a chance to harvest an additional buck must purchase a Class RG or Class RRG stamp, respectively, by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 19. Licenses and stamps can be purchased online at or at an authorized license retailer.

Big Buck Photo Contest Returns
Youth and adult hunters can win prizes such as a lifetime license and state forest cabin stay.

Gov. Justice also announced the launch of West Virginia’s third annual Big Buck Photo Contest and invites hunters to submit a photo with a buck they harvest during a 2023 hunting season along with a short account of their hunt for a chance to win prizes.

You can find the rules and entry forms here.

The contest, which has received more than 2,000 submissions since its inception in 2021, will open on Nov. 21 and photos must be submitted by Dec. 22 for hunters to be eligible for a prize drawing.

“As a lifelong hunter, I want to invite everyone to participate in the West Virginia Big Buck Photo contest and enjoy our state’s incredible deer hunting opportunities,” Gov. Justice said. “Whether you come home with a buck or win one of these prizes, I want to encourage you to get in the woods and join the thousands of hunters who have participated in this exciting contest over the last two years and help show the world why West Virginia is one of the best places to hunt.”

The Big Buck Photo Contest is open to West Virginia residents and nonresidents and includes a youth division for hunters 17 and younger and an adult division for hunters 18 and older. Participants must hold a valid 2023 West Virginia hunting license and provide the 13-digit WVDNR-issued game check number for their buck. Consent for the release and use of submitted photos is implied upon entry.

Contest prizes include:

  • Resident Youth Division: Five winners will be randomly selected to receive a free resident lifetime West Virginia hunting and fishing license.
  • Resident Adult Division: Five winners will be randomly selected and may choose between a free resident lifetime West Virginia hunting license, a two-night stay in a Cabwaylingo State Forest cabin or a two-night stay in a Seneca State Forest cabin.
  • Non-Resident Youth Division: Five winners will be randomly selected to receive a Cabela’s prize package.
  • Non-Resident Adult Division: Five winners will be randomly selected and may choose between a two-night stay in a North Bend State Park cabin, a two-night stay in a Twin Falls Resort State Park cabin or two Pipestem Peaks Zipline Tour passes.
  • After the contest closes, a random drawing will be used to select finalists from each division and entries will be judged on photo composition, antler size, antler points and the quality of the hunt narrative. Winners will be announced in January 2024.

Additional Deer Hunting Opportunities During West Virginia’s Buck Firearms Season

The second split of West Virginia’s antlerless deer season also opens on Nov. 20 in 51 counties and will run through Dec. 3. Class N or Class NN stamps to hunt antlerless deer can be purchased any time at

Hunters may harvest two deer on the same day, but only one of those deer can be an antlered buck. The first deer does not have to be legally checked before harvesting the second deer on the same day. However, all deer must be checked and the checking confirmation number recorded before hunting during any subsequent day.

“The ability to harvest two deer on the same day is a testament to West Virginia’s abundant wildlife and to the sound management of our great state’s natural resources,” Brett McMillion, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director, said.

Hunters are required to to check in their game online at, at an authorized license agent or by calling 1-844-WVCHECK. To make game checking go smoothly, hunters are reminded to make sure their DNR accounts are up to date and accessible before going afield.

For specific deer regulations in each county and wildlife management area, hunters should consult the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at license agents, WVDNR district offices and online at

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