In this edition:
- Autumn Offers Bountiful Outdoor Adventure Opportunities...
- Time to Browse Your Photo Files
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- September Sportsman's Shows Promote New Hunting Opportunities
- 70th Eastern Regional Big Game Contest and State Championship in Southampton September 26-27
- 70th Western Regional Big Game Contest Winners Posted on Website
- Annual Fall Outdoor Festival in Farmville September 26
- Sporting Clays Shoot to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 27
- Time to Take a Hunter Education Class
- Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors Event September 26
- Quail Unlimited to Host Covey Call Event September 26 in Culpeper
- Basic Trapper Training Class offered in Louisa September 26
- Birding Trail Celebrates 5th Anniversary at Devil's Backbone September 25
- NEW Natural Resource Pavilions at the State Fair - Opening September 24
- Rust Nature Sanctuary Hosts Conservation Celebration September 27
- Celebrate National Wild Horse Adoption Day September 26
- Forestry & Wildlife Bus Tours Scheduled for Fall
- Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center Offers Variety of Fall Workshops
- Kayak Fishing Workshop at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester October 6
- Orvis Hosts Hunting & Fishing Seminars in Richmond October 10 and 17
- Birding Trail Celebrates 5th Anniversary at Local Trail Sites This Fall
- Shenandoah Audubon Hosts Birding Festival November 7
- Forest Landowners' Retreat: Adding Value to Your Forest, November 6-8 at Holiday Lake
- People and Partners in the News
- Wildlife Center Hosts Autumn Open House Dates and Rehab Classes
- Hunting News You Can Use
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- Hunters - Are You Ready?
- Lottery Deer Hunt on Conway-Robinson State Forest - Application Deadline October 7
- OOPS - Season Opening Dates For Fox and Bobcat Misprinted in Hunting Digest
- Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 17
- "What's New" for 2009-2010 Posted on Website
- "Top Ten" New Hunting Opportunities for 2009-10
- Proposed Regulatory Amendment Pertaining to Elk
- New Migratory Waterfowl Regs and Seasons
- Dove Season Opened
- Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
- 2009 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
- Remember to get your HIP Number
- Videos Available to Show Field Dressing Techniques
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Crossbow Safety Tips by Dick Holdcraft
- Early Warm Season Deer Hunting Safety Tips
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Effective September 1, Feeding Deer Is Prohibited in Virginia
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Outdoor Blogs Provide Nature Adventure Info for Kids
- Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest - Squirrels Cutting Nuts
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- Quail Habitat Improvement Events
- New Habitat DVD Available
- Fishin' Report
- Lake Whitehurst Fishing Station and Boat Ramp to Close November 1
- Study to Assess Climate Change Impacts on Virginia's Brook Trout Resource
- 2009-2010 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity Regulation Review and Amendment Process
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- New Virginia Lifetime Boater's Card
- New Video Available: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
- Safe Boating is No Accident - Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
- 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
- Student articles from the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association annual writing contests
- "A Hunt with a Rolling Experience" by Joshua Ryan Rather
Autumn Offers Bountiful Outdoor Adventure Opportunities...
Autumn has officially begun! How appropriate and timely that this coming weekend Virginia's 855,000 hunters and anglers have good reason to celebrate National Hunting & Fishing Day September 26. Be sure and review the Wild Events You Don't Want To Miss section for the numerous youth and family opportunities for hunting and fishing related events, skill building workshops, and sportsmen's shows that offer something for beginners as well as the most experience hunters. Visit your sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing, or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it. Be proud that through licenses and excise taxes, sportsmen generate the funds that support the management, protection, and conservation of fish, wildlife and habitat programs—benefiting all citizens who appreciate wild things and wild places. Also note the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail 5th Anniversary celebrations across the state for all of us that love and respect the outdoors to take pride and enjoy. As you participate and celebrate in any outdoor activities this fall, be mindful of the rich traditions and heritage you enjoy and the responsibility to be a good representative of your sport. Remember safety and common courtesy are free—use them generously. Keep your outdoor adventures safe, successful, and fun.
David Coffman, Editor
Time to Browse Your Photo Files
Don't forget that entries for this year's Virginia Wildlife Photo Contest must be postmarked by November 2, 2009. So pull up your monitor, unwrap some blank CDs, and get comfortable while scrolling through the dozens (or hundreds?) of pictures you took outdoors this past year. Entry categories for the contest have not changed. You can refresh your memory on those, as well as all other contest rules, at the VDGIF website.
Now get going... November will be here before you know it!
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
On September 26th we officially celebrate and observe National Hunting & Fishing Day. Be sure and review 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.
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!
70th Eastern Regional Big Game Contest and State Championship in Southampton September 26-27
The 70th Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest will be September 26-27 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: www.vpsa.org.
70th Western Regional Big Game Contest Winners Posted on Website
The 70th Western Regional Big Game Contest was held September 12-13 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League in partnership with VDGIF. IWLA Chapter President and Contest Coordinator, Jon Ritenour, noted that several records were broken this year which should make for a very competitive East Regional and State Contest being held in Southampton September 26-27. The first place scoring buck in the Youth Deer Division was a 12 pointer harvested by Joshua Smith in Giles County and scored 194 0/16. First place overall for deer went to Sean Huffman for his massive 19 point buck harvested in Rockbridge County scoring 252 6/16. The VDGIF and IWLA volunteers scored 228 deer heads, 47 turkeys, and 29 bears. The list of Western Regional contest winners for deer, bear and turkey has been posted at www.iwla-rh.org.
Annual Fall Outdoor Festival in Farmville September 26
The annual Fall Outdoor Festival will be held September 26 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.
