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, October 24, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Governor Declares State of Emergency - Burning Ban Now Statewide
  • Shotgun and Rabbit Regulation Changes To Go Into Effect October 26
  • Deer Hunting Forecast - Another Record Year?
  • VDGIF/VA Tech Begin Hunting With Hounds Study
  • Hunters - Did You Remember To...
    A new section to note some important reminders before you head to the woods.
    • Need a Last Minute Hunter Education Course?
    • How to Make a Personal Big Game Check Card
    • Deer Hunters Must Follow Carcass Importation Laws When Crossing State Lines
    • Firearms Safety Message Updated for Unplugged Shotguns
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Hunter Education Program Exceeds Half Million Students Taught
    • National Archery in the Schools Program Featured for Congress
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • All Outdoor Users be Careful With Fire - Be Alert
    • Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field reports from officers protecting natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation
  • 2007 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife
  • Fishin' Report
    • Freshwater Drum and Hybrid Striped Bass Added to State Record and Trophy Fish Lists
    • Reporter's Notes
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to recent articles of on-going interest

Governor Declares State of Emergency - Burning Ban Now Statewide

Governor Timothy M. Kaine declared a statewide emergency and enacted a ban on open fires beginning October 19, 2007. The statewide burning ban is the result of drought conditions that have created a serious risk of widespread and dangerous forest fires in every region of the Commonwealth. "We have looked at all the current data and reviewed the projections for the fall fire season, and everything points to a significant threat to public safety," said Governor Kaine. "I have declared a state of emergency to exist within the Commonwealth to try to minimize the risk of forest fires that could threaten lives and property."

The burn ban will remain in effect until existing weather conditions improve with significant rain or snow. Violation of the law is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a fine of not more than $500.

Governor Kaine has authorized the Virginia National Guard to assist the Virginia Department of Forestry in fighting and mitigating the effects of wildfires. "Most areas in Virginia have not received adequate rainfall for several months. Rainfall deficits range from nearly six inches in the Richmond area to more than 14 inches in the mountains of Southwest Virginia," said State Forester Carl E. Garrison III. "With such extremely dry conditions, any escaped fire would have the potential to become a major wildfire very quickly. And, since debris burning is already the number one cause of fires in Virginia, a prohibition on all burning will reduce the threat."

The declaration does not have a direct impact on hunting season, but will prevent the use of warming or camp fires on all state-owned and privately owned lands in Virginia in addition to the prohibition on open burning. Governor Kaine will continue to consult State Forester Garrison and Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries Director J. Carlton Courter III to determine if conditions warrant any changes to this year's hunting season.

VDGIF Director Carlton Courter confirms that, "There are no plans to close the upcoming hunting season due to the extreme fire danger. Virginia hunters have a long history of being cautious in the woods during time of increased danger of wild fires. We suggest that hunters refrain from smoking, carry extra water in their hunting vehicles, charge up their cell phones, be on the lookout for any fire starts and quickly report them to authorities. When the hunters hit the woods, they act responsibly and provide more eyes to detect any fires that may occur. It's good to have them in the woods looking. A forest closure will depend on extreme fire occurrence and public safety concerns for life and property. No decision has been made and all options will be reviewed one day at a time as the drought continues. Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen and all outdoor enthusiasts must do their part to be cautious and help keep fire occurrence low."

Shotgun And Rabbit Regulation Changes To Go Into Effect October 26

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries recently passed a regulation that will take effect on October 26, 2007 that will make it legal to use unplugged shotguns for the hunting and taking of non-migratory game (this includes deer, bear, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, quail, bobcat, coyote, fox, raccoon, opossum, groundhog, and skunk). This is a change from what is printed in the Hunting & Trapping in Virginia, July 2007-June 2008 Regulations digest, in the second bullet under Legal Use of Firearms on page 21.

Shotguns must still be plugged to a three shell capacity if hunting and taking migratory game (this includes doves, crows, all ducks, all geese including resident Canada geese, tundra swans, rail, snipe, woodcock, gallinules, and moorhens).

The Board also passed a modification to the rabbit season, which begins November 3, 2007, by extending the season to the last legal hunting day in February. This change will be effective for this season. This is different from the season ending date listed in this year's Hunting & Trapping in Virginia, July 2007-June 2008 Regulations digest. All other rabbit hunting regulations as outlined in the regulations digest remain in effect.

At their meeting, the Board also approved other Wildlife regulations that will go into effect July 1, 2008. Additionally, they approved Wildlife Diversity and Fisheries regulations that will go into effect January 1, 2008.

For more information about hunting, fishing and boating regulations, hunting seasons, bag limits, license requirements, and to find a free Hunter Education course near you, visit the VDGIF Web site at

Deer Hunting Forecast - Another Record Year?

