VDGIF Board Receives Hound Study Report - Sportsmen Speak Out
On October 23, the VDGIF Board received the report from the Citizen Stakeholder Advisory Committee regarding the Hunting With Hound Study. Dr. Steve McMullin and Sarah Koslowski were on hand from VA Tech to present the strategies formulated by the Committee. There were sixteen focus group meetings last fall to identify issues and concerns related to the use of hounds for hunting in Virginia and the results of those meetings became background material for the Advisory Committee's consideration. The Advisory Committee met a total of seven times. Their seventh and final meeting came after a series of seven public input meetings attended by more than 2,000 people. After the public comment period, VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan noted that there is a lot of work ahead of us to resolve the issues identified in the study and to fulfill the purpose of the Study: to provide diverse opportunities for hunting with hounds in Virginia in a manner that is fair, sportsmanlike and consistent with the rights of property owners and other citizens.
The Board expressed appreciation for the numerous stakeholders' participation in this important process and asked for continued support as the process enters the next phase to resolve the issues identified.
The strategies identified to resolve issues fall into three categories: 1) administrative, 2) regulatory issues via the Board's authority and 3) those that would require legislative action. The Board directed the VDGIF staff to consider administrative items and report back on action taken, and to include consideration of the regulatory items in conjunction with the hunting and trapping season regulations process which is underway. The Board heard from the Wildlife Division on this process at the October 23 meeting and will hear preliminary staff recommendations for the 2009-10 hunting and trapping seasons at the February 2009 Board meeting. The Board noted strategies that would require legislative action and would be discussed with the Legislative Sportsman Caucus and the Natural Resource Committees in determining which concepts might be advanced - as well as the timing of any such actions. Visit the VDGIF
website for more details.
Some observations for fellow sportsmen from the Editor...
I also attended the Board meeting wearing five different hats... as a VDGIF staff person, a tree stand deer hunter, landowner, member of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association and VA Deer Hunters Association. First, as an outdoor writer and sportsman I was very proud of the overall decorum of the hunters that attended and expressed their opinions and positions on the Strategies Report. The large crowd showed commendable restraint especially when the representatives from anti-hunting animal rights activists groups made accusations that seemed to taint all sportsmen. There were a few comments from disgruntled hunters, but they were the minority. Having worked in public relations and conflict resolution for many years, this forum had the potential to be much, much worse
- it was good to see the various media - especially my fellow outdoor writers report fairly on the pros and cons identified during this process. Ironically The Outdoor Wire carried a story that same day that highlights the influence of the media and special interest groups in affecting public opinion, especially in this highly political season. This article notes that hunting season decisions should be made on sound scientific management and facts
— not public opinion or polls!
FROM The Outdoor Wire October 23, 2008:
"The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced earlier this week that Maryland's black bear hunt had begun "despite widespread public opposition." HSUS said that, according to a survey of Maryland residents, 61 percent opposed the hunt. The surveyors queried 839 registered Maryland voters by phone. Note to HSUS: There are more than 3.3 million registered voters in Maryland, and a survey of 839 of them isn't remotely representative of genuine public opinion.
And even if it was, hunting seasons are not and should never be based on anything except sound scientific management. If there are too many bears for the habitat, and there are too many complaints from residents who live near bears, then a regulated, controlled hunting season is the answer. In 2007, they were 296 bear-related complaints from just five Maryland counties. And that figure is actually down 17 percent from the previous year-no doubt because bear seasons, begun in 2004 after a 50-year ban, are finally starting to reduce bear-human conflicts.
The HSUS announcement also claimed that Maryland's bear population was "fragile" and estimated at just over 300 animals. The truth is that the bear population in Maryland is not "fragile." It's "healthy and thriving" according to the Maryland DNR. The true population estimate is more than 600, not "just over 300." Last year, more than 2,800 people applied for permits-more than triple HSUS's entire survey sample! HSUS has claimed time and time again that it opposes "only the most egregious forms of hunting." Their efforts to stop Maryland's much-needed black bear hunt and their willingness to lie about the population and distort public opinion show their true colors.
