In this edition:

Safety First - Time To Take Your Hunter Education Class

September is just a week away... which means the fall hunting seasons will begin soon. Are you ready? On September 26th we officially celebrate and observe National Hunting & Fishing Day. Be sure and review the Wild Events You Don't Want To Miss section for the numerous opportunities for hunting related events, skill building workshops, and sportsmen's shows that offer something for beginners as well as the most experienced hunters, trappers, and anglers. For new hunters, NOW is the time to take the required Hunter Education Class to qualify for your license. Our team of over 800 volunteer instructors have classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website. With the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, this is a great opportunity for a new hunter to schedule the class and take it together for a refresher. This is also a good time to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season.

There are youth and family friendly events throughout September all across the state, where you can go to get information and the right gear to make your outdoor adventures safe, successful, and fun. Visit your local sporting goods store or sportsman event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends.

David Coffman, Editor

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Study of Recreation Use on Wildlife Management Areas Begins September 1

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and researchers from Virginia Tech's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences will launch a year-long study beginning September 1 to evaluate recreational use on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in Virginia. The study is the first step in a multi-year process of assessing use of and developing management plans for VDGIF wildlife management areas. VDGIF and Virginia Tech employees and volunteers will begin conducting interviews of users at 10 of the Commonwealth's most heavily used wildlife management areas. Among the areas to be sampled are Chickahominy WMA near Williamsburg; C.F. Phelps WMA near Fredericksburg; Amelia WMA in Amelia County; Dick Cross WMA in Mecklenburg County; Clinch Mountain WMA near Saltville; and Goshen and Little North Mountain WMAs in Rockbridge and Augusta Counties.

On several days over the next year, study personnel will set up stations on primary access roads and also interview users at perimeter parking areas. While the study is being conducted, all users of wildlife management areas will be asked to participate in the study when they encounter the interviewers at a station. To learn more about the Department's wildlife management areas visit the agency website.

Ladies' Day Handgun and Shotgun Clinic in Hanover August 29

The Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club will host a Ladies' Day Shooting Clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 29, at their range in Hanover. Choose from a handgun or shotgun clinic. Certified instructors will present safety instruction, base marksmanship, comfort, familiarity with firearms, handguns, shotguns, ear and eye protection, and targets. Clinic size is limited to eight shooters per clinic and reservations are required. For more information, contact Henry Baskerville at (804) 370-7565 or

Page Valley Sportsman's Club Hosts Youth Hunter Training September 12

The Page Valley Sportsman's Club is hosting a JAKES hunter training event at their range facility near Luray Saturday, September 12. The event is designed for youth to participate in a variety of outdoor skills classes. Shooting classes will include air gun, archery, shotgun, and rifle. Muzzleloading may be offered if participants are interested in attending. Participants are allowed to bring their personal shotguns. Ammunition for the 20 gauge is available. All other ammunition must be provided by participant. All ranges will have firearms and ammunition provided for students. Parents are welcome to attend with their children. Registration is limited to 30 youth and pre-registration is required. Lunch will be provided. The event is free and is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, contact Art Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or

Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival September 17-20

During the fall migration, millions of neotropical songbirds, along with eagles, hawks, and falcons, converge on the Eastern Shore peninsula. The wilds of Virginia's Eastern Shore will wow birders and nature lovers alike. Whether it's a hike on an untamed barrier island, or boat tour to the Shore's secret places, this festival celebrates one of nature's most amazing spectacles. This four-day festival runs Thursday, September 17 through Sunday, September 20, 2009. Visitors can participate in a variety of fascinating guided boat and land tours suitable for adventurers of all ages. For more information, contact The Eastern Shore of Virginia Chamber of Commerce at (757) 787-2460 or

Fly Fishing Workshop On Shenandoah at Elkton September 19

Come out and learn fly fishing skills from expert instructors followed by wading/fly fishing on the Shenandoah River in Stonewall Riverside Park in Elkton, September 19. This workshop is designed for beginners and anglers new to fly fishing age 12 and older. Register online today! Workshop fee $20/per person.

Basic Trapper Training Class offered in Louisa September 26

A Basic Trapper Training Class will be held in Louisa County near Boswells Tavern hosted by Virginia Trappers Association Training Coordinator and Hunter Education Master Instructor Ed Crebbs on Saturday, September 26. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Class runs 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Class is free, but pre-registration is required. Youth 15 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Contact Charlaine Crebbs at 540-832-2708 or Ed Crebbs at to register and get directions. For information on trapper training and opportunities visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.

Ruffed Grouse Society Organizing New Chapter in Goochland September 10

The Goochland Area Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society will hold a chapter organizational meeting and sporting clays shoot on Thursday, September 10 at the Orapax Plantation on Route 6 west of Goochland Courthouse. The sporting clay shoot will be held from 5-7 p.m., with dinner and meeting following. A head count is needed by September 4. For registration and information contact Wayne Thacker at (804) 357-9448 or email:

Birding Trail Celebrates 5th Anniversary at Devil's Backbone in Nelson County September 25

Join the VDGIF and local partners to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, the nation's first statewide viewing trail on Friday, September 25, 2009. There will be bird walks on local trail sites, light hors d'oeuvres, and birthday cake! Local bird clubs and other conservation organizations will have exhibits. Come discover a little more of our Wild Side! For more information, contact Jeff Trollinger at (804) 367-8747 or

Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors Event September 26

The Izaak Walton League of America, Loudoun Chapter, is hosting an all-day event for women ages 14 years and older September 26 at their Loudoun County IWLA Park. Courses offer various introductory outdoor activities: Archery; Intro to Fishing; Kayaking; Fly Fishing; Rifle, Shotgun and Handgun Shooting; Map and Compass; GPS; Intro to Hunting; Outdoor Survival Skills; Intro to Camping and Outdoor Cooking; Gourmet Cooking of Wild Game; and Outdoor Photography. Fee for this one-day event is $40. IWLA member discount applies. See registration form for details. Includes coffee and pastries, lunch, educational materials, equipment use, and a special event tee shirt. For more information, contact Loudoun County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America at (540) 535-8891 or

Quail Unlimited to Host Covey Call Event September 26 in Culpeper

The Northern Virginia Chapter of Quail Unlimited will hold their annual fund raising event "COVEY CALL," on Saturday, September 26, 2009 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Crowell Farm in Culpeper. This event is held on this day in recognition and celebration of the National Hunting and Fishing Day. Our youth focused event is centered on getting young people actively involved in the outdoors and for them to learn the importance of wildlife habitat restoration. The event also raises funds for our on-going quail habitat restoration project with the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management at Meadowood Farm, near Lorton. Bring your children, grandchildren, 4-H youth, Boy and Girl Scouts, and experience an unforgettable time. Activities include: flushing and bird dog demonstrations; Wildlife Management and Quail Raising Displays; cow cutting and trick shooter demonstrations. Other events include: raffle, silent auction, bird calling contest, rubber duck drawing, corn bag toss; and Moon Bounce for the very young. Each paid ticket holder will receive a year's membership including subscription to Quail Unlimited magazine; 25 rounds of shotgun shooting, 25 rounds of .22 rifle and BB gun shooting. Prizes will be awarded for the TOP GUN shooter in the adult and youth classes. Lunch is included. We are also offering the Boy Scout Shotgun Shooting Merit Badge. Entrance fee is $45 adult, $55 couple and $20 for each youth ages 6-17. All costs for food, shooting, and events are included in price. For information call (703) 232-3572 or email

September Sportsman's Shows Promote New Hunting Opportunities

Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... Be sure and visit the VDGIF exhibits at upcoming sportsmen's shows this fall. These are excellent opportunities to bring a friend who is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience. The trophy bucks on display can provide some inspiration too!