"The 2007-08 deer season should be another good deer season over most of Virginia. After four consecutive years of record female deer kill levels, statewide deer kill levels should be stable or declining." This is the forecast reported by Matt Knox, the Deer Project Supervisor for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He adds, "Over the majority of Virginia, we are at the point that, if a deer management mistake is to be made, it will be to overkill, not underkill, the deer herd. The 2006 deer kill total of 223,000 was unexpected. After three consecutive years of record female deer kill levels, last year's deer season forecast had predicted that total deer kill levels would decline. Overall, it was up slightly by 4%. The good news is that female deer kill levels were at record levels for the fourth consecutive year. Hopefully, this high and sustained female deer kill will lead to a decrease in the statewide deer herd and a decline in total deer kill numbers in the near future.

Deer kill totals below the past decade's average of 208,000 are hoped for soon. Over the vast majority of the state, deer population management objectives call for the deer herd(s) to be stabilized or reduced. The reason for this is that deer management over most of Virginia is based on the cultural carrying capacity (CCC). Simply put, CCC can be defined as the number of deer that can coexist compatibly with humans. CCC is a function of the tolerance of humans to deer and the effects of deer. Over much of Virginia, it would be safe to say that the CCC has been reached, and in some cases, exceeded. Deer hunters who would like to know the exact deer kill data for their specific county or region can find the data from 1947 to 2006 on the Department's Web site. For additional details read the entire deer forecast article (PDF) as published in the Whitetail Times magazine published by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association. Knox concludes, "Hunters and landowners alike are working to do their part for responsible deer management. Please support the Virginia Hunters For the Hungry program. Most importantly, be safe!"

VDGIF/VA Tech Begin Hunting With Hounds Study

In recent years, the VDGIF has received an increasing number of comments and complaints regarding the use of dogs for hunting in Virginia. While this is certainly not a new issue, the level and tone of these comments has become increasingly challenging, suggesting strongly that we examine more closely, in a proactive and positive fashion, the issues surrounding hunting with hounds. Ultimately this issue involves all hunters because it could impact all hunting.

VDGIF is committed to preserving the tradition of hunting, including hunting with hounds, in a manner that is fair, sportsmanlike and consistent with the rights of property owners and other citizens. The process we are following in this study is open, inclusive and designed to allow sportsmen, landowners and individuals with an interest in the issue to determine the future of hunting in Virginia.

One of the key attributes of this process is the complete and total involvement of the public, from beginning to end, especially the primary issue stakeholders. This process will not be led by VDGIF staff; rather experienced researchers at Virginia Tech will manage and conduct the project. The decision to involve Virginia Tech was made, in large part, to guarantee that no results would be predetermined.

The process includes many avenues for interested citizens to participate. The public input opportunities include focus group meetings with individual stakeholder groups, a survey conducted through the Department's Web site, ample opportunity to review all developments, public meetings and by letter or email. About half of the focus groups will be made up of bear, deer, fox and raccoon hound hunters. The remainder of the focus groups will be populated by landowners, government representatives, other hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

Your participation and support for this undertaking is vital to ensuring a successful and positive result. Opportunities to get involved include:

  • A survey conducted by Virginia Tech, linked through the Department's Web site and by mail (available early in 2008).
  • Public meetings held throughout the state.
  • Email updates on the progress of the study throughout the project (starting December, 2007) by going to
  • The opportunity to review reports and comment on them as they are developed (most likely to occur in spring/summer 2008).
  • You are invited to write letters and send e-mails which will be included in the information to be reviewed by the advisory group. Email letters to: or mail letters to: VDGIF, Wildlife Division, Hunting with Hounds Study, 4010 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23230.
  • Visit for updates.

Hunters - Did You Remember To...

The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in your efforts to get ready for hunting season. Most of these notes are reported from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.

Need a Last Minute Hunter Education Course?

Since most Virginia hunters are interested in deer hunting, many wait until just before deer season to take a Hunter Education course. Each year, some are unable to hunt because all of the "last-minute" classes are full, even though many classes were available earlier in the year. If you need to complete hunter education before hunting this fall, you should take a class as soon as possible. Classes are held free of charge and can be found on the VDGIF Web site or by calling 1-866-604-1122. You will need your zip code to find out about classes near you. There are 160 conservation police officers (formerly game wardens) and 750 trained volunteer instructors that certify 14,000 students in Hunter Education each year. All 12-15 year-old and first-time hunters are required to complete a Hunter Education course prior to purchasing a hunting license.

How To Make A Personal Big Game Check Card

If you are exempt from purchasing a hunting license, you still are required to create a personal check card to have with your harvested deer, bear or turkey. Since you don't have license tags to "notch" to check your kill, you need to make a personal check card. The personal check card can be written on any type of paper using a pen and must include the hunter's full name, date of kill and telephone confirmation number. For a complete list of persons exempt from purchasing hunting licenses, review page 5 of the Regulation booklet or go to the VDGIF Web site. If you have checked your animal using the telephone (1-866-GOT GAME), or the online checking system, a personal check card is also required to have with the carcass if transferred to someone else or left unattended. Only deer and spring turkey may be checked using the online or telephone checking system.

