|In this edition:
- Seasons Greetings!
- Adaptive Wildlife Management:
Merging the Then with the Now
- Dabney W. Watts, Jr. Promoted to
Chief of Law Enforcement
- Conservation Officer Saves Life
with CPR and AED
- Hunters - Did You Remember To...
- Mid-Season Deer Harvest on Target
- Hemorrhagic Disease Affects Western
Virginia Deer Harvest
- Special Extended Deer Season in
- Help Feed Hungry Families in this
Season of Giving
- People and Partners in the News
- Annual Youth Writing Contest
Announced by Outdoor Writers Association
- Outdoor Sports Show at Dulles Expo
Center January 4-6
- Educational Women's Waterfowl
Hunting Workshop Scheduled in Fredericksburg
- Lake Level Lowered at Laurel Bed
- Volunteers Construct Accessible
Fishing Pier on Jackson River
- 2008 Virginia Wildlife
Calendar and Collectible Knives
- Conger Photos Featured in 2008
Watchable Wildlife Calendar
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Gifts That Can Save Lives -
Affordable and Priceless
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- Create a Holiday Tree for the Birds
- Make a Special Bird Treat
- Virginia Conservation Police
- Field reports from officers
protecting natural resources and people pursuing outdoor
- Fishin' Report
- Gift Ideas for the Angler
- In Case You Missed It...
- Links to recent articles of
edition is really special as it is the last edition
of 2007 and completes the first anniversary of the
new, revived, electronic
Outdoor Report. We have grown to 10,000
subscribers and we appreciate your continued
interest. This edition is somewhat longer than usual
due to adding some articles that would have been in
the next edition. Due to the holidays, our
next edition will be posted January 9, 2008.
edition is full of ideas for gift giving whether you
enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, birding, camping or
other outdoor adventures. My personal recommendation
is to give someone special to you the gift of time
together - an adventure out in the wild. You will
create wonderful memories, especially for a
youngster, or an adult that has not had the
opportunity to discover the great heritage and
traditions experienced by exploring our wild places.
Follow up with a personal commitment to be informed
and get involved in working for solutions to the
issues that threaten our wildlife and wildlife
activities with novice outdoorsmen is the best gift
you can give back to the outdoors you respect and
cherish. You don't have to do this alone, find a
group that you can support that shares your views
and join. Each edition of the Outdoor Report
contains examples of organizations that partner with
VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks
involved in outdoor activities and making our wild
Virginia a great place to live and experience the
gifts of our fields, streams and forests.
Sign up your
friends and colleagues for a free subscription to
the Outdoor Report! We hope this newsletter
has informed and inspired you to get involved and
get outdoors. From all of us that work to bring you
the Outdoor Report, we wish you and yours joy
and peace this holiday season and throughout the New
Adaptive Wildlife Management: Merging the Then with the Now
The history of hunting in Virginia is as old as the history of Virginia
herself and can clearly be traced back to the first English settlers in the New
World. Turns out these newcomers were only doing what the native Virginians had
done for thousands of years, that is, use the bounty of Virginia’s wildlife for
food, shelter, tools, clothes, and indeed, recreation. These early hunters, both
native and come-here, valued wildlife and the opportunities it provided. It was
only hundreds of year later, after the face of Virginia had changed
dramatically, that this long accepted practice of using wildlife for personal
That change occurred in 1916, with the creation of what is now the Department
of Game and Inland Fisheries. The unrestricted harvest of wildlife and the
market hunting of certain species had driven the populations of some animals to
a dangerously low level. Deer and wild turkey, those species so common and
important when the English arrived, and so abundant today, were virtually
non-existent in some areas of the Commonwealth.
With this new department came new laws governing the way we interact with
wildlife, particularly on the consumptive use side of the equation, resulting in
a new way to look at hunting. The key to the success of this new way of managing
wildlife was the end user - the hunter, angler, and trapper. It just so happened
that the value of wildlife so apparent to the early hunters was shared just as
fervently by the hunters in the "new" Virginia. These folks willingly bought
licenses, and a bit later paid excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and other
similar gear. The revenue generated by this new way of doing business provided
the desperately needed funds to begin the intense wildlife management practices
that have brought the results we value and enjoy in Virginia.
Anyone who appreciates the wildlife abundance we have today, whether your
interest is hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife watching in all its forms, or
simply knowing that the "wild" Virginia is alive and well, owes a big thank you
to the proud tradition of hunting in Virginia, and to those passionate,
dedicated folks who continue this tradition.
But as we know they will, things continue to change. In 2006, the Virginia
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries hosted the Southeastern Association of
Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Conference. SEAFWA is made up of all the
states in the southeastern U.S. and is one of the longest serving such
organizations of its kind. The focus of this group is to seek common solutions
to common problems related to all the variables of managing wildlife resources.
The theme of the SEAFWA conference was "Managing Wildlife in the Next New
World." The one recognition by all the participants in the conference was that
the faces of all our states have changed. Consequently, the way we manage
wildlife, and the activities so vital to this management, such as hunting,
fishing and trapping, need to be in tune with this new world and must be
preserved. Now, just as in 1916, we need to carefully balance the new Virginia
and all the issues and concerns that Virginians, now some seven and a half
million people, have regarding wildlife management.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is once again at the forefront of
these new challenges. Loss of critical habitat, environmental degradation,
human/wildlife conflicts, and a decline in areas available to hunt, fish, trap
and otherwise enjoy wildlife are some of the apparent issues in the new Virginia
that must be addressed.
