For over 400 years now, English settlers have lived in North America. It was in 1607 when the ships Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery landed at Jamestown. But even before their arrival, Native Americans occupied what was to become Virginia long before the original settlers arrived. Humans have been hunting on the hallowed grounds we call “Virginia” for over half a millennium, so when we walk through the woods we are walking in the footsteps of our Virginia ancestors centuries ago. I am mighty proud to call Virginia home. We’ve got the beach, we’ve got the rivers, we’ve got the mountains. Wonderful cities and beautiful countryside. Each county bringing its own unique features to the table, which we collectively refer to as “Old Dominion.”

I often enjoy imagining how the landscape looked in 1607 when the first wave of Englishmen arrived. It’s quite astonishing when you observe the feats mankind has accomplished with the construction of cities, but for many of us, we prefer to find ourselves in the woods overlooking a freshly cut cornfield, or our favorite duck hole. No honking horns or flashing lights in the woods, just you and the wildlife. It’s where we can go to find peace and solitude, as well as place where old friends come together and new friendships are made. The outdoors are a part of our heritage here in Virginia, as we’ve been hunting these blessed woods for over five hundred years. We seek the same whitetail deer and eastern turkey that John Smith and Chief Powhatan hunted. Hunting is truly a tradition of longstanding here in Virginia, and one that we must keep alive and well for generations to come.

I’m going to say that Virginia is perhaps one of the most underrated states for quality hunting. We always here about the ducks in Arkansas and Louisiana and the deer in Canada and Kansas, and I am by no means running down other states and our friendly neighbors to the north because they most certainly do have exceptional hunting, but I feel that Virginia is often overshadowed by other states that you always see on TV shows. Virginia produces some absolutely magnificent whitetail deer, while eastern turkey populations continue to flourish. When timed right, the waterfowl hunting can be spectacular during the winter migration. And how ‘bout those fun squirrel and rabbit hunts, as well as the warm September dove shoots. Virginia’s home to many a curious black bear, while the Elk population has been reintroduced in the mountains.

No matter the season, we can always find ourselves out enjoying nature in our beautiful state. There’s never a shortage of things to do around the land you call home, and each day we get to scratch off some to-do list items in the outdoors is a day well spent. Here’s to Virginia and her five hundred years of hunting tradition…and to five hundred more.

By Worth Osgood