Deer Hunters Must Follow Carcass Importation Laws When Crossing State Lines

To prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Virginia, regulations were adopted in 2006 which prohibits the importation or possession of whole deer carcasses, or specified parts of carcasses originating from a state or Canadian province in which CWD has been confirmed.

Hunters should learn whether or not the state in which they intend to hunt deer or elk has CWD, a fatal neurological disease affecting deer and elk. The disease has been found in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. These include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan. If you're going to be hunting in a CWD-positive state, be sure to check that state's regulations for proper handling of deer and elk and if samples are required.

Firearms Safety Message Updated for Unplugged Shotguns

VDGIF Hunter Education staff offer some safety guidelines that relate to the use of unplugged shotguns. Since most Virginia hunters are accustomed to using shotguns which will only hold three shells, it is important to double and triple-check to be sure that shotguns are truly unloaded. It is possible that out of habit, hunters will only eject three shells from their shotguns, accidentally leaving one or more in their firearms. Follow these extra steps to ensure your shotgun is truly empty:

  • When emptying any firearm, operate the action several times after you believe it is empty.
  • Look into the chamber and magazine to make sure the firearm is empty.
  • Feel inside the chamber and magazine, wherever you can, to make sure the firearm is empty.

Hunters must also be aware of their safe zones of fire. These are the areas where it is safe to shoot. Hunters should talk to those they hunt with to plan zones of fire before a target appears. This is especially important with shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, because it could be easy to forget where partners are located after the first shot or two.

People and Partners in the News

Hunter Education Program Exceeds Half Million Students Taught

Interested in hunting? Start with a Hunter Education Course. Since the introduction of mandatory Hunter Education in 1988, the VDGIF has certified more than a half million men, women and children through the Hunter Education program. This is an impressive milestone for the program and for the Department. Hunter Education is taught primarily by trained volunteers. Conservation Police Officers also participate in the program, because of the impact on public safety. Since 1988, there has been a 25% reduction in the rate of firearms-related hunting injuries. Virginia's basic Hunter Education course covers hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship. Specific topics include safe handling of firearms and archery equipment, tree stand safety, first aid, proper care of harvested game, ethics, landowner relations, wildlife management, wildlife identification, wildlife laws and more. The course is free of charge and is taught statewide. To find a course near you, visit our Web site.

National Archery in the Schools Program Featured for Congress

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) was featured as the theme of the Congressional Sportsman's Foundation breakfast for the Members of Congress and their staff on October 3, 2007 at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. NASP VDGIF Coordinator, Karen Holson reported that, "Ten students from Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke, Virginia, proudly demonstrated their shooting skills and the Eleven Steps to Archery Success that they had gained with the NASP equipment. The Congressmen and their staff members were impressed with the positive educational aspects of this growing program."

Visit the VDGIF Web site to view the video highlights of the demonstration, showing the students working with Congressional Members as they shoot the Genesis bows. The VDGIF conducts NASP training for school teachers who are interested in offering archery as part of their curriculum. Virginia currently has over 100 schools that are offering the National Archery in the Schools Program. For more information on getting NASP in your school, visit the National Archery in the Schools Program Web site and contact your NASP State Coordinator. For Virginia,  contact:

Be Safe... Have Fun!

All Outdoor Users Be Careful With Fire - Be Alert

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) are urging hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to use extra caution while in the woods. Extremely dry weather conditions have prompted Gov. Tim Kaine to issue a statewide open air burning ban October 19, 2007. The ban will remain in effect until conditions improve with significant rain and/or snow.

The Early Archery Deer Season is underway statewide and the Muzzleloader Deer Season and General Firearms Deer Season will be opening in November. The agencies offer the following tips to hunters, campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts:

  • Remember, with the burning ban, campfires and other open flames are not permitted.
  • It is recommended that you not smoke in the woods, but if you do, be careful when lighting and extinguishing cigarettes. Never throw a cigarette butt from your vehicle window or leave burnt cigarettes behind.
  • Do not park on dry grass or leaves. Your vehicle's exhaust and catalytic converter can easily start a fire.
  • Keep spark arresters on chain saws and on off-road vehicles.
  • Carry an extra water bottle in case you need it to extinguish a small fire or sparks.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and call 911 to report fires.

Early detection of a wild fire and quick response by firefighters is critical to protecting lives and keeping damage to property at a minimum.

