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, March 25, 2009

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • The Shad Are Back
  • Past Editions of Outdoor Report Now Archived
  • Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
    • Page Valley Sportsman's Club Hosts Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar March 28
    • Wheelin' Sportsmen Hosting Gobbler Hunting and Trout Fishing This Spring
    • Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society Hosts Habitat Fundraiser
    • Wildlife Center Offers Rehabilitation Classes
    • Trout Heritage Day Celebrated April 4
    • Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge April 4
    • Bluebell Festival At Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area April 11
    • Trout Unlimited Hosts Front Royal "Kids Fishing Day" April 11
    • Fly Fishing Festival April 18-19 in Waynesboro - Biggest Ever!
    • Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 18
    • Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Bow Building Workshop
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Three Eggs Hatch In Norfolk Botanical Garden Bald Eagle Nest
    • If They Build'em, They'll Come
    • Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative Website Now Online
    • NWTF Youth Writing Contest Features "The Hunt"
    • Outdoor Writers Recognize Student Writing Excellence
    • Virginians Recognized for National Awards by Wild Turkey Federation
    • VDGIF Asking Citizens To Assist In CWD Surveillance
    • Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings Scheduled Statewide March 23-April 1
    • Wildlife Center of Virginia Announces Spring Open-House Schedule
  • Hunting News You Can Use
    • Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates and Tips
    • Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!
    • Reports and Photos From Young Hunters
    • Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Begin the New Year!
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Summer Water Safety Tip: How to Fit and Borrow a Child's Life Jacket
    • No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30
  • "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • Virginia Naturally Offers Earth Day Ideas
    • Virginia Investigating Possible Cases of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Warm Season Grass Workshops Scheduled – Registration Due April 6
    • Tree Seedlings Selling Fast; Order Yours Before They're Gone
  • Fishin' Report
    • The Shad Are Back
    • Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists
    • 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
  • Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

The Shad Are Back

Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad has begun as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. In recent years, many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. American shad and hickory shad have already arrived at Richmond in the James River and should arrive at Fredericksburg in the Rappahannock River by late-March. Fishing for hickories usually winds down in late-April in the James and early-May in the Rappahannock. Americans may be caught through the end of May, but most are gone by the middle of the month. Remember, it is catch and release only for American shad (check VDGIF and VMRC regulations). Click on this link for more information on the American Shad Restoration Project to collect American shad eggs and stock fry as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock rivers. Get updates on Fish passage progress. Shad Cam is back up for the season and enthusiasts can once again enjoy capturing images of American shad and 20+ other species of riverine fishes as they pass through the Boshers Dam fishway on the James River. Time to go fishing!

See more details in the Fishin' Report!

Past Editions of Outdoor Report Now Archived

Missed an edition of the Outdoor Report? Want to reread an article you really enjoyed? Be sure to check our complete archive of past editions! The link to the archives has been permanently added to the sidebar of future editions in the Outdoor Report.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Page Valley Sportsman's Club Hosts Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar March 28

The Page Valley Sportsman's Club will host a Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar, Saturday, March 28, in Luray. This educational class will involve all aspects of turkey hunting including: safety, history and identification, turkey calls and calling, equipment and shotgun selection, turkey hunting strategies and shotgun patterning. All students are requested to bring their own shotgun and ammunition to use for patterning their shotgun during the afternoon range exercise. Class size is limited, all participants must pre-register. Adults must bring a youth (under age 16) to attend the seminar. Pre-registration is required. Contact Art Kasson for information and to register for this free seminar at 540-622-6103, or email: artkasson@yahoo.com.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Hosting Gobbler Hunting and Trout Fishing This Spring

It's time for Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen members to hit the woods and the streams again! We have some exciting events planned for the spring. There are four exciting Spring Gobbler hunts and four Trout Fishing events scheduled. A limited number of hunters with disabilities will be drawn for each Spring Gobbler hunt. If you have a disability and would like to participate, download our 2009 Spring Gobbler Hunting and Trout Fishing Application Forms now to be entered into the hunt draw. Gobbler Hunting Application deadline is April 1 and Trout Fishing application deadline is April 15. Check VANWTF website for details.

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.

Wildlife Center Offers Rehabilitation Classes

Wildlife Center of Virginia Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor Amanda Nicholson, announces upcoming classes for those interested in becoming trained and certified wildlife rehabilitators.

March 28: Wildlife Center of Virginia's "On the Road" classes at VDGIF Headquarters in Richmond

  • Intro to Wildlife Rehabilitation: 10:00 a.m. to noon
  • Intro to Raising Orphaned Mammals: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more information, email outreach@wildlifecenter.org or visit the Wildlife Center of Virginia website.

Trout Heritage Day Celebrated April 4

On Saturday, April 4, VDGIF will host its annual Trout Heritage Day. A group of 16 waters will be freshly stocked with trout to allow trout anglers and communities to plan activities around a known stocking date. This program was added several years ago for those anglers who enjoyed and missed the old opening day. Selected waters are stocked for the first Saturday in April to create an announced stocking event. The Department has worked with the U.S. Forest Service, local communities and private landowners to provide this opportunity. During the previous Trout Heritage Days, anglers reported success on most waters and were pleased with the angling opportunity provided. The fee fishing areas are closed to angling from March 30-April 3. Heritage Waters are closed on April 3. On April 4 fishing can begin at 9:00 a.m.

Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge April 4

A fun-filled day with fishing, activities and education are planned Saturday, April 4, at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County. Trout Unlimited, VDGIF and Graves Mountain Lodge are hosting trout fishing for kids 12 and under on a section of the Rose River (in front of Graves Mountain Lodge) which will be stocked (6 fish limit). The Rose River will open to fishing at 9:00 a.m. There will also be sections of the Rose River and along the Robinson River for adults.

