In this edition:

Be Proud To Be A Hunter Or Angler!

It is YOU, America's sportsmen, that have funded and lead the fight for conservation, restoration, and management of our precious wildlife and natural resources. For the past 38 years, National Hunting and Fishing Day has served as a public reminder that hunters and anglers are America's premier conservation supporters. The President, Congress, and state Governors annually proclaim this event to recognize the vital role of sportsmen in conservation. Through licenses and excise taxes, sportsmen generate the funds that support the management, protection, and conservation of fish, wildlife and habitat programs — benefiting all citizens who appreciate wild things and wild places.

Top five ways to observe National Hunting and Fishing Day this month:

  1. Introduce a newcomer to the outdoors — purchase an Apprentice Hunting License.
  2. Visit your sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing, or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it.
  3. Organize, volunteer, or attend a National Hunting and Fishing Day related event your area. Many events are listed in the Outdoor Report and also posted at www.nhfday.org.
  4. Remember those whose service to our country and communities will prevent them from joining us afield this fall. Appreciate the freedoms that make hunting, fishing, shooting, and conservation possible.
  5. Log on to www.nhfday.org to learn more about the historic conservation leadership of hunters and anglers. Share the story with non-hunters!

Remember safety first...

David Coffman, Editor

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

On September 26th we officially celebrate and observe National Hunting & Fishing Day. Be sure and review the numerous opportunities for hunting-related events, skill building workshops, and sportsmen's shows that offer something for beginners as well as the most experienced hunters, trappers, and anglers.

September Sportsman's Shows Promote New Hunting Opportunities

Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... Be sure and visit the VDGIF exhibits at upcoming sportsmen's shows this fall. These are excellent opportunities to bring a friend who is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience. The trophy bucks on display can provide some inspiration too!

70th Western Regional Big Game Contest in Harrisonburg September 12-13

The 70th Western Regional Big Game Contest will be held September 12-13 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, south of Harrisonburg, sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League in partnership with VDGIF. Agency exhibits will feature information on new VDGIF programs and hunting opportunities and the CWD surveillance plan for the northern Shenandoah Valley. Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors will teach safe gun handling and shooting with the laser shot range for youth attending the event. Exhibitors will be on hand with the latest in gear, supplies, artwork, taxidermy, and more. Come see the truly awesome trophy bucks harvested in Virginia. For contest rules and information: www.iwla-rh.org.

70th Eastern Regional Big Game Contest and State Championship in Southampton September 26-27

The 70th Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest will be September 26-27 at the Southampton County Fairgrounds, west of Franklin, sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in partnership with VDGIF. This year the Eastern Regional is also the State Championship. The VDGIF exhibit will feature subscription sign-up for the Outdoor Report and new hunting opportunities of interest to sportsmen in the eastern regions of the state. The event will feature exhibitors with gear, calls, supplies and taxidermy as well as activities for youth. Biologists and Law Enforcement staff will be on hand to answer questions. For Contest rules and information: www.vpsa.org.

Hunting & Fishing Expo in Abingdon September 19-20

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in Abingdon is hosting a Hunting/Fishing Expo in September 19-20. VDGIF is participating by offering the Hunter Education Course, providing additional educational programs, demonstrating the fishing/hunting simulator, and SVHEC will provide computers for guests to obtain their license online during the event. Kim Stewart, Director for the event, noted that exhibitor spaces are still available for vendors, seminar presenters and all organizations/associations affiliated with hunting and fishing to participate. For information visit: www.swcenter.edu Hunting and Fishing Expo.

Annual Fall Outdoor Festival in Farmville September 26

The annual Fall Outdoor Festival will be held September 26 at the Five County Fairgrounds from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. This family oriented event is sponsored by Riverside Community Church Outdoor Ministries in partnership with area sportsmen's organizations including VDGIF Outdoor Education Program, the Hunt-N-Shack and NWTF High Bridge Strutters Chapter. Admission to the event is free and there is a free lunch and dinner. Quaker Boy Calls is sponsoring a Turkey Calling Contest with Youth and Adult Divisions. There is a Big Buck Contest, Turkey Shoot, Five Stand Sporting Clays, Kid's Fishing Pond, 3-D Archery Contest, Retriever Dog Demo, and VDGIF Hunting Simulator. For more information call (434) 547-6770 or (434) 607-7776.

WSLS TV 10 Sportsmen's Banquet to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 12

Come enjoy an evening of food, fun, and fellowship while helping to make a difference in the lives of many less fortunate in our community and our state. WSLS TV 10 in Roanoke is again sponsoring a Sportsmen's Banquet to benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 12 at the Moose Lodge in Salem beginning at 5:30 p.m. A $20 single or $35 couple event ticket includes dinner. There will be a variety of raffles, as well as live and silent auctions of donated merchandise. For tickets or additional information contact: Jeff Fletcher (540) 985-6523, or Fred & Phyllis Wells (540) 992-3874. Visit the Hunters for the Hungry website for program information.

Page Valley Sportsman's Club Hosts Youth Hunter Training September 12

The Page Valley Sportsman's Club is hosting a JAKES hunter training event at their range facility near Luray Saturday, September 12. The event is designed for youth to participate in a variety of outdoor skills classes. Shooting classes will include air gun, archery, shotgun, and rifle. Muzzleloading may be offered if participants are interested in attending. Participants are allowed to bring their personal shotguns. Ammunition for the 20 gauge is available. All other ammunition must be provided by participant. All ranges will have firearms and ammunition provided for students. Parents are welcome to attend with their children. Registration is limited to 30 youth and pre-registration is required. Lunch will be provided. The event is free and is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, contact Art Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or artkasson@yahoo.com.

Time to Take a Hunter Education Class

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education class for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. The Hunter Education course is designed to teach hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship, and is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older. Our team of over 800 volunteer instructors have classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website.

Tappahannock Moose Lodge Sponsors Kid's Fishing Tournament September 19

The Tappahannock Moose Lodge #2133 in partnership with the VDGIF King & Queen Fish Hatchery is hosting a Kid's Fishing Tournament Saturday September 19 from 9 a.m. to noon. The event is being held at the Moose Lodge fishing pier which is adjacent to the VDGIF boat landing on Hoskins Creek off the main Rappahannock River. Awards will be given to age 10 and under and 11 to 15 for Biggest Fish, Most Fish, and Most Diversified Catch. Rods and tackle will be provided to those who may need them. For more information contact Chris Dahlem, Superintendent King & Queen Fish Hatchery (804) 769-3185. We hear the catfish are bitin'! Take the kids and go catch some great memories.

Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors Event September 26

The Izaak Walton League of America, Loudoun Chapter, is hosting an all-day event for women ages 14 years and older September 26 at their Loudoun County IWLA Park. Courses offer various introductory outdoor activities: Archery; Intro to Fishing; Kayaking; Fly Fishing; Rifle, Shotgun and Handgun Shooting; Map and Compass; GPS; Intro to Hunting; Outdoor Survival Skills; Intro to Camping and Outdoor Cooking; Gourmet Cooking of Wild Game; and Outdoor Photography. Fee for this one-day event is $40. IWLA member discount applies. See registration form for details. Includes coffee and pastries, lunch, educational materials, equipment use, and a special event tee shirt. For more information, contact Loudoun County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America at (540) 535-8891 or welo.event@lcciwla.org.

