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, February 13, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Board Names Bob Duncan VDGIF Director
  • Merrimac Farms Conserves Important Natural Habitat
  • General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You
  • Caution: "Phishing" Scam in Email Solicitations
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Upcoming Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone
    • Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists
    • VDGIF Complementary Work Force Offers a Variety of Opportunities
    • Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!
    • Registration Open for Online Course for Woodland Landowners
    • Welcome New Subscribers From Richmond Fishing Expo!
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • 4 PM Burn Law Takes Effect February 15
    • Is Your Woodland Home at Risk From Wildlife?!
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Landscaping for Birds
    • Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife
    • Forestry Department Offers Specialty Seedlings
  • Hunters - Did You Remember To...
    • Community Partnership Provides Unique Hunting Event for Disabled Sportsmen
  • Fishin' Report
    • Teen Anglers From Orange County High School Learn Competition is Fun
    • New Reports for Potomac and Lake Anna
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to Recent Articles of Ongoing Interest

Board Names Bob Duncan VDGIF Director

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries announced at a special meeting February 6, 2008, that Robert W. "Bob" Duncan will be the Executive Director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). Bob Duncan has worked for 34 years as a wildlife professional. Thirty of his 34 years of public service have been with VDGIF, most recently serving as Director of the agency's Wildlife Division. He has held that leadership role since March of 1990. Prior to that, he served as Assistant Chief of Wildlife and as a Game Management Field Coordinator. Duncan joined VDGIF as a District Game Biologist in southwest Virginia in 1978.

Throughout his management career, Bob Duncan has been a hands-on leader, working closely with Wildlife Division personnel at all levels. Furthermore, he has worked on a variety of projects that also involved the Fisheries and Wildlife Diversity Divisions of VDGIF, the Law Enforcement Division and the Administrative Division.

Under his leadership the Wildlife Division has added several significant Wildlife Management Areas; built shooting ranges for public use and for use by the agency's Law Enforcement Division; implemented the telephone checking system, "Got Game"; developed comprehensive management plans for black bear, white-tailed deer, and other species; developed plans to address wildlife diseases to enable the Commonwealth of Virginia to be better prepared for prevention and early detection of wildlife diseases.

An avid hunter, he brings to the position a passion for the sport and a first-hand understanding of the hunter's perspective. VDGIF Board Chairman Jimmy Hazel stated, "Bob Duncan is highly regarded by wildlife professionals and sportsmen alike. His passion for his work and commitment to the science of wildlife management has earned him a national reputation among wildlife professionals. His passion for hunting gives him a special connection with the Department's constituents."

Merrimac Farm Conserves Important Natural Habitat

Merrimac Farm, a more than 300-acre property in Prince William County, is the newest addition to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' (VDGIF) statewide network of wildlife management areas. The land features diverse wildlife habitats - wetlands, hardwood forest and upland meadows - as well as access to Cedar Run. The property was recently acquired by the VDGIF with support from the Prince William Conservation Alliance, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and the McDowell family (who owned the property). Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr. said of the acquisition, "Merrimac Farm is an excellent example of how partnering organizations can use the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants to protect important habitat. This project contributes to Governor Kaine's goal of conserving 400,000 acres by the time he leaves office. Achieving that goal will not only protect our land and water for wildlife but also improve the quality of life for all Virginians."

It is anticipated that the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will be open to the public in the spring. A formal dedication is being planned to coincide with the peak of the bluebells. The site boasts one of the largest single patches of Virginia bluebells in northern Virginia. With Merrimac Farm WMA, the VDGIF expands its statewide network of WMAs to 37 with well over 200,000 acres statewide. For a complete list of state-owned Wildlife Management Areas, go to the WMA section of the Department's Web site. For more information on Merrimac Farm, read the recent news release.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner or concerned citizen.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, please visit the Virginia General Assembly Web site. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804-698-1990 in Richmond).

Notice to VDGIF Customers

"Phishing" is a scam that uses e-mail to trick consumers into disclosing their credit card number, account information, social security number, passwords and other personal information. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will never ask you to provide, update or verify personal or account information (social security number, PIN, credit or debit card numbers, etc.) through unsolicited e-mail.