This year other activities will provide education and hands-on activities. Harry Murray will give a 45-minute talk on fly fishing and also give a demonstration. Trout Unlimited will have fly tying stations, fly casting demonstrations, fly casting classes at a pond for children and adults, insect monitoring in the stream, and helping kids with fishing on the Rose River. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will bring their taxidermy mounted animals for display. Virginia State University will display live, cold and warm water fish. Shenandoah National Park will have a display about fishing in the park. Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation Districts will show macroinvertebrates and have their soil tunnel. DEQ and 4-H Adventure Club, Old Rag Naturalists will be making and finding wildlife tracks, Plus other organizations will have booths with displays, information and activities. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and lasts till 4 p.m.

2nd Annual Bluebell Festival At Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area

VDGIF Wildlife Lands Manager, Ron Hughes, invites you to bring your family and friends to Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Saturday, April 11, to welcome in the spring and view the spectacular display of Virginia Bluebells that carpet the Cedar Run floodplain for nearly a mile. Events include a nature art show and naturalist-led tours to Cedar Run, where everyone can learn more about the wildflowers, birds, butterflies, frogs and wildlife habitats on this special Wildlife Management Area.

A variety of Northern Virginia environmental organizations will provide displays, including opportunities to meet turtles and other wildlife up close and personal and activities for children of all ages in the front yard of the WMA Center. Participating organizations include the Audubon Naturalist Society, Prince William Art Society, Prince William Conservation Alliance, Prince William Wildflower Society, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and VDGIF.

This event is made possible by the Merrimac Farm WMA Conservation Partners: Prince William Conservation Alliance, Marine Corps Base Quantico and VDGIF. For more information, visit the PWCA website or call (703) 499-4954.

Trout Unlimited Hosts Front Royal "Kids Fishing Day" April 11

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF will be hosting the 11th annual "Kids Fishing Day", Saturday, April 11. The event will be held at Happy Creek next to the Bing Crosby Stadium off Commerce Street in Front Royal. Starting time will be 9:00 a.m. The VDGIF will be stocking on Friday and volunteers will help the kids on Saturday. There always are BIG FISH stocked for Kids Day and this year is no exception. Prizes will be given for each age group. Registration/logging the catch is at the middle pavilion. Donations to NSVTU are always accepted. Come on down to Happy Creek, bring your child, grandchild, or neighbors child and have a great day helping your kids fish. For information, call Jim Hart at (540) 635-7970.

Fly Fishing Festival April 18-19 in Waynesboro Biggest Ever!

Attention, fly anglers: the 9th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will be held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, April 18-19. This is the largest fly fishing event in the state and draws anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic. Here's where you can learn all the latest techniques and gear and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. Festival sponsors include The City of Waynesboro, Dominion Power, SunTrust Bank, Orvis, Brookside Flies, Water Skeeter, Virginia Sportsman, Red Fish Roy, Virginia Living, Appomattox River Company, Mid Valley Press, Garden and Gun, Temple Fork Outfitters and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc.

Noted fly anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic will speak and demonstrate fly casting at the 2009 event, including Bob Clouser, King Montgomery, Dusty Wissmath, Capt. Brian Shumaker, Mike Smith, Eric Stroup, Gordon English, Colby and Brian Trow, Tom Brtalik, Bryan Kelly and festival artist Alan Folger. Also, Beau Beasley author of "Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters," will be speaking and autographing copies of his book. Multiple fly tyers will also be on hand including Captain Tommy Mattioli and Walt Cary. Kayak expert Captain Cory Routh, will be on hand autographing copies of his first book, "Kayak Fishing, The Complete Guide", and giving demos riverside. This lively event features over $10,000 worth of raffle prizes, wine tasting, live riverside music and kids activities.

Daily admission to the festival is $15 per person, and the festival runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Click here for more information about the festival.

Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 18

The Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRP) will hold its annual "Clean Rivers Day" April 18. The clean-up encompasses the Blackwater/Nottoway watershed. Teams or individuals wanting to help can pick a spot they would like to clean or have one designated. The event is staged from the city of Franklin, but you do not have to travel to Franklin to participate. Jeff Turner, BNRP Riverkeeper, notes that this will be the Riverkeepers ninth clean-up, which to date has removed 53,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. BNRP is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. For more information call: (757) 562-5173.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Bow Building Workshop April 5-8

Are you interested in making your own primitive bow? Nate Mahanes, Program Director for the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center advises that this is a unique opportunity for any archery buff to learn the skills developed by native tribes centuries ago and handcraft your own bow. Early registration for the April 5-8 workshop is encouraged as class size is limited. 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

People and Partners in the News

Three Eggs Hatch In Norfolk Botanical Garden Bald Eagle Nest

After 39 days the first egg in the bald eagle nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden hatched on Saturday, March 21. The parents incubated the eggs through wide swings in temperature and the rain to keep all three eggs secure and warm. The third egg hatched early this morning! Stephen Living, Watchable Wildlife Biologist with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), had observed the pip hole in the third egg, the beginning of the hatching process. The hole had expanded and a large crack was visible as well. Both adults are busy providing small bits of food for the eaglets.

Once hatched, the young are covered with fine white downy feathers and rely on their parents for all their needs, including food and warmth. These young birds will grow rapidly and in 11-12 weeks (early to mid-June) will be ready to attempt their first flight as they prepare for life on their own.

The public can follow these young eaglets as they grow by watching 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 VDGIF wildlife biologists explaining what's happening. The eagles can be visited in person (from a distance of course) by visiting the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

If They Build'em, They'll Come

Thanks to King William High School agriculture and shop teacher Howard Hill and his students, the VDGIF Hogg Island and Chickahominy Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) have experienced no shortage of wood ducks. For over 10 years, Mr. Hill has incorporated the building of over 400 duck nesting boxes into his curriculum. Hill began this partnership with VDGIF at the request of WMA manager Donald Hayes. The annual tradition teaches students important carpentry and construction skills while giving back to the community and specifically supporting healthy wood duck populations. Several students in this class are avid deer hunters and a few enjoy hunting waterfowl on the Mattaponi River nearby. Many also are members of "Future Farmers of America." When asked about their motivations for participating, one student quipped, "Building and making things is fun and much better than just sitting in class." Another echoed that working with wood was much more enjoyable than book work. The kids even organize fund-raising efforts to pay for all materials involved.

Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative Website Now Online

In the face of declining trends in bird populations and of the growing loss of natural habitats, bird conservation has gained increasing relevance and support in North America over the course of the past century. In the past two decades, the bird conservation community at large has undergone an exceptional effort in organizing itself into networks of partners operating at international, national, regional, state and local scales. Here in Virginia this network is represented by the Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative (VABCI), a partner-led initiative coordinated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. VABCI was launched in 2006 with the goal of furthering bird conservation in Virginia, while coordinating with efforts at the regional, national and international level.

A new VABCI website is now online. The website features information on VABCI organization, projects and partners, and an event calendar with links to meetings and workshops of interest. The centerpiece of the site is the Resources section, which features a database of population estimates and trends for Virginia's priority bird species. This section also houses the Virginia Bird Survey Database, the first effort to comprehensively catalog the Commonwealth's bird survey and monitoring projects past and present. This first iteration of the database features over 30 projects. The database is a long-term project that will be continuously updated. Please have a look at www.vabci.org.

NWTF Youth Writing Contest Features "The Hunt"

The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is sponsoring a writing contest for JAKES (youth) members entitled "The Hunt". Here's your chance to put your writing and storytelling skills to work. Simply write an essay, up to 500 words describing a hunting or outdoor experience you've had and how it has affected your life. Entry deadline is May 31, 2009. Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 12 and under and 13 to 17 years old. Prizes in each category are: First $250, Second $150 and Third $50. Contest entry information is found on the VANWTF website.

Outdoor Writers Recognize Student Writing Excellence

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) recognized two Virginia Tech students, and three Virginia high school students, for their winning entries in the VOWA annual student writing contests. The presentations were made during the first, joint conference with the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association, on Saturday, March 21 at the Crowne Plaza Marina Hotel in Hampton with more than 80 members and guests in attendance representing seven Mid-Atlantic states. VOWA annually holds a High School Youth (grades 9-12) and a Collegiate Undergraduate writing competition with the objective to encourage students to cultivate their creative talents in writing about their outdoor adventure experiences. The theme of the contest is how experiences in the outdoors have influenced their lives.

For the 4th Annual Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest, the first place winning story, "Summer of the Rattlesnake" was written by Lucy Adams, a sophomore Wildlife Science major in the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources. Holly Kays, a double major in Natural Resources Conservation and English, was recognized for her second place win "With Notebook in Hand."

The three winning entries for the 16th Annual High School Youth Writing Competition 2008-09 were:

  • First Place - Mark Robertson, Senior, Patrick Henry High School, Roanoke "Backpacking Through Philmont"
  • Second Place - Scott T. Rollins, Senior, King George High School, King George "Monarch of the Pines"
  • Third Place - Taylor Nelson Fariss, Senior, Lancaster High School, Weems "The Miracle of Winter"

All winners received prize packages including outdoor gear donated by sponsor members valued between $200-300. VOWA members were also recognized for Excellence in Craft awards for writing, photography and reporting.

VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan met with the group to review issues, opportunities, legislation, and discuss updates on innovative programs and media relations with the professional communicators and conservation organization leaders in attendance. Programs were presented by editors, photographers and conservation leaders on current and future trends and innovations in communications. The members of the VOWA and M-DOWA want to acknowledge the major sponsors for the historic 2009 Joint Annual Conference whose support was instrumental in carrying out this successful event. Special appreciation is extended to the City of Hampton, Dominion Resources, Downtown Hampton Development Partnership, Hampton Convention & Visitor's Bureau, Hampton History Museum & Visitors Center, Maryland Legislative Sportsmen's Foundation, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Virginia Tourism Corporation.

VOWA and M-DOWA members participate in and informs the public of opportunities to experience the outdoors and increase their knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of these resources through the various communication media. They support the conservation of our natural resources and the best precepts for the consumption and recreational uses of those resources. Anyone who is interested in reading the winning entries or entering the annual contest can access that information at the VOWA website. The website shortly will be placing the photographs and winning articles for public reading.

A new feature is being added to the Outdoor Report to publish winning student articles from the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association annual contests. Read "A Day to Remember" by Amanda Gibson from Tunstall High School in Dry Fork. The story describes her first spring gobbler hunt with her dad. See "Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers" at the end of the Outdoor Report!

Virginians Recognized for National Awards by Wild Turkey Federation

Members of the Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation received national awards recognition during the 33rd Annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show Leadership Convention in Nashville, February 19, 2009.

The Virginia State Chapter was awarded their second straight L.A. Dixon Memorial Chapter Award as the Best Chapter in the Nation in the 5,000 to 9,999 members category as a leader in the NWTF's chapter system. The L.A. Dixon Memorial awards are given in honor of a man who gave unselfishly during the NWTF's early years leading to the organization's successful growth as one of the leading sportsman's conservation groups in the nation. This prestigious award is given to a select few chapters that excel at conservation fund raising, education and outreach events.

The Franklin County Longbeards Chapter, received the award for hosting the best Xtreme JAKES event during 2008. The Franklin County Chapter headquartered in Rocky Mount, went above and beyond the challenge of hosting a JAKES Conservation Field Day by creatively implementing new and fun activities to introduce youth in their community to the outdoors and the hunting tradition. The NWTF's JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) program is dedicated to teaching the principles of wildlife management and passing along the traditions of safe, ethical and responsible hunting to youth up to age 12. The NWTF's Xtreme JAKES program was developed for teens between the ages of 13 and 17. The program provides advanced outdoor opportunities and challenges more in line with older JAKES abilities and experiences.

Charles Grubbs, age 10, of Farmville, earned Second Place in the Age 9-11 Color Division of the NWTF Youth Art Contest, which was judged during the NWTF's 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show in Nashville. In addition to prize packages, the winning artists' works will be displayed for six months in the National Wild Turkey Federation's Winchester Museum at NWTF Headquarters in Edgefield, SC. The Youth Art Contest is just one of the ways the JAKES program urges youth to become involved in wildlife conservation.

Cheri Smith of Glen Allen was awarded the 2009 Annie Oakley Award given each year by the National Wild Turkey Federation to a woman who has excelled in leadership, service and promoting conservation, hunting and the outdoors. Just as world-famous sureshot Annie Oakley spent the better part of her life as an ambassador for shooting sports, Cheri has spent the last seven years giving back to her community serving in numerous leadership roles. As a member of the Tri-County Spurs Chapter of the NWTF, she has served as chapter president, chaired local fundraising banquets and helped bring the outdoors lifestyle to women and children by coordinating hands-on learning events.

According to Smith, community service is the most important part of the NWTF's mission, and it's what keeps her involved. Her chapter participates in the Turkey Hunters Care program, which provides holiday meals to the less fortunate. "It's unbelievable to watch mothers cry because they're going to have food for their kids," she said. Newly elected Virginia Chapter NWTF President, Robin Clark noted, "Cheri's recognition is well deserved, she is a great example that the NWTF is more than about turkeys. It's the people and their giving spirits that make the Federation a success as a national leader in providing opportunities locally for improving conservation, preserving hunting heritage traditions and serving community outreach programs."

VDGIF Asking Citizens To Assist In CWD Surveillance

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is asking citizens for assistance with the agency's continuing surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Since 2002, 4431 samples have been collected by VDGIF for CWD testing, and CWD has not been detected in any deer in Virginia.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal neurological disease that infects members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. The disease is believed to be caused by abnormally shaped proteins, termed "prions", that deteriorate brain tissue and causes a deer to starve to death due to difficulties ingesting food, hence the term "wasting" disease. CWD has been detected in two Canadian provinces and 15 states, including West Virginia. To date, 38 deer in Hampshire County, West Virginia, have tested positive for the disease. Symptoms of a CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, acting confused and marked weight loss.

Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF regional office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting VDGIF.

During the 2008-2009 hunting season, more than 250 hunter-killed and vehicle-killed deer from the CWD Surveillance Area in western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties (the counties closest to where CWD has been detected in West Virginia) were sampled and tested for CWD along with more than 50 captive and clinical suspect deer from across the state. Again, no evidence of CWD was found.

For additional information on CWD, please visit the Department's website.

Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings Scheduled Statewide March 23-April 1

The VDGIF Wildlife Division will hold a series of Hunting and Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings statewide to present the proposed regulation amendments and solicit public comments presented at the February 27, 2009, Board of game and Inland Fisheries meeting in Richmond. Click here for the dates, locations and directions for the 12 meetings scheduled March 23-April 1, 2009. This Public Comment Period in which the department solicits and receives comment on the Board-Proposed Hunting and Trapping Regulation Amendments will continue till May 11. The VDGIF website online comment system will solicit, accept and transparently display citizens' comments on the Board-proposed regulation amendments, but will not be structured to solicit and display citizens' recommendations for additional regulatory actions other than those proposed by the Board.

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 29 and April 5 and 19.

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.

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.

Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates and Tips

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

This edition features numerous workshop opportunities sponsored by sportsmen's groups in partnership with VDGIF, encouraging special training for youth and novice hunters to participate in the upcoming Spring Gobbler season. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends reviewing the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

  • Because a gobbler's head is distinguished by its bold white, blue and red colors, NEVER wear white, blue or red clothing - not even socks or undershirts - because a flash of white could be mistaken for a turkey. Even a red bandana or blue snack food wrapper could be misread in the woods during turkey season.
  • Never shoot at a sound or movement. Wait until you have a good, clean shot at a legal bird. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Instead, call out in a loud voice and remain hidden, until the other hunter acknowledges your presence.
  • When you harvest a gobbler, carry it out of the woods draped in blaze orange. Otherwise, another hunter might just see the bird and not you.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt!

With the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day scheduled for April 4 we want to know: 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!

Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Begin the New Year!

With the upcoming Spring Gobbler season, it's a great time to introduce a youngster or new adult hunter to the sport by getting an Apprentice Hunting License. Also, the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day scheduled for April 4, 2009, is only 10 days away. 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.

A new feature is being added to the Outdoor Report to publish winning student articles from the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association annual contests. Read "A Day to Remember" by Amanda Gibson from Tunstall High School in Dry Fork. The story describes her first spring gobbler hunt with her dad. See "Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers" at the end of the Outdoor Report!


Be Safe... Have Fun!

Summer Water Safety Tip: How to Fit and Borrow a Child's Life Jacket

Summer will soon be here and for many parents, this may be the first time your family goes boating. To make sure everyone is ready; the non-profit BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has three free online resources to make sure the kids are safe:

How to properly fit a kid's life jacket: Having a child wear an adult or incorrectly sized life jacket could be as dangerous as having no life jacket at all, giving parents a false sense of security. A short online video explains how to fit a right-sized life jacket to your child.

How to borrow a kid's life jacket if you don't have one: Boaters don't always have every kid-sized life jacket aboard. However, the BoatU.S. Foundation has over 500 locations across the country - local marinas, fire departments and other waterfront businesses - where parents can borrow a kid's life jacket (in various sizes) for the day or weekend, absolutely free. The website allows parents to search for a Kid's Life Jacket Loaner location near them. The program loaned out over 90,000 life jackets last year, and three lives have been saved to date.

Virginia's life jacket laws: There must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

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."

"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.

Virginia Naturally Offers Earth Day Ideas

The March/April Virginia Naturally Newsletter features Earth Day resources, grant information and upcoming events.

Virginia Investigating Possible Cases of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
Asking Cavers, Owners of Caves to Help by Reducing Cave Traffic

VDGIF is investigating two recent potential occurrences of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats in Virginia. While conducting winter surveys of caves where bats hibernate, known as hibernacula, biologists and volunteers from VDGIF, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Virginia Speleological Survey discovered bats that showed signs of WNS in Breathing Cave in Bath County. Soon after, similar symptoms were found in bats in Clover Hollow Cave in Giles County. Specimens were collected and sent to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for analysis. It will take from two to three weeks for results to be available. No known human health issues have been identified.

Asking Cavers, Owners of Caves to Help by Reducing Cave Traffic

Due to concerns about spread of WNS, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has closed the caves on its wildlife management areas until more is known about the transport of the syndrome. The Department will be asking private landowners with caves on their properties to consider closing their caves temporarily. Caving groups and individuals who enjoy caving are being asked to respect this temporary closure of Virginia caves and to suspend recreational and research caving activities until more information about the cause and spread of WNS can be determined.


Habitat Improvement Tips

Warm Season Grass Workshops Scheduled - Registration Due April 6

Warm Season Grass Workshops are scheduled in four counties to cover establishment and management of warm season grasses on your farm to use as a forage crop, improve wildlife habitat and provide other potential marketing opportunities. Registration is due April 6. Dates and county locations are as follows:

  • April 7 Rockingham
  • April 8 Augusta and Page
  • March 31 Appomattox

For information go to Valley Crops or contact Brian Jones, Crop and Soil Science Extension Agent, Verona. Telephone (540) 245-5750 or email: brjones8@vt.edu

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.

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.

The Shad are Back

The American Shad Restoration Project is underway to collect American shad eggs and stock fry as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock Rivers. The Pamunkey River supplies the brood stock for the James stockings and the Potomac provides the brood stock for the Rappahannock stockings. Since 1992 over 104 million shad fry have been stocked in the upper James and since 2003 over 23 million have been stocked in the upper Rappahannock.

Fish passage progress continues throughout Virginia. Embrey Dam is now completely gone from the river, and American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, and striped bass have been found above the dam by our biologists. The Boshers Dam fishway is once again operating for the 2009 spawning run.

VDGIF is also continuing the Shad Tagging Study in 2009, tagging American shad and hickory shad to learn more about shad populations and their spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock rivers. Tagging is planned for March through May of 2009. The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish near the dorsal fin (top/back) on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number, date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested or released.

Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists

Virginia has some of the premier smallmouth bass rivers in the country and things are looking up for 2009. VDGIF Fisheries Biologists are also continuing to lead the nation in research to learn more about how fish populations in these rivers work and how to better manage the fisheries to improve angling opportunities. Scott Smith, Fisheries Biologist in south-central Virginia and the Chairman of the VDGIF Smallmouth Bass River Technical Committee, has worked with other river biologists around the state to come up with their latest forecast of what anglers will encounter as they hit the smallmouth bass rivers this year. Scott wants anglers to know that VDGIF biologists are working hard on a number of issues facing smallmouth bass fisheries, like the fish kills on the Shenandoahs and Upper James, but overall anglers should continue to see increasing numbers of smallmouth to pursue. Any smallmouth angler will want to check out the 2009 Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast as they plan their river fishing outings.

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.

Kids Fishing Day 2009

It's prime time to go trout fishing! Graves Mountain Lodge, along with Trout Unlimited, VDGIF and other partners, will again host a special Kids Fishing Day in a stocked section of the Rose River in Madison County, on Saturday, April 4, 2009. This video showcases the 2008 event. April and May are great times to grab a fishing pole and spend some quality time on a trout stream with your family! Watch the video and get more information on the event here.

Sara White's Notebook

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Park ranger Eddie Hester says that bass and crappie action is heating up. The water is slightly stained, due to recent rains and 48 degrees. Look for bass to be moving into the back of coves and on to shallow flats. Look for crappie to be orienting to standing structure.

Lower Potomac: J.G. Sports (571) 436-7521. Joe Hawkins reports that bass are really hitting on the grass flats – "find green grass and throw a moving bait in it." Rattletraps and jigs are effective. No word on crappie, cats or bluegill. Yellow perch are also moving up the river and can be found around creek mouths and on the grass flats. The water is 49 and fairly clear.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. Tautogs have shown up around Cape Henry and the CBBT. Croakers are beginning to show up in the James and York Rivers. Rockfish are still around the Bridge Tunnel, but still must be released. A few flounder have started to show up and have been brought to boat. The water is clear and 44 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says bass action is slow, but should be improving as water temps rise. Some cats have been taken on cut bait. Crappie are doing fairly well as anglers slow drift small jigs and minnows. There has been a small, early run of herring showing up at Walkers Dam. The water is clear and 48 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. According to Dewy Mullins a recent nor'easter has made local angling very slow. A few cats and some bluegill have been landed. The water is murky and in the high 40s to low 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dashiell's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that several days of rain have pretty much brought fishing to a standstill on both Lake Smith and Little Creek Reservoir. As the water settles fishing will hopefully improve. The water is high, fairly clear and cool.