"If wildlife management were left to the emotional whims of HSUS leaders, we'd see an ecological catastrophe," commented Darren La Sorte, NRA-ILA's Manager of Hunting Policy. "Game and non-game species alike would be devastated by overgrazing, disease and general loss of habitat. Humans would be put at greater risk as a result of increased deer/auto collisions and even predatory attacks like the ones seen in New Jersey. The troubling truth of the matter is that HSUS simply doesn't care about the effects of its radical policies on wildlife or humans. Its sole focus is to end all hunting regardless of the consequences. Fortunately, Maryland's leaders, including Governor O'Malley, have chosen to listen to the state's trained wildlife biologists instead of the HSUS propagandists." There is no form of hunting HSUS supports-they are out to ban it all.
- J.R. Robbins, Managing Editor, Hunting Communications for the National Rifle Association
So to all those who took their time and efforts to complete surveys, attend public meetings and participate in the process- and most importantly speak and act in a dignified and constructive manner- all of the hunting community should be proud of your commitment and follow your lead as the process continues. Make a personal commitment to identify those unethical hunters and report them so they do not ruin the sport for law biding sportsmen. Stay informed, voice your opinion and get involved- it's your sport to keep or lose.
David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Youth Deer Hunting Workshop and Hunt November 15 in Albemarle
Openings are still available for Educational Deer Hunting Workshop and Hunt, sponsored by The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia (TWFVA), this Saturday, November 15. This event is purposely on the Opening Day of the general firearms deer season at TWFVA’s Fulfillment Farms property in southern Albemarle County. This is a great opportunity for any youngster under age 16 to hunt a quality managed property with guidance from experienced volunteers instructors and guides. Pre-registration is required by contacting Wildlife/Property Manager Ike Wright at (434) 566-2164, or (434) 286-4511. For details on their programs to promote conservation and sportsmanship, visit The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia
Youth Deer Hunting Workshop in Bedford November 22
Application deadline November 14
VDGIF staff, in cooperation with the Bedford County Economic Development Authority and the Virginia Hunter Education Association, Inc., are offering a Youth Deer Hunting Workshop on November 22 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.. This Youth Deer Hunting Workshop is an opportunity for area youth, ages 12-15, to learn about deer, deer hunting and to hunt deer in a safe, controlled environment. Ten participants will be selected for this event. Selected youth must be accompanied by a properly licensed parent or guardian. Each team will be supervised by a certified hunter education instructor. To be considered for this unique educational opportunity, completed applications must be received by close of business on November 14, 2008. For more information, an application packet and rules, please contact VDGIF at: (434) 525-7522. Applications are available at the DGIF office in Forest at 1132 Thomas Jefferson Road, Forest, VA. 24551.
Rabbit Hunting Workshop December 6 in Bedford
Workshop includes Eastern Cottontail biology, habitat and hunting opportunities. Firearms, hunting safety, game care and ethics are also included. Participants must be 7 years or older. Those under 10 must be accompanied by a registered adult. Completion of the Basic Hunter Education Course is required, and the hunter must meet all license requirements. Participants must be 7 - 17 years of age. Bring your own shotgun and ammunition, appropriate clothing for weather conditions. Blaze orange hats will be provided for all participants. Registration is required and is limited For further information contact: Jimmy Mootz email: Jimmy.Mootz@dgif.virginia.gov
or call (804) 367-0656.
Chesapeake Offers Fly Fishing Workshops
Learn the basics of fly fishing at monthly workshops sponsored by Chesapeake Parks & Recreation Department, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Bill Wills Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers (Bill Wills TU/FFF) . The workshops are held at Northwest River Park in Chesapeake the first Saturday of the month beginning December 6 and continuing March. Sessions begin at 10:00 a.m. in the activities building no registration or experience is required. The classes offer casting instructions, flytying, equipment basics, rod, reel, line, terminal tackle and accessories. Classes are free and open to the public. Bring your own equipment if you like but it's not required. Learn to pick your equipment for a better fly fishing experience. For more information or directions contact the Park at (757) 421-7151, or Bill Campbell at (757) 635-6522, or send email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outdoor Writers Association Announces Annual Youth Writing Contest
The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) announces its 16th Annual Youth Writing Competition for 2008. The goal of the contest is to reward young people for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The competition is open to all Virginia students in grades 9 through 12, including home-schooled students.
The theme of this year's contest is based on "My Most Memorable Outdoor Experience". An experience by the student writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding or other outdoor activity should be the predominant subject matter. No athletic event or competition is an eligible subject matter. Submissions can be submitted in a Microsoft Word or text file since the three top winners will be posted on the VOWA Web site, and may be in other publications or on web sites. E-mail submissions are encouraged - write the document and then attach it to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between now and the January 15, 2009, deadline.
Awards will consist of gift certificates and gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA. Over $500 in prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the VOWA's Annual Meeting in Hampton, on March 22, 2009, with the time and place to be announced. The winner's parents (or mentor/teacher) will be guests of VOWA for the presentation event. There is also a separate contest for college level undergraduates interested in pursuing journalism or communication careers and interests.
For Contest guidelines, entry information and required entry submission form for both the Youth and Undergraduate contests, visit the VOWA
website or contact VOWA President and Contest Chairman, David Coffman at email@example.com, or telephone 804-221-6990.
Xtreme JAKES Magazine Goes Online
Xtreme JAKES Magazine, the NWTF's publication for members 13 to 17 years old, now is available online. Starting with the Fall 2008 issue, Xtreme JAKES Magazine, focusing on advanced hunting and fishing strategies and extreme outdoor sports teenagers are interested in, will be exclusively online. The new format allows a more interactive experience using streaming video and clickable links. Make sure you and the rest of the family check out Xtreme JAKES eMagazine.
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: 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
Michael R. Clark Promoted to Rank of Major
Michael R. "Mike" Clark has been promoted to the rank of Major in the Law Enforcement Division. Major Clark now reports directly to the Chief of Law Enforcement, Colonel Dabney W. Watts, Jr. In this capacity he will oversee the administrative functions of the VDGIF Law Enforcement Division. His duties include preparation and management of the division budget as well as management of training and outreach programs, procurement and inventory processes and a comprehensive volunteer program.
Clark had previously held the rank of Captain and oversaw all law enforcement operations in Region IV, an 11-county region of the Shenandoah Valley since 1993. Clark joined VDGIF in 1978 as a game warden (now called conservation police officer) and served in the Shenandoah Valley and Tidewater areas. In 1982, he was promoted to Sergeant and in1987 was promoted to Hunter Education Lieutenant and managed all aspects of the Hunter Education Program for a 20 county region in Tidewater and Northern Virginia.
Mike Clark has been highly respected by the people who served under him and has a reputation for working side by side with his officers in the field on special operations and boat patrols, inspiring tremendous loyalty. When his promotion to Major was announced, his regional officers recognized him with a special plaque stating, "For 15 years of dedicated service as captain you demonstrated a quiet strength and professional leadership. These enviable qualities have shaped careers and fostered lasting friendships." Throughout his career he has expanded his skills by taking extensive training in supervision and management. Over the years he has been at the forefront of numerous developments in conservation law enforcement at the Department. He developed and pioneered the use of inflatable jet outboard powered boats on patrols. Clark developed decoy deer techniques and supervised the initial development of motion-activated video surveillance equipment that is now standard equipment for the Department.
Mike Clark has been highly respected by the people who served under him and has a reputation for working side by side with his officers in the field on special operations and boat patrols, inspiring tremendous loyalty. When his promotion to Major was announced, his regional officers recognized him with a special plaque stating, "For 15 years of dedicated service as captain you demonstrated a quiet strength and professional leadership. These enviable qualities have shaped careers and fostered lasting friendships." Throughout his career he has expanded his skills by taking extensive training in supervision and management. Additional training has included Internal Affairs Investigations; Inventory and Asset Management; Strategic Planning; Terrorism and Security Awareness; National Incident Management System; and much more.
Clark graduated from Matoaca High School in Chesterfield County. He attended the Conservation Resources Course at the College of William and Mary and the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center where he was recognized as the Most Distinguished Graduate of their Boating Safety Course. In 2008, he attended the Commonwealth Management Institute, coordinated through Virginia Commonwealth University, which is the Commonwealth of Virginia's professional development program for managers. More than 1,800 managers in Virginia state government have taken the opportunity to sharpen their skills at CMI in order to more effectively implement public programs and policies.
Hunting Benefits All Virginians
With the general firearms deer hunting season opening this Saturday November 15, hunters should pause to reflect on all the benefits that their participation adds to their lives and the positive impact on fellow 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.