The remote chance of starting a fire in dry leaves and brush with a muzzleloading firearm comes from the unburned powder that is shot out of the muzzle of the gun. Most muzzleloading hunters no longer use the primitive black powder "patch and ball" type ammunition, but those who do should follow the shot path, checking the area 15 to 25 yards along the shot path for the hot patch to make sure it does not ignite any dry leaves. It is recommended that they stay in the area for five minutes after shooting to watch for and extinguish any smoldering embers.

For more information on fire safety and regular updates on the status of the burning ban, visit the VDOF Web site. For more information on hunting, seasons and regulations, visit the VDGIF Web site.

Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters! Be Safe, Be Seen.

Except for hunting waterfowl, wearing blaze orange during the general firearms hunting season is not only smart - it's the law! And a good one that saves lives each year. But blaze orange is not just for hunters. This high-visibility "safety orange" is recognized in the workplace, both indoors or out, so you can bee seen. If you are a landowner, jogger, hiker, or walk your dog on woodland trails, you would be wise to wear a blaze orange hat, vest, or coat so a hunter can see you and not mistake your movement for game. Just like driving defensively, you should take the same precautions and awareness if you go to the woods for any reason during the hunting seasons from October through January. Dress defensively. Wear blaze orange to Be Safe and Be Seen. Also, if you should fall and get injured, rescuers will find you easier... time saved that could keep you from further harm. If you have dogs that "roam" out of the yard, put a blaze orange collar on them so they are not likely to be mistaken for a fox or coyote. Remember whether you are a hunter, or just enjoying the outdoors, cutting firewood or walking a woodland trail, wear "safety orange"- it's the woodswise thing to do!

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

The "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers, previously called game wardens, who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. The Notebook entries are listed by Region.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Lights Out for Spotlighters... Sgt. Keith Harver and Officer Cameron Dobyns were working adjacent spotlighting complaint areas in King and Queen County on Saturday, October 20, 2007 when Sgt. Harver observed a vehicle shining a light into the field where he was staked out. As Sgt. Harver tried to reposition his vehicle without headlights, he realized the spotlighting car had crossed the ditch from the public roadway and was driving through the center of the large field. Sgt. Harver was able to observe the car chasing a deer across the harvested corn field while the passenger was shooting at the running deer. Officer Dobyns provided a quick backup and the vehicle, a 1997 Camaro, was stopped as it exited the field. Two 20 year old subjects were arrested for Spotlighting/Attempt to Take and Trespassing. For more information contact Lt. Ken Conger at (804) 829-6580.

Region 2 - Southside

Tip Leads to Multiple Turkey Poachers Arrest... On September 22, CPO Zach Adams received information on the closed season killing of two wild turkeys by an alleged convicted felon in Campbell County. The informant was able to provide specific details and was able to give the exact location of the kills. Officer Adams went to the scene of the crime and found a dead turkey in the woods which had not been found by the suspects. The informant was also able to provide names of two additional individuals who were in the vehicle at the time of the kills. Officer Adams then verified the criminal history of the suspected shooter and found that he had seven prior felony convictions. Officer Adams met with one of the suspects who provided a written statement of the illegal activities and verified that the firearm and one of the turkeys was at the suspected shooter's home in his freezer. This individual also provided information about possible stolen crossbows and other weapons that may be located in the shooter's residence.

With this information, a search warrant was obtained for the suspected shooter's residence and on September 24, Officer Adams and Officer Richard Howald, assisted by several Campbell County Deputies, executed the search warrant. During the search, the firearm and turkey were located, as well as large quantities of ammunition and two crossbows, one still new in the box. The suspect was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, taking turkey during the closed season, and shooting from the road. He was transported to Campbell County where he was held on $5000 bond. After the arrest of the shooter, the officers located the third individual in the vehicle who provided a written statement that matched all previous information. Additional charges are forthcoming on all three suspects. During follow-up interviews, these suspects have now provided information on a neighbor who is also a convicted felon who hunts behind his house. The investigation continues. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.

