Hunting -> Archer Standards

Individual Archer and Archer Group Standards

Sustainability of deer harvests in developed areas will depend on mutual respect between landowners and hunters. 

Every archer represents all archers in developing and maintaining the respect they all require to be granted access to hunt on private properties. 

To foster a high level of respect among property owners and archers, Green Fire sets high standards for archer accountability and respect.  Archer organizations that Green Fire recommends to property owners will demonstrate that they enforce Individual Archer Standards and maintain Archer Organization Standards.  

Individual Archer Standards


•   Keep an accurate log of each hunt to include:
- address of property hunted,
- date,
- start and end times of hunt,
- number of deer observed,
- number of shots taken,
- number of arrows/bolts retrieved,
- number of deer wounded,
- number of deer retrieved,
- sex and age (fawn, yearling, adult) of deer retrieved,
- disposition of each deer (archer, landowner, Hunters for the Homeless, private charity), and
- a narrative describing any significant events or observations that influenced your behavior in the field or that might be interpreted as a violation of these standards and guidelines.  Include any observations of poor deer health or previous injury, and people and animals other than deer encountered.

•    Enter logs in your archer group’s database, or on (planned for September 2015), within 24 hours of the end of each hunt.

•    Keep evidence of your safely harvesting big game animals such as photos and game tag numbers.

•    Have your group leaders’ phone numbers/email addresses on hand in case you need assistance or to report incidents.  

•    Use an indelible marker to identify each arrow with an identification number issued by your archer group on at least one vane of each arrow or bolt used during a hunt. Account for all arrows/bolts used in your hunt log. Report the circumstances of any unrecovered arrows to your archer group leaders as specified in your group’s incident response plan.

•    Mark any personal property that you might leave in the field, such as stands and trail cameras, with the same identification number. 

•    Report to your archer group leaders any question about or violation of these Archer Standards.

Respect for Deer

•    Understand proper shot placement from all directions and elevations (including which shots not to take). Broadside and quartering away shots only – no head, neck, or rump shots.

•    Exercise self-control – only shots with a high probability of quickly dispatching the deer should be taken.  Your most important qualification is knowing when NOT to shoot.

•    Where there is NO vegetation between you and a deer, shot distances should be no more than 20 yards with compound bows and 30 yards with crossbows equipped with scopes.  Reduce maximum shots distances according to amount and type of vegetation that might divert an arrow or bolt.

•    Pass a shooting proficiency test comparable to that required for participation in the Fairfax County Deer Management Program.

•    Only compound bows and crossbows will be used on deer.

•    Maintain your equipment in top condition at all times. Be sure your equipment is tuned and set up properly.

•    Practice as often as possible to keep your form and confidence.

•    Do everything in your power to retrieve any deer you wound and to put it to beneficial use.  Track a wounded animal until found. If the animal moves off a hunted property and advanced permission to enter for the purpose of tracking and retrieving has not been documented for the other property(-ies) involved, make every attempt to obtain permission to enter for tracking purposes. If unable to obtain permission or to otherwise track the animal, notify your archery group leaders.  Do not enter property for which you do not have permission to enter.

•    Archers do not need advanced permission to track and retrieve on public lands where the public is allowed to enter at any time. See also “Respect for the Public”, below.

•    If unable to locate a wounded animal, notify your archery group.

•    Plan how to make beneficial use of retrieved deer in advance of each hunt.  Respect the interests of landowners in the venison or their desire to donate it to Hunters for the Hungry.  

Respect for Property

•    When scouting or hunting, a parking pass issued by their archery group or Green Fire will be displayed on the passenger’s-side dashboard of your vehicle.

•    Park on private property only at locations designated by the landowner.

•    When scouting, hunting, or tracking/retrieving, protect foliage, crops and plants from damage, alteration or destruction. Cut and/or remove trees and shrubs only with the permission of the landowner as specified in the group/landowner agreement.

•    Use only tree stands of a type that will not damage the tree.

•    Release no arrow or bolt that could land on property for which you do not have permission to hunt.  (Fairfax County weapons code.)

•    Report active poaching to 911. Report signs of poaching to VDGIF Conservation Police Officer at 540/899-4169. Report trespass by any person to your archer group leader.

•    Account for all equipment before leaving a hunt area.

Respect for Landowners 

•    Abide by provisions of the written agreement between your archer group and the landowner.

