Welcome New Subscribers
For nearly 7,000 of you, this is your first Outdoor Report! Welcome. We sent out an email invitation to several thousand outdoor enthusiasts two weeks ago
- folks who had purchased a hunting-fishing license, titled a boat, contacted us about programs, or information offered by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). Nearly a thousand of you signed up for your free subscription at one of the recent fishing, boating or hunting shows.
The Outdoor Report is formatted in standard sections as outlined in the "In This Edition" listing at the beginning. There is also an events calendar, hunting season dates and other program features in the sidebar. Our purpose is to provide you with timely, up-to-date, factual, short articles with links to more details on featured stories. This format allows you to quickly scan through the newsletter and read those articles of interest to you. The newsletter is emailed directly to you the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. We are especially proud that after two years we have grown this newsletter to routinely include news items from more than 35 partner organizations. At VDGIF we realize that the conservation, management and stewardship of Virginia's bountiful wildlife and natural resources is best accomplished with all of us working together. The Outdoor Report is your newsletter and we welcome your comments, news items and suggestions for improvement. Read about what's happening, then get out there and enjoy and respect the great outdoors!
David Coffman, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
State Agencies Initiate Fishing Line Recycling Program
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) are launching a monofilament fishing line recycling program across the Commonwealth. Both state agencies will install PVC pipe recycling containers at public boats launches at several lakes and rivers and coastal waters. Anglers and boaters are encouraged to deposit used monofilament fishing line into the PVC containers. According to VDGIF Fisheries Division Assistant Director Ron Southwick, who is coordinating the line recycling program for the Department, "Several conservation organizations and municipalities have already jumped on board as partners sponsoring potential sites for the containers. Every group we have contacted to date has been most enthusiastic and supportive. Currently, we have 50 recycling containers ready to be installed across the state."
Sponsoring groups include the Virginia Bass Federation, Fairfax County Park Authority, Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter of the Isaac Walton League, Northern Virginia Kayak Fishing Club, Orange County High School Anglers Club, City of Richmond Parks and Recreation, VA B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club. In addition to providing the monofilament fishing line recycling containers, the sponsors will help maintain the containers and collect the used line for recycling. Groups interested in participating in the fishing line recycling program can contact Ron Southwick at
(804) 367-1292 or by email Ron.Southwick@dgif.virginia.gov.
2009 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Fishing Outlook!
Getting anxious to wet a line in pursuit of tidal river bass? Want to try out that new fishing gear? Well, fishing for tidal river bass in 2009 should be excellent and bass action is just about to heat up. To help you get started this spring,
VDGIF fisheries biologists have just completed the
2009 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook
(PDF). This information will tell you what our biologists see as highlights of bass populations on the tidal James, Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Pamunkey, and Mattaponi rivers.
VDGIF biologists are putting a lot of effort into bass population research and monitoring on tidal rivers and this outlook is their way of making sure the latest information is passed on to those of you that care so much about these bass fisheries.
General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You
There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner or concerned citizen.
The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, please visit the Virginia General Assembly website. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804-698-1990 in Richmond).
New Features Added For the New Year
We greatly appreciate the comments from our subscribers for improving the Outdoor Report and its value to you. Several features have been added based on your requests for the 2009 editions. Here's an overview of the changes
- let us know what you think!
Be Wild, Virginia Now Featured in Virginia Wildlife Magazine
Features on Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) species in peril by artist and author Spike Knuth are now found in the Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! section of each edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine. The artwork and species as well as the variety of articles in the upcoming edition of Virginia Wildlife will be listed in the Sidebar section of the Outdoor Report. 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.
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.
"BOATERS - ARE YOU ON BOARD?" Section Added to Sidebar
VDGIF Boating Safety Education Coordinators, Stacey Brown and Tom Guess will be providing information on safe and sober boating, boat maintenance and operation tips and updates on the new requirements for boating safety education being phased in over the next several years. See the new "Boaters - Are You on Board?" boating information section in this edition of the Outdoor Report, located in the sidebar section.
NATURE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE BYRD NEST
In our hectic, fast paced, electronic society, it seems many of us have lost touch with nature. The 2009 Virginia Wildlife Calendar features weekly nature notes on exciting, wonder-filled activities by wild creatures and dramatic seasonal changes in wild places reflected in plants and animals alike. Marika Byrd,
freelance writer, Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. member and Complementary Workforce Volunteer, has developed a column for the
Outdoor Report sidebar entitled, Nature Observations From The Byrd Nest. Each edition will feature nature observations from the calendar and actions you can take to enhance your outdoor experience. We especially hope that
"budding young naturalists" will read these articles and get outdoors to observe the wonders of nature and learn lessons that cannot be experienced on the web, or video games.