Less obvious, but equally critical, are issues we as an agency deal with
every day. We all remember the concerns in recent years related to the potential
for a pandemic flu outbreak. Recall that the overriding concern was the mobility
of people and how that contributes to the spreading of disease. Translate that
concern to wildlife and you get an idea of one of the major challenges facing
wildlife professionals today. Never in the history of the profession of wildlife
management has the concern been so great related to well-intended and not so
well-intended people moving wildlife.
The interstate trade in wildlife is significant, driven by any number of
markets for the animals. This Department has taken a hard line on the illegal
possession and movement of wildlife, specifically due to the disease concerns.
This concern was virtually unheard of in the "old" Virginia. So far, as
indicated by frequent monitoring, none of the wildlife diseases so problematic
in other states have been found in Virginia. We certainly will continue to do
all we can to keep it that way.
Along these same proactive lines, the Department has launched a study
regarding the use of hounds in certain types of hunting in Virginia. Hunting
with hounds is a long and time-honored tradition in many states, but probably
nowhere any stronger than Virginia. Our interest, as the Agency charged with
matters related to hunting, is to protect this heritage and the role it plays in
managing wildlife. As with all hunters, hunters who work with hounds are
passionate about wildlife, about hunting in general and in particular about
their love for and use of dogs in pursing their sport. No one recognizes and
appreciates that more than we at the Department.
Issues related to hunting with hounds that we are hearing about today were
largely unheard of in a more rural Virginia. Our approach in this study is to
involve stakeholders and, because the face of Virginia has changed, the list of
stakeholders is larger and more diverse than it may have been in 1916. Hunters
who use dogs, other hunters, private landowners, corporate landowners, rural
homeowners, local government officials, law enforcement, wildlife managers and
of course many other groups who enjoy wildlife are all important to this
process. By participation in local focus groups, all these stakeholders can have
the input we feel is so important to getting the full perspective.
It is worth noting that this is the same approach we took in developing
long-term management plans for deer and bear. In a simplified description of
this process, we asked stakeholders at the local level what they thought the
management philosophy should be regarding regional populations of these species.
The results of that process are now paying dividends in the management decisions
In managing Virginia’s wildlife for all to enjoy, we must be diligent in
staying on top of threats to this invaluable resource. We must also be in tune
with what our citizens want from these resources and with their expectations of
those who use these resources. Some folks are uncomfortable with the hunting
with hounds study process but clearly the information gained in the study will
prove invaluable. Just as hunting not only survived but thrived after the
significant changes in the early 1900s, we feel it can and will continue to do
so as we face today’s challenges.
This is not about abandoning our heritage
related to wildlife resources and hunting. Rather, it is all about protecting
them in an ever changing environment.
Dabney W. Watts, Jr.
Promoted to Chief of Law Enforcement
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland
Fisheries (VDGIF) announced that Dabney W. Watts,
Jr., has been promoted to the rank of Colonel and
will serve as Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.
Watts, a native of Winchester, joined VDGIF as a
Game Warden in February 1987. He attended the
Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy,
graduating as the top graduate for the Department
and second in his class overall. His first
assignment as a Game Warden was in Culpeper County.
He served in that community until 1991 when he was
promoted to the position of Hunter Education
Training Sergeant and assigned to the Region IV
office then located in Staunton.
In 1993, he was promoted to the position of
District Lieutenant overseeing game wardens in five
Piedmont counties and also served as one of two
Recruiting Officers for the Law Enforcement
Division. While in this position Watts developed and
implemented a special operation to provide water
security patrols for the North Anna nuclear power
facility in the months following the terrorists'
attacks on September 11, 2001.
In 2003, Watts was promoted to Captain of Region
V as the Law Enforcement Region Manager and in 2005,
he led one of the Department's response teams to
offer relief to local law enforcement personnel in
the devastated Mississippi Gulf Coast following
Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, he was promoted to Major
and served as Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement and
oversaw that division's operations.
Col. Watts replaces Col. Mike Bise who in October
had announced his plans for retirement in January
2008, initiating a search for his replacement as
Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. Col. Bise
expressed his congratulations to Col. Watts on his
well deserved promotion and noted the Agency was
fortunate to have someone of Col. Watts' diverse
experience from both field service and
administrative capabilities to lead the law
enforcement effort by the Agency . On November 30,
the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries appointed
Colonel Bise to serve as Acting Director of VDGIF
until the director's position is filled by February
Conservation Officer Saves Life with CPR and AED
On December 1, 2007, Officer Richard Howald was
staffing a VDGIF exhibit at the grand opening of
"The Sportsmen's Warehouse" in Roanoke. During the
morning, a photographer who was there to assist with
taking pictures of children with Santa, collapsed
and became unresponsive.
Officer Howald immediately checked the
photographer and found that he was not breathing and
had no pulse. Officer Howald activated 911 and began
CPR on the victim. After a period of CPR, Officer
Howald instructed a Roanoke Police Officer to assist
with compressions while he retrieved his Automated
External Defibrillator (AED) from his nearby patrol
vehicle. Howald quickly returned, hooked up the
unit, and re-assessed the victim. The computer of
the AED showed no rhythm and suggested continuing
CPR. After several more minutes, the victim began to
breathe on his own, became
somewhat more responsive and was able to advise the
officers of his name. Two physicians arrived and
began to assist with the treatment until an
ambulance transported him to the hospital. Chase Gallentine, the store manager, stated that Officer
Howald did an excellent job, took control of the
situation, and instructed other individuals on how
Due to Officer Howald's immediate emergency
administration of CPR to a lifeless person, the
victim survived and is now recovering at home.