September 12-13: 70th Western Regional Big Game Contest is sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, south of Harrisonburg, in partnership with VDGIF. Agency exhibits will feature information on new VDGIF programs and hunting opportunities and the CWD surveillance plan for the northern Shenandoah Valley. Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors will teach safe gun handling and shooting with the laser shot range for youth attending the event. Exhibitors will be on hand with the latest in gear, supplies, artwork, taxidermy, and more. Come see the truly awesome trophy bucks harvested in Virginia. For contest rules and information:

September 12: WSLS TV 10 Sportsmen's Banquet to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry. Come enjoy an evening of food, fun, and fellowship while helping to make a difference in the lives of many less fortunate in our community and our state. WSLS TV 10 in Roanoke is again sponsoring a Sportsmen's Banquet to benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 12 at the Moose Lodge in Salem beginning at 5:30 p.m. A $20 single or $35 couple event ticket includes dinner. There will be a variety of raffles, as well as live and silent auctions of donated merchandise. For tickets or additional information contact: Jeff Fletcher (540) 985-6523, or Fred & Phyllis Wells (540) 992-3874. Visit the Hunters for the Hungry website for program information.

September 19-20: SVHEC Hunting/Fishing Expo, Abingdon Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) is hosting a Hunting/Fishing Expo in Abingdon. VDGIF is participating by offering the Hunter Education Course, providing additional educational programs, demonstrating the fishing/hunting simulator, and SVHEC will provide computers for guests to obtain their license online during the event. Kim Stewart, Director for the event, noted that exhibitor spaces are still available for vendors, seminar presenters and all organizations/associations affiliated with hunting and fishing to participate. For information visit: Hunting and Fishing Expo.

September 26-27: Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest, More than 3000 sportsmen and families are expected to attend the official Big Game Contest at the Southampton County Fairgrounds, west of Franklin, sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in partnership with VDGIF. This year the Eastern Regional is also the State Championship. The VDGIF exhibit will feature subscription sign-up for the Outdoor Report and new hunting opportunities of interest to sportsmen in the eastern regions of the state. The event will feature exhibitors with gear, calls, supplies and taxidermy as well as activities for youth. Biologists and Law Enforcement staff will be on hand to answer questions. For Contest rules and information:

September 26: Annual Fall Outdoor Festival will be held in Farmville at the Five County Fairgrounds from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. This family oriented event is sponsored by Riverside Community Church Outdoor Ministries in partnership with area sportsmen's organizations including VDGIF Outdoor Education Program, the Hunt-N-Shack and NWTF High Bridge Strutters Chapter. Admission to the event is free and there is a free lunch and dinner. Quaker Boy Calls is sponsoring a Turkey Calling Contest with Youth and Adult Divisions. There is a Big Buck Contest, Turkey Shoot, Five Stand Sporting Clays, Kid's Fishing Pond, 3-D Archery Contest, Retriever Dog Demo, and VDGIF Hunting Simulator. For more information call (434) 547-6770 or (434) 607-7776.

Rust Nature Sanctuary Hosts Conservation Celebration September 27

Sunday, September 27, 2009, is a good family time to participate in the annual Conservation Celebration at Audubon Naturalist Society's Rust Nature Sanctuary, at Leesburg. The event runs from noon to 4:00 p.m. to provide families a fun and environmentally-oriented way to enjoy a beautiful, natural setting, introduce outdoor recreation, greener living, and conservation opportunities. The program is also geared to protect nature, prevent pollution, and help people reduce waste, recycle, conserve energy and water, and live more sustainably, according to Thomas Goldston, Regional coordinator for the VDGIF Complementary Work Force Program. Bruce McGranahan, Director of the Rust Nature Sanctuary says that the scheduled events include family nature hikes, insect relays, live music, an art show, nature activities planned for children "making tote bags out of recycled T-shirts, "junk" sculpture - and other entertainment. There will be exhibits with green products or services. Get a flavor for the event here. You can learn more about the Rust Nature Sanctuary at

Celebrate National Wild Horse Adoption Day September 26

On September 26, organizations across the nation will be supporting and participating in the first national Wild Horse Adoption Day. Uniting with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the greater good of wild horses will be other wild horse and humane animal advocacy groups. One of the numerous wild horse adoption sites planned for that day will be held in Lorton, Virginia at the BLM's Meadowood recreation site.

The BLM is the organizer of the wild horse adoptions and whose purpose is to manage wild horses and burros on the western public range lands. By allowing a certain number of wild horses and burros to be adopted into good homes each year, the BLM is able to control the wild horse and burro population from exceeding the carrying capacity of the western range lands. The adoption held in Virginia will provide participants with an educational experience that will showcase the history and mystique of the wild horse. Inspiring stories involving wild horses, training sessions, expos, and more will all be held at the adoption event. Forty wild horses will be available for adoption.

For more information on the application process, call 1-866-4MUSTANGS or visit U.S Department of Interior - Bureau of Land Management: Wild Horses and Burros to download an application. Potential adopters are asked to call early to be pre-approved and avoid waiting in line. You can also visit U.S Department of Interior - Bureau of Land Management: Wild Horses and Burros, Eastern States or Wild Horse and Burro Internet Adoptions to get requirement information and instructions to become a qualified adopter. To learn more, please visit the National Wild Horse Adoption Day website.

Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center Offers Variety of Fall Workshops

The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox is again offering a variety of popular fall workshops for unique outdoor related skills for building your own powder horn or carving a duck decoy. For more information, contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director at (434) 248-5444 or

September 20-23: Build your own powder horn! The powder horn that participants will be making is a common horn from the late 1700s or early 1800s. Registration is $220 and covers all programming and instruction fees, powder horn kit, meals, and lodging. Register by September 4th.