Quail Unlimited to Host Covey Call Event September 26 in Culpeper

The Northern Virginia Chapter of Quail Unlimited will hold their annual fund raising event "COVEY CALL," on Saturday, September 26, 2009 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Crowell Farm in Culpeper. This event is held on this day in recognition and celebration of the National Hunting and Fishing Day. Our youth focused event is centered on getting young people actively involved in the outdoors and for them to learn the importance of wildlife habitat restoration. The event also raises funds for our on-going quail habitat restoration project with the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management at Meadowood Farm, near Lorton. Bring your children, grandchildren, 4-H youth, Boy and Girl Scouts, and experience an unforgettable time. Activities include: flushing and bird dog demonstrations; Wildlife Management and Quail Raising Displays; cow cutting and trick shooter demonstrations. Other events include: raffle, silent auction, bird calling contest, rubber duck drawing, corn bag toss; and Moon Bounce for the very young. Each paid ticket holder will receive a year's membership including subscription to Quail Unlimited magazine; 25 rounds of shotgun shooting, 25 rounds of .22 rifle and BB gun shooting. Prizes will be awarded for the TOP GUN shooter in the adult and youth classes. Lunch is included. We are also offering the Boy Scout Shotgun Shooting Merit Badge. Entrance fee is $45 adult, $55 couple and $20 for each youth ages 6-17. All costs for food, shooting, and events are included in price. For information call (703) 232-3572 or email jsaggers@gmail.com.

Basic Trapper Training Class offered in Louisa September 26

A Basic Trapper Training Class will be held in Louisa County near Boswells Tavern hosted by Virginia Trappers Association Training Coordinator and Hunter Education Master Instructor Ed Crebbs on Saturday, September 26. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Class runs 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Class is free, but pre-registration is required. Youth 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Contact Charlaine Crebbs at 540-832-2708 or Ed Crebbs at edcrebbs@yahoo.com to register and get directions. For information on trapper training and opportunities visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.

Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival September 17-20

During the fall migration, millions of neotropical songbirds, along with eagles, hawks, and falcons, converge on the Eastern Shore peninsula. The wilds of Virginia's Eastern Shore will wow birders and nature lovers alike. Whether it's a hike on an untamed barrier island, or boat tour to the Shore's secret places, this festival celebrates one of nature's most amazing spectacles. This four-day festival runs Thursday, September 17 through Sunday, September 20, 2009. Visitors can participate in a variety of fascinating guided boat and land tours suitable for adventurers of all ages. For more information, contact The Eastern Shore of Virginia Chamber of Commerce at (757) 787-2460 or info@esvachamber.org.

Birding Trail Celebrates 5th Anniversary at Devil's Backbone in Nelson County September 25

Join the VDGIF and local partners to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, the nation's first statewide viewing trail on Friday, September 25, 2009. There will be bird walks on local trail sites, light hors d'oeuvres, and birthday cake! Local bird clubs and other conservation organizations will have exhibits. Come discover a little more of our Wild Side! For more information, contact Jeff Trollinger at (804) 367-8747 or jeff.trollinger@dgif.virginia.gov.

NEW Natural Resource Pavilions at the State Fair - Opening September 24

The new site of the State Fair will mark its grand opening on September 24 at Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, located on Rte. 30 approximately two miles north of I-95 exit #98, near Kings Dominion. Virginia's Natural Resource Agencies will be sharing exhibit space in two new pavilions that were recently landscaped with native plants. This year's natural resource theme is "wetlands," and the exhibits will feature the variety of ways we conserve woods, water, wildlife and historic resources. New exhibits as well as perennial favorites like DGIF's live fish tank and snakes exhibit will be sure to delight families. The Fair runs until October 4; details available at www.statefair.com

Rust Nature Sanctuary Hosts Conservation Celebration September 27

Sunday, September 27, 2009, is a good family time to participate in the annual Conservation Celebration at Audubon Naturalist Society's Rust Nature Sanctuary, at Leesburg. The event runs from noon to 4:00 p.m. to provide families a fun and environmentally-oriented way to enjoy a beautiful, natural setting, introduce outdoor recreation, greener living, and conservation opportunities. The program is also geared to protect nature, prevent pollution, and help people reduce waste, recycle, conserve energy and water, and live more sustainably, according to Thomas Goldston, Regional coordinator for the VDGIF Complementary Work Force Program. Bruce McGranahan, Director of the Rust Nature Sanctuary, says that the scheduled events include family nature hikes, insect relays, live music, an art show, nature activities planned for children "making tote bags out of recycled T-shirts, "junk" sculpture - and other entertainment. There will be exhibits with green products or services. Get a flavor for the event here. You can learn more about the Rust Nature Sanctuary at www.audubonnaturalist.org.

Celebrate National Wild Horse Adoption Day September 26

On September 26, organizations across the nation will be supporting and participating in the first national Wild Horse Adoption Day. Uniting with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the greater good of wild horses will be other wild horse and humane animal advocacy groups. One of the numerous wild horse adoption sites planned for that day will be held in Lorton, Virginia at the BLM's Meadowood recreation site.

The BLM is the organizer of the wild horse adoptions and whose purpose is to manage wild horses and burros on the western public range lands. By allowing a certain number of wild horses and burros to be adopted into good homes each year, the BLM is able to control the wild horse and burro population from exceeding the carrying capacity of the western range lands. The adoption held in Virginia will provide participants with an educational experience that will showcase the history and mystique of the wild horse. Inspiring stories involving wild horses, training sessions, expos, and more will all be held at the adoption event. Forty wild horses will be available for adoption.

For more information on the application process, call 1-866-4MUSTANGS or visit U.S Department of Interior - Bureau of Land Management: Wild Horses and Burros to download an application. Potential adopters are asked to call early to be pre-approved and avoid waiting in line. You can also visit U.S Department of Interior - Bureau of Land Management: Wild Horses and Burros, Eastern States or Wild Horse and Burro Internet Adoptions to get requirement information and instructions to become a qualified adopter. To learn more, please visit the National Wild Horse Adoption Day website.

Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center Offers Variety of Fall Workshops

The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox is again offering a variety of popular fall workshops for unique outdoor related skills for building your own powder horn or carving a duck decoy. For more information, contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director at (434) 248-5444 or nmahanes@vt.edu.

September 20-23: Build your own powder horn! The powder horn that participants will be making is a common horn from the late 1700s or early 1800s. Registration is $220 and covers all programming and instruction fees, powder horn kit, meals, and lodging. Register by September 18th.

September 20-24: Learn to carve your own decoy or sharpen your carving skills! Beginners Welcome! Carving experience not needed. First time carvers will carve and paint a Canvasback, one of the most popular of all decoys. Returning students will carve and paint a decoy of their choice. Decoys will be carved from Tupelo, a favored decoy wood. Workshop price is $275 and includes meals, lodging, materials, and instructor fees. Register by September 18th.

October 23-25: Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Each participant will receive a "bow drill" and will build their own survival kit with special items included with workshop. Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshop is $175 and covers all programming and instructor fees, primitive bow kit, meals, and lodging. Register by October 9th.

Kayak Fishing Workshop at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester October 6

Have you wanted to try Kayak Fishing, but just never had the opportunity? Well here's your chance! Register for the Kayak Fishing Workshop October 6, at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will receive kayak instruction and lessons on freshwater fishing. Instructional sessions will be followed by lunch and kayak fishing on Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir. Kayaking is fun, but add fishing to it and it just doubles the enjoyment. This workshop is designed for beginners and those who are new to kayaking. Participants must be age 12 and older. Workshop fee is $15 per person. For more information or to register online, visit the VDGIF Upcoming Events page.

People and Partners in the News

Trout Unlimited Honors Two Fauquier County Residents

Trout Unlimited's highest national award for volunteer leadership was awarded August 22 to Marcia Woolman of The Plains, at the organization's 50th anniversary banquet in Grayling, Mich. On August 21, John Ross of Upperville, was one of seven leaders to receive Trout Unlimited's Distinguished Service Award. Woolman is the first woman to earn the Ray Mortensen Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership.

Created in 1999, the award recognizes a member who has made an extraordinary contribution by recruiting and mentoring volunteers for coldwater fisheries conservation. A member of Trout Unlimited for more than 25 years, she has served as president of the Rapidan Chapter of TU, first vice president of the Virginia Council of TU, and a member of TU's national leadership council. In addition, she has served on the board of the Goose Creek Association and the Beartooth Alliance, a conservation organization in Montana.

Distinguished Service Award recipient John Ross is the author of Trout Unlimited's Guide to America's 100 Best Trout Streams and Rivers of Restoration, the history of TU released last year. For the past five years he has chaired the Virginia Council of TU. During that period, the council has initiated a youth camp, more than 75 Trout in the Classroom programs, and a campaign to improve coldwater resources in the 13,000-square-mile Interstate-81 corridor, which includes TU's first Home Rivers Initiative in the Shenandoah Valley. John is also a member of the Virginia Outdoor Writer's Association, Inc.

Trout Unlimited is the nation's oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization. It has over 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited is made up of 16 chapters and 4,000 members committed to conserving, protecting, and restoring the state's mountain streams, spring creeks, and the trout fisheries they support. Visit www.vctu.org.

Wildlife Center Announces Autumn Open House Schedule

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation's leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, has scheduled five open houses for Autumn 2009. These are rare opportunities to see the inner workings of the nation's premier wildlife hospital, as well as meet some of the wildlife that serve as the Center's education ambassadors.

The open houses will be held on:

The Center will have three separate sessions each day - at 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Each session lasts about an hour. As a wildlife emergency room and hospital, the Wildlife Center is not usually open to the public. The seasonal open houses are the times during the year when visitors may tour the Waynesboro facility. There is no charge to participate in an open house; however, reservations are required by contacting (540) 942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org. A limited number of spaces are available for each session.

During the open house, visitors will tour the Center's building, including the medical clinic [examination room, operating room, etc.] In addition, visitors will get to "meet" the Center's education animals some of the 20 non-releasable animals that the Center's education staff uses in school assemblies and classroom presentations. Included in the Center's education "faculty" are a Golden Eagle, owls [Great Horned, Screech, and Barred], Red-Tailed Hawks, several different species of snakes, and Virginia Opossums. As most of these animals live in outdoor homes, these tours are offered weather permitting.

Every year, about 2,500 animals - ranging from bald eagles to opossums to chipmunk - are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. "The goal of the Center is to restore our patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild," Wildlife Center President Ed Clark said. "At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release."

Quail Habitat Workshops Scheduled for October

Partner wildlife management and land stewardship organizations that are partners with VDGIF in the implementation of the Quail Management Plan have scheduled two workshops for October. More detailed information will be posted in the September 9 Outdoor Report. Dates and contact information are as follows:

Get more information on the Quail Action Plan and the Quail Management Assistance Program »

Waterfowlers Host Successful Hunting Workshops in Sussex

On Saturday, August 1, the Virginia Waterfowlers Association (VAWFA) and VDGIF hosted a series of waterfowling workshops at Sussex Shooting Sports near Waverly. More than 30 hunters from across the state attended the three workshops consisting of waterfowl identification and game laws, duck and goose calling, and wing shooting. The goal of the event was to offer educational workshops for new, novice, and experienced waterfowlers. Well qualified instructors provided hands-on and personal tutoring for the participants. Many of the participants spoke very well of the event and were quickly asking "when is the next one." After completing their workshops, many of the participants continued to polish their wingshooting skills by shooting a couple rounds on the Sussex Shooting Sports waterfowl course. Instructors provided participants with additional tutoring. VAFWA Executive Director Todd Cocker expressed appreciation to the instructors representing several sportsmen's organizations including VAWFA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, VDGIF, Webfoot Mafia, ZINK, RNT and other volunteers who made this event a very successful one. A special thanks also goes to Dance's Sporting Goods and Sussex Shooting Sports for providing their support and the facility for the event. Visit the VAWFA website for a schedule of upcoming workshops and special hunts for youth and disabled sportsmen.

Hunting News You Can Use

The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in getting ready for hunting season, or reports of interest compiled from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.

Hunters - Are You Ready?

September is finally here which means school has started - yeah! And hunting season is underway - yahoo! Just like preparing for back to school, here are some things you need to do to get ready to hunt:

Mandatory Hunter Education Course

If you are a first time hunting license purchaser age 16 or older, or age 12-15, you are required to complete a 10-hour certified Hunter Education Course. This is a great time to introduce and to mentor a youngster to our outdoor sports traditions and conservation ethics to ensure we pass this rich heritage to the next generation. Hunter Education classes are free and we offer them statewide. For a schedule of Hunter Education courses call toll free 1-866-604-1122, or check the Department's Web site to find a class near you.

Purchase Your Licenses

A Customer Service Center has been established at VDGIF to help purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses. Be sure you have all the proper licenses and check the expiration date as they are good for a full year from purchase date with two exceptions: the Deer, Bear, Turkey Big Game License and the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp are valid July 1 through June 30. Call 1-866-721-6911 or email customerservice@dgif.virginia.gov for assistance 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, except holidays.

Sight In Your Gun or Bow

Now is the time to check your firearms and archery equipment for accuracy and proper working condition. Waiting until you have that big buck in your sights and having a problem with your firearm is both dangerous and shows poor sportsmanship. VDGIF has public sighting-in ranges on six Wildlife Management Areas and the U.S. Forest Service has seven ranges on National Forest sites. For details and rules of operation, see the Department's website.

Where You Goin'?

If your favorite deer or turkey woods now has houses growing on it, or you are looking for a new place to hunt, do some scouting online through VDGIF's Find Game interactive Web-based map-viewer and public hunting lands information system.

Get the Kids Involved

With the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, and the second year for the Youth Turkey Hunting Day on October 17, these are great opportunities for a new hunter to schedule the Hunter Education class and take it with a parent or mentor for a refresher.

Another option is to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season. Apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the new Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted on YouTube. The video is an overview of how the Apprentice Hunter program works. Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, stars of the Outdoor Channel program, "The Crush with Lee & Tiffany," have a special video message to take the time to introduce a friend or youngster to the great outdoors with an Apprentice Hunting License.

There are youth and family-friendly events throughout September all across the state, where you can go to get information and the right gear to make your outdoor adventures safe, successful, and fun. Visit your local sporting goods store or sportsmen event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends.

Mark Fike, in his "Outdoor Reminders" column in The Journal newspaper, published in the Northern Neck region, had some great advice for getting kids involved in the outdoors. "Squirrel season started September 5th. It is time to not only get your kids outside and away from the TV, but time to do some scouting too. Turkey sign, deer sign and mast crops can all be seen now. Kids like learning new things and may even be amazed that dad or mom knew all those little things about the woods such as turkey dusting sites, where a paw paw tree grew or even what a paw paw tree was. Get those young people interested in the woods!"

Finally always be sure of your target and beyond! Have a safe, rewarding hunting season!

"What's New" for 2009-2010 Posted on Website

Your free copy of the new 2009-2010 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest is now available at license sales agents, upcoming sportsman shows and VDGIF Regional offices. This booklet features many new hunter friendly regulations and expanded opportunities this season. The booklet is increasingly user-friendly with color-coded page tabs for the different sections including: What's New, Licenses, Regulations, Hunting Lands, Bear, Deer Turkey, Small Game, Trapping sections and an Index. One date change new this year is the Regulations go into effect on August 1, 2009, rather than the traditional July 1 date of past seasons. This date change was necessary due to the change in the regulatory review and approval schedule now running into June. You can also access the information in the new regulations booklet on the VDGIF website along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest. There is an entire page listing new regulations, expanded seasons and other hunter friendly changes this year entitled "What's New". We will be featuring details of these new opportunities in each of the next editions of the Outdoor Report through September.

"Top Ten" New Hunting Opportunities for 2009-10

  1. Youth Deer Hunting Day - September 26, 2009
    • Hunters must be age 15 or under
    • Must be directly supervised by a licensed adult
    • Bucks or does may be taken
    • Blaze orange required
    • Modern and muzzleloading firearms or archery tackle can be used, subject to local firearms restrictions
  2. Number of Antlerless Tags Increased from 2 to 6 on Bonus Deer Permit
  3. Either-sex Deer Hunting Day Moved to 2nd Saturday of the Early Muzzleloading Season West of the Blue Ridge
  4. Antlered Buck Bag Limit Increased from 1 to 2 During the Early Muzzleloading Season West of the Blue Ridge
  5. Increased Either-Sex Deer Hunting Days in 48 Counties
  6. Increased Black Bear Hunting Opportunities for Archery, Muzzleloader, and Firearms Hunters
  7. Spring Turkeys Must be Checked using the Telephone or Online Game Check System. Fall Turkeys Must Be Checked at a Check Station
  8. Spring Squirrel Season June 5 - 19, 2010, Opens on All Private Lands and Additional Wildlife Management Areas
  9. Raccoon Chase Season Expanded in Southwest Virginia
  10. Otter Trapping Season Expanded to All Counties West of the Blue Ridge

Be sure and read the full details of these new
regulations, seasons and requirements in the
2009-10 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations Digest

Proposed Regulatory Amendment Pertaining to Elk

August 27 - October 1, 2009 Public Comment Period on Proposed Regulation Amendment

On August 18, 2009, the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, pursuant to §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, and 29.1-502 of the Code of Virginia, proposed the below amendment to the Commonwealth's hunting regulations.

A public comment period on the regulatory proposal opened August 27, 2009, and closes October 1, 2009. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its meeting 9:00 a.m. October 22, 2009, at 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond, and will consider the proposal for possible adoption as a final regulation amendment at that time. Written comments on the proposed regulation amendment should be submitted online at www.dgif.virginia.gov, or may be emailed to regcomments@dgif.virginia.gov or postal mailed to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn. Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230, no later than October 1, 2009.

Have You Found Your Federal Duck Stamp?

At the VDGIF Information Desk in Richmond, Vance Shearin noted he has been getting a lot of calls about the scarcity of Federal Duck Stamps at some local post offices. "We get some of these calls every year, but is just seems like more this year," Vance explained. Here are some other ways to get your Federal Duck Stamp: According to the USFWS website you can also get stamps at www.duckstamp.com or 1-800-852-4897 though their authorized distributor the Amplex Corp. You should also call your local post office before you visit to assure availability of the stamps at that location.

Note that the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp is readily available and required of all persons 16 years of age and older hunting or taking any migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese, brant and swans) within the Commonwealth. This Stamp can be purchased for a fee of $10.00 (resident or non-resident) at license agents or county clerks that sell Virginia hunting licenses, or from the Department's website.

New Seasons Set For Waterfowl and Webless Migratory Birds

  • New season dates for waterfowl were set by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries at their August 18, 2009, meeting in Richmond. The dates and bag limits for various migratory waterfowl and webless species are posted in the sidebar of the Outdoor Report under the "Hunting Season at a Glance" section, or can be found on the Department's website. A new regulation this year states that dove hunters are no longer required to wear blaze orange during the deer firearms seasons. The first segment of Dove Season runs September 5 - 26, and the second segment starts October 7 through November 7, 2009.
  • Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
  • 2009 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
  • Remember to get a new HIP number.
  • Non-Toxic Shot Now Required for Hunting Rail, Snipe, Moorhen, and Gallinule
  • Shotguns Need to be Plugged for Doves, Ducks, Geese and More...

Videos Available to Show Field Dressing Techniques

New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Whether you are a novice hunter who may not feel comfortable tackling the chore of field dressing and butchering a deer or squirrel themselves, or a more experienced hunter who would like to take their deer processing to a professional level, the VDGIF has a DVD to help you make the most of your harvest. VDGIF has two useful DVDs now being offered at the VDGIF store. One is a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. With squirrel season starting September 5, this video will show you one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line for the first time. In the second video, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young and old.

For the deer hunter, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" video begins with step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. Then, professional butcher and hunter education instructor Rob Bingel demonstrates the best way to cape out a deer for mounting. The video really gets good when he shows in detail how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. Sure, many of us think we know how to process a deer, but seeing the way Rob does it with no wasted effort is well worth the price of the video. By the end of the video you will learn how to make butterfly chops, de-bone a front shoulder, tie up a roast using a butcher's knot, be able to identify all the proper cuts of meat on a deer, and more! This is one video you will watch over and over! The price is only $12 each.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Choose the Right Tree Stand For You with Safety in Mind

The use of tree stands for hunting has increased dramatically in the past few years. Along with the increase in their use comes an increase in the number of serious or fatal injuries. While firearms-related incidents have declined tremendously since mandatory hunter education courses were instituted and blaze orange laws were passed, the number of treestand-related incidents has increased significantly. In many southern states nearly half of the hunting fatalities have been due to treestand accidents.