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
Abundant population equals ample opportunity – Hunting is an important wildlife management tool. This time of year in Virginia the deer population is up around one million animals. Hunters harvest about 250,000 each year, but deer are a renewable resource and the population rebounds. Hunters enjoy liberal seasons and abundant game here in the Commonwealth: archery, muzzleloader, general firearms seasons, fall turkey hunting, waterfowl hunting, hound hunting, mounted fox hunting, special late seasons and urban programs. There's good hunting in Virginia!
When deer are not dear – Farmers, landowners, drivers, and outdoor recreationists all benefit from hunters harvesting the white-tailed deer population in Virginia. Hunting reduces pressure on crops, protects expensive landscaping, cuts down on deer in the roadways, and prevents deer overgrazing an area and destroying habitat needed by other wildlife such as songbirds. Hunters help maintain that balance for Virginians.
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.
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.
Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!
Do You Have ICE on Your Cell Phone?
No, not the frozen stuff. Most outdoor enthusiasts carry a cell phone with them on their outings. They are a great safety item. But what if you are injured and cannot operate your phone to communicate? Emergency responders remind you that for safety purposes you should enter the numbers of at least two people that can be contacted In Case of Emergency (ICE). Program the numbers in your phone under ICE, so if you are injured and unable to communicate with rescuers, they can use your cell phone ICE numbers to contact a friend or family member about your situation. Do this for all your cell phones in the family.
Video Available on Field Dressing Your Deer
Whether you are a novice hunter who may not feel comfortable tackling the chore of gutting and butchering a deer themselves, or a more experienced hunter who would like to take their deer processing to a professional level, the VDGIF has a DVD to help you make the most of your harvest. "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" video begins with step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. Then, professional butcher and hunter education instructor Rob Bingel demonstrates the best way to cape out a deer for mounting. The video really gets good when he shows in detail how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. Sure, many of us think we know how to process a deer, but seeing the way Rob does it with no wasted effort is well worth the price of the video.
By the end of the video you will learn how to make butterfly chops, de-bone a front shoulder, tie up a roast using a butcher's knot, be able to identify all the proper cuts of meat on a deer, and more! This is one video you will watch over and over! The price is only $12 each.
How To Make A Personal Big Game Check Card
If you are exempt from purchasing a hunting license, you still are required to create a personal check card to have with your harvested deer, bear or turkey. Since you don't have license tags to "notch" to check your kill, you need to make a personal check card. The personal check card can be written on any type of paper using a pen and must include the hunter's full name, date of kill and telephone confirmation number. For a complete list of persons exempt from purchasing hunting licenses, review page 6 of the Regulation booklet or go to the VDGIF
website. If you have checked your animal using the telephone (1-866-GOT GAME), or the online checking system, a personal check card is also required to have with the carcass if transferred to someone else or left unattended. Only deer and spring turkey may be checked using the online or telephone checking system.
Mandatory Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling In Effect For Parts Of Frederick County
VDGIF has resumed active surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) during the 2008-2009 hunting season. Because of the proximity to Virginia of CWD in Hampshire County in West 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. More instructions and maps of surveillance areas can be found on the
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 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 and if a hunter wants to have their deer mounted. they will work with hunters and/or local taxidermist to obtain the samples needed. The deer should still be taken to one of these check stations.
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.
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.
"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.
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
on 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
firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use your story, you'll receive a
complementary Virginia Wildlife hat!
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.
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters! Be Safe, Be Seen!
Except for hunting waterfowl, wearing blaze orange during the general firearms hunting season is not only smart - it's the law! And a good one that saves lives each year. But blaze orange is not just for hunters. This high-visibility "safety orange" is recognized in the workplace, both indoors or out, so you can bee seen. If you are a landowner, jogger, hiker, or walk your dog on woodland trails, you would be wise to wear a blaze orange hat, vest, or coat so a hunter can see you and not mistake your movement for game. Just like driving defensively, you should take the same precautions and awareness if you go to the woods for any reason during the hunting seasons from October through January. Dress defensively. Wear blaze orange to be safe and be seen. Also, if you should fall and get injured, rescuers will find you easier... time saved that could keep you from further harm. If you have dogs that "roam" out of the yard, put a blaze orange collar on them so they are not likely to be mistaken for a fox or coyote. Remember whether you are a hunter, or just enjoying the outdoors, cutting firewood or walking a woodland trail, wear "safety orange"- it's the woodswise thing to do!
Hunters: plan your hunt, hunt your plan. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Hunters should always positively identify their target and beyond before shooting. Above all else, put safety first!