Region 3 - Southwest

Drunken Hunter Put in Jail... On October 13, Officer George Steele encountered two hunters in the Jefferson National Forest in Dickenson County. While Officer Steele was checking their licenses, he could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on one of the hunters. Officer Steele had the suspect hunter perform some field sobriety tests, which he failed. Officer Steele then offered the impaired hunter a Preliminary Breath Test. The impaired hunter was arrested for hunting with a crossbow while under the influence of an intoxicant. Further investigation revealed that this subject had a felony conviction for possessing a sawed-off shotgun. The subject was held at the regional jail in Dickenson County under a $1,250 bond. He is still under federal probation at this time. The second hunter in the incident also was charged by Officer Steele for having no hunting licenses. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Search for Missing Elderly Woman has Happy Ending... On October 16, Conservation Police Officers assisted the Highland County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, local emergency services volunteers and SAR groups in a search for a missing woman near the small community of McDowell in Highland County. The 64 year old woman had gone for a walk near her home at approximately 4:30 p.m. on October 15 and had not returned home. She was found at approximately 4:14 p.m. the following day several miles from her home near a section of the VDGIF Highland County Wildlife Management Area. Volunteers spent the night searching areas close to the residence before requesting through the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Richmond that Conservation Police Officers join the search efforts. Sgt. Jones and Officers Barnette, Kester and Entsminger joined the search on Tuesday morning and utilized VDGIF ATV's to cover large areas of the almost 1200 acres owned by the missing woman and her husband. Special Agent Hull who is the VDGIF tracking expert and Conservation Police Officers from Region 2 including Sgt. Thomas, Officers Howald, Nipper and Adams had just arrived and were set to join the search when the missing woman was discovered sitting next to a State road. Apparently, she had managed to walk out of the remote area to a road and had the common sense to sit tight and wait for someone to pass by. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke at (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Quick Action Nabs Driver that Rammed School Bus... On September 27, at 8:30 a.m., Virginia Conservation Police Officer Wayne Weller was on patrol in Chesterfield County in the Walthal Area. While driving northbound on Jefferson Davis Hwy, Officer Weller came upon an accident that had just occurred involving a loaded school bus. The school bus had been struck head-on by a cargo truck, causing injuries. Officer Weller began to secure the scene and requested rescue units. As he was doing this, he observed four subjects running east from the crash scene into a wooded area adjacent to the highway. It was learned that three citizens were attempting to detain the driver of the cargo truck who was fleeing the scene. Chesterfield County Police arrived on the scene and assumed the investigation. Officer Weller assisted in attempts to locate the fleeing driver. County Police K-9 arrived and a track for the suspect began. During this time, Officer Weller returned to the scene to assist County Police. Officer Weller through interviewing witnesses discovered that there was also a passenger in the striking vehicle and through further investigation Officer Weller located the passenger who was concealing himself in the crowd awaiting his girlfriend to pick him up. Once located, the subject was able to aid Chesterfield County Police in identifying the suspect who had been driving the cargo truck that struck the school bus. For more information contact Lt. John J. Cobb at (540) 899-4169.

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!

2007 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife

Our 2007 Collector's knife has been customized by Buck Knives. This classic model 110 folding knife is 8-½" long when fully opened and has a distinctive, natural woodgrain handle with gold lettering. Each knife is individually serial numbered and has a mirror polished blade engraved with a fox. Our custom knife comes in a solid cherry box with a collage of foxes engraved on the box cover.

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) Web site.

Species Added to State Record and Trophy Fish Lists

Anglers who catch a trophy-sized freshwater drum or hybrid striped bass in Virginia can now apply for a trophy fish award or state record. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recently added these species to both lists. The Virginia Angler Recognition Program recognizes anglers who catch a trophy fish that exceeds the program's minimum guidelines for weight or total length. The State Record Freshwater Fish list recognizes anglers who catch the largest fish of each species certified by weight.

Freshwater drum are native to the Clinch and Powell Rivers in Southwest Virginia, and are also found in Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island). To qualify for a trophy fish award, a freshwater drum must be at least 24 inches long or weigh six pounds. Anglers seeking a state record award will have to catch a freshwater drum weighing a minimum of eight pounds.

Hybrid striped bass are stocked into Claytor Lake (Pulaski County) and Flannagan Reservoir (Dickenson County). Only applications for fish caught from these two lakes and their tributaries will be considered. A hybrid striped bass must be at least 24 inches long or weigh eight pounds to qualify for a trophy fish award. A minimum weight of 10 pounds has been established for hybrid striped bass to qualify as a state record.

More information about program rules and policies can be found in the Freshwater Fishing in Virginia regulation pamphlet, or at the Department's Web site.

Reporter's Notes...

"It is not enough for us, nor is it worthy of the name of a human being, merely to live and not to endeavor to unravel the mysteries of life." - Soyen Shaku

Last night the coyotes danced in the cow pasture some 50 yards from my bedroom window. There was yapping, howling and snapping of jaws. It went on for almost half an hour. The cats all rose three feet in the air and went to earth under the big striped sofa. Guinness the dog barked once then went very still and listened. What was the tame canine thinking as he listened to the wild ones? What was I, the "civilized" hominid thinking? Hopefully as little as possible. Our schoolmarms and dusty professors tell us that rational wrangling will untie the knots - bring us the one true knowledge. They are wrong. One part of true knowledge, which is true love, comes from simply being still and listening; of being a silent space for the notes to ride on. And so I lay with my dog and was silent and took in the dancer's pure wildness. Let me advise you, when true wildness comes your way, thank whoever or whatever it is you thank, and simply listen.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Chuck Hyde reports that things are still slow at the reservoir. However, a few lunkers have been brought to boat. Otis Whitehead of Newport News landed a 2 lb. crappie on a minnow. Also some good bass have been tricked by top water baits early in the morning. The water is down 15 inches, is clear and 71 degrees.