September 20-24: Learn to carve your own decoy or sharpen your carving skills! Beginners Welcome! Carving experience not needed. First time carvers will carve and paint a Canvasback, one of the most popular of all decoys. Returning students will carve and paint a decoy of their choice. Decoys will be carved from Tupelo, a favored decoy wood. Workshop price is $275 and includes meals, lodging, materials, and instructor fees. Register by September 4th.

October 23-25: Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Each participant will receive a "bow drill" and will build their own survival kit with special items included with workshop. Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshop is $175 and covers all programming and instructor fees, primitive bow kit, meals, and lodging. Register by October 9th.

People and Partners in the News

Hunter Education Volunteers Recognized for Tremendous Dedication

The VDGIF relies heavily on a volunteer force to deliver its free Hunter Education course to roughly 14,000 people each year across the Commonwealth. These dedicated individuals give selflessly to a program that helps teach hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship.

In 2009, two volunteer Hunter Education instructors received the Director's Volunteer Award for contributing more than 5,000 hours each to VDGIF. Those individuals are Lester "Danny" Bartee of Dry Fork and Franklin L. "Frank" Taylor of Millboro. These men were honored for their work at the Department's Board meeting August 18 in Richmond.

Captain Bobby Mawyer, whose responsibilities include overseeing the Hunter Education program, commented on the award, "5,000 hours is roughly the equivalent of two and one-half years of full-time work. These Hunter Education instructors have altogether trained more than 25,000 students to be safe, responsible, and knowledgeable hunters. Each has given of their time and talent to assist the Department in its mandate to provide Hunter Education to the public."

Lester D. (Danny) Bartee became a Hunter Education instructor in 1995. Since that time, Danny has given 5,113 hours to the Hunter Education Program. In 2001, he received the William Dixon Morgan Memorial Award, for the instructor considered to have contributed the most to Hunter Education that year. In addition to teaching the basic Hunter Education course, Danny has used his knowledge and experience to teach advanced shotgun courses to other instructors.

Franklin L. (Frank) Taylor has been an instructor since 1980. He has contributed 5,009 hours to the Virginia Hunter Education Program. Frank has instructed over 20,000 students in the Augusta, Bath, and Highland county school systems. He is also the 1989 recipient of the William Dixon Morgan Memorial Award, and was this awards fifth honoree.

As part of the presentation, the Virginia Hunter Education Association (VHEA) presented each of the recipients with a Henry Golden Boy .22 rifle to commemorate the award. The VHEA was formed two years ago as a non-profit group composed of volunteer instructors who wished to provide a greater level of assistance to the Department with its Hunter Education efforts. VHEA member Ken Carter made the presentation. "These instructors have been mentors to the rest of us," said Carter of the recipients of the award.

To learn more about Virginia's Hunter Education program visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Bob Swinson Receives 2009 Governor's Transportation Safety Award

At the Board of Game and Inland Meeting August 18, long-time Boating Education volunteer Robert N. "Bob" Swinson was honored for his contribution to improving safety for Virginians. The Board recognized him for recently being named the recipient of the 2009 Governor's Transportation Safety Award in the Water Safety category, specifically for his contributions made in improving safety for swimmers, boater, and anglers. That presentation was made at the 2009 Judicial Transportation Safety Conference in Virginia Beach on August 12, 2009.

The Governor's Transportation Safety Awards program recognizes individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to transportation safety in Virginia. Accomplishments by individuals in the public and private sector, state and local governments, federal agencies, the military, businesses, and organizations that promote transportation safety are recognized by this awards program. This program is sponsored by the Virginia Board of Transportation Safety, which is comprised of citizens appointed by the Governor of Virginia.

Bob Swinson has been a respected and valued member of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Boating Education program for almost 9 years. For almost 60 years, Bob has been a dedicated public servant in state government. "Quite an accomplishment by any standard," commented Lee Walker when he made the presentation to the Board. Walker oversees the Department's public information and education programs, including Boating Education.

In March, 1951 Bob Swinson began his state service as a trooper with the Virginia State Police. From there, he became a special agent with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. During his 42 years at Virginia ABC, he served as district auditor and administrative law judge before completing his career there as agency administrator and secretary to the board. Just prior to joining the Department, Bob served as committee clerk for the House Appropriations Committee in the Virginia General Assembly for seven sessions.

Hunter Education Instructors Train for Fall Classes

The Hunter Education Unit conducted a Basic Instructors Workshop at Holiday Lake 4-H Center over the weekend of July 31 through August 2, 2009. In all, 32 new instructors were welcomed to the ranks of over 900-statewide. The next workshop will be held in the spring of 2010. Anyone interested in becoming a Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor should see our website for more information or email Sgt. David Dodson, our state coordinator, at

Waterfowlers Build and Donate Duck Boxes for Public Hunting Areas

On Saturday, July 18, 2009, the Virginia Waterfowlers Association (VAWFA) came one step closer to finishing what has turned out to be a year long effort to provide nesting boxes for public hunting areas. With the aid of local Boy Scouts, bird watchers, and some member volunteers, an additional 30 wood duck boxes were built at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) New Kent Forestry Center. These boxes were donated to the VDOF and VDGIF for use on state forests and wildlife management areas around the state. To date VAWFA members have built more than 120 boxes this year! The VAWFA in partnership with VDOF and VDGIF host numerous training and hunting events for youth, disabled, and novice hunters each year. The group is also constructing handicapped accessible blinds at the New Kent Forestry Center, which hosts hunting opportunities for disabled sportsmen in partnership with several sportsmen organizations. For information on events and activities of this conservation partner organization visit the VAWFA website.

Wildlife Center Announces Autumn 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 Autumn 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.

The open houses will be held on:

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 by contacting (540) 942-9453 or A limited number of spaces are available for each session.

During the open house, visitors will tour the Center's building, including the medical clinic [examination room, operating room, etc.] In addition, visitors will get to "meet" the Center's education animals some of the 20 non-releasable animals that the Center's education staff uses in school assemblies and classroom presentations. Included in the Center's education "faculty" are a Golden Eagle, owls [Great Horned, Screech, and Barred], Red-Tailed Hawks, several different species of snakes, and Virginia Opossums. As most of these animals live in outdoor homes, these tours are offered weather permitting.

Every year, about 2,500 animals - ranging from bald eagles to opossums to chipmunk - 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."

"Next Generation" Hunters Featured at Bass Pro Youth Seminars

"Let's have some fun this coming hunting season!!" This was the message presented by teenage speakers at the Next Generation Weekend at Bass Pro Outdoor World in Hampton August 22-23. In partnership with VDGIF, Virginia Outdoor Writers Association and other youth oriented sportsmen organizations, Bass Pro staff hosted fun-filled youth oriented activities and seminars throughout the facility. Seminars were conducted by accomplished young hunters on deer, turkey and waterfowl hunting tips, tracking, bow hunting, planning family outings, choosing the right gear for your age and experience level, and how to get the most out of your outdoor adventures. Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest Winners Micheala Bryant from Virginia Beach, and Scott Rollins from King George thrilled the audience of young hunters and their parents with stories of their "most memorable outdoor experiences." They also gave tips on how to improve hunting skills and the benefits of families hunting together. Teen sister and brother, Kara and Michael Venable from Newport News represented the Virginia Peninsula Sportsman's Association and volunteered to help staff the VDGIF exhibit promoting the Outdoor Report, the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26 and the opportunity to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport.

