Lottery will permit rare deer harvest at W.Va. observatory

Lottery will permit rare deer harvest at W.Va. observatory
The massive Byrd Telescope glows red in the darkness at Green Bank. Photo courtesy Jesse Thornton.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia, has announced a special West Virginia resident-only controlled deer hunt at the observatory reserve Oct. 11-12, 2019.


Hunters must enter a lottery for limited permits, according to Andy Malinoski, a spokesman for the W.Va. Department of Commerce.

Due to the nature of the work at the observatory, gasoline-powered vehicles are strictly controlled on the site, Malinoski said.

Telescopes at Green Bank, WV, Pocahontas County, Allegheny Highlands Region
Telescopes at Green Bank. Photo courtesy Rick Burgess

Hunters may park only in designated parking areas, and all vehicles will be issued a pass for display on the windshield. Transportation from hunter check-in to some hunt areas is provided by the observatory.


For purposes of safety and biological study of harvested deer, all hunters must pass through the check-in station each morning before the day’s hunt.

At the end of the day’s hunt, all hunters must exit through the check-out station.

Hunters must apply for the hunt on the Electronic Licensing System at by midnight, Aug. 29. Applicants must log on, select "Enter Lottery" on the home screen, then choose the desired Green Bank Observatory hunt.

Hunters without accounts can create them at This controlled hunt is organized and planned in cooperation with the Division of Natural Resources.


Hunters may enter by themselves or in a group of up to four hunters. Hunters must know the other hunters’ DNR ID numbers to enter as a group.

Submitting an application enters the hunter in a drawing for one or two days on the GBO site. Successful applicants will be notified by mail and issued a special GBO letter of authorization to deer hunt. Only hunters who have completed an application received a letter for a specific day or days may hunt. “Walk-ons” will not be accepted.

The National Radio Quiet Zone includes much of eastern West Virginia.
The Green Bank Observatory is located within the National Radio Quiet Zone, which includes much of mountainous eastern West Virginia.

The controlled hunts will take place within delineated areas ranging in size from 132 acres to 1,000 acres. Hunters may apply for Oct. 11, which is bow/crossbow only, and/or Oct. 12, which is muzzleloader only. This is a change from previous hunts held on the GBO site. Applicants cannot choose which type of weapon they wish to use during the hunt; the hunter’s choice of day will determine the type weapon.

The maximum bag limit for the hunt is two antlerless deer (one per day). However, an on-site lottery will be held each day of the hunt, which will allow five hunters to hunt a deer of either sex. Deer harvested on the site are bonus deer and do not count toward a hunter’s annual licensed deer bag limit.


Participating hunters must possess appropriate base West Virginia hunting license (Resident A, AH, AHJ, X, XJ, Lifetime AL, AB-L or XS) or be exempt from having to purchase a license.

All deer harvested must be checked at the official game checking station located on the GBO site.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a federally funded research and development center for the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities for the purpose of radio astronomy.

The observatory is headquartered on the campus of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, though its principal facility is at Green Bank, West Virginia, in the Allegheny Mountains.


This location among high mountains in rural Pocahontas County was chosen to block radio interference from metropolitan areas.

Successful applicants will be mailed a special Green Bank Observatory letter of authorization to deer hunt with detailed instructions and regulations. For information, call 304-456-2011 or 304-637-0245.

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