Sporting Clays Shoot to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 27
Attention hunters and shooters! Come enjoy a fun day of shooting, good food, and fellowship while helping to make a difference in the lives of many less fortunate in our community and our state. On Sunday, September 27, the 1st Annual Hunters for the Hungry / Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays Fun Shoot Event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays Facility in Mt. Crawford, in Augusta County. This is a 100 target course with five stand shooting available. So sharpen up on your shooting skills and help Hunters for the Hungry off to a great start this season of giving. To register or for additional information contact John or Rick at (540) 574-2529. Visit the Hunters for the Hungry website for program information.
Time to Take a Hunter Education Class
Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education class for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. The Hunter Education course is designed to teach hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship, and is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older. 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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com to register and get directions. For information on trapper training and opportunities visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW Natural Resource Pavilions at the State Fair - Opening September 24
The new site of the State Fair will mark its grand opening on September 24 at Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, located on Rte. 30 approximately two miles north of I-95 (exit #98), near Kings Dominion. Virginia's Natural Resource agencies will be sharing exhibit space in two new pavilions that were recently landscaped with native plants. This year's natural resource theme is "wetlands," and the exhibits will feature the variety of ways we conserve woods, water, wildlife, and historic resources. New exhibits as well as perennial favorites like VDGIF's live fish tank and snakes exhibit will be sure to delight families. The Fair runs until October 4; details available at www.statefair.com
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 www.audubonnaturalist.org.
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.
Forestry & Wildlife Bus Tours Scheduled for Fall
Join fellow forest landowners, Virginia Cooperative Extension and a host of natural resource professionals for a fun and exciting day in the woods learning about forest and wildlife management. The Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program and Virginia Cooperative Extension are hosting the 33rd Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours in four locations this fall. The popular day-long field trips are scheduled for:
- Southampton County - September 24 Contact: Neil Clark (email@example.com) (757) 657-6450 x 406
- Franklin County - October 3 Contact: Jason Fisher (firstname.lastname@example.org) (434) 476-2147
- Orange County - October 16 Contact: Sandra Lillard (email@example.com) (540) 948-4699
- Rockingham County - October 29 Contact: Matt Yancey (firstname.lastname@example.org) (540) 564-3080
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 flintlock rifle to wilderness survuval. For more information, contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director at (434) 248-5444 or email@example.com.
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.
March 7-12, 2010: Traditional Flintlock Rifle Workshop. Learn how to build your own custom Flintlock Rifle! Rifle building experience not needed. Instruction and kits provided by rifle builder Troy Roope of Stonewall Creek Outfitters. Kits also available from Jim Chambers Flintlocks. You will pay less for this workshop than you would pay a craftsman to build this custom rifle. The custom rifle you build and some tools from the workshop are yours to keep. The class size is small with lots of instructor time - 6 to 1 student/teacher ratio. Meals and lodging provided as part of this package. Visit Troy's website at www.stonewallcreekoutfitters.com. The cost is $1,500. This covers all programming fees, instruction, the rifle kit, meals, and lodging. Click here for information or to register. Register by October 30, 2009.
Kayak Fishing Workshop at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester October 6
Have you wanted to try Kayak Fishing, but just never had the opportunity? Well here's your chance! Register for the Kayak Fishing Workshop October 6, at Beaverdam Park in Gloucester from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will receive kayak instruction and lessons on freshwater fishing. Instructional sessions will be followed by lunch and kayak fishing on Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir. Kayaking is fun, but add fishing to it and it just doubles the enjoyment. This workshop is designed for beginners and those who are new to kayaking. Participants must be age 12 and older. Workshop fee is $15 per person. For more information or to register online, visit the VDGIF Upcoming Events page.
Orvis Hosts Hunting & Fishing Seminars in Richmond October 10 and 17
Fishing Manager Tye Krueger, for the Richmond Orvis Store at Short Pump Mall, invites area sportsmen to participate in the "Fall Orvis Days Celebration - Hunting and Fishing Seminars" scheduled for October 10 and 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Seminar topics for October 10 include:
How to Fit a Shotgun, Getting Your Trophy Bird Mount Starts in the Field, Tower Hunting and Dog Training Techniques as well as Duck and Goose Calling Demonstration. Award winning waterfowl and upland game artist, and Virginia Duck Stamp competition winner Guy Crittenden, will have various waterfowl and upland gamebird prints and originals on display all day for your enjoyment.
Topics for October 17 are:
Traditional Canvas Decoys, North Carolina Inshore and Offshore Species on Light Tackle, Surf Fishing North Carolina's Outerbanks and the Virginia Eastern Shore. Representatives from ARK (Area Rehabbers Klub) will be on hand with live animals for discussion and demonstrations. ARK takes in the orphaned and injured native Virginia wildlife for rehabilitation and release it back into its natural habitat.
For details and seminar schedule times contact Tye Krueger, Orvis Store (804) 253-9000.
Birding Trail Celebrates 5th Anniversary at Local Trail Sites This Fall
The Watchable Wildlife Program will host several 5th Anniversary Celebration events of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail at local events in partnership with local birding clubs and tourism associations.
- October 23, there will be a celebration event at the Virginia Creeper Trail Park in Abingdon in Washington County in Southwest Virginia.
- November 6, a celebration is scheduled at "The Link" (12018 Lee Hwy) in Sperryville in Rappahannock County.
The Celebration events will each begin at 8 a.m. with a two hour bird walk along the trail site. There will be presentations by local bird clubs and tourism officials and exhibits on local attractions For more information contact Jeff Trollinger at (804) 367-8747 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website for information on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Shenandoah Audubon Hosts Birding Festival November 7
Shenandoah Audubon will host their 9th Birding Festival November 7 at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester. Discover the birds of the Shenandoah Valley starting with a 8 a.m. morning bird walk in Abram's Creek wetlands. Everyone, especially scouts working on birding badges, is invited to a free "Bird Watching 101" workshop which starts at 9 a.m. The doors open at 10 a.m. There will be morning and afternoon presentations of live raptors and a Black Vulture. At noon there will be a "non-early bird" bird walk, and at 4 p.m. a "See the Woodpeckers" walk. There will be crafts for the children to make, conservation exhibits, and bird seed, books and houses for sale. For more information call (540) 667-6778 or email@example.com
Forest Landowners' Retreat: Adding Value to Your Forest, November 6-8 at Holiday Lake
On November 6-8, join fellow forest landowners, the Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Cooperative Extension and other natural resource management agencies, associations and professional managers for an interactive and instructional weekend learning about actively managing your woodlands. The three day Forest Landowners' Retreat: Adding Value to Your Forest, is held at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox. Register by October 23. For cost, accommodations and workshop topics contact Jason Fisher firstname.lastname@example.org (434) 579-5689 or Neil Clark (757) 657-6450 x 406 email@example.com. View brochure here (PDF).