Tree Stand Fall Fatal for Hunter
View Safety Tips for Proper Use and Precautions
On October 15, the Lee County Sheriff's Office notified the area Conservation Police
Officer of a tree stand hunting incident fatality in the Lovelady Gap section of Lee County. An investigation revealed the victim had fallen from a homemade, poorly constructed permanent stand. The 41 year old victim was not wearing a safety harness and apparently fell from the stand and hit his head on a large rock. His nephew discovered him. When rescue personnel arrived on the scene, the victim was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. Neither the victim nor his nephew had any hunting licenses' and both parties were trespassing to hunt without permission.
Tree stand accidents account for more injuries than most other hunting activities. Among the hundreds of volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, Dick Holdcraft stands out as the "tree stand expert," based on over 40 years as a career safety manager and Master Instructor since 1993. We appreciate Dick's dedication and service to his fellow sportsmen and thank him for providing this sage advice on tree stand precautions. Whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time using a stand, follow these tips to help you prepare and stay safe.
Go For Quality Design - Use a well designed and built, sturdy tree stand. Tree stands manufactured by the Tree Stand Manufacturers Association (TMA) that have been built since 2006, are commercially designed and tested to meet recognized industry standards.
Heed Instructions - Practice Use- Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions on the use of your tree stand before using it. You should practice using the tree stand in the morning and evening hours. As the saying goes; "Perfect practice makes perfect."
Inspect for Dangerous Wear- Carefully inspect your tree stand for wear, rust, metal fatigue and cracks, loose, or missing nuts or bolts, rot and deterioration before and after each use. Tighten loose nuts and bolts and replace rusty or worn hardware. Check straps or chains or other attachment devices for wear and replace if they are unsafe.
Check for Defect Recall- You should also check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to see if your stand has been recalled due to safety defects. In the search field type in the words tree stand, then click on the link for your stand. Contact the manufacturer if it has been recalled.
REMEMBER: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!
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. During breeding season 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:
How to Avoid the Six Most Common Boat Winterizing Mistakes
Free BoatU.S. Winterizing Guide Available
With winter approaching, BoatU.S. Marine Insurance has reviewed its claim files and reports the following six most common mistakes made when winterizing a boat:
- Failure to winterize the engine: Freezing temperatures occur in all 50 states and while they are taken seriously up north, it's the balmy states of California, Florida, Texas, Alabama and Georgia where boaters are most likely to have freeze-related damage to engine blocks. It routinely occurs to boats stored ashore here. Boats left in a slip are less susceptible to sudden freezing as the surrounding water retains heat longer than air.
- Failure to drain water from sea strainer: If your winterizing plan calls for draining the engine, the seawater strainer must be winterized or residual water could freeze and rupture the watertight seal. Sometimes you won't know it's damaged until spring launching and water begins to trickle in.
- Failure to close seacocks: For boats left in the water, leaving seacocks open over the winter is like going on extended vacation without locking the house. If a thru-hull cannot be closed, the vessel must be stored ashore - the sole exception is cockpit drains. Heavy snow loads can also force your boat under, allowing water to enter thru-hulls that are normally well above the water line.
- Clogged petcocks: Engine cooling system petcocks clogged by rust or other debris can prevent water from fully draining. If one is plugged, try using a coat hanger to clear the blockage or use the engine's intake hose to flush anti-freeze through the system.
- Leaving open boats in the water over winter: Boats with large open cockpits or low freeboard can easily be pushed underwater by the weight of accumulated ice and snow. Always store them ashore.
- Using biminis or dodgers as winter storage covers: A cover that protects the crew from the sun does a lousy job protecting the boat from freezing rain and snow. Unlike a bonafide winter cover, biminis and dodgers tend to rip apart and age prematurely by the effects of winter weather.
To get a free copy of the BoatU.S. Winterizing Guide full of tips to help you prepare your vessel for the winter, go to
http://www.BoatUS.com/seaworthy/winter, or call 800-283-2883. Press Contact: Scott Croft,
(703) 461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
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 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.
How Prepared are you for Rising Waters?
The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia is hosting a half-day workshop on local and regional climate change planning focusing on case studies from the region. How Prepared are you for Rising Waters? Planning for sea level rise – regional and local considerations for coastal areas is a half-day workshop scheduled for December 9, from 8:30 a.m.