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Bald Eagles Have Laid Their First Egg
The bald eagles at the Norfolk Botanical Garden
have laid their first egg of the 2009 season. The
egg was laid on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 4:10
p.m. Most bald eagles lay two eggs, although nests
with one or even three eggs occur. Eggs may be laid
over the course of several days. Bald eagles
typically incubate their eggs for 35 days, although
this pair averages 37 days. This is the sixth year
this pair has nested at the Norfolk Botanical
Garden, successfully raising nine young eagles in
that time. The public can follow the lives of these
eagles through the Eagle Cam, a joint project of
VDGIF, the Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC.com.
This high quality web cam provides 24-hour coverage
of the nest with a blog posted by DGIF wildlife
biologists explaining what's happening. The eagles
can be visited in person (from a distance of course)
by visiting the Norfolk Botanical Garden.
Great Backyard Birding Count February 13-16
What better way to celebrate Valentines Day this
Saturday or the President’s Day Holiday on Monday
than participating in the nationwide Great Backyard
Bird Count! The four-day event runs February 13-16,
and engages bird watchers of all ages in counting
birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the
birds are across the continent. This information
helps educators, land managers, ornithologists, and
conservation biologists to understand our feathery
friends for the uniqueness of our planet's
biodiversity. The idea is to record the greatest
number of each individual species seen together at
any one time (at least 15 minutes) in any one place
between the above dates. Become a citizen scientist
and join the world research team. For participation
information and checklists visit:
February Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone
The five regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for 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
website for all the details.
- 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
Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show Features National Experts
In its third year, The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game show will once again take place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg on February 20-22. Show Manager, Stacey Rowe, has a great line-up of experts in various activities including "Mr. Whitetail" himself Larry Weishuhn, who will be on hand to meet with folks and share some of the best information ever on hunting Whitetail deer. Roger Sigler will demonstrate the intriguing sport of antler hunting and reveal tips and techniques to train your dog to find those elusive sheds. Tom Bechtel will explain the subtleties of coaxing wary Coyotes into gun range, Tim MacWelch will teach how to survive a hunt turned bad with his wilderness survival techniques and Primos Pro-staff Freddy McGuire will explain how to get up close and personal in the spring woods with the King of Spring. Randy Smith of Defensive Training concepts will be providing instructional handgun courses, which will allow successful attendees to obtain their permit to carry upon completion. The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show proudly works closely with local conservation groups each year to share the heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation. There are numerous contests including the NWTF Sanctioned Hunters for the Hungry Turkey Calling Contest and the newest contest to be introduced - the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Trail Camera Photo Contest. This contest is the first of its kind to be held in the State of Virginia at a sports show.
Visit their website for more information www.vasportsshow.com or call
Fredericksburg Outdoor Show Features Fishing Pros
The 3rd Annual Fredericksburg Outdoor Show this year will also include the Fredericksburg Gun Show with a variety of vendors and attractions that appeal to hunters and fisherman of all ages. That's two shows for the price of one,
February 20-22. Your ticket is good for admission all weekend and kids 12 and under are FREE. The Gun Show portion of the show will have hundreds of tables of guns and knives from quality dealers. The traveling "Hawg" Tank filled with a variety of quality fish will provide the background for many fishing seminars by the area's foremost experts. Try new kayaks or compare different Kayaks in the Kayak pool, or test new bows in the 3D archery range. Meet Bill "Bear Crazy" Wiesner, an expert bow hunter, teacher, author and designer for the archery industry. The NRA will have a booth and their World Famous Record Whitetail Deer Collection on display all weekend. Other top attractions include the FREE hunting and fishing seminars, Dog Training Seminars, Trout Pond, Kids Casting, Kids Nature Explorer Corner, various hunting and fishing adventure trips and suppliers, plus a variety of hunting and fishing information from the VDGIF.
Staff from the Outdoor Report will be there to meet subscribers and sign up new subscribers. Stop by the VDGIF booth and complete a short Reader Survey, or sign up a new subscriber to receive a free safety whistle or carabineer.