Bass Pro Promotions Director Sonja Horton, herself an avid hunter, noted, "Having these accomplished and talented teens share their stories with other young aspiring hunters was a powerful message for these families. The teens that volunteered to help with this event were very impressive and are great role models for the future of our sport." VDGIF Outdoor Report Editor David Coffman advises youngsters to be sure and participate in one of the many youth and family oriented events in your area coming up in September to learn about youth and family hunting opportunities. Thanks to the Bass Pro staff for hosting this fun and exciting weekend event to inspire the "next generation" to go hunting with family and friends... you will all be better for it!

Virginia Deer Classic Winners Posted on VDHA Website

The winners of the Virginia Deer Classic Contest sponsored by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA) and Swedish Match at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show August 7-9 at the Showplace in Richmond are posted on the VDHA website (PDF).

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.

"What's New" for 2009-2010 Posted on Website

Your free copy of the new 2009-2010 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest is now available at license sales agents, upcoming sportsman shows and VDGIF Regional offices. This booklet features many new hunter friendly regulations and expanded opportunities this season. The booklet is increasingly user-friendly with color-coded page tabs for the different sections including: What's New, Licenses, Regulations, Hunting Lands, Bear, Deer Turkey, Small Game, Trapping sections and an Index. One date change new this year is the Regulations go into effect on August 1, 2009, rather than the traditional July 1 date of past seasons. This date change was necessary due to the change in the regulatory review and approval schedule now running into June. You can also access the information in the new regulations booklet on the VDGIF website along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest. There is an entire page listing new regulations, expanded seasons and other hunter friendly changes this year entitled "What's New". We will be featuring details of these new opportunities in each of the next editions of the Outdoor Report through September.

"Top Ten" New Hunting Opportunities for 2009-10

  1. Youth Deer Hunting Day - September 26, 2009
    • Hunters must be age 15 or under
    • Must be directly supervised by a licensed adult
    • Bucks or does may be taken
    • Blaze orange required
    • Modern and muzzleloading firearms or archery tackle can be used, subject to local firearms restrictions
  2. Number of Antlerless Tags Increased from 2 to 6 on Bonus Deer Permit
  3. Either-sex Deer Hunting Day Moved to 2nd Saturday of the Early Muzzleloading Season West of the Blue Ridge
  4. Antlered Buck Bag Limit Increased from 1 to 2 During the Early Muzzleloading Season West of the Blue Ridge
  5. Increased Either-Sex Deer Hunting Days in 48 Counties
  6. Increased Black Bear Hunting Opportunities for Archery, Muzzleloader, and Firearms Hunters
  7. Spring Turkeys Must be Checked using the Telephone or Online Game Check System. Fall Turkeys Must Be Checked at a Check Station
  8. Spring Squirrel Season June 5 - 19, 2010, Opens on All Private Lands and Additional Wildlife Management Areas
  9. Raccoon Chase Season Expanded in Southwest Virginia
  10. Otter Trapping Season Expanded to All Counties West of the Blue Ridge

Be sure and read the full details of these new
regulations, seasons and requirements in the
2009-10 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations Digest

Apprentice Hunting License: A New Way To Get Involved in Hunting

New regulations recently passed by the Board provide for numerous opportunities this upcoming fall season to take a new or novice hunter in the field to experience the many benefits hunting offers. There are now both a Youth Deer Hunting Day on September 26, 2009, and a Youth Turkey Hunting Day on October 17, 2009. If they do not have their hunter education class completed, an Apprentice License can be purchased by a new hunter. 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 on YouTube. 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.

Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, stars of the Outdoor Channel program, "The Crush with Lee & Tiffany," have a special video message to take the time to introduce a friend or youngster to the great outdoors with an Apprentice Hunting License!

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

Dove Season Opens September 5 - Labor Day Holiday Weekend

  • Dove hunters have a unique opportunity again this year with the opening day for Dove Season coinciding with the Monday Labor Day Holiday weekend. This is also a great opportunity to introduce a youngster, or adult friend to hunting with the Apprentice Hunting License. See details on this new license option in this section. A new regulation this year states that dove hunters are no longer required to wear blaze orange during the deer firearms seasons. The first segment of Dove Season runs September 5 - 26, and the second segment starts October 7 through November 7, 2009. So there's no excuse this year not to go afield... Wow, a holiday weekend opening day, good friends and family, ample dove fields, and lots of birds. Remember safety first and have fun!
  • Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
  • 2009 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
  • Remember to get a new HIP number.
  • Non-Toxic Shot Now Required for Hunting Rail, Snipe, Moorhen, and Gallinule
  • Shotguns Need to be Plugged for Doves, Ducks, Geese and More...

New Seasons Set For Waterfowl and Webless Migratory Birds

New season dates for waterfowl were set by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries at their August 18, 2009, meeting in Richmond. The dates and bag limits for various migratory waterfowl and webless species are posted in the sidebar of the Outdoor Report under the "Hunting Season at a Glance" section, or can be found on the Department's website.

Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD

New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. With squirrel season starting September 5, this video will show you one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line for the first time. In the second video, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young and old.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Tree Stand Safety Tips for Both the Beginner and Experienced Hunter

Among the hundreds of volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, Dick Holdcraft stands out as the "tree stand expert," based on over 40 years as a career safety manager and instructor. Dick has taught for VDGIF as a Master Instructor since 1993, and has taught the tree stand safety course 40 times to over 600 Hunter Education Instructors. We appreciate Dick's dedication and service to his fellow sportsmen and thank him for providing this sage advice to our readers.

Whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time in the field, now is the time to prepare if you are going to use a tree stand. Check the regulations in the county where you are hunting as certain counties now allow rifle hunting only if you are in an elevated stand at least 15 feet off the ground. Here are some tips to help you prepare and stay safe.

Go For Quality Design
Use a well designed and built, sturdy tree stand. Tree stands manufactured by the Tree Stand Manufacturers Association (TMA) that have been built since 2006, are commercially designed and tested to meet recognized industry standards.

Heed Instructions - Practice Use
Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions on the use of your tree stand before using it. You should practice using the tree stand in the morning and evening hours. As the saying goes; "Perfect practice makes perfect."

Inspect for Dangerous Wear
Carefully inspect your tree stand for wear, rust, metal fatigue and cracks, loose, or missing nuts or bolts, rot and deterioration before and after each use. Tighten loose nuts and bolts and replace rusty or worn hardware. Check straps or chains or other attachment devices for wear and replace if they are unsafe.

Check for Defect Recall
You should also check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to see if your stand has been recalled due to safety defects. In the search field type in the words tree stand, then click on the link for your stand. Contact the manufacturer if it has been recalled.

If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website. There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10 hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.

For more treestand safety tips and articles from Dick Holdcraft visit

Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!

Life Jackets Required

Virginia's life jacket laws require that 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.

Borrow a kid's life jacket: If you're expecting young guests aboard and have a temporary need for the right-sized lifejacket, the BoatU.S. Foundation has over 500 Kids Life Jacket Loaner Program locations across the country where you can borrow one for free.

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

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

With the summer boating season upon us, VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

"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.

Effective September 1, Feeding Deer Is Prohibited in Virginia

Effective September 1, it will be illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The prohibition runs through Saturday in January 2, 2010. The regulation designating the prohibition went into effect in 2006. This regulation does NOT restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences. Problems with feeding deer include: unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats; disease transmission, including tuberculosis as well as many deer diseases; and human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and inappropriate semi-taming of wildlife.

The negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits. In addition, feeding deer has many law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused problems for law enforcement. If you are currently feeding deer, you should now stop. If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to the Department's Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712. To learn more about Virginia wildlife regulations visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This new section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. With school out for the summer break, learning can continue with the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun. The Virginia Wildlife calendar lists natural events that can serve as a "lesson plan" to get students outdoors exploring, observing, and having fun while learning about the woods, fields, and streams and the fascinating plants and animals that share these habitats with us. Each edition we will bring you ideas on topics, natural occurrences, and events to spark your interests in exploring nature. Make it a family affair!

Outdoor Blogs and Websites Provide Nature Adventure Info For Kids

For excellent information on getting youngsters interested in exploring and learning about nature there are several blogs and websites to review: EE Week and the school year may be behind us, but there are opportunities throughout the summer to engage students in environmental learning as well as take advantage of the time to reflect and deepen our own connection to nature and commitment environmental education. Read below for upcoming programs and opportunities for educators and students.

Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd

What's the Velvet on Deer Antlers?

The head of a male Virginia white-tailed deer (doccileus virginanus), called the 'buck' develops bony stubs, called pedicles. In spring, this is where the antlers begin to develop. Antler bone has a soft hairy skin covering called velvet. Velvet carries blood through the antler core to feed and protect the growing, soft, sensitive tissue. These bones contain nutrients for growth. A young buck, is almost a year old before starting his first set of antlers.

By the summer time, antlers, called a rack, are fully grown and hardened. Points, called tines, grow off the main beam. Antlers can grow as fast as ½ inch a day. The buck learns to be careful and not break the soft antlers until hardened. In early fall the velvet starts to die and fall off. The white-tailed male helps by rubbing against bushes and trees to remove the velvet because it is now itching. The term "deer rubs" comes from the use of aggressive rubbing to remove the velvet--similar to what I do to "scratch" that awful itch down my back that I cannot reach. In January antlers drop, or shed, and new ones begin to sprout. The shedded antlers become food for other wildlife-insects and small animals. Females, called does, never have antlers. Deer antlers are not horns, as they shed yearly. Horns are permanent growths--there forever.

Now make a date with family and friends to go antler hunting in the woods. Federal, state, and local forests, along with VDGIF wildlife management areas, are good places. Seek the owner's permission if you are going on private property-it is the right and courteous thing to do. First, check to see when deer hunting season is open-the blaze orange season. Leave antlers on the ground-yes, right there. Virginia law does not permit the removing of antlers from the ground for any reason.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available

The summer months are a great time to be outside and see wildlife around you. Songbirds are nesting, mammals are on the move, and amphibians keep cool in the shade next to a pond. What's the habitat like around your home? Does your yard have a diversity of native plants, plenty of food and cover, and a variety of water sources? The new Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs.

VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Carol Heiser advises, "Native shrubs in particular are an excellent choice for wildlife, because they support native insects that make up a critical part of the food web. Native plants are better adapted to our growing conditions and are much easier to maintain than non-native ones. So many of our neighborhoods lack the kind of native plant diversity that wildlife really needs. You'll be surprised at the number of birds and other wildlife that use native shrubs. Although nurseries tend to sell shrubs in the spring while they're in bloom, autumn is actually the best time to plant shrubs if you want optimal survival. Visit our website to get your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!

Quail Habitat Workshops Scheduled for October

Partner wildlife management and land stewardship organizations that are partners with VDGIF in the implementation of the Quail Management Plan have scheduled two workshops for October. More detailed information will be posted in the September 9 Outdoor Report. Dates and contact information are as follows:

Get more information on the Quail Action Plan and the Quail Management Assistance Program »

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.

Angler Presented Record Catfish Award

VDGIF Fish Biologist Bob Greenlee (right), presents official State Record Blue Catfish Award to Tim Wilson from Natural Bridge. This certified new state record blue catfish is the first confirmed freshwater fish over 100 pounds in the Commonwealth. The fish weighed in at 102 pounds, 4 ounces, and measured 52 ¾ inches in length with a girth of 41 ½ inches. The big cat was caught by Tim Wilson Wilson came to the metro Richmond area along with his buddy Ayers for the catfishing trip of their lives. Wilson, with significant help from fishing buddy Danny Ayers, caught the blue catfish with cut shad as bait on 30-pound test line below Dutch Gap, a public boat landing on the James River south of the City of Richmond on May 20, 2009. The fish was so large it took both men nearly an hour to land it.

Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!

How was your last fishing trip? Did you take pictures of your catch? Send them to us and share it with the world! Here's how:

  1. Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
  2. Or, if you already have an account on Flickr, join the group and submit your photos. It's easy!

No matter how you send in your pictures, please remember to include the species, date, and location of your catch. If you know the length and weight, please include it.

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

  1. Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
  2. Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
  3. Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  4. Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
  5. Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.

New Virginia Lifetime Boater's Card

Our new Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card is available to those who meet the boating safety education requirement. This durable, drivers license styled card is available for a fee of $10.00. If you meet any of the below listed requirements - you may apply for this card.

Click Here for Instructions and Printable Application (PDF) »

Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD

New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for Skinning Squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line for the first time. In the second video, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.

