Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
Outdoor Report

Managing and Conserving Our Wildlife and Natural Resources

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving
  • New Virginia Wildlife Magazine Preview
  • New Video: "A Virginia Jewel: The Smith River"
  • Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
    • Rabbit Hunting Workshop December 6 in Bedford
    • Chesapeake Offers Fly Fishing Workshops
    • Outdoor Writers Association Announce Annual Youth Writing Contest
    • Nature Conservancy to Host Deer Hunt for Disabled Hunters in Spotsylvania
    • Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Numerous Deer Hunts November-December
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Forty-Eight Schools Recognized For Contributions To Virginia's Environment
    • VDGIF to Continue Surveillance for Avian Influenza
    • Recognition Program Initiated for Volunteers Destroying Invasive Species
    • Trappers Host Workshop For Girl Scouts
    • Hunting Benefits All Virginians
      • Hunters Rewarded with Healthy Minds, Spirits and Bodies
      • A Tradition of Stewardship
    • Great Gift Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts!
      • Virginia Wildlife Online Catalogue Offers Specialty Items
      • 2009 Virginia Wildlife Calendar Gives All Year Long
      • Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Bow Building and Decoy Carving Workshops
  • Hunting News You Can Use
    • A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think
    • Mandatory Chronic Wasting Disease Sampling In Effect For Parts of Frederick County
    • Apprentice Hunting License: A New Way To Get Involved in Hunting Season
    • Report and Photos from Fall Turkey Hunts
    • Tree Stand Safety is No Accident
    • Season Updates and New Regulations For Hunting Migratory Birds
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters! Be Safe, Be Seen!
    • Do You Have ICE on Your Cell Phone?
  • "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • Bringing Nature Home - Book Review
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Make a Special Bird Treat
    • Forestry Department Offers Specialty Seedlings
  • Fishin' Report
    • Maidens Landing Ramp Closed for Repairs
    • Fish Kill Task Force Evaluates Results of Latest Studies
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation

Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving

During this season of Thanksgiving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests. 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. Another valuable contribution is to also pay the processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season of giving Thanks, for all the many blessings we share. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and rewarding Thanksgiving holiday.

New Virginia Wildlife Magazine Preview

Now is your chance to preview the best of Virginia Wildlife magazine! If you enjoy hunting, fishing, boating, or wildlife and natural resource-related topics, here's a small example of the award-winning articles and photographs featured each month.

If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine, visit the Department's website, or call 1-800-710-9369. A one-year subscription for 12 issues is only $12.95.

From the November 2008 issue of Virginia Wildlife:

Retaining a Geography of Hope:
How Conservation Easements Preserve Virginia's Family Farms and Wildlife Habitat
by William H. Funk

Virginia has seen explosive growth in the last several decades. While the rate of population influx from other states and countries has been enormous, the acreage of land being transformed into suburbs, shopping centers, golf courses and freeways has been significantly higher. Today landowners in even the most rural areas of the Commonwealth, previously spared the unsupportable increases in property values that accompany aggressive land speculation, are experiencing unprecedented pressure to develop their open spaces, family farms and working forests.

New Video: A Virginia Jewel: The Smith River

Join VDGIF fisheries biologists in this new video as they conduct a fish sampling survey on the scenic Smith River using electrofishing equipment that momentarily stuns the fish. The fish are quickly weighed, measured and released back to the water.

Philpott Dam, constructed in the 1950s, changed many characteristics of the river. The large trophy brown trout that once thrived in the cool tail waters below the dam are fewer today, and biologists like Scott Smith are working to best manage this river both for its native species and as a recreational trout fishing destination.

This sampling effort is part of a multi-year study monitoring the numbers, sizes, and growth rates of fish in the river as they relate to environmental conditions and operation of the dam.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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 by email at 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 or

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, or telephone (804) 221-6990.

Nature Conservancy to Host Deer Hunt for Disabled Hunters in Spotsylvania

The Nature Conservancy will host a one day shotgun-only deer hunt for five disabled hunters on December 20, 2008. One deer of either sex may be taken. Applications will be taken until December 5, 2008. Hunters younger than 18-years-old must have parental consent and be accompanied by an adult on the day of the hunt. All applicants will be entered into a lottery drawing and the first five hunters drawn will be selected for the hunt. This hunt is being offered free-of-charge. Hunters can bring a non-hunting guest to assist if needed. Members from a local hunt club will be there to assist hunters getting in and out of the site with ATVs and a side-by-side. Some ground stands may be available, but in general this will be a fairly primitive type hunt with few accommodations. All guests will be responsible for obtaining all required licenses prior to the day of the hunt. Members from the hunt club will retrieve and field dress all deer for the hunters. Participants are encouraged to bring a cooler or other container in order to take their harvest home with them. To apply contact Mark Romagosa at

Virginia Wheelin Sportsmen is also sponsoring deer hunts through December 29. 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

Forty-Eight Schools Recognized For Contributions To Virginia's Environment

VDGIF Virginia Naturally School Recognition program will be acknowledging 48 schools from across the Commonwealth for their environmental efforts during the 2007-2008 school year. The schools have made a long-term commitment to increase the environmental literacy of their students.

Each year schools have the opportunity to add to their accomplishments while continuing with past efforts. Thirteen schools will be recognized for the first time this year. Schools must meet minimum requirements to receive certification as a Virginia Naturally School. First year requirements include: The integration of the environmental – related state standards into the overall school curriculum goals; staff development in environmental or resource conservation; and participation in school or community action projects.

Schools that continue their environmental stewardship efforts, receive a different state symbol pennant each year of participation. The complete list of criteria and schools recognized this year may be found at the Department's website or linked through the Virginia Naturally website.

Virginia Naturally is the Commonwealth's official environmental education network to link citizens and students to programs and resources. For more information about the School Recognition portion of Virginia Naturally, contact Suzie Gilley, VDGIF Wildlife Education Coordinator, by email:

VDGIF to Continue Surveillance for Avian Influenza

VDGIF biologists are continuing surveillance for the highly pathogenic Asian strain of Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N1) this fall and winter. This surveillance is part of a national monitoring strategy developed by the US Department's of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior. VDGIF will be working cooperatively with the Virginia office of the USDA Wildlife Services to collect samples from a variety of waterfowl species across the state. Avian influenza or "bird flu," is caused by a variety of viruses commonly found in various bird populations, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. To date, the highly pathogenic strain of Asian H5N1 has not been found in North America, and hunters should not be overly concerned about H5N1 at this time. For common sense precautions, visit the Department's website.

VDGIF Migratory Game Bird Program Manager, Gary Costanzo, requests cooperation from waterfowl hunters in obtaining samples from birds they harvest during the hunting season. Department staff will be out in the field sampling birds at Wildlife Management Areas and popular hunting areas and boat ramps. If you see our staff, please assist us in our efforts and allow your birds to be sampled. The sample procedure consists of a simple oral and cloacal swab and only takes a few seconds to obtain. You can also assist by reporting any unusual sickness or deaths (die-offs of 5 or more birds) in waterfowl or shorebirds that you might observe. If you see such a die-off, do not pick up the birds. Document the location of the birds and immediately contact the VDGIF at (804) 367-1258 or one of our Regional Offices. If you see only 1 or 2 dead birds, it's probably not cause for alarm, and you do not need to call the Department. However, if you see additional dead birds in the same area in the following days, it could be an indication of a problem, and you should let us know.

More information about the Department's surveillance plans and avian influenza can be found at the following Web sites:

Recognition Program Initiated for Volunteers Destroying Invasive Species

This is the inaugural call from the Master Naturalists Program for nominations for recognition for work on destroying invasive species (plants, animals, insects, pathogens, etc.) by individuals and/or teams. Efforts may include on-the-ground control, educational/outreach or other exemplary efforts to address Virginia's invasive species problem. Be recognized for the impacts you have achieved in the effort to fight Virginia's invasive species epidemic! Nominations are due November 30 and will be accepted within individual and team/chapter categories. Judging will be completed by the Armed and Dangerous Team which includes representatives from VDGIF, VDOF, VCE, the Virginia Native Plant Society, and the Virginia Master Naturalist program. For guidelines and a nomination form, visit, email, or call (434) 872-4580.

Trappers Host Workshop For Girl Scouts

VDGIF Wildlife Division and Law Enforcement staff assisted with a Wildlife Biology and Trapping Camp for the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Council. The weekend camping event was held at the Icimani Adventure Center near Roanoke and was sponsored by the Virginia Trappers Association (VTA). Participants learned about the management of furbearing mammals and the importance of trapping as a tool for maintaining healthy wildlife populations. Hands-on activities included the identification of wildlife tracks, trapping methods, and skinning pelts. Girls scouts were provided the opportunity to set their own traps and check them the following day. All participants received Trapper Education certification. VDGIF Furbearer Project Leader Mike Fies noted, "Although the weather was rainy and affected trap success, it didn't dampen the girl's spirits or enthusiasm. Plans are already underway for a similar event in 2009." For more information on services and program opportunities from VTA visit their website.

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...

  1. Boost the Economy
  2. Contribute to Conservation
  3. Wildlife Population Management
  4. Healthy Minds, Spirits and Bodies
  5. Sharing the Bounty

Hunters get huge rewards from time spent in the outdoors – Spending a day afield, whether still hunting alone or following a pack of hounds in pursuit of their quarry, releases hunters from their day-to-day stress. Being outdoors and active builds strength and improves your overall health. Nothing clears the mind and brings on a better sense of feeling alive and part of the environment than a day in the woods. Hunting builds self-esteem as you gain outdoor skills and the satisfaction of being able to participate in the age-old need to pursue and to provide food.

A Tradition of Stewardship – Hunting is a tradition that is often passed on from one generation to the next creating a special bond between family members and friends. Many hunters enjoy mentoring others in the pleasure of and importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. For most hunters it's not the killing of game that's key to hunting, but the experiences and life lessons they gain. People who hunt have a special connection with the outdoors and an awareness of the relationships between wildlife, habitat, and humans. With that awareness comes an understanding of the role humans play in being caretakers of the environment.

Great Gift Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts!

2008 Collector's Knife

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!

2009 Virginia Wildlife Calendar Gives All Year Long - Only $10 Each!

It's time to purchase the 2009 Virginia Wildlife Calendar! For more than 20 years the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been publishing one of the most visually stunning and informative wildlife calendars in the country.

The 2009 edition highlights many of the most sought after game and fish species in the state. Virginia hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the rich colors and composition of the 12 monthly photo spreads. Each page is full of useful tidbits for the outdoors lover — including wildlife behavior, preferred fishing and hunting times, hunting seasons, state fish records, and much more! Life history information is provided for each species featured.

Virginia Wildlife Calendars make great holiday gifts and are still being offered at the bargain price of only $10 each. Quantities are limited, so order yours now! Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Bow Building and Decoy Carving Workshops

Are you interested in making your own primitive bow or learning the art of traditional duck decoy carving? Nate Mahanes, Program Director for the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox advises that a gift of a registration for one of the workshops is perfect for that special person who enjoys the outdoors is offering workshops in these crafts in February and March 2009. For details visit their website, or contact by email:, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749

The best gift outdoorsmen can give, or receive are those of safety and courtesy - give often and generously!

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.

A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think

Have you had a successful deer hunting season so far? You read over the new regs, sighted in your gun, double checked your equipment, scouted your hunting area, and reminded everyone you hunt with about basic safety precautions. So far, so good. When you went afield you were patient and didn't fall asleep (too long zzzzzz) at your stand. Then, rewarded by all your preparation, you made a great shot and harvested a deer. Well, you're still not completely successful yet! Proper preparation of that venison is now just as important for complete success as the effort leading up to that great shot. Whether you plan to butcher the deer yourself, take it to a meat processor, or share it with someone, here are some basic tips gleaned from a lot of experience and advice from "old timers" to complete your hunt.