People and Partners in the News
Wildlife Center Hosts Autumn Open House Dates and Rehab Classes
The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation's leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, has four remaining open house dates 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:
- Sunday, September 27
- Sunday, October 18
- Sunday, October 25
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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."
"On the Road" Rehabilitation Classes
The Wildlife Center's Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor Amanda Nicholson has scheduled the following classes to train volunteer rehabilitators:
- Saturday, October 3, Danville Science Center,
- Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation: 10 a.m. to noon
- Introduction to Raising Orphaned Mammals: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 14, Tonsler Park, Charlottesville
- Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
On November 7-8, 2009, the Center will hold their annual "Call of the Wild" conference on wildlife rehabilitation in Waynesboro. The complete schedule and registration is up on the Wildlife Center's website.
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.
Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
With the first new Youth Deer Hunting Day this Saturday September 26, there should be some new young hunters that get their first deer or maybe the buck of a lifetime! We encourage you to send us inspiring stories of these young sportsmen that we can share with our readers.
The pictures need to be in good taste for publication—minimal blood, classic pose, etc. Our award winning professional photographers offer a few tips on composition of your photos so as to capture the moment with good photo—consider background, good light, contrast, and have both young hunter and mentor in the photo, especially father-daughter, or mother-son, etc.
Send us the basic information to email@example.com for a caption including: Names, age, hometown, location of harvest, first deer?, doe or # antlers, bow or gun specifics, comment from the young hunter or mentor.
We will send a Virginia Wildlife cap to the successful hunters whose photos we post. Good Luck, and smile for the camera! David Coffman, Editor
Hunters - Are You Ready?
September is finally here which means school has started - yeah! And hunting season is underway - yahoo! Just like preparing for "back to school," here are some things you need to do to get ready to hunt:
Mandatory Hunter Education Course
If you are a first time hunting license purchaser age 16 or older, or age 12-15, you are required to complete a 10-hour certified Hunter Education Course. This is a great time to introduce and to mentor a youngster to our outdoor sports traditions and conservation ethics to ensure we pass this rich heritage to the next generation. Hunter Education classes are free and we offer them statewide. For a schedule of Hunter Education courses call toll free 1-866-604-1122, or check the Department's website to find a class near you.
Purchase Your Licenses
A Customer Service Center has been established at VDGIF to help purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses. Be sure you have all the proper licenses and check the expiration date as they are good for a full year from purchase date with two exceptions: the Deer, Bear, Turkey Big Game License and the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp are valid July 1 through June 30. Call 1-866-721-6911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, except holidays.
Sight In Your Gun or Bow
Now is the time to check your firearms and archery equipment for accuracy and proper working condition. Waiting until you have that big buck in your sights and having a problem with your firearm is both dangerous and shows poor sportsmanship. VDGIF has public sighting-in ranges on six Wildlife Management Areas and the U.S. Forest Service has seven ranges on National Forest sites. For details and rules of operation, see the Department's website.
Where You Goin'?
If your favorite deer or turkey woods now has houses growing on it, or you are looking for a new place to hunt, do some scouting online through VDGIF's Find Game interactive Web-based map-viewer and public hunting lands information system.
Get the Kids Involved
With the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, and the second year for the Youth Turkey Hunting Day on October 17, these are great opportunities for a new hunter to schedule the Hunter Education class and take it with a parent or mentor for a refresher.
Another option is to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season. 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 Apprentice Hunter program works. 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.
Finally always be sure of your target and beyond! Have a safe, rewarding hunting season!
Lottery Deer Hunt on Conway-Robinson State Forest – Application Deadline October 7
The Virginia Department of Forestry plans on continuing its managed hunt at the Conway Robinson State Forest in Gainesville, Prince William County. Last hunting season was the first managed hunt on the property and was considered a success by all involved. The lottery hunt is conducted in coordination with VDGIF as part of the Conway Robinson Deer Management Program. Hunters interested in being a part of the lottery hunt need to apply online by October 7, 2009 at 3 pm. Hunting will consist of four days only: November 16 and 17 and December 7 and 14. Review the Hunter Protocol on the website for rules and restrictions for this special hunting opportunity. All application and hunting information can be found here.
OOPS - Season Opening Dates For Fox and Bobcat Misprinted in Hunting Digest
Several of the furbearer hunting season opening dates are incorrect in the 2009-10 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia regulations digest since they list a Sunday starting date. Mike Fies, VDGIF Furbearer Project Leader noted that the opening date for firearms seasons that traditionally open on November 1 should have been listed as November 2, since November 1 is on Sunday this year and you can't hunt on Sunday. Also, the October 4 date for archery bobcat season should be October 3. The opening date errors affect the fox and bobcat hunting seasons only. We apologize for these errors. See the Quick Glance at Hunting Seasons section in the sidebar of this Outdoor Report, or check the website for the correct season dates for these and other species.
Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 17
The Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day, established last year for youth 15 years of age and younger, is on Saturday, October 17, 2009. With the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall. To provide added opportunities for fall turkey hunting, the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day was established, and the starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Youth hunters between the age of 12 and 15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Adult hunters supervising youth must possess a valid Virginia hunting license, may assist with calling, and shall not carry or discharge a firearm.