Blackwater/Nottoway Rivers: Riverkeeper Jeff Turner blknotkpr@earthlink.net. The Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers are both very high this week and running fast. A few shad and white perch are being caught. The shad in the Nottoway above Hercules is the only place producing regular catches. Stripers are being caught in both rivers, but they are sparse and it is hard to catch one over 18 inches. Slow fished crank baits and big blade baits are a good choice. The high water might just help the shad run get going this week. Good catches of catfish are starting to be caught and with the influx of the blue cat, some of the fish can be 10 to 12 pounds, which is big for these rivers.

Region 2 - Southside

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead (540) 721-4867. Stripers are biting well, both shallow and deep, on flukes and jigging spoons. Bass fishing is mixed, but deep diving suspended jerkbaits are getting good results. A few nice crappie have been landed with small minnows. The water is clear and 50 degrees.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store. Brandon Gray reports that bass are "picking up"; try spinners, jigs and dark colored lizards. Crappie are becoming more active and are responding well to small minnows and jigs. Some big cats have been landed on cut bait, shad and goldfish. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is muddy to stained and in the mid 50s.

Lake Philpott: Local Guide Jimmy Cannoy (276) 632-8406. Bass angling is still slow, but try off the shallow banks with small jigs or spinners. Crappie remain inactive and very slow due to cold water. No word on perch or bluegill. Things should pick up as the water warms. The water is clear and in the mid to high 40s.

Buggs Island: Local Guide Tim Wilson (434) 374-0674. Bass are sunning themselves in the shallows and going for slow moving crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinners. For cats look in the Ivy Hill area and throw fresh cut bait. Crappie are beginning to show themselves in the shallow flats, try trolling with small swim jigs and minnows. Stripers are hitting jerkbaits and crankbaits.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Ron Seward reports that bass are doing well on crawfish color crankbaits, jigs and slow fished Senkos. Crappie fishing is also picking up; with one slab going over 2 pounds. Minnows are always good locator bait for crappie or slow trolling small swim baits. Cat at action has been hit or miss, with a few big ones being reported. No word on perch and bluegill. The water is muddy and 51 degrees. Our man in the boat Willard Mayes recently went to Nottoway falls and landed several fairly good sized crappie, 10 bluegill and a few bass. A trip to Lake Gordon also was pretty good for crappie and again a few bass. The water in both lakes is cool.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Glendon Jones says that some big stripers have been fooled by live bait. Large and smallmouth bass action is picking up and jerkbaits fished in the back of coves are a good starter bait. Crappie are responding to minnows. Yellow perch are biting minnows and jigs. Cat action is slow. The water is 52 and clear.

Lower New River: Big Z's (540) 639-1651. Our source, John Zienius is out sick, so no news. Get well soon. However, according to the new Virginia Wildlife Calendar walleye are beginning to spawn right about now and back in March of 2003, Donald S. Eaton, Jr. landed the current state record smallmouth bass, 8 lbs, 1oz., on the New.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

Jackson River: Local guide John Roberts (540) 463-3235. Trout fishing is picking up as the water warms. Look for areas where there's a good hatch. To fish the surface, try tan caddis dry flies, like the Blue Quill size 14. Below the surface try caddis pupa flies, large streamers and minnow imitations. The water is clear and in the low 50s.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop (540) 984-4212. According to Harry the smallmouth streams in the valley are in good shape. Try Murray's Hellgrammite sizes 4 and 6. The water is clear and 54 degrees. The stocked trout streams in the valley are good for rainbow anglers. Try small nymphs and streamers. The water is clear and 46 degrees. Mountain trout streams are at a good level due to recent rains and are in good shape. The water is clear and 44 to 46 degrees.

Lake Moomaw: Maple Tree Outdoors (540) 468-2682. Bass are responding in the shallows on alewives, Sliver Buddies and crankbaits. Crappie angling is "hit and miss", but some nice ones have been brought to boat. Cats won't be biting well until June. Trout should be responding after the first of April. Yellow perch have started to school up and responding well to fresh alewives and small minnow tipped jigs. The water is clear and cold.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Lake Brittle Angler Service Center to reopen under new management

Michael Day was recently awarded the contract to operate Lake Brittle's Angler Service Center and plans to open the business on Friday, March 27, 2009. He will be open daily from sunrise to sunset except Thursday. Mike will begin operation with 10 new 14-foot jon boats, trolling motors and other angling needs for rent. He will also have bait and snacks for purchase and will begin stocking rudimentary terminal tackle. Fauquier County Parks and Recreation Department had run the Center for years but had to cease operations due to budget constraints. Mike brings past experience, as he helped run the Center for several years under county management. Anglers are reminded that they can fish or launch boats at Lake Brittle 24 hours per day (even when the Center is closed). For more information, contact VDGIF Fisheries Division at the Fredericksburg Regional Office, (540) 899-4169.

Lake Anna: Local Guide Wayne Olson (540)894-8333. Bass fishing is "tight" due to colder water; things will improve as the water warms. Crappie angling is better but still slow. No word on cats. Stripers are also slow, but are responding to fresh cut herring and live shad. Up lake the water is stained and 52 degrees; mid lake is clear and also 52 degrees; down lake is clear and 54 degrees.

Lake Anna: C.C McCotter, Woods and Waters Magazine. Look for bass in the spawning areas on secondary points with crank and jerk baits. Striper fishing is "excellent" with shad and swimbaits as your best bets. Crappie are biting well in the shallows. The water is warming and stained to clear.

Lake Philpott: Local Guide Jimmy Cannoy (276) 632-8406. Bass angling remains slow, but try off the banks with jigs or spinners and the back of coves. Crappie are inactive due to cold water. No word on perch or bluegill. Things should pick up as the water warms. The water is clear and in the mid to high 40s.

James River (below Richmond): Local Guide Captain Joe Hecht Fat Cat Guide Service (804) 221-1951. Trophy-size blue cats are still being landed in the lower James; try the heavy underwater structures and channel edges. Hickory shad and herring are starting to show up. Now's the time to stock up on lots of shad darts and small spoons. The word is big rockfish are making there way up the river. Last season anglers were treated to a few 20-plus pound stripers within the Richmond city limits. The water is murky and warming.

Buggs Island: Local Guide Tim Wilson (434) 374-0674. Bass are sunning themselves in the shallows and going for crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinners. For cats look in the Ivy Hill area and throw cut bait. Crappie are in the shallow flats, try trolling with minnows. Stripers are hitting jerkbaits and crankbaits.

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 3 - Southwest

Website posting of illegal bear trapping photo leads to arrest... On February 28, 2009, Senior Conservation Police Officers Jeff Pease and Dennis Austin, and Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall culminated an investigation into a photograph which depicted the unlawful taking of a black bear with the use of a steel leg hold trap. The photograph was posted on a trapping website that was reported to Senior Officer Pease on February 23 through the Wild Crime E-Mail site. Senior Officer Pease was able to contact authorities in Pennsylvania in reference to the website and obtained an address in Smyth County for the person posting the photograph. Officers Pease and Hall interviewed the subject at the address obtained from the website reference to the photograph and obtained voluntary statements regarding the incident. These statements led to the identity of the subject involved in the incident.

Later the same day, Senior Officer Dennis Austin and Officer Hall interviewed the identified subject at his residence in Washington County. The information obtained in the prior interview by Officers Pease and Hall proved valuable as the suspect initially advised the bear was found dead in the trap he had set for coyotes in an area in Washington County. When presented with the facts known by the officers and being advised of his rights, the suspect provided a written statement to Officers Austin and Hall in which he related that he had shot the bear after finding it in one of his coyote traps. He also advised that after he shot the bear he contacted Department personnel in Richmond and Marion, had hypothetically asked what a person should do in such a circumstance and was advised that trapping a bear was illegal. The suspect advised that he became scared that he would be charged with illegally taking the bear and left the carcass near the site where he had shot it.

The suspect led Officers Hall and Austin to the site, but scant remains of the carcass could be found as the incident had occurred prior to Christmas Day, 2008. The suspect did not realize that the picture he had provided to his acquaintance had been posted on a trapping website and had only taken the picture to provide proof that he actually had caught a bear in a coyote set. The subject was charged with a violation of Taking a Black Bear in a manner not permitted by Law. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

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!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

5th place 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest

A Day to Remember

My first spring gobbler hunt with my Dad by Amanda Gibson

My most memorable outdoor experience is when I was ten years old and my Dad took me spring gobbler hunting for the first time. I remember that Saturday morning like it was yesterday. I was so excited and I began getting ready days before the big day. All week Dad and I talked about all the things I had learned in the Hunter Safety Course. Dad and I went scouting on Papa's farm and found a nice bird. That whole week I couldn't get my mind off Saturday. Finally it was Friday, and as the night continued I got more and more butterflies in my stomach. My dad said we had to get in the woods while everything was asleep and before the sun came up. I remember crawling into bed, saying my prayers and thanking God for giving me the opportunity to go hunting with my wonderful dad.
Suddenly I opened my eyes and it was Saturday morning. Within minutes I was totally camouflaged and ready to go. I remember Mom wouldn't let us leave until she took pictures. The ride to the farm was silent. I got so scared when my dad got out to open the gate to the farm. I had grown up around guns, and I certainly knew how to shoot one. I checked my 410 shotgun to make sure it was empty. It seemed like we walked forever; it was pitch dark and extremely quiet. As I settled down on the hard frozen ground I loaded my gun as a million things were going through my head. After a while it began to get light and the woods seemed to come alive with the chirping of birds. I looked over at my Dad, he was leaned up against a tree right beside mine; he smiled and winked and then he leaned over to me and said, "This is when it all begins".

Just as the sun began to rise we heard the first crow off in the distance and within seconds a turkey gobbled and then another. Dad whispered, "We've got two birds close by". We moved quietly, trying to get closer to the birds. I remember it being a very peaceful morning, and I was hoping I would go home with my first gobbler ever. As the morning passed there was silence in the woods and I began to feel discouraged when suddenly I heard a hen clucking and then a gobble. I was shocked and really didn't know what to do. I didn't even see the turkeys! My dad whispered that the gang was coming closer, and I just knew it was going to be a big one. Every time dad called, the gobbler would answer back.

For about ten minutes my dad continued calling, they were definitely coming closer. I turned my head slightly and there they were. It was three of them but my eyes were fixed on the one with the red head and beard. I already had my gun propped up on my knee pointing in their direction and he was in the perfect spot. My heart was beating so hard that I was afraid the turkeys would hear it pounding. I slowly and carefully pushed the safety off, put my finger on the trigger and aimed right for his head. I didn't jerk, but that little 410 knocked me over! When I realized what was happening I saw the turkey flying low to the ground and I thought I had missed, when all of a sudden he fell. I screamed and ran to give my dad a big hug. We had to cross the creek to get my gobbler, but it was all worth it.

I think that day was the best day of my life. I love to recall this memory and just remember the quality time I spent with my dad in the woods on that day. We've spent many more since then. I enjoy a lot of different types of hunting like fox, deer, turkey and dove hunting. Since then I have killed one deer and four turkeys. I don't think there is anything more fun and challenging than hunting. Someday, I hope to be able to share my children's first hunting experience just as my father did with me.

5th place 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest by Amanda Gibson, Sophomore, Tunstall High School, Dry Fork, Virginia.

For information on the VOWA High School Youth Writing Contest or the Collegiate Undergraduate Contest visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Contest Chairman:

David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
POB 11104 Richmond,  VA 23230
Telephone – 434-589-9535, Email: david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov


In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Wild Turkey Taxidermy Tips
  • Spring Gobbler Hunting Tips
  • Kid's Fishing Days
Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
 
SUBSCRIBE TO VIRGINIA WILDLIFE MAGAZINE!

The "Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild!" section will not be included in the April 2009 edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine since there is a special section on wildlife habitat enhancement.

One of the winning photographs in the March 2009 Special Photography Contest edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine features an eastern screech owl resting in a tree cavity-uniquely camouflaged.

Saw-whet Owl
By Spike Knuth

The eastern screech owl is similar to the saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus), one of the most migratory of owls. Often its wandering takes it into unexpected areas in large numbers. They may remain for awhile then suddenly disappear, hence the saw-whet is one of the species of concern in the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan. The saw-whet is so named because its call resembles the rasping and scraping sound made when the teeth of a saw are being filed. It is a small (8 inches) but large headed owl that lacks ear tufts. Its upper parts are brown, spotted with white, while its underparts are grayish-brown to reddish-brown, The bird's crown is narrowly streaked with white.

Saw-whets nest in the Canadian-type forests of spruce and fir in the Appalachians, usually above 1500 meters. They choose old woodpecker holes to nest in, but will use man-made nesting boxes. They are dependant on small woodland mammals such as deer mice, shrews, voles, red squirrels and flying squirrels for food. Saw-whets are able to live and even nest close to human habitation without any problems. One oddity about them is their tameness. They can be approached easily and reportedly have even been picked off of a branch while sleeping. They winter over much of Virginia.

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service.

·    ·    ·

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
    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.
    26 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Buffalo Gap High School, Augusta County. Directions.
    26 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Glenvar Middle School, Salem. Directions.
    26 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Warsaw Campus, Warsaw. Directions.
    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 email 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.
    31 Warm Season Grass Workshop, Appomattox. For details check website, call (540) 245-5750 or email.
    April 2009
    1 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Chatham High School, Chatham.
    4 Trout Heritage Day Celebrated See DGIF website.
    4 Kids Trout Heritage Day, Graves Mountain Lodge Madison County See DGIF website.
    5-8 Primitive Bow Making Workshop, Appomattox.
    7 Warm Season Grass Workshop, Rockingham (540) 245-5750 or email: brjones8@vt.edu
    7 Board of Game & Inland Fisheries, Richmond
    8 Warm Season Grass Workshop, Augusta and Page Counties (540) 245-5750 or email: brjones8@vt.edu
    11 Kids Fishing Day Trout Unlimited Front Royal Contact Jim Hart at (540) 635-7970
    11 Bluebell Festival Merrimac Farms WMA Prince William Conservation Alliance contact the PWCA at 703-499-4954 or check website
    18 Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up For more information call: (757) 562-5173
    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
    May 2009
    15-17 Become an Outdoors-Woman, Appomattox, Holiday Lake 4H Center. Check DGIF website for details
    NATURE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE BYRD NEST

    by Marika Byrd

    Kousa Dogwood

    The kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), is of Japanese origin and one of five species of dogwood that are used extensively for wildlife habitat enhancement and landscaping, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry. The kousa blooms in late spring after the white bracts die off on the more common flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), Virginia's official state flower and tree. What many novice observers refer to as the "flowers" on dogwoods, are actually large bracts which protect the small inconspicuous flowers. The kousa has oval bracts (flowering petals) two to three inches in diameter which are white to yellow in color. In contrast the flowering dogwood has four heart-shaped white bracts, notched in pink, on the outer edges.

    The kousa is a hardy, deciduous, small sized ornamental tree which prefers a "footing" in well-drained soils. The trunk is usually multi-stemmed on very low branches. In the fall, the leaves turn reddish purple in full sun, to green or chartreuse color in partial shade.

    The one inch diameter, red center clusters are the true fruits, which are edible by both wildlife and humans. The tree fruit has a sour taste until it ripens—just like the unripened persimmon. The fruits are scattered over the branches. As the kousa tree matures over the years, it seems to have more tender and sweeter ripened fruit. Look for the dull red fruit (drupe) in September, which looks like upright, red raspberries on a two inch fruiting stalk (peduncle). Be ready to glean these fruits in late summer or early fall, before the wildlife—particularly the birds and squirrels—take the bounty of edible fruit.

    Now you have learned about another species of dogwood, gather a group of friends, including children, and go "hunting" for the kousa dogwood. It will be an educational experience for all.

    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
    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
    May 2009
    1 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.
    • Turkey: Spring Gobbler, Apr. 11-May 2, ½ hr before sunrise until noon; May 4-May 16, ½ hr before sunrise until sunset
    • 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 ARCHIVE
    Missed an edition of the Outdoor Report? Want to reread an article you really enjoyed? Be sure to check out our complete archive of past editions!
    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