Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
Outdoor Report

Managing and Conserving Our Wildlife and Natural Resources

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this issue:
  • Youth-Only Spring Turkey Hunt: Saturday, April 7th
  • Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? How to Tell the Difference
  • Fee Fishing Areas Open April 7th
  • Serial Wild Turkey Poacher Convicted
  • 2007 Wildlife and Boating Regulation Review and Amendment Process
  • People and Partners in the News
    • "ReNew the New" River Clean-up Campaign
    • Eagle Cam Update - Chicks Have Hatched!
    • Youth Writing Contest Extended
    • Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival: May 11-13th
    • Time to Clean Out Blue Bird Boxes
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!
  • Wildlife Habitat Improvement Tip
    • "Cleaning Up" the Yard? Create Brush Piles for Critters
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Trout Heritage Day
    • Virginia Waterfowl Stamp Grant Application Period Open
    • Fulfillment Farms Offers Youth Turkey Hunt April 7th
    • April Fishing Workshop Scheduled in Chesapeake
    • Remember Tax Fund Checkoff
    • Hunting and Fishing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
    • Reminder to Buy Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Youth-Only Spring Turkey Hunt: Saturday, April 7th

The Youth Spring Turkey Hunt on Saturday, April 7, 2007, is open to young people 15 years of age or younger who must be accompanied and directly supervised by an adult hunter. The adult hunter can help with calling birds but can not carry or discharge a firearm. Adult hunters accompanying youth must possess the appropriate hunting licenses. Youth between the age of 12 and 15 must have appropriate hunting licenses. This is a great opportunity for hunters to pass the tradition down to the next generation.

Spring Gobbler Season runs from April 14 to May 19 this year in Virginia with a change in hunting hours midway through the season. From April 14 to May 5, turkey hunting will be allowed from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. From May 7 through May 19, turkey hunting will be allowed from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard is Not the Best Clue!

Although commonly called Spring "Gobbler" Season, the legal description allows that "bearded turkeys only" may be harvested. This is because 10-20 percent of hens may grow beards and could be mistaken for a bearded gobbler. Even though it is legal to harvest a bearded hen, take a good look and determine if your quarry is truly a gobbler. Hens have a fuzzy, blue-gray head - a gobbler's head is red and white. Gobblers will appear black in color while hens will be more brownish due to the buff color tips on the breast feathers. Although harder to see at a distance, only gobblers have leg spurs. Many sportsmen will pass up the hen with a beard to help the population grow a little. Remember as you take youngsters afield with you, always set a good example for safety and ethics. Teaching these hunting heritage traditions to the next generation are the most important lessons we as sportsmen and sportswomen can make.

Fee Fishing Areas Open April 7th - Day Use Permit Required

Fee fishing areas at Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek and Douthat State Park open on the first Saturday of April. This year, that will be April 7. As a reminder to those that frequent these areas, the cost for the one day permit has increased to $6.50. Concessionaires will not be present at Clinch Mountain or Crooked Creek. Anglers will need to purchase the permit through one of the nearly 600 license agents around the state, on the Internet or by phone at 1-866-721-6911. Phone sales are available Monday through Friday during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.). Permits for Douthat can be purchased at the State Park office. However, especially during opening days, the line for obtaining those licenses can be rather long. The Douthat license can also be purchased at any license agent, on the Internet or via the phone.

Serial Wild Turkey Poacher Convicted

A tip from a concerned sportsman to VDGIF game wardens has resulted in the largest criminal conviction of illegal wild turkey poaching in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The single defendant in this case, Jason Cook, a former assistant chief of Spotsylvania County Animal Control, was charged with nearly 100 criminal violations related to his illegal turkey poaching activities over the past 15 years. A surveillance operation led to a search warrant for the defendant's residence. The execution of this search warrant included the seizure of 81 wild turkey beards, 17 turkey legs with spurs, 38 additional turkey spurs, 6 sets of turkey tail feathers, and hunting photo albums containing pictures of the defendant posing with illegally shot wild turkey carcasses. The conviction resulted in loss of hunting privileges, jail time, community service and over $10,000 in fines and game restoration costs. For more details, contact Lieutenant Rich Goszka at (540) 899-4169.

Don't allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen! To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712 or email WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov.