Fall turkey hunting has some unique methods and restrictions:
- Decoys, blinds, and dogs may be used
- Either sex may be harvested
- Unlawful to use electronic calls
- In the fall, harvested turkeys must be checked at a Game Check Station so feather samples can be collected to estimate reproductive success
Be sure and check the regulations booklet for season dates, bag limits and other details.
For further information on harvest data and season changes contact Gary Norman at (540) 248-9389, or email email@example.com.
"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
- 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
- Number of Antlerless Tags Increased from 2 to 6 on Bonus Deer Permit
- Either-sex Deer Hunting Day Moved to 2nd Saturday of the Early Muzzleloading Season West of the Blue Ridge
- Antlered Buck Bag Limit Increased from 1 to 2 During the Early Muzzleloading Season West of the Blue Ridge
- Increased Either-Sex Deer Hunting Days in 48 Counties
- Increased Black Bear Hunting Opportunities for Archery, Muzzleloader, and Firearms Hunters
- Spring Turkeys Must be Checked using the Telephone or Online Game Check System. Fall Turkeys Must Be Checked at a Check Station
- Spring Squirrel Season June 5 - 19, 2010, Opens on All Private Lands and Additional Wildlife Management Areas
- Raccoon Chase Season Expanded in Southwest Virginia
- 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
Proposed Regulatory Amendment Pertaining to Elk
August 27 - October 1, 2009 Public Comment Period on Proposed Regulation Amendment
On August 18, 2009, the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, pursuant to §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, and 29.1-502 of the Code of Virginia, proposed the below amendment to the Commonwealth's hunting regulations.
A public comment period on the regulatory proposal opened August 27, 2009, and closes October 1, 2009. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its meeting 9:00 a.m. October 22, 2009, at 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond, and will consider the proposal for possible adoption as a final regulation amendment at that time. Written comments on the proposed regulation amendment should be submitted online at www.dgif.virginia.gov, or may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mailed to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn. Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230, no later than October 1, 2009.
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. 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.
- 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...
- VA Stamp
- Federal Stamp
Videos Available to Show Field Dressing Techniques
New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
Whether you are a novice hunter who may not feel comfortable tackling the chore of field dressing and butchering a deer or squirrel themselves, or a more experienced hunter who would like to take their deer processing to a professional level, the VDGIF has a DVD to help you make the most of your harvest. VDGIF has two useful DVDs now being offered at the VDGIF store. One is 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.
For the deer hunter, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" video begins with step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. Then, professional butcher and hunter education instructor Rob Bingel demonstrates the best way to cape out a deer for mounting. The video really gets good when he shows in detail how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. Sure, many of us think we know how to process a deer, but seeing the way Rob does it with no wasted effort is well worth the price of the video. By the end of the video you will learn how to make butterfly chops, de-bone a front shoulder, tie up a roast using a butcher's knot, be able to identify all the proper cuts of meat on a deer, and more! This is one video you will watch over and over! The price is only $12 each.
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Crossbow Safety Tips by Dick Holdcraft
Virginia is among a growing number of states that have allowed all hunters the opportunity to use a crossbow for deer hunting. Formally just reserved for handicapped individuals, now allowing all hunters to use a crossbow during archery season has become the fastest growing new hunting option. While crossbows are considered in the same regulations that apply to archery equipment, there are several key differences to handling a crossbow safely. If you hunt from a treestand and are using a crossbow, you need to be aware of these special safety guidelines.
- Never dry fire a crossbow. Carry a target point arrow (bolt) with you to uncock your crossbow at the end of your hunting for the day. You should shoot it into the ground or a soft tree stump.
- Always keep your fingers below the level of the rail. Because a crossbow is shot like a rifle, many folks have the habit of placing their fingers high on the forward hand guard. This habit can cause a serious injury to your hands when the string is released.
- Cock your crossbow while on the ground before you climb into your treestand. If you attempt to cock your crossbow while in your stand using your foot, you could easily lose your balance and fall. Although a risky maneuver, if it is necessary to cock your crossbow in the treestand, always use a ratchet device.
- Always be mindful of the proximity of the bow limbs in relationship to the tree and parts of the treestand, as you are tracking the movements of your target. There is enough force in the limbs to knock a hunter to the ground if the bow limbs come in contact with the tree or stand. This is another reason why it is so important that hunters wear a full body harness when hunting from treestands.
- Always use a haul line to raise and lower your crossbow into the treestand. To reduce the chances of dislodging arrows from the quiver, always raise your bow with the fletching pointing down, and lower it with them pointing up. Raise and lower crossbows with the stock up and the bow pointed down and with the safety on. Never raise or lower a crossbow with an arrow loaded on the rail. Once you are secured in the treestand only then should you load your crossbow.
Always use the manufacturer's recommended arrow weights and specifications. Be sure and practice, before the season, using your crossbow in field situations, and treestands keeping in mind the safety tips noted above. Perfect practice makes perfect.
Thanks to Richard L. "Dick" Holdcraft for his safety tips. 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 Master Instructor since 1993. Dick has written numerous articles on tree stand safety and we appreciate his sharing his experience in this report. Whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time using a stand, Dick provides these guidelines to help you prepare and stay safe.
Early Warm Season Deer Hunting Safety Tips
If you're planning to go deer hunting this September 26 during the new Youth Deer Hunting Day, or get an early start with archery season beginning October 3, you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure you have a pleasant and safe experience. If you're wearing camouflage, it should be lightweight. Keep hydrated – have plenty of water, sports drinks and salty snacks.
You'll also want to put on some bug repellent to ward off ticks, chiggers, gnats, and mosquitoes. Stinging insects like wasps, bees, and hornets are still active. Pay close attention to where you are walking going to and from your stand. Check your treestand before climbing up for nests under the seat or in the foliage near your stand! Also, if you are allergic to bee stings, be sure and tell your companions in case you are stung, and have the appropriate medication with you – just in case. Snakes are also out and about with the warmer temperatures, so be alert.
