This December edition is really special as it is the last edition of 2008 and completes the two year anniversary of the electronic
Outdoor Report. We have grown to 16,000 subscribers and we appreciate your continued interest. I am a bit sentimental and humbled about all the hard work and support from colleagues, partners, contributing reporters and readers that have made this newsletter successful. I hope you have been informed, educated and even inspired on occasion to do something new and different to enhance your outdoor experiences, or better yet, share with others. This edition is somewhat longer than usual due to adding some articles that would have been in the next edition. Due to the holidays, our next edition will be posted January 14, 2009.
This "Holiday" edition is full of ideas for gift giving whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, birding, camping or other outdoor adventures. My personal recommendation is to give someone special to you the gift of time together - an adventure out in the wild. You will create wonderful memories, especially for a youngster, or an adult that has not had the opportunity to discover the great heritage and traditions experienced by exploring our wild places.
Follow up with a personal commitment to be informed and get involved in working for solutions to the issues that threaten our wildlife and wildlife habitat. Sharing activities with novice outdoorsmen is the best gift you can give back to the outdoors you respect and cherish. You don't have to do this alone, find a group that you can support that shares your views and join. Each edition of the
Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities and making our wild Virginia a great place to live and experience the
bounty of our fields, streams and forests.
Sign up your friends and colleagues for a
free subscription to the
Outdoor Report! We hope this newsletter has informed and inspired you to get involved and get outdoors. From all of us that work to bring you the
Outdoor Report, we wish you and yours joy and peace this holiday season and throughout the New Year!
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Fishing Expo Returns to Richmond January 16-18
The Richmond Fishing Expo is coming to the Richmond Raceway Complex January 16-18, 2009. The family oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand in the Commonwealth Building to answer questions on agency programs, special training events and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The
Outdoor Report will also have an exhibit in the Exhibition Hall featuring
Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show
January - February Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone
The eight regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for January - February feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's Web site for all the details.
- January 16 -18, Richmond Fishing Expo, Richmond Raceway Complex
- January 23 - 25, Virginia Boat Show, Richmond Convention Center
- January 23 -25, Nation's Outdoor Sportsmen's Show, Dulles Expo Center
- February 20-22, The Greater Virginia Sports & Big Game Show, Rockingham County
- February 20-22, Richmond Boat Show, Richmond Raceway Complex
- February 20 - 22, The Fredericksburg Outdoor Show, Fredericksburg Expo Center
- February 27 - March 1, Western Virginia Sports Show, Augusta Expoland Fishersville
- February 27 - March 15, Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, Ashland
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
until March 7. Sessions begin at 10:00 a.m. in the activities building. No registration or experience is required. The classes offer casting instructions, fly tying, 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
website, 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 31, 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
Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Wilderness Survival, Bow Building and Decoy Carving Workshops
Ever wondered what you'd do if you were lost in the wilderness or stranded after an accident? Would you know how to survive? Join us for a fun weekend and learn how to SURVIVE and THRIVE in the wilderness! Come spend a weekend learning Wilderness Survival Skills from experts in the fields of wilderness survival, search/rescue, primitive skills and tracking! Courses during the March 13-15 workshop include the Basics of Survival, primitive shelter building, water, wild edibles, wilderness travel, fire craft and MORE! See flyer for more details and registration form (PDF). This course will be conducted at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox. Registration fee of $165 covers programming, survival kit components, meals and lodging.
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 advises that a gift of a registration for one of the workshops is perfect for that special person who enjoys the outdoors. Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly. For details visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website, or contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (434)-248-5444 Fax: (434)-248-6749
Click to view upcoming events at the 4-H Center:
Hunting Opportunities for Disabled Veterans and Sportsmen
Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen is sponsoring deer hunts through January 3, 2009 . 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
website to find numerous links to opportunities and information.
People and Partners in the News
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, preview the variety of articles and photographs featured in the January 2009 edition in the SIDEBAR section of this edition of the Outdoor Report.