Effective July 1 Boating Education Required for PWC Operators Age 14-20

Attention boaters, VDGIF has begun to phase in Virginia's boating safety education requirement and wants to remind boaters that as of July 1, all operators of personal watercraft (PWC), including Jet Skis, Sea Doos, and other PWCs, age 14 to 20 will need to have proof of boating safety course completion onboard while operating the vessel. PWC operators must be at least 14 years old. It is unlawful in Virginia for anyone under the age of 14 to operate a personal watercraft. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website

Life Jackets Required

Virginia's life jacket laws require that 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 For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

Sarah White's Notebook - Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Contributed by Park Manager, C. Blair Evans (804) 693-2107. The dog days of summer have arrived. Warmer water temperatures have slowed the fishing action down, but fish are still being caught. Anglers are finding their best results fishing deep with rubber worms. Tom Encrapera of Gloucester had a notable catch landing a 22 in. 5 ½ lb. bass. There have been other reports of catches in the 5 to 6 pound range. The water is 87 degrees, slightly stained and at full pool. Beaverdam's last open Bass Tournament will be held on September 19.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. Bluefish are showing up around Cape Henry, and the mouths of the York and James. Spanish mackerel are slowing up in the bluefish schools. Both fish like large spoons. Spot and croaker are picking up around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are attacking squid, blood worms, with fish bite working best. Some flounder have been found in the same area, but few are over the 19 in. minimum. Hurricane Bill stirred up the waters a bit but didn't hurt the fishing. The water is 75 degrees and very clear.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Button Garnett notes that the live bait is helping to catch some catfish. He has also noticed a lot of people who are just fishing for bass. With the water clarity holding up, the people surrounding the Chickahominy River will be celebrating the upcoming Labor Day holiday by holding a fishing tournament for the last holiday of the summer. The water is in the 80s and slightly stained.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says the bass are hitting topwater's both early and late. In a tournament over the weekend, which is held every Sunday out of the Marina, the bass have been outstanding, with fishermen also having luck with cats. Crappie angling has been very slow with the fish going "down deep." Bluegill have been plentiful, and those using a fly rod have been especially lucky. With the water temperature warming up into the high 80s over the weekend , the catfishing is "as good as your gonna' get around here."

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says the water temperature is holding up in the low to mid 80s, with a recent reading of 82 degrees. Cats are doing well on cut bait. There's still a lot of bass to be caught in the lakes, mostly on bluegills and crickets. Cats are being caught in both the James and Nansemond rivers.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner The Blackwater is a little better off this week due to rain helping out. Still lower river below Franklin is better fishing for the majority of species. The Nottoway is still the best choice of the two though. Early morning is best for fish and fisherman as it is cooler in the morning and one is less likely to get caught in an afternoon storm.  Speaking of storms, there is really no great answer as to what to do if caught out in a storm on a river where there is nowhere to go.  Best answer would be not to get caught out. Don't push it. If you hear thunder at least move towards your launch location and if you don't come out, at least stay right there close.  Being out in a severe storm can be quite scary. So as much as you might want to teach your children to fish, don't teach them dangerous habits like taking chances with storms while on the water. Plus if you're out with the family and have a bad experience with a storm, it is highly likely young children will never forget that bad experience and never want to go again.

Region 2 - Southside

Fort Pickett Reservoir: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. With the promise of 15 to 20 mph winds last Thursday, August 20th, I headed to Pickett reservoir in hopes of finding some hungry fish. The water had a dark tannest  color and was lower than normal, just a small over flow in the lowest section of the impoundment. You could only see about 2 ft. Tried to fish the shore line with the fly rod but the waves made it impossible to see the popping bug so I gave up and fished the spinning rod. I did have 4 hand size blue gill catch themselves.

The wind did make the day more pleasant, but a lot harder to control the boat. I fished the 6 to 8 ft. water between the aeration pipes and picked up 18 crappie between 8 and 10 inches and one 14 inch channel cat using my standard 1/32 oz. lead head and twister tail. They were not hitting the 2 inch tail but hit the 2 ½ inch light green and orange/brown with yellow tail. When I cleaned the Crappie this evening some of them had roe sacks starting.

Nottoway Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Had intention of fishing the reservoir at Pickett, but cricket and worm man wanted to go and he does not have a permit to fish there so we went to Nottoway Lake better known as Lee Lake. Beautiful day, temp in the low 80s and over cast that morning. The water had a dark green tint to it and very warm. We fished the bank, me with the fly rod and Jimmy with his worms and crickets. I think we were half way down the lake before we caught the first fish and it was a throw backer, 10 inch bass on the fly rod. Wind got up a little bit around 1:00 p.m. so I put the fly rod down and fished with the spinning rod and my std. twister tail. Cricket man caught 14 blue gill, one 10 inch shell cracker and two 10 inch bass. I only kept 8 hand size blue gill and put back 4 bass from 8 to 13 inches that I caught on the fly rod. Caught several more bass on the spinning rod but nothing that big. Neither one of us had the first strike from a crappie all day long. I do not fish that lake much because the underbrush does not lend itself to artificial bait fishing, I just can't fish deep enough without getting hung up to catch anything. You can catch some nice blue gill there when they are on the beds with the fly rod, but I sure did not do well today.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes The river is down and topwater action is still good for fly fishermen with popper bugs, black collar and brown poppers being successful. Catfish are also having success with live bait, gold fish and brim flatheads. With the river being down, the water temperature remains in the low 80s.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow tells us that bass fishing is "decent" on soft plastics and crankbaits. Crappie are down 20 ft. deep but they will take a minnow in the brush. Cats can be had from Clarkesville to Blue Stone Creek. They like cut bait, shad and both live and cut bream. The water is in the low 80s and clear to stained. A Bobcat bait and crappie tournament is to be held on the 17th of October that will be open to the public.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says the small mouth have been decent on James, taking popping bugs. The water in the mountain trout streams are low. The Jackson River below Gas Gath dam has been good. Water temperature is fairly warm and stable with the clarity holding up.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig in the tackle shop reports that bass fishing has picked up due to the water temps cooling off from the low 90s the week before. Basic topwaters and Carolina rigs with lizards are most effective. No word on crappie. Cat fishing has been good, with live and cut bream, chicken livers and good old stinkbaits doing the job. Perch have been going for small minnows and worms. The water is cooling to the mid 80s and slightly stained.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead, Virginia Outdoorsman (540) 721-4867. This weeks weather will be much like that experienced last week with high temperatures in the 80's and lows in the 60's. Skies will be sunny to partly cloudy and there is a chance of scattered thunderstorms through much of the week. The lake water level remains near full pond and all state and public boat launch ramps are currently open. There will be a first quarter moon this Thursday, August 27th, so when the skies are clear and the moon is overhead we will see increasing amounts of light at night. Water temperature is 83 degrees and water clarity is fair/good.

Striper: fishing continues to be good with anglers catching good numbers of quality fish. The striper patterns are similar to those of the past several weeks. Small pods of stripers continue to be found in submerged timber from 20 to 70 feet below the surface where they are hitting shad and store bought shiners (large) presented on downlines. Stripers are also being found in large schools cruising in the deep, open water near the mouths of large creeks and the main river channel. These fish are being caught on downlined live bait as well as jigging spoons, flukes and bucktails. Anglers' trolling with 3-way rigs (Sutton spoon and swimbaits or bucktails) and umbrella rigs are reporting success catching stripers in main channel waters. Down sizing live bait and artificial lures seems to be a key to improving the striper catch rate in the warm summer months when the fish are feeding on the smaller baitfish available in deep water.

Bass: Sometimes stripers and bass will be found schooling together in the pursuit of fleeing shad. Surface breaks often occur in the early morning and late evening this time of year and can be seen from large distances. A number of topwater poppers, buzzbaits and small surface lures like the Lobina RICO, gunfish and Super Spook Junior work well for schooling bass. For most anglers, the bass fishing has been tough, especially at night. Warmer water temperatures, heavier boat traffic, feeding pattern changes and some level of fishing pressure has made producing nice bass at night very challenging.

There were several open tournaments held on the lake this past week and at least two bass clubs from out of town held tournaments here. The Backyard Bassmaster Friday Night Tournament (State Park) and the Saturday Night Foxport Tournament will hold their final events of the year this coming weekend. If you want to fish in a well run "night tournament" before the summer ends, I encourage you to consider fishing either or both of these great events. Both tournaments run from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. on their respective nights and are open to anyone interested in participating. You should plan to arrive at least a half-hour early to register. If you have any questions about these or any other tournaments on the lake, just stop by or call the Virginia Outdoorsman on 540-721-4867. You can also check out the recent tournament winners on the website Virginia Outdoorsman.

The next SMLBass Tournament will be held on September 6th over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. If you would like additional information about upcoming events or want the results of your tournament included in future reports, just stop by the shop or call me on 540-721-4867. Tight lines and have a great week.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Wyatt Bleavins says that that bass are hard to get during the day, better early and late. Try a slow presentation and retrieval during the day and spinners at night. Crappie angling has been "tough," but try small crappie jigs and cut bait. Cats are starting to pickup, but not during day. Live bait, nightcrawlers, and shad are the most attractive for cats. A little bit of rain has put some color in upper part of the river. Temps are still in the low 80s to mid 80s during the day.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zineius reports the lake hasn't changed a lot, decent panfish are being caught on buzzbaits and topwaters. The river is warming still. Cat action has been good with shrimp and chicken livers or an inline spinner with an earthworm. Muskie angling is good, with a big inline spinner being preferred. Lake action is best with dropshots, topwater, and shakyheads. Some of the guys are using the deeper type weights up to ½ ounce for success. The water is around 77 degrees and slightly stained.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 Harry Murray says the stocked streams in the Valley are low, but fishable. Your best bets for flies are: Mr. Rapidan Streamer 8 and Murray's Strymph 10. The waters are clear and 74 degrees. The mountain streams are low and hard to fish. The clarity is good with temperatures at 68 degrees. North and South Forks are both clear and fishable, water temp is 76, good flys right now are the Shenandoah blue popper and Shenandoah chartruse. The fishing is fair in the high gradiant areas with Murray's flying beetles size 14 and 16.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local blogger and author Steve Moore, / Fishing the North Branch of the Potomac. Hurricane Bill roared through this last weekend and had a positive impact on the fishing in the area with the falling barometer and overcast skies offsetting the warm river temperatures (84 degrees). Hopefully, the subsequent infusion of cold water from the rain will spark active behavior that extends into the weekend. The Upper Potomac is currently a mixed bag. Shaky head lures are productive up at Ball's Bluff, but avoid the slack water areas below Algonkian Regional Park " especially the Pennyfield Lock area. Steve commented, "The water was milky last weekend and the vegetation is choking the river in the shallower water making it rough for those anglers, like me, who rely more on luck than skill". Rather than spending the day pulling weeds out of your trolling motor, fish the Upper Potomac from Harper's Ferry down to Lander where the numerous rapids/riffles minimize the vegetation. The section from Harper's down to Knoxville Falls is fishing well for fly anglers using the normal mix of poppers with sculpins being the current "go to" underwater attack method. Spin fishers should stick with black Senkos or mid-size grubs. The weeds eliminate the use of crankbaits and spinners except in the deeper holes. In that area, wade out on the numerous rock ledges that extend perpendicular to the shore and fish the deeper water and the breaks. Best access is from the Maryland side on the C&O towpath from Keep Tryst Road (If the gate is open, do not drive through or you will be locked in). Wading is also good upstream of the Brunswick public boat launch.  Even with the recent rain, the Rapidan and Rappahannock are within normal parameters for wading. Watch the river gage closely as the runoff from Hurricane Bill will work its way downstream quickly. The spike in water levels means you should expect to share the rivers with kayakers and canoeists.  Turn that minus into a plus and ask them about conditions upstream " you could save yourself a long, wet slog to arrive at a "loser" location. Like the Upper Potomac, these rivers are fishing best where the water is running fast. You will have the same challenge with vegetation and the lures recommended for the Upper Potomac are effective here as well. The mountain trout streams are at low levels. Consistent with earlier advice, Steve recommends you not fish in the Park to avoid stressing the wild trout population. If you need a trout fix, head over to the Jackson, North Branch, Savage or the Youghiogheny where the upstream dams blast out clear, cold water to keep the trout moving. For directions to these and other locations, visit

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. According to Mike the catfish are still biting well even with a lot of water in the river muddying it up pretty good. Lot of debris in the river from up to 895 bridge to RVA. Catching flatheads and shad at night, with eel during the day on the bottom. Caught 3 catfish on brim today off the bottom. Large mouth still doing well. Crabs are bad in the river making fishing difficult in spots. Plenty of brim sturgeon jumping 5 to 6 foot long. Two tourneys on the 29th one by at River Rest by Cat Fish Nation, Hopewell Yatch Club James River Catfish Association, and Virginia Cat Fish Clubs.

Lake Orange: Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Darrell Kennedy says that largemouth bass are hitting top water in low light conditions. During midday plastics are your best option for the bass bite around brush piles. Crappie continue to be taken around fish attractors and the fishing pier on small minnows. Catfishing remains strong throughout the lake on live bait and chicken livers. A good number of bream have been caught using night crawlers. The water is clear with temperatures around 80 degrees.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that bass fishing is fair, but slowing down due to the heat. Try topwaters around the edge of grass mats. Crappie are deep under the docks and pilings, but just might go for a minnow or a jig. Cat fishing is "good", with cut bait and night crawlers. No word on stripers. The water has muddied up, water clarity worse, water temp has dropped to 83 degrees.

Lake Anna: Jim Hemby, (540) 967-3313, Jim is so busy fishing- ie catching fish, that we were unable to talk with him directly so we got his fishing info hot off his blog...

August 25th, 2009: Sunny and pleasant, water temperature 85° and clear.

Stripers: This year striper fishing has been the best that I have experienced in the last 20 years on the lake. A few patterns are very reliable this month. There are still many schools of fish breaking on the surface throughout the lake.

The guys wanted to see how bait was caught so I picked them up at 3:30am and went and caught bait. After watching what I go through with bait I believe they may have changed their minds about trying this on their own. We picked up Roger and went in search of schools of Stripers. I looked for a hour before finding what I wanted to see. The guys were getting a little antsy, it was quite cool this morning and the picture I painted for them was me finding schools early and reeling in fish, not cruising looking for fish. The water Temp had dropped 3 degrees since Saturday and had repositioned the fish shallower than I had expected but once I found them I dialed right in on them and we worked 7 schools within the next 3 hours. We went through 200 baits this morning, caught 19 Stripers and a dozen Catfish. The lake reminding me of the beginning of July with all the fish we saw and the numbers of schools we found. On the way back to the marina I was still marking schools of Stripers. Hope this continues through September!

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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email your material to
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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Region 2 - Southside

On August 16, 2009, at approximately 7:45 p.m., Officer Eric Plaster was dispatched to a boating incident near channel marker R78 on Smith Mountain Lake. Upon arrival to the scene, it was determined a 17 foot bass boat was struck by a white runabout of some type. The white runabout had fled the scene. Fortunately, witnesses had seen the incident occur and followed the white runabout boat back to the Hardy Boat Ramp located in Bedford County. Witnesses were able to get a partial registration number. On August 17, Officer Plaster and Senior Officer John Koloda re-interviewed witnesses and took additional photos of the impacted boat. Officers and DGIF dispatch began to trace the identity of the boat owner and his whereabouts. After several hours, officers identified two residences in Roanoke where they believed the suspect may be residing. Officer Plaster, Koloda, and Tony Mcfaddin located the suspect at a residence in Roanoke. After a lengthy interview, the suspect admitted to being the operator of the striking boat. The suspect is charged with reckless operation of a motorboat, failing to stop at an accident, disregarding a regulatory water marker and operating a boat without proper registration. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.

Region 3 - Southwest

On August 15, 2009 a Boating Under the Influence Checkpoint was held on South Holston Lake at 7:00 p.m. A vessel was stopped going through the checkpoint. As the officers came close to the vessel, the operator was observed changing positions with the passenger. Upon approach to the vessel and making contact with the first operator, it was determined by Conservation Police Officer James Brooks that this individual had been drinking. He began field sobriety test on this person. Senior Officer Ricky Salyers made contact with the second operator and began checking the safety equipment and registration. Officer Salyers detected an odor of alcohol upon this operator and began field sobriety tests. The two individuals were arrested for Operating a Motorboat Under the Influence and transported to the Washington County Detention Center where they were incarcerated in the regional jail awaiting bond release. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley

On August 4, 2009, Conservation Police Officer Wayne Billhimer instructed thirty campers at Camp Still Meadows in Rockingham County. Camp Still Meadows is a special needs camp to serve children and adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Janet Maasch, Executive Director of the camp, said of Officer Billhimer, "The campers were absolutely enthralled by his very informative presentation. Not everyone knows how to best work with our special needs individuals so we were delighted to find that he so easily modified his presentation to suit each audience." As a result of Officer Billhimer presentation, Ms. Maasch said of the special needs campers," I would also dare to say that many of them will be less frightened when coming across a Conservation Officer in the future because they were able to see and interact with one outside of a real-life situation." Ms. Maasch further stated, "We were highly impressed by the level of professionalism and tenderness Officer Billhimer brought to our special needs individuals. It was a delight for us to see them come alive during the time with him and to hear their excitement as they were able to participate in the activities he had planned." For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.

Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the upcoming new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, there will be lots of youngsters hopefully getting a shot at their first buck- or doe for that matter. For a young teenage deer hunter, his first buck was his most memorable outdoor experience. Clark Swann was a sophomore at Tunstall High School in Dry Fork in Pittsylvania County, when he entered his article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest. His story ranked in the Top 25.

Be safe, have fun...
Not only does the story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about Clark's 'first buck' adventure, note that he uses good safety practices both in handling his 30-30 rifle, being sure of his target before firing, and using his tree stand safety harness. Congratulations Clark on your first buck and more importantly promoting safety tips for other youngsters that will be soon be hunting for their first buck!

First Buck

By Clark Swann

My most memorable outdoor experience was the time I killed my first buck. The morning I killed my first buck I woke up at four o'clock in the morning. After I drank a few cups of coffee to wake me up, I went and got dressed. It was a very cold morning, so I had to dress very warm to prevent from getting colder. I made sure I had my bullets for my 30-30 rifle and headed out my back door. I walked away from the house and it quickly got darker as I headed into the woods.

I turned my flashlight on and started heading through the woods and up a hill to get to my tree stand. When I finally got to my tree stand it was four-forty degrees. I climbed up in the tree stand, clipped in for safety, loaded my rifle, and waited for the sun to come up. When the sun finally started rising I could see parts of the field next to me and the sun glistening on the frozen pond down the hill. I heard something walking through the frost covered leaves in the woods and I got ready to shoot. The leaves were thrashing as it got closer. Finally it stepped out from behind a tree. The animal that I was about to shoot at ended up being a dog. The dog walked lazily away not paying any attention to me.

I waited for about an hour and I heard something else walking through the woods and I could hear it getting closer. I got ready this time because it was getting louder and louder and I could tell that it wasn't a dog this time. Finally, a nice-sized buck walked into the field. I raised my rifle and aimed at it. I took a deep breath and shot the buck.

The loud crack of the rifle scared all of the other animals in the woods and everything got quiet all of a sudden. The only noise I could hear was the wounded buck thrashing through leaves and jumping over dead brush. I watched as the buck headed towards a patch of pine trees. I waited for about twenty minutes then I unhooked from my stand and started climbing down.

When I got into the field where I shot the buck I started looking for a blood trail. I became impatient when I couldn't find the trail. I walked around awhile searching and finally spotted a tiny drop of blood. I followed that drop of blood, to another drop of blood, to another drop of blood, and kept repeating the process for eighty yards when finally I looked up at a brown heap on the ground. As I approached the heap I could make out the rack on top of the buck's head. I rushed to the dead deer and quickly counted all of the points. I counted eight points and I was overjoyed that I had actually killed a buck. I grabbed its rack and started dragging him back home.

When I got back to my house, I was worn out from all the dragging, but I knew I had to field dress the buck before the meat spoiled. I drug the lifeless animal under my deck and hung it from a pulley. I carefully field dressed the animal and butchered all of the meat. After that, I still had to wrap it up in freezer paper and put the meat in the freezer before it went bad. After about two hours, I had finished my whole task and I was proud of what I had done. This is my most exciting outdoor experience.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Contest by Clark Swann placed in the Top 25 in the 2008 Contest among over 120 other entries. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Contests visit the VOWA website:, 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:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: