Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

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

Managing and Conserving Our Wildlife and Natural Resources

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Hunters Have Record Bear and Deer Harvests in 2008-09
  • Virginia Wildlife Special Photography Issue Now Available!
  • General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You
  • New Research Provides Valuable Information To Support Sportsmen
  • Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
    • 22nd Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland Feb 27-March 1
    • VDGIF To Host Archery In the Schools Program Tournament February 28
    • Bedford Outdoor Show Scheduled for February 28
    • Bass Pro Shops Hosting Spring Fishing Classic, February 27 - March 15 in Ashland
    • TU Hosts 'Thaw-Out' Smallmouth Fishing Seminar in Christiansburg March 3
    • Learn to Tie Shad Pattern Fly At Orvis in Richmond March 4
    • Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange March 7-8
    • Annual Wild Baby Shower March 7 in Chesterfield
    • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Hosts Fundraiser March 14 in Richmond
    • 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium in VA Beach March 14
    • Trout Unlimited Conducting Fly Tying Classes in Front Royal
    • Chesapeake Offers Fly Fishing Workshop March 7
    • Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society Hosts Habitat Fundraiser
    • Master Naturalists to Host Training Classes March 24
    • Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Wilderness Survival, Bow Building and Decoy Carving Workshops
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Jimmy Christian Recognized as Wildlife Manager of the Year
    • Sunrise Hunt Club Hosts Disabled Sportsmen for Memorable Hunt
    • Wildlife Center of Virginia Announces Spring Open House Schedule
    • Western Virginia Land Trust to Hold Landowner Workshops Beginning March 1
  • Hunting News You Can Use
    • Reports From Young Hunters
      • Me and My Son's First Hunt
      • Eight Year Old Masters 20 Gauge and Crossbow
      • Closing Day Provides New Beginnings For Young Waterfowlers
      • More Pictures from Young Hunters
    • Late Antlerless-Only Firearms Deer Season January 5 - March 28, 2009
    • Urban Archery Season Runs Through March 28, 2009
    • Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Start the New Year!
    • Season Updates and New Regulations For Hunting Migratory Birds
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Boaters Should Plan Hurricane Strategy This Winter
    • No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30
  • "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • Is Your Woodland Home at Risk From Wildfire?!
    • New Manual Teaches Stewardship for Small Woodlot Owners
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Tree Seedlings Selling Fast; Order Yours Before They're Gone
    • Websites Provide Winter Bird Feeding Tips
  • Fishin' Report
    • State Agencies Initiate Fishing Line Recycling Program
    • Watkins Boat Landing Reopens after Renovations
    • 2009 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Fishing Outlook!
    • Fishing Regulations, Where to Fish, Trout Stocking Plan, and Much More; the 2009 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation

Hunters Have Record Bear and Deer Harvests in 2008-09

Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled preliminary figures for bear, deer and turkey harvests for the 2008-09 fall seasons. Wildlife Division Director Robert Ellis commented, "Notable results of the 2008-09 seasons include record black bear and white-tailed deer harvests. While the fall turkey harvest was down, clearly there is good hunting to be had in the Commonwealth."

Black Bear -- A record number of 2,204 bears were harvested during the 2008-09 Virginia bear seasons. The figure represents the combined kill from archery, muzzleloader, and firearms. Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki, noted, "This year's record harvest was 35% higher than the previous record of 1,633 bears set in the 2006-07 bear seasons." The harvest in 2007-08 was 1,517 bears. West Virginia also had a record bear harvest this year. Read more »

White-tailed Deer -- During the 2008-09 deer season, a total of 253,678 deer were harvested by hunters in Virginia. Deer Project Leader Matt Knox, announced, "This new record represents a 4% increase from the 242,792 deer reported killed last year. The harvest is also 16% higher than the last 10 year average of 212,780 deer killed by hunters." Read more »

Fall Wild Turkey -- Fall turkey hunters harvested 3,505 birds in the 2008-09 season. This was 26% below last year's reported kill (4,759 wild turkeys). Small Game Furbearer Program Manager Gary Norman indicated the harvest decline was a result of several factors including poor reproduction, good mast conditions and fall season regulation changes. Read more »

The Department would like to thank those hunters and game check stations for providing the wing feather samples so reproduction can be monitored. These data help the Department gain a better understanding of turkey population trends and harvests.

For more information about Black Bear, White-tailed Deer and Wild Turkeys, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website. The website also contains information about wildlife management, hunting regulations and hunting opportunities within the Commonwealth.

Virginia Wildlife Special Photography Issue Now Available!

There's an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's true, then the March issue of Virginia Wildlife may be just one of the most informative and entertaining issues of the magazine published each year.

Nationally-renowned wildlife photographer Lynda Richardson, who was selected to oversee the judging of the contest, helped to narrow down more than 1,400 photographs that were submitted by close to 200 talented photographers. The final award-winning selections will offer you an incredible visual journey across the Commonwealth, from the Eastern Shore to the Blue Ridge Mountains, including some of the most awesome wildlife photographs ever published in the magazine.