  1. Field dress and cool down ASAP. If cold - below 40 degrees - after field dressing, a deer can hang for several days to chill the meat. If temperatures are getting above 40 degrees, you need to skin and cut up into manageable pieces: shoulders, hind quarters, loins, "scraps" for burger, jerky, or stew and place in open plastic bags and ice down these bagged pieces, or place in a refrigerator. Refrigerating a deer can be as simple as four or five bags of ice and an insulating blanket or tarp and cardboard box. The meat also handles much easier when chilled.
  2. Cleanliness is important for maintaining both the taste and quality. Use paper towels to blot up stray hair or leaves and grime from the field. Cut away and discard any bloody tissue. Trim off visible fat and any sinew, the shiny "silvery" lining on the outside. A fillet knife works well for this process. Wash debris off meat pieces and pat dry excess water before cooling.
  3. Plan what type of cuts you are going to process: steaks, roasts, burger, sausage, jerky, etc. If inexperienced at all this, ask for suggestions and advice from fellow experienced hunters - you don't want to mess up now. We also recommend purchasing the VDGIF video, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" which gives step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. The video also features professional butcher and Hunter Education instructor Rob Bingel who demonstrates how to cape out a deer for mounting and details how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. You can order by telephone or online.
  4. Before freezing your cuts, be sure all air is sealed out. Freezer burn and reduced shelf life will result if you don't. A vacuum sealer works best, but good-quality freezer paper also does an excellent job of preserving meat. Plastic freezer bags are also convenient and easy as long as you squeeze all the air out. Properly processed, venison should last at least a year in the freezer.
  5. Now you've had a successful hunt. If you are fortunate to harvest more deer than you can use and really want to do a little extra, donate your deer to a local processor who handles deer for Hunters for the Hungry. A list of processors can be found on the Hunters for the Hungry website. Also consider paying the $35 processing fee to help offset processing expenses. Another option is to ask the processor to set aside several packages of any deer they process for you for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Every donation helps whether it's cash or venison and helps show that sportsmen do positive things in their communities. Now we all can be proud of a successful hunt!

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

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 Department's website.

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, "To date, CWD has not been found in Virginia and 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.

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.

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. Be sure to check out the new Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted to its Web site. The 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.

What are you waiting for? Call toll-free 1-866-721-6911 for more information.

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 If we use your story, you'll receive a complementary 2009 Virginia Wildlife calendar!

Two proud hunters: Woody Wilson (left) and Dale Denning (right) display two fine hens taken in Halifax County during Fall Turkey season. At about 7:30 a.m. on November 4th, Denning and Wilson called a gang down from a pine stand using a Lynch Box call and mouth diaphragm calls. Denning alerted Wilson that the turkeys were headed his way, Wilson waited concealed in a thicket about 10 minutes and took a nice 8 lb hen, breaking up the flock and sending several back towards Denning, Wilson signaled Denning and a few minutes later Denning too harvested a nice 7 lb bird. Not a bad mornings work!

Tree Stand Safety is No Accident

Tree stand accidents account for more injuries than most other hunting activities. Review these two new links for tips on how to stay safe and use tree stands effectively.

REMEMBER: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!

For Season Updates and New Regulations For Hunting Migratory Birds Click On:

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!

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.

"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.

Bringing Nature Home

Book review by Virginia Glen-Calvert, Certified Virginia Master Naturalist, Riverine Chapter

A balancing act of interconnected biodiversity is a process taking place in our back yards — or not, depending on our landscaping choices — and insects support a tremendous part of that food web. We get the energy we need from two sources: 1) plants, the only living things we'll ever see that can transform the sun into energy, and 2) animals, who themselves survive directly or indirectly on plants. We can eat almost anything that doesn't eat us first, but it's not as easy for the lowly insect, who unduly receives the least attention while working the hardest to keep the food web functioning. Nothing packs protein like insects, but insects require native plants.

This crucial intersection of insects with native fauna and flora is very aptly demonstrated in the 2007 book, Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas W. Tallamy. Tallamy warns us it won't be that easy for wildlife (or us) to continue on, as time goes by, if we don't pay more attention to the processes linking insects and other wildlife — at the very least, the process of life taking place right in our own back yards. Because, as Tallamy explains, the land surrounding our homes is among the few places left where the option to save America's wildlife still exists. Not since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring has one book captured such a frightening scenario. Get it and use it.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Make a Special Bird Treat

The following recipe is a great food mixture for birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts, the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the yard where they can be seen from your windows. This mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun, inexpensive and something the whole family can join in.

