Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Thankful
This edition is posted on the eve of my favorite month - November. I like to think of it as the "Great American Heritage Appreciation Month," where we need to be especially responsible, respectful and thankful. November 1 begins the early muzzleloader deer season.
What a great time of year to get with friends and family. The smell of the powder charge and puff of gray smoke takes
us back to bygone days and simpler times. For hunters, this is the most important time for us to be respectful. Common courtesy and safety are no accident:
Be respectful of other hunters, landowners and the wild game you pursue and harvest.
More importantly, this is a time for all sportsmen and women to "walk the walk and talk the talk." Election Day is November 4.
Do exercise your precious right and responsibility as a free American citizen and VOTE! So many decisions that affect our outdoor pursuits are made by elected officials and legislators.
Let your voice be heard through your VOTE.
The following Tuesday is Veterans Day, honoring the brave men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedoms - especially the privilege to vote. Do something meaningful to show your appreciation to our veterans and their families in some way this year.
You might volunteer for a hunting or fishing outing for wounded warriors or veterans.
And finally, be thankful for the opportunity to partake of all these wonderful blessings, for treasured friendships, and for the service, courage and sacrifice by our military, law enforcement and emergency services people and their families. I wish you a safe, rewarding and peaceful Thanksgiving.
David Coffman, Editor
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Interested in Being a Master Naturalist? Meeting October 30 in Ashland
The Riverine Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program will be conducting its third training program beginning January 8, 2009. The program trains volunteers from the greater Richmond area to provide education, outreach, and environmental stewardship. An informational meeting to explain the Master Naturalist program will be held at 7:00, October 30, in the DSS room at the Department of Health and Human Services, 12312 Washington Highway (Rt. 1) in Ashland. Those interested in the program can find out more on the Virginia Master Naturalist website at
www.virginiamasternaturalist.org. For further information contact Emily Gianfortoni at firstname.lastname@example.org or
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 email@example.com, 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.
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."
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. For details on these and other events and hunt event applications visit the VA NWTF
website. Are you interested in volunteering to assist with an event or have a friend that is interested? Visit the Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation Web site to find numerous links to opportunities and information.
People and Partners in the News
Hunting Benefits All Virginians
Recent economic downturns have many people thinking about how to simplify their lives, how to stretch their dollars, put food on the table, let go of stress, and still somehow give to others. Reports on obesity, concerns about what food quality and the footprint we are leaving on the planet, has people wondering what to do. An activity that addresses all that and more is hunting.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, hundreds of thousands of sportsmen and women are gearing up for the hunting season. Many are already afield archery hunting. The early muzzleloader season for deer opens November 1 followed by the general firearms deer season opening November 15. What benefits do all those hunters enjoy and what benefits do we all get from their activity? What benefits can you expect when you take up the tradition of hunting? Find the answers in various articles throughout this edition of the Outdoor Report that reveal the
five benefits that hunting has been doing, and can do, for you...
- Boost the Economy
- Contribute to Conservation
- Wildlife Population Management
- Healthy Minds, Spirits and Bodies
- Sharing the Bounty
Sharing the Bounty - Helping Others By Putting Food On Their Tables
Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry. Last hunting season, more than 363,000 pounds of venison was distributed in the Commonwealth through this program. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 3.5 million pounds, equal to 13.5 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing that donated meat.
New Anglers Learn by Doing at Bear Creek Lake Workshop
The VDGIF, Outdoor Education staff held an Angling Education Workshop at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland October 18. The participants received fishing instruction covering casting, knot tying, fishing rigs, lures and bait. After enjoying lunch everyone had the opportunity to practice their skills by fishing in the lake. The participants fished with worms and minnows and even gave the catfish a try with fresh cut eels. VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator Chris Dunnavant reported, "Plenty of bluegill, bass and one crappie were caught, but no success with the catfish. Several local anglers had some success with the catfish early in the morning. With a chill in the air and a view of the colorful changing leaves, it was a great day of fall fishing." Click Here for upcoming skill workshops.
Rockbridge JAKES Event Makes Learning FUN!
The number of hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen is dwindling. How do we reverse this decline, so we may continue to pass on our love of the outdoors? The Rockbridge Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is doing their part to help resolve this issue. "They have a fun way to get our next generation of outdoorsmen excited about outdoor sports and conservation," notes Conservation Police Officer Tony McFaddin.
On September 26 the NWTF Rockbridge Chapter kicked off their weekend long JAKES event. JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship. This event is the largest one in the nation with over 400 participants this year alone and has been awarded 'Best Special JAKES event in the Nation' 2002 thru 2007.
During the weekend long event the JAKES work their way through 27 stations to include Turkey Calling, Emergency Vehicles, Trapping, Stream Ecology, Pellet Rifle, Junior Archery and Archery, .22 Rifle, Muzzleloader, Junior Shotgun and Shotgun, Hunter Education Trail, Mock Turkey Hunt, Game Patch, Survival, Forestry, and Bear Hunting. The older kids, this year were offered advanced classes which included Big Game Hunting, Lumberjack Sports and Chainsaw Safety, Outdoor Cooking, and Advanced Firearms. Kids under 5 years old participated in Treasure Hunts, Color & Crafts, Games, and attended some of the classes geared towards younger participants.
The NWTF Rockbridge Chapter partners with VDGIF to hold the event each year free of charge to all participants with a JAKES membership. Children who could not pay their membership fees (approximately 1/3 of the participants) were sponsored by the NWTF Rockbridge Chapter. The event costs over $10,000 each year and is paid in full by fundraisers and generous donations from businesses and individuals in the community.
For more information on the event, to make donations, or to volunteer, please contact Billy Hall, event organizer and NWTF Regional Director for Virginia, at email@example.com. Mr. Hall says everyone is invited to next year's event, but would like to remind everybody that "Adults must be accompanied by a child!"
Photos supplied by CPO Tony McFaddin.
Rain and Cold Don't Dampen Spirits of Outdoor Beach Women
For many, the image conjured in the imagination for an Outdoor Beach Women event in Virginia Beach may include lots of sun, sand and surf. Such was not the occasion as 41 women from Virginia, North Carolina and other "parts unknown" gathered at Munden Point Park on Saturday October 18. The event kicked off at 9:00 a.m. with temperatures in the low 50's, mild winds, and light rain. The weather didn't really improve throughout the span of the day's events, but the indelible spirit of adventure of the women present could not be dampened. Whether practicing newly learned fly casting skills, paddling a kayak, starting a survival fire, learning about backpacking, bird watching, designing a backyard wildlife habitat, or shooting archery, one common thread tied each of these adventurous women together… enthusiasm! VDGIF Outdoor Education Coordinator Jimmy Mootz observed that,
"The Kayaking instructors from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports expected some of the participants to want to end one class session early due to increasing wind and rain. Much to their surprise, the women didn't want to stop at the end of the session! They wanted to continue applying their newfound skills in spite of the weather conditions!"
The Outdoor Beach Women event is co-sponsored by the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program and Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. Special thanks are in order for the good folks at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Virginia Beach location for providing fantastic instructors for the Backpacking and Kayaking courses. The next scheduled Outdoor Beach Women event will be conducted in the Spring of 2009 on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach. Planning is currently underway to include "Pier Fishing", "Surf Casting", and "Surfing" courses! Watch the Outdoor Report for upcoming events.
Willis Wharf Wildlife Viewing Platform Dedicated at Birding Festival
The Wildlife Viewing Platform at Willis Wharf was dedicated September 19 in conjunction
with the Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival. This platform will support existing
ecotourism projects at the site including a floating kayak dock of the Virginia Seaside Heritage
Trail. Enhancing ecotourism will allow the community to maintain the traditional lifeways of a
working waterfront. VDGIF has also designed interpretive signage to help visitors identify
wildlife and understand the creek's ecology. For information on the Virginia Birding & Wildlife
Trail's Eastern Shore Loop visit the VDGIF website.
Photo by Watchable Wildlife Program Manager Jeff
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.
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. 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. If you are hunting turkey during a firearms deer season, blaze orange is required. See
hunting regulations for details.
Fall Turkey Hunting is Way Different from Spring Gobbler with 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.
Wanted: Reports and Photos From New Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day
With great weather, hundreds of young hunters participated in the new Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day established for youth 15 years of age and younger last Saturday, October 18. This special hunt day was initiated as fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall with the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting. 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.
How did you do? Send stories and photos to
Chronic Wasting Disease sampling to resume November 1
Mandatory sampling in effect for parts of Frederick County on specific days
VDGIF will re-commence its active surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) during the 2008-2009 hunting season on November 1, 2008. To determine whether CWD occurs in Virginia, VDGIF has conducted CWD surveillance since 2002. A total of 4,151 samples have been collected from deer from every county in the Commonwealth, and CWD has not been detected. The closest case to Virginia was detected during 2007, near Yellow Spring, West Virginia, which is approximately 2.5 miles from the Virginia state line.
Because of the proximity of CWD to Virginia, VDGIF has established an active surveillance area that consists of the section of Frederick County west of Interstate 81, as well as Shenandoah County west of Interstate-81 and north of Route 675. The Department plans to sample as many hunter-harvested deer from this area during hunting season as possible, and submission of deer heads for sampling will be voluntary. Department personnel and volunteers will be staffing two check stations and one meat processing facility (T and R Meat Processor in Winchester) to assist with sample collection as well as setting up "self-service" stations at various locations, including one located at the Winchester-Frederick County Conservation Club on Route 600 just north of the intersection of Routes 522 and 600. More instructions and maps of surveillance areas can be found on the Department's website.
In addition, the Department has established a Mandatory CWD Sampling Area in southwestern Frederick County that consists of the area west of Route 600, north of Vance's Cove Road and Paddy's Cove Lane, and south of Fall Run Lane and Heishman Lane. This is the area of Virginia closest to the CWD detection in Yellow Spring, West Virginia. Consequently, deer harvested in this area must be brought to either Graden's Supermarket (6836 John Marshall Highway, Lebanon Church, VA 22641, Tel: 540 465 4447) or Gore Grocery (305 Gore Road, Gore, VA 22637, Tel: 540 858 3139) check stations for CWD sampling on the following days:
- November 1, 2008 (opening of muzzleloader season)
- November 15, 2008 (opening of general firearms season)
- November 17, 2008
- January 3, 2009 (last day of deer season)
These check stations will be staffed by Department personnel on these designated days. Please note that the telephone checking system may still be used to report the harvest, but the deer must still be taken to one of these check stations for CWD sampling. For hunters who harvest an animal they wish to have mounted, the deer should still be taken to one of these check stations and VDGIF personnel will work with the hunter and/or local taxidermist to obtain the samples needed.
Hunters will be able to check the CWD test results for their submitted deer heads on the Department's website. Results should be available within 60 working days after collection. VDGIF Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jonathan Sleeman added, "Concerns over CWD should not keep hunters from enjoying the deer hunting season." Persons who have questions or need additional information about CWD should visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Deer Hunters Must Follow Carcass Importation Laws When Crossing State Lines
To prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Virginia, regulations were adopted in 2006 which prohibits the importation or possession of whole deer carcasses, or specified parts of carcasses originating from a state or Canadian province in which CWD has been confirmed.
Hunters should learn whether or not the state in which they intend to hunt deer or elk has CWD, a fatal neurological disease affecting deer and elk. The disease has been found in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. These include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan. If you're going to be hunting in a CWD-positive state, be sure to check that state's regulations for proper handling of deer and elk and if samples are required.
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
website along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest.
Electronic Checking Now Mandatory 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 the electronic harvest
Also hunters and trappers who require CITES tags to sell bobcat pelts can order them via the
Internet and attach the tags themselves.
See the Department's website for details »
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.
Watch the new video on the Apprentice Hunting
License! 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.
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:
REMEMBER: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Drivers, Use Caution to Avoid Hitting Deer
With shorter days, many motorists will be commuting in the dark, increasing the likelihood of their vehicle colliding with a deer. The VDGIF is encouraging Virginia's drivers to be more cautious as they travel the Commonwealth's highways this season.
Fall is the breeding season for deer, and consequently, deer are more active now than any other time of the year. One-half to two-thirds of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November and December. While less than 1 percent of vehicle fatalities and injuries involve deer collisions in Virginia, hitting a deer can cause considerable damage to both people and property. When driving, particularly at dusk and dawn, slow down and be attentive. If you see one deer, likely there will be others. If one deer crosses the road as you approach, others may follow. Drivers who collide with a deer or bear, thereby killing the animal, may keep it for their own use provided that they report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives the person a possession certificate. If you have questions about white-tailed deer or deer behavior, please visit the Department's Web site:
On Halloween, be
alert for trick-or-treaters. Make sure your
little ghosts and goblins wear clothing with
reflective markings or tape and carry a
All Outdoor Users Be Careful With Fire - Be Alert
The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and VDGIF are urging hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to use extra caution while in the woods. Very dry weather conditions have heightened the danger from wildfires.
The Early Archery Deer Season is underway statewide and the early Muzzleloader Deer Season will open November 1 and General Firearms Deer Season will be opening in November
15. The agencies offer the following tips to hunters, campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts:
- Be careful with campfires and other open flames during this dry period.
- It is recommended that you not smoke in the woods, but if you do, be careful when lighting and extinguishing cigarettes. Never throw a cigarette butt from your vehicle window or leave burnt cigarettes behind.
- Do not park on dry grass or leaves. Your vehicle's exhaust and catalytic converter can easily start a fire.
- Keep spark arresters on chain saws and on off-road vehicles.
- Carry an extra water bottle in case you need it to extinguish a small fire or sparks.
- Keep your cell phone charged and call 911 to report fires.
Early detection of a wildfire and quick response by firefighters is critical to protecting lives and keeping property damage to a minimum.
Attention Muzzleloader hunters: The remote chance of starting a fire in dry leaves and brush with a muzzleloading firearm comes from the unburned powder that is shot out of the muzzle of the gun. Most muzzleloading hunters no longer use the primitive black powder "patch and ball" type ammunition, but those who do should follow the shot path, checking the area 15 to 25 yards along the shot path for the hot patch to make sure it does not ignite any dry leaves. It is recommended that they stay in the area for five minutes after shooting to watch for and extinguish any smoldering embers.
For more information on fire safety and regular updates on the status of the burning ban, visit the VDOF
website. For more information on hunting, seasons and regulations, visit the VDGIF
Remember Safe Hunting is NO Accident!
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.
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
website. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.
Bowhunters Launch Project STAND to Improve Safety
The National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF)
has launched a new safety initiative - Project STAND (Stop Tree Stand Accidents N' Deaths.) Project STAND is a comprehensive educational outreach program promoting tree stand safety and awareness. Recent studies tell us that 10% of hunters who hunt from an elevated tree stand will have some type of hunting incident at some point. This could mean an extended hospital stay, life in a wheel chair or even death. As the popularity of hunting from elevated stands continues to grow for both archery and gun hunters, then the chances of tree stand accidents will also grow. Members of the hunting industry and the medical community are joining together with state and federal wildlife agencies and the NBEF to create a tiered program that will take place over a three-year time period. One of the first stages of the program will be to provide new materials for traditional hunter education and bowhunter education courses. Hunter Education Instructors will be encouraged to intensify tree stand safety components of their curriculum. The NBEF hopes to reach the 700,000 new hunters that take these courses each year. For more information on Project STAND and treestand
safety tips visit the NBEF website.
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
The autumn color is a tad bit later this season, so there are still opportunities to view the colors in many areas of the state. If you are looking for information on when and where to view the color change, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has developed the 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" website. For Information by Phone call the Fall Foliage Report - 1-800-424-LOVE. View Online: Fall In Virginia - information from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
Habitat Improvement Tips
Endangered Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat
Join Department biologist J.D. Kleopfer on a
survey of the state endangered Rafinesque's
big-eared bat in a
new video available on the VDGIF website.
This video highlights two of only three known
nursery roosts of this species in Virginia — one
roost is in an old general store, the other in a
turn of the century one-room schoolhouse. This
"swamp bat" traditionally nests in old growth trees
in southeastern Virginia's wetlands, which
constitutes the northernmost portion of their range,
but will also roost in barns and outbuildings. These
summer-time roosts are nursery colonies made up of
mothers and "pups" or young.
Biologists are studying them to learn more in
order protect them and the old structures they
inhabit. Rafinesque's big-eared bats feed mostly on
moths, found near agricultural fields. Bats eat
millions of nighttime flying insects such as
mosquitoes and are beneficial to humans.
Remember, Only You Can Prevent Wildfires...
The continuing drought across the state has 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 are in force in some localities to prevent wildfires from
occurring. Check the VDOF
website for details.
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
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
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.
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.
Sara White's Notebook
Thanks to our
field reporters for sending in reports this week
while Sara was away. We were unable to contact
several of the regular reporters, but we'll be sure
to have them back for the November 12th edition!
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.
- Water temperature: 69.2 degrees
- Water clarity: Slightly stained
- Water level: down 10 inches
Chickahominy River: From River's Rest, Charlie Brown reports that during last week's catch and release tournament, several very large cats were brought in; lucky anglers landed 40 and 50 pound blue cats and one 58 pounder by using fresh cut bait. Other fishermen caught 2-4 pound "meal size" catfish. Largemouth bass fishing has been good with some 2, 3 and 4 pound lunkers being brought to boat, mostly on cranks. One angler landed a 14 in. crappie. Water is clear and 67 degrees.
Little Creek Reservoir River: Walter Elliot reports little change in conditions from last week. Fishing pressure remained light and 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.
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. 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 60'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 slow with mountain streams starving for 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.
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. Crappie fishing is starting to pick up with several anglers reporting that good numbers are being caught on small minnows. 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.
- Water Temperature: 71 degrees
- Water Clarity: Good
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina tells us that Robert Furrow landed a 24 in. 7.5 pound largemouth. 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 picking up hitting drop shot worms and pods of bait fish. The water is ranging in the mid 60'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 and upper Claytor Lake, going for bucktails and live bait. Smallmouths, walleyes and stripers are hitting on cotton-cordell blue backs and live bait. The water is stained and cooling.
Lower New River: 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 60 degrees.
Shenandoah River: Harry Murray is out
fishing with the sunny days and posted this
information on his website,
murraysflyshop.com. Here's the highlights for
this week: Smallmouth fishing is good on the North
Fork catching several large bass on the Shenandoah
Popper 6. The Shenk's White Streamer and the
Murray's Heavy Black Hellgrammite both in 6 are very
effective. Both the North and South Forks are
fishable and very clear. Wade slowly and punch
out long casts so you don't spook the large fish.
Since the trout are spawning in the mountain streams
most anglers believe it is best not to stress them
by fishing for them for the next several months. The
delayed harvest sections of Passage Creek east of
Edinburg and Back Creek were recently stocked and
the fishing is good. If there is no hatch,
cover the water with a Murray's Betsy Streamer 10 &
12 and Casual Dress 10 & 12. If you see an
olive hatch go to a Mr. Rapidan Dry 18. If you
have a diptera hatch run a size 18 Brassie on a 2
foot dropper (6X) off the back of the Mr. Rapidan.
Note article above on the new Trout Stocking schedule being used by the Department beginning in October.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Lake Anna: C.C. McCotter is out fishing
but in checking his website for the latest report he
has done some nice revisions so suggest you check it
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 »
Get your kids hooked on fishing!
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?
email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
||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
Officers Find Long Time Bait site from Tip... On September 27, Senior Conservation Police Officer Billings and Conservation Police Officer Phillips responded to a trespassing call in Bland County. The complainant was reporting that several bear hunters had released hounds on a section of private property without permission. Officer Phillips and Billings arrived on the scene and soon located the group of bear hunters. The officers separated the hunters and interviewed them concerning the trespassing complaint and also about a nearby bait site located earlier in the week by Officer Phillips. The hunters provided documentation from landowners and were found to not be in violation. Before leaving the area, Officer Phillips felt he should check with one more of the hunters about the bait site he had found earlier in the week. The hunter was questioned and denied any knowledge of the nearby site but provided information about his active bait site some 15 to 20 miles away in Wythe County. Later that same day the subject met with Officers Billings and Pease at the bait site in Wythe County. While photographing the site and collecting evidence, the subject advised he and another hunter had released 4 dogs on the bait site the first week of the chase season this year. The bait site consisted of a 55 gallon metal drum that had been converted into a corn feeder and a bottle of vanilla extract hanging from a tree. The location of the bait site was one that officers had been receiving information on for several years, but were never unable to locate it. The site was behind a locked gate and was approximately one mile from the nearest road. The subject said the site had been an active feeding and bait site for 5 to 6 years. The officers assisted the subject with removing the feeder from the site. Charges will be placed on both hunters involved in hunting from the baited area. Other charges pending. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
Spotlighters caught a little close to home... On October 16 at approximately 10:45 p.m., dispatch contacted Hunter Education Coordinator Kris Dougherty at home and asked her to call CPO Rob Ham on his cell phone. In speaking with Officer Ham, she learned that a person or persons had spot-lighted and shot a deer just below her house. The spotlighters were out in the woods looking for the deer. Officer Dougherty asked her husband if he had heard any shots, since all of the windows were open, and he stated no. However she could see two vehicles parked in the road at the bottom of her property. Officer Dougherty responded and found the adjacent landowners parked in one of the vehicles and the other vehicle belonging to the spotlighters. The keys to the spotlighter's vehicle were in the ignition and a cocked crossbow with bolts were visible in the car. Officer Dougherty secured the weapon and the keys in her vehicle and proceeded to look for the suspects. An Augusta County Deputy and Officer Ham arrived a short time later and started to search the woods for the suspects. Two subjects were found coming out of the woods dragging a very small doe and carrying a bloody crossbow bolt. Both subjects were taken into custody by Officer Ham, charged with "Drunk in Public" and "Spotlighting". The crossbow was seized as evidence and the vehicle was impounded. An amazing sidebar to this story is that Officer Dougherty's neighbor (the complainant) works for Parker Bows in Greenville, Va. Building crossbows and it was even a Parker crossbow that was used to kill the deer. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke at
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 upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- Cold weather survival tips
- Video available on field dressing your deer
- Make a special bird treat