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.
"BE WILD, VIRGINIA!" Feature Moved to Magazine
Starting with the January 14, 2009 edition the "BE WILD, VIRGINIA!" article that features a
Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) species in peril by award winning artist and author Spike Knuth will be replaced by the Virginia Wildlife magazine preview. The WAP feature is currently included in the "Be Wild" section of each edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine. Our editorial team in consultation with our readers recommended this change to keep the features in the
Outdoor Report short with links to more detailed articles in other publications and web sites. Spike's wonderful art work and species information can be found in the magazine each month with greater detail than we can provide in the Outdoor Report. The artwork and species will be listed in the preview section. A special thanks to Spike for his exceptional contributions in getting the electronic Outdoor Report off the ground and growing the past two years. If you are not already a subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine, we encourage you to
subscribe to enjoy Spike's features and all the other interesting articles in our awarding winning feature magazine.
Hunting Benefits All Virginians
With the fall hunting seasons opened in many areas of the state, 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
Stacey Brown Comes Aboard as Boating Safety Coordinator
In November, Stacey Brown joined VDGIF in the Boating Safety Education section. She joins with Tom Guess as one of two statewide Boating Safety Education Coordinators. Before coming to VDGIF, Stacey was the Coordinator of the Virginia Save Our Streams program of the Virginia Division of the Izaak Walton League of America. Both Tom and Stacey will be contributing editors for boating related information and safety features for the Outdoor Report.
Youth Deer Hunting Workshop in Bedford a Huge Success
VDGIF, in cooperation with the Virginia Hunter Education Association Inc., conducted a Youth Deer Hunting Workshop on Saturday, November 22, 2008. This workshop was conducted on property belonging to the Bedford County Economic Development Authority and was hosted by the New London Emergency Services Volunteer Fire Station. This workshop created an incredible opportunity for some area youth to experience hunting in a safe, controlled and learning environment. Ten youngsters, ages 12 to 15, participated in the all day event, beginning with an instructional session on deer biology, deer hunting techniques, and firearms safety and ended with a demonstration in proper field dressing techniques. This was followed with each youth patterning their shotgun before sharing in a hearty lunch of venison stew and hot dogs.
The hunt began at approximately 1:00 P.M. with each youth being accompanied by a parent/guardian and supervised by a certified Virginia Hunter Education Instructor. Each hunting location had been predetermined, with ground blinds set up to accommodate all participates. Each blind was marked off with predetermined shooting lanes and properly displayed the required blaze orange. The hunt continued until the close of legal hours with one deer harvested, many deer seen and smiles all around. Conservation Police Officer Lieutenant A.B.
Fisher expressed appreciation for all the VDGIF employees, the members of
the Virginia Hunter Education Association and all other volunteers who were
instrumental in successfully providing this youth deer hunting workshop. The
numerous donations received made it possible to provide lunch, snacks, and
hunting related door prizes for all the youth participants at no charge.
Best of all, the participants all exclaimed that they can't wait for the
Disabled Veterans Have Memorable Hunt at Butterswood
The first annual Butterswood Hunt turned out well for the disabled veterans and Wheelin'
Sportsmen participants. The wind was blowing strong and the weather was very
cool but the spirits of the handicapped hunters were warm and high on November 21-22. On Friday afternoon the hunters were able to shoot their rifles and hand guns as guests at Arrowhead Gun Club followed by a steak dinner with all the fixins'. VDGIF Board Member Ward Burton and Executive Director Bob Duncan, joined the group for dinner and an overview of programs to benefit all sportsmen
and to distribute goody bags with donated items from partners to aid the hunters.