Officer Howald's experiences as a
U.S. Marine serving in Iraq, combined with
completing the VDGIF Conservation Police Academy, provided the training and know-how for quick action
that saved this man's life.
VDGIF Conservation Police Officers carry AED
units in their patrol vehicles. VDGIF purchased 103
of these life saving units through a $133,000 grant
in 2003 from the Office of Emergency Medical
Services. The grant dollars originated from the
Health Resources and Services Administration's Rural
Access to Emergency Devices Grant Program. The AEDs
were allocated to rural counties to enhance
emergency response efforts. VDGIF was a great fit
for this effort because of their statewide law
enforcement coverage, the ability to operate in
remote areas, and enhanced mobility. Conservation
Police Officers can go anywhere at anytime to assist
with any situation requiring AED usage in rural
Hunters - Did You Remember To...
notes are quick reminders of things you may have
overlooked in your efforts to get ready for hunting
season, or reports from
numerous calls we received recently at our
information desk or experienced afield.
The best gift
hunters can give, or receive are those of safety
and courtesy - give often and generously!
Mid-Season Deer Harvest on Target for
One of the most common questions the VDGIF gets
during the middle of the firearms deer season every
year is "Does the Department know if the deer kill
is going to be up or down?" The honest answer is no,
according to VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Matt
Knox . This question is almost always followed by
the questioner's opinion on whether it will be up or
down, which is typically based on their personal
hunting success or failure.
The midseason deer kill in 2007 appears to be
stable compared to last year based on the number of
deer checked so far by telephone. As of Monday
December 10, 2007, over 101,000 deer had been
checked by telephone or Internet. This is about
exactly what would be expected if the deer kill is
going to be stable around 223,000, which was
reported last fall by telephone and check stations
combined. Last year 56% of the deer killed were
reported by telephone, and this telephone check
figure is predicted to increase to about 62% this
In a handful of counties, the deer kill appears
to be running higher than last year, including
Charlotte, Chesapeake, Craig, Floyd, Montgomery,
Page, and Pulaski. An unusual outbreak of
Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) in western counties has
affected the deer harvest. Read details in the next
article. None of these were big HD counties in fall
2007. Additionally only one county, Lee, appears to
be unexpectedly lower than normal, and it did have a
number of HD deer reported this past fall. Bedford
County has already had over 5,000 deer checked by
telephone and Internet this fall followed by
Franklin and Loudoun both with 3,100+. All three of
these are stable from last year.
Final deer kill numbers will not be available
until early February when all the check station and
DMAP materials are accounted for. It should be noted
that Virginia's deer kill statistics dating all the
way back to 1947 are based on a mandatory reporting
system and represent an actual minimum known count.
Harvest data can be found on the "Deer" section of
the Department's Web site.
Hemorrhagic Disease Affects Western Virginia
VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Matt Knox reports
that this year their appears to be more interest in
the status of the deer kill, especially in western
Virginia because of the Hemorrhagic Disease (HD)
that occurred this past fall. For those not familiar
with HD, it is the most important infectious disease
of white-tailed deer in the Southeast United States
and in Virginia, and outbreaks occur almost every
year. It occurs every year in eastern Virginia.
The Department expected a quiet HD year in 2007,
and in the "common" HD areas (e.g., Tidewater and
the central Piedmont) it was fairly quiet. However,
in the less common and rare HD areas (e.g., west of
Highway 29), it was the biggest HD year ever. The
Department received 100 HD calls and have had HD
reported from the upper Shenandoah Valley all the
way down to the Tennessee line. In the past two
decades, with the exception of the very northern
Shenandoah Valley counties, HD has been virtually
unknown west of the Blue Ridge and rare in the
southwestern piedmont. We had a small number in
these areas in 2002, which was also a drought
year/fall. For more information on HD, see the
Department's Web site.
Special Extended Deer Season in NOVA Counties
Hunters are reminded of the special late
anterless-only firearms deer season January 7 -
February 2, 2008 in the counties (including the
cities and towns within) of Fairfax, Loudoun and
Prince William. See the
Department's Web site or refer to the Regulations Booklet
page 38 for further details.
Help Feed Hungry Families in this Season of
Now that you've had a successful hunting season,
and you are fortunate to have harvested more deer
than what you can use- donate your deer to a local
processor who handles deer for Hunters for the
of processors can be found on the Hunters for
the Hungry Web site. Also consider paying the $30
processing fee to help offset processing expenses.
Another option is to ask the processor to set aside
several packages of any deer they process for you
for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Every
donation helps whether it's cash or venison and
helps show that sportsmen do positive things in
their communities. For great venison cooking
recipes, purchase the Hunters for the Hungry
Cookbooks containing 224 recipes and over 300 pages.
People and Partners in the News
Annual Youth Writing Contest Announced by
Outdoor Writers Association
The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA)
announces its 15th Annual Youth Writing Competition
for 2007. The goal of the contest is to reward young
people for excellence in communicating their
personal experiences in the outdoors. The
competition is open to all Virginia students in
grades 9 through 12, including home-schooled
The theme of this year's contest is based on "My
Most Memorable Outdoor Experience". An experience by
the writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing,
hiking, birding or other outdoor activity should be
the predominant subject matter. No athletic event or
competition is an eligible subject matter.
Submissions can be submitted in a Microsoft Word or
text file since the three top winners will be
published on the VOWA Web site, and may be in other
publications or on web sites. E-mail submissions are
encouraged - write the document and then attach it
to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between
now and the January 31, 2008, deadline.
Awards will consist of gift certificates and gear
from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting
Members of VOWA. Over $500 in prizes will be
awarded. Winners will be announced and awards
presented at the VOWA's Annual Meeting in
Charlottesville, on March 19, 2008, with the time
and place to be announced. The winner's parents (or
mentor/teacher) will be guests of VOWA for the
presentation event. There is also a separate contest
for college level undergraduates interested in
pursuing journalism or communication careers and
For Contest guidelines, entry information and
required entry submission form for both the Youth
and Undergraduate contests, visit the VOWA Web site:
Outdoor Sports Show at Dulles Expo Center
The Nation's Outdoor Sportsmen's Show is
returning to the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly
January 4-6, 2008. The family oriented show is
geared to be a fun and educational experience for
all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing
enthusiast, a bass fisher, an upland game hunter or
you dream of chasing elk in the wild, this show has
something for everyone in the family. There will be
more than 30 conservation organizations represented
and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing
charters, boating suppliers and seminar presenters.
Hundreds of booths will be filled with some of the
country's best outdoor gear, coastal and inland
fishing guides and outfitters from around the world.
Numerous nationally known speakers will hold
seminars to teach skills and share some great
stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF
will be selling licenses on-site and have exhibits
and staff to answer questions on agency programs,
special training events and opportunities to enjoy
Virginia's great outdoors. For information visit the
Nation's Outdoor Sportsmen's Show Web site:
Educational Women's Waterfowl Hunting Workshop
Scheduled in Fredericksburg
VDGIF Outdoor Education Program in cooperation
with Waterfowl U.S.A. is sponsoring an Educational
Women's Waterfowl Hunting Workshop January 20-21,
2008, hosted by Gander Mountain in Fredericksburg.
This workshop will offer educational sessions in
decoys and blind setup, waterfowl habitat and
ecology, retriever demonstrations, firearm safety
and instruction. The L.O.C.S. Chapter of Waterfowl
U.S.A. is providing an opportunity to hunt
waterfowl. Guides, decoys and blinds are included
with the hunting opportunity. For more details
the Department's Web site. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at
(804) 367-0656 or
Lake Level Lowered at Laurel Bed
The VDGIF plans to lower the water level of
Laurel Bed Lake in Russell County. The temporary
lake level will be 10 feet below normal. Extensive
monitoring in the summer of 2007 identified two
areas where water is seeping from the lake. Lowering
the lake level will reduce the amount of seepage
while plans are being made to complete the repairs.
With the lake level at 10 feet below normal, boat
access will be limited. VDGIF Fisheries Biologist
Tom Hampton, in the Marion Regional Office notes,
"Anglers will still be able to launch small boats
and canoes, but the concrete ramp will be out of the
water. Shoreline access may be improved during the
drawdown, but the draw-down should not adversely
affect the fish populations in the lake. In fact, it
might benefit the fishery by exposing the
increasingly abundant bluegill population to more
predation by smallmouth bass." VDGIF is considering
options to extend the ramp in order to provide
access at the lower level. Brook and rainbow trout
fingerlings will be stocked as planned.
The duration of the draw-down is not known at
this time. However, it is likely that the lake level
will be below normal during the 2008 fishing season.
Questions concerning Laurel Bed Lake should be
directed to Tom Hampton, VDGIF Fisheries Biologist
in Marion at (276) 783-4860.
Volunteers Construct Accessible Fishing Pier
on Jackson River
Thirty-two volunteers recently completed a
project to build a new accessible fishing pier at
Johnson Springs Canoe Access on the Jackson River.
The site, located in Alleghany County on the James
River Ranger District of the George Washington and
Jefferson National Forests, is one of five sites on
the river where anyone can fish from the bank, but
none were suited to fishing by disabled persons,
especially those confined to wheelchairs.
Dan Genest, a public affairs specialist with
Dominion Virginia Power and an avid trout fisherman,
saw an opportunity to improve accessibility on the
river by combining that need with Dominion's program
to encourage its employees to use a work day per
year for volunteer projects. Genest contacted the
Forest Service and the Virginia Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), and the project began
to take shape. An existing design was adapted to the
Johnson Springs site.
Dover England, president of the Roanoke Valley
Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), recruited eight TU
members from as far away as Roanoke, Salem and
Richmond to participate. In addition, VDGIF District
Fisheries Biologist Paul Bugas coordinated
assistance from VDGIF including three employees and
a volunteer from the Staunton area. "This was one of
the best volunteer projects I've seen", noted James
River district forester Sharon Mohney. "The
Dominion, TU, and VDGIF people pretty much handled
all of the preparation and organization for the two
workdays." The Forest Service estimates that, in
addition to the funds provided for materials, about
600 hours of volunteer time was donated, valued at
about $11,400. Mohney noted that the project also
received a lot of help from area businesses,
especially Boxley Materials Company in Alleghany
County, and Neathawk Lumber Inc. in Lewisburg WV.
"Volunteers are essential toward accomplishing
the mission of public agencies such as the USDA
Forest Service and VDGIF," noted Susan Alger,
Coordinator for the VDGIF Complementary Work Force
(CWF) volunteer program. She added, "Volunteer
and program details are available on numerous agency
and organization Web sites. Conservation groups and
area businesses are also great partners as evident
in the success of this fishing pier project." To
learn more about volunteering on the National
Forests, contact Mohney at (540) 962-2214. For more information on CWF,
see the Department's Web site.