•    If a deer that you shoot enters a property for which no access to hunt or to track/retrieve has been granted by the landowner, and entering the property is needed to track and/or to retrieve the deer, request permission to enter the property by approaching the front door of the property from the nearest public right of way, and request permission to enter the property from the owner or other person in charge of the property at the time.  If permission is denied, explain that the deer will become their responsibility to dispose of as required by state law (beneficial use) if the deer expires on the property. 

•    Act courteously and respectfully toward landowners and neighbors.

    Be especially quiet during early morning and late evening.  Do not speed.

•    Leave the property in better condition than you found it.  Keep parking location clear of trash and animal parts.

•    Limit stand use to times designated in the written agreement between your archer group and the landowner if any.

•    Do not use screw-in steps, large nails, or other devices that may damage trees.

•    Relocate a stand only as allowed in the written group/landowner agreement if so specified.

•    Unless otherwise directed, field dress deer in woods well away from groves, trails, or other places where landowners or other non‑hunters travel frequently. If required by the landowner agreement, place entrails in a disposable garbage bag, remove from the property, and dispose of properly.

•    Green Fire’s agreements with landowners only envision taking of deer.  Any other animals taken by an archer must be agreed to between the archer and landowner separately.  

Respect for the Public (including individuals with values opposed to deer hunting)

•    Act courteously and respectfully toward any neighbor, passerby, or any other person encountered during any phase of a hunt.

•    Respond to any media inquiries, complaints, or concerns as specified in your archer group’s incident response plan.

•    If verbally assaulted, avoid engaging in an argument or becoming abusive. Under such circumstances, leave the area immediately and, if deemed appropriate, call the police. As soon as practicable, report the incident to your archery group’s designated incident responder and include details in your hunt log. You may advise any person that you may report violations of Virginia law regarding the illegality of interfering with a hunt, Virginia Code  §29.1-521.1. “Willfully impeding hunting or trapping”.  If appropriate, report interference with your hunt to the Fairfax County Police Department at the non-emergency number, 703/691-2131.

•    Cover harvested animals at all times while moving them when non-hunters may see them.

•    If a wounded animal moves to or dies in a conspicuous area, such as a field, grove, or roadway, remove the animal from the area and if a problem arises, contact your archer group leader for instructions.

Respect for Game Laws

•    When hunting, carry on your person or have in your vehicle:
-  a copy of the written agreement between your archer group and the landowner,
-  a valid photo identification card,
  your current Virginia hunting license and archery license,
-  a big game tag or special permit such as a kill permit copy or current DCAP/DMAP tag,
-  a paper or electronic map showing local properties for which advance permission to track and retrieve has been granted, and
-  a paper or electronic copy of current Virginia hunting regulations in the event that questions arise.

•    Obey Virginia Game Laws including Earn-A-Buck bag limits (two antlerless deer before a second buck; three antlerless deer before a third buck within any County).

•    During the regular hunting season where firearms may be in use, wear or display blaze orange as required by Virginia Game Laws. Check the state regulations for the minimum amount required.

•    Notch your deer tag before moving deer from the property.

•    Check the deer in on the day of harvest as required by Virginia Game Laws by calling 1/866-468-4263 or on line at  Record the confirmation number on the tag.  (requirements may differ if hunting under kill permits or other State permits).

•    Report to your archer group any violation of game laws.

Respect for Safety

•    Provide proof of completion of the International Bowhunter Education Program to your archer group leader.

•    When entering or exiting woods in the dark, use a flashlight or other illuminating device.

•    Hunt from an elevated tree stand placed a minimum of 10 feet above the base of the tree in which the stand is placed. Stalk, still hunt or shoot from the ground only when authorized in the written agreement between your archer group and the landowner.

•    Wear a full safety harness attached to the tree while in a tree stand and, with climbing and hang-on stands, during ascent and descent.

•    NEVER climb while carrying your bow or crossbow.

•    If leaving portable "hang‑on" tree stands in the woods, discuss with the landowner their preference regarding removing climbing aids such as stick ladders and tie‑on tree steps from the tree after use.  The possibility should be considered that children and others could climb into and possibly fall from the stand or steps.

•    Check the integrity of your stands periodically and as needed.

•    When on the ground, carry arrow/bolts in a quiver and not knocked on a bowstring or in crossbows at any time except to dispatch a deer that has been hit.

•    Draw compound bows level with or below your target, not above.  Once drawn (compound bows) or cocked and loaded with a bolt (crossbows), hold weapons at or below target level and below the immediate horizon.

•    Use tick repellants.  Do a tick check after every hunt.

Archer Group Standards

Archer groups that Green Fire recommends to landowners must demonstrate that they enforce Archer Standards at least as assertive as those stated above, and that they adopt the following or comparable standards for group self-supervision.

Archer Standards

•    Document Archer Standards that your group will enforce. Fairfax County Police Department and Green Fire standards may be incorporated by reference.  Any more stringent standards adopted by your group should be highlighted.

•    Group Leaders will be held accountable for the conduct of archers in their group.  Group Leaders have the authority to decide who will be allowed to participate in the group and which properties or parts of properties each archer may hunt.

•    Ensure group members enter hunt logs, harvest records, and incident reports in a complete and timely manner.

•    Ensure archers have identification cards and parking passes issued by the County Police Department (public parks), Green Fire, or your archer group (private properties).

•    Document your arrangements for discovering, evaluating and sanctioning violations of your Archer Standards.  Green Fire suggests that these arrangements not discourage honest reporting by archers, but be intended to improve decision making in the field by all members.  Violations that are willful, repeat, or discovered by reports of others but not the archer him- or herself should draw the severest sanctions.

Archer Development

•    Increase the number of skilled, respectful archers by establishing a mentor program to guide beginning and novice archers until they are qualified to hunt on their own.  Green Fire suggests that the number of archers being mentored at any time equal 15 percent or more of your qualified members.

Hunt Planning and Preparation

•    If not already done by Green Fire, assign representatives to meet with landowners to scout each property to be hunted, walk property boundaries, note landowner’s comments about neighbors who have expressed opposition to or support for hunting, discuss conditions of the hunt and disposition of venison with the landowner, and execute a written agreement between your group and the landowner.  Provide copies to Green Fire.

•    Issue the assigned archer(s) a map of each hunt property based on county tax maps and showing any advance permissions to track and retrieve wounded deer on neighboring properties. Green Fire will develop permission maps with landowner contact information based on our records.  Green Fire will not distribute permission maps to anyone other than archer group leaders and archers.  Archer group leaders and their groups’ archers will not re-distribute permission maps to anyone else.

•    Assign archers to hunt properties such that your most skilled and experienced archers will hunt the most challenging sites.  Green Fire suggests that experience hunting big game animals (including tracking and retrieving), shooting proficiency, percent of wounded deer recovered, and history of complying with Archer Standards be used to rate archers for this purpose.

•    If not provided by Green Fire, print and issue water proofed parking passes for members to display in their vehicles on the passenger’s side dashboard during scouting and hunting activities.  Parking passes will display the archers name and vehicle for which the pass is issued.

•    Hunt as an organized team, sharing observations and strategies, and arranging for back up support to encourage group archers to hunt as often as possible.

Harvest Reporting

•    Archer groups that manage their own archer’s hunt logs will forward at least the following statistics for each hunt to so that we can compile County-wide statistics as part of our monitoring program:
-  address of property hunted,
-  date,
-  start and end times of hunt,
-  number of deer observed,
-  number of deer wounded,
-  number of deer retrieved, and
-  disposition of each deer (archer, landowner, Hunters for the Homeless, private charity)

•    Green Fire will forward to archer group leaders complete archer hunt logs entered directly into

Contingency Planning and Response

•    Identify a point of contact and a backup for Green Fire to contact in the event that violations of Virginia game laws or Green Fire’s Archer Standards are reported to Green Fire by landowners or members of the public.

•    Document and implement an incident response plan that:
-    Ensures that archers and the County Deer Program Manager (for public parks) or Green Fire (for private properties) are informed of your group’s incident response point of contact and at least one alternate.  If a point of contact or alternate changes, notify all group archers and the County Deer Program Manager and/or Green Fire in advance of any legal morning or evening hunt period including Sundays if hunting on private properties.
-    Identifies experienced trackers to assist archers in tracking and retrieving wounded deer and provides their contact information.
-    Provides metal detectors to find and retrieve lost arrows within 24 hours of being shot.
-    Discusses appropriate responses to archer reports of poaching or trespass, interference with a hunt, injury, media inquiries, and violations of game laws or Individual Archer Standards that may require immediate attention by the scheduled incident response point of contact.

•    Carry general liability group insurance in the minimum amount of  $1,000,000.