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown told me that cats are hitting well on crab, eel, cut bait and night crawlers. Stripers are going for jigs near the bridge and some have been brought in by cat fisherman using cut bait. The crappie and bass are also doing some striking. The water is clear and at 72 degrees.

Little Creek Reservoir: Walter Elliot let us know that Snoopy and Barbie have been having good luck. Specifically, 8 year old Rebecca Blackford landed 7 bluegill up to 6 inches long, using night crawlers and a Snoopy rod. Emma Blackford (5 years old) had a fine day with her Barbie rod, also landing 7 bluegill of the same size. Who knew that children's characters made such good anglers?

Largemouth bass are going for top water baits early in the morning; then crank baits and plastic worms as the sun gets higher. The bass have been moving to the creeks. Yellow perch and crappie are both attacking grubs around structures and in some holes. Chain pickerel are dong well on minnows, crank baits and plastic worms.

Walter wants us to let everyone know that the boat ramp and pier by the concession peninsula was closed because of low water, effective October 9, 2007. For information on what will be open, please call (757) 566-1702 or (757) 259-5360.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins reports that "a little bit of everything" is fishable in his area: stripers, cats, bass, and bluegill. Your best bet in the morning and late in the evening are top water baits. At other times, minnows, night crawlers, crank baits and spinners are effective. The bass are moving to the shallows for winter feeding. The water is dingy and at 71-72 degrees.

Region 2 - Southern Piedmont

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf says that the smallmouth bass are responding all day long to top water popping bugs. The mountain trout are "non existent" due to "dangerously low" waters. All waters are cooling off.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow tells us that the lake is "turning over", that is to say that the surface is getting cooler, not a good set up for fishing. The lake is also 7 feet below normal, which leads to fewer anglers. However, the lake is "still fishable" if you are careful not to get your boat or motor hung up on a point. A few cats have been landed and the crappie are responding to buck tail hair jigs and live minnows. Bobby predicts the fishing will get better as the water cools. At present it is clear and in the low 70's.

Leesville Reservoir: Fred Tanehill reports that things are "slow". There have been some successful fishermen, but not many. Crappie are going for small minnows and the largemouth bass for spinner baits. The water is clear and in the 60's.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead says in his report that low water has made several ramps unusable so be sure to call ahead at (540) 721-4867 to find out if the ramp you plan to use is open. Bass have been somewhat hard to land, but some are coming to top water popping lures and top water walking splash baits. Near underwater structures spinner baits are good. Stripers are occasionally brought in the early morning using top water poppers. Sutton spoons, swimbaits and trolling with umbrella rigs have also has some success. Cats have been hitting well on live shad, shiners and stink bait. White perch and crappie are attacking curly tail jigs and small minnows. The water is clear and around 75 degrees.

Philpott Reservoir: Bill Coe, a long-time fisherman at Philpott Lake, reports it's "full swing" for Fall fishing at Philpott. Don't store your boat or put your fishing poles up yet! Due to an extremely hot summer and warm Autumn, the fish in Philpott are just beginning their fall pattern which many of us believe is the best fishing of the year. Within the next month and a half the lake temperature should drop from the low 70's to the low 60's which creates excellent angling situations for all species at the lake. The bait fish are now moving from the main lake to the mouths of all creeks and will slowly began to move into the back of them as the temperatures drop. Of course all the game fish are following them because that is their steak and gravy.

Largemouth Bass: Excellent catches are being made all day by fishing points and around trees in the water. Early morning seems to be top water bait time and the rest of the day the fish are suspended 20- 25 feet. The night time anglers are also reporting above average catches. Philpott is an exceptional largemouth fishery.

Smallmouth Bass: The Smallmouth have really made a great comeback at Philpott and can be caught around rocky bluffs. Top water early in the morning and then suspended 25' - 30' during the day. Some surprising catches are being made both day and nigh.

Walleye: Trolling with your bait at 15' to 20' will produce large catches of excellent walleye. My partner and I saw one fifteen pound that was caught just last week. Troll with a small spinner or crankbait and make sure your weight touches the bottom to stir up the bottom a little catching the walleye's attention. Best time to go - all day long!

Bream: (all species of sunfish) Great action when the sun is out. Fish near the banks and don't forget to take the kids. There's no more fun in the world then watching a child develop a love for fishing and catching bream will hook them for life. Philpott has an abundance of them and all you have to do is find that spot were the sun is shining, put a bobber, hook, and worm on a line and you are fishing. Best baits are always live baits such as crickets, small minnows, and the ever favorite worm. Have fun.