Among the hundreds of volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, Dick Holdcraft stands out as the "tree stand expert," based on over 40 years as a career safety manager and Master Instructor since 1993. Dick has written numerous articles on tree stand safety and we appreciate his sharing his experience in this report. Whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time using a stand, Dick provides these tips to help you prepare and stay safe:

Tree stands are used by hunters who prefer to hunt from elevated positions to increase their field of view and to decrease the likelihood of detection by game animals on the ground. In several counties in Virginia, use of rifles, or muzzleloaders are allowed only if shooting from an elevated stand for safety purposes. Several styles of tree stands are available, such as an integral ladder and platform stand; fixed-position stands, and self-climbing stands. Unique features distinguish each of these three styles and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. What's the best stand for you depends on the terrain, users physical condition and type of hunting- bow, crossbow, or firearm. Stand features need to be thoroughly evaluated by the hunter before purchasing or erecting the stand prior to the season.

Hunters have a variety of features to choose from when selecting tree stands. These features include portability, bars, chains, straps and rails that affix the seating device to the tree, gun rests, bow rests, outward facing stands, forward facing stands, and multiple-occupancy stands that include a tree stand with a seating capacity for four individuals.

Recent surveys have determined that the most common reason for falls from elevated hunting positions was due to some type of structural failure. These types of failures included rotted wood, loose nails, nails pulling through boards, broken bands, bolts, ropes, or other attaching devices. However, according to Sgt. David Dodson, the Virginia Hunter Education Coordinator, "Staying attached to the tree through proper use of a high-quality full-body harness is your best protection against serious injury while using a tree stand. In almost all cases, those who were injured were not wearing a harness at all. Stay attached from the time you leave the ground."

For more information on tree stand use and safety, review other articles by Dick and the VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors Tree Stand Safety Team at: www.bowhunting.net

Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!

If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website. There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10-hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.

Coast Guard Reports a Rise In 2008 Recreational Boating Fatalities

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced the publication of the 2008 boating safety statistics, reporting a rise in recreational boating fatalities.

The fatality rate, a measure of the number of deaths against the number of registered recreational boats, increased from 5.3 in 2007 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats in 2008. During this time, the Coast Guard recorded 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and approximately $54 million dollars in damage to property, stemming from 4,789 recreational boating accidents.

Operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, no proper lookout, operator inexperience, and passenger or skier behavior rank as the top five contributing factors to recreational boating accidents.

Alcohol consumption continues to be of major concern in fatal boating accidents and is listed as the leading contributing factor in 17 percent of the deaths.

Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard's director of prevention policy, emphasized the importance of boating education saying, "The 2008 report shows a clear link between safety and boating education by highlighting that only 10 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety education. This statistic indicates that boaters who have taken a boating safety course are less likely to be involved in an accident. In addition, two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; and of those, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket. The Coast Guard urges all boaters, whether as an operator or passenger, to take a boating safety course and to always wear your life jacket."

Life Jackets Required

Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats, except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck, or in an enclosed cabin.

Borrow a kid's life jacket: If you're expecting young guests aboard and have a temporary need for the right-sized lifejacket, the BoatU.S. Foundation has over 500 Kids Life Jacket Loaner Program locations across the country where you can borrow one for free.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation services for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

"Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you as an outdoor enthusiasts can join with others to do simple things in your outdoor pursuits that can make a big difference in keeping Virginia "green" and wildlife "wild" to benefit us all.

Study of Recreation Use on Wildlife Management Areas Begins September 1

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and researchers from Virginia Tech's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences will launch a year-long study beginning September 1 to evaluate recreational use on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in Virginia. The study is the first step in a multi-year process of assessing use of and developing management plans for VDGIF wildlife management areas. VDGIF and Virginia Tech employees and volunteers will begin conducting interviews of users at 10 of the Commonwealth's most heavily used wildlife management areas. Among the areas to be sampled are Chickahominy WMA near Williamsburg; C.F. Phelps WMA near Fredericksburg; Amelia WMA in Amelia County; Dick Cross WMA in Mecklenburg County; Clinch Mountain WMA near Saltville; and Goshen and Little North Mountain WMAs in Rockbridge and Augusta Counties.

On several days over the next year, study personnel will set up stations on primary access roads and also interview users at perimeter parking areas. While the study is being conducted, all users of wildlife management areas will be asked to participate in the study when they encounter the interviewers at a station. To learn more about the Department's wildlife management areas visit the agency website.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This new section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. With school out for the summer break, learning can continue with the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun. The Virginia Wildlife calendar lists natural events that can serve as a "lesson plan" to get students outdoors exploring, observing, and having fun while learning about the woods, fields, and streams and the fascinating plants and animals that share these habitats with us. Each edition we will bring you ideas on topics, natural occurrences, and events to spark your interests in exploring nature. Make it a family affair!

Outdoor Blogs and Websites Provide Nature Adventure Info For Kids

For excellent information on getting youngsters interested in exploring and learning about nature there are several blogs and websites to review: EE Week and the school year may be behind us, but there are opportunities throughout the summer to engage students in environmental learning as well as take advantage of the time to reflect and deepen our own connection to nature and commitment environmental education. Read below for upcoming programs and opportunities for educators and students.

Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd

The Spectacular Monarch Migration

The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is an insect, also known as the milkweed butterfly, and of the insect order Lepidoptera. A feather weight at about ½ gram, its orange-colored wings have black borders and veins with white spots adorning its edges, making it look like a stained glass window. Read more about the monarch's host plant, the milkweed, and its life cycle from the tiny egg, to an active yellow and black caterpillar, to gold-studded chrysalis, and finally to a magnificent butterfly at Kidzone.ws. You can also print free butterfly posters and go butterfly watching.

Each fall, from late-August to mid-October, these brilliantly-colored insects are a wonder to watch as they set about migrating southward to Mexico's Transvolcanic Mountains to avoid the coming cold temperatures of winter that would freeze and kill them. Piloting an average of 28 miles a day for up to two months, gliding with air currents and rising warm air, or thermals, and using wing-powered flight, they travel some 2,000 miles from Virginia to reach the same winter sites used by their grandparents and great grandparents. It remains a mystery to scientists how they accomplish this act. Toronto zoologist, David Gibo, estimates their incredible journey to be the same as a six-foot tall person traveling 11 times around the world—that is a very long journey.

Award-winning nature photojournalist Marie Majarov has photographed and written about migrating monarchs (Virginia Wildlife, October 2008) at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. She talks about our Virginia monarchs joining other monarchs, from as far away as Canada, to make this amazing trip traveling by day and roosting in trees at night. The first rays of the morning sunlight warm their wings, and off they go to another day of determined travel. Mrs. Majarov says, "It is very important to help the monarchs by planting nectar plants to provide critical nourishment when weary, hungry monarchs stop to rest. Go to Monarchwatch.org to learn how to create a monarch waystation and attract migrating monarchs to your yard.

For even more information visit U.S. Forest Service - Monarch Butterfly in North America

Habitat Improvement Tips

Effective September 1, Feeding Deer Is Prohibited in Virginia

Effective September 1, it will be illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The prohibition runs through Saturday in January 2, 2010. The regulation designating the prohibition went into effect in 2006. This regulation does NOT restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences. Problems with feeding deer include: unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats; disease transmission, including tuberculosis as well as many deer diseases; and human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and inappropriate semi-taming of wildlife.

VDGIF Deer Project Coordinators Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon note that many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but this is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia, as deer die-offs due to winter starvation have been almost nonexistent. They add, "We do not need more deer in Virginia. In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state." Virginia's deer herds could be described as overabundant from a human tolerance perspective and feeding deer only makes this overabundance problem worse. Supplemental feeding artificially concentrates deer on the landscape, leading to over-browsed vegetation, especially in and around feeding sites. Over-browsing destroys habitat needed by other species, including songbirds.

The negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits. In addition, feeding deer has many law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused problems for law enforcement. If you are currently feeding deer, you should now stop. If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to the Department's Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712. To learn more about Virginia wildlife regulations visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Fall is Best Time to Establish Wildlife Plantings

Thinking about establishing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife? "Your timing is excellent," advises VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Lou Verner. "Fall is absolutely the best time to establish new plants, whether you're considering trees or shrubs, wildflowers, or if you have the space, a wildflower meadow. Remember to seek out those species that are native to your region of the state." Fall planting (September through early November) gives trees and shrubs 6-8 months to establish their root system under cool, moist conditions. This will greatly increase their odds of surviving their first hot, often dry, summer. One of the more common mistakes made in planting trees or shrubs is digging the hole too deep and not digging out two to three times the diameter of the root ball. Directions for properly planting trees and shrubs can be found on the Virginia Department of Forestry's website: How to Plant a Seedling. A list of native species and their benefits for wildlife habitat, erosion control and other benefits can be found on the VDGIF website.

Fall seeding of native wildflowers imitates natural reseeding. Changes occur to the seed and seed coat (stratification) during winter that enhances germination. Spring annuals may germinate and lie dormant through the winter, while most perennials and warm season grasses will germinate in the spring. Properly preparing the seedbed this fall will help develop a successful wildflower garden next spring.

One final thing to put on your fall "to NOT do" list: do NOT deadhead all your wildflower seed heads! Rudbeckia and Echinacea species (Black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans, many species of coneflowers) are especially valued seed resources used by many of our over wintering finches. Happy fall gardening!

For more information on the Habitat at Home© program, see the Department's website.

Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available

The new Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs. VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Carol Heiser advises, "Native shrubs in particular are an excellent choice for wildlife, because they support native insects that make up a critical part of the food web. Native plants are better adapted to our growing conditions and are much easier to maintain than non-native ones. So many of our neighborhoods lack the kind of native plant diversity that wildlife really needs. You'll be surprised at the number of birds and other wildlife that use native shrubs. Although nurseries tend to sell shrubs in the spring while they're in bloom, autumn is actually the best time to plant shrubs if you want optimal survival. Visit our website to get your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!

Fishin' Report

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.

The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the regional location map to find the major river or lake you want to know about.

For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) website.

2009-2010 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity Regulation Review and Amendment Process

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries review and amend all of the Virginia regulations governing wildlife and boating biennially.

The regulations are reviewed in two separate biennial processes, with different regulations being under review in alternating years.

At its June 2, 2009 meeting, the Board completed its most recent biennial review of regulations governing hunting, trapping, and game species. The amendments it adopted June 2 went into effect August 1, 2009.

September begins the 2009-2010 Regulation Review and Amendment Process for Virginia's regulations governing freshwater fishing, boating, and wildlife diversity. "Wildlife diversity" includes regulation of those wildlife species not hunted, fished, or trapped.

In this earliest, scoping stage of the current regulatory review process DGIF staff is soliciting the public's views on what changes in regulations citizens would like to see. During this period staff also collects and analyzes biological and sociological data relevant to regulatory issues. Such information typically includes constituent satisfaction survey results, conversations or meetings with constituents in groups and individually, and other forms of feedback from the public that occurs continuously including before the scoping period.

DGIF strongly encourages the public's participation in the regulation review process. You are invited to use this online comment submission system to submit your views.

For information on future stages in the periodic regulation review, see the Schedule for 2010 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity Regulation Review and Amendment Process.

Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!

How was your last fishing trip? Did you take pictures of your catch? Send them to us and share it with the world! Here's how:

  1. Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
  2. Or, if you already have an account on Flickr, join the group and submit your photos. It's easy!

No matter how you send in your pictures, please remember to include the species, date, and location of your catch. If you know the length and weight, please include it.

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

  1. Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
  2. Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
  3. Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  4. Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
  5. Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.

New Virginia Lifetime Boater's Card

Our new Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card is available to those who meet the boating safety education requirement. This durable, drivers license styled card is available for a fee of $10.00. If you meet any of the below listed requirements - you may apply for this card.

Click Here for Instructions and Printable Application (PDF) »

Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD

New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for Skinning Squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line for the first time. In the second video, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.

Effective July 1 Boating Education Required for PWC Operators Age 14-20

Attention boaters, VDGIF has begun to phase in Virginia's boating safety education requirement and wants to remind boaters that as of July 1, all operators of personal watercraft (PWC), including Jet Skis, Sea Doos, and other PWCs, age 14 to 20 will need to have proof of boating safety course completion onboard while operating the vessel. PWC operators must be at least 14 years old. It is unlawful in Virginia for anyone under the age of 14 to operate a personal watercraft. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website

Life Jackets Required

Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats, except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

Sarah White's Notebook - Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions

Region 1 - Tidewater

Tappahannock Moose Lodge Sponsors Kid's Fishing Tournament September 19

The Tappahannock Moose Lodge #2133 in partnership with the VDGIF King & Queen Fish Hatchery is hosting a Kid's Fishing Tournament Saturday September 19 from 9 a.m. to noon. The event is being held at the Moose Lodge fishing pier which is adjacent to the VDGIF boat landing on Hoskins Creek off the main Rappahannock River. Awards will be given to age 10 and under and 11to 15 for Biggest Fish, Most Fish, and Most Diversified Catch. Rods and tackle will be provided to those who may need them. For more information contact Chris Dahlem, Superintendent King & Queen Fish Hatchery (804) 769-3185. We hear the catfish are bitin'! Take the kids and go catch some great memories.

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Robert Eveland. Lake is 20 1/2 in. below full pool. Heat and scattered thunderstorms have kept anglers to a minimum. No reportable catches noted. Fish continue to hang in deeper water off main points. Closing time for the lake is now 7:30 P.M.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. High winds have kept many anglers ashore. Spot and croaker are hitting near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and at the mouths of the York and James. These fish go for blood worms and fish bite. Bluefish angling is slowing down, but if you seek them near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and use a small spoon, you might be lucky. Puppy drum have shown up at the Lynnhaven Inlet. Spanish mackerel are not plentiful, but can be found at Cape Henry. The water is cloudy and 78 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Not much word from Charlie Brown. All he can report is some spotty cat angling, on the usual cut bait. The water is stained and in the 80s.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Fishing is going well for all anglers. Bass fishers should have a go with soft plastics; see which color works best for you. Crappie are going for minnows and jigs. Cats like cut bait (especially shad and herring). Bluegill and white perch are plentiful. The water is dingy and in the low 80s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says bass are hitting early and late on topwaters. During the day, try soft plastics. Crappie are being stubborn, but may be fooled by a minnow or a small jig. Cats are responding well to cut bait. Lots of bluegill are being landed on crickets and red wigglers. The water is clear and in the low 80s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Low dissolved oxygen levels have now caused a fish kill on the Nottoway last week in the area around the VDGIF ramp at Rt. 671. With that said the fishing will rebound pretty fast if we get some rain and flow going in the river. Both rivers are pretty scummy right now, so if you go be prepared to have to do a wash job on your boat. I just came back from spending three days on the Blackwater and though the largemouth bass fishing was not great, we did catch some nice bream on the fly-rod. We caught a couple of 2 lb. blue cats fishing at night also. The fish are real lethargic right now. So a slow presentation and smaller lures are the best bet. When conditions in fish world are out of whack, fish feel bad and just don't want to chase a meal far or have to spend a lot of energy digesting a large meal.

So even though conditions are tough and the water is nasty, if you get a chance go. Just don't go swimming. I mean given the chance, who in their right mind is not going to go fishing just because of "tough conditions"?

Region 2 - Southside

Brunswick Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. With the weather as great as it was, there is no way a person should do any work, so the "Worm and Cricket Man" and I headed to Brunswick Lake or as the locals call it "the county pond". We arrived around 9:30 to find the water a very dark brown and a few degrees cooler. We fished under the bridge without a lot of luck. I tried to fish the fly rod but the 15 mph wind made me put it down fairly soon, "Cricket Man" caught several on crickets and worms. We left the flats and headed toward the dam and fished the middle of the lake on the way with the spinning rod and twister tail on 1/32 lead head, picking up a crappie here and there. By the time we had arrived around the dam it was time to head back to the dock, so we fished the middle all the way back. We did not have a big day with the fish but it was still a good day, "Cricket Man" ended up with 12 hand-size blue gill and 3 crappie between 10 and 12 in. I had 7 hand-size blue gill and 8 crappie in the 10 to 12 in. range. I only started catching the crappie after I switched over to a pumpkin seed color twister tail one the 1/32 lead head. I also had to contend with 8 bass between 9 and 12 in. By the time we had gotten back to the dock the water had turned over and cleared up to where you could see about 2 ft. down. I hadn't really paid a lot of attention but I think the crappie started hitting better after the water cleared up. I am not going to mention the 4 rather nice crappie that slipped off the hook about the time I started to raise them out the water. Heard enough from "Cricket Man" about what nets are used for.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Can you believe this weather? The James is lower than it's been all season. Fly anglers are taking fish on top using olive/brown/and black bugs in size 4. Baitfish patterns are producing in the shelves and mid-stream structure. Conventional anglers see fish boated using Tiny-Tops and Skitter Pops. Color doesn't seem to matter. Flukes are the soft plastic that's hottest now. Try watermelon seed and green pumpkin. Water temps are in the upper 70s into low 80s. The low water and grass does make subsurface action tough. Look for the deeper runs and shaded banks for the best fishing.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store (434) 374-8381. According to Bob's website "striper fishing is doing very well." Try deep trolling with "downriggers and /or lead core line pulling bucktails." Vertical spoons are also having success. Big crappie are being landed, mostly near brush and offshore structures using jigs. Bass angling is "off and on." Try soft plastics, football jigs or Carolina rigs. Cats are scattered, but some are being caught on live sunfish.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. According to Tom Reisdorf, smallmouths in the James are hitting popping bugs. Trout in the Jackson River are going for nymphs. No word on crappie or cats. The water is clear at a steady temperature.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Folks at Holly Grove tell me that fishing is slow. However, a citation largemouth was landed on cut bait (white perch). This is a rarity, as most bass are going for dark soft plastics and crankbaits. No word on crappie. Cats are hitting well on cut bait. The waters are cooling and clear.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead, Virginia Outdoorsman (540) 721-4867. The cool weather and overcast days continue to bring our surface water temperature down another five degrees or so. Cooler weather will continue to dominate our weather over the next week or two as we move into the fall season. The striped bass continue to school near the mouths of most major creeks and are moving up both the Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers. Schooling stripers can be found using good electronics. Large schools and smaller pods are still being found in the middle and lower sections of the lake from 15 to 90 ft. below the surface. Deep-water stripers are being caught using live bait on downlines and by jigging with flukes on heavy custom jigheads and bucktails. If trolling, try pulling your lures deep along old river channels and next to submerged tree lines. If you are new to trolling and are not sure where there are good places, stop by our shop or one of the other knowledgeable tackle shops around the lake and pick up and look at the Smith Mountain Lake Structure Guide. It will help you identify good places to troll near where you plan to fish.

Stripers are also running schools of bait on the surface, especially early and late in the day. Breaking stripers can be caught on surface plugs. The bass fishing this past week continued to be mixed. The night bite continues to be very tough and daytime bass are still being caught both shallow and deep. Some fish continue to be caught under deep-water docks using jigs. Bass are also being found in deeper water near brush where they can be caught on worms and deep diving crankbaits. Bass have also started schooling baitfish very early in the morning and late in the evening. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, small swimbaits (Basstrix) and topwater lures including the Jimmy, Lobina RICO and recently reintroduced Lobina Suave are proving to be excellent choices.

Most of the regular weekly open bass tournaments, so popular in the summer, are ending as sportsmen and women attend the weekend football games and prepare for the upcoming hunting seasons. Panfish continue to be caught using red wiggler worms fished on small hooks and jig heads next to docks and in the rip-rap stone on the shoreline. Catfish continue to like nightcrawlers and large shiners and shad either live or as cut bait. Crappie fishing is picking up with some nice fish being caught on small minnows in and around deep brush piles. Yellow "ringed" perch are also being caught on minnows and small jigs near brush and deep water dock pilings. Good luck and have a great time on the water and in the woods. Water Temperature: 75 degrees. Water Clarity: Fair/Good

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Wyatt Blevins says that bass fishing is best early and late with crankbaits and spinners. Crappie are slow, but should pick up as fall approaches. Look for bluegill near docks and coves; try nightcrawlers. Not many cats have been brought to boat, but some big ones have. Your best bet is cut bait. The water is clear and around 80 degrees.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports the bass fishing is best early and late. Try buzzbaits. No word on crappie. Cats have been scarce. Muskie action has been "fair", but the water is so clear that the muskies follow the lure to the boat, see the angler, and swim away fast. Redeyes are plentiful and like tube baits. The water is clear and in the mid 70s.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry Murray says the smallmouth fisheries in the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah are clear and low and perhaps cool enough to use waders. The best bets for flies are: the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; the Shenandoah Damsel Popper, size 6; the Olive Marauder, size 6; and the Pearl Marauder, size 6. The water is clear and 66 to 70 degrees. The large stocked areas in the Smith and Jackson rivers are doing well. Best flies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 14 and 16; Shenk's Cricket, sizes 12 and 14; and Shenk's Letort Hopper, sizes 12 and 14. The waters are clear and in the 70s. The mountain streams are very low and hard to fish. The waters are clear and 58 to 62 degrees.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local blogger and author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / Fishing the North Branch of the Potomac. After a spike of mud and silt following the recent storm, things are back to normal. The cooler water has caused the "smallies" to turn on with most of the activity being in the morning and evening as they retreat to the bottoms of deep holes or huddle in the cool shade near the banks during the day. The Upper Potomac fishing is better than it was in early August with good catches continuing on the section between Harper's Ferry and the Brunswick Family Campground and free public boat launch. Water temperature is a cool 72 degrees – consider that before wet wading! The water is milky near Harper's Ferry, but cleans up below Brunswick where large catfish will swim next to you while you fish. The normal array of lures continues to work – crankbaits, grubs and plastic worms with poppers being the "go to" lure for fly anglers. Near Harper's stick with dark colors – black, brown and green. The Rapidan and Rappahannock are running low and clear right now — making for perfect wading conditions. Water temperature is 78 degrees. Anglers report seeing plenty of large smallmouths cruising the deeper, moving water. On all the rivers, the vegetation continues to be a challenge – it's thick and persistent. Fish the edges and go weedless or on top to avoid constant hang-ups. The red damselflies are out and the smallmouth are eating small red poppers or attractors aggressively! Fly anglers should consider using a damselfly pattern as a dropper. The mountain trout streams are at low levels. Consistent with earlier advice, Steve recommends you not fish in the Park to avoid stressing the wild trout population. It's only a month until stocking starts again! If you need a trout fix right now, head over to the Jackson, North Branch, Savage, or the Youghiogheny. For directions to these and many other locations, visit Switchfisher.com.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. According to Mike, bass are hitting hot on "anything plastic". No word on crappie. Cats are also hitting well on cut bait, particularly cut eel. Croakers have been found in the West Point area of the Pamunkey River. His clients have been seeing lots of sturgeon breaching in the James. The waters are slightly stained and 78 degrees.

Lake Orange: Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Darrell Kennedy reports that cooler water and day/night changes are signaling the bass to go to their fall pattern. For now try a shad imitating lure early and late and a plastic worm during the day. Crappie are going for minnows. Cats are really jumping into the boats when tempted with shrimp or chicken livers. Bluegill are plentiful. The water is fairly clear and 77 to 80 degrees.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that bass angling is fair, with Senkos in dark colors being your best bet. Crappie are still congregating around bridge pilings and going for minnows and jigs. Cat anglings is picking up and should continue to do so. Try eels, herring and shad. The water is slightly stained, 83 degrees.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Editor-In-Chief, Woods & Waters magazine, (540) 894-5960, www.woodsandwatersmagazine.com. With longer nights and shorter days, the lake is cooling slowly but every degree makes a difference. The baitfish are schooling and being trashed every day by bass, white perch and striper. Crappie are not far behind. Water temperatures range from 88 at Dike III to 84 uplake and 78 way up into the tributaries. Here's what you can expect on your next visit:

Largemouth bass - Wow, am I seeing some good bass fishing this year! Currently I've found several schools of bass working herring and shad each morning. My top area is around Dike III. Look for breaking fish on long points and humps through September. Uplake bass fishing is fair for those willing to probe shoreline to 10 ft.. deep structure with shaky worms.

Striper - Thousands of stripers are in the Dike III region, Find the fish feeding on the herring and you'll find the keepers. I'm catching 20-40 fish every morning using ZERO live bait with clients. The Toothache spoon is doing great. The 3 in. Realistix Minnow is beginning to work as well.

Crappie - Hold off on your crappie trips until the first cool nights in September which will bring the fish to docks in the upper Pamunkey Branch and the North Anna. When this happens, you can have a ball every day on slip bobbers and minnows.

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead fish. If you should manage to catch one of these exotic imports, please kill it immediately and report the catch to either the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.

Region 3 - Southwest

Caging raccoons leads to violation... On August 29, 2009, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Honaker received a anonymous call from Richmond Dispatch about a possible violation of the possession of wild animals. Officer Honaker arrived at the scene and found two juvenile raccoons in a cage behind a suspect’s house. After talking to the suspect he admitted to catching the raccoons in his garden and had kept them in the cage for the last four days. The suspect explained to Officer Honaker that he was going to let them go after his corn was picked. It was interesting to note that the suspect also explained to Officer Honaker that he was training some raccoon hounds but would not catch raccoons for that purpose. Officer Honaker issued the suspect a summons for possession of wild animals without a permit. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.

Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the "official start" of the hunting season with Dove Season in early September 26, there will be lots of youngsters hopefully getting a shot at their first bird. No small feat as doves notoriously fly fast and furious, and a box of 20 gauge shells can get shot up fast if the birds are flyin'. For a young teenage dove hunter, his first bird did not come easy and created one of his most memorable outdoor experiences. Zach Hurt was a freshman at Pactum Christian Academy in Lynchburg when he entered his article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest. His story ranked in the Top 5. Zach was able to tell his story with humor, even after a long frustrating day. He proves that patience, perserverance, and a little cooperation from the birds in the end is rewarded with a good memory afield with family and friends and a good dog!

Hunting Made Easy

By Zachary Hurt

"Zach, wake up!" Shake, Shake, Shake. "Wake up!" Groan! It's 7 a.m. and Dad and I are going hunting today. I finally rouse as I remember this. Hurrying to get dressed I run down stairs and eat a hurried breakfast. After we load the guns, ammo and dog into the car, we head out to meet our friends and start our dove hunt.

Well, this story starts in a large corn field on some farm out in Nowheresville, Virginia. We pulled out our guns, sandwiches and cokes and headed out to find a good set-up. Dad, the dog and I settled down somewhere on the edge of the field while the others, about five guys, staked out positions where they thought it best. As the day wore on we moved around a good deal in search of some action but any shooting that there was, and there wasn't much, was happening everywhere but where we were. There weren't even chances for pot-shots at birds out of range.

The day wore on and as others found success we found none. Birds flew there and there and there, but never here. Finally a bird! Bang! Bang! Bang! Silence. No dead bird. Dad was doing most of the banging anyhow 'cause I'm a terrible shot and I was carrying a borrowed 20 gauge break-action. One shot was not near enough for me to bring down a bird, though I don't really think the results would have been different if I had had a pump. Well, Dad got a bird at last, but no such luck with me. We moved from spot to spot but our luck refused to improve. Several of the other hunters with us brought down a few birds but that only added to our pain. Sandwiches gone. Coke gone. Birds gone too. I can just imagine how the cunning little devils laughed into their wings watching me walk futilely around that field and the one adjoining, hoping and praying for a single chance at the glory of bringing down my first bird. There had been chances, but these chances never produced any results. The sun was starting to think about saying goodbye to the Americas and hello to the Orient when, framed upon a canvas of blue, a lone bird came flying.

Now this was no ordinary bird, this was a one-of-a-kind, genuine dunce. This bird would have flunked Criminal Justice at a community college. Mother Nature gives animals the instincts of survival, but mother nature had evidently passed over this little guy. Usually a dove will dive or fly quickly by in order to avoid death by birdshot, but this bird, when I stood up with my gun pressed tightly to my shoulder, simply turned at a sharp right-angle as soon as I squeezed the trigger. It simply winged its way towards me at a leisurely pace then turned full broadside just when a deadly spray of shot came flying towards it. An easier shot than that you will not find. I happily ran out to retrieve my bird! Yes, my bird, what a happy ending to the end of a hard day of hunting. That is hunting made easy.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Contest by Zachery Hurt placed in the Top 5 in the 2008 Contest among over 120 other entries. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Contests visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Contest Chairman:

David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
POB 11104 Richmond, VA 23230
Telephone: (434) 589-9535, Email: david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: