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, June 25, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • New 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest Available
  • Summer's Here - Great Time To Go Fishin'
  • Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
    • Annual HerpBlitz Survey June 27-29 at Grayson Highlands
    • Great American Backyard Campout June 28
    • The Big Apple Archery Shoot July 5 - 6
    • Shenandoah Riverkeepers Rodeo July 19
    • NASP Teacher Training Scheduled at JMU July 20
    • Local NWTF Chapters to Host Women in the Outdoors Events
    • Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Greg Funkhouser Recognized as Conservation Police Officer of the Year
    • New 2008-09 Virginia Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
    • Spike Knuth Selected Artist for Virginia Waterfowl Stamp
    • Governor Kaine Runs With Recruits
    • Update on Eaglet from Norfolk Botanical Garden
  • Hunting News Your Can Use
    • What's New for the 2008-09 Hunting & Trapping Seasons
  • "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • TowBoatU.S. Helps Boaters Get Safely Home
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • VDGIF and Chesapeake Parks Provide Warbler Nest Boxes
  • Fishin' Report
    • Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery Closed for Renovations
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • Beware of the Heat - Keep Cool While on the Water
      • Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • "My Most Memorable Experience as a Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer" Photographs and Reports From the Five Officers Recognized as Regional Conservation Officer of the Year
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to Recent Articles of Ongoing Interest

New 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations Digest Available

VDGIF is distributing the new 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest. The booklet has a new look this year with color- coded page tabs for the different sections including: What's New, Licenses, Regulations, Hunting Lands, Bear, Deer Turkey, Small Game, Trapping and an Index. In addition to laws and regulations, featured topics include detailed information on deer, bear, turkey, small game and furbearer management programs and frequently asked questions. For landowners, information is included on liability, posting recommendations and habitat management incentive programs. There is an entire page listing new regulations, expanded seasons and other hunter friendly changes this year. The 58-page booklet is available free of charge from license sales agents, Regional VDGIF offices and the Richmond Headquarters office.. To offset printing costs, paid advertisements have been included again this year. Many of the ads contain coupons and information on new products and gear to enhance your hunting experiences.

VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan notes in the booklets Introduction, "As the Department expands its wildlife management, education and law enforcement programs, the demands for limited dollars require us to be diligent in our planning. We will be actively involving you—hunters and trappers—even more, to help us achieve our mission. To our supporters, volunteers and outdoors enthusiasts, we say "thank you." Your license and titling and registration fees make all of this possible. Your participation in hunting and trapping creates a revenue ripple effect that reaches into every town and county across the state, strengthening local economies in the process. We hope that through the new Apprentice License you will help recruit new "apprentice" hunters that will become lifelong hunters and keep the tradition of hunting going well into the future. Good Hunting!"

For a summary of the "What's New" page see the Hunting News You Can Use section below. We will be featuring details of these new opportunities in each of the next editions of the Outdoor Report through September. A PDF format will be available on the VDGIF Web site July 1, along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest.

Summer's Here - Great Time To Go Fishin'

Summer is finally here, school's out, the weather is warm it's a great time to get outdoors with family and friends. With rising gas prices, many people are looking to stay closer to home. Fortunately for Virginians, there's a lake, river or stream within an hour's drive from any location in the state, making it easy and economical to get away for a day on the water boating, fishing and relaxing. When you purchase a fishing license, you not only buy quality time, but you also are investing in conservation. For less than the cost of a full tank of gas, a family of four can fish for a year.

"With the Chesapeake Bay, our coastal waters, our rivers and lakes, and our trout streams of the Blue Ridge, Virginia is a destination for boaters and anglers. These recreational sports are tremendously important to the strength of our state's economy," said Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Executive Director Bob Duncan. "The funds generated by boating and fishing are crucial to keeping Virginia's waterways and lands in good condition and managing the state's fresh and saltwater fisheries."

Virginia fishing licenses can be purchased directly online through the Department's Web site; by telephone through a toll-free number, 1-866-721-6911; or at sporting goods stores. To learn more about fishing and boating in Virginia, including where to fish, how to identify fish species, guides to lakes and rivers, fishing and boating regulations and much more, visit the Department's Web site.

For license, size, season and catch limits of saltwater species, go to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Annual HerpBlitz Survey June 27-29 at Grayson Highlands

The Virginia Herpetological Society ( and the Virginia Natural History Society ( are teaming up to host their Third Annual HerpBlitz Survey on June 27 - June 29, 2008 at Grayson Highlands State Park, in southwestern Virginia near Mt. Rodgers. The surveys are open to the general public. The whole time will be spent looking for reptiles and amphibians under the guidance of trained naturalists. If you have questions about this survey or how you may participate contact Jason Gibson ( Pre-registration is requested so volunteers can be coordinated. Additional details are posted at:

Great American Backyard Campout June 28- Richmond

Experience the Outdoors and come camp overnight to celebrate the National Great American Backyard Campout! This program is from the National Wildlife Federation with outdoor skills and educational courses conducted by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The event begins at 4 pm. Saturday, June 28, and concludes Sunday morning with a campfire service and breakfast. Activities and educational courses from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. include archery, fishing/casting skills, outdoor cooking, animal tracks and pelts, and survival skills conducted by DGIF Instructors. Other activities are sponsored by Ginter Park Baptist Church, the Virginia Division of State Parks, and the Native Plant Society. After dark enjoy stargazing with the Richmond Astronomy Club, flashlight tag, and singing around the campfire. Bring your own tent, sleeping bag, coolers or other equipment. A hot dog dinner and a breakfast will be provided by the church. On-going activities include a jump castle, sports and games, arts and crafts. Restrooms are available in the church. The event is free and is limited to approximately 100 tents or 300 people. Groups welcome. Reservations must be made by June 15 by calling (804) 359-2475. Visit: for more information.

The Big Apple Archery Shoot July 5 - 6

The Buggs Island Archers will be hosting "The Big Apple Archery Shoot" July 5 - 6, 2008 at the Buggs Island Fish and Wildlife Club near Clarksville. This annual family oriented event draws archery enthusiasts from a four state area. In addition to Virginia Bowhunters Association sanctioned contests, the event has games, contests, skills training, good food, camping live music and the infamous "flyn' coon shoot under the lights". For information contact: Jerry or Debbie Jordan email: or visit their Web site.

Visit the Virginia Bowhunters Assoc. Web site for other tournament opportunities.

Shenandoah Riverkeepers Rodeo July 19

Come celebrate our river and the recovery of the fishery at a party hosted by Shenandoah Riverkeeper® Saturday July 19, 2008. at the Bentonville Low Water Bridge Campground on Indian Hollow Road (Route 613 off Route 340) on the banks of the South Fork and in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fourteen nationally known smallmouth bass fishing guides are sponsoring the event, participating that morning in a catch and release fishing contest. Then fish, canoe, swim or just hang around until the pig roast and Blue Grass party starts at 5:00 p.m. For ticket and paddling information contact: or (540) 837-1479. Visit the Shenandoah Riverkeeper Web site)

NASP Teacher Training Scheduled at JMU July 20

School teachers who want to teach the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) curriculum to their students during their physical education classes can complete the Basic Archery Instructor training provided by VDGIF education staff and certified volunteer trainers. Teachers have an opportunity to take the NASP certification training at the James Madison University (JMU) Summer Health and Physical Activity Institute for PE Teachers on July 20, 2008. Click Here for more information.

Schools can "host" the eight hour training for their teachers and invite surrounding school educators. Training is conducted in the school's gym. Training equipment and supplies are provided by VDGIF. Schools interested in bringing archery into their curriculum can contact Karen Holson, VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia NASP State Coordinator, at 804-367-6355 or email

Local NWTF Chapters To Host Women In The Outdoors Events

More and more women are learning to hunt, fish, camp and participate in outdoor adventures by participating in the National Wild Turkey Federation's (NWTF) popular Women in the Outdoors (WITO) program. WITO events can provide activities at a very reasonable cost, thanks to a combination of state and local NWTF chapter support and many generous corporate and wildlife agency partners such as VDGIF. Recently some events were re-scheduled and new ones added. For registration and event information contact: Priscilla Page, NWTF Women in the Outdoors Regional Coordinator at telephone (410)-378-2064 or on the web:

Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

Join the fun at one of the dozen Kid's Fishing Day Events for June through July statewide hosted by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days Schedule (PDF) to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'.

People and Partners in the News

Greg Funkhouser Recognized as Conservation Police Officer of the Year

During the June 2, 2008 VDGIF Board meeting, Law Enforcement Division Director Colonel Dabney "Dee" Watts presented the Conservation Police Officer of the Year Award to Officer Greg Funkhouser from Roanoke. Each year an officer from each of the Agency's five regions is nominated by his/her supervision for the Law Enforcement Division's Conservation Police Officer of the Year award. A panel made up of former winners of the state award then selects the officer they feel best meets all of the criteria in performance categories which include Teamwork and Public Outreach, Excellence and Innovation, Attitude and Leadership and Achievements and Accomplishments.

Senior Conservation Police Officer Greg Funkhouser is an extremely dedicated officer, educator and public spokesperson for the Department. He has a highly positive attitude and always takes on tasks in a spirit of cooperation. He is an exceptionally motivated team player and always works cooperatively with his fellow CPOs, biologists and other Department personnel, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Greg takes much pride in his numerous community relations and outreach programs for sportsmen's groups, civic organizations and citizens. Greg obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree from Virginia Tech in Environmental Science. He was employed by the Department in 1998 and assigned to Roanoke County.

In his law enforcement duties, Officer Funkhouser has effectively applied innovative investigatory methods. Through his use of a wide range of law enforcement techniques, he has successfully met the difficult challenge of a widely diverse work area. Because of his boating incident investigative expertise he often sought out to give presentations. For example, he was recently the guest speaker at the "International Association for Marine Investigators" conference in Virginia which included over 500 participants. His genuine concern for protecting our natural resources, coupled with his professionalism, excellent working relationships, and his confidence and ability to represent the Department in public forums, makes him a highly valued asset in promoting the Department's mission. On behalf of the Board, Chairman Jimmy Hazel congratulated Officer Funkhouser on receiving his award and thanked him for his service and dedication to the agency.

The nominees from the other four regions were congratulated on their exceptional service and recognized by Col. Watts as follows:

  • Region 1 - Senior CPO Frank Spuchesi is a 10 year veteran of the LE Division. He has spent his entire career on the Northern Neck and is currently assigned to King George County.
  • Region 3 - CPO Frank Gough is a 20 year veteran of the Division. He began his career in Henrico County and is currently assigned to Giles County.
  • Region 4 - Senior CPO Neil Kester has been with the Division for 8 years. He has spent his entire career in the Shenandoah Valley. Originally assigned to Page County, he is now in Augusta County.
  • Region 5 - Senior CPO Joe Dedrick is a 37 year veteran of the Department. He has worked in both Regions 1 and Region 5. He is currently assigned to Caroline County.

To view photos and learn more about the experiences of these distinguished officers read their "most memorable experience as a wildlife law enforcement officer" featured this edition in the Conservation Police Officer Report.

New 2008-09 Virginia Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1

The VDGIF will begin selling its 2008 Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp July 1, 2008. The stamp is mandatory for persons age 16 and older to hunt migratory waterfowl, unless license exempt. The stamp is valid July 1 through June 30, 2009.

The artwork for the stamp, painted by Spike Knuth, depicts a pair of gadwalls in flight over a marsh familiar to many waterfowlers as the VDGIF Hog Island Wildlife Management Area on the James River in Surry County. This is the fifth time since 1978 that Spike's paintings have been selected for state waterfowl conservation stamps. See the information below for more on Spike's outstanding career as a naturalists, artist and writer. The artwork was selected from seven other Virginia artists' entries by a panel of six judges that had representation from the major waterfowl conservation organizations and staff from VDGIF. The judges were: Richard Hudson, Chairman, Virginia Ducks Unlimited; Todd Cocker, President, Virginia Waterfowlers Association; Frank Wade, President, Virginia Waterfowl USA and VDGIF staff members, Gary Costanza, Emily Pels, and Bob Duncan.

Ducks Unlimited, under contract with the Department, retains the license for the artwork and provides the service in fulfillment of the hunter stamps and the collector stamps. Ducks Unlimited also handles the sale of the prints. Last year a total of 21,000 Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamps were sold generating $210,000. The funds from sales of the stamp will be used to contract with appropriate nonprofit organizations for cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects; to protect, preserve, restore, enhance and develop waterfowl habitat in Virginia through the Department's waterfowl program; and to offset the administrative costs associated with production, issuance of, and accounting for the stamp. The annual Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp can be purchased for a fee of $10.00 (resident or non-resident) at license agents or clerks that sell Virginia hunting licenses or from the Department's Web site. To request collector stamps and prints, contact Mike Hinton at (540) 351-0564 or by email at Persons buying the stamp online or at a license agent will have the option of having the physical stamp mailed to them. Physical stamps will be mailed out beginning no later than mid-July 2008. The "Privileges" section on the right side of the license, listing the privileges purchased, will serve as proof of purchasing the stamp.

Spike Knuth Selected Artist for Virginia Waterfowl Stamp

A watercolor painting by Spike Knuth depicting a pair of gadwalls in flight over a marsh was selected for the 2008-09 Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. This is the fifth time since 1978 that Spike's paintings have been selected for state waterfowl conservation stamps. Carl "Spike" Knuth grew up around the lakes and marshes of southeastern Wisconsin. His love of nature , especially birds was kindled at an early age as the surrounding marshes, forests and fields became added classrooms for spike as he kept nature journals throughout the seasons, made sketches and took photos for future reference. He began duck hunting in 1965, and donated his first piece of original art to a DU dinner event in 1967. Since then he has donated 450 original paintings and a 100 prints to Ducks Unlimited and many more to other conservation organizations.

Spike began a career with VDGIF in 1974 retiring in 2003 after 29 years of service as illustrator, media relations, and Editor of the Outdoor Report when it was typed copied and mailed to media contacts an sportsman leaders. He has been an active leader in several outdoor communicator organizations including serving as President of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association from 2004-07. He has illustrated about 80 covers for a variety of publications; has done hundreds of inside color and black and white illustrations, and written hundreds of articles. With the selection of his watercolor for the 2008 Virginia Stamp, he now has five state duck stamps to his credit. Subscribers to the Outdoor Report will recognize Spike's feature species article and artwork on the ‘front page' of each edition. For more information on Spike's artwork and fascinating career click here.

Governor Kaine Runs with Recruits

On May 23, 2008 the 4th Basic Conservation Police Officer Academy was honored by having Governor Tim Kaine participate in the daily physical training exercise. The recruits, along with Governor Kaine, enjoyed an early morning two mile run at Richmond's Byrd Park. The nineteen members of the Red-Tailed Hawks Class of 2008 will officially graduate from the Academy during Law Enforcement Graduation exercises on June 26. The graduates will then be assigned throughout the Commonwealth where needed to perform law enforcement duties. VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan commented, "I am extremely proud of these men and women for all they have accomplished during their 28 weeks of classroom and outdoor training. I join with Governor Kaine in expressing our appreciation for these dedicated individuals." A feature article will be posted in the July 9, 2008 edition of the Outdoor Report to note where the newly sworn officers will be serving.

Update on Eaglet from Norfolk Botanical Garden

The eaglet from the Norfolk Botanical Garden that was diagnosed with avian pox in May is still being treated at the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCVA) in Waynesboro. The avian pox shows as warty nodule on the chick's beak. Avian pox poses no human health hazard. At this point the eaglet seems otherwise healthy, feeding and appearing alert. If treatment proves successful, with no long-term deterioration of bone and beak, and the bird poses no health concerns to other wild eagles, it may be released back into the wild. . Dr. Dave McRuer, Director of Veterinary Medicine at the Wildlife Center of Virginia notes on the WCVA web site, "The eagle is being housed in our isolation room, along with other wildlife patients that need to be quarantined to prevent the spread of transmissible diseases. There are no big medical changes in the Norfolk eaglet to report. We are still waiting to schedule surgery to debride the main mass. However, as we wait, the mass is becoming smaller, making the procedure less risky." The WCVA has added a new section to their Web site devoted to the eaglet with the latest medical updates.

Many people followed the progress of the Norfolk Botanical Garden eagles through the EagleCam hosted by WVEC TV 13 in Norfolk. VDGIF Biologist Stephen Living maintained a blog on nest activities in what proved to be an eventful season this year. Living will update the blog to reflect this latest development. The blog can be reached by clicking here.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine located in Waynesboro. Every year, about 2500 animals - ranging from Bald Eagles to chipmunks - are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. Additional information about the Wildlife Center is available online.

"Green Tips" For Outdoor Enthusiasts

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

If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone

It's that time of year again when white-tailed deer fawns are showing up in yards and hayfields and concerned citizens want to know how to help. In almost all cases, the best way to help is to simply give the fawn space and leave it alone. Fawns, born from April through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators such as dogs or coyotes to their location. The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. By giving it a wide berth, you also reduce the risk of inadvertently leading predators to the hidden fawn. Does will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young. You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a very few minutes before leaving it alone again.

Concerned people sometimes pick up animals that they think are orphaned. Most such "orphans" that good-intentioned citizens "rescue" every spring should have been left alone. Most wild animals will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food.

If a fawn or rabbit has been "rescued" when it shouldn't have been, it can often be released at the same location. Parents tend to remain in the area for at least a day, looking for the lost youngster.

If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, do not take matters into your own hands. You may locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator by calling the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) dispatch at 804-367-1258 (24 hours, 7 days a week). You may also visit the VDGIF Web site for that same information.

Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit. Each animal's nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival. Feeding the wrong food to a fawn can make it very sick and possibly lead to its death. Cow's milk will induce very severe diarrhea in fawns.

The best advice for someone who wants to help wildlife is to keep it wild. Once we interfere, we reduce the opportunity for animals to be cared for by their natural mothers and we increase the risk of harming our wildlife heritage.

Hunting News You Can Use!

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

"What's New" for 2008-09

Get your free copy of the new 2008-2009 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest an see what's new this season. The booklet has a new look this year with color-coded page tabs for the different sections including: What's New, Licenses, Regulations, Hunting Lands, Bear, Deer Turkey, Small Game, Trapping and an Index. There is an entire page listing new regulations, expanded seasons and other hunter friendly changes this year entitled "What's New". We will be featuring details of these new opportunities in each of the next editions of the Outdoor Report through September. A PDF format will be available on the VDGIF Web site July 1, along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest. Here is the list of new opportunities available to sportsmen from the "What's New" page of the digest:


  • Apprentice Hunting License is now available.
  • Unplugged shotguns are legal for hunting non-migratory game.


  • Black bear checking procedures have changed and there is a new way to find out the age of your harvested bear.
  • Hours for bear hound training season have been changed to 1⁄2 hour before sunrise to 4 1⁄2 hours after sunset.


  • Earn A Buck regulations have been established in Bedford, Fairfax, Fauquier, Franklin, Loudoun, Patrick, Prince William and Roanoke counties.
  • The antlerless only urban archery season early segment has been extended to open on the first Saturday of September (September 6, 2008 - October 3, 2008).
  • An Early Antlerless Only Archery Season has been established in Loudoun and Prince William counties (except on Department-owned lands) to coincide with the early segment of the urban archery season (September 6, 2008 - October 3, 2008).
  • The use of electronic ignition for muzzleloaders approved.
  • The Early Muzzleloading Season west of the Blue Ridge Mountains has been extended to two weeks (November 1-14).
  • Late Muzzleloading Season on Private lands in Grayson County will now have the last six days as either-sex deer hunting days.
  • City of Suffolk (east of the Dismal Swamp Line) now has a late muzzleloading season with the last six days as either-sex deer hunting days.
  • The Special Late Antlerless Only Firearms Deer Season in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties has been expanded to include Fauquier County, except on Department-owned lands and was also extended to the last Saturday in March.
  • General Firearms Either-Sex Deer Hunting Days have been increased in 16 eastern Virginia city/counties
  • Either-sex deer hunting days were reduced on National Forest and Department-owned lands public lands) in 12 counties west of the Blue Ridge and on National Forest lands in Amherst, Bedford, and Nelson counties.
  • Either-sex deer hunting days were reduced on private lands in two western Virginia counties (Rockbridge and that portion of Rockingham County west of Routes 613 and 731).


  • Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day established for youth 15 years of age and younger on October 18
  • Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day hunting hours were extended to sunset during the youth spring hunt.
  • Starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • A 2-week Fall Turkey Season Opened in Accomac and Northampton counties and in the city of Suffolk.


  • Mandatory electronic checking for bobcats -a new regulation was passed that requires all hunters and trappers who kill a bobcat to report the kill within 24 hours through an electronic harvest reporting system
  • Tagging Requirements-Beginning this year, bobcats taken to a Virginia taxidermist will no longer be required to be sealed with a CITES tag.
  • Hunters and trappers who require CITES tags to sell bobcat pelts can now order them via the Internet and attach the tags themselves.
  • Electronic calls may now be used to hunt bobcats, coyotes and foxes on public lands during specific periods.


  • Trappers will now have the option of tagging their traps with a permanent identification number issued by the Department, instead of their name and address.
  • Body-Gripping Traps in excess of 7 1⁄2 inches can now be set half-submerged in water.
  • The method for measuring maximum jaw spread of Foothold Traps has been clarified
  • Licensed trappers may now shoot a .22 caliber rimfire rifle or pistol on or over public waters to dispatch trapped animals.

BE sure and read the full details of these new regulations, seasons and requirements in the 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia Regulations digest.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

TowBoatU.S. Helps Boaters Get Safely Home

Capt. Donald Duck has opened his fifth on-the-water towing port, TowBoatU.S. in Hopewell. Services provided for recreational boaters include tows back to a marina or launch ramp, fuel deliveries, battery jump starts, or ungrounding services. The USCG-licensed skipper also owns TowBoatU.S. locations in Portsmouth, Norfolk and Poquoson, Virginia as well as TowBoatU.S. Coinjock, North Carolina.

TowBoatU.S. Hopewell is equipped with a 24-foot response boat, Any Time, which is stationed at Jordan Point Marina at the Benjamin Harris Bridge on the James River. It can be identified by its distinctive red hull, white bow stripes and "TowBoatU.S." lettering along its side. Onboard is a full complement of towing and salvage equipment including extra fuel, engine fluids, pumps, and a battery "jump pack" to handle dead batteries. Capt. Duck says that he receives many requests for assistance from recreational boaters who have inadvertently grounded on shoals. "The shipping channel is deep and well marked, but shallows are just outside of it. Many boaters don't realize how quickly they can get into trouble when they stray," he adds.

Similar to a roadside auto club, BoatU.S. offers on-the-water towing plans for saltwater boaters starting at just $37 a year. Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that nationally average about $600 per incident. Boaters in need of towing assistance can reach TowBoatU.S. Hopewell by calling the company directly at (757) 582-7194; by VHF radio on channel 16; or through the BoatU.S. toll-free Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869 or click here for more information. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its 650,000 members with a wide array of consumer services. Contact: Scott Croft, 703-461-2864,

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

The upcoming summer boating season is right around the corner, and VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

  • wear your life jacket
  • do not mix alcohol and boating
  • take a boating safety course

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!


Habitat Improvement Tips

VDGIF and Chesapeake Parks Provide Warbler Nest Boxes

VDGIF Watchable Wildlife program staff, with key support from Fisheries Division staff, partnered with Chesapeake Parks & Recreation to install 40 Prothontary Warbler nest boxes at Northwest River Park in Chesapeake on May 6, 2008. VDGIF Wildlife Diversity Biologist, Stephen Living noted, "These colorful birds are the only cavity nesting warbler in Eastern North America, and suitable nesting cavities can be a limiting factor for populations of this Wildlife Action plan Tier IV species. These boxes will not only enhance habitat, but will provide opportunities for the public to view these birds as they raise their families." Several boxes are visible from existing viewing platforms and regular canoe trips led by park staff allow participants to view even more of the boxes. Interpretive signage will be installed at key locations to enhance the wildlife viewing experience. For more information on these birds, their habitat and the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan click here.

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

Coursey Springs State Fish Hatchery Closed for Renovations

The largest trout hatchery owned by the VDGIF closed for renovations June 1, 2008. Coursey Springs Hatchery has been responsible for about 30 percent of the 1.2 million trout stocked annually by VDGIF. The more than 40 years old hatchery will be completely rebuilt into a new state-of-the-art fish production facility which will include spring protection, covered raceways, and a wastewater treatment facility. Renovations are expected to take 18-24 months.

Even though the Department's Fisheries Division is planning to utilize every bit of available hatchery space to produce trout at its other facilities, anglers can expect that there will be less trout stocked out during the renovation period. Currently, "designated trout waters" are stocked from 3 to 8 times annually depending on their classification. While the hatchery is under construction, VDGIF will reduce the number of stockings for each category. Category A waters will get 6 stockings from October to May, Category B waters will go from 5 to 4 stockings and Category C, Delayed Harvest, and urban waters will get 2 stockings annually.

Fisheries Division Director Gary Martel hopes trout anglers will be understanding during the renovations. "When completed, the new Coursey Springs facility will not only produce more trout, but anglers should also expect to see larger, better quality fish," stated Martel. "Total production from Coursey Springs is expected to increase by as much as 50 percent following the renovation."

Coursey Springs hatchery will be closed to public visitation during construction. Spring Run below the hatchery will be closed to fishing and remain closed during the construction period. The Fisheries Division will be renovating the stream, which will improve water quality and trout habitat.

Members of the public interested in touring a fish hatchery are encouraged to visit the Department's other four trout facilities located in Marion, Montebello, Wytheville, and Paint Bank. The hatcheries are opened to the public everyday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information on fishing and the trout stocking program in Virginia visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web site.

Sara White's Notebook

Beware of the Heat - Keep Cool While on the Water

Summer is here, and so are very high temperatures. Sportsmen in the field would do well to respect the heat and use caution. First of all, stay hydrated - with water or sports drinks - never with alcohol, and not with caffeinated beverages. Also, wear light, loose clothing and a hat. Know the signs of deadly heat stroke - no sweating with flushed or red skin, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, strange behavior and hallucinations. If your fishing buddy displays these symptoms, get help at once. While help is coming, try to cool the victim off with water, shade and ice at the armpits and groins. Place him in the shade and remove clothing.

Potentially lethal events like heat stroke and other heat related incidents show why it's good to fish with a buddy, and with plenty of ice and cool liquids. Respect the heat, and be on the alert.

Family and Friends Enjoy Chesapeake Bay Action

Brothers Justin and Bryan Wimmer from Dale City caught plenty of "doubles" while fishing for croaker along with their Dad Bob and Grandpa Ronnie Page from Fluvanna during an "official first day of summer" fishing trip to the Chesapeake Bay. The eight adults and three youngsters in the family and friends trip caught a boatload of croakers. The group has made this an annual event with Capt. Jim Thompson on the "Jim-an-I" out of Deltaville. Capt. Jim plans to ‘come inland' to take a deer hunting trip with the group this season. He hopes the hunters are as good finding deer as he is locating good Chesapeake Bay fishing grounds. If you have not tried a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip, you are missing a real fun adventure for young and old, novice or experienced angler. For information on charter boat trip opportunities visit the Virginia Charter Boat Association Web site.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beverdam Reservoir: Chuck Hyde reports "great fishing on the lake" bass are hitting el in deep water and on the drop-offs. Crappie are also responding well. Charles Blum of Newport news landed a, 16 inch lunker. Catfish are also on the banks and floating docks. Donald Clarks from Matthews brought in a 5.5 lb cat. On July fourth there will be night fishing on the lake. The water is clear and in the mid 80s.

Chicahominy River: Charlie Brown of River's Rest says local bass are going for plastic worms and crankbaits. Local cats are hitting on crab, night crawlers and eel. Crappie like minnows and crickets. Perch and gar are also there for the taking. The water is 85 degrees and stained.

Little Creek Reservoir: Doc Eveland says bass and stripers remain in the deeper water off the points. Chain pickerel are abundant in the back coves. Shellcrackers are around but playing hard to get. Dan Salvitti of Newport News landed three shellcrackers over 10 inches long on red wigglers. Greg Rose of Prince George brought in seven shellcrackers up to one pound each also on red wigglers. A Williamsburg angler, Mike Fowler came in with eight big stripers up to nine pound on shad. And Kenneth Green of Newport News brought five large bass to boat. The lake is down 12 inches from full pool and the water is clear and warming.

North Landing and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins tells us that bluegill are responding well to worms, crickets, small jigs and beetle spins. White perch go for small spinners, beetle spins and live shiners. If you're angling for bass, try top water or buzz baits early or late. Midday try spinners or crankbaits. The water in the high 70s to low 80s and clear.

Norfolk Lakes: Stephen Arrington of Deshell's Show Room reports that shellcrackers in the area like crickets and red wigglers. Bass late and early are attacking top water poppers; at midday works are preferred. The water is warming and somewhat stained.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Scottsville: Brian Bodine of Razorback Guide Service reports that smallmouth bass are biting well in the Howardsville to Bremo area. Lots of bait in the water and it looks as though there was a good spawn. Water conditions are getting low, slow and clear. When water gets clear, dropping your test line down to a 6 or even 4 pound test will help you get more bites. Baits of choice right now are Pop-R's for the morning and evening topwater bite. As the sun gets overhead, we are switching over to finesse worms, grubs, flukes and tubes. Concentrate on the darker water along the bank with some sort of structure. Lots of dinks with the occasional fish up to 3+ pounds. Cats are biting well on into the evenings with Razorback clients landing many channel cats in the 5 to 10 pound range with the occasional flathead pushing up to 20 plus pounds. Bait of choice is live bait or cut bait. Visit the Razorback web site or call (434) 923-9305.

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf of Angler's Lane says that fishing in the area is "generally good". The bass are really biting, responding to popping bugs, crayfish plastics, especially early and late. There are few reports of crappie being landed. The water is low, clear and warming.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store tells us that crappie are hiding on deep brush piles, and can be lured out with minnows and bucktails. Bass can be had using crankbaits, topwater lures and Carolina rigs. Cats are attacking bream and shad. The water is clear and in the upper 80's.

Claytor Lake: Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina reports that stripers are hitting well at night, especially on planer boards with shad. Look for them at the lower end of the lake. Other good lures for local bass are broken back thundersticks, Yum Money Minnows and swimbaits. Bass are off the beds and responding to drop shot plastic worms. Cats are picking up the river, hanging out on the flats and going for trolled night crawlers and spinners. The water is in the low 80's and clear.

New River and Claytor Lake: Daren Umberger of Sportsman's Supply says that bass are hitting plastic worms. The bluegill are finishing their nesting cycle and are scarce; but maybe fooled by red works and crickets. Cats are doing well when fished with nightcrawlwers. Crappie are back in the deep water. The water is warming and clear.

Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's reports that the river is very slimy, full of weeds and hard to fish. Best place for anglers is in and around the Radford area. Bass there can be had with superflukes, top water poppers and jitterbugs. Muskies are attacking in line spinners. While bass are going for Jolt's Big Black Bumper spinners. The water is very low, clear and in the mid 70s.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead at the Virginia Outdoorsman at Smith Mountain Lake reports the forecast calls for high temperatures of around 90 degrees every day this week. The low temperature will range from around 60 degrees early in the week to the upper 60's late in the week and over the weekend. Skies will be partly cloudy most days with a chance of isolated thunderstorms, especially in the evening and at night. There will be a third quarter moon this Thursday, so while there will be plenty of moonlight when the moon is overhead the moon will not rise until late in the evening and by Wednesday not be visible until after midnight. Water temp is 79 degrees and water clarity is good.

Striper fishing has been very good over the past several weeks, especially for anglers using live bait. Striped bass continue to feed on live bait rigged on freelines, in-line planer boards (Outcast, Water Bugz, Off Shore) and floats or Redi-Rigs. They are also hitting live bait on downlines, but seemed to hit the freelined bait much better than that on downlines. Alewives continue to be the preferred bait, producing better quantities of good fish than either gizzard or threadfin shad. Last week most of my fish came on planer boards although we did jig one nice fish up out of a small school using a large fluke on a custom "Doozie" Gamakatsu shad jighead. Small schools of stripers have been observed breaking during the day and especially in the late afternoons. Stripers are being caught in a number of locations around the lake with the bigger fish reported in the mid and upper sections of the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers. Striped bass are also being caught by anglers trolling Umbrella rigs near the mouths of most major creeks and along the old riverbed in the main lake channel.

The night "stick" bite continues as the alewives move up along rip-rap covered banks to spawn. While this bite has slowed and will continue to do so as the spawn concludes over the next several weeks, both stripers and bass are still being caught near the shoreline on medium sized, floating lures. Lures that continue to produce results include the floating jerkbaits (Bomber Long A, Storm Jointed Thunderstick, Cotton Cordell Redfin), chuggers (Jitterbug), wake baits (Excaliber) and prop baits. Most of these lures produce the best when retrieved slowly along the surface producing a slight bow wake, a chugging sound, a rattling sound or a splashing sound on the surface.

Bass are also being caught on the bottom at night using larger, dark colored plastic worms. There are a variety of different night worms to choose from including those made by ZOOM, V&M and Deep Creek Lures. They can be rigged either Texas or Carolina style and are very effective on bass that are suspended near deep-water structure and points at night. Your local tackle shop can help you select the best color, brand and length worm for your conditions.

Bass are also biting well during the day. There continues to be a good topwater (Rico, Pop'R) and spinner bait bite very early in the morning, especially in the creeks and guts along structure. Bass continue to move up on the shoreline to feed on the small bluegills that are trying to hide in the rip-rap and other shoreline structure. Crawfish are also a targeted food for bass suspended under docks along the shoreline. Green, brown and smoke colored tube lures rigged on lightly weighted jigheads are working and are most effective when skipped back under docks and fished back into deeper water. Small floating shaky and giggy worms rigged on shaky head jigs are also producing good results around docks. Bass are also suspending off the front of deep-water docks where Yamasenko worms in selected lengths and colors are working.

This past week there were a number of tournaments held on the lake including a Region 4 BASS event and several local tournaments. The team of James Cassaday and Gary Nichols, Jr. won this weeks Saturday night open event out of Foxport with a total weight of 12.30 pounds. The team of Eddie Purdue and Troy Haines brought in the big fish in that tournament. It weighed 5.25 pounds. On Sunday, the team of Greg Peters and David Martin won the SMLBass event with a total weight of 13 lbs. 3 ounces. Second place went to Johnny Stutts and Trevor Lee with a team weight of 12 lbs. 13 ounces. The big fish Sunday was a 4 lb. 15 ounce bass brought to the scales by the team of Randy and Austin Hicks. All of the bass tournaments held on Smith Mountain Lake are catch and release events and all the fish caught are returned to the lake. Many events are open to all bass anglers, so anyone visiting the lake that wishes to participate is welcome. Details on these events and other local tournaments can be obtained by calling the Virginia Outdoorsman on 540-721-4867.

Catfishing continues to be good, especially along banks after dark as flatheads move up to feed on bluegill and shad. Shad, small panfish and the "jumbo" shiners available in most tackle shops and marinas are the best bait for flathead catfish. They can either be presented on bottom rigs or under floats. Prepared stinkbaits fished off the bottom continue to work for channel cats. To effectively fish these baits, use a 2-3 foot leader ahead of a swivel and egg sinker and use a spring hook to keep the bait from falling off the hook when casting or retrieving your rig.

Crappies continue to hit live minnows, but they have pulled back into deeper water where they are holding in the tops of submerged trees and brush. Small jigheads with plastic trailers and tubes are also working for crappie, especially around deep-water docks. These lures are most effective when presented way back under docks and allowed to sink deep before being retrieved.

Good luck and tight lines. Visit Us Online or call ahead (540) 721-4867 for updates.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews of the Bait Place tells us that bass are hitting fairly well on plastic worms. There is no word on Crappie. Some yellow perch have been brought in. .Anglers Clay Ross of Bedford and John Mills of Roanoke both landed brown trout over five pounds on minnows. The local Jackson River is also a good spot for trout fishing. The water I the lake clear and in the 70's.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray, master of all things fly, reports that the trout streams in the valley are at a good level and about 78 degrees. Fishing is best below the riffles with streamers such as the Mr. Rapidan size 10, and Casual Dress also size 10. The small streams in the mountains are also fishing well. They are clear and 60 degrees. Your best bet is dry flies such as Murray's flying Beatle size 16 and 18 and H&L also size 16 and 18. Smallmouth bass in the north and South forks of the Shenandoah are hitting well, the water being clear being between 72 to 78 degrees. For surface fishing try the green/white Tappley bug size 4 or the Shenandoah Hair Popper black size 6. For underwater fishing try the Black Strymph size 4 or the Pearl Marauder size 6.

Region 5- Northern Piedmont

Potomac: No report… email us your experience @

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

View video about the snakehead »

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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Region 2 - Officer of the Year Greg Funkhouser

As I look back on my career with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, there are numerous cases that have left a distinct impression on me and of which I will hold cherished memories for the rest of my life. Each of these cases really stands out and each one has its own unique memory for many different reasons. However, I believe that each officer develops a special bond to their first big case simply because it is their first huge sense of accomplishment as a Conservation Police Officer. My first big case occurred on opening day of archery season in 1999.

As a new officer in Roanoke County, I received a call from a citizen who, since this case, has become a very reliable informant. This individual contacted me and stated that he needed to speak with me about some illegal hunting activity. When we met, my informant provided me with information about several individuals who were planning to hunt on the Havens Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on the opening day of archery season. He explained how the suspects had placed permanent stands on the WMA and had placed an assortment of bait under the stands. Of course, it is illegal to build permanent stands on any WMA and it is also illegal to hunt over bait of any kind in Virginia.

Shortly after this conversation and after an extensive amount of tiring and exhausting leg work, I located the stands. True to what I had been told, under each stand I found a grand buffet of bait. There was an assortment of every kind of food that would delight any deer including apples, corn, wheat, sweet feed, and mineral licks. Each of these is considered bait and it is illegal to hunt over them. I was excited and could not wait until the opening day to catch these individuals who were trying to poach deer. In fact, I had a hard time sleeping the night before and felt like a kid on Christmas Eve anticipating the next morning. My excitement was not only due to my firm belief that I would catch theses individuals, but I also felt like I was doing a great service to the conservation of our wildlife. Wake-up time (4:00 a.m.) could not have come fast enough. I was up and ready to go and within minutes met another officer who planned to assist me.

Just before daylight we arrived on the top of Fort Lewis Mountain and entered the WMA. As we waited for the sun to come up, all kinds of thoughts ran through my mind in anticipation of what I would encounter. For example, I wondered to myself if there would be a confrontation or would things go smoothly. I even thought of the possibility that there may not be any hunters in the stands; perhaps they had been tipped off or maybe they had to work that day. Would the suspects lie about the bait or would they be honest about their actions. Through my experiences as a Conservation Police Officer, I have learned not to be surprised by peoples' actions. Even in the most obvious situations and even after I have observed people commit an illegal act some adamantly deny that they had any involvement in what happened. I am always impressed with individuals when they take responsibility for their actions. After what seemed like an eternity and after many other thoughts which I can not recall or perhaps write, there was enough light to see so we proceeded into the woods. As we approached the first stand I saw a large black bear feeding on the apples and corn under it. When it saw us it ran off down the mountain. We encountered the hunter in this stand and immediately advised him not to use his portable radio or cell phone. This is a common means by which hunters notify their hunting companions that a Conservation Officer is in the area. The other hunters, especially if they are hunting illegally, will then leave the area. This hunter was apprehended and charged with the appropriate criminal violations and, to my surprise, with no problems. He even admitted to his actions.

We then proceeded to the next stand. That is where things got interesting. As we began getting closer, we stopped and could hear something walking in the woods. I heard a sound that I could not describe at the time but would soon realize what it was. This was followed shortly by a shrill bellowing that sounded like someone was hurt. I hastened my approach to the stand. As I neared the stand, I saw the second suspect in the stand and a black bear lying on the ground under the stand. It was at this point that I realized what I had heard. The bear was bellowing due to the hunter making a poor shot on the animal and the first sound that I heard that I could not describe was the suspect's crossbow releasing an arrow, and of course, crossbows were illegal to use at that time. As an officer, I started thinking of numerous charges as I approached this violator. First, the suspect was hunting over a baited stand, hunting from a permanent tree stand on a WMA, illegally using a crossbow, and last but not least, it was illegal to kill a bear during the first week of the archery season…. an illegal bear kill during closed season!! I could not believe what I had encountered. However, this was not the end. It got even better. When I approached the suspect, with the bear lying on the ground, on the top of a pile of apples, I could smell something that was very strange but yet very distinguishable. Marijuana! After speaking with the suspect, watching his demeanor and actions, it was obvious that he was under the influence of the drug. More importantly, he confessed to smoking it just minutes before he shot the bear. After I searched his pockets I found one small bag of marijuana and one other interesting item….he also had several small bags of crack cocaine. This individual was arrested and later charged with many violations.

We then proceeded at a rapid pace to the third and final stand. We were not as fortunate this time. The individual was gone, but there were signs that he had been in the stand. This really bothered me terribly because I thought I had lost this violator. However, I soon acquired his name and then the next day, and with a little investigatory effort, I located the place where he worked. I went to his employer asked his supervisor to have him come into a private room where I would question him. In a matter of minutes, he wrote and signed a confession.

Each of the three individuals was convicted of all charges. Needless to say, the memory of this case will live with me forever. Since this monumental case, I have issued numerous summonses to many hunters for hunting over bait. However, few, if any, of these baiting cases can compare to the magnitude and total disregard for the law that I observed on the above case. It's like these individuals decided to see how many game law violations they could commit. Believe me; they did a pretty good job!

Region 1 - Officer of the Year Frank Spuchesi

During the 2006 deer hunting season Officer Frank Spuchesi had received a number of complaints about poaching deer at night (spotlighting) in a King George County subdivision. To address the violations, one evening in December, the officer parked in a driveway of one of the homeowners which was adjacent to a small field with some feeding deer. At about 8:50 PM, a vehicle approached and spotlighted the field. A passenger shot out of the window at a deer. With lights and siren, the officer exited his position and attempted to stop the vehicle for the violation. A nearly ten mile pursuit began. The violator completely disregarded two stop signs and attained speeds of 90 mph trying to elude the officer. While in communication with King George County Sheriff's Office with the pursuit information, deputies offered their assistance. At a strategic time and location, deputies distributed some spikes out on roadway which flattened both the violator's front tires. After arrest and questioning the violators admitted to shooting other deer in the area on previous nights. The suspects told Officer Spuchesi that they ". . . were doing it for fun." Both subjects were charged and convicted of multiple wildlife violations, felony gun charges and felony eluding charges.

Region 3 - Officer of the Year Frank Gough

During my career I have had the fortunate opportunity to investigate and solve several interesting cases involving fish and game violations. I often recall a case in Giles County involving a trophy deer stolen by two individuals who showed blatant disrespect for other sportsman and who greatly under estimated the initiative and investigative ability of Virginia's Conservation Police Officers.

During a past deer rifle season in the mid-1990's I was contacted one evening by a local hunter in Giles County who had killed a ten-point buck earlier that morning. He stated that he checked the deer in and then hung the deer in his skinning shed and went to work. Upon returning from work he went to skin the deer and found that someone had stolen the deer from his skinning shed while he was away. During our conversation I advised him that it could be difficult locating his deer since there was little information and evidence to work with. I told him though that I would pursue the matter and initiated the investigation immediately. I began the investigation by conducting interviews with local hunters, visiting check stations and listening for "bragging rights" to surface. Approximately one week later I noticed a photograph in the local newspaper which showed two male subjects proudly posing with a ten-point buck which they stated they harvested in the Jefferson National Forest. I went to the local newspaper office and obtained the original photograph, which was taken one day after I had received he initial complaint, and compared it to the photograph taken at the check station where the deer was checked by the original hunter. After close examination of the rack, the blood stains on the animal's tines and physical appearance of the animal, I determined that it was the same animal in both photographs. I located the two local subjects and after several interviews with each individual, they admitted that they had taken the deer in question and gave me a complete confession and a signed written statement stating their actions in relation to the case. Upon further persuasion I was also able to locate the "trophy rack" and deer meat. The violators pled guilty in Giles General District Court and were fined $1,100 apiece. What pleased me the most was that I was able to return the trophy rack to the rightful hunter.

Region 4 - Officer of the Year Senior Officer Neil T. Kester

As a Virginia State Game Warden/Conservation Police Officer, I have had numerous memorable moments but two incidents stand out. The first being comical, occurred during the General Firearms Deer Season in D-42. Capt. Mike Clark, Sgt. Ronnie Warren, Officer Elmo Herndon, and I conducted a deer decoy operation in the National Forest after dark. Capt. Clark and Sgt. Warren were positioned as chase vehicles, while Officer Herndon and I were operating the deer decoy from the ground. A pickup truck approached the site of the decoy at a slow rate of speed. As the truck approached the decoy, the driver positioned his vehicle so it was sideways in the road with the headlights shinning on the decoy. It seemed that the driver recognized that it was a decoy and sped off. I radioed Sgt. Warren and gave him the vehicle description and advised him to stop this vehicle. I went to the location of the traffic stop. As I was writing the driver a summons, I noticed that his vehicle's license plate was a personalized plate stating "POACHER". I have not seen this vehicle or license plate since.

The second incident was also a deer decoy operation and actually occurred at the same location as the previous incident. Again, Capt. Mike Clark and Sgt. Ronnie Warren were positioned as chase vehicles and Officer Elmo Herndon and I were operating the decoy from the ground. An extended cab pickup truck approached the decoy site at a slow rate of speed. There were three occupants in the vehicle, the driver, a front passenger, and a rear passenger. The vehicle stopped and the front passenger shot once at the decoy. I radioed Sgt. Warren and gave him the vehicle description and asked him to come stop the vehicle. During this time, the passenger handed the rifle to the driver who reloaded the weapon and handed it back to the front passenger. The front passenger then shot at the decoy again. As Sgt. Warren approached the suspect vehicle from the rear, the suspect vehicle sped off proceeding in the direction of Capt. Clark. Both units attempted to stop the suspect vehicle, but the suspect vehicle failed to stop. During this time the driver threw out a beer bottle next to a National Forest sign. Capt. Clark was able to maneuver his unit in front of the suspect vehicle and then the suspect vehicle stopped. As the suspect vehicle stopped, all three suspects attempted to flee on foot. Both passengers were apprehended but the driver was unable to be located. I immediately went back to the location where the beer bottle was thrown and I obtained it as evidence. After further investigation, several days later I obtained a search warrant for a particular subject for his DNA (saliva). I served the search warrant and obtained the evidence and sent it to the State Forensic Lab in Roanoke. A couple of days later, the DNA Examiner contacted me and told me that the known DNA and that of the beer bottle matched; it was one of the best matches to date. I was able to charge and convict the driver in this case with numerous charges, one of which was possession of a firearm after being a convicted felon.

Region 5 - Officer of the Year Joe Dedrick

In the course of my career, Senior Officer Joe Dedrick was very successful at apprehending people involved in the illegal taking or attempting to take deer by using spotlights or lights attached to their vehicles to kill deer at night. During one eleven year period, Officer Dedrick's efforts resulted in 112 arrests for violations of the spotlighting laws, including:

30 people were charged with killing deer by aid of lights.

74 people were charged with attempting to take deer or casting lights on a place used by deer with a firearm in possession.

4 people were charged with casting lights on a place used by deer with a bow and arrows in their possession.

4 charges were placed as a result of casting a spotlight on a place used by deer without the landowner's permission.

Prosecution of the charges placed by Officer Dedrick resulted in 104 convictions.

7 charges were dismissed and one defendant died before the hearing date.

Congratulations to all these officers for recognition of their dedication and exceptional service in their respective areas.

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:

  • Summer Outdoor Safety Tips
Scarlet Snake. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Scarlet Snake
Cemophora coccinea
by Spike Knuth

The scarlet snake is found throughout the Coastal Plain and Piedmont Regions of southeastern United States from New Jersey, southward through the Carolinas to Florida and west through Tennessee and Kentucky to Louisiana, Oklahoma and east Texas.

It is similar to the poisonous coral snake, the scarlet king snake and the milk snake. The bands of the scarlet do not extend to the venter, leaving it white, gray, or pink on the underside. The red bands are wider than the black and whitish bands, and it has a pointed snout which is red. Scarlet snakes average 14-20 inches with a maximum of 32 inches recorded.

They like soils that are loamy or sandy, suitable for burrowing, such as pine forests or scrub. Habitats favored are those where they can burrow or hide under logs, forest litter or other debris such as old boards. In June, 2 to 9 eggs elongated leathery eggs up to 1-3/8 inches are laid. They hatch in late summer and the young resemble the adults.

Being a burrower, scarlet snakes are seldom seen above ground except at night or after a heavy rain fall. They are normally encountered when accidentally unearthed. They feed mainly on mice, small snakes, snake eggs, and lizards and they kill by constriction.

For more information on endangered or species of special concern in Virginia, refer to the book, Virginia's Endangered Species by Karen Terwilliger, sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and published by McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, VA 24062.  

·    ·    ·

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.

June 2008

Check the Kids Fishing Days Calendar for Events Scheduled in June! (PDF)


VDGIF 4th Basic Law Enforcement Academy Class Graduation, Sheraton West Hotel, Richmond. Contact Diane Davis, (804) 367-0420 email:


Annual HerpBlitz Survey, Grayson Highlands State Park contact Jason Gibson ( or visit: Online for information

28 NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. BASS PRO World, Hampton. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.
28 NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Rockbridge Chapter, Lexington. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.
28 Great American Backyard Campout - Richmond, to register call (804) 359-2475.
July 2008

Check the Kids Fishing Days Calendar for Events Scheduled in July! (PDF)

4 Independence Day Holiday
5-6 The Big Apple Archery Shoot, Buggs Island Fish and Wildlife Club near Clarksville contact: Jerry or Debbie Jordan, email or visit their Web site.
8 Flat out Catfishing Workshop, Richmond, visit DGIF web events
19 Shenandoah Riverkeepers Rodeo, Bentonville Low Water Bridge Campground contact: or (540) 837-1479.
20 NASP Teacher Training James Madison University (JMU) Summer Health and Physical Activity Institute for PE Teachers
22 Saltwater Fishing Workshop, Smith Point Marina, Northumberland, visit DGIF web events

NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Bland County Many Beards Chapter. Outdoors day at Camp Roland in Bastian. Visit DGIF web events

August 2008
5 Flat out Catfishing Workshop, Richmond, visit DGIF web events
8-10 Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen's Show, The Showplace, Richmond, visit
20 Woodland Options Short Course, Eastside Community Center, Dinwiddie. For information (540) 231-6391 Virginia Cooperative Extension visit or email
22-24 Mother Daughter Outdoors, Holiday Lake 4-H Center, Appomattox, visit DGIF web events
23-24 VAWFA Virginia State Duck and Goose Calling Contets, Hampton, visit
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 April for the more popular species. For a complete list and regulations consult the 2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information.

Coyote, groundhog, & skunk: Continuous open season on private land only.
Beginning in June 2008
June 7 to 21: Spring Squirrel Season on certain VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas - see Regulations Digest page 41 or DGIF website
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.

Security Reminder: VDGIF will never ask for personal information through unsolicited e-mail.


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

The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via e-mail to more than 15,000 subscribers the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' mission is:
  • To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth;
  • To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia;
  • To promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing;
  • To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.


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 -