2007 Wildlife and Boating Regulation Review and Amendment Process

In 2007 the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries is conducting its Periodic Regulation Review and Amendment Process, in which it addresses all regulations administered by VDGIF. Key dates in the process are:

  • March 27. "Staff Preliminary Recommendations" Board meeting. Staff presented its Preliminary Recommendations for regulation amendments.
  • April 10. The Preliminary Recommendations Public Discussion Period opens, to run through June 15.
  • June 5. Board meeting. Preliminary Recommendations Public Discussion Period public comments is accepted.
  • June 15. The preliminary Recommendations Public Discussion Period closes.
  • July 17. "Regulation Proposal" Board meeting. Staff summarizes the public discussion of the Preliminary Recommendations; staff presents its resulting Proposal-Stage Recommendations; the Board solicits and receives public comments on the Proposal-Stage Recommendations; the Board deliberates and votes to propose regulation amendments.
  • July 24. The Proposed Regulations Public Comment Period opens, to run through September 24.
  • September 24. The Proposed Regulations Public Comment Period closes.
  • October 16. "Final Action" Board meeting. Staff presents a summary of the public comments received; Staff presents its Final Recommendations; the Board solicits and hears public comments on the Proposed Regulations and Staff’s Final Recommendations; the Board deliberates and adopts Final Regulation Amendments to take effect January 1, March 1, and July 1, 2008.

VDGIF solicits the public's participation in the regulation review process; channels for submitting comments are:

  • Online through the Department's Web site.
  • Email sent to RegComments@dgif.virginia.gov.
  • Mailed letters sent to: Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn: Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond VA 23230.
  • Public comment at Board meetings.

On request and subject to their availability, VDGIF staff will meet with constituent groups, local government officials, or other groups in local communities to address specific regulatory issues of interest.

Visit the VDGIF regulatory process site for additional details.

People and Partners in the News

"ReNew The New" River Cleanup Campaign Underway

On March 31, 2007, Giles County's litter prevention program will kick off "ReNew The New," a county-wide cleanup campaign involving hundreds of volunteers. The first project, "Ramps and Roads," involves two river guide services: I Canoe-The New and New River's Edge. They will be leading Giles County school buses, filled with Virginia Tech volunteers, to river access sites to clear out debris and litter. Other groups of school children, church and civic clubs will work on Giles County roadways. Bags, vests and gloves will be provided by the county. The hard work will conclude at noon with a picnic and door prizes, all provided by Giles County. The County is installing information kiosks at boat access sites for the Department to post information. They will also be installing trash-pick-up bag dispensers at boat access sites. To volunteer contact the Giles County Public Service Authority at (540) 922-2576 or visit their Web site.

Eagle Cam Update - Chicks Have Hatched

The three eggs in the eagles' nest featured on the Eagle Cam have hatched! Observers can catch all the activity by way of a Web cam strategically placed in a tree near the eagles' nest located at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Through a unique partnership with VDGIF, WVEC TV and Norfolk Botanical Garden, the public has a rare opportunity to witness key moments in the life of bald eagles. VDGIF has launched a blog with expert information provided by Watchable Wildlife Biologist Stephen Living.

Youth Writing Contest Deadline Extended

The submission deadline for the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 14th Annual Youth Writing Competition has been extended to April 30, 2007. Normally, the contest deadline is January 31 of each year with the awards presented in March. However, this year the top three Youth Writing Awards will be presented during the Outdoor Writers Association of America Conference being held in Roanoke June 16-19, 2007. The winners will be introduced during a luncheon to about 300 national outdoor writers and editors. In addition, each of the three winners will receive outdoor gear and other prizes valued at several hundred dollars.

The goal of the contest is to recognize students in grades 9 through 12 for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The theme of this year's contest, "My Most Memorable Outdoor Experience," may include an experience by the writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding or other outdoor activity. Submissions can be made by private, public or home schooled students.

For contest rules, guidelines and information visit www.vowa.org.

Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival: May 11-13, 2007

The Inaugural Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival is scheduled for May 11-13, 2007. This event will celebrate International Migratory Bird day with guided walks, narrated bus tours and family activities - all free. Huge numbers of migrating songbirds move through the swamp at this time of year - and you'll have a chance to experience them! The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a treasure trove of wildlife and a great Virginia experience.

This event is co-sponsored by VDGIF, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the City of Suffolk and the Great Dismal Swamp Coalition. Call (757) 986-3705 for information and reservations.

Bluebirds are Back!

If you haven't already put up your bluebird box, time is of the essence. Male bluebirds have scouted their territories and females are arriving; nesting will begin soon...