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 Research Provides Valuable Information To Support Sportsmen

Over the past 20 years, Responsive Management, located in Harrisonburg, has gained the reputation as one of the leading research organizations for sportsman's issues. Under the direction of noted researcher Mark Duda, the firm has conducted more than 150 studies on hunting-related issues, including hunting initiation, hunting motivations, hunting satisfaction and desertion, public opinion on hunting, and women and hunting. In the latest edition of the Responsive Management On-line Newsletter you can download PDFs of their most recent hunting-related studies. These study results shed light on what is happening "on the ground" with hunting participation and study results can provide guidance for how to proceed with the challenge of maintaining and preserving America's hunting heritage.

Mark Duda summarizes some of these recent research findings by reporting, "Each year about 12.5 million Americans age 16 and older take to the nation's forests and fields to hunt. The number is larger when a longer time frame is considered, which is reasonable, because many sportsmen and sportswomen do not hunt every year. Indeed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 18.6 million Americans age 16 and older hunted at least once in the 5-year period between 2002 and 2006.

Maintaining and preserving America's hunting heritage is important for many reasons. One is simply the large number of Americans who participate. In addition, an overwhelming majority of Americans support hunting and research shows that this support steadily increased between 1995 and 2006. Overall, 78% of Americans approve of hunting. Surveys also show that the opportunity to hunt is important to U.S. citizens, even though most will never hunt themselves. Hunters are essential to species protection and management and are integral to habitat conservation through the funds they provide when they purchase hunting licenses and pay excise taxes on hunting equipment. Hunting also has a major impact on the U.S. economy, especially in rural areas where hunters patronize local businesses when they stock up for hunting trips."

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

22nd Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland Feb 27-March 1

Have you ever seen a big bear up close? "Bordie", the huge brown bear is returning to Augusta Expoland for the 22nd Western Virginia Sports Show February 27-March 1. The show will feature other hunting and fishing celebrities "Lee & Tiffany" and 'Cuz' Strickland. National Champion Turkey Caller and home town favorite, Lance Hanger, will be on hand to demonstrate his winning techniques and give tips on hunting a big gobbler this Spring. There will be 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. The show features 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. Visit the show's website for all the details.

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, 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 students 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. For more information and to get your school and teachers involved in NASP, contact 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.

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 tony.fisher@dgif.virginia.gov or telephone (434) 525-7522, VDGIF Region 2 office in Forest.

Bass Pro Shops Hosting Spring Fishing Classic, February 27 - March 15 in Ashland

Bass Pro Shops in Ashland will be hosting their Spring Fishing Classic from February 27 - March 15. They will be stocking trout in one of the ponds out front for kids to do some fishing. There will be "guides" available to assist the young anglers in casting techniques, bait selection, water safety and having FUN! Visit BassPro.com for more information.

TU Hosts 'Thaw-Out' Smallmouth Fishing Seminar in Christiansburg March 3

Leave winter behind and bring in the 2009 fishing season with an evening of New River smallmouth bass fishing techniques featuring Bruce Ingram, renowned sporting writer and frequent contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, and Britt and Leigh Stoudenmire, New River guides. The 'Thaw Out' event will be held at the Montgomery County Government Center in Christiansburg. Admission is free, but a $5 donation at the door supports New River Valley Trout Unlimited conservation and puts you in the running for the Orvis Battenkill III Reel, courtesy Orvis, as well as numerous other door prizes. This is a great chance to learn more about the "smallie" patterns on the New from some of the region's best experts. The Trout Unlimited Chapter will also share information about its recent collaborative project with VDGIF and the US Forest Service on Big Stony Creek in Giles County. Contact Todd Lowe (540) 797-0643, toddlowe@gmail.com for more information.

Learn to Tie Shad Pattern Fly At Orvis in Richmond March 4

The Orvis store at Short Pump Town Center in Richmond will offer a free shad pattern fly tying clinic Wednesday, March 4, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring your own tools and material if you want to tie, or just stop in and learn about what works for the upcoming shad run. Contact the fishing department at (804) 253-9000 for more information.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange March 7-8

The 5th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held March 7-8 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. Contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

Annual Wild Baby Shower March 7 in Chesterfield

Area Rehabbers Klub (ARK), a non-profit organization consisting of individual wildlife rehabilitators, is inviting the public to help local wildlife in need at their 6th Annual Wildlife Baby Shower on Saturday, March 7, from Noon– 4 p.m. at Rockwood Park Nature Center in Chesterfield. During educational presentations, participants can see owls, an opossum, a kestrel and other wildlife up close. ARK rehabilitators care for all native Virginia wildlife. Wild babies need special care provided by licensed wildlife rehabilitators to keep them growing and healthy until they are ready to return to the wild. It takes a lot of food, medicine and supplies. Visit the ARK wish list to see what the babies need. If you'd like to donate, but are not a party animal, just leave your gift at Bird Watchers in Midlothian, Wild Birds Unlimited in Chesterfield, or call the ARK Wildlife Hotline at (804) 598-8380 to arrange a drop off.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Hosts Fundraiser March 14 in Richmond

The Old Dominion Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will host their 21st Annual Banquet on Saturday, March 14, at 4:00 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Koger Center South, in Richmond. Join fellow outdoors men and women at this Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation event to raise funds for habitat protection, youth hunting programs and other conservation activities. A good meal, live and silent auctions and games will help ensure the future of elk and elk country. For more information: Contact Wayne Martin, Ticket Chair at 804-737-1594.