- 12 noon at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Waterman's Hall Auditorium, Gloucester Point. In addition to Virginia speaker Skip Stiles, the workshop will incorporate speakers and information from New Jersey/Rutgers University and Maryland, via tele-conference. There is no fee to register, but pre-registration is required. Please send an email to Sandra Y. Erdle, Coastal Training Program Coordinator for Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia: email@example.com to register for the workshop.
Habitat Improvement Tips
Forestry Department Offers Specialty Seedlings
The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has been in the seedling business for 90 years assisting landowners in reforestation projects on cutover and idle land. Landowners may now purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors, and timber management. For product information, pricing and ordering go to the Virginia Department of Forestry's
Our 2008 Collector's Knife has once again been customized by Buck Knives. The knife features a red-tailed hawk engraving, augmented by a natural woodgrain handle and gold lettering. A distinctive, solid cherry box features birds of prey.
Click here for more information and to purchase!
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
Sara White's Notebook
"You will always find an answer in the sound of water."
Region 1 - Tidewater
Little Creek Reservoir River: Walter Elliot says that crappies were the top catch of the week with two anglers from Hampton catching a number of specs up to 12 inches. Minnows and small jigs fished on structure from five to 10 feet of water was the ticket for catching these great eating fish. Largemouth bass are being caught off points in from five to fifteen feet of water. Crank baits, spinner baits and plastic worms are the top producers. Chain pickerel are hitting plastic worms, spinner baits and crank baits off the points and the mouths of creeks. Small stripers are biting on swim baits and spinners by anglers beating the banks for other fish. The water is clear and cooling.
Chickahominy River: Alton Williams of River's Rest reports that things there are "pretty dead." No anglers have come in with anything significant. The water is slightly stained and cooling.
North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins says that bass are responding well to plastics, spinners and top water lures. Crappie are moving in and are going for shiners and small spinners. Stripers are responding to the same things as their large and small mouth relatives and also like crank bait lures. White perch are attacking night crawlers, small jigs and spinners. No word on cats. The waters are in the low 60's and cooling.
Norfolk Lakes River: Drew Dixon told me that stripers are doing well in both salt and fresh waters; they are in a feeding mode and will go for cut and live bait, as well as jigs. Drew said that they will hit "most anything." Other bass are also cooperating. The local crappie are plentiful and aggressively hitting minnows and jigs.
Region 2 - Southside
James at Lynchburg: According to Tom Reisdorf the brook trout in the mountains are feeding and will go for dry flies. Bass angling has slowed due to cooling waters; however, ones that have been landed have been of good size. No word on crappie, cats or bluegill. Tom says that they are "praying for rain". The waters have been clear and cooling.
Smith Mountain Lake By Mike Snead: After a week of unseasonably warm weather, the forecast calls for cooler temperatures over the next several weeks. This week the daytime high temperatures will be in the 50's and lows in the 30's and 40's except for Friday the 14th when the high temperature is expected to reach into the 60's. We are expecting sunny to partly cloudy skies this week with a chance of rain on Thursday and Friday. Next week the forecast is for a continuation of cooler weather with sunny skies early in the week becoming partly cloudy by week's end. While we are anticipating some precipitation over the next several weeks I don't expect we'll get enough rain to significantly improve the flow in surrounding rivers and streams or increase the water level in Smith Mountain Lake which is still 4 feet below full pond. We will have a full moon this Thursday the 13th and a last quarter moon on the 19th.
Stripers have broken into smaller schools and moved up in the water column. Striped bass are being found in good numbers up the arms of both the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers. Stripers continue to be found in small schools from 15 to 40 feet below the surface where anglers using live bait, jigging spoons and flukes rigged on ½ ounce custom jigheads are catching fish. Live bait is currently producing more fish than any other technique with small threadfin and medium gizzard shad the baits of choice. Gizzard shad can be found in guts off the main channel and in the backs of selected creeks, especially in the upper lake. While threadfin shad have not been producing as well as gizzards, they can be found just below the surface where stripers and bass are schooling and feeding on them, especially early and late in the day. With the lower water levels, alewives have at times been difficult to catch. They generally stay in deeper, cooler water and have not come to some dock lights at night with lower than usual water under them. Stripers found in schools in deeper water are being caught on downlines. Stripers are also being caught on live bait pulled behind planer boards and floats, especially on points, humps and shallow flats near the shoreline.