Wildlife Calendar Great Gift Idea!
time to purchase the new
2008 Virginia Wildlife Calendar. For more than
20 years the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
has been publishing one of the most informative and
beautiful wildlife calendars in the country. This
special edition of the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
highlights 12 of the 925 species of greatest
conservation need identified in the Virginia
Wildlife Action Plan. This comprehensive wildlife
conservation strategy unites natural resource
agencies and citizens through a common vision and
concept for the conservation of the Commonwealth's
wildlife and habitats in which they live.
component of the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan is
participation of citizens from around the state to
get involved with wildlife conservation efforts. By
purchasing the new 2008 Virginia Wildlife Calendar
you not only get 12 months of incredible wildlife
viewing, but you also take that first step in
helping to bring awareness to important wildlife
issues facing our state.
Calendars make great holiday gifts and are only $10
each. They begin with January 2008 and run through
December 2008. Quantities are limited, so order now!
Please allow 1-2 weeks for delivery.
Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife
VDGIF 2007 Collector's knife has been customized
by Buck Knives. This classic model 110 folding knife
is 8-˝" 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
Conger Photos Featured in 2008 Watchable
VDGIF Conservation Police Officer, Lt. Ken Conger is
not out enforcing Virginia's wildlife laws or
volunteering for community service, he can be found
with camera in hand capturing wildlife images from
around state and the world. Ken has a serious love
of wildlife photography and an eye to match. His
talents were recently recognized by Watchable
Wildlife Inc. and displayed in their new 2008
Watchable Wildlife calendar. Ken's stunning action
photograph of a bald eagle swooping down to the
waters edge to catch a fish in flight was not only
selected to be featured during the month of May
2008, but also was honored as the calendar's cover
photograph. The Watchable Wildlife calendar is noted
for featuring various wildlife photographs taken
from around the country at state wildlife areas,
national and state parks, wildlife refuges and USDA
Forest Service lands.
Watchable Wildlife, Inc., is a nonprofit
organization with a simple mission "To help
communities and wildlife prosper." Its members seek
to advance wildlife viewing as a viable economic and
conservation enterprise for communities throughout
Canada, the United States and Mexico. Watchable
Wildlife, Inc. is committed to helping local
communities realize the economic potential of
nature-related recreation while conserving native
plants and animals in their natural habitats. It
also strives to help people to provide these
opportunities for their community by concentrating
efforts in three major areas: The Annual Watchable
Wildlife Conference, publications and special
project assistance. Their philosophy is
straightforward; to put people in touch with the
most up-to-date strategies for providing positive
wildlife viewing experiences for visitors and
If you would like to learn more about Watchable
Wildlife Inc. or to purchase the new 2008 Watchable
Wildlife calendar visit their Web site at:
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Gifts That Can Save Lives - Affordable and
We're always looking for unique gifts. With
anglers, that can be anything from antique lures and
tackle to the latest computer-aided,
temperature-recording, fish-finding gizmo to help us
go from "fishing" to "catching." One area where we
seem to ignore something that could literally save
our lives concerns a common piece of safety
equipment that seems to have absolutely no glamour
about it - at least not compared with the
computer-based location and emergency reporting gear
- our personal flotation devices. The PFD is a
mandated piece of gear for every boat - and every
passenger aboard every boat - but we seem to believe
the $14.99 special PFD that's cleverly disguised as
a sun-faded, waterlogged seat cushion will suffice.
Unfortunately, it seems some people would rather
be dead wrong - emphasis on the dead - rather than
inconvenienced by the PFD. A few years ago, that
trend started to change when the idea of
comfortable, inflatable and capable devices could
actually be worn without completely immobilizing the
wearer. Today, professional anglers, racers and
other professionals wouldn't be without their
But there hasn't been much advancement in the
technology for those who don't always fish from
boats - or those who might see someone in trouble
who aren't equipped with personal flotation devices.
Those can be anyone from fly fishermen to adults who
simply fall into the water from the shore and find
themselves in trouble.
Mustang Survival has
addressed those scenarios with a pair of their
inflatable flotation devices. The first is called
the Rescue Stick.
The Rescue Stick weighs less than a pound, is
just over a foot long, and comes in a waterproof
bag. It's activated by pulling it from its
waterproof bag and tossing it near the person in
trouble. It activates when it hits the water,
inflating into a large horseshoe shape with a
35-pound buoyancy considerably more than necessary
to keep someone afloat with their head out of the
water until they can be rescued.
The average person is capable of tossing the
baton-shaped stick 100-150 feet. That's about triple
the distance anyone can throw a life ring or rope
bag. It's small enough to fit into a backpack, boat,
vehicle, or by a pool. And it's reusable. Simply
repack the flotation portion, screw on a new handle
that contains a fresh CO2 cylinder and it's ready to
go again. It's one of those affordable (MSRP:
$39.99) devices that can truly be a lifesaver.
The second flotation device combines the classic
fishing vest with floatation. When fly fishing, I
fall. So far, I've never injured anything but my
pride, but I'm the type who has a fear of drowning
that can only be understood by someone who's come
close to drowning in the past. I can still remember
being pulled from the water, dazed, choking and out
of breath - it's not a sensation I'd like to repeat.
I can promise you I will not fly fish again without
wearing Mustang's F3 Inflatable Fishing Vest. It's
comfortable, has all the hook and fly patches,
inside/outside pockets, leader eyelets and catches
and spaces for my tiny tackle offered by my former
vest. But it also has the same 35-pound buoyancy as
all Mustang Survival's Inflatable PFDs.
Combined with my waders and boots, I feel I have
an increased level of safety that more than
compensates for the cost. The 3-Fs referenced in the
name are: Form, Functionality and Flotation.
Personally, I'm at the point where I like all three
working together for my own good.
There are lots of great safety devices out there
for all of us who love the water, but these can help
keep us safe without interfering with our
recreation. Not a bad combination.
Reprinted courtesy of Jim Shepherd, The
Outdoor Wire and The Fishing Wire.
Habitat Improvement Tips
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Whether there is
ice and snow, or just frigid temperatures, below are
some ideas to help wildlife through severe weather.
If you are wondering what to do with the kids over
the long holiday break from school, these activities
will get them away from the video screens and
outdoors exploring nature.
Create a Holiday Tree for the Birds
When the holidays are over and all the
decorations and tinsel have been removed, put your
cut tree out in the yard to provide additional cover
for the birds. Outside, cut trees will remain green
long after the holiday has ended, if they were cared
for properly inside. You may want to anchor the tree
with tent stakes and string to prevent the wind from
blowing it over. Once stable, you can "decorate" the
tree again, this time with food for the birds. An
evergreen holiday wreath can be recycled in your
yard the same way.
Fill the cut tree (or old wreath) with fruits and
nuts strung on narrow twine or tied with other
inexpensive string. Suitable foods include apple
slices; whole peanuts in the shell or cranberries
and raisins; suet in nylon net bags; or pine cones
filled with peanut butter and rolled in seed. Use
foods that are natural and not full of added sugars
or artificial ingredients. Be sure to tie the treats
close to the branches so that once eaten there isn't
a long string dangling for a bird to become
entangled in; remove strings as they are emptied.
The birds will welcome the treats and will take
advantage of the protective cover from the tree as
winter winds and cold settle in. Keep re-decorating
the tree with more fruits and nuts as the food is
eaten through the winter.
When spring comes, don't haul the now leafless tree
to the dump. Instead, lay it on its side in an out
of the way location, or incorporate the dead twigs
and branches into a compost pile. The tree can also
be used with other dead limbs or fallen branches in
the yard to construct a brush pile for chipmunks,
rabbits and other small animals.
Make a Special Bird Treat
The following recipe is a great food mixture for
birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts,
the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the
yard where they can be seen from your windows. This
mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and
nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun,
inexpensive and something the whole family can join
First, in large bowl, stir together:
- 1 part flour,
- 3 parts yellow corn meal,
- 1 part bird seed,
- a handful of raisins and
- a handful of shelled peanuts.
Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir
until the mixture holds together in one big ball.
(Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been
rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)
This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees,
tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers,
mockingbirds and even bluebirds. Keep a record of
the different species of birds you observe, it's fun
and educational for "children" of all ages. The
birds will appreciate it too!
Virginia Conservation Police
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
Long hours of surveillance pays off with
baiting arrests. Conservation Police
Officers have recently concluded investigations on
eight separate baited deer hunting sites. Officers
B.I. Bell, Hank Garner and Krista Myers completed their
investigations by issuing summons to eight
individuals who were found hunting directly over
baited tree stands. The stand locations were baited
with a diversity of illegal attractants.
Salt/mineral blocks, peanut butter, corn, pumpkins
and what one suspect refereed to as, "Purina Deer
Chow" were discovered on scene. Due to the diligence
and patience of all three Officers, each subject was
caught in the immediate proximity of the bait after
many long hours of surveillance. For more
information contact Lt. Ken Conger (804) 829-6580.
Region 2 - Southside
Landowner complaint leads to multiple
charges. On Monday, November 19, Officer
Richard Howald received a call from an Appomattox
Co. Deputy that a landowner had complained about an
individual driving through his wheat field, cutting
donuts, spinning their tires and destroying a large
portion of the wheat. The landowner had confronted
two males and a female at 3 p.m. but had not seen
the damage in the dark. He also stated the
individuals had a deer in the truck that they stated
had been hit on the road. The Deputy told Officer
Howald that they have had problems with the driver
in the past and hoped he would be able to get this
suspect to admit to driving because his driving
license was suspended. Officer Howald went to the
property, spoke with the landowner and looked at the
damage to the field. After seeing the tracks he was
able to locate blood and deer hair in the field
leading him to the belief that the deer had been
shot. Officer Howald and the Appomattox Deputy then
interviewed the individuals and were able to get
written statements. They all stated that they were
driving down the road and saw four deer in the
field, they them turned around and entered the field
chasing the deer, running over one of them. They
then drove through the field destroying the wheat.
Warrants have been obtained for spotlighting, take
wildlife by unlawful methods, and illegal possession
of wildlife. Charges are pending through the
Sheriff's Office for trespassing, destruction of
property, driving while suspended, no valid
insurance, and no state inspection. The suspect had
also used license plates that belonged to another
vehicle. For more information contact Lt. Tony
Fisher (434) 525-7522.
Region 3 - Southwest
Long time poachers caught in act.
On November 24, 2007 Conservation Police Officers
Jason Harris and George Shupe observed a vehicle parked next to
the large shooting house off of Little Fox Creek
Road in Grayson County. They discovered the subject
in the shooting house had an illegal .17 caliber
rifle, two electronic turkey calls, two turkey
carcasses and several beards from young birds
hanging inside. Corn was located near the blind and
on the back of the truck. The officers wrote
summonses for the violations detected and obtained a
written confession on a set of antlers found in the
back of the truck. The subject confessed to
illegally poaching 75 turkeys in the past 15 years.
The officers also seized turkey parts and fans
displayed on several boards and full body turkey
mounts at his residence. A hunting companion was
also implicated during the investigation and
officers seized evidence at the companion's
residence including 30 turkey beards, sets of spurs,
a necklace made of spurs, along with other hunting
violations pertaining to deer hunting. The
investigation in this case is ongoing and charges
will be placed after consultation with the local
commonwealth's attorney in the jurisdictions where
the offenses occurred. For more information contact
Lt. Rex Hill (276) 783-4860.
Region 4 - Mountain and Valley
Radios, Cell Phones and CPO's determination
save hunters life. On Friday morning
November 23, 2007 at approximately 8:00 am,
Conservation Police Sgt. Steve Bullman was notified
by Augusta County EOC dispatchers of a reported
hunting accident on Shenandoah Mountain. in Augusta
County. A hunter had shot himself in his arm and
needed immediate medical care. The victim was
reported to be behind a locked National Forest gate
several miles in. Sgt. Bullman responded to the area
and drove in behind the gate encountering a downed
12 inch diameter tree top blocking the road. He
radioed for a chain saw to be brought to the area.
While waiting, Sgt. Bullman began to cut the tree
using a 'Pulaski Tool' that he carries in his patrol
vehicle. Sgt. Bullman had the tree cut in two as
help arrived to clear the road with the chain saws.
Conservation Police Senior Officer Neil Kester,
Hunter Ed. Specialist Kris Dougherty, and EMTs
arrived to assist in the rescue. The victim was
located off an old logging road over two miles from
the gate. Chain saws were used to clear this trail
to facilitate getting an emergency equipped "Gator"
to the scene. Officer Kester found the victim
outside of a ground blind and being helped by a
hunting companion who had placed a tourniquet on the
victim's right arm. The victim's .30-06 rifle had
discharged in the blind, striking him in the back of
the right triceps area and causing massive tissue
Hunters are reminded to double check to be
sure the safety is ON and not to prop a gun
where it may be knocked over.
The victim had called for help using his FRS
radio and had tried to administer a tourniquet on
his own arm. When his hunting companion arrived he
effectively applied the tourniquet, then called for
help on his FRS radio. His plea for help was heard
by another hunter in the Jennings Gap Area of
Augusta County approximately 9 air miles away. This
hunter then used his cell phone to call Augusta EOC
and dispatch help to the victim. The victim was
transported out of the mountain on the "Gator" while
being attended too by an Air flight Nurse. The
victim was then transported by Churchville Rescue
Squad to a waiting Med Flight helicopter at West
Augusta and flown to UVA Hospital in
Charlottesville. Surgeons attempted to save the
victim's arm, but were unable to due to extensive
tissue damage and bone loss. The right arm was
amputated just above the elbow.
The victim reported to Sgt. Bullman during an
interview at the hospital that he had heard a deer
behind him and had turned around in the blind and
knelt down. He had his rifle propped on the seat and
another branch used to make the blind. When he
reached into his backpack he slid the rifle with his
arm and it discharged. He does not know how the
safety was pushed to the fire position or what
caused the rifle to fire. The victim is very
grateful to all the people that came to his rescue.
For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Surveillance and patience nabs backyard
shooter. On November 12, 2007, Officer Ryan
Shuler set-up surveillance on a baited site in
Stafford County that contained a salt block and two
large piles of corn. The baited site was located in
a septic field about 100 yards behind the house of
the suspected violator and was overlooked by a tree
stand and a ground blind which were both empty.
Officer Shuler had made numerous visits to this site
without finding any activity. While Officer Shuler
was watching the baited site, he heard some activity
around the house. Based on information that the
suspect has been known to hunt from his back porch,
Officer Shuler moved to a better location where he
could see the baited sites. While watching the
house, he observed a buck walk in front of him to
the pile of corn.. After standing there for about 20
seconds, Officer Shuler heard a muzzleloader shot
that came from the direction of the house. The buck
startled, jumped and took off into the woods.
Shortly the subject came walking towards Officer
Shuler's position and was surprised to find the
officer rather than the buck. After interviewing the
subject, Officer Shuler was able to ascertain that
the subject had shot at the deer, but had missed.
The subject was charged for hunting deer over bait.
For more information contact Lt. John J. Cobb at
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 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
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
Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Web site.
With Christmas fast
approaching, some of you might be wondering what to
get the little would-be angler on your list. One
necessary gift is a good personal floatation device,
or life jacket. This may not seem too exiting,
but it can and does save young lives. There are also
many different designs, probably one with your
youngster's favorite character on it. Once that
vital piece of equipment is purchased, there are
many other gifts available. One such is the first
rod. Depending on the child's age and seriousness
about fishing, there are different rods in different
price ranges. The Shakespeare (nothing to do with
The Bard) company puts out several inexpensive first
rods that are designed with characters like Superman
and Scooby Doo. They also put out a "family combo"
which includes two rods and tackle sets for those of
you with two little anglers. Shakespeare also makes
the Crappie Hunter and Ugly Stick for older
children. Zebco has a Ready
Tackle set which has
everything needed for a fishing trip and the 33 or
202 rod and reel combos; while Courtland offers the
333+ fly fishing set which claims "just add water."
also had some good ideas about Christmas gifts for
Anglers Legacy offers a fish trip IOU
- a pledge to take someone new fishing. Several
contributors suggested that a trip with a good guide
is an excellent adventure for the older child who is
really serious about becoming Dad's fishing buddy.