Learn to identify poison ivy (leaflets three let it be!) and avoid contact with the shiny green leaves and hairy vines. Note that you can also get a rash from handling clothes that have come in contact with this abundant woods plant. If you have walked through a patch of poison ivy, wash those clothes to remove the oils which cause the itchy rash.
If it is a very warm day, it would be a good idea to field dress your harvested game as soon as possible and hang in the shade to cool the meat. If it is cold — below 40 degrees — after being field dressed, a deer can hang for several days to chill and age the meat. If temperatures are getting above 40 degrees, you need to skin your deer and cut it up into manageable pieces: shoulders, hind quarters, loins, and "scraps" for burger, jerky, or stew meat, them place in unsealed plastic bags, and ice down these bagged pieces, or place in a refrigerator. "Field refrigerating" a deer can be as simple as four or five bags of ice and an insulating blanket or tarp and cardboard box. The meat also handles much easier for processing when chilled.
As always, practice basic firearm safety. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, clearly identify your game and what is beyond, and only aim at what you intend to shoot. If using a treestand, always stay attached with a full-body safety harness. So, spray on a bit of bug juice and take a youngster deer hunting in the early season when it's not freezing cold, or the deer have been alerted with increased hunter pressure. Spend some quiet time enjoying and appreciating the wild places. Be prepared, be safe, and have fun!
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 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.
- National Environmental Education Foundation website provides information and activities to encourage you to experience the outdoors and inspire the young people in your life to do the same. Access Environmental Education Week's online Nature Center Map and Nature Journaling Blog for some ideas to get kids outdoors.
- Kids Discover Nature by Jodi Valenta
- Virginia Naturally newsletter
Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd
Squirrels Cutting Nuts
The end of summer signals squirrels to gather and store loads of nuts in the ground like a "pantry," for use during the winter. Squirrels spend the cooler days hustling and burying acorns, hickory nuts, black walnut, and beechnuts, provided by Mother Nature. Nut and acorn fruits are known as mast. Imagine burying food one nut at a time to a depth of about ¼ inch in the ground. Hollow trees, limbs, or residence gutters as storage spaces also become the temporary storehouse. An acute sense of smell, not digging, helps squirrels locate the buried meal, even in the deepest snow. Squirrels eat any variety of mast they retrieve—they are not picky eaters.
The term squirrels "cutting nuts" comes from the nut outer husks breaking as they fall through the sunlight, or from the squirrels' very sharp, large front teeth as they attempt to get the meat or kernels. When the stored food is about gone, they go for corn, wheat, oats, apples, or soybeans from the nearby farmlands. Squirrels need to consume sufficient food weekly to match their own weight. Just as humans must have water to exist, squirrels also require fluids. Watery foods like snow, frost, even dew, are water sources when lakes, streams, or ponds have dried or iced over. The still-buried nuts will sprout and the forest benefits with new tree seedlings.
Now, gather friends and an adult or two, binoculars, and head to a nearby forest or woods. Federal, state, and local forests, along with VDGIF wildlife management areas are available. Before going on any private property, be sure to have landowners permission—it is the right and courteous thing to do. So, go experience the outdoors up close and personal. For more information on the many species of squirrels in Virginia, visit the VDGIF website.
Habitat Improvement Tips
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:
- October 9 - Wildlife Habitat Workshop, Dinwiddie, Contact Mike T. Jones (804) 586-3255; email@example.com
- October 16 - Halifax County Quail Tour, Halifax, Contact Jason Fisher, Extension Agent (434) 476-2147 firstname.lastname@example.org
Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available
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!
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.
Lake Whitehurst Fishing Station and Boat Ramp to Close November 1
On November 1, 2009, the Lake Whitehurst fishing station and boat ramp, located off Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, will close to public access. The property owner, Norfolk Airport Authority, has decided not to renew the lease agreement to the City of Norfolk, thereby restricting public access to Lake Whitehurst. Norfolk Airport Authority has cited future airport expansion and the runway protection zone needed for the construction of a parallel runway as the reasons for closing the facility. The lake itself will remain open for fishing and boating, however access will be extremely limited. Anglers should be reminded the Little Creek portion of Lake Whitehurst, located off Northampton Boulevard, will remain open to the public. Due to this decision and the elimination of public access, the VDGIF will no longer be able to justify current fisheries management activities, including fish stockings. VDGIF will be working with the local municipalities in an effort to locate a possible future public access site to Lake Whitehurst. For additional information pertaining to Lake Whitehurst please contact the City of Norfolk, Utilities Dept. at (757) 441-5678, VDGIF at (757) 465-6812, and the Norfolk Airport Authority at (757) 857-3351. Click here to see the City of Norfolk News Release.
Study to Assess Climate Change Impacts on Virginia's Brook Trout Resource
How will brook trout, Virginia's state fish, fare under climate change? That's the central question of a major cooperative study launched this summer by the Mark Hudy of the U.S. Forest Service and VDGIF.
"As air temperatures increase it is likely that water temperatures will also increase to levels that are lethal brook trout," said Hudy. Brook trout thrive in clean and cool water with temperatures averaging less than 70° Fahrenheit. "Under many of the most likely climate change scenarios, brook trout habitat is likely to be greatly reduced or eliminated in many portions of the state," he added. To assess the potential damage to brook trout habitat, a coalition of state and federal agencies, academia, and conservation organizations have embarked on a program to rank the susceptibility of Virginia's trout streams to adverse impact from climate change.
"All brook trout streams are not equal in respect to their responses to increased air temperature," Hudy explained. "Local watershed conditions, such as elevation, shade on the stream, presence of springs, and many other land use characteristics, can greatly affect the resiliency of individual brook trout populations to climate change." Hudy and his colleagues at the U.S. Forest Service, the VDGIF, James Madison University, Shenandoah National Park, and Trout Unlimited have identified 272 brook trout watersheds that, potentially, could be damaged by climate change. They've placed water temperature monitors in and along 50 of those streams and expect to begin assessing results this fall.
The results of this study will enable Hudy and his partners to develop models that will forecast how the watersheds are impacted by warming air temperatures. The models will help state and federal agencies and conservation organizations set priorities for watershed protection and restoration.
For more information on the study contact: Mark Hudy
James Madison University
112 Sheldon Hall MSC 7502
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Phone: work (540) 568-2704
Visit Trout Unlimited's website for more information on their habitat and conservation education programs.
2009-2010 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity Regulation Review and Amendment Process
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries review and amend all of the Virginia regulations governing wildlife and boating biennially.
The regulations are reviewed in two separate biennial processes, with different regulations being under review in alternating years.
At its June 2, 2009, meeting, the Board completed its most recent biennial review of regulations governing hunting, trapping, and game species. The amendments it adopted June 2 went into effect August 1, 2009.
September begins the 2009-2010 Regulation Review and Amendment Process for Virginia's regulations governing freshwater fishing, boating, and wildlife diversity. "Wildlife diversity" includes regulation of those wildlife species not hunted, fished, or trapped.
In this earliest, scoping stage of the current regulatory review process VDGIF staff is soliciting the public's views on what changes in regulations citizens would like to see. During this period staff also collects and analyzes biological and sociological data relevant to regulatory issues. Such information typically includes constituent satisfaction survey results, conversations or meetings with constituents in groups and individually, and other forms of feedback from the public that occurs continuously, including before the scoping period.
VDGIF strongly encourages the public's participation in the regulation review process. You are invited to use this online comment submission system to submit your views.
- Submit your views on changes needed to fishing regulations »
- Submit your views on changes needed to boating regulations »
- Submit your views on changes needed to wildlife diversity regulations »
For information on future stages in the periodic regulation review, see the Schedule for 2010 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity Regulation Review and Amendment Process.
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:
- Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
- 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:
- Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
- Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
- Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
- 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.
- Completed a NASBLA approved boating safety course (U.S. Power Squadrons, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, other states' boating safety courses, or internet courses)
- Completed a Virginia Challenge Exam
- Have lost your original Boat Virginia card
- Possess a valid license to operate a vessel issued to maritime personnel by the United States Coast Guard or a marine certificate issued by the Canadian government
- Possess a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator's Card
- Possess a commercial fisherman registration
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.
Safe Boating is No Accident — Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
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. 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
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 BoatUS.com. 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
Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Robert Eveland. Cooler temperatures are bringing smaller fish closer to the shallows, with larger fish still suspended in 12 to 20 ft. of water off the points. Notable catches reported:
Albert R. Cundiff Sr, Newport News - bass, 10 lbs. 7 oz., spinnerbait
Robert C. Garrett III, Yorktown - bass, 7 lbs. 1 oz., crankbait
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. According to Capt. Jim, the cobia are "schooling up and biting good." They are going for bucktails and eels. They are mostly to be found at the mouth of the Bay around buoys and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Croakers are mostly gone. Spot angling is fair, but they can be fooled by a blood worm or Fishbites. The water is clear and 76 degrees.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that a few bass seekers have been lucky with eel and cut bait. Not a lot of crappie action, but there will be soon. Some big cats have been brought to boat on eel and cut bait. No word on bluegill. The water is 73 degrees and slightly stained.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that bass fishing is "outstanding." The hungry fish are going for spinners, crankbaits, and soft plastics, particularly dark colors. Crappie can be found at the creek mouths and on the points that run to the main channel. Try a minnow. Cats are in a "feeding frenzy" and will "eat anything you throw at them." The water is clear and in the low 70s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Bass fishing is hot up Drew Dixon's way; people are landing a "pile of them" on plastics, with worms and lizards being the preferred shapes. Crappie are also "turning on" and will hit minnows and jigs. No word on cats. Bream are going for crickets and red wigglers. The water is clear and cooling.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Fishing is picking up in the Blackwater and Nottoway little by little. Water temps are coming down and oxygen levels are going up. Largemouth are starting to hit some on top. A great lure is a Heddon Tiny Torpedo. Replace the back hook with one that has white feathers and you will do well. I can't believe I'm giving up that tip to y'all! Maybe no one will read this. Bream fishing is getter better also. Cool nights make a great time to try some night action with the catfish. Fresh cut bream is the best bait unless you have some frozen herring or shad. The bugs lay down about nine at night and that makes for a more enjoyable trip for sure. Just be sure you wear your life preserver when going out at night and take somebody with you.
Region 2 - Southside
Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. On Wednesday, September 16, I checked the clouds out the first thing and saw the sun, and that was all I needed to send me to Lake Gordon for the day. I got to the lake and on the water by 10:00 A.M. and fished from the dock about half way up the lake without the first strike. The water has cooled off a lot and had a dark brown stain to it, to where you could only see little over a foot down. I finally caught a 6 in. crappie which I put back. I fished that area for over an hour, catching 6 white perch from 7 to 9 in. while the rain was falling. I caught these on the 2 in. pumpkinseed twister tail. I switched over to 2 in. chartreuse and fished the rest of the way up the lake picking up 14 crappie from 7 to 9 in. and 10 blue gill, hand-sized and one 14 in. channel cat. I did not catch the first bass.
James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366, (434) 996-506. The James continues to remain low and gin clear. The water temps are in the low to mid 70s. Fish are still taking top water offerings. The past couple weeks have seen some of the best fish being boated. Fish 17 to 22 in. have been taken on top. Continue to keep a rod rigged with either a baitfish or crayfish pattern for the shelves and deeper holes. Tiny Torps and Pop-R's have been the bait of choice for the conventional anglers. They too should have a rod rigged with a soft plastic stick bait.
Kerr Reservoir: Contributed by Bobby Whitlow, Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Striper fishing is doing very well. Fishermen are deep trolling for them with downriggers and/or using lead core line pulling bucktails in the 1 to 1.5 oz. range and also Sutton/Pet spoons. Good reports of fish are being caught fishing vertical with spoons by P-Line, Hopkins, Sea Striker and laser spoons ranging in size from 1.5 to 4 oz. Most fish being caught are weighing 6 to 10 lbs. Crappie fishing remains good and should be getting better with the water temps falling. Most fishermen are finding fish in deeper water; 20 to 30 ft using tight line methods with jigs and minnows. Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Stroll'r have been hot all summer. Good colors are blue ice and cajun cricket. We also received 5 new glow colors in Bobby Garland last week. Bass fishing is tough due to lake levels remain low; over five ft. below normal. Fish are using water depths from 1 to 5 ft. and 20 to 30 ft. Shallow fish are being caught with crankbaits, jigs, and topwater lures. Deep fish are mostly being caught with monster worms and football jigs. Water temps are in the upper 70s with stained water clarity. Blue catfish are being found in deeper waters around Goat Island and flatheads remain in the Clarksville area on main river channel bends and breaks. Most fishermen are anchoring and/or drafting using bottom rig and free lines with large corks. Preferred baits are bream, large shad, goldfish, and cut bait.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf told me that smallmouth action on the James has been pretty good; with a popping bug being the preferred lure. No word on crappie or cats. The water is clear and cooling.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Things have been slow up Ron Karpinski's way. Early and late is still your best bet for bass, with a topwater lure being a good choice. No word on stripers. Crappie fishing is okay, not great. Still you might get lucky if you try a minnow. Some "edible sized" cats have been brought to boat – fish the bottom and use cut bait. Bluegill fishing is also mediocre. The water is clear and cooling.
Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead, Virginia Outdoorsman (540) 721-4867. The striped bass continue to school near the mouths of most major creeks and are moving up both the Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers. Large schools and smaller pods are still being found in the middle and lower sections of the lake from 15 to 90 ft. below the surface. Deep-water stripers are being caught using live bait on downlines and by jigging with flukes on heavy custom jigheads and bucktails. Stripers are also being caught on three-way rigs with Sutton Spoons on the long leader and the very popular and reliable "green weenie" and "green weenie sparkle" swim shad rigged on a lead headed jig on the short leader. Stripers are also running schools of bait on the surface, especially early and late in the day. One angler reported seeing smaller stripers in a series of breaks lasting close to two hours in the lower lake over the recent Labor Day weekend. Breaking stripers can be caught on surface plugs including the Lucky Craft Gunfish and Sammy, Super Spook Junior, Striper Strike, large Pop'R's, and on swimbaits and flukes retrieved near the surface.
The bass fishing this past week continued to be mixed. The night bite continues to be very tough and daytime bass are still being caught both shallow and deep. Some fish continue to be caught under deep-water docks using jigs (Dave's, Bill Easterly, Cheeseburger) rigged with plastic trailers (ZOOM, Netbait, Berkley). Small finesse baits (Roboworms, Basstrix, ZOOM, Deep Creek) rigged on small shaky head jigs are also working under docks, along vertical structure and on natural rock. Gary Yamamoto Yamasenko (Senko) worms are another proven lure that continues to produce fish holding on steep banks and near pilings under docks. To get them down to suspending fish quicker and reduce hanging up on pilings and submerged structure, try using the weighted, weedless, wacky hooks by Falcon and the Ichy Head jigs. Bass are also being found in deeper water near brush where they can be caught on worms and deep diving crankbaits. Bass have also started schooling baitfish very early in the morning and late in the evening. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, small swimbaits (Basstrix), and topwater lures including the Jimmy, Lobina RICO, and recently reintroduced Lobina Suave are proving to be excellent choices.
Panfish continue to be caught using "red wiggler" worms fished on small hooks and jig heads next to docks and in the rip-rap stone on the shoreline. Catfish continue to like nightcrawlers and large shiners and shad either live or as cut bait. Crappie fishing is picking up with some nice fish being caught on small minnows in and around deep brush piles. Yellow "ringed" perch are also being caught on minnows and small jigs near brush and deep water dock pilings. The water clarity is fair to good at 75 degrees.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Mark Mines told me that fishing in general has been slow. Small and largemouth bass remain deep. Striper, however, are coming to the surface and attacking alewives and live shiners. No word on crappie. Cat angling has been fair but not fabulous, with cut bait being the preferred lure. The water is clear and cooling.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. According to John Zienius, bass fishing has picked up. Your best bet is a buzzbait. No word on crappie. Cat angling has been slow. Muskies are biting well on inline spinnerbaits. Local redeyes are going for worms. The water is 74 degrees and clear.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. According to Harry the smallmouth fishing in the North and South forks of the Shenandoah, and the James River is good. For fishing the surface try: the Shenandoah Chartreuse Slider, size 4; the Shenandoah Grey Chuggar, size 6; and the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6. For fishing beneath the surface try: the Olive Marauder, size 6; the Pearl Marauder, size 6; and Murray's Hellgrammite, size 6. The water is clear and 68 degrees.