Anglers casting, counting down and retrieving bucktails and flukes on lead headed jigs are also starting to catch stripers when they mark scattered schools and pull up on breaking fish. Breaking stripers can also be caught on topwater lures like Pop-R's, Striper Strikes, Gunfish and suspending jerkbaits. Stripers have been seen running bait to the surface inside coves, guts and major creeks, especially early and late. Stripers are also being caught during the first and last hour of daylight by anglers casting and retrieving waking lures in the upper lake and backs of creeks. Trolling umbrella rigs, like Captain Mack's, with swimbaits and curl-tailed grubs continues to produce striped bass and an occasional black bass. Last week one angler trolling umbrella rigs reported catching a number of bass including a smallmouth weighing almost five pounds. The slot limit is in effect and every striped bass between 26 and 36 inches that is caught must be returned to the lake. Each person may keep two stripers that are less than 26 inches or over 36 inches in length.
Crappie fishing has really picked up over the past several weeks and it should only get better as we see cooler temperatures. While they have not been very aggressive, the bite has been consistent for those who find them. Anglers report catching good numbers of crappies with fish over 11 inches common. The bait of choice continues to be small minnows presented either on a single hook below a split shot, a spreader two-hook crappie rig or a small jighead. Small jigs with plastic grubs and other trailers are also working. Good spots include the tops of submerged brush and under deep-water docks. While crappies are being caught in a variety of different depths the majority of anglers reported finding good fish within five to twelve feet of the surface.
Bass fishing continues to be mixed with fish being found shallow and deep. Bass are still being caught around and under docks in shallow water using pig and jigs (Dave's, V&M) with plastic trailers (Deep Creek, Netbait, ZOOM) as well as on finesse plastics rigged on small shaky head jigs (Shakee, Gambler, Spot Remover, Tru-Tungsten). Fish are also being caught around docks on spinner baits (Nichols Pulsator, Terminator, War eagle) and crankbaits. While the bite is tougher, bigger bass are reportedly coming from deeper water where heavier football jigs and Texas rigged worms are working. There continues to be a topwater bite early. The Rico by Lobina and small Gunfish in shad colors are both good choices. Drop shot finesse plastics and light jigging spoons are both producing on bass suspended and marked in deeper water. The water is clear and 62 degrees.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Mike Burchet tells that the lake has been let down 5 feet, and it will take local fish about a week to get used to the new level. The water is in the mid to upper 5o's and clear.
New River and Claytor Lake: Victor Billings of Sportsman's Supply reports that local walleyes are hot, and really hitting suspended jerkbaits. Local bass are few and far between. The exception to this is local stripers that are readily brought to boat with bucktails, live bait and swimmers. Very few cats have been reported. Crappie fishing is also "slow". The waters are clear and cooling.
New River: John Zienius of Big Z's also notes the lowering of the lake and says it makes for better fishing in the river. Bass fishing has been "decent", but not great. No word on cats. Experienced crappie anglers with lots of tricks up their rods are doing well. Muskie are hitting well on the river. These toothy monsters are at the top of the food chain and will go for almost anything. Live bait and crank baits are a good idea. The waters are clear and cooling.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North Fork of the Shenandoah River: The incomparable Harry Murray reports that the smallmouth bass streams in the valley are 9 degrees warmer this year than they were this time last year. This is leading to some great smallmouth angling in both the North and South Forks. Recommended flies are Murray's Heavy Hellgrammite size 6 and Shenk's White Streamer, size 6. Harry recommends fishing in the deep pools and deep cuts between the ledges. One note of caution though
- just because the water is warmer, doesn't mean it's safe to fall in it. The temperature is 58 degrees, more than enough to lead to hypothermia and death. As for the mountain trout streams, many of the larger ones have been stocked, so angling for rainbows and browns is good. Good flies to use are Murray's Betsy Streamer, sizes 10 and 12; and Murray's Pearl Marauder, sizes 10 and 12. Watch for rising trout and fish for those with a Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size 18.. Harry also reminded me that the local brookies are on their spawning beds, so it is best to leave them be. Harry does a blog, podcast and written report on fishing in the area every Tuesday and Friday - it can be found at
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Lake Anna: By Local Guide and Outdoor Writer C.C. McCotter: Overview: Two straight weeks of guiding have revealed great change
here on Lake Anna. Your next visit will feature a more wintery look
with less leaves and more depth to the surrounding woods. Water
temperatures are dropping again into the low 50s up lake, mid 50s
midlake and into the low 60s downlake. This means baitfish are moving
out of the shallows and into more open water schools and gamefish are
feeding again. Knowing where the baitfish are will be the key to
catching Anna's bass, stripers and crappie through the end of the year.