Carp: Philpott is excellent for carp fishing but very few folks take advantage of the great fishing. In many countries carp are the choice fish for fun but not so in the US. If you are so inclined and really want to have some fun just put a #2 hook on your line, wrap a piece of bread or store bought carp bait and toss it under the trees in clay bank areas. Hang on and don't be surprised when you latch onto a 20 pounder or so.

Catfish: Best pattern is late at night with cut baits, store baits, chicken liver, etc. Philpott has an abundance of catfish of all sizes. There have been numerous excellent catches in the last few weeks.

Crappie: A little slow right now but can still be caught around fish attractors, docks, trees, etc., using small minnows at about 15 feet deep. Average size is about 1/2 pound but larger catches can be made.

Turtles: Large freshwater turtles can and are being caught in Philpott. Best areas are slow moving water about 10 feet deep. Best baits are cut-baits, night crawlers, and minnows. Don't be surprised when you catch more Catfish than Turtle though. Some of the locals say they are great eating.

Strippers: There seems to be a belief that Philpott has a population of strippers. To the knowledge of myself and the fellow anglers I talk to we have never seen one in Philpott.

As of this writing the lake is down about six feet but this does not deter fishing. It does however cause a little problem putting boats in since some ramps are now out of the water. If you are coming in from out of town and don't use the main boat ramp you should call the Corps of Engineers Duty Ranger at (276) 629-2703 to make sure the ramp you normally use is open.

Have fun fishing Philpott, wear those life jackets, and by all means take a kid fishing.

Region 3 - Southwest

Lower New River: John Zienius tells us that the river is "critically low", and many anglers are reduced to wading. One method that still works is the "belly boat", a sort of inner tube, those using them are having better luck. They seem to do best with top water lures, crawdad crank baits, these tackle are brining in some smallmouth bass. Overall, if you can get to the fish, you can catch some. The water is clear and cooling off.

North Fork of the Holston River: Jamie Lamie reports that fishing is best in the early morning and late evening, at these times, top water lures are best. To get smallmouth bass later in the day, try tubes and jigs, especially dark crawdad patterns. The water is clear and cooling.

New River, Claytor Lake, and nearby waters: Daniel Frank Cadle told me that the approaching deer season has driven fishing from the minds of many sportsmen. Nevertheless, smallmouth bass are doing well at Foster Falls and muskies are biting on spoons there. The waters tend to be murky and are cooling.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews says that the lake is down 21 feet, so the fishing is "slow, not much happening". The tournaments, however, are still doing "OK". Larry thinks that as the temperature drops, fishing will pick up. He also wants you to know that only the Forutney Branch ramp is open. The water is clear and 68 degrees.

Lake Robertson: Wayne Nicely reports that the channel cats are hitting a little on chicken livers and night crawlers. Some good largemouth are going for plastic worms and Pig & Jigs. The water is down 8 inches and is clear and cooling off.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray says that the north and south fork of the river are low and clear, but still have good fishing. The best area of the south fork is from Luray to Front Royal. The best of the north is from Edinburg to Strasburg. The best flies to use are the Murray's Hellgrammite, Shenks' White Streamer and Murray's Pearl Marauder. The water in these areas are around 58-65 degrees. The large trout streams on the valley floor are very low, but with a cautious approach, a good fish can still be landed. The delayed harvest streams should be stocked soon, which will bring a good harvest of rainbow trout. The waters in this area range from 62-68 degrees. It is brookie spawning time in the mountain trout streams, so fishing should not be attempted right now.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

No report. Must be gettin' ready for deer season!

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In Case You Missed It...

Editor's note: With numerous new subscribers each issue, we realize that some of the seasonal features are important and timely enough to bear repeating. So readers can easily review these seasonal items, we have retained the headlines and information links in this section "In case you missed it..."

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 the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Stay informed on issues and opportunities about Virginia's outdoors!

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Drought Effects on Trout Stocking
  • Watch Out - Deer in the Road
  • Holiday Gift Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts
American woodcock. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

American Woodcock
(Philohela minor)
by Spike Knuth

The American woodcock is generally considered an upland game bird, although it is placed in the sandpiper family by ornithologists. Unlike sandpipers, they inhabit the deep bottomlands, swales, and wet meadows near forests - anywhere they might find earthworms, their favored food. They stay quietly in the shadows during the day until evening when they come out to feed. Woodcocks have long bills with sensitive flexible tips which can opened at the tip while in the ground, enabling them to "pinch," worms and pull them out.

They are plump birds with big eyes, rounded wings; the first three primary feathers being very narrow. Measuring about 10 or 11 inches in length, the females are larger and have a longer bill. A similar sandpiper family member is the common snipe, a bird of lowland marshes, marshy flats or wet meadows on open land.