It is also a good idea to get the youngster some
tackle for species that are close to home, don't get
trout flies if you live 3 miles from a bass pond.
Another gift kids love is a flow minnow bucket,
having live fish at hand seems to excite them. A
final thought is a large pillow shaped like the
child's favorite species, several online companies
offer them and they can be fun for the kids to lay
on while they watch TV. But, again, the first gift
should be one of safety - a personal floatation
Reservoir: Chuck Hyde reports that things have
been very slow at Beaverdam. In fact, it has been a
few weeks since anyone has had a big hit. The
crappie are still out there, but the cold weather
has been keeping anglers away. The water is cooling
Lake: George Allen of Eagle's Landing says that
although things have been slow, the crappie and bass
are still there to be found. The water is cold and
River: Charlie Brown of River's Rest tells us
that some big blue cats have been landed recently.
The stripers and crappie are also responding well.
The water is clear and 50 degrees.
Reservoir: The fishing is closed for the season
at Little Creek, and there is no boat launching.
They hope to re-open in March, but this depends on
the water level.
Region 2 -
Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf at Angler's Lane reports
that although things have been slow, the smallmouth
bass are still hitting. The water is cold, low and
Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead at Virginia Outdoorsman says
that the crappie are really biting just now, with
some over 15 inches long and a pound an a half in
weight. Small minnows and lead headed jigs were the
lucky bait. Bass fishing has been "mixed", but
crankbaits run in medium depths have been fairly
successful. Stripers are also a mixed bag, but some
have been caught on live bait on freelines,
downlines, and floats. A word of warning to striper
fishers – one local angler has reported landing a
striper that was "heavily infested with . . .
parasitic copepods". These parasites are usually
found in the back of the fish's mouth and gill
plates. They are very small, about the size of a
single grain of rice and are white to brown in
color. According to Mike, many stripers were lost to
copepods in the winter of 2002. If you do land an
infested fish, call Mike at (540) 721-4867 and let
him know how long the fish was, where you caught it
and how badly it was infected. The water is 56
degrees and clear.
Region 3 -
Mike Buchett of Rock House Marina says that fishing
has been good. The stripers are really hitting. On
November 29, Jimmy and Jimmy Jr. Hailey of North
Carolina landed a striper weighing over 32 lbs. and
40 inches long. On November 23, 10 year-old Tyler
Hailey caught a 22 lb. 12oz. striper that was 38
inches long. On December 8, he caught a 7 lb. 12oz.
walleye that was over 27 inches long. Obviously the
striper fishing has been great, with the fish
responding best to live bait, especially shad. If
the water warms up, umbrella rigs would also be a
good bet. The walleye are going for shad and
crankbaits. The bass fishing has been "hit or miss".
The water is clear and 49 degrees.
Lower New River:
John Zienius of Big Z's reports that the water level
is up enough for jet boats. Fishing is "not great,"
but a 30 lb. striper was recently landed on an
umbrella rig. The bass have been slow. John wants to
remind anglers and other boaters to check the water
level before they plan a trip. The level can be
checked at the Department's Web site at
www.dgif.virginia.gov. The water is cold and clear.
Claytor Lake: Victor Billings of Sportsman's
Supply told me that there are some good walleye in
the river hitting white bucktails with read heads,
Mr. Twisters and fire tiger colored crankbaits. The
stripers are biting live gizzard shad and big
crankbaits. The bass fishing has been slow, but some
muskies are cooperating in the river. The waters are
41 – 49 degrees and clear.
Region 4 –
Mountain & Valley
Larry Andrews of the Bait Place says that the bass
fishing is still good, with a largemouth of over 7
pounds being brought in. The trout are responding in
the Jackson River below the dam. The cold weather
has been keeping anglers away, but those that do
venture out have a "field day". The lake is low, 52
degrees and clear.
North Fork of
the Shenandoah: Harry Murray of Murray's Fly
Shop reports that the smallmouth bass can still be
found in the North Fork of the Shenandoah downstream
from Edinburg in the deep pools. The South Fork has
some good bass fishing in the deep water above the
Egypt Bends dam. As for trout, the fishing is good
in delayed harvest streams, with the best flies
being black strymphs and Murray's Betsy Streamer. In
the large streams such as Big Stony Creek West of
Edinburg and the Hidden Valley section of the
Jackson River. In these areas it is best to use
small nymphs and streamers in deep pools. The
mountain streams are too cold to fish. The waters
are clear with the temperature of the bass rivers at
42 degrees and the trout streams at 38.
Region 5 –
James River -
Richmond: Mike Ostrander tells us that several
citation sized blue cats have been landed lately.
The stripers are there, but not especially abundant.
Bald Eagles, however, have been sited; and while
it's not landing a lunker, the sight of one of these
magnificent creatures is always thrilling. The water
is low, cold and clear.
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
In Case You Missed It...
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
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!
upcoming editions of the
Outdoor Report, look for:
- New Wild Turkey
Educational Video Available Online
- Venison Recipes
- General Assembly Updates
- Hunting with Hounds Study