On Saturday the morning started off with a hot breakfast. After the hunter's prayer, the hunters were placed at their stands and the hunt began. It was 12 degrees and one doe was harvested by Max Crosson who was in one of the three elevated stands provided by VDGIF. Lunch was provided in a 30 X 60 tent provided by Top Side Tents of Colonial Heights with heat that was most appreciated. During the afternoon the hunters and guides coordinated six packs of beagles and hounds to move deer on the 4000 acres of the Butterswood property. Nine deer were harvested during the drive, but all the hunters agreed that the sounds of the hounds were enough to make for a great day in the woods.
Hugh Crittenden, founder and manager of the Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen Show, organized the hunt and expressed thanks to all the volunteers and hunters that had made this a memorable occasion. Hugh has been instrumental the past two years in promoting hunting opportunities for disabled veterans and sportsmen through seminars at the August Show in partnership with VDGIF, Wheelin' Sportsmen, Paralyzed Veterans Association
- Virginia State Chapter and Virginia Deer Hunters Association with assistance and guidance from Buddy Fines. Buddy works year round to organize and coordinate hunts for disabled sportsmen, youth and novice hunters. All these volunteers are to be commended for their efforts to give back to their sport and carry on our proud and precious hunting traditions and get more participants involved.
Streaming Videos Worth a Second Look!
VDGIF's new streaming videos are a great way to be educated and informed about Virginia's wonderful wildlife, and to become acquainted with the Department's hardworking staff and their programs. Videos currently featured include information on endangered and exotic species--Snakeheads in Virginia; and Virginia's Rafinesque's Big eared Bat, as well as many other informational and educational, and yes, even entertaining topics. Want to know what to do if you come face to face with a black bear? See Living with Black Bears in Virginia. Here are some other "must see" videos to check out over the holiday break:
Hunting & Trapping Regulation Review and Amendment Process
In 2008 and 2009 the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries is conducting its Hunting and Trapping Periodic Regulation Review and Amendment Process, in which it addresses and considers possible amendments to all state regulations governing game wildlife, hunting, and trapping administered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. VDGIF solicits your input in the Regulatory Issues Public Discussion Period (November 4, 2008 - January 5, 2009).
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.
Buck of a Lifetime
Noted American humorist Will Rogers is quoted as saying, "It ain't braggin' if you done it!" After 30 plus years of deer hunting, I finally "done it"... harvested my first "Monster Buck"! Eleven points, 22 inch spread and a hefty 180 pounds- I can truly say I have now experienced buck fever. I had noted in my opinion article in the October 22 edition of the
Outdoor Report entitled "Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Thankful", that "November was my favorite month..." partly due to the start of the muzzleloading season November 1.
It's ironic that on that very day at 6:02 p.m. as I was getting ready to come down out of my tree stand, the monster buck came running to my grunt call and having done everything right for a change, I now have that trophy buck to go on my family room wall along side my Dad's "one big buck" that he was so proud of. Season after season he had advised me to be patient and persistent and one day with some luck I would get mine too!
This article is for all you deer hunters, just like me, that love to hunt, cherish the memories afield with family and friends and not worry about harvesting a deer - trophy or not. As my Dad and other mentors over the years have instilled in me and I have passed on to my sons and young hunters I now mentor, it's the opportunity to just go and enjoy and be thankful for all the blessings that go with "the hunt." I am proud of this buck of a lifetime, but as I reflect on the day, I am most proud of the circumstances, the good decisions made during the hunt and patience and persistence sticking all day with my new deer stand I had scouted back in spring gobbler season. This was the first deer harvested from this new stand-maybe a little of beginners luck factored in too. The best part of all this celebration is the camaraderie of my fellow hunt club members.
They were as excited as I was. They pitched in and helped me drag this monster a couple hundred yards thru thick blowdown in the dark and get it to the local Checking Station - yes I wanted a real tag for this one. Now as I show the pictures and tell the tale of the day - it invokes tales from my fellow sportsmen of their experiences and cherished memories of the ones that made their season
memorable and the many more that got away. I have now discovered for myself what my Dad always spoke of when we were hunting - enjoy each time you simply get to go, those memories we keep in our hearts are the real trophies so each hunting experience is really "the buck of a lifetime"!
A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think
Have you had a successful deer hunting season so far? Were you rewarded by all your preparation, and maybe a little luck, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Venison is Healthy and Delicious
Venison when properly processed and prepared provides healthy low fat meat and can be served in a variety of delicious recipes. For great venison cooking recipes, purchase the Hunters for the Hungry Cookbooks containing 224 recipes and over 300 pages.
Dick Holdcraft, Master Hunter Education Instructor shared one of his favorite recipes:
Sautéed Deer with Wild Mushrooms and Zinfandel Sauce
|1 tsp cornstarch
||2 cups red wine, Zinfandel
|4 deer steaks, 5-8 oz each
||2 tsp salt
|1/4 tsp. black pepper
||1/4 cup olive oil
|1 garlic clove, crushed
||2 tbs. tomato paste
|1 cup chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
||2 cups chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Dilute the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of the Zinfandel. Trim the steaks of any excess fat; blot them dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Sauté the steaks turning once, about 6 minutes for medium rare. Transfer the steaks to a baking dish and keep them warm in the oven while finishing the sauce.
Pour off all but enough oil to leave a light film on the bottom of the skillet. Return the skillet to low heat. Add the crushed garlic and sauté, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to release their juices, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining wine, stirring well to blend the wine and tomato paste, and simmer for another minute. Add the chicken broth, raise the heat slightly to bring to a rapid simmer, and cook for another minute. Add the diluted cornstarch and cook for another minute, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the steaks from the oven, place them on plates, and pool the sauce over the meat.
Contribute what you can to
Hunters for the Hungry so donations by hunters from the woodlands of Virginia will be on supper tables of families in need.
Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning
Editors note... As I found myself with a trophy buck the first day of muzzleloader season, I was unprepared as how to handle skinning the trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in
choosing a taxidermist. I personally know a dozen taxidermists with great reputations, so how do I choose? One of the first contacts I made was to Todd and Vickie Rapalee, of Rapalee Taxidermy, who have an exceptional reputation for their stunning exhibits at major Sportsman shows featuring wild animal trophies from around the world. I had visited their
amazing showroom and facility in Goochland several times - it is worth a visit even if you do not have a trophy to mount. I assumed Rapalee and several other well known taxidermists I knew from Sportsmen Show exhibits would be too expensive, yet Todd notes that the foundation of his business and that of most Virginia taxidermists, remains the whitetail shoulder mount. His prices and those I checked of other taxidermists of similar quality and reputation were competitive and affordable.
I ended up choosing a taxidermist that was closer to home. I learned a lot from consulting with Todd and asked him to share
his advice in the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "If you are looking to find a person to mount your hunting trophies in all of their former glory, here are some tips gathered from over 30 years of taxidermy experience."
Your search for a quality taxidermist should begin well before you have a trophy to be mounted. A good place to start is asking friends about their taxidermist. Are they satisfied with the quality and service provided? Another choice is visiting booths at hunting/sportsman shows. Here you can usually see a number of taxidermy booths at one location. See the article listing upcoming events in January and February. Hugh Crittenden, Founder and Manager of the Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen Show in August in Richmond, and a retired taxidermist, provided similar advice and noted that the big Game Contests in Richmond hosted by the VA Deer Hunters Association, Izaak Walton League in Harrisonburg and VA Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in Franklin are good places to see numerous trophy mounts and the various taxidermists' skills. The
Virginia Taxidermists Association website and
the internet are also good resources to learn more about licensed taxidermists.
Take the time to go and visit taxidermy studios, even when you do not have a specimen to deliver for mounting. Look around their showroom and facility. If a taxidermist takes pride in their work and business it will show. In short, the mounts should appear alive and be of a quality that you would be proud to display in your home or office. This is the time to ask questions and prepare for when you do need a taxidermist's services.
Some questions you may want to ask:
- Do they offer taxidermy services for the species you may be hunting?
- How do they prefer the trophy prepared for delivery to their studio?
- Are the skins tanned? You want to avoid skins preserved with dry preservative powder. A quality taxidermist should be using a fully tanned skin.
- How secure is the facility? Does the studio have a 24 hour fire/burglar protection?
- How long is the completion time? Six to twelve months is a good average for most studios. You should use caution if the completion time is extremely fast or extremely slow.
- What is the price? The work involved in a quality mount is phenomenal and is usually reflected in the price. Do not make your decision based on price alone. Go visit the studio to see first hand the quality of the work you will be receiving. Remember, you get what you pay for!
If you have already had a bad experience with a taxidermist and have a horrendous creature that was intended for your den, but is now hanging in your basement or garage, keep this in mind, most taxidermist will remount old or poor quality mounts using a new cape. If the trophy means something to you, it will be well worth it! Hopefully, you'll follow some of the tips here and not end up with such an embarrassing creation in the first place.
Field care tips for a whitetail shoulder mount:
- Use care when dragging a deer out of the woods. Avoid dragging over rocks, logs, etc. that can rub hair off.
- When field dressing, stop your belly cut at the breast bone.
- To remove cape from body make a "Y" incision from the cut made field dressing at the breast bone, out the backside of each front leg. Follow the pattern where the brown and white hairline meets.
- Cut the front legs off at the knees.
- Continue peeling the skin forward towards the head.
- Cut the meat and bone of the neck leaving approximately 4 inches of neck meat with the head and cape.
- Cut the rear skin of the deer off midway on the rib cage.
- Place shoulder cape with head attached in a bag and freeze or pack in ice until you can deliver it to your taxidermist.
For more information contact Rapalee Taxidermy, Inc. or the Virginia Taxidermists Association.
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.
Most importantly wear blaze orange - it's the law for a good reason - it can save your life!
Late Anterless-Only Firearms Deer Season January 5 - March 28, 2009
Hunters are reminded of the special late anterless-only firearms deer season January 5
- March 28, 2009 in the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William, except on Department-owned lands.
- To firearms deer hunt on private lands in Fairfax County a special landowner permit is required. Contact the Div. of Animal Control, 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 for details. No special police permit is required for archery deer hunting.
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
website. 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, lots of birds and beautiful autumn colors, there was no excuse for fall turkey hunters not to take to the woods
this season. With fewer hunters turkey hunting in the fall with the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, added opportunities for fall turkey hunting were established including the new Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 18 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
email@example.com. If we use your story, you'll receive a
complementary 2009 Virginia Wildlife
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!
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.
Wear blaze orange - it's not only smart, it's the law! Above all else, put safety first!
"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.
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Whether there is ice and snow, or just frigid temperatures, below are some ideas to help wildlife through severe weather. If you are wondering what to do with the kids over the long holiday break from school, these activities will get them away from the video screens and outdoors exploring nature.
Create a Holiday Tree for the Birds
When the holidays are over and all the decorations and tinsel have been removed, put your cut tree out in the yard to provide additional cover for the birds. Outside, cut trees will remain green long after the holiday has ended, if they were cared for properly inside. You may want to anchor the tree with tent stakes and string to prevent the wind from blowing it over. Once stable, you can "decorate" the tree again, this time with food for the birds. An evergreen holiday wreath can be recycled in your yard the same way.
Fill the cut tree (or old wreath) with fruits and nuts strung on narrow twine or tied with other inexpensive string. Suitable foods include apple slices; whole peanuts in the shell or cranberries and raisins; suet in nylon net bags; or pine cones filled with peanut butter and rolled in seed. Use foods that are natural and not full of added sugars or artificial ingredients. Be sure to tie the treats close to the branches so that once eaten there isn't a long string dangling for a bird to become entangled in; remove strings as they are emptied. The birds will welcome the treats and will take advantage of the protective cover from the tree as winter winds and cold settle in. Keep re-decorating the tree with more fruits and nuts as the food is eaten through the winter.
When spring comes, don't haul the now leafless tree to the dump. Instead, lay it on its side in an out of the way location, or incorporate the dead twigs and branches into a compost pile. The tree can also be used with other dead limbs or fallen branches in the yard to construct a brush pile for chipmunks, rabbits and other small animals.
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
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
CORRECTION: Watkins Landing (NOT Maidens Landing) Ramp Closed for Repairs
In the November 25th edition of the Outdoor Report we mistakenly reported the boat ramp at Maidens Landing in Powhatan County on the James River has been temporarily closed for repairs. The correct location is the ramp at Watkins Landing. We apologize for any inconvenience. For information on alternative ramps in the area visit the public boating access page.
Sara White's Notebook
Region 1 - Tidewater
Chickahominy River: Alton Williams of River's Rest reports that a few cats have been landed by the bridge. No word on bass. Bream very slow. Waters cooling and clear.
North Landing River and Back Bay: The inimitable Dewy Mullins of West Neck Marina says that although it is very cold there, some good angling can still be had. Lots of white perch are biting, especially going for nightcrawlers and small spinners. Stripers are also biting well with an 8 lb and an 11 lb being landed last week. Spinners and cranks are the lures of the day, particularly the swimming 4 inch grub in white or chartreuse. Some crappie are starting to come in, with a few anglers bringing in the limit of 25 fish. No word on cats. The water is clear and cold.
Norfolk Lakes: Drew Dixon of Dashell's Show Room told me that due to the extreme cold and wind, fishing has slowed to a near stop. The water is clear and cold.
Region 2 - Southside
Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Kinsey of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store let us know that stripers are to be had at the mouth of Blue Stone Creek; the fish come up morning and evening to feed and can then be caught with swimbaits. However: most landed fish are under the 26 inch limit. A recent crappie tournament brought in a 1.73 lb crappie. The water is clear and 43-49 degrees.
Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead seems to have most of the fishing in the state. Even if he didn't Smith Mountain is beautiful to visit. Striper fishing has been good over the past month or so, especially in the major creeks and upper lake areas as striped bass have been feeding heavily in advance of winter. They continue to push large schools of smaller shad into as little as a foot or two of water in the backs of creeks, on points and shallow shoals feeding on them aggressively. Topwater poppers, Spook Juniors, swimbaits, bucktails and flukes rigged on belly weighted hooks and light jigheads with quality hooks are all producing nice fish. Several anglers also report success retrieving Striper Strikes, Thundersticks, Long A's and Redfins slowly on shallow points from and hour before until and hour or two after sunrise. These patterns will work in the evening as well as during the day, especially on days when the skies are overcast. Live bait is also working with light shot lines and shallow downlines producing in the shallow water. Several anglers also reported continued success pulling large gizzards behind boards along shoals and points to catch larger fish. Others reported catching stripers from 18 to 35 feet below the surface on downlines in deeper water near the mouths of the major creeks and the main channel and along the sides of deep-water bluffs.
As the water continues to cool, the bait and stripers will pull back into deeper water where temperatures are more comfortable. When that happens a change in fishing techniques is required. Downlines will continue to produce good results with deep-water fish.
Producing lures, just stop by your favorite local tackle shop. They can provide you with the knowledge, advice and tackle needed to enjoy one of the best fishing experiences this lake has to offer.
Crappie fishing continues to be very good. Good numbers of quality fish are being caught regularly. Most of the better fish were harvested over the past several weeks using small live "crappie" minnows in the tops of trees and brush around docks and in shallow water. Small minnows rigged on #4 and #6 gold thin wire live bait hooks 12 to 18 inches below a small spilt shot on very light line continues to produce good fish.
Bass fishing continues to be mixed. Some are catching good fish and others are catching good numbers of short fish, but all agree the patterns are not consistent and most bass anglers are using a variety of different techniques and lures.
The surface water temperature is currently around 50 degrees in the main lake and quite a bit colder in the backs of creeks and shallow water areas, especially in the upper lake. The water temperatures will drop even further as we continue to experience what is expected to be one of the colder winters seen in recent years. The daytime high temperature is only expected to get into the 50's two or three days over the next two weeks with a high in the upper 30's and 40's for the remainder. The low temperatures will be in the 30's most nights and will even drop into the low 20's on several occasions. That is cold and these temperatures will chill the surface waters and cool the water below the surface around the lake. We are expecting rain and snow shower mid-week followed by sunshine on Friday.
New Bass Club Forming at SML
There is a new bass club being formed at Smith Mountain Lake. The club will have its first organizational meeting this Wednesday evening, December 10th, at the Bedford County Library on Route 122 in Moneta. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. and is open to anyone 16 years or older interested in learning how to improve their bass fishing skills, helping others improve theirs and competing in tournament activities. If you are unable to attend or have any questions please call Tom Seaman on
Enjoy a safe holiday season, good luck and good fishing. For Additional info contact: Mike Snead virginiaoutdoorsman.com (540) 721-4867
Region 3 - Southwest
Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's reports that some bass and a few walleys
have been brought to boat. The river is very low with a temperature near 40 degrees. This is due to the filling of Claytor Lake. The water is clear and cold.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North Fork of the Shenandoah River: Fly guy Harry Murray says: Large Shenandoah valley trout streams have been stocked and the fishing is good for rainbows. Successful anglers are fishing deep and using nymphs and streamers. Good flies are Casual Dress Nymphs, sizes 10 and 12; Murrays Betsy Streamer, size 10 and 12. The water is clear and between 30 and 40. The water is clear 30 to 40 degrees.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Lake Anna: McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service Early December Fishing Report/Forecast: Water temperatures are now in a more typical range (38-45) for December after some subzero days and nights and this means the fish are moving into the mid lake region. You'll find good fishing for bass, striper, crappie and white perch not much further than two miles from the major marinas now at Anna. Vertical jigging has slowed while live bait and retrieved lures have begun to produce more regularly. Here's what you can expect for your next visit.
Largemouth bass - You're going to have to fish offshore except for the area around Dike III in the lower end of the lake (50 degrees). Offshore means either crawling a jig-n-pig on the bottom, vertically jigging the Toothache spoon or Crazy Blade, drop shotting or retrieving a swimbait of sorts. Anna's bass are pulling off most shallow and mid depth structure and relocating on bottom contours near schools of threadfin shad. Sometimes these deep fish feed actively and you'll know this when baitfish are active either on your depth finder or under birds. Good places to fish including The Splits, the mouth of Marshall, Mitchell and Pigeon Creeks. Rarely will you see any surface activity from bass now, except in the lower end of the lake where they will often feed late in the afternoon in coves near the dam. Try casting soft plastic jerkbaits when this happens. Otherwise, use a drop shot and shakey head worm around wooden cover in this lower lake region. The Winter Team Open Bass Series has begun at Sturgeon Creek Marina on Sundays.
Striped Bass - Fish are starting to fatten up now, so you have to be a little more on your game to find active ones. Birds are often just on bait now, but a good depth finder will reveal if stripers are under them, too. We are catching them from the first two bridges down to the mouth of Sturgeon Creek and at Dike III. The better fish are midlake. Live shad and herring on free lines and down lines are great now, but with so many schools, this method of fishing can tie you down. Casters should be careful not to just run amok looking for easy bird fish. Slow down and use your electronics to find fish in 30-38' of water near the main channel. Try the Toothache or Crazy Blade but if no bites within a few minutes, switch to a Berkley Jerkshad on a 3/8-oz head and count it down to the fish. There is a good morning bite if you can take the cold. The bait plugs are below the second bridges now and heading toward mid lake each day.
Crappie/White Perch - If you know where deep brush in in the mid and lower lake region, now is the time to fill a cooler with 10" plus specs. You can also catch plenty in the up lake region fishing the bait plug with 1" jigs or minnows on slip bobbers. Soon, you can even use light down lines with minnows. White perch are in Rose Valley/Big Ben/Splits region and taking minnows on the down lines in 27-37' as well as Crazy Blades.
For more information contact: mccotterslakeanna.com
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!
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?
email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
||To increase awareness
of the activities of our dedicated
Conservation Police Officers, previously
called game wardens, the "Virginia
Conservation Police Notebook" provides
an overview of the variety of activities
encountered by our officers who protect
natural resources and people pursuing
outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and
waters of Virginia.
21 New CPO Recruits Begin Academy Training
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be conducting it's 5th Basic Law Enforcement Academy for Conservation Police Officers beginning December 10, 2008. There are 21 recruits assigned to this class and upon graduation June 25, 2009, the new officers will be assigned throughout the Commonwealth. The Academy Director, Sergeant Milt Robinson, noted that, "After the 28-week course of instruction, the graduated recruits will be Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Certified State Law Enforcement Officers". The main classroom for the Academy is located at the VDGIF Richmond headquarters, with additional offsite training throughout the state.
Virginia Conservation Police Officers (formerly known as Virginia Game Wardens) have been serving the Commonwealth since 1903. A new video, Conservation Police Officers, highlights the extensive training involved in becoming one of VDGIF's finest law enforcement officers. These Officers dedicate their lives to the protection of our natural resources. View the video at
huntfishva.com. For more information about Virginia Conservation Police Officers and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries please visit our
Region 3 - Southwest
Poachers nabbed on multiple offences... On November 11, 2008, Conservation Police Officer Troy Phillips received a report of subjects in the Delton section of Pulaski County hunting on a farm from an older model white Chevrolet pickup without licenses and killing deer illegally. Sgt. Charlie Mullins and Officer Phillips responded to the area. Officer Phillips walked onto the farm and found the truck in question while Sgt. Mullins watched the main gate going onto the property. After dark, the suspects came out and were questioned by the officers. The two hunters were separated and questioned. The driver of the truck admitted to and will be charged with, hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, driving on a suspended drivers license, killing a deer illegally the week before and not checking it, being in possession of marijuana, and being in possession of crack. The passenger of the truck admitted to and will be charged with possession of marijuana, and being in possession of illegal deer the week before. The father of the driver was waiting at the main entrance of the property and admitted that his son had called him from his cell phone. The father attempted to pick up and transport the two boys out of the area before the CPO's caught up with them but failed and will be charged with conspiring to hunt illegally. For more information Contact Lt. Rex Hill at
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
Illegal hunters point out other offenders... On November 22, 2008, Conservation Police Officer C. W. Billhimer located a baited tree stand in Shenandoah County. He issued a summons to the hunter for hunting over bait. Billhimer asked the first hunter if anyone else was hunting the property and where they were located. The violator pointed him in the direction of his friend who was hunting nearby who was discovered to be hunting without a license. Officer Billhimer asked the friend the same question that he asked the first hunter. The friend then pointed Billhimer in the direction of the first hunter's brother who was found to be hunting over bait. The hunters were all issued a summons for the appropriate violations. These hunters then pointed Officer Billhimer in the direction of a neighboring hunt club property. CPO Billhimer found another hunter hunting over bait on the hunt club property. Billhimer issued him a summons for the violation. Sgt. Warren was nearby and observed a deer hanging beside a cabin and signaled Billhimer to investigate. Officer Billhimer eventually issued a summons to another hunter for the illegal possession of a deer. The hunter claimed that someone gave him the deer at a stoplight. The deer had not been properly checked. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke at
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.
Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!
In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- New Fishing Regulations
- Extended Deer Season in NOVA
- Hunting, Fishing, and Boating Shows