3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium in VA Beach March 14

The 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium, co-sponsored by Wild River Outfitters and the Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation will be held in Virginia Beach on March 14 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. For information contact Lillie Gilbert, (757) 431-8566.

Trout Unlimited Conducting Fly Tying Classes in Front Royal

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (NSVTU) are conducting a beginner/intermediate fly tying class for four more consecutive weeks meeting every Tuesday night in Front Royal through March 17. Instructor Jim Hart notes that even though two classes have been completed to date, students can come in on the third week of the classes, especially if they have some prior experience as the first two weeks are dedicated to the basics. 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 swauger@embarqmail.com or Jim Hart at hartswoods@comcast.net or phone (540) 635-7970 for more information.

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 tu389-bwills@cox.net or flytyer53@hotmail.com.

Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society Hosts Habitat Fundraiser

The Appalachian Highlands Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society Chapter will hold its 14th Annual Sportsman's Banquet at Holiday Inn in Johnson City, TN on Saturday March 28, at 5:00 p.m. There will be dinner, live auctions and raffles of fine shotguns, wildlife art and jewelry. Proceeds from this event will be dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for the grouse, woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport-hunting tradition and outdoor heritage. Tickets for the event are $45 for annual membership and dinner. Contact Donna Vance at (423) 357-1735 after 5 p.m. or email donna.vance@generalshale.com for additional information.

Master Naturalists to Host Training Classes March 24

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists announces the start of their 3rd training classes beginning March 24. Click here for more details.

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: nmahanes@vt.edu, 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

Jimmy Christian Recognized as Wildlife Manager of the Year

The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has recognized VDGIF Wildlife Worker, Jimmy Christian as the Wildlife Manager of the Year. Jimmy is a life-long resident of New Kent County where he raised his family and started his own farming operation, supplying the Richmond area with New Kent's finest produce for many decades. Upon retirement from farming, Jimmy began phase two of his life - a conservation career with VDGIF. A lifelong outdoorsman and hunter, Jimmy has enthusiastically given back to the conservation community in numerous ways. His considerable knowledge of farming and forestry has been an invaluable asset to VDGIF habitat management efforts. Jimmy works as a wildlife worker and spends the majority of time improving habitat on Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area, a premier turkey habitat in eastern Virginia.

VDGIF research staff asked Jimmy to assist with the Gobbler Survival Research project because of his knowledge and experience with turkeys. From 2004 to 2007, Jimmy was a primary participant in this research. This project was especially difficult because little or no turkey trapping had previously occurred in the agricultural landscape of Tidewater Virginia. Jimmy used his lifelong network of farming and landowner contacts to locate turkeys, access private properties and establish capture sites. A patient man, he volunteered to man the capture blind on the majority of catches made during the research project. His contributions ultimately led to the capture of 85 gobblers, which were outfitted with telemetry transmitters so the birds could be followed to determine their fate. The data from this study is invaluable, and has substantially improved our understanding of gobbler survival and movements and is currently being reviewed for hunting season recommendations and management guidelines.

Jimmy has been instrumental in shifting open field habitat management efforts from traditional annuals to perennial cool season species, much of which has been installed as brood and feeding habitat for turkeys. In his free time, he enjoys pursuing turkeys in the spring, which he has done since the first spring turkey seasons were initiated. Congratulations on this well deserved recognition of dedication and expertise to improve habitat.

Sunrise Hunt Club Hosts Disabled Sportsmen for Memorable Hunt

Sunrise Hunt Club, located in Brunswick County, teamed up with Wheelin' Sportsman, VDGIF and the T.E Peterson Chapter NWTF to hold there annual Disabled Still Hunt from December 7-10. Eight physically challenged hunters from all over the U.S met at the Club's hunting camp on Sunday for a meet and greet and have a good old fashioned cookout with the "Fegans First Cousins" cooking some homemade Brunswick Stew. The three day deer hunt offered several clean misses and six deer harvested. An event such as this brings the community closer and with that lasting friendships are made. The Lift Master Stands furnished by the VDGIF paid off as usual with the ability to elevate the hunter and the versatility to be set up practically anywhere. Steven Sears, Sunrise Hunt Club coordinator, noted that the Club had been able to enlarge their hunts for these special sportsmen due to contacts and information learned during the Seminars for Hosting Disabled Sportsmen and Wounded Warrior hunts at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show in Richmond in August the past two years. Show Manager Hugh Crittenden has been very supportive of providing opportunities at the Sportsman Show to help hunters provide more opportunities for youth and disabled programs. The Club also expresses special thanks to the following sponsors for making this event at Sunrise Hunt Club the best ever: VDGIF, David Coffman, Editor of the Outdoor Report; Robin Clark and other volunteers from the Virginia Chapter of Wheelin' Sportsman; Harold Dyson and members of the T.E. Peterson Chapter NWTF; QDMA, Common Scents Deer Lure, Hunting Lease Magazine, Wal-Mart in Blackstone, Daniel Town Store, Red Oak Hunt Club, Fegans First Cousins and Daniels Heating & Air Conditioning.