Known also as the timberdoodle, the woodcock's eyes are set high on its head, enabling it to see behind it, much like a rabbit. Its under parts are a pale brown or buffy cinnamon, while its upper parts are patterns of brown, gray, russet and dark browns—perfect camouflage for setting in leaves on the forest floor, especially during nesting.

The woodcock has one of the most curious of courtship rituals of all birds. In March or April, shortly after sunset, during the afterglow, the male flies up into the air anywhere from 60 to 300 feet, "twittering" as it ascends. He then levels off and begins his descent, fluttering and zig-zagging downward, chirping as he drops all the way to a spot on the ground. Here he struts about proudly uttering a sound best described as "peent."

Woodcocks breed over most of the Eastern United States with the heaviest concentrations in New Brunswick, Maine and Michigan. They winter all along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, especially in Louisiana. Many migrate through Virginia from October through December and some may winter here, especially at the southern tip of Eastern Shore. Since their main food is earthworms, they can be vulnerable to drought or freezing weather. Recent surveys indicate a gradual long-term decline in woodcock breeding populations. Biologists believe that the gradual loss of habitat is the primary cause for this decline.

·    ·    ·

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!

The artwork used to enhance this publication is produced by award-winning Virginia artist Carl "Spike" Knuth. He is currently retired from VDGIF and continues to be active in numerous activities contributing to wildlife conservation, information and education through his artwork and writing. We appreciate his continued service and support through his exceptional talent for both illustrations and writing. Spike's artwork can be seen at the Jager Gallery, 6939 Lakeside Avenue, in Richmond.

October 2007
25 Forestry and Wildlife Bus Tours, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VDGIF, Frederick County, (540) 665-5699
27-28 Call of the Wild Conference, The Wildlife Center of Virginia, Waynesboro
November 2007
4 Daylight Saving Time ends - turn clocks BACK one hour
12 Veterans Day Holiday
22 Thanksgiving - note one day turkey season (most counties - see Regulations for details)
December 2007
1 Basic Fly Fishing (PDF), Chesapeake. Contact Bill Campbell at (757) 635-6522 or
8 Educational Rabbit Hunting Workshop, Bedford. Contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656.
8 Generation Deer Hunting Workshop, Occoquan. Contact Ron Hughes at (804) 899-4169.
We have opportunities for the public to join us as volunteers in our Complementary Work Force Program. If you are interested in devoting your time and talents, apply here.

Opportunities will be posted regularly providing descriptions of available volunteer positions.

The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
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.


The following is a partial list of upcoming seasons starting in September and October for the more popular species. For a complete list and regulations consult the 2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information.

Beginning in September 2007
Crow: through March 15 Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only.
Squirrel: Sept. 1 - Jan. 31
Rail: Sept. 10 - Nov. 17
Beginning in October 2007
Bobcat: Oct. 6-31
Deer: Oct. 6 - Nov. 16
Turkey: Oct. 6 - Nov. 10
Bear: Oct. 13 - Nov. 10
Snipe: Oct. 4 - 8 and Oct. 22 - Jan. 31
Duck, Merganser, Coot, Gallinules, & Moorhen: Oct. 4 - 8
Dove: Oct. 5 - 27
Opossum: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Raccoon: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Grouse: Oct. 27 - Feb. 9 West of Interstate 95 only.
Turkey: Oct. 27 - Nov. 9 in most counties, check regulations for details.
Woodcock: Oct. 27 - Nov. 10
Beginning in November 2007
East of Blue Ridge - Nov. 3 - 16
West of Blue Ridge - Nov. 10 - 16
Bear: Nov. 13 - 16 certain counties, see regulations
Bobcat: Nov. 1 - Feb. 29
Fox: Nov. 1 - Feb. 29 certain counties, see regulations
Snow Goose: Nov. 1 - Dec. 1
Rabbit: Nov. 3 - Feb. 29 (new regulation enacted by Board of Game & Inland Fisheries)
Nov. 5 - Jan. 5 certain counties, see regulations
Nov. 26 - Jan. 5 certain counties, see regulations
Quail & Pheasant: Nov. 10 - Jan. 31
Nov. 17 - Dec. 1 certain counties, see regulations
Nov. 17 - Jan. 5 certain counties, see regulations
Duck, Merganser, Coot, Gallinules, Moorhen, & Canada Goose: Nov. 17 - Dec. 1
Atlantic Brant: Nov. 24 - Dec. 1
Please contribute to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email

FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, contact the local conservation police officer 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!

  • If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine, visit the Department's Web site, call 1-800-710-9369, or mail a check payable to "Treasurer of Virginia" and send it to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. A one-year subscription or 12 issues is only $12.95. Let Virginia Wildlife magazine be your guide to the best in hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife information.


The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall afford to all persons an equal access to Department Programs and facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sex or age. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility, please write to: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 4010 West Broad Street, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104.

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