Largemouth bass - Good fishing when you find the schools. There is a
big one down at Dike III ranging from the points around the discharge
over to the mouth of Valentine's Cove. Expect some of the bigger fish
to relocate on docks until the end of the month. Use the 3" Berkley
Realistic Minnow for the schoolies and a shakey head worm for the
loners. Midlake bass fishing remains tough. Docks and brush with a
small worm is your best bet. Uplake was the big winner recently
producing not only the winning limit for the Lake Anna Cup tournament
but also for most of the top 20 teams. Casting a small, lipless
crankbait on points in the upper North Anna is tiring but can be
productive. You can try the same in the upper Pamunkey Branch,
followed up with a shakey head worm or jig on rocks and docks. A late
spinnerbait bite should develop for fish that linger along North Anna
and lower Pamunkey willow grass lines, but most of the bass will be
moving into the channel and feeding on masses of threadfin shad now.
Try a 3" swimbait or Crazy Blade when your depth finder lights up.
Striper - Anna's stripers are moving uplake a little more each day now,
surging toward the baitfish that await them. Look for them above the
first two bridges for the remainder of this month and above the second
two by December. Our top bait has been a 3" pearl Sassy Shad followed
by a Berkley pearl Jerkshad and a Road Runner belly spinner. When fish
are deep, the go-to bait is the ToothAche spoon vertically jigged in
27-37' near the main river channel. No fish of note in Contrary Creek yet. I
have found fish in the extreme headwaters of the lake feeding
aggressively in 1' of water. Following birds is productive now,
especially with a good depth finder. We are now beginning to catch
larger average size fish - some approaching 12 pounds, using live
shad. Potentially hot areas to monitor include the mouth of Plentiful
Creek, the mouth of Terry's Run, the mouth of Duck In Hole Creek and
Crappie - The guide service produced four 14.5" fish and a 15.5"
citation last week as the bigger fish began to school on brush, rocks,
bridges and fish structures. The best area to target is the uplake
region. Small minnows fishing on slip bobbers will fill the cooler
now. The citation fish came on a 1" tube with a 1/32 oz. head fished
over brush in 18'.
Lake Anna: By Local Guide Scott Hammer: As the water cools the bass have been making their way into and out of the creeks. As always, find the bait and you will find the bass. Crankbaits in Blue/Chrome have produced off of wood with deep water nearby. Now is the time when the Bass start to feed preparing for the long winter and some good fish can be weighed. Also check out all of the deep water creek channels staying closer to the main lake as the water temps cool. Don't forget to work the shoreline grass beds with spinnerbaits especially early in the morning.
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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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.
Officer Gough Recognized by U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Conservation Police Officer Frank W. Gough was officially recognized by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at Bluestone Dam and was presented the prestigious "Commander's Award For Public Service" by Colonel Dana Hurst, Commander. This award was presented to CPO Gough for his diligent investigative work, and successful conviction of two violators for an illegal tire dumping and burning operation on corps of engineer land along the New River. For the last 2 years CPO Gough has been conducting an investigation on illegal tire dumping in the Shumate area of the New River in Giles County. On 1-31-08 Officer Gough apprehended two subjects dumping tires along the river. During the interview both individuals who resided in Princeton, West Virginia admitted that they had dumped a total of
approximately 500 tires during this 2 year period. One of the subjects stated that he learned how to do this from his father who had been doing it for years. On June 27, 2008, CPO Frank Gough testified and presented evidence concerning this case resulting in the conviction of both subjects in the Giles County General District Court. Fines and costs totaled over $10,000. This investigation also revealed additional violations by local tire businesses in West Virginia. CPO Gough's work exemplifies true professionalism in law enforcement and the protection of our natural resources. CPO Gough is the first Virginia Conservation Police Officer to receive this award.
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.
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:
- "Deer of a Lifetime!"
- Taxidermy Tips
- Venison Recipes
- Winter Bird Feeding Tips