Public Lands & Waters photo

Fairystone Farms Wildlife Management Area
: southwest Virginia
Size: 5,321 acres
ZIP: 24055

Virginia has ample public land: The National Forest Service alone holds 1.7 million acres, several military bases grant hunting access, and a number of Fish & Wildlife Service areas support good whitetail populations. But for big bucks, options are far fewer. Fairystone is one of only two wildlife areas in the state that use antler restrictions to boost the number of older bucks. Four antler points an inch or longer on one side make a buck legal at this Virginia Department of Game an Inland Fisheries-managed area, which is on the border of Patrick and Henry counties (both among the top 10 counties in the state for Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young bucks). This is the eastern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains; oak, hickory and pine forests cover steep slopes broken by small patches of bottomland. The adjacent Philpott Reservoir and Fairy Stone State Park add another 9,000 acres of deer range open to public hunting.

Featherfin Wildlife Management Area
: central Virginia
Size: 2,800 acres
ZIP: 23901

Even before the state bought Featherfin from private landowners in 2005 and created Virginia’s second quality deer area, this wooded tract in rolling Piedmont country was managed for trophy bucks. “A private club that hunted the property used antler point restrictions,” says Nelson Lafon, deer project coordinator with Game and Inland Fisheries. “So even though it’s a new acquisition, there should be some carryover in the quality of deer from that site.” Featherfin is now under the same antler restrictions as Fairystone, and it features ridges forested in hardwoods and loblolly pines, 300 acres of open fields, and marshy lowlands bordering more than 10 miles of Appamatox River access.