Small game hunting begins in September and runs through the following year. Squirrel season begins in September, ruffed grouse in October, and bobwhite, cottontail rabbit, and snowshoe hare or a variety of jackrabbits in November.
For specific hunting season dates, bag limits and other information, go to the current Summary of hunting and trapping regulations.
West Virginia’s forest diversity provides great potential for food resources and contributes to our small game hunting opportunities. Focusing on oak and hickory forests is a must for the best chances of harvesting squirrels. Snowshoe hares and grouse prefer the younger, thicker stands of wood and the old orchards or thorn-cultivated pastures of higher elevations. But as a grouse hunter will tell you: “The grouse are where you find them!” Cottontails are most common along fence lines, lowlands, and old fields, pastures, or orchards.
Fall in West Virginia is a great time to be outdoors, and small game hunting can add to that experience. Small game hunting seasons continue through the end of February, making them one of the longest hunting opportunities in the state.
Small game hunting seasons are also a great opportunity to introduce someone of any age to hunting. If you’re an experienced hunter, take a new hunter with you and share your knowledge of the great outdoors. Small game hunting can be enjoyed with or without a dog, but bringing a dog can make your time in the woods more enjoyable and adventurous.