Bedford Outdoor Show Scheduled for February 28
The Bedford Outdoor Sportsman's Association, Inc. is sponsoring the Annual Bedford Outdoor Show Saturday, on February 28 at the Bedford Armory from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. "Dr. Deer", nationally known whitetail deer biologist Dr. James Kroll, will be conducting two seminars. The DART hunting simulator will be available for youth to practice safe firearms handling and shooting skills. The show is focused on promoting and getting youngsters involved in hunting. There will be a retriever demonstration, a black bear display, taxidermy, gear and a free Lifetime Hunting License will be given away. With a $3 admission, this is a great opportunity to get the whole family involved. The event is co-sponsored by the Bedford Ruritan Club, Army National Guard Co. A 116th Infantry, Haley Toyota and VDGIF. For more information contact VDGIF Conservation Police Officer, Lt. Tony Fisher at email@example.com or telephone (434) 525-7522, VDGIF Region 2 office in Forest.
Trout Unlimited Conducting Fly Tying Classes in Front Royal
The Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (NSVTU) will be conducting a beginner/intermediate fly tying class starting on February 10. The school will continue for six consecutive weeks meeting every Tuesday night in Front Royal. Instructor Jim Hart notes that even though the forest classes will have been done by
the posting date, students can come in on the second or third week of the classes, especially if they have some prior experience as the first two weeks are dedicated to the basics such as knots, thread control attaching materials, etc. The cost is $75 and includes all the tools, materials, book and instructions necessary to learn fly tying. The school will teach the basic fundamentals of tying trout, bass, and panfish flies. All proceeds are used to support NSVTU conservation programs Contact Mike Swauger at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Hart at email@example.com Phone 540-635-7970 for more information.
Orvis Richmond Store to Offer Fly Tying Classes Beginning in February
Fly tying classes will be held at the Orvis
Richmond store beginning in February. There will be
a beginning class on Tuesday nights starting
February 3 and an intermediate/advanced class on
Wednesday nights starting February 4. The time for
both classes is 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Classes are FREE and
Fly Fishers of Virginia (FFV) members are welcome to
participate in either or both of the classes. For
more information contact Dale Huggins at the
Richmond Orvis Store (804) 253-9000. If you need
tools the FFV has loaner sets that you can use for
the class. Just let Dale know so he can have them
Bass Fishing Seminar February 20 in Henrico
It's that time again - time to go fishin'. VDGIF Angling Education will kick off the season with a Bass Fishing Seminar at Deep Run Recreation Center in Henrico County on Friday, February 20 from 6-9 p.m. Learn about bass fishing from the local pros. National and local bass tournament experts Frank Poirier, Mike Hicks and Steve Miller will share their knowledge to help make you a better bass angler. Seminar topics include Locating Bass, Seasonal Patterns, Power vs. Finesse and Fishing the Plastic Worm. For more information, visit VDGIF upcoming events.
VDGIF To Host Archery In The Schools Program Tournament February 28
VDGIF is conducting the First Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament on February 28, 2009, at the Augusta Expoland in Fishersville. The tournament is being held in cooperation with the
Western Virginia Sport Show which will be held at the same location from February 27-March 1. This is the first year student teams will compete in the same location.
This tournament is the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Last year, more than 90,000 Virginia students at more than 160 schools participated. The National Archery in the Schools Program promotes student education and participation in archery. The program's focus is designed to teach International Archery style target archery in 4th through 12th grades as part of the in-school curriculum. Before presenting archery instruction to their students at school, teachers must undergo an 8-hour instructor certification training program referred to as BAI, Basic Archery Instructor. Certification is conducted by VDGIF Outdoor Education staff and VDGIF-certified volunteers.
For more information and to get your school and teachers involved in NASP, contact VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia State NASP Coordinator Karen Holson at
(804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov. For more information about NASP visit the Department's website.
Wildlife Center Offers Class on Handling Wildlife February 25
The Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV) is offering a class on Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, & Transport at Tonsler Park in Charlottesville on Wednesday, February 25. Amanda Nicholson, Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor for
WCV advises that pre-registration is required. WCV was formed in 1982 to provide quality health care, often on an emergency basis, to native wildlife. The hospital has treated more than 50,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The staff includes a trained corps of wildlife medicine practitioners, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians and volunteer wildlife rehabilitators. Those who have benefited from the professional training programs offered by the Center may now be found on the cutting-edge of wildlife veterinary medicine around the world.
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 with the next workshop scheduled for January 3, 2009 and continuing through 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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! This course will be conducted at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox , March 13-15. 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:
People and Partners in the News
Virginia Outdoors Foundation Finalizes 5,000-Acre Smith Mountain Easement
Nearly 5,000 acres of scenic Smith Mountain in Bedford and Pittsylvania
Counties are now permanently protected, thanks to the recordation of a conservation easement donated to the Commonwealth by Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP). The easement is being co-held by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).