Be Safe... Have Fun

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends the following guidelines for Spring Gobbler hunting:

  • Because a gobbler's head is distinguished by its bold white, blue and red colors, NEVER wear white, blue or red clothing - not even socks or undershirts - because a flash of white could be mistaken for a turkey. Even a red bandana or blue snack food wrapper could be misread in the woods during turkey season.
  • Never shoot at a sound or movement. Wait until you have a good, clean shot at a legal bird. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Instead, call out in a loud voice and remain hidden, until the other hunter acknowledges your presence.
  • When you harvest a gobbler, carry it out of the woods draped in blaze orange. Otherwise, another hunter might just see the bird and not you.
  • Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt! »

Wildlife Habitat Improvement Tip

"Cleaning up" the Yard? Create Brush Piles for Critters

You can provide important cover for birds, mammals, and other wildlife species by creating brush piles from your yard debris, such as pruned branches or downed limbs. Also, don't remove leaves! Keep leaf litter intact as a ground cover, where possible, and allow the natural decomposition process to occur. Leaves provide a home for many insects that feed other animals in the food web. Learn more »

In Case You Missed It...

Editor's note: As our subscriptions have grown to over 8,000 and new readers continue to sign up, we realize that some of our seasonal features are important and timely enough to bear repeating. So you can easily note repeated items we have added this section, "In case you missed it..."

Trout Heritage Day - April 7, 2007

On Saturday, April 7, 2007, VDGIF will host its annual Trout Heritage Day. A group of 16 waters will be freshly stocked with trout to allow trout anglers and communities to plan activities around a known stocking date. The Department has worked with the U.S. Forest Service, local communities and private landowners to provide this opportunity. During the previous Trout Heritage Days, anglers reported success on most waters and were pleased with the angling opportunity provided. On April 7, fishing begins at 9 a.m.

Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Grant Application Period Open

VDGIF is soliciting applications for the 2007 Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp grant cycle. This grant is open to non-profit organizations for cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects in Virginia. There are two grant application windows. Grant applications are due on March 30, 2007, and June 29, 2007, before 5:00 p.m. Successful applicants will be notified within 30 days of the submission deadlines.

Fulfillment Farms Offers Youth Turkey Hunt April 7

A special opportunity for young turkey hunters is being offered by The Virginia Wildlife Foundation at Fulfillment Farms in Albemarle County on April 7. Details and registration information can be found at www.vawildlife.org or by calling at (434) 286-2656.

Fishing Workshop for Beginners Scheduled in Chesapeake

Do you want to learn to fish? The VDGIF Outdoor Education Program is hosting a Fishing Workshop at Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake on Saturday, April 28, 2007. This is a freshwater fishing workshop for beginners. The lake is reported to have plenty of bass and bluegill, so it should be a lot of fun. The cost is $15. Tell a friend and make it a family outing to remember!

Still Working On Your Taxes?

Remember when you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can support wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program checkoff box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Spring Hunting and Fishing Events Offered for Persons with Disabilities

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen and VDGIF have seven hunting and fishing outings for April and May for persons with disabilities. Applications for these hunting or fishing opportunities are available online at www.vanwtf.com. All of the events are free and open to anyone with a disability. Participants are responsible for having all required Virginia hunting and fishing licenses.

See the Upcoming Events section for dates and locations. The application deadline is April 1st. For more information, or to get an application by mail, please contact, Robin Clark at (434) 979-6154, or via email weeeelz@aol.com.

Reminder to Buy Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Most licenses now sold by the VDGIF are valid for one year from the date of purchase with two exceptions: the Deer, Bear, Turkey license and the National Forest Permit.

VDGIF operates a Customer Service Center to assist purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses. Representatives are available 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays, to answer your questions about the appropriate licenses you need for your hunting or fishing outing and to re-issue a lost license. You can purchase licenses online, by telephone toll free at (866) 721-6911, or direct from hundreds of local license agents.

Help Spread the News!

We hope you enjoy the new, electronic Outdoor Report and invite you to share this information with your friends and colleagues. Simply visit the Department's Web site and click on the Outdoor Report link to subscribe. New editions are sent directly to your email address every two weeks. Stay informed on issues and opportunities about Virginia's outdoors!

In upcoming issues of the new Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Leave Fawns Alone
  • Shad Cam
  • Free Freshwater Fishing Days: June 1-3, 2007
The Dunlin. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
BE WILD, VIRGINIA!