If you receive unsolicited or suspicious e-mail from DGIF, please forward the message to

People and Partners in the News

Upcoming Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone

The four regional upcoming sportsmen's shows feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's Web site for all the details.

Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists

Virginia has some of the premier smallmouth bass rivers in the country and things are looking up for 2008. VDGIF Fisheries Biologists are also continuing to lead the nation in research to learn more about how fish populations in these rivers work and how to better manage the fisheries to improve angling opportunity. Fisheries Biologist, Scott Smith, in south-central Virginia and the Chairman of the VDGIF Smallmouth Bass River Technical Committee, has worked with other river biologists around the state to come up with their latest forecast of what anglers will encounter as they hit the smallmouth bass rivers this year. Scott wants anglers to know that DGIF biologists are working hard on a number of issues facing smallmouth bass fisheries, like the fish kills on the Shenandoahs and Upper James, but overall anglers should see increasing numbers of smallmouth to pursue. Any smallmouth angler will want to check out the 2008 Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast as they plan their river fishing outings.

VDGIF Complementary Work Force Offers A Variety of Opportunities

VDGIF's Complementary Work Force Program Coordinator, Susan Alger, notes, "We are seeking volunteers to assist VDGIF staff in a variety of program areas. For more details, and to apply for any of the opportunities listed, visit our Web site. Here are three opportunities available in our two eastern Regions.

Deer, Oh Deer! What's a Volunteer to Do? The deer season has ended and once again farmers and homeowners will swamp VDGIF offices and law enforcement staff with calls regarding deer damage to their crops and landscaping. We are seeking volunteers to act as Wildlife Damage Inspectors to help respond to landowner calls and issue permits as necessary. Volunteers are needed in almost every county in the two eastern regions of the state - including Accomack and Northampton on the Eastern Shore. Hours of service are flexible and training is provided.

Sometimes Wildlife Needs a Little INSIDE Help! The VDGIF Complementary Work Force is seeking volunteers for Office Assistant positions. These positions are located in our Region Offices in Fredericksburg and Charles City, and in the Hunter Education office and the Conservation Police Officer Academy, both located in our Richmond headquarters. CWF Regional Coordinator, Thomas Goldston, says that, "Volunteers can assist in a variety of ways including; greeting and assisting the public, answering phone calls, doing light office tasks, and otherwise helping our staff with day-to-day operations. Hours of service are flexible - any weekday. On-the-job training in agency-specific information is provided."

Eastern Shore Residents: Be the First In Your Area to Join! CWF Tidewater Region Coordinator, Jim Battle, notes "The number of Virginia residents volunteering for the new VDGIF Complementary Work Force (CWF) is steadily rising, yet we have not received any volunteer applications from the Eastern Shore. There are lots of exciting opportunities available." Visit our Web site and see if there is one that interests you.

Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!

Where can teenagers go to learn more about Virginia's natural resources and their impact on our quality of life? For over 60 years, hundreds of yougsters have turned to the Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - a week-long residential program. Nominations are now open for the 62nd annual Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, to be held June 16-21, 2008 at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox. This action-packed camp is hosted by Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), with support and cooperation from other conservation agencies, organizations, businesses, and individuals. Teachers, natural resources professionals, and others working with youth may make nominations for this popular camp. Campers must be 13-16 years old with good academic standing, an interest in natural resources, and must not have attended Forestry Camp before.

"One unique aspect to Forestry Camp is that school teachers may also attend the program," notes Camp Coordinator, Ellen Powell. "Teachers are required by their school systems to earn recertification credits in their field. Forestry Camp can help them earn some of those credits."

To nominate a camper, visit the VDOF Web site: Nominations are due by April 15. For more information, contact Ellen Powell at 434-977-6555 or

Registration Open for Online Course for Woodland Landowners

The Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program (VFLEP) is offering an on-line program for private forest landowners of any acreage. This course is intended for forest landowners who have not had substantial experience working alone or with natural resource professionals in the management of their forests. Veteran landowners are welcome to enroll and may take the course as a refresher on basic forest management.

Registration is now open at and costs $70. The course itself begins March 10, 2008 and lasts for 12 weeks. Topics include: using aerial photos, topo maps, soil surveys, setting management goals and objectives, pine and hardwood ecology and management, how to work with natural resource professionals, and tree identification. VFLEP Coordinator, Jennifer Gagnon, at the VA Tech College of Natural Resources, notes this comprehensive course is for new and inexperienced landowners, teachers, and anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of basic forest and wildlife management principles and techniques and using this understanding to become better land stewards.

Welcome New Subscribers From Richmond Fishing Expo!

Thanks to the 300 new subscribers who signed-up for the Outdoor Report at the Richmond Fishing Expo January 25-27, 2008. Fishin' Report Contributing Editor, Sarah White appreciated getting to meet many of you and answer your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Sarah gained five new contacts for rivers and lakes to add to the Fishin' Report. For you new subscribers who received the red numbered ticket , the 15 winning ticket numbers are listed below. Winners can claim their prize of a 2008 Virginia Wildlife Calendar by one of two ways:

  1. Bring in the winning ticket to the VDGIF Headquarters office at 4010 West Broad Street in Richmond for verification and to claim your prize.
  2. Mail your winning ticket to: David Coffman, Outdoor Report Editor, VDGIF, PO Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230. Include your return address and your prize will be mailed to you.

New Subscribers Contest
Winning Red Ticket Numbers

88932680 88932702 88932739
88932791 88932798 88932817
88932825 88932866 88932871
88932873 88932881 88932889
88932894 88932907 88932957

Be Safe... Have Fun!

4 PM Burn Law Takes Effect February 15

The "4 PM Burn Law" is in effect each year from February 15 until April 30. No outdoor burning is allowed before 4 PM to help prevent wildfires. Read the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn? to learn more. Remember Smokey Bear's message... Only YOU can prevent wildfires!

Is Your Woodland Home at Risk From Wildfire?!

Last weekend Virginia experienced conditions to create the "perfect firestorm"... dry woodland fuels, low humidity and strong, gusting winds. Add a careless act like tossing a cigarette, or burning trash and a hot ember can quickly become a raging inferno destroying property and putting lives at risk. Many people don't realize that they face serious wildfire danger. If you live in or near forests or other wildland fuels, you are at risk. Visit the Virginia Department of Forestry Web site for 25 Firewise Tips and actions you need to take to create a Wildfire-Defensible Space to protect your home and property from wildfires

Habitat Improvement Tips

Beginning with this issue, there will be a series of monthly habitat articles by Donna Cottingham, a freelance writer for many years who is currently a Master Naturalist volunteer from the Riverine Chapter. The Master Naturalist program is a statewide volunteer network dedicated to providing education, outreach and service for the benefit of Virginia's natural resources. For more information, go to

Landscaping for the Birds

February is a good time to start planning your spring landscape projects. Planted early in the season, trees and shrubs have adequate time to become established before summer, when heat and dry weather take a toll on tender young plants. While soil, temperature, sun exposure and moisture are important considerations when choosing landscape material, "bird appeal" is another factor to consider. Careful selection of plant material can make your backyard a wildlife habitat to enjoy watching all year long.

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program checkoff box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Forestry Department Offers Specialty Seedlings

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has been in the seedling business for 90 years assisting landowners in reforestation projects on cutover and idle land. Landowners may now purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors, and timber management. For product information, pricing and ordering go to VDOF's Web site.

Hunters - Did You Remember To...

The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked getting ready for hunting season, or reports from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk, or experienced afield. This inspirational story describes one of the many partnership events organized by sportsmen to provide opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Community Partnership Provides Unique Hunting Event For Disabled Sportsmen

On Saturday February 2, 2008, a special waterfowl hunt for disabled persons was provided by the Virginia Waterfowler's Association with assistance from the Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin' Sportsman Program and VDGIF Outdoor Education staff. The day started with VDGIF Outdoor Education staff briefing the seven handicapped hunters (and one assistant), four active duty members of our Armed Forces, and two youth hunters in the basic rules of firearms safety, zones of fire, and hunting safely from a blind. Following the safety briefing, the hunters were transported to specially designed blinds for handicapped hunters. Pro Staffers from several call makers served as guides for the day's hunt, providing instruction in the subtleties of hunting the Canada Goose, as well as the art of calling.