First, in large bowl, stir together:

  • 1 part flour
  • 3 parts yellow corn meal
  • 1 part bird seed
  • a handful of raisins
  • a handful of shelled peanuts

Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. (Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)

This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds and even bluebirds. Keep a record of the different species of birds you observe, it's fun and educational for "children" of all ages. The birds will appreciate it too!

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 website.

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

Maidens Landing Ramp Closed for Repairs

The boat ramp at Maidens Landing in Powhatan County on the James River has been temporarily closed for repairs. For information on alternative ramps in the area visit the public boating access page.

Fish Kill Task Force Evaluates Results of Latest Studies

The Shenandoah River Fish Kill Task Force met November 17, 2008, to review the latest research on the causes of unexplained fish kills in several Virginia river systems since 2003. The meeting included presentations and discussions of findings during 2008. Though researchers have not identified a cause, they are evaluating several significant findings. The work plan for 2009 will be developed with input from the task force's science subcommittee and should be finalized by early January. The general focus of work for 2009 will be on disease-causing organisms, fish health and water quality. As researchers continue to gather valuable information, task force members are considering several theories. This includes the possibility of multiple stressors on fish populations that make the cause of the kills more complex than a single contaminant, virus or bacteria. Fish kills mainly have affected smallmouth bass and redbreast sunfish, though the incidence of fish deaths was relatively low in 2008. DEQ and DGIF continue to coordinate the investigation and efforts to obtain additional funding for future work.

Sara White's Notebook

Is it just me, or have you noticed it too? Christmas seems to be happening earlier and earlier every year. In any case, if you have an angler, big or small, on your list there are many great gifts out there. The first gift any angler should get is a good life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). Now a PFD is not likely to send shivers down the spine, but it can make sure that the angler is around to celebrate next Christmas. For children especially, it is vital that everyone on the water have a PFD, no mater how well they can swim. Take time and get the best you can afford — they are called life vests for a reason! Don't forget to sign up for a free Boating Safety Course.

Once the angler has a PFD, there are many other gifts for him. For little anglers, most online and most big sporting goods stores have beginning fishing sets. These range from those with characters like Spiderman or Barbie, to serious little rods and reels. Surfing the web or contacting many of the great companies that assist with the popular Fishing Report are good places to hook and land some gifts for the angler on your list.

Jim Shepherd, with The Outdoor Wire and The Fishing Wire, offers some great advice this holiday season.

Gifts That Can Save Lives - Affordable and Priceless

We're always looking for unique gifts. With anglers, that can be anything from antique lures and tackle to the latest computer-aided, battery-equipped, depth-finding, temperature-recording, fish-finding gizmo to help us go from "fishing" to "catching." One area where we seem to ignore something that could literally save our lives concerns a common piece of safety equipment that seems to have absolutely no glamour about it - at least not compared with the computer-based location and emergency reporting gear - our personal flotation devices. The PFD is a mandated piece of gear for every boat - and every passenger aboard every boat - but we seem to believe the $14.99 special PFD that's cleverly disguised as a sun-faded, waterlogged seat cushion will suffice.

Unfortunately, it seems some people would rather be dead wrong - emphasis on the dead - rather than inconvenienced by the PFD. A few years ago, that trend started to change when the idea of comfortable, inflatable and capable devices could actually be worn without completely immobilizing the wearer. Today, professional anglers, racers and other professionals wouldn't be without their inflatable PFDs.

But there hasn't been much advancement in the technology for those who don't always fish from boats - or those who might see someone in trouble who aren't equipped with personal flotation devices. Those can be anyone from fly fishermen to adults who simply fall into the water from the shore and find themselves in trouble.

Mustang Survival has addressed those scenarios with a pair of their inflatable flotation devices. The first is called the Rescue Stick.

The Rescue Stick weighs less than a pound, is just over a foot long, and comes in a waterproof bag. It's activated by pulling it from its waterproof bag and tossing it near the person in trouble. It activates when it hits the water, inflating into a large horseshoe shape with a 35-pound buoyancy considerably more than necessary to keep someone afloat with their head out of the water until they can be rescued.

The average person is capable of tossing the baton-shaped stick 100-150 feet. That's about triple the distance anyone can throw a life ring or rope bag. It's small enough to fit into a backpack, boat, vehicle, or by a pool. And it's reusable. Simply repack the flotation portion, screw on a new handle that contains a fresh CO2 cylinder and it's ready to go again. It's one of those affordable (MSRP: $39.99) devices that can truly be a lifesaver.

The second flotation device combines the classic fishing vest with floatation. When fly fishing, I fall. So far, I've never injured anything but my pride, but I'm the type who has a fear of drowning that can only be understood by someone who's come close to drowning in the past. I can still remember being pulled from the water, dazed, choking and out of breath - it's not a sensation I'd like to repeat. I can promise you I will not fly fish again without wearing Mustang's F3 Inflatable Fishing Vest. It's comfortable, has all the hook and fly patches, inside/outside pockets, leader eyelets and catches and spaces for my tiny tackle offered by my former vest. But it also has the same 35-pound buoyancy as all Mustang Survival's Inflatable PFDs.

Combined with my waders and boots, I feel I have an increased level of safety that more than compensates for the cost. The 3-Fs referenced in the name are: Form, Functionality and Flotation. Personally, I'm at the point where I like all three working together for my own good.

There are lots of great safety devices out there for all of us who love the water, but these can help keep us safe without interfering with our recreation. Not a bad combination.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir Park: Walter Elliott reports that the good news over the past week is the water level has risen to 57" below full pool. The bad news is, it has been to windy for most anglers to take advantage of the higher water. There were no notable catches over the past week. With the cooler water temperatures fish are suspending off points, in 10 to 20 feet of water. Largemouth bass are biting on crank baits, pig and jigs and plastic worms. Chain pickerel and yellow perch anglers are catching fish close to the structure are grass beds are biting on minnows. The reservoir is stained with a reported surface water temperature Saturday of 49 degrees. On December the 1st thru the end of February the park will be open weekends only from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The parks first peninsula, play ground and nature trail will be open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Chickahominy River: Alton Williams of River's Rest reports that things are "dead, utterly dead" due to cold weather. The water is clear and cold. River's Rest features special combo sales for Christmas.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewy Mullins of West Neck Marina says that not much is happening due to cold weather and low water. There is, however, some striper and crappie action. Stripers are going for the artificial lures, like big grubs and white minnows. Crappie seem to like minnows and jigs. Some cats have been landed with fresh cut bait. For the Christmas shopper Dewey has all kinds of tackle and specials on combos.

Norfolk Lakes River: Drew Dixon of Dashell's Show Room tells us that there is some crappie action with minnows and jigs. Lots of white perch can be had with small shad, which are plentiful and easy to catch. Some cats have been brought in with cut bait, and the cat action should warm up as the weather gets colder. Dashell's has lots of tackle and children's combos for the Holiday shopper.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Lynchburg: Doug Lane of Angler's Lane tells us that trout fishing on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge is good. The best bet is to try flies that imitate the caddis; such as CK nymphs, sizes 10, 12 and 14 and the Hare's Ear in the same sizes. The water there is clear and cooling. Angler's Lane has a lot for the holiday shopper, including gift certificates, fly selections and combos by Orvis, Ross and Temple Fork at beginner's prices.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store says that there is lots of striper action on Little Flukes, bucktails and live shad. No word on other types of bass or catfish. Crappie can still be found on and around deep brush using minnows or jigs. The water is clear and in the 50s. Bobby says gift cards are always a good idea.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina reports that striper action is "real, real good" with the stripers going for live shad. Please note that the only place to get a boat on the lake is the public access boat ramp in Hidden Valley. This is due to lake waters being very low. The water is clear and in the 50s. Mike has lots of tackle for the holiday shopper and recommends gift cards so that your angler can choose for him or herself. He also has what the young folk call "hoodies" (that's sweatshirts to us old folk), and combos for anything from panfish to stripers. He also says he has new stock coming in all the time.

New River: John Zienius of Big Z's told me that the fishing season is winding down up there. The river is low and that combined with "bitterly cold" nights, makes for poor fishing. For Christmas, John recommends the gift certificate as a "fail safe" gift that anglers truly appreciate "more than most". The waters are clear and cooling.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River: Fly guy Harry Murray reports that the water level on most streams is good and trout fishing on most of the large stocked streams throughout the state is worth the effort. Especially good fishing can be had at Big Stoney Creek, West of Edinburg and the Smith River at Basset, also the Hidden Valley of the Jackson River. Best bets for flies in these waters are the Casual Dress, size 10 and 12; Betsy Streamer, size 10 and 12; and the Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 10. For the best action, fish these streams between the deep pools and below riffles. The water in these areas is clear and near 45 degrees.

In the delayed harvest streams, the best action to be had is where there has been no hatch. If you see fish rising in such areas, try a Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size 18 or a Griffin Gnat, size 18. Two such streams are Back Creek and Passage Creek. The water in these areas is clear and around 45 degrees.

The smallmouth bass river areas are "getting colder by the day", but some action can still be had with nymphs and steamers, especially: Murray's Hellgrammite, size 4 and Shenk's White Streamer, size 4. The water in these areas is clear and around 45 degrees. For further updates check Harry's website at

The site is also a good place to look for holiday gifts. Harry reminded me that he holds schools on tying, casting and fly fishing most Saturdays all winter long; check the website for dates. These classes make excellent gifts for the budding fly fisherman on your list.

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead fish. 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!

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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Don't ride ATV on public roads - violator faces multiple charges... On Saturday, November 15, Senior Conservation Police Officer V. R. Hurst and Conservation Police Officer W. J. Harris encountered an ATV being operated on a public roadway in Carroll County. They noticed that the operator of the ATV was dressed in camouflage clothing and had a rifle slung over his shoulder. A vehicle stop was initiated and investigation ensued. The subject was determined to be from Maryland. Senior Officer Hurst determined from his investigation that the subject was in possession of marijuana (3rd offense), possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, exceeded the daily bag limit of deer (the subject had taken two deer earlier in the day), hunting without a license, and hunting deer without a big game license. Senior Officer Hurst arrested the suspect, processed him, and relinquished him to the New River Valley Jail.

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. 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
  • Make A Holiday Tree for Winter Birds
Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Brown Creeper
(Certhia americana)
by Spike Knuth

The brown creeper or tree creeper as it is often called, is common but not too numerous, or at least inconspicuous. That is if you're looking for them, you'll see them regularly, but usually just one by itself in winter.

It's a small, slim, stiff-tailed little bird with a slender, slightly curved bill. It is basically brown, streaked with buff or gray above, fading to grayish-brown on its lower back and russet brown on its rump. Its tail is dark brown. Its undersides are whitish and it has a dull white stripe over its eye. When you see one, it will be "creeping" up a tree trunk, spiraling around it as it goes—then will fly off and drop down to the base of another tree to repeat the process.

Brown creepers breed mainly in Canada and the northern United States, but some probably nest in the highlands of Virginia and even North Carolina. They favor mature trees and forests, wooded swamps, trees that are dead or dying, but also certain live trees. Often, their nest is built in the crevice or cavity of deformed or injured hemlocks.

They feed on tiny insects, insect eggs and pupae, using their curved bills to probe under bark and in crevices. Their call is a faint lisping and their song is a long, thin, high-pitched, rolling trill—like a hissing sound. In winter it frequently flocks up with chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and kinglets.

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

·    ·    ·

This section of each issue of the Outdoor Report features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

Think you can't make a difference? You can! Be wild and work with your local officials and in your local communities to conserve Virginia's wildlife resources. Find out how you can help and join our team!

The artwork used to enhance this publication is produced by award-winning Virginia artist Carl "Spike" Knuth. He is currently retired from VDGIF and continues to be active in numerous activities contributing to wildlife conservation, information and education through his artwork and writing. We appreciate his continued service and support through his exceptional talent for both illustrations and writing. Spike's artwork can be seen at the Jager Gallery, 6939 Lakeside Avenue, in Richmond.

  • The December edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine contains the following features:

  • The Never-Ending Season
    Step back in time to the decoy carving style of yesteryear.
    By Curtis Badger
  • Accessing the Hunt
    Making the hunting experience accessible to all.
    By Ken Perrotte
  • Primum Non Nocere
    All Virginians will benefit by adhering to this principle.
    By Bruce Lemmert
  • A Better Place Because of Blake
    A tribute to young Blake Wayland.
    By Tee Clarkson
  • Community Partnerships
    Partnering outside the schoolyard builds strong student leaders.
    By Gail Brown
  • Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild!
    Virginia's Diving Ducks.
    By Spike Knuth
  • If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine, visit the Department's website, call 1-800-710-9369, or mail a check payable to "Treasurer of Virginia" and send it to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104.
  • A one-year subscription or 12 issues is only $12.95.
  • Let Virginia Wildlife magazine be your guide to the best in hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife information.
November 2008
26 State offices close at noon
27 Thanksgiving Day
(state offices closed)
28 State offices closed
December 2008
6 Women's Pheasant Hunting Workshop, Shady Grove Sporting Clays, Remington contact (540) 439-2683 or click here
6 Educational Rabbit Hunting Workshop Kennedy's Orchard for more information and registration contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or email.
24 State offices close at noon
25 Christmas (state offices closed)
26 State offices closed
January 2009
3 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Workshop, Essex
16-18 Richmond Fishing Expo- Richmond International Raceway. Click here for information
We have opportunities for the public to join us as volunteers in our Complementary Work Force Program. If you are interested in devoting your time and talents, apply here.

Opportunities will be posted regularly providing descriptions of available volunteer positions.

The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Visit Find Game, the Department's award-winning online public hunting lands locator!

For persons with disabilities: a calendar of hunting, fishing, and skill-building events, as well as areas designed for access to persons with disabilities can be found on the Department's online events calendar, accessible fishing areas page, as well as the VANWTF site.

Find out where to fish, fishing access, and much more at the Department's Web site.

November 2008
27 New (Thanksgiving)
December 2008
5 First Quarter
12 Full Moon
19 Last Quarter
27 New Moon

The following is a partial list of upcoming seasons starting in October for the more popular species. For a complete list and regulations consult the 2008-09 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information.

Coyote, groundhog, & skunk: Continuous open season on private land only.
  • Late Deer: Dec. 1-Jan. 3
  • Bear: See regulations.
  • Deer: Opens Nov. 15. See regulations for closing dates that vary by county.
  • Duck: Nov. 15-29, Dec. 6-Jan. 24
  • Mergansers, Coot, Gallinules, & Moorhen: Nov. 15-29, Dec. 6-Jan. 24
  • Sea Ducks: Oct. 9-Jan. 31
  • Snipe: Oct. 22-Jan. 31
  • Opossum: Oct. 15-Mar. 10
  • Raccoon: Oct. 15-Mar. 10
  • Tundra Swan: Dec. 1-Jan. 31
  • Dove: Dec. 27-Jan. 10
  • Grouse: Oct. 25-Feb. 14 West of Interstate 95 only.
  • Turkey: Oct. 25-Nov. 7 in most counties, check regulations for details
  • Snow Goose: Oct. 31-Nov. 29
  • Bobcat: Nov. 1-Feb. 28
  • Fox: Nov. 1-Feb. 28
  • Rabbit: Nov. 1-Feb. 28
  • Quail & Pheasant: Nov. 1-Jan. 31
  • Woodcock: Dec. 20-Jan. 3
  • Brant: Nov. 15-29
  • Canada Goose: Nov. 15-29
  • Late Deer: Dec. 13-Jan. 3

All hunters (whether licensed or exempt from being licensed) who plan to hunt doves, waterfowl, rails, woodcock, snipe, coots, gallinules or moorhens in Virginia must be registered with the Virginia Harvest Information Program (HIP). HIP is required each year and a new registration number is needed for the 2008-2009 hunting season. To register for HIP, visit or call 1-888-788-9772.

Please contribute to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email

FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, contact the local conservation police officer immediately through the local sheriff's office or police department.

Don't allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen!


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


Editor: David Coffman

Contributing Editors: Julia Dixon, Ron Messina, Lee Walker

Staff Photographers: David Coffman, Ron Messina, Tim Tassitano, Lee Walker

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

Executive Director: Bob Duncan

The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via e-mail to more than 16,000 subscribers the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

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


The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall afford to all persons an equal access to Department Programs and facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sex or age. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility, please write to: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 4010 West Broad Street, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230
(804) 367-1000 -