The Dunlin
by Spike Knuth

The term "shorebird" is mostly used in reference to sandpipers, plovers, turnstones, willets, dowitchers and the like; birds that live along sandy, muddy shores. Dunlins winter farther north than most shorebirds. Even on cold, icy days in winter, waterfowl hunters will commonly see these small shorebirds on the marsh mudflats.

Dunlins have been called by a variety of names, including black-bellied sandpiper, red-backed dunlin, brant bird, and winter snipe. They measure 8½ to 9 inches and have a fairly large, long, curved bill for its size. They are relatively short-legged and short-necked, giving it a hunch backed appearance.

Like many other shorebirds, dunlins fly in tight, compact flocks, flying almost as one with great precision in twisting, rising, turning, circling flight without getting in each other’s way. When the flock lands, they scatter as they set down allowing room for each, folding their wings in unison and becoming statue-still for a brief period. In flight their wings show a distinct, narrow white line and a grayish breast band.

Dunlins arrive to Virginia mainly in the fall and the bulk of them remain into the spring, inhabiting beaches, sand bars, tidal flats of bays and rivers and mudflats of marshes. They feed by probing for small mollusks, crustaceans, worms, sand fleas and other aquatic invertebrates.

Come spring dunlin fly to their northern breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. They will pair off and begin nesting on the ground near hummocks, grass tufts, small stunted shrubs and trees, near small pools. Four greenish-brown eggs are laid, which will hatch in about 22 days.

·    ·    ·

This section of each issue of the Outdoor Report features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

Think you can't make a difference? You can! Be wild and work with your local officials and in your local communities to conserve Virginia's wildlife resources. Find out how you can help and join our team!

UPCOMING EVENTS
April 2007
7 Youth Spring Turkey Hunt (statewide)
7 Trout Heritage Day
7 Youth Turkey Hunt, Fulfillment Farms, Albemarle. Visit vawildlife.org or call (434) 286-2656 for information.
10-12 Environment Virginia Conference, Lexington (VMI)
13-14 Hunter Education Instructors Advanced Training, Holiday Lake. If you are interested in becoming a Hunter Education volunteer, please email Sgt. David Dodson.
21-22 Annual Fly Fishing Festival South River, Waynesboro
21 Covey Kids Event: Educational Workshop, Quail Unlimited, White Oak Preserve, Clarksville. Call (434) 374-2025 for information.
20-21 Butch Trinca Memorial Spring Gobbler Hunt - Central Virginia Chapter, Charlottesville
28 New Kent Forestry Center Spring Gobbler Hunt I, Providence Forge
28 James River Chapter NWTF Spring Gobbler Hunt, Bedford
May 2007
5 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Spring Gobbler Hunt, Buckingham County
6 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Trout Rodeo, Broadway
11-13 Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival (PDF). Call (757) 986-3705.
12 New Kent Forestry Center Spring Gobbler Hunt II, Providence Forge
18-20 Mountain Lake Migratory Birding Festival
June 2007
1-3 Free Freshwater Fishing Days
5 Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Meeting, Richmond
16-20 Outdoor Writers Association of America 80th Annual Conference, Roanoke
MAKE IT A FAMILY ADVENTURE!
The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HUNT OR FISH?
Visit Find Game, the Department's award-winning online public hunting lands locator!

For persons with disabilities: a calendar of hunting, fishing, and skill-building events, as well as areas designed for access to persons with disabilities can be found on the Department's online events calendar, accessible fishing areas page, as well as the VANWTF site.

Find out where to fish, fishing access, and much more at the Department's Web site.

QUICK GLANCE
AT HUNTING SEASONS
For a quick reference to the season dates for hunting and trapping for all game species visit our online quick reference or refer to page 77 of the 2006-07 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest.
March 2007
31 Urban Archery Season Closes
April 2007
7 Youth Spring Turkey Hunt
14-May 5 Spring Gobbler Season (Hours: one-half hour before sunrise to noon)
May 2007
7-19 Spring Gobbler Season (Hours: one-half hour before sunrise to sunset)
June 2007
2-23

New Squirrel Season on selected VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas

Please consider contributing to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.
REPORT
WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov.

FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, contact the local game warden immediately through the local sheriff's office or police department.

Don't allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen!

NATURE TIPS:
"SIGNS OF SPRING"
  • Dogwood and redbud blooming
  • Hawk migration along Blue Ridge
  • Gobblers gobbling
  • Hummingbirds return
  • Lady slippers, trout lily, dwarf crested iris bloom

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Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230
(804) 367-1000 - www.dgif.virginia.gov