New VDGIF Videos Available on Web
Be sure to check out the two new videos posted to the VDGIF Web site. The
Apprentice Hunting License video is an overview of how the new Apprentice Hunter program works. Watch the video and consider becoming a mentor to a friend or family member who's always wanted to try hunting.
Conservation Police Officers highlights the extensive training involved in becoming one of VDGIF's finest law enforcement officers. Virginia Conservation Police Officers, once known as Game Wardens, dedicate their lives to the protection of our natural resources. VDGIF Videographer Ron Messina has filmed and produced some astounding video of officers in action apprehending criminals and providing safety and security for sportsmen enjoying the wild outdoors. This video has just been updated to include new vehicles, uniforms and intense training procedures. Click here to view.
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Friends of the Potomac River Refuges 5th annual Fall Wildlife Festival October 11
The Friends of the Potomac River Refuges are hosting the 5th Annual Fall Wildlife Festival at the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on October 11 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. This event is held to increase awareness of the National Wildlife Refuge System with focus on the three local refuges in Northern Virginia: Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck, Occoquan Bay and Featherstone National Wildlife Refuges. The event features exhibits from local public lands agencies and organizations including: US Fish & Wildlife Service, BLM, Mason Neck State Park, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Prince William Forest Park, VDGIF and others. There will also be presentations by the Wildlife Center of Virginia, Reptiles Alive, a photo workshop, hayrides, owl hooting contest and children's activities to promote the "Let's Go Outside" initiative of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Click Here for additional information.
The Big Sit! Birding Event Scheduled for October 12
The Big Sit! is an annual noncompetitive birding event scheduled for October 12 hosted by Bird Watcher's Digest and founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club. The purpose of this one day event is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours and provides a great teaching opportunity: how to use binoculars, how to go through a field guide, parts of a bird, etc. Participating is simple - find a good spot for bird watching, and identify birds from inside a 17-foot-diameter circle for up to 24 hours. It's great for families, park/refuge visitors, and casual participants to learn about birds and bird conservation. The Big Sit! is being observed in numerous areas and is sponsored nationally by Swarovski Optik, Alpen Optics, and Wild Bird Centers of America. You can find details and register (it's free) for your own local site by visiting the Bird Education Network.
Hawk Migration Approaching Peak
The annual fall hawk migration is once again upon us. The migration begins in early September and lasts through November with peak numbers from late September to mid-October. During this time, thousands of raptors leave their breeding grounds and make their way south to their wintering grounds. Most follow geographical features such as mountain ranges and coastlines. "Through use of updrafts along mountain ranges and thermals which are created by the sun's uneven heating of the earth's surface thus providing areas of rising hot air, raptors are able to travel great distances with limited energy expenditure," according to VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Assistant Josh Felch. Hawk watch sites are set up throughout the Commonwealth to view and count the migrating raptors. Raptor species that can be viewed from these platforms include Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, Northern Harriers, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Golden Eagles. Black and Turkey Vultures are usually counted at these sites as well.
Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Deer Hunts November-December
The schedule for 16 Wheelin' Sportsmen sponsored deer hunts from November 3 through December 29 has been set.
Robin Clark, Volunteer Coordinator for Wheelin' Sportsmen, reports
that all hunts are full. For details on these and other events for
persons with disabilities, visit the VA NWTF
website. Interested in volunteering to assist with an event or have a friend that is interested? Visit the Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation
website to find numerous links to opportunities and information.
Youth Waterfowl Workshop in Hampton October 17
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Waterfowlers Association, VDGIF and other partners will be sponsoring a Youth Waterfowl Workshop at Bass Pro Shop in Hampton on October 17. The free event is open to 25 pre-registered youth, ages 15 and younger. The two-hour workshop will offer introductory information related to the safety, regulations and techniques of waterfowl hunting. Experts will offer their skills and insight in an effort to improve the participant's ability to identify species and follow guidelines for an ethical hunt. For registration information contact Cyrus Brame by email: Cyrus_Brame@fws.gov.
For information on the new Youth Waterfowl
Hunting Day, October 25, 2008,
visit the Department's website.
Outdoor Beach Women Skills Event October 18
Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation in conjunction with Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and VDGIF is hosting Outdoor Beach Women, an outdoor initiative to empower ladies with new adventure skills. This day for women to connect with the out-of-doors takes place Saturday, October 18, 2008 from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. at Munden Point Park in Virginia Beach. Participants must be women age 16 and up, as they get to learn the fundamentals of outdoor recreation and education from local experts in a fun, relaxed environment. Skill sessions include: Archery Basics, Fly Casting, Outdoor Cooking, Wilderness Survival, Wildlife Watching, Mountain Biking, Hiking & Backpacking, Intro to Shotgun, Kayak Quickstart and Backyard Habitat Cost for the program is $50 per participant, and the registration deadline is October 10, 2008. To register, click on
http://EZReg.VBgov.com and use CLASS# 85462 or contact Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Outdoor Programs directly at (757) 385-4461 or email
Managed Hunts Scheduled at Conway-Robinson State Forest
The Virginia Department of Forestry is hosting four managed hunts on the Conway-Robinson State Forest in Prince William County. The deadline for applications is October 10, 2008.
Hunters will be selected using a lottery system using the VDGIF
website. Eleven hunters and twenty alternates will be selected. The
selected hunters will be used for all four hunting days. Each
alternate hunter will have two designated days resulting in 10
alternates for each day. All hunters must acquire all necessary
licenses and permits as regulated by State law including a State
Forest Hunting Permit. Hunting will consist of four days only:
November 17, December 8, January 12 and February 2. No dogs are
permitted and all hunting must be conducted using a portable tree
stand provided by the hunter. All participants must qualify in order
to hunt. Qualification cards for 2008 are valid for this years hunt.
For further details and application information,
visit the Department of Forestry's website.
Fishing Workshop at Bear Creek Lake State Park October 18
VDGIF Angler Education Program is hosting a Fishing Workshop October 18 at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland . This is a great workshop for the whole family and a great opportunity to learn the basics of fishing and enjoy the crisp fall air while fishing in Bear Creek Lake, noted Chris Dunnevant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator. The fishing action will be great for this event. Crappie, bluegill, bass and catfish will be jumping on our lines!
Stay the weekend in Bear Creek Lake State Park's brand new cabins - they really are nice - no roughing it here (hardwood floors, stone fireplace). The only disadvantage is that you may never want to leave the cabin! Campsites are also available if you prefer. For park reservations Click Here.
Learn more about upcoming workshops and find a registration form at the VDGIF Web site.
Ladies Day Handgun-Shotgun Clinics in Hanover November 1
The Cavalier Rifle & Pistol Club is hosting a Ladies Day Handgun and Shotgun clinic at their
shooting range November 1 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Safety, marksmanship and familiarity with
firearms will be taught in small groups for individual attention by NRA certified instructors
Reservations are required. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (804) 370-7565.
Shenandoah Valley Audubon Birding Festival November 1
Shenandoah Audubon's Annual Birding Festival will be on November 1 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the War Memorial building in Winchester. There will be demonstrations with live birds and talks about how to identify birds at this annual event. Scouts can earn merit badges. There will be experts available to answer all your birding questions. Basic birding and bird walks will be offered. Bird books and crafts will be for sale. Top quality bird seed also will be available for purchase. Submit a bird related photo by Oct. 1st and you may win a pair of binoculars (see Web page)! Bird carving will be demonstrated and other conservation groups will have exhibits. Admission is FREE. There will be lots of fun activities for the children.
Build Your Own Traditional Flintlock Rifle
The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center is offering a unique workshop limited to eight students to build their own custom flintlock rifle. The class is scheduled for March 8-13, 2009, with the
registration deadline November 7 to allow ample time to order the rifle kits and materials. The $1500 fee for the workshop covers all programming and instructor fees, rifle kit, meals and lodging. This all inclusive fee represents a savings over having a custom rifle crafted for you. The class is designed to develop beginner or advanced level flintlock rifle building skills that will last a lifetime. Click Here for registration and information or call Nate Mahanes, Program Director at (434) 248-5444.
People and Partners in the News
Bass Pro Grand Opening Raises Funds for Conservation
To recognize the vital role conservation and sportsmen's organizations play in fish and wildlife
management, the new Bass Pro Shops in Hanover hosted exhibits by more than a dozen
organizations and agencies including VDGIF during their Grand Opening Evening for
Conservation on October 1. More than 16,700 sportsmen and their families visited this new
facility which boasts many educational exhibits, activities and historical information for
sportsmen. VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan assisted Bass Pro General Manager Greg Bulkey,
NASCAR drivers and representatives of 16 conservation organizations
and agencies and local dignitaries in the Grand Opening Ribbon
Cutting Ceremony. More than 40 VDGIF staff and volunteers also
participated in the event at the invitation of Bass Pro and helped
staff an agency exhibit along with 15 sportsmen organization
partners. Bass Pro donated 50 cents of every $1 spent during the
Evening for Conservation to the National Fish & Wildlife
Foundation's "More Fish" Campaign to save fish and their habitats
for our kids and grandkids. For more information
on Bass Pro conservation activities visit www.basspro.com.
Hunters for the Hungry Fundraising Critical for Upcoming Season
One of the most beneficial programs that hunters and non-hunters alike can support is Hunters for the Hungry(H4H). This is a win-win program where an abundant, nutritional natural resource
- venison, is harvested by caring sportsmen and donated to local food banks to help neighbors who need assistance with feeding their families. The benefits to wildlife management are also well noted. There are plenty of deer and hunters to harvest them. The need this year is greater than ever as the slowing economy affects more families. The one area that limits the full potential benefit of the program is the funding to pay the $40 processing cost for each donated harvested deer. The program remains cost-effective, averaging a cost of 80 cents per pound for processing. Thus, they are able to package 5 servings of venison for every dollar donated. In 2007 the program set a record by processing and distributing 363,484 pounds of venison.
In addition to donating venison this season, sportsmen are reminded they have the option to donate $2 directly to H4H when purchasing licenses. Hunt Clubs, local civic groups, churches and youth groups like 4-H and Scouting also help raise funds to help cover professional meat processing and distribution costs. If you have additional fund raising ideas or opportunities please contact Laura Newell-Furniss, H4H Program Director at email@example.com. The initiative, dedication and generosity of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen can help make this another successful year in helping neighbors in need by simply doing what we do best.
Visit the Hunters for the Hungry Web site for additional information.
Hungry Mother Lake Level Lowered for Dredging
The Department of Conservation and Recreation is lowering the lake level at Hungry Mother Lake (Hungry Mother State Park in Smyth County) about 12 feet to prepare for dredging. The dredging project will remove heavy deposits of sediment that have accumulated in certain areas of the reservoir over the years. The sedimentation in these areas has greatly reduced fish habitat and virtually eliminated access by boat. The dredging project will improve fish habitat and increase the lake area accessible to anglers and recreational boaters. Dredging is scheduled to start in October and should be complete by March 2009. The boat ramp will be out of the water during the drawdown, so boaters will only be able to launch boats that can be carried. The lower lake level should not adversely affect the fish populations in the lake. Biologists plan to construct fish attractors in shoreline areas exposed by the drawdown. For more information contact VDGIF Regional Fisheries Biologist Tom Hampton (276) 783-4860.
Basic Trapper Training Courses Offered in October
The Virginia Trappers Association is sponsoring a Basic Trapper Training Course Saturday, October 18 from 7:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at the Good Farm in Monterey. These hands-on classes are free, but pre-registration is required. All youths under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Bring your own lunch or take your chances with whatever the instructors may provide. For information, contact Scott Painter (540) 289-9427, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the many services of the Virginia Trappers Association visit their Web site: www.virginiatrappers.org.
32nd Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours Scheduled for October
Join fellow forest landowners and a host of natural resource professionals for a fun and exciting day in the woods learning about forest and wildlife management! On-site check-in for all tours begins at 8 a.m.; tours begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. All tours will finish no later than 5:00 p.m. Registration fee of $45 includes a tasty lunch, refreshments, materials and transportation. Please register at least one week prior to the tour date.
- October 10 - Montgomery/Giles Counties - for more information contact Jennifer Gagnon
- email@example.com (540) 231-6391
- October 15 - Rockbridge County- for more information contact Matt Yancey
- firstname.lastname@example.org (540) 564-3080
- October 16 - Essex County - for more information contact Helen Heck
- email@example.com (804) 443-1118
Tours will take place rain or shine. MeadWestvaco is providing a limited number of scholarships for K-12 teachers to cover registration. First come, first served. Contact Jennifer Gagnon firstname.lastname@example.org
at (540) 231-6391, or visit their Web site.
Call of the Wild Rehabilitator Conference November 8-9
The Wildlife Center of Virginia is currently planning the 13th annual Call of the Wild conference on wildlife rehabilitation, which will take place on November 8-9, 2008 in Waynesboro. This two-day conference is designed for wildlife rehabilitators, veterinary professionals,
environmental educators and wildlife enthusiasts. This year's classes will include topics on oiled wildlife, snake husbandry, the economics of conservation, fostering out wildlife, wound management, and more. More information can be found on the Wildlife Center's website under
"rehabilitator training". Online registration will be available in the next two weeks.
Trappers Association Hosts Workshop for Girl Scouts November 14
Are you considering a career in wildlife biology or management? The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council is hosting a weekend campout to explore the world of furbearing mammals such as skunks, raccoons, and beavers. Proper conservation and management are very important elements of maintaining healthy wildlife populations. One effective management practice is humane trapping. Like our ancestors and Native Americans, trappers use these furbearing animals' hides to make clothing and needed household items. The VTA will work with Girl Scouts to provide complete training on this important tradition and element of wildlife management. Hands-on activities will include:
wildlife habitat and behavior, identification of wildlife tracks and signs, types of traps and trapping methods, skinning and pelt drying and use of motion sensor camera equipment. This program will be held November 14 at the Icimani Adventure Center in Roanoke for girls ages 12 and up. This is not a troop event. Individuals should register by October 31 online: www.gsvsc.org or contact Debra Giles
(540) 777-5101 or 800-542-5905, ext.101, or email: email@example.com
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.
New Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 18
New this season is the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day established for youth 15 years of age and younger on Saturday, October 18. With the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall. To provide added opportunities for fall turkey hunting, this new Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day was established and starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Youth hunters between the age of 12 and 15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Adult hunters supervising youth must possess a valid Virginia hunting license: may assist with calling; and shall not carry or discharge a firearm.
Fall turkey hunting has some unique methods and restrictions:
- Decoys, blinds, and dogs may be used
- Either sex may be harvested
- Unlawful to use electronic calls
- In the fall, harvested turkeys must be checked at a Game Check Station so feather samples can be collected to estimate reproductive success
Be sure and check the regulations booklet for season dates, bag limits and other details.
For further information on harvest data and season changes contact Gary Norman at (540) 248-9389, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue the Celebration of National Hunting & Fishing Day... Numerous sportsman's groups are hosting family oriented events to provide training and skill development for youth and novice hunters and anglers throughout October. Find one near you and participate, appreciate and celebrate our rich hunting and fishing heritage!
For upcoming events, see
the VDGIF website.
We're Listening… Moon Phases Added to Outdoor Report
In talking with our Outdoor Report readers at recent sportsman's shows, we have gotten numerous requests to add the phases of the moon to aid hunters and fishermen that follow these natural signs. You will find the moon phases in the side bar just above the
"Quick Glance at Hunting Seasons" section. Keep those suggestions coming for improving the Outdoor Report.
"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 is available on the VDGIF Web site along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest.
Apprentice Hunting License: A New Way To Get Involved In Hunting
Virginians interested in learning how to hunt and Virginia hunters eager to share their sport with friends and family now have a way to make it easier to pair up! An apprentice license can be purchased by a new hunter before successfully completing the Department's hunter education course. However, apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license.
Completion of the hunter education course can take place at any point during the two-year period. Doing so will provide the apprentice with necessary proof of course passage to purchase the basic hunting license and continue hunting once the "test drive" period is over.
What are you waiting for? Call toll-free 1-866-721-6911 for more information.
Set at 69th Western Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest
More than 3000 sportsmen and families attended
the official Big Game Contest September 27-28, at
the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, sponsored by the
Rockingham-Harrisonburg Chapter of the Izaak Walton
League (IWLA) and VDGIF. Congratulations to James
Taylor from Culpeper County who took First Place in
the State for the biggest buck of the 2007-08
hunting season. VDGIF officials verified the
massive 18 pointer scored 245 4/16 under Virginia’s
measuring system. It is good enough to make the
national Boone & Crockett record book, scoring 201
7/8 under that system. The buck’s massive antlers
had a spread of 28 inches. The right main tine was palmated, measuring 4-inches across. Read the "rest
of the story" of this thrilling hunt and view photo
of this record breaking buck on
Bill Cochran Outdoors web site.
VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Matt Knox was
most impressed with the number of high scoring
trophy bucks in the contest in both the East and
West Regional Contests, commenting, "the large
number of deer entered with high scores from all
parts of the state are a testament to the successful
management strategies enacted with the assistance of
individual hunters, hunt clubs and landowners to
develop a healthy and plentiful deer herd." For
results of the East and West Regional and State
contests and contest rules and information visit the
sponsoring organization's websites:
Jon Ritenour, IWLA Chapter President and
coordinator for the
event for many years, noted that the success of the
annual Contest relied on dozens of Chapter volunteers
and partner organizations like VDGIF and the
Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen Association that
sponsor the East Regional Contest. Volunteer Hunter
Education Instructors taught safe gun handling and
shooting with the laser shot range for youth
attending the event. Also Volunteers from the
Complementary Work Force assisted VDGIF Biologists in
scoring the trophy bucks entered in the contest. The
volunteer spirit of giving back to the sport in some
way is critical to the continued success of these
events. Contact any of the participating sportsmen's
organizations and volunteer some of your time to
keep these events a source of pride to preserve and
promote our precious hunting heritage.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with
visit our website.
New Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day October 25
Youth 15 years and younger may hunt the allowed daily bag limit of
ducks, coots, mergansers, gallinules, moorhens, two Canada geese and
one tundra swan (if the youth possesses a tundra swan permit) on the
designated youth waterfowl youth hunting day Saturday, October 25,
2008. Youth 12 years of age and older will need a valid Virginia
state hunting license. All participating youth must be HIP
registered and accompanied by a licensed adult at least 18 years of
age or older. The accompanying adult may not hunt the species listed
above on this day. For more details,
visit the Department's website.
For waterfowl hunting workshops for youth see the Upcoming Events calendar in the side bar or on the VDGIF Web site. Also check the Virginia Waterfowlers Association web site for additional skill building opportunities and hunts for youth, women, disabled and other novice waterfowlers: www.vawfa.org
For Season Updates and New Regulations For Hunting Migratory Birds Click On:
Bow Season for Deer, Turkey and Bobcat Began October 4... REMEMBER: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Dress for Success - Fall Turkey Safety Tips
The best hunt is a SAFE hunt! Both novice and experienced sportsmen should continuously review basic safety practices. The fall turkey season requires different tactics and safety precautions from the spring gobbler season. Dressing right is the key to both safe and successful turkey hunting. While sitting still is most important, full camouflage helps hunters blend into the surroundings and elude the turkey's keen eyesight. But, those aren't the only eyes that could be fooled. Other hunters could mistake a hunter dressed in full camouflage using a turkey call for a wild turkey. Hunt defensively- keep in mind, when you hear a turkey call or see movement, it could very well be another hunter. Assume you are not alone in the woods and act accordingly. Your firearm, clothing, and turkey calls are all-important equipment, but thinking safety is the best tool a hunter can use.
The National Wild Turkey Federation and VDGIF Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors
teach these rules to dress for success and safety:
- Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey.
- Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
- Camouflage your gun.
- Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling
- Select a spot that is in the open woods rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
- When using a camouflage blind or netting, maintain a clear field of view.
- Dress in layers to adjust to temperature changes.
- Wear blaze orange when walking to and from calling positions and when setting up or moving decoys. Wearing blaze orange is always recommended. However, if you choose not to, tie a strip of blaze orange to a nearby tree to alert others of your presence.
Ultimately, every hunter is responsible for identifying their target and beyond before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target, or shooting at sound or movement. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Before you go out, let someone know where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. Take a few emergency items with you - snacks, water, safety whistle, a fold up space blanket, a method to light a fire, extra batteries for radios or GPS and fully charge your cell phone.
Remember: Safe Hunting is NO Accident!
There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10 hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our Web site. To find one near you visit the VDGIF web site or call 1-866-604-1122.
Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
VDGIF reminds all boaters to
boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe
while out on our waterways. All boaters should:
Remember safety and courtesy are free, share
"Green Tips" For Outdoor Enthusiasts
This new section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you as an outdoor enthusiasts 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.
Autumn Leaf Color Viewing Tips
One of the great rewards of living in the Old Dominion is the blaze of autumn color as the leaves turn from summer green to the brilliant hues of gold, red, yellow and orange. If you are looking for information on when and where to view the color change, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has developed its first ever VDOF-Recommended Fall Foliage Driving Tours. If you don't want to fight the traffic that clogs some of the best-known places, such as Skyline Drive, this site is for you. Each of these tours is designed by a local VDOF forester and is sure to exceed your expectations and fill your eyes with wide swatches of vibrant autumn colors. And, because these recommended drives are "off the beaten path," you'll be able to enjoy a leisurely trip without the hassles of a lot of traffic on the road or large crowds at vistas along the way.
To view the Fall Foliage Report and Driving Tours, see VDOF's "Fall Foliage in Virginia"
For Information by Phone:
- Fall Foliage Report - 1-800-424-LOVE
- Forest Service Fall Color hotline - 1-800-354-4595
- Shenandoah Valley - 1-800-434-LEAF (1-800-434-5323)
- Skyline Drive/Shenandoah National Park - (540) 999-3500 (press "7")
- Blue Ridge Parkway (between Waynesboro and the North Carolina border) - (828) 298-0398 (press "7")
Habitat Improvement Tips
Fall is Best Time to Establish Wildlife Plantings
Thinking about establishing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife? "Your
timing is excellent," advises VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator
Carol Heiser. "Fall is absolutely the best time to establish new plants, whether you're considering trees or shrubs, wildflowers, or if you have the space, a wildflower meadow. Remember to seek out those species that are native to your region of the state." Fall planting (September through early November) gives trees and shrubs 6-8 months to establish their root system under cool, moist conditions. This will greatly increase their odds of surviving their first hot, often dry, summer. One of the more common mistakes made in planting trees or shrubs is digging the hole too deep and not digging out two to three times the diameter of the root ball. Directions for properly planting trees and shrubs can be found on the Virginia Department of Forestry's Web site: How to Plant a Seedling. A list of native species and their benefits for wildlife habitat, erosion control and other benefits can be found on the VDGIF Web site.
Fall seeding of native wildflowers imitates natural reseeding. Changes occur to the seed and seed coat (stratification) during winter that enhances germination. Spring annuals may germinate and lie dormant through the winter, while most perennials and warm season grasses will germinate in the spring. Properly preparing the seedbed this fall will help develop a successful wildflower garden next spring.
VDGIF Watchable Wildlife Biologist Lou Verner notes, "One final thing to put on your fall
'to NOT do' list: do NOT deadhead all your wildflower seed heads! Rudbeckia and Echinacea species (Black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans, many species of coneflowers) are especially valued seed resources used by many of our over wintering finches. Happy fall gardening!"
For more information on the Habitat at Home© program, see the Department's Web site.
Remember, Only You Can Prevent Wildfires...
The continuing drought across portions of the state have posed an increased risk of devastating wildfires. As you enjoy the outdoors and Virginia's forests, remember to be careful with outdoor fire. A cigarette, campfire or cooking equipment can destroy the scenic wonders of fall in Virginia. Be sure and check with local authorities before doing any debris burning, as burning restrictions
may be in force in some localities to prevent wildfires from occurring. You can also learn more during Fire Prevention Week, October
6 - 12. Check the VDOF Web site for details.
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
Trout Stockings Resumed in October
As leaves begin to change color and the air begins to cool, the VDGIF trout hatcheries are ready to resume trout stocking in October. Although it's been another hot, dry summer, hatcheries have a good supply of trout waiting to be transported to public waters.
Due to the closing of the Department's Coursey Springs Hatchery for renovations, the trout stocking program has been adjusted from this fall through spring of 2010. The renovation is scheduled to be completed in November 2009 and the hatchery will be out of production until that time. To address the shortfall in trout production, stockings on Category A waters statewide will be reduced from 8 to 6 between October and May, Category B waters will go from 5 to 4, Category C, Delayed Harvest and Urban waters will change from 3 to 2. Although the number of stockings will be reduced, there will still be good numbers of trout for the angling enthusiast. Trout stocking allocations have increased over the past 12 years, and now, even with the reduced stocking frequency, the allocated numbers for the 2008 – 2009 stocking season are only 6% less than the allocated number in 1994, the last year in which there was an opening day.
Anglers should remember that updated stocking information is available by calling (434) 525-FISH (3474), or from the trout stocking page on the
VDGIF website. These services are updated each week day after 4:00 pm.
As of this writing, the biggest impediment to a banner early fall trout experience is the hot, dry weather that's dropped levels of many trout waters to record lows. Until we get good fall rains, some of the popular trout streams cannot be stocked. Once adequate water returns after October 1, our hatcheries will be out stocking for your fishing enjoyment.
Virginia Department of Health Updates Fish Consumption Advisories
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has modified several existing fish consumption advisories and added five new advisories due to mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination. Recent fish tissue sample results provided by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) show mercury and PCBs levels exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption.
Mercury Advisories have been added or modified for the following water bodies:
- Roanoke and Yadkin River Basins
- Lovills Creek Lake (new)
- Dan River (modified)
- Chowan and Dismal Swamp River Basin
- Nottoway River (modified)
- Emporia Reservoir (new)
- Meherrin River (new)
- Tennessee-Big Sandy River Basin
- Big Cherry Reservoir (new)
- Lake Witten (new)
A PCB Advisory has been modified for the Dan River in the Roanoke and Yadkin River Basins.
For complete details on these new or expanded advisories, including affected water body boundaries and localities, type of contaminant and species advisories visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.
Sara White's Notebook
Safety on the water as temperatures drop in the 40s is a concern of anglers and waterfowl hunters alike. Mike
Snead of the Virginia Outdoorsman Sporting Goods at
Smith Mountain Lake reports that the I.D.I. Gear's Arctic Armor has proved to be incredibly warm, waterproof cold weather suit that breathes and floats should the person wearing it fall in the water. The extreme cold weather clothing comes in both Camo and red. Many local fishing guides and waterfowl hunters used the clothing last year and report it exceeded their expectations. Arctic Armor also has a new line of lightweight camouflage clothing for the bow hunter. For more information about this potentially life saving line of clothing just stop by the shop or go to
Virginia Outdoorsman website. Tight lines and enjoy the wonderful weather while in the woods and on the water.
Region 1 - Tidewater
Beaverdam Swamp By Eddie Hester: There have not been many fishermen visiting the lake. Those who have been fishing have been landing bass in the 1 to 3 pound range, crappie and some nice chain pickerel. Beaverdam is hosting a last chance bass tournament October 4, the winner will have the opportunity to fish the
"Big Bash Classic" on October 18. Those that didn't make the top 25% fishing the qualifying tournaments will be eligible to fish the last chance tournament.
- Water temperature: 69.2 degrees
- Water clarity: slightly stained
- Water level: down 10 inches
Chickahominy River: From River's Rest, Charlie Brown and his Finnish Basshund Snoopy reports that several very large cats have been brought in lately (and not by Snoopy); lucky anglers have landed 40 and 50 pound blue cats and one 60 pounder by using fresh cut bait. Largemouth bass fishing has been good with some 2, 3 and 4 pound lunkers being brought to boat, mostly on cranks. No word on crappie. Stripers are hitting by the bridge. Water is high from the recent Nor'easter and is slightly stained and cooling.
Little Creek Reservoir River: From Walter Elliott-Fishing pressure remained light over the past week. The majority of fish are still being caught off points, but they are slowly moving to shallower water.
Largemouth bass are being caught on plastic worms, spinner baits, crank baits and on top water lures.
Chain pickerel are biting on minnows, crank baits, soft plastic baits and spinner baits.
Yellow perch are holding off points in about ten feet of water. Minnows and small jigs have been the top producing baits.
Local anglers of note include:
- David Wiggly, James City County
- 1 Largemouth Bass, 5.8 pounds caught on live Herring.
- Kevin Brooke, Sandston
- 1 Largemouth Bass, 6.24 pounds.
The reservoir is clear with a surface water temperature in the upper seventies. The water level is - 76 3/4" and up over seven inches from last week. Little Creek Anglers completed their two day Classic Largemouth Bass Tournament Sunday. The results listed below:
- First place- Robert Jensen and Freddie Randall from Richmond, 19.86 pounds
- Second place- Richard Thurston from Richmond, 19.02 pounds
- Third place- Steve Hanger and Code Cosby from Hampton, 18.92 pounds
- Big Fish- Kevin Brooke Sandston, 6.25 pounds
North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins of West Neck Marina says that the bass are feeding for winter and are thus plentiful. Your best bests for lures are: spinners and plastics, crankbaits and topwater lures such as poppers and chuggers. Crappie are going for small shiners and small spinners and jigs. Bluegill are abundant and hitting beetle spins and nightcrawlers. Dewey reminded me that the water is too cold to use crickets. White perch are attacking small spinners, beetle spins and small crankbaits. The stripers should be coming soon as the water temperatures drop. Water temperatures are in the 70's and clarity is good.
Norfolk Lakes River: Drew Dixon of Dashel's Show Room told me that lots of spot have are being brought in on bloodworms. Some big crappie have been biting lately, with 2 citations recently being awarded. Both fish were landed on minnows. Bass are hitting on topwater lures. Bluegill are striking crickets and worms. No word on cats. The water in the lakes is in the mid 70's and fairly clear.
Region 2 - Southside
James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf of Angler's Lane reports that Smallmouth bass fishing on the James has been good, with artificial minnows being particularly effective. Not many crappie have been brought in. No word on cats or bluegill. Trout angling is
"halfway decent" due to recent rain; but the river as a whole needs more water. The water is around 60 degrees and dropping and is clear.
Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow Jr. of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store says that the fall feeding pattern is setting in and fishing should get really good. Bass are striking on buzzbaits and crankbaits. Some big flatheads have been brought to boat with live bream. Bream can be found around docks and bridges and really go for cut up worm pieces. Crappie can be had on deep brush pilings and bridges. Bluegill are plentiful. The water is clear and cooling.
Smith Mountain Lake By Mike Snead: Cooler weather will move into our area for the next couple of weeks. This week the forecast is for daytime high temperatures to be in the 70's and the low temperatures to be in the 50's. Next week the forecast is for even cooler temperatures with high temperatures only expected to be in the 60's and lows at night projected in the 40's, almost ten degrees colder than normal for this time of year. These temperatures will undoubtedly lower the water temperature even further and may trigger changes to fishing patterns. Lake access continues to be an issue as the result of continuing low water levels. The lake water level continues to be about four feet below full pond and there is little relief in sight. While we will scattered showers over the next two weeks, sustained periods of heavy precipitation are not expected. This will continue to pose problems at selected boat ramps and increases the risk of running aground on shallow points and shoals around the lake. Visibility at night will improve over the next couple of weeks with a first quarter moon will be on October 7th and a full moon on Tuesday, October 14th. [See the sidebar for moon phases for next three months]
Both bass and stripers continue to feed on baitfish. Schools of stripers have been running shad to the surface in many locations and last weekend, when we had overcast conditions; they stayed up for several hours. There are a number of good lures for schooling fish. For bass, spinner and buzz baits, like those by Pulsator, are good choices, especially if it is windy. Topwater lures including the RICO, Pop'R, Super Spook, Spook Junior, Sammy and small gunfish are also good choices when it is relatively calm. Larger topwater lures like the Super Spook, large Rebel Pop'R, Gunfish, Striper Strike and large Chugbug are good lures for schooling stripers. Flukes rigged on belly weighted Falcon hooks, ¼ ounce jigheads and wide gap Superline hooks are also good choices for both schooling bass and stripers. When the schools are found deep, jigging flukes rigged on a ½ ounce jigheads and spoons (Crippled Herring, Cotton Cordell, Hopkins Shorty, Hopkins Smoothie and Kastmaster) is an effective technique.
When not schooling, bass do not appear to be in any pronounced pattern and are being caught in a number of different places. Some are being found deep and others in shallow water where jigs (Dave's, Easterly Custom Jigs, Eakin's) rigged with trailers by Deep Creek, Netbait and ZOOM are working. Bass are also being caught around docks in shallow water using pig and jigs as well as shaky head jigs with small craw and worm trailers. Wacky rigged Yamasenko worms are also producing on bass suspended near pilings, bridge abutments and other vertical structure. Rigged worms and creature baits are working in deeper water off points and in submerged brush. Crankbaits are producing an occasional bass along the tops of submerged grass beds and brush.
Striped bass are still being found in large schools from 20 to 45 feet below the surface. There have been a number of nice stripers caught in the lower lake by anglers trolling Captain Mack's Umbrella rigs and three way rigs with Sutton spoons, bucktail jigs and swimbaits. When schools are located suspended in submerged timber, live bait presented on downlines, jigging spoons and flukes are also producing good results.
Crappie fishing is starting to pick up with several anglers reporting that good numbers are being caught on small minnows. Small jigs and plastic trailers are also working on crappie suspended in submerged brush and under docks, but increasingly anglers are complaining that the white perch are making it difficult to get lures and bait down to the crappie suspended below them. Panfish are being caught around most docks on
"red wiggler" worms rigged on small hooks below a split shot on light line. A small bobber can also be used to keep the worm in the strike zone or to help reduce snags. Small, live shiners rigged on hooks and light jigheads are also great baits for panfish, bluegill, crappie and white perch.
Flathead catfish are still hitting nightcrawlers, live shad and small panfish including bluegills, especially near the banks at night. Channel catfish continue to be caught using Magic prepared baits fished on a bottom rig and springhook as well as on cut bait and nightcrawlers.
The Smith Mountain Striper Club Tournament was won by Carlos Brown and his son CD. This Sunday, the SMLBass Tournament was won by the team of Anthony Brooks and Chase Blankenship with a weight of 10 pounds 4 ounces. Second place went to Greg Byrd and Philip Wood with a bag weighing 9 pounds 3 ounces. The big fish this past Sunday weighed 4 pounds 4 ounces and was brought to the scales by the team of Dan Jessee and Kenny Newton. The proceeding weeks SMLBass Tournament was won by the team of Terry Jones and Bob Peaslee with a combined weight of 9 pounds 4 ounces.
- Water Temperature: 71 degrees
- Water Clarity: Good
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina tells us that a recent bass tournament was won by the father/son team of Bobby and Cody Pagan. Their largest fish were a 6lb largemouth and a 4lb smallmouth. Bass fishing can be great this time of year if you can find the bass schooling up to feed, then, according to Mike, you can
"load the boat". The best bet for lures are Robo Worms and Yamamoto Senkos. No word on crappie. Stripers are hitting around Lighthouse Bridge, and seem to really like live shad. Cat angling is good in Peak Creak. The water is ranging from the high 60's to low 70's and is clear.
New River and Claytor Lake: Victor Billings of Sportsman's Supply reports that the stripers are hitting well in Dublin Hollow, going for bucktails and live bait. In upper Claytor Lake, smallmouths are going for spinners and finesse plastics. Crappie fishing has been slow. Cats are responding to live bait. There are still some bluegill to be had by using little jigs. The water is stained and cooling.
Lower New River: The inimitable John Zienius tells us that as the baitfish gather in Claytor Lake bass of all sorts (including stripers and hybrids) will gather underneath them and swim up for the feast. This makes for really good fishing, especially if you can find a school of baitfish. No word on crappie or cats. The river is still low so your best bet is to do the two cars-float downstream from here to there thing. All in all, John calls the fishing in the river
"mediocre". The water in the river is clear and cooling.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
Lake Robertson: According to Travis Bennington, only flathead cats area really biting. They seem to be going for chicken livers. Some bass can be had on worms. The water is slightly stained and around 68 degrees.
North Fork of the Shenandoah: Unfortunately for us, Harry Murray is on vacation this week, so no word from him. Fly guru Harry has gone to a long secret Ashram on the Amazon where ancient, local yogis will teach him to fly fish for mysterious local species unknown to western science. Now, unlike our local, gentle bass, these fish have a mouth full of big, pointy teeth. Therefore, if you try to haul them into the dugout canoe by sticking your thumb in their mouths, you will get, not a big fish, but a thumbless hand. Please join us in wishing Harry good luck and a good vacation.
Note article above on the new Trout Stocking schedule being used by the Department beginning in October.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Lake Anna By local author and guide C. C. McCotter: Much has changed on Lake Anna in the span of just two weeks. The water has cooled significantly to the lower 70's/upper 60's, the leaves are turning and the fish are transitioning. This means that what worked last month is not working now. You must adjust your techniques and areas in order to keep up with annual fish migrations. Here's what you can expect on your next visit.
Largemouth bass - Many fish that were in the backs of the creeks have moved out to the middle third of the creeks. The best fishing is now in the afternoon segment of the day. Look for bass in the middle of midlake creeks like Pigeon, Marshall, Sturgeon, Contrary and uplake creeks like Ware and Plentiful. Look for the bait and fish around it with small spinnerbaits, shallow running crankbaits and swimbaits. You can also start pitching to docks in these same creeks. North Anna fish are in the grass with the better fish on the docks/rocks in the grass. Try a small, spinnerbait or shaky worm. Pitch a jig if you have the patience. You might find a good school feeding in the afternoon that will inhale a small crankbait like a Bandit 200. There are still fish down at Dike III willing to take topwaters, small crankbaits and soft plastic jerkbaits near main lake points and humps, however you can now start fishing docks with tubes and shaky head worms to find bigger fish.
Striper - Fish are on the move uplake. As of the report there were fish pooling just below Stubb's Bridge but they could ooze through by the time you read this. They are heading uplake to get on large baitfish schools. Were were doing best in the late afternoons using a variety of swimbaits, Zara Spooks and the ToothAche spoon. You can also expect fish in the Rose Valley region clear up to the mouth of Duck In Hole Creek in the North Anna branch. Dike III fish are smaller so we're not targeting them any longer.
Crappie - The good fall crappie action has begun. In two days of guiding we caught nearly 100 fish up to 14". The fish were very pink around the gills and mouth so this means they are coming shallow. Rocks and docks in the North Anna and rocks/brush in the Pamunkey Branch. Fish the upper portion of the lake now with mini jigs and minnows. Do not fish deep.
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.
View New Video on Conservation Police Officers
A new video Conservation Police Officers highlights the extensive training involved in becoming one of VDGIF's finest law enforcement officers. Virginia Conservation Police Officers, once known as Game Wardens, dedicate their lives to the protection of our natural resources. VDGIF Videographer Ron Messina has filmed and produced some astounding video of officers in action apprehending criminals and providing safety and security for sportsmen enjoying the wild outdoors. This video has just been updated to include new vehicles, uniforms and intense training procedures. View the video here.
Region 3 - Southwest
Crimeline tip leads to poacher's confession... On August 14, 2008 Senior Officer Billings received a crime line report of a deer that had been illegally killed in the Stoney Fork section of Wythe County. Senior Officer Billings along with an investigator with the Wythe County Sheriff's Office responded to a residence where the antlers of the illegally killed deer were reportedly located. Senior Officer Billings located the suspect at the residence and spoke with him concerning the information he had received. The suspect was very hesitant about giving Officer Billings any information and was nervous to the point of uncontrolled shaking as the officers spoke with him. The suspect finally agreed to provide Officer Billings with the information concerning how he killed the illegal deer and show the officers the antlers. The suspect then retrieved a 10 foot step ladder from beside the residence and produced a set of antlers in velvet from the roof of the residence. The suspect said the 9 pointer was killed behind the suspect's residence with a .22 caliber rifle during the early morning hours of August 12. The suspect collected only a small amount of the meat and the antlers from the location it was killed. The suspect was charged with Killing a Deer Illegally and license violations.
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
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
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:
- Fall Turkey Forecast
- New Muzzleloader Seasons
- New Bobcat Tagging Procedures