Wildlife Center of Virginia Announces Spring Open House Schedule

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation's leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, has scheduled five open houses for Spring 2009. These are rare opportunities to see the inner workings of the nation's premier wildlife hospital, as well as meet some of the wildlife that serve as the Center's education ambassadors. All the open houses will be held on Sundays: March 1, 15 and 29 and April 5 and 19.

The Center will have three separate sessions each day – at 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Each session lasts about an hour. As a wildlife emergency room and hospital, the Wildlife Center is not usually open to the public. The seasonal open houses are the times during the year when visitors may tour the Waynesboro facility. There is no charge to participate in an open house; however, reservations are required (540) 942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org. A limited number of spaces are available for each session.

Every year, about 2,500 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to opossums to chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. "The goal of the Center is to restore our patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild," Wildlife Center President Ed Clark said. "At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release." The Center trains veterinary and conservation professionals from all over the world and is actively involved in comprehensive wildlife health studies and the surveillance of emerging diseases.

Western Virginia Land Trust Will Hold Landowner Workshops Beginning March 1

The Western Virginia Land Trust (WVLT) will hold a number of landowner workshops all across the WVLT service area this spring to help educate landowners on conversation easements. Conservation easements are permanent legal agreements that limit development on parcels of land and are increasingly popular tools with Southwest and Central Virginia landowners. Each workshop will be about an hour and a half in length and will be held at public meeting spaces such as schools or libraries. Interested landowners are encouraged to attend and learn more about the latest news on conservation easements. There is no cost or obligation to attend. Each participant will receive a special landowner edition of Saving Land in Western Virginia, as well as the Land Trust's new DVD on conservation easements, Your Land, Your Choices.

The Western Virginia Land Trust will also hold three Continuing Education Workshops for area attorneys, CPAs, and other interested professionals in May of 2009. The workshops, entitled Conservation Easements: What You and Your Clients Need to Know, will cover the basics of conservation easements including legal and financial aspects and the appraisal process.. For schedule, location and more details on the workshops, call (540) 985-0000 or email dperry@westernvirginialandtrust.org.

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.

Reports From Young Hunters

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

Me and My Son's First Hunt

James Alexander sent us this email:

Opening day of deer season this year will always hold special memories for me and my son. The first day of shotgun season I was able to harvest my first antlered buck. It was a beautiful nine- pointer with a 19 inch spread that weighed 170 pounds. I harvested this buck in Dinwiddie County. I brought this big buck home and my oldest son Spencer, who is six, could not hardly wait till his first hunt with daddy! The following weekend we went to the same land, that morning he cried a little, because we didn't see anything. I told him, "that's how it is sometimes, you have to keep coming back", and we did that afternoon. Patience was rewarded when a nice 13 ½ inch spread six-pointer come running right towards us. "Shoot it daddy!" Spencer exclaimed, and I did, perfect behind the shoulder shot, at 20 yards. Keep in mind, I've been hunting for 15 years, it took this long to get two nice bucks in one season! That was our first deer together and he has told all his friends about him and daddy's first hunt. I would choose our father - son hunt over a big monster buck hunt anytime!! Take your kids hunting or fishing, it provides for many years of wonderful memories — good ones too!!

James Alexander

Thanks James for sharing this great story and photos.

Eight Year Old Masters 20 Gauge and Crossbow

Eight year old Tyler Baker of Bayse got his first buck with his 20 gauge on November 22. The big buck has 10 points and was about 125 pounds. Tyler also harvested two nice does with a crossbow. Three deer his first year hunting is quite an accomplishment. A proud Dad noted that crossbow hunting has opened a huge window of opportunity for young hunters in Virginia and we took advantage of the warm evenings to get his first deer.

Closing Day Provides New Beginnings For Young Waterfowlers

On Saturday February 14, the Virginia Waterfowler's Association and Webfoot Mafia Guide Service provided a fully guided goose hunt for three very fortunate apprentice hunters. The father & daughter team of Richard and 11 year old Lindsay Martin were on their first ever goose hunt, while US Army Reservist Stephen Carr of Ft. Lee was making a comeback to waterfowling after many years absence

Upon arrival at the Goochland County hunt location, work immediately began as decoys were set out, and a large blind was constructed and grassed. Each step in the process was discussed, and the participants had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in Central Virginia. Once the decoys were set, and the blind was constructed, the group gathered for an educational seminar facilitated by VDGIF's Outdoor Education Program staff. Topics including firearms safety, hunting from blinds, zones of fire, wingshooting fundametals, waterfowl identification, game laws, and hunter ethics were all discussed.

Following the educational component, a hot lunch was served compliments of the Virginia Waterfowler's Association. Full and tempted to lounge by the beautiful pond in the sunshine, one would think the hunters would have to drag themselves to the blind. Much to the contrary, these hunters were now fueled up and ready to go! As dusk approached, the geese began working as expected. After a small flock landed on the pond, more and more birds began dropping in. With the expert calling of the Web Foot Mafia guides, birds were brought into range, and all of the apprentice hunters were fortunate enough to harvest their first geese!

VDGIF Outdoor Education Coordinator Jimmy Mootz reported, "According to the three new hunters, the only downside of the hunt is that they have to wait until the September season to go afield again!"

More Pictures from Young Hunters

How did you do? Send stories and photos to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov. If we use your story that includes a youth or first time hunter, you'll receive a complementary Virginia Wildlife hat!

 

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.

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 four weeks 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!

Boaters Should Plan Hurricane Strategy This Winter

The hurricane season may seem a long way off, but spending a little time now planning how you will protect your boat from the next storm could mean the difference between minor scratches and the total loss of your boat. To help boaters plan their hurricane strategy, the experts at the BoatU.S. Marine Insurance Damage Avoidance Program have an information packed website that can help boaters customize their own hurricane plan now.

The information comes from the experiences of the BoatU.S. Insurance Program's "Catastrophe Team" of claims adjusters, salvage specialists and transportation staff that are on the front lines of recreational boat storm recovery and damage assessment. Director of the BoatU.S. Damage Avoidance Program, Bob Adriance notes, "With every storm, we learn more about which preparations work and which ones don't. Sharing this information allows boaters to make smarter decisions in hurricane planning." The website features a variety of topics including:

  • A free, downloadable Guide to Preparing Boats and Marinas for Hurricanes and a Hurricane Preparation Worksheet
  • Hurricane Preparation: Location, Location, Location
  • Strap Down Boats Stored Ashore, Hurricanes and Ropes
  • Sample Marina and Boat Club Facility Hurricane Plans from Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida

The website is a good way to stay informed whenever a storm threatens to come ashore, with extensive storm tracking features available including "spaghetti" landfall strike probability models. Also included are live satellite images, wind band information, NOAA advisories and a hurricane message board to share experiences.

We thank the Fishing Wire and BoatUS for this information. For further details contact Scott Croft, (703) 461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com.

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, Feb. 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.

Is Your Woodland Home at Risk From Wildfire?!

Last weekend Virginia experienced conditions to create the "perfect firestorm"... dry woodland fuels, low humidity and strong, gusting winds. Add a careless act like tossing a cigarette, or burning trash and a hot ember can quickly become a raging inferno destroying property and putting lives at risk. Many people don't realize that they face serious wildfire danger. If you live in or near forests or other wildland fuels, you are at risk. Visit the Virginia Department of Forestry website for 25 Firewise Tips and actions you need to take to create a Wildfire-Defensible Space to protect your home and property from wildfires.

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.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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.

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.

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange March 7-8

The 5th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held March 7-8 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. Contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Lower Potomac: J.G. Sports (571) 436- 7521. D.C. residents are lucky as bass begin to hit well in their area. They are going for small jigs and Silver Buddies. Joe Hawkins of J.G. Sports also told me that stripers are being brought up on cut bait in catfish holes. Several cat anglers have been surprised! No word on crappie, bluegill or perch. The water is in the lower 40s and clear.

Virginia Beach and Chesapeake Bay: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. Capt. Jim reports that some big rockfish have been landed at the bridge tunnel, but again, fishing for rockfish there is strictly catch and release. It's the law. The good news is that in a week or two, flounder should show up around the bridge tunnel and Cape Henry.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Charlie Brown, there is not much action this week. However one lucky angler landed a couple of 7 lb. plus largemouths. Bream are going for worms, as are crappie. Some large cats have been undone by cut bait. The water is clear and 49 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. The incomparable Dewy Mullins reports that cats are going for cut bait and live shiners. A few stripers have been brought to boat with chatterbaits and spinners. Yellow perch are going for shiners and nightcrawlers. One lucky fisher brought up a 1.25 lb. yellow perch. The water is dingy and in the low 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dashiell's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Crappie are doing better in the area, with minnows and jigs having the most success. Drew Dixon told me that yellow perch are doing "right well". Angler Carl Herring landed one well over a pound. Not much cat action, but don't despair – the shad and herring are coming soon, and we know how much cats and anglers love to go for them. Jigs have fooled a few bass. No word on stripers. The water is in the low 40s and clear.

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Carpiniski reports that crappie are hitting well on small minnows. Stripers are attacking live shad and bucktails. Cats are liking clam snouts (and who among us can resist a good clam snout), chicken livers and stinkbait. Largemouth bass are responding to suspended baits and rattletraps. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is around 39 to 46 and clear.

James River at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane. Hemmingway would have liked Tom Riesdorf's report – it's all nada. No bass, no stripers, no cats, no crappie – at least not reported to Tom. Basically, it's just to cold to fish comfortably. Tom did say that the stocked trout streams in the area are "OK". The water is in the high 30s and clear.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store. According to Brandon Gray crappie are showing up in the shallows and can be had with a tight line method using small jigs and minnow. The best areas are Blue Stone and Buffalo creeks. For bass try the shallow north points of the lake with red clay or rock. Use small crankbaits, jerkbaits and Rattletraps. A few stripers have been landed at the mouth of Grassy Creek. Cat action is slow, but picking up. Try cut bait particularly shad. No word on bluegill or perch. The water is 45 to 47 and stained.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchette told me that the yellow perch are really hitting and that angler David Lattuca landed one that went two pounds and was 14 inches long. No news on stripers, bass or cats. Water is in the high 30s to low 40s and clear.

Lower New River: Big Z's (540) 639-1651. Muskies are plentiful responding especially to big plugs and hard or soft plastics. On the lake stripers and hybrids are down about 30 feet and are going for spoons and bucktails. No word on crappie and cats. Water is clear and 37 to 40 degrees.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop. Harry says the bass streams are too cold to fish. The best trout fishing to be had at present is in the delayed harvest streams. To get the big one go deep with a Mr. Rapidan Streamer size 10 or a Betsy Streamer size 10. In the stocked trout streams fish in deep pools and below riffles with Murray's Black Stone Fly Nymph size 12 or the Casual Dress Nymph also size 12. All streams are clear and between 38 and 40 degrees.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Lake Anna: Wayne Olsen (540) 894-8333. Stripers are hitting well as they are moving around in a pre-spawning pattern. Your best bets are Sassy Shad or Sea Shads in quarter ounce up to half ounce lead heads such as Gotcha Heads. Not much bass action though every once and a while one will hit on a striper angler's lure. According to Wayne, bass will "start to cook" in mid March. Crappie are schooled up deep, try around the bridge pilings. No word on bluegill or yellow perch. For white perch go 20 to 30 feet down with a vertical jig. The water up-lake is stained and 41 degrees, mid-lake clear and 45 degrees and down-lake clear and 51. The level is normal.

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead fish. If you should manage to catch one of these exotic imports, please kill it immediately and report the catch to either the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

View video about the snakehead »

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

Got Tips?
Got Tricks?
Adventure Stories?
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?

email your material to
fishing_report@hotmail.com
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 2- Southside

CPO tracking skills locate missing child before frigid nightfall... On February 7, 2009, CPO Chase Meredith responded to a search and rescue call in Patrick County. He received a call from the Patrick County Sheriff's Office at approximately 5 p.m. that a seven year old girl was missing from her grandparent's yard since 2 p.m. He utilized tracking skills to track the youngster for 3/4 of a mile. A nearby resident alerted the search team that he had heard a voice in the woods behind his house. CPO Meredith and two Patrick County Deputies responded and found the child standing in a field shivering, cold, wet and with briar scratches. She had crossed several creeks and was lucky to be located just before darkness when the temperature dipped below freezing. She was treated by EMT personnel and taken home—SAFE.

Virginia Conservation Police Officers receive specialized training in mantracking to help them follow possible law violators through the fields and forests of the Commonwealth. There are occasions when those same skills can be used to locate missing persons, helping to avert tragedies. Captain Ron Henry, the VDGIF regional manager which supervises Patrick County, stated "We are very pleased that CPO Meredith was able to use the mantracking skills he learned in the VDGIF CPO Academy to assist the Patrick County Sheriff's Office and members of the family in locating this child unharmed. There is much more to the role of Virginia's Conservation Police Officers than meets the eye - we are an integral part of our communities."

For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.

Region 5- Northern Piedmont

CPO's suspicions leads to stolen shotgun... On January 3, 2009 Senior Officer Joe Valasek was on foot patrol in Hanover County. Encountering a group of hunters exiting the woods, Officer Valasek conducted several field inspections. All hunters were in compliance. One hunter wearing blaze orange was not carrying a firearm and stated he was not hunting, only standing with his friend. CPO Valasek left the area with the hunters. As soon as the hunters left the area, CPO Valasek returned on foot and discovered a hidden shotgun. Officer Valasek was able to track down the suspect at a local convenience store. The investigation revealed that the subject in question was not licensed and the gun was stolen. For more information contact Captain Joe Pajic at (540) 899-4169.

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 Video: 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: Our Continuing Mission'
  • Spring Gobbler Hunting Tips
  • Kid's Fishing Days
  • Fly Fishing Festival
Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
 
SUBSCRIBE TO VIRGINIA WILDLIFE MAGAZINE!

The "Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild!" section will not be included in the March 2009 Special Photography Contest edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine since the entire edition is dedicated to the photography contest winners.

Snowshoe Hare
(Lepus americanus)

by Spike Knuth

Do you know where the phrase "Mad as a March hare!" comes from?

The snowshoe hare is also known as the "varying hare" because of its varying colors. It is basically patchy brown and white - mostly brown above and white below in summer, and tends to be mainly white in winter. The shortening daylight hours trigger changes in the hare's pituitary gland. The hare becomes less active and its system stops or reduces the production of pigment, and its hair turns white - perfect camouflage for living in the snow. Also, stiffer, longer hairs begin to grow on its big hind feet, enabling it to run over soft snow, working much like snowshoes, hence the name. Lengthening days in spring reverses the process and it returns to being the varying hare. These "rare hares" weigh four to five pounds, considerably larger than the cottontail rabbit. They don't burrow, but form a hollow under vegetation, logs and other natural debris

During courtship, males get a little aggressive and in a fighting mood - apparently that's where the term, "Mad as a March hare" comes from. They have two or three litters per year, producing four to six young each time. The young are born with fur while cottontail young are naked. Snowshoe hare populations are very cyclical. Only a small portion of Virginia has snowshoe hares - that's in the Laurel Fork area of Highland County - which resembles a peninsula surrounded by West Virginia in the George Washington National Forest adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest. Will there be a photo of this "rare hare" in the Special Photo Contest March edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine?

·    ·    ·

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

The "Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild!" section of each issue of Virginia Wildlife magazine highlighted here in the Outdoor Report each edition, features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

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

·    ·    ·

The March 2009 edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine contains the following photo contest categories:

Scenic Seasons

Cold and Clammy Critters

The Sporting Life

Marvelous Mammals

A Bug's Life

Birds of a Feather

Fantastic Flowers

Kids and Cameras

Not a subscriber? Purchase a copy of the March 2009 issue for just $4!

If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine, visit the Department's website, call 1-800-710-9369, or mail a check payable to "Treasurer of Virginia" and send it to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104.

  • A one-year subscription or 12 issues is only $12.95.
  • Let Virginia Wildlife magazine be your guide to the best in hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife information.

  • UPCOMING EVENTS
    February 2009
    General Assembly In Session Through March More »
    27 Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Meeting, Richmond City
    27-Mar 1 Western Virginia Sports Show, Augusta Expoland Fishersville
    27-Mar 15 Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, Ashland
    28 Annual Bedford Outdoor Show, Bedford Armory, contact VDGIF Conservation Police Officer, Lt. Tony Fisher tony.fisher@dgif.virginia.gov
    28 First Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament, Fishersville.
    March 2009
    1, 15 and 29 and April 5 and 19 Wildlife Center of Virginia Spring Open-House, Waynesboro reservations are required (540) 942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org.
    3 'Thaw-Out' Smallmouth Fishing Seminar Trout Unlimited, Christiansburg. Contact Todd Lowe (540) 797-0643, toddlowe@gmail.com
    4 Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary Public Meetings, Crossroads Institute, Galax, contact Penny Lloyd plloyd@roanokecountyva.gov (540) 772-2104
    4 Shad Pattern Fly Clinic, Orvis Short Pump store in Richmond. Contact fishing department at (804) 253-9000 for more information.
    7 ARK Wild Baby Shower, Chesterfield,
    7 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Blue Ridge Farm Center (John Deere Day), Buchanan. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    7-8 Orange County Sportsman Expo, OCHS Angler's Club, Orange. Contact Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext 1154, email: bgore@ocss-va.org.
    11 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    12 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Gereau Center, Rocky Mount. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    13-15 Wilderness Survival & Outdoor Skills Weekend, Appomattox. Click here for PDF
    14 Virginia Trappers Association Annual Fur Sale ExpoLand, Fishersville
    14 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium VA Beach contact Lillie Gilbert, (757) 431-8566
    16 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Bedford Central Library, Bedford. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    19 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Patrick County Library, Stuart. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    20-22 Joint Annual Conference Virginia and Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Associations, Hampton, registration required, for info visit www.vowa.org
    24 Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists 3rd Training Classes. For more details contact Lee Borgman: www.brfal.org
    24 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Carroll County Library, Hillsville. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    26 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Floyd Country Store, Floyd. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    28 Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society 14th Annual Sportsman's Banquet Johnson City, TN Contact Donna Vance (423) 357-1735 or donna.vance@generalshale.com for additional information.
    28 Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar Page Valley Sportsman's Club Pre-registration is required. Call Art Kasson to register for this free seminar at (540) 622-6103 or email: artkasson@yahoo.com.
    31 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Meadowbrook Public Library, Shawsville. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    April 2009
    5-8 Primitive Bow Making Workshop, Appomattox.
    18-19 9th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, South River in Waynesboro.
    24-26 Virginia Search and Rescue Council State Conference, Holiday Lake 4-H Center, Appomattox. For information/registration contact Nathan Brown vasar2009@yahoo.com
    NATURE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE BYRD NEST

    by Marika Byrd

    Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

    The Virginia Wildlife calendar notes that willows begin to bloom towards the end of February; however, blooming may extend into April. Many of us are familiar with the pussy willow blossoms about this time. A springtime rite is to take to the swampy land, stream banks, meadows or riversides in search of this shrub/tree. Free for the taking, few outdoor visitors ever return home without a few branches of the furry two inch hairy, silvery catkins that provide good protection from harsh weather. This woodland bouquet is then displayed as a harbinger of spring in its full glory in a vase of water somewhere at home.

    The perennial, decedious shrub/tree is part of the Willow family (Salix). Pussy willow refers to the branches laden with furry gray buds, known as catkins, as well as to the tree itself. The male and female are separate specimens, with many-stemmed plants, which have scaly, dark gray bark; the open, rounded crowns range from ¼ to ½ inches in length. The male catkins have yellow-tipped stamen, while the female have bowling-pin shaped green-yellow pistels. The wind is a great help in pollination. With nothing else blooming, early bees and insects are attracted to the willow flowers and help with the pollination. In the latter part of their bloom stage they turn a reddish brown.

    Think out-of-the box and create your own showpiece from the earth's bounty. Many decades back, I made numerous spring treks with my younger brother and sisters to seek and pick the blooming pussy willows. Our joy came in gathering the reddish brown "fuzzy worm-like blooms" (as we called them) to make rabbit art using paper, pencil, and glue. It reminded us of the summer coat on the Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus). Enjoy the project for its short life span.

    BOATERS ARE YOU ON BOARD WITH COMPLIANCE?
    • Virginia Boating Safety Education Requirement
    • In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law establishing requirements for boating safety education. This requirement will be phased in over several years.
    • Virginia Boating Safety Education Compliance Requirement
      Phase-in Schedule
      Operators must meet the requirements as follows:
    • Personal Watercraft (PWC) "Jet-Ski"
      PWC, age 20 or younger, July 1, 2009
      PWC, age 35 or younger, July 1, 2010
      PWC, age 50 or younger, July 1, 2011
      PWC, ALL ages by July 1, 2012
    • Motorboat (MB) 10hp and greater
      MB, age 20 or younger, July 1, 2011
      MB, age 30 or younger, July 1, 2012
      MB, age 40 or younger, July 1, 2013
      MB, age 45 or younger, July 1, 2014
      MB, age 50 or younger, July 1, 2015
      MB, ALL ages, July 1, 2016
    • For more information visit:
      Boating Education classes
    VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
    We have opportunities for the public to join us as volunteers in our Complementary Work Force Program. If you are interested in devoting your time and talents, apply here.

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

    MAKE IT A FAMILY ADVENTURE!
    The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
    LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HUNT OR FISH?
    Visit Find Game, the Department's award-winning online public hunting lands locator!

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

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

    MOON PHASES
    February 2009
    2 First Quarter
    9 Full Moon
    16 Last Quarter
    24 New Moon
    March 2009
    4 First Quarter
    10 Full Moon
    18 Last Quarter
    26 New Moon
    April 2009
    2 First Quarter
    9 Full Moon
    17 Last Quarter
    24 New Moon
    QUICK GLANCE
    AT HUNTING SEASONS

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

    Coyote, groundhog, & skunk: Continuous open season on private land only.
    Archery
    • Urban Archery Deer: Jan. 5-Mar. 28
    Firearms
    • Deer: Late Antlerless Jan. 5-Mar 28, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William except on Department-owned lands.
    • Opossum: Oct. 15-Mar. 10
    • Raccoon: Oct. 15-Mar. 10
    • Turkey: Spring Gobbler, Apr. 11-May 2, ½ hr before sunrise until noon; May 4-May 16, ½ hr before sunrise until sunset
    • Snow Goose: Dec. 6-Mar. 10
    • Bobcat: Nov. 1-Feb. 28
    • Fox: Nov. 1-Feb. 28
    • Rabbit: Nov. 1-Feb. 28
    • Squirrel: Spring Season, June 6-20, some Wildlife Management Area only, See regulations.

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

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

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

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

    VIRGINIA WILDLIFE CATALOG

    Security Reminder: VDGIF will never ask for personal information through unsolicited email.

    OUTDOOR REPORT
    EDITORIAL TEAM

    Editor: David Coffman

    Contributing Editors: Marika Byrd, Julia Dixon, Ron Messina, Lee Walker

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

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

    Executive Director: Bob Duncan

    The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via email to more than 22,000 subscribers the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

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

    Privacy Policy | {UNSUBSCRIBEHYPERLINK}

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

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