Charlotte County Board wants to ban Sunday hunting in state forest

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

In a 6 to 1 vote, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors has voted to request the Department of Forestry ban Sunday hunting in the Charlotte State Forest.

The vote came during the board’s December monthly meeting.

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), recreational uses of the Charlotte State Forest include hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, horseback riding and wildlife watching.

While hunting is still an option during the week, supervisors want to ban the practice on Sundays. They didn’t say why. 

During the vote, Supervisor Hazel Smith opposed the idea. 

“Hunting is a time-honored tradition that has been passed down for generations in Charlotte County,” Smith told The Gazette, “Beginning July 1, 2022, laws changed to allow hunters a new opportunity to hunt in many State Forests, including Charlotte State Forest.”

According to Smith, after the board of supervisors issued the “Notice of Public Hearing for Sunday Hunting Charlotte State Forest,” she was approached by several hunt clubs and individuals. 

“Most of the young men and women want to pass the hunting tradition down to their children,” Smith said. “Most of them also work five or even six days per week. The weekend is almost the only time they have available to hunt with their children. They wanted the opportunity to hunt on Sunday in Charlotte State Forest (like most other State Forests). I feel that my vote reflected my constituents’ opinions.”

Where is Charlotte Forest?

Located along Saxkey Road in Drakes Branch, a designated Virginia Scenic Byway, the 5,004-acre state forest includes approximately 13 miles of the Roanoke and Wards Ford Creeks — two tributary streams to the Roanoke River, a designated Virginia Scenic River.

The land is adjacent to Double Bridges Road and Mossingford Road near Drakes Branch.

The forest is restricted to foot traffic only and no motorized vehicles are allowed past forest gates.

One of the highlights of the state forest is Roanoke Creek, which is a navigable waterway bordered by a large wetlands area with abundant wildlife and suitable for fishing, hunting, canoeing and wildlife viewing.

A State Forest Use Permit is required for individuals aged 16 and older to hunt, fish, trap, horseback ride, or mountain bike on state forest lands. The permit can be purchased online or where hunting licenses are sold.

Only non-motorized boats are allowed on state forest waterways for fishing and water recreation.

Fishing is subject to state fishing regulations, license requirements, and the State Forest Use Permit.

State law requires that visitors carry a copy of a negative Coggins test report with each horse on state lands for horseback riding.

A valid Virginia hunting license and a State Forest Use Permit are needed for hunters.

When will Sunday hunting ban take effect?

If approved by the Department of Forestry, the ban on Sunday hunting in Charlotte State Forest would take effect in the 2024 season, which starts on July 1, 2024.