The easement comprises the majority of Smith Mountain, which sits along the eastern side of Smith Mountain Lake and forms the ridge on both sides of Smith Mountain Dam. It is almost entirely forested and contains more than 10 miles of shoreline. The property allows some access for public recreational activities through VDGIF, including fishing, camping, hiking and hunting. It also contains two rare vertebrate species and a rare ecological community identified by the state, and is adjacent to the 288-acre Bourassa State Forest. Because of its size and proximity to Smith Mountain Lake State Park and other attractions, the mountain is perhaps the mostly highly visible and recognizable landmark in the area.
"We've had a long-standing, highly successful partnership with AEP providing access for hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts and look forward to partnering with VOF," said VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan. "It's a true pleasure to establish this conservation easement, thereby ensuring that future generations will enjoy this unique wildlife area."
Established in 1966, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation is Virginia's largest land trust, preserving more than 500,000 acres of natural, scenic, historic, open-space and recreational lands for future generations.
Watkins Boat Landing Reopens after Renovations
The renovation of Watkins Boat Landing on the James River in Powhatan County has been completed. The boat landing reopened for public use February 6. "We are really pleased to reopen this popular boat landing to the public and appreciate their patience while these improvements were made," said VDGIF Capital Programs and Facilities Director Larry Hart. The project took 60 days to complete and consisted of grading the side slopes, replacement of guardrails, and partial ramp and pier replacement. Boating funds provided to VDGIF from boat registration and titling fees and from matching funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service paid for the project. The total cost was $190,983.
To learn more about boating and boating access sites in Virginia, visit the Department's website.
Deer Hunts Help Manage Habitat On Conway-Robinson State Forest
The first-ever series of deer hunts at the Conway-Robinson State Forest (CRSF) in Northern Virginia have successfully concluded. The fourth and final hunt in the series took place February 2, 2009 on the 440-acre property located in Prince William County. Approximately 70 people submitted ballots to qualify for the drawing to determine who would be able to participate in each of the four hunts. Those who were selected in the random drawing and qualified through a process of meetings and firearm certifications gathered several hours before dawn at the CRSF pavilion to check in, have a safety briefing and choose compartments from which they would hunt.
"The hunters harvested a total of 35 deer," said Terry Lasher, assistant regional forester and hunt coordinator. "While our goal was a little higher, we accomplished many of our objectives in this first-ever hunt on the property." Because this forest had never been hunted before, the deer population was deemed to be too large for the area. When the population gets too high, deer run the risk of disease and starvation, according to wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). VDGIF staff were on hand to observe the hunt and to ensure that all hunting rules and regulations were followed.
Deputy State Forester John Carroll noted that this cooperative effort by both agencies and the hunters that participated resulted in both a successful hunt and stewardship management of the deer herd and forest habitat resources.
Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife
You can make a difference by helping to support
the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you
complete your Virginia state income tax form, you
can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking
the Nongame Wildlife Program checkoff box and
filling in the amount of your donation. Your
contribution will help support essential research
and management of native birds, fish, and other
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.
Thanks for Sharing...
We received a great response from our readers with inspiring stories of new hunters - both young and old, that we want to share with you. Congratulations to the dads and moms and sons and daughters for discovering the passion for the outdoors and mentoring novice hunters, resulting in wonderful experiences and memories to last a lifetime.
David Coffman, Editor
Dad and Son Use Teamwork for Successful Season
The two photos accompanying this story show Brad Grainer from Goochland with two different deer - apparently a great hunting season… but here's the best part of the story. The photo with the
eight-point buck is Brad proudly showing the buck his dad, Steve, took the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Brad is proud to admit he first saw the buck and motioned to dad that it had a nice rack, but he realized from his vantage in their treestand that he couldn't take a good shot due to a tree in the way. From his dad's angle, when the buck took
two steps forward, the shot was "Dad's" for the taking. That was a true team effort! The second photo is of Brad with the doe he took the following Saturday, under the youth provisions that allow youth to harvest a doe as their first deer, even though doe season may not be open. With one shot from his .410 single-shot, Brad "expertly" downed the doe at 25 yards.
This is not a story of "beginners luck", but a testament to mentoring youth to be safe, respectful and successful hunters. Brad has regularly accompanied his Dad with the Diascund Hunt Club in James City County since 2006. Prior to 2009 he carried his (empty) Daisy Red-Rider BB rifle to learn safe handling and proper hunting techniques. He received the .410 for his ninth birthday in August and after practicing and demonstrating safe handling and marksmanship, he began carrying the shotgun on his trips with dad. 2009 was indeed a busy and successful year for Brad.
Sister and Brother Discover Passion for Deer Hunting
- at Age 50!
Yvonne Thibeault sent us this email...
"My father was an avid hunter-he loved the outdoors. He passed away two years ago and left me one of his hunting rifles. I had never gone hunting before. I decided to give it a try. I practiced at the local shooting range. I spent many hours in the woods, on the ground and in several tree stands. I started this as a 50-plus year old female. I enjoy being in the woods, being quiet and watching nature. My friend's dad took me out and put me in a good stand in the woods. This was the beginning of a great
'rookie season.' I was thrilled to get a four-point buck on October 24, and the very next morning an eight-point buck. This was in Columbus County, NC. Needless to say I am hooked! I've gone with my brother several times in Buckingham County, Virginia. I think the Virginia deer are better educated, because I never got a shot. My brother killed two deer this past season-his first in over 10 years. Through all this I have learned one is never too old to pick up deer hunting as a passion. I have also learned there are only two seasons. The first is deer season, the second is getting ready for deer season."
Deer Hunting Opportunities Still Available
Late Antlerless-Only Firearms Deer Season January 5 - March 28, 2009
Hunters are reminded of the special late antlerless-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.
Urban Archery Season Runs Through March 28, 2009
Don't hang up your bow just yet-opportunities still exist for archery deer hunting across Virginia. To assist towns and cities with urban deer management issues, the Department established an urban archery season in 2002. This year, the season extends until March 28, 2009, in 21 localities. Due to these areas being more developed, there may be additional restrictions for safety measures that hunters must follow.
According to Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon, "The Urban Archery season plays an important role in managing human-deer conflicts. It allows participating towns, cities and counties to address the problems of too many deer while offering sportsmen a chance to hunt in these areas."
To find which of the 21 participating localities is near you, visit the Department's website.
Reports From Young Hunters
Congratulations to 13 year old Chase Smith from Lovettsville who completed hunter safety school last year and got his own big game license for the first time last fall. After several days of hunting, luck has it that a six-point buck walked within range and Chase practiced all the hunter safety rules making a good shot on his first buck. Thanks to dad, J. H. Smith, for mentoring and training Chase to be a successful hunter.
Matthew Turney harvested this awesome eight-point buck at the Virginia Heritage Hunt held at Chippokes Plantation on December 6, in Surry County. This was Matthew's third year hunting at the dog hunt sponsored by Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR). Matthew would like to thank the Bacons Castle Hunt Club, VDCR and VDGIF for helping him harvest this buck of a lifetime.
Brandon Jennings, age 13 from Fredericksburg, harvested his first deer on the last day of the season January 3, 2009 doing man drives in Westmoreland. He shot this eight-point buck with 18 inch spread at about 30 yards with his Remington 870 12 gauge. His dad, Aaron proudly commented, "I think he's hooked on hunting now, just like his me."
How did you do? Send stories and photos to
email@example.com. If we use your story that includes a youth or first time hunter, you'll receive a complementary Virginia Wildlife hat!
Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Begin the New Year!
With seasons still open for waterfowl, rabbits, squirrel, and other small
game, it's a great time to introduce a youngster to the sport by getting an
Apprentice Hunting License. Also, spring gobbler season is only
away with the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day scheduled for April 4,
2009. 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.
For Season Updates and New Regulations For Hunting Migratory Birds:
Be Safe... Have Fun!
No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30
All outdoorsmen are reminded that the "4 PM Burn Law" is in effect from February 15 until April 30 to help prevent forest fires. The law bans all open air burning, including campfires, before 4 PM if your fire is within 300 feet of the woods, brush, or dry grass which can carry the fire to the woods. You are allowed to burn debris or have campfires between 4 PM and midnight, as long as you take proper care and precaution and attend your fire at all times. Read the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn? to learn more.
"This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," advised John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become ‘forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law, people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia."
As a recent historical note, Virginia saw the worst fire day in memory just one year ago on Sunday, February 10, 2008, when high winds across the state whipped up 354 fires that burned more than 16,000 acres in 2008. There were 1,322 wildfires that burned 25,704 acres of forest land in the Commonwealth last year. Remember only YOU can prevent forest fires!
"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.
Forest Landowners May Be Eligible for Casualty Loss Tax Deductions
Private non-industrial forest landowners own and manage more than 70% of Virginia 16 million acres of forest land. They also provide the largest area for wildlife habitat. Land use taxes and other land use policies dramatically affect the owners ability to manage their property for a variety of benefits and uses. Many landowners are not aware the timber damaged or destroyed by hurricane, fire, earthquake, ice, hail, tornado, high wind and other storms are "casualty losses" that may allow timberland owners to claim a deduction on their federal income tax returns. If you suffered a loss on your forest land in 2008, the following PDF will help explain how to treat the loss on your tax forms.
Additional information can be found in Forest Landowners' Guide to Federal Income Tax, Chapter 5 (Cost Considerations) and Chapter 6 (Income Considerations) which can be helpful for a general understanding of the casualty loss rules. The book is available free on-line by Google key words search using the book's title.
Websites Provide Winter Bird Feeding Tips
Brisk temperatures and heavy snow can pose challenges to local birds that winter in your area. An effective Habitat at Home© contains many shrubs and densely vegetated areas that can provide good cover for birds. You can supplement your habitat with a couple of bird feeders placed near windows for continued enjoyment. The Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology has excellent resources about feeding birds, including Project FeederWatch. Bird Watchers' Digest also provides some great tips. Teachers are encouraged to have students hang bird feeders outside classroom windows and monitor the number and species of birds that visit. A curriculum on birds is available from the National Environmental Education Foundation's Curricula Library. Check out
VDGIF's website, too, for information on feeding birds.
Habitat Improvement Tips
New Manual Teaches Stewardship for Small Woodlot Owners
Would you like to spend less time and money maintaining your lawn? Do you want to provide a
sanctuary for wildlife? Would you like to enjoy the beauty of nature in your own backyard? The
Woods in Your Backyard will show you how to make these things possible. The Woods in Your Backyard is a manual and workbook written for owners of 1-10 acres of land. The purpose is to help landowners make informed decisions that impact water, wildlife populations, recreational opportunities and forest health. The four-part manual and workbook walks readers through the
steps necessary to create a personalized management plan suited to the landowner's goals and resources in a way that protects and improves forest integrity. This program was developed by the Cooperative Extension Service in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Tree Seedlings Selling Fast; Order Yours Before They're Gone
Each year, the Virginia Department of Forestry grows and sells more than 33 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the 45 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don't wait too much longer as several species, including Black Cherry, Red Maple, Sycamore, Crab Apple and Yellow Poplar, have already sold out. Landowners may still 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.
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
Walleye Fishing Forecast and Tagging Study, 2009 Updates
I know it's cold and windy, but you walleye anglers know that this is your time of year! Walleye action is on the increase!
And to get you started off fine in 2009, the Walleye Fishing Forecast and the Walleye Tagging Study update are both available. The fishing forecast is a must for any angler thinking about accepting the challenge of walleye fishing in 2009.
VDGIF has come a long way in developing very good walleye populations in a number of lakes through a stocking program; has learned a lot about walleye habitat, life history, and angling techniques in Virginia; and has lead the way in discovering and enhancing a unique strain of walleye found only in the New River. The forecast is the biologist's best predictions about where, when, and how.
VDGIF is also continuing a walleye reward tag study in 2009 and the update will give you details about how you can participate. Good luck and enjoy!
Fishing Regulations, Where to Fish, Trout Stocking Plan, and Much More; the 2009 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!
The new 2009 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at all license agents and Department offices. VDGIF Fisheries Division Director, Gary Martel, notes, "This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive "Let's Go Fishing" section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section and the complete Trout Guide on our website have also been updated for 2009.
Sara White's Notebook
Casting in your own back
Practicing with your reel in your yard, or other open space out of the water is a good way to keep your hand in (as it were) during the winter. Set up a series of markers, pie plates are good for this because once you get to the point of hitting the distance regularly, you can aim for the inside of the plate. Place a rubber practice sinker (which can be purchased at your tackle store
- this avoids getting a hook in someone's eye.
For novices this is the basics of two common reels: the spinning reel and the bait caster. How modern and fancy your reel is will vary but these are the bare bones basics. The spinning reel is cast this way, first: the reel is hanging below the rod. Take the line and hold it to the rod with your forefinger, then open the bail, now the line can go out, when the tip of the rod is pointing at your target release your finger. Then turn the handle which closes the bail, and now you can reel in your line.
The bait caster works differently and so must be practiced differently. Bait casters stand above the rod and unsurely has a thumb button of some sort which relapses the line. Put your thumb on the line in the spool, this helps control how fast the line goes out and avoids rat's nests in your reel. Push down thumb release button if your reel has one, take thumb off line at the release point. This is why you practice
- so you know when to release the line to get it where you want it to go.
There are different ways to handle the rod. Overhead casting (look for trees) is probably the most common. You can also side cast (just like in baseball) if that's more comfortable for you or the situation. Flipping the lure out with an underhand motion is also an acceptable casting method.
Fly casting is an art best learned from someone who is a real master. Look for future interviews with fly guru Harry Murray. And in the future I will have more detailed tips from experts.
Region 1 - Tidewater
Mid Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (703) 878-3111. A fair amount of action on the river, says Terry Oliver. Yellow perch are hitting "real good" on minnows in the Occoquan area. A few bass have been tempted by silver buddies. Crappie will still go for the eternal minnow and small jigs. Some big cats have been fooled with cut bait, particularly eel and shad. They should be hitting more as the month ends. The water is stained and in the high 30's to low 40's.
Lower Potomac: J.G. Sports. Joe Hawkins reports that bass are in a winter mode but can be landed with silver buddies. Stripers are not hitting in big numbers. Crappie are going for minnows and jigs, particularly in the deep water in Aquia Creek. No word on perch. Cats are biting well on large minnows and big chunks of cut bait, especially in the deep pools in the outside bends of the river. The water is clear and cold.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled. Capt. Jim told me that, while he has been spending most of his time on the ocean, there is still a little action on the beach. Rockfish can be landed around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel – but any fish brought in must be released – it is the law for this part of the season (Check out the DGIF Fishing Regulations.) The water is very cold and clear. Look for tautog angling to warm up as the water does.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Good old Charlie Brown reports that there is no word on bass. A local angler did land a 60 lb blue cat on fresh cut bait. Local bream are going for minnows; and bluegill are attacking worms. Some crappie have been brought in on minnows. The water is cold and clear.
Norfolk Lakes: Dashiell's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Yellow perch are going for minnows in these waters, as are crappies. The bass angling is surprisingly good, especially with jigs and soft plastics. No word on cats. The water is cold and clear. Thanks to Drew Dixon for his help.
Region 2 - Southside
James River at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane. Tom Reisdorf says that the cold water has kept even the most dauntless anglers away – so not much word on anything. The water is clear and in the thirties.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store. Back at ol' Bobby Whitlow's place, lots of crappie have been brought to boat. A 1/16 of an ounce jigs tipped with a minnow is proving lethal for the panfish. A few cats have been landed, mostly by anchoring your boat and putting out a few cut bait lines. In deep (up to 50 ft) water, some white perch have been fooled. The water is 42 degrees and clear.
Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead. The weather forecast for the remainder of February will bear little resemblance to that seen early in the month. .The low temperature will not drop below freezing most days this week and the daytime high temperatures are expected to range from the upper 50's to almost 70 degrees. Next week the temperatures are expected to drop a little, but overall they will continue to be moderate for this time of year.. With a full moon on Monday, February 9, and the next last quarter moon on February 16th, there will be plenty of light on the lake at night. The lake continues to be at full pond.
Overall, fishing has been mixed as the cold winter weather continues to suppress the metabolism of targeted fish species while increasing the stress and accelerating the mortality of the threadfin shad. Threadfin shad weakened by the cold water makes such an easy meal. Most black bass, stripers and catfish are gorging on the shad.
There are numerous reports of parasitic copepods being found in the mouths of most stripers, the gill plates of some and inside the mouths of an occasional black bass. While some stripers have heavy copepod concentrations, it does not appear to have affected their feeding, as they look fat and healthy. For those who might not know about the copepod, it is a parasite using the fish as a host. I believe the visible copepod, which looks like a small grain of rice, is a female. While their appearance can be disconcerting when first seen in the mouths of fish, they are not harmful to humans and pose no health threat to those wishing to eat the fish.
Many fish have moved down in the water column or up on a sunny point or flat where the water is a little warmer. Deep fish continue to be caught on flukes rigged on lead headed jigs, bucktails and jigging spoons. Casting, counting down and retrieving bucktails and flukes continues to work as does vertical jigging fluke and spoons.. Most anglers use a ¾ ounce spoon. Popular models include the Hopkins Shorty, CC, Luhr Jensen Smashflash and Kastmaster.
Stripers and bass suspended in deep water this winter have been found anywhere from 35 to 70 feet deep. Other stripers and black bass have moved up near points and flats. They are being caught on deep diving suspending jerkbaits and swimbaits. Spinner baits, crankbaits and pig and jigs are also working for black bass that have moved up into shallow water. With the warming weather, I expect more fish will move up on wind blown flats, points and rocky shoreline where the water is several degrees warmer than the main lake.
We continue to stock small and large minnows. Anglers who like to fish in the winter or just cannot wait for spring have been fishing for crappie and picking up a number of white perch. Small minnows rigged on light hair jigs and light, thin wire hooks with split shot work well in the winter when the crappie are not very aggressive. The bite is very soft, so you have to watch your line carefully. Crappie are being found in the tops of submerged timber and white perch in schools that can be seen on most fish finders.
I had the opportunity to see the new Lowrance High Definition fishfinders this past weekend and while they are just starting to ship, they are very impressive units. They offer three dimensional as well as standard perspectives and the features available to the fresh as well as the off shore anglers is incredible. They have integrated features such as overlay weather mapping, enhanced waypoints, improved graphic capabilities, onboard networking, improved built-in antennas and wideband capability into many of the new models. The units are not inexpensive, but impressive none the less.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Wyatt Blevins gives me no good news this time: the water has just been too cold for most folks to try fishing it. The water is around 40 degrees and clear.
Lower New River: Big Z's (540) 639-1651. At least John Zienus' temperament remains sunny: the weather up there is "icy and cold". Muskie fishing has been good, with big jerk baits being effective. No word on cats, except when fished in deep holes with spoons. No news of bass or crappie. The water is in the mid 30's and clear.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop. Harry is back on his feet (yeah!) following a knee replacement and was able to tell me that the smallmouth streams up there are too cold to be fished. The delayed trout harvest streams, however, are very fishable. Good flies to use are Griffith Gnat size 20 and the Mr. Rapidan Midge also size 20. You will have the most success with them if you find a place where midges and may flies are hatching. In large stocked streams, as well as delayed harvest streams, good fishing is in the deep pools and below the riffles; for these areas use the Murray Tan Caddis Pupa sizes 12 and 14 and the Betsey Streamer, sizes 10 and 12. The waters are 34 to 36 degrees and very clear.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Lake Anna: Wayne Olsen (540) 894-8333. Guide Wayne says that fishing in the Lake is "OK", but that bass fishing has been tough, but to give it a try at the next full moon. Stripers are strung out from the
Route 208 bridge to the dam. The key to a successful day is locating the schools. Plastic swimbaits (1/4 to 3/8 lead heads) have been effective, as have live bait, like herring and shad. Crappie can be found around upper lake bridge pilings, try slick bobbers with small minnows. No word on perch or cats. The lake is 42 degrees mid lake; and 49 down by the dam; and 39 uplake. The water is very clear.
Our man on the water, Willard Mayes, tells us that an afternoon trip to a private pond in McKenny resulted in 29 crappie, 3 bluegill and one largemouth. Keep fishing for us Willard.
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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The one that didn't?
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and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
||To increase awareness
of the activities of our dedicated
Conservation Police Officers, previously
called game wardens, the "Virginia
Conservation Police Notebook" provides
an overview of the variety of activities
encountered by our officers who protect
natural resources and people pursuing
outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and
waters of Virginia.
Region 3 - Southwest
On going illegal hunting investigation leads to felony arrest... On January 30, 2009, Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall assisted with a brief investigation reference a suspect involved in several hunting violations on November 13, 2008, in which Sgt. Jamie Davis had responded . Officer Hall utilized information gathered from citizens in Smyth County and was able to retrieve information which revealed the suspect had been convicted of a felony in another state. Officer Hall obtained a felony warrant for possession of a firearm by a person having been convicted of a felony. Officer Hall executed a custodial arrest warrant on the suspect without incident and processed the suspect electronically at the Smyth County Sheriffs Office utilizing video magistrate. Officer Hall transported the suspect to the Regional Jail Authority in Washington County where he was released on a secured bond. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.
Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley
Quick action by CPO prevents serious incident on Interstate 81... On February 3, 2009, Conservation Police Officer Keith Crider was traveling north on Interstate 81 when a tractor-trailer carrying a load of cars attempted to pass another tractor-trailer. The car hauler hit a bump in the road and the bottom car on the back of the trailer bounced partially off the hauler and hit I-81. The only things holding the car to the trailer were two small tie-down chains. The rear tires of the car immediately became engulfed in smoke. The front half of the car was on the trailer and the back half was being dragged along the asphalt. Officer Crider quickly activated his safety equipment and attempted to stop the truck. It took about two miles to finally get the driver to stop. The quick action by CPO Crider prevented any injuries to the public traveling along I-81. For more information contact Captain Kevin Clarke at (540) 248-9360.
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, Bear and Turkey Harvest Summaries
- Spring Gobbler Hunting Tips
- Kid's Fishing Days
- Fly Fishing Festival