While the hunters were busy in the blinds, volunteers from the VAWFA busied themselves preparing, and then delivering hot breakfast sandwiches to the hunters in the blinds. Talk about service! Later in the morning, the hunters took a break to partake of a hot lunch consisting of hot dogs and hamburgers, along with all the trimmings, provided by WalMart. After lunch, each hunter received a gift bag with items provided by VDGIF, VAWFA, Mechanicsville Dodge, Dance's Sporting Goods, and Bass Pro Shops.

VDGIF Outreach Education Coordinator, Jimmy Mootz, who assisted with the event, commented that, "This cooperative event demonstrates the power of partnerships in action. Judging from this event, our sporting heritage is strong as evidenced by these widely divergent groups coming together to make a great hunt possible for a great group of hunters."

To learn more about providing hunting and fishing opportunities for disabled persons or to volunteer to get involved with any of the forty plus events held around the state contact, or Robin Clark, Virginia NWTF Volunteer Wheelin' Sportsmen Coordinator at

Remember Rabbit season is extended this year till February 29, 2008.

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.

Want more information on the lakes and rivers listed below? Visit the Lakes and Rivers pages on the Department's Web site!

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

Reporter's Notes...

At the Richmond Fishing Expo, I met an outstanding group of teens from the Orange County High School Angler's Club and their inspirational teacher and mentor, Rebecca Gore. Their story is all about what's good in getting youth "hooked" on fishing and the outdoors.

- Sarah White

Teen Anglers from Orange County High School Learn Competition Is Fun

The boat creaks. A soft June wind ruffles the young angler's hair. Girls giggle and boys roughhouse. There is a competition going on, but those who do the competing are still having fun to the point that the competition is one of the best parts of the trip.

The students at Orange County High School have had an Angling Club for several years now. It's a real sport; kids can get a lettered jacket and must maintain good grades to play. It's a true intramural sport, one where the girls don't just participate in some token way - they stand as good a chance of winning as the boys.

The founder of this program is a dedicated teacher named Rebecca Gore, who started the program "so I could have someone to fish with on the weekends." Her desire is more than satisfied, the Angling Club has grown to a considerable size, with over 50 students and adult mentors. Rebecca is quick to point out that the Club is about more than landing a fat bass, though that's fun too; it's about learning life skills like patience, persistence and teamwork. She maintains that the program works; that her kids develop great character and drive. Her opinion is born out by the fact that her kids win tournaments -- some world class. And when I talked to the team members, I was impressed by their intelligence, politeness and knowledge of their sport. While they all mentioned competing as one of their favorite parts of the Club, I got the impression that this was friendly, not cutthroat, competition. They were being, as Ms. Gore puts it, "pointed in the right direction"; and their behavior and characters bode well for the future.

Another key element of the Team is that it takes the kids outdoors and makes conservationists out of them. The team spends time volunteering to help clean up and maintain fishing sites. And, as every angler knows, just spending time fishing makes one care about the future of our wild places. The team has received numerous awards for their service including "National Outstanding Jr. B.A.S.S. Federation - Nation Chapter". Let's hope that more kids get "hooked" on saving the environment. Ms. Gore is more than happy to help anyone set up a fishing club at their school or organization. To contact her, call (540) 661-4300 or email her at

The Orange County High School Angler's Club is sponsoring the 4th Annual Orange County High Sportsman Expo at the OCHS Hornets Sports Center, Orange Saturday and Sunday March 1-2, 2008. There are exhibitors, guides, fishing supply vendors, organizations and lots to see and do. For information contact, or visit the Team's Web site.

Come out and support this great teen fishing team!

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp: Tom Rummel reports that things are very "quiet" at the park. There is a little luck to be had with crankbaits but that is about it. The water is clear and cold.

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown of River's Rest tells us that crappie are attacking small minnows. Some crappie as big as 2 lbs have been brought in. A few cats were fooled by cut bait fished on the bottom. For the anglers who will brave the chill, good action can be found. The water is stained and around 40 degrees.

Little Creek Reservoir: At the park the second peninsula, boat ramp and pier are closed due to cold weather. The first peninsula is open. For information call (757) 259-5360.

Norfolk Lakes: Bobby Kinsey of Dashiel's Show Room says that there has been "no action" that he could discern in his area. This slowdown is due to cold weather. Bobby expects that things will pick up around the last week of February and the first week of March. The water is clear and below 50 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins of West Neck Marina reports that citation sized crappie have been brought in on minnows and small jigs. The yellow perch are going for minnows. Lots of small bass are moving to the shallows where they are nabbed by crankbaits, spinners and some top-water baits. The water is stained and varies from the 40s to the 50s.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf of Angler's Lane told me that the trout in the mountains are hitting sub-surface nymphs and streamers. The crappie fishing at Buggs Island is good when using pink, white or chartreuse jigs. The water is cold and clear.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store says that fishing is good, due to a recent warm spell. The largemouth bass are coming up on red clay points about 8 - 12 feet out, then going for jerk baits and suspended crankbaits. Crappie have been abundant as they are in a pre-spawning state. They are attacking tube jigs. A few cats have been landed with live shad or cut bait. The water is stained and 48 degrees.

Philpott Lake: Shawn Perdue of Franklin's Outdoors tells us that crappie are hitting live bait and minnows. The bass are deep, but a few were brought in on heavy jigs with crayfish imitation trailers. The water is dingy and cold.

Smith Mountain Lake: Al Galliher of the Virginia Outdoorsman's Store reports that some big stripers were landed by trolling and jigging with artificial lures. The stripers are going for bucktails and Cordell Red Fins. The bass have been going for jigging spoons. The crappie are attacking minnows and small jigs. The water is clear and 48 degrees.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Wyatt Blevins at Rock House Marina says that thing have been very slow. A few bass have been seduced from the deep by jigging spoons, as have a few stripers, but that is about it. The water is clear and very cold.

Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's told me that cats in the river are going for jigging spoons. The cats seem to be the only fish that are really cooperating. Snow and ice have kept anglers away. The water is clear and cold.

New River, Claytor Lake: Victor Billings of Sportsman's Supply reports that the walleye in the river are really picking up, especially near Austinville. These walleye are going for crankbaits, Wally Divers, Rapala Black Backs, live bait and bucktails. The crappie are hitting in little Retreat Lake on small jigs. A few smallmouth bass have attacked crankbaits. The water is clear and cold.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Mike Puffenbarger of Maple Tree Outdoors reports that the lake is getting near full pool. Those going for smallmouth have been fairly lucky. Soon yellow perch and trout will be livening up. The water is cold and clear.

Lake Robertson: Wayne Nicely reports that there has been no fishing in the lake, as is has been drawn down for vegetation control. The water is back on its way up, but the boat ramp will be closed for a couple of weeks. You can fish from the bank, but don't expect much.

Shenandoah, North Fork: Harry Murray says that the smallmouth streams remain too cold to fish. The large trout streams in the valley are good for browns and rainbows. The best flies are nymphs below the riffles such as Murray's Dark Stonefly Nymph size 12, and Murray's Tan Caddis Pupa size 12. The deep pools of these streams are very fishable by going deep with streamers like the Olive Strymph size 10 and the Murray's Pearl Marauder size 12. The mountain streams are too cold for good fishing. All waters are clear and cold. For more information look up Harry's weekly report every Friday at

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

We welcome two new reporters for Lake Anna and the Potomac that met Sarah at the Richmond Fishing Expo and signed up to send us these reports.

Lake Anna: The following is thanks to Jason Burkholder - Jim Hemby of Lake Anna Striper Guide Service reports striper anglers should concentrate their efforts on the main lake where gulls and baitfish are present. The largest concentrations are from the 208 bridge up to Christopher Run on the North Anna side and up to Terrys Run in the Pamunkey. Here the fish are feeding primarily on 3 to 4 inch Threadfin Shad. Small Hopkins spoons jigged vertically, 3-inch sassy shads, and live bait can all produce. Largemouth anglers should focus on clear water where suspending jerkbaits and swimbaits worked slowly over points and rock piles will produce. Crappie remain in large schools on drop-offs in 15 - 25 feet of water. Rely on your depth finder and use small jigs and minnows to fill the cooler.

Potomac: Charlie Taylor reports that largemouth bass can be found in the drop-offs in 14 - 24 feet, they are biting small grubs and blade baits. Below the city bass will stay around rip-rap and large man made structures. Drop shot rigs, Silver Buddies and pig n' gigs should work well. At the mouth of the Occoquan River can be found large numbers of yellow perch. These fish like small yellow grubs, drop shot rigs and Gold Silver Buddies. The water is generally high and muddy and cool.

Got Tips?
Got Tricks?
Adventure Stories?
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?

email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

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

License check catches felon... Officer Michael Morris was patrolling upper King and Queen County in December conducting license compliance inspections. An individual was encountered hunting without a license. Attempting to determine if the subject had any outstanding warrants, the dispatch center advised that the computer system was temporarily down. After leaving the suspect the dispatching computer system came back up and it was then discovered that the suspect had a revoked driver's license and was also a convicted felon. Officer Morris did some further checking and determined that the suspect had checked in 5 deer by telephone using a shotgun as the method of kill for each deer. A search warrant was obtained and served on the suspect's residence. Six firearms (2 of which he admitted were his) photographs of harvested deer, and a 10, 8 and 3 point buck heads were all seized. Pending charges are for possessing a firearm by a convicted felon and failure to check deer. For more information contact Lt. Ken Conger (804)-829-6580.

Region 2 - Southside

Hunter Education Course needed by teen... Dad needs ethics and safety refresher too! Senior Officer Brett Saunders was in surveillance of the Amelia WMA shooting range in January, due to the many abuses which take place there. At 11:45 a.m., Officer Saunders heard shooting. Although the range did not open until 1:00 p.m., the early shooting was not a surprise, as that was one of the reasons for the surveillance. However, the shooting sounded much closer than was usual. As Officer Saunders walked from his area of concealment, he found himself facing a subject wearing all camouflage, about 30 yards away, holding a large caliber handgun. The suspect had been shooting, not at the range, but from a nearby parking lot, towards the place where Officer Saunders had been concealed! Officer Saunders identified himself as a police officer and the suspect turned and began to walk to a van in the parking lot. The suspect was ordered to stop and place the gun on the ground, but he kept turning towards the van. Officer Saunders ordered any passengers out of the van. A man exited the passenger side of the vehicle. The shooter was a teenaged boy and the vehicle passenger the boy's father. The father and son admitted they had been walking the Management Area and the boy wanted to shoot their firearms. They had gone to the range and the father had read that the range did not open until 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, so he took the boy to a nearby parking lot and let him shoot at a plastic drink bottle on the ground. This was done in spite of driving past two kiosks where the WMA rules were clearly posted, and then parking the van near the third such kiosk when they stopped. As Officer Saunders was speaking to the suspects, three horseback riders came up the road, in the exact direction in which the boy had been shooting; at which point, the boy commented that they were the riders that he and his father had seen earlier. In conversation with the boy about firearms safety, Officer Saunders asked the boy if he hadn't talked about this subject in his Hunter Education class. The boy said that he had never taken a Hunter Education class, even though on the hunting license which he had produced as a form of identification, it listed his Hunter Education certification date as November 2006. It turned out that the father had bought his son's initial hunting license over the internet and, it seemed, falsified the application. Multiple charges are pending from this incident. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher (434) 525-7522.

Region 3 - Southwest

Gunfire complaint leads to multiple charges for juvenile and adult. In September, Officer Josh Wheeler received a call from Floyd County dispatch to investigate a complaint of gunfire in a field behind a residence. Officer Wheeler was on the scene in 15 minutes. The complainant stated that he had gotten into a verbal confrontation with two males before they fled from the scene. This led the complainant to pursue the suspects in an attempt to get a license plate number. While the complainant was chasing the suspects' vehicle, he observed gunfire coming from the vehicle. The complainant feared that they were shooting at him and immediately backed off. Approximately 10 minutes later, Officer Wheeler arrived at the suspects' residence and during interviews, learned that the passenger of the vehicle in question shot a hole through the roof of their car. The driver of the vehicle, a juvenile who was visibly intoxicated, eventually admitted to shooting a doe on the complainant's property. The adult male also confessed to spotlighting and admitted to purchasing alcohol for the juvenile. During the course of his investigation, Officer Wheeler learned that the juvenile was an adjudicated delinquent as a felon for burglary. Photographs were taken and the shotgun was seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth. Warrants were obtained for spotlighting, reckless handling of a firearm, trespass on posted property, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and felony possession of a firearm. The charges also resulted in the suspension of the adult suspects license and fines totaling $1400. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Shenandoah Valley

Alcohol and hunting don't mix - being drunk at your court date -- bad defense! Senior Officer Frank Mundy apprehended a suspect who was hunting over bait the first doe day of the regular firearm deer season. The hunter was dressed in camouflage and was not wearing the required blaze orange.

As Officer Mundy checked for identification and hunting license he observed an odor of alcoholic beverage about the person. Based on the hunter's actions and the odor of alcoholic beverage, the hunter was given a field breath test. The test registered .212 Blood Alcohol Content. (In the Commonwealth of Virginia, .08 is considered legally under the influence when operating a motor vehicle). He was taken to the Rockingham County jail where he was charged with: Hunting under the influence of alcohol, hunting over bait, no hunting license, no big game license and hunting without required blaze orange with a January court date. He spent that night in jail.

In late January, before court started, the defendant's lawyer, wanted to arrange a plea agreement in which the "hunter/defendant" would not get any jail time. The lawyer argued that Officer Mundy would have trouble convicting him on the hunting under the influence charge. No deal was agreed to and the lawyer stated that he was going to plead his client guilty on all charges and ask for mercy of the court. When the case was called, Officer Mundy, the defendant and his lawyer stood in front of the judge's bench within a few feet of his Honor's nose. Instead of pleading guilty, the lawyer started arguing a defense to the case before the evidence was presented. The judge was confused by his actions and statements and he started questioning the attorney concerning his defense methods. Suddenly the judge halted in mid-sentence. He stopped court and asked the bailiff to check the defendant for alcohol. After a short recess, the bailiff returned and advised the Judge that the defendant had a .16 Blood Alcohol Content which is twice the .08 considered drunk in operating a motor vehicle.

When the trial resumed, the judge looked across the bench with a no nonsense expression on his face and asked the lawyer what he had to say now? The lawyer responded, "Judge, I've got nothing!" Officer Mundy then presented the facts of the hunting violations. The judge found the defendant guilty and imposed fines and costs of $916 and 30 days in jail. He also imposed an additional 10 days in jail and $311in fines and costs for Contempt of Court for a total of 40 days in jail and $1227 in fines and costs. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clake (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Buckshot in church leads to felony arrest. In December, Officer Jeff Green was contacted by Detective Tackett with the Powhatan County Sheriff's Office in reference to a church getting struck with buckshot when an unknown person was shooting at a deer at night. Officer Green along with Detective Tackett conducted some interviews and came up with a suspect. They drove to where this suspect was staying and Officer Green was able to get a confession from the suspect along with a 12 gauge pump shotgun. Later on that day, the suspect showed Officer Green the location where he had dumped the deer carcass and where the deer had been shot at Moriah Baptist Church. The suspect stated "I did hit the church" and gave a voluntary written confession. In January, Officer Green obtained and served 6 warrants in this case, including: Destruction Of Property (Felony), Reckless Handling Of A Firearm, Trespass At Night On Church Property, Spotlight/Kill Or Attempt To Kill, Littering, and Hunting Without A License. For more information contact Lt. John Cobb (540) 899-4179.

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!

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:

  • Boating Safety Education Regulation Proposals
  • New Reptiles & Amphibians Streaming Video!
  • General Assembly Updates
Red Crossbill. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Red Crossbill
(Loxia curvirostra)
by Spike Knuth

The red crossbill is one of the most unusual and interesting of birds. Its upper and lower mandibles are crossed giving you the impression that its bill is deformed. Its nomadic wanderings may take it from the far north in one year to the south as far as northern Georgia the next. These wanderings, attributed to food scarcity or abundance result in a lengthy breeding period from January to August.

The red crossbill is a member of the finch family. It's a stocky bird of six to eight inches long, with a short tail, relatively large head, and pointed wings. The males are basically dull red with brownish-black wings and tail, while the typical female is grayish- or yellowish-olive with a dull yellow rump and underparts, with dark wings and tail. Immature birds are similar to the females with some streaking. There are wide variations in plumage due to the bird's unusual and long breeding season, which results in birds of various ages in a given season. To add to the confusion, some eight "types" or subspecies, have been identified across the continent. They show a great deal of variation in bill sizes and shapes depending on what seed they feed on.

While the bill of the crossbill looks awkward, it is actually designed perfectly for how it is used. The crossbill has strong biting muscles, which are strong enough to splinter wood. The tips of the slightly opened bill are inserted between the cone scales and as it bites down, the scales are spread apart, exposing the seed which is then deftly extracted by a finely barbed tongue. They do so while climbing around like a small, stocky parrot using both feet and bill, sometimes hanging upside down.

Red crossbills are birds of northern conifer forests all across the Northern Hemisphere. They usually feed high in seed producing conifers, such as spruce, pine, hemlock, and fir. It is the scarcity or abundance of these seeds that may dictate and cause their erratic seasonal movements. They will also feed on the seeds of birch, willow, poplar and maple, plus some insects, and they get grit and salt from roadsides.

They breed from January to August, anywhere from 5 to 80 feet off the ground. The nest is built in a conifer; a cup-shaped affair made of twigs, lined with grasses, conifer needles, lichens, bark and plant fibers, animal hair, and feathers. Anywhere from two to six eggs, an average clutch being three, are laid. The eggs are white with a greenish cast, marked and streaked with deep red. The young hatch after 12 to 14 days and they fledge in about 17 days. The young develop the crossed bills as they grow and are often fed seeds at a young age.

Here in Virginia, red crossbills are considered rare or uncommon and irregular transient and winter visitors. When they do wander this far, it will be in the higher mountains such as White Top Mountain, where there are stands of red spruce and other boreal type trees. It is these diminishing high altitude forests that could threaten the few red crossbills that visit Virginia. Nationwide it is difficult to monitor their numbers due to their nomadic movements.


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.

February 2008
15-April 30 Virginia 4:00 PM Burning Law in effect, burning outdoor burning before 4 PM
15-17 21st Annual Western Virginia Sports Show, Waynesboro.
15-17 2nd Annual Greater Virginia Sports & Big Game Show, Harrisonburg.
16 6th Annual Woods & Wildlife Conference, Charlottesville. Contact Adam Downing.
16 Educational Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop, Albemarle. Contact Jimmy Mootz.
22-25 National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sports Show, Atlanta, GA (visit the many Virginia-based vendors)
22-24 VA Outdoor Sportsmen's Classic, Roanoke Civic Center
March 2008
1 Basic Fly Fishing Workshop, Chesapeake. Contact Bill Campbell at (757) 635-6522 or
1-2 4th Annual Orange County Sportsman Expo. Hornets Sports Center, Orange County. Contact Becky Gore ( or see Web site.
2 Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House, Waynesboro.
16 Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House, Waynesboro.
30 Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House, Waynesboro.
19 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Annual Meeting, Charlottesville. Contact David Coffman.
29 Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar, Luray. Contact Art Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or
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.
Coyote, groundhog, and skunk: Sept. 1 to Mar. 10 on public land, continuous open season on private land.
Beginning in October 2007
Opossum: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Raccoon: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Beginning in November 2007
Bobcat: Nov. 1 - Feb. 29
Fox: Nov. 1 - Feb. 29 certain counties, see regulations
Rabbit: Nov. 3 - Feb. 29 (new regulation enacted by Board of Game & Inland Fisheries)
Beginning in January 2008
Deer: Urban Archery - January 7 to March 29 in certain incorporated cities, towns, and counties. Go to the Department's Web site for local restrictions and other urban archery information.
Beginning in April 2008
Turkey: Spring Gobbler (bearded turkeys only)

April 5: Special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt

April 12 to May 3: 1/2 hour before sunrise until 12 noon each day statewide.

May 5 to May 17: 1/2 hour before sunrise until sunset statewide.

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.

Editor: David Coffman

Web Production: David Murr, Tim Tassitano

Contributing Editors:
Julia Dixon, Carol Kushlak, Ron Messina, Sally Mills, Lee Walker

Special Feature Contributors:
Rick Busch, Donna Cottingham, Carol Heiser, Fred Leckie, Spike Knuth, Steve Pike, Vance Shearin, Jeff Trollinger, Sarah White

Wildlife Diversity and Information & Education Division Director: David Whitehurst

The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via e-mail to more than 14,000 subscribers the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.


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 -