The fishing in the Valley requires caution and a long cast as the water is very clear. For flies try: Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 14 and 16; Shenk's Cricket, size 14 and Shenk's Hopper, size 14. As mentioned the water is very clear and 64 degrees. The mountain streams are too low to fish, but this should improve with rain. The water is clear and 61 degrees.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenberger (540) 468-2682 www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Mike reports that bass are still in their summer pattern, so go early and late with plastics and poppers. Crappie have been "hit and miss"; but you might try a minnow or a jig. Channel cats are going for live and cut bait. Bluegill angling is "wide open", especially for the fly fisherman. Mike says that redeyes are to be found in deep areas of the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers. Try a minnow-like lure. He also told me that once the lake "flips over" in October, things should get really hot. Currently, the water is clear and cooling.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Piedmont Rivers: Local blogger and author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / Fishing the North Branch of the Potomac. All is well in the Piedmont as river temperatures drop and hold in the mid-70s with the bass in the early stages of their fall feeding frenzy. While Steve continues to be skunked on Burke Lake, plenty of other anglers are doing well there fishing the points with scented worms and crankbaits. The Occoquan Reservoir is touch and go with clear water and hard to find bass. The Quantico bass lakes are fishing slow. Breckinridge Reservoir is cloudy with the bass reluctant to hit on anything offered. On the rivers, the picture is better. The Upper Potomac is fishing well from Point of Rocks downstream to Seneca Breaks. The dense rock structure on the Virginia side upstream from White's Ferry is exceptionally productive on 4 inch green grubs, plastic worms and small crankbaits. The river levels are as good as they get for wading and the water is clear after the rain spike last week. The Rapidan and Rappahannock are running low and clear right now; making for perfect wading conditions. Anglers report good experiences upstream from Ely's Ford on the Rapidan as well as on the Rapphannock in the Kelly's Ford area. On all the Piedmont rivers, the vegetation is still growing strong; creating dense mats that hold fish but make for a difficult attack in the thicker areas. Fish the edges, go weedless or on top. The key pattern for fly anglers, no matter where they go, is the grasshopper in various sizes. The mountain trout streams remain at low levels. Consistent with earlier advice, Steve recommends you not fish in the Park to avoid stressing the wild trout population. It's only a few weeks until stocking starts again! If you need a trout fix right now, head over to the Jackson, North Branch, Savage or the Youghiogheny. For directions to these and many other locations, visit Switchfisher.com.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. According to Mike, bass are biting well with soft plastics, especially lizards. They are also going for topwaters and live shad. Crappie are hitting well near downtown Richmond. Mike's clients have been landing some big cats on cut shad. Stripers can be had early and late with topwaters. The water is slightly stained and 73 degrees.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. Now, Big John goes exclusively for cats, and he and his clients have been lucky lately. As the shad move up the James, the cats follow the food. The Dutch Gap area has proved particularly fruitful. Another good area is the Deep Bottom near Varina. Aside from the joy of landing a huge blue, sturgeon can be seen breaching, which is always a thrill. Your best cat bait is gizzard shad or eels. The water is clear and cooling.
Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. I have noticed that the fish are starting to show signs of moving to their Fall pattern. The water temperatures are in the mid 70s and falling. Largemouth bass bite has picked up considerably. They have begun to move to more shallow water. Crappie are also on the move, but can be found hanging around structure in 5 to 8 ft. of water. Catfishing continues to remain strong throughout the lake on chicken liver and live bait.
Saturday, September 26th marks our 11th Annual Youth Fishing Day, sponsored by the Gordonsville Lions Club. FREE for the Family! 12 noon - 4:00 P.M. Registration begins at 11:00 A.M. Recognition for: Largest Fish Caught, Largest largemouth bass, Largest catfish, Largest Bream, Largest Crappie, as well as many other categories too! This event is open to any child that can hold a pole up to age 16. Fishing is permitted from the shore line, from your boat or from one of the rental boats available at Lake Orange.
Come make a day of it, bring the family to Lake Orange!
Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that bass fishing is slow, with your best bets being a buzzbait or a Senko worm. Striper action is picking up; try eel. Crappie are biting well on minnows and jigs. Cats are also biting well just now with the bewhiskered fish going for eel and cut bait. The water is clear and 78 degrees.
Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Editor-In-Chief, Woods & Waters magazine, (540) 894-5960, www.woodsandwatersmagazine.com. C.C. reports that bass angling has been fair. Fish are in transition from lower to shallow depths. The best bet is a shaky head worm, fished near brush or docks. Crappie fishing is just fair also. Some smaller ones have been landed in the upper Pamunkey and North Anna rivers. Use small minnows and jigs. No word on cats. Stripers are in transition too, and so are hard to land. The water is clear and 75 degrees.
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.
Get your kids hooked on fishing!
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?
email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
|To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.|
Region 3 - Southwest
Landowner admits to baiting for dove hunters in Pulaski... On September 5th, the opening day of dove season, Conservation Police Officers entered a baited dove field and located and checked seven individuals in the baited area. A two-week investigation exposed that doves were being baited on a 25 acre farm near the town of Pulaski. Close inspection of the area revealed over one quarter of a gravel driveway was heavy baited with wheat. Only after officers explained their observations for the previous week did the landowner remember that he had poured wheat on his driveway.
Hunting over bait in Scott County leads to multiple violations... On September 5, Virginia Conservation Police Officers conducted a plain clothes hunting patrol in an area of Scott County based on information received that an illegal baited dove hunt was to be held over the Labor Day weekend. An officer had conducted a reconnaissance patrol during the previous week of the suspected baited area. Due to the presence of individuals on the suspect property, the officer was not able to physically observe bait in the field during his reconnaissance, however, he was able to note the presence of wild turkeys in the open field along with a large number of other birds that appeared to be congregating in the open field area. As the officers began their surveillance operation on the opening day of the Dove Season, they heard numerous gunshots from the area of the suspected baited field and observed two individuals with guns walking up into the field. As the officers conducted their surveillance they noted where the hunters were located. The officers then split up and moved into position to be able to check the hunters and found piles of bird seed that was used to attract the doves scattered in the field. The following charges were placed: seven charges of Hunting Doves over a Baited Area, four charges of Hunting Without a Hunting License, four charges of Hunting doves Without a HIP Number, and one charge of Hunting Doves With an Unplugged Shotgun. Verbal warnings were issued to youth hunters that were hunting in the area for license, HIP, and hunting over bait. As the Officers were finishing with the suspects, a man claiming to be the landowner stated that the bait was not put down by anyone, but was dropped by cows as they passed through. As a side note there were no cows in the area and the nearest cut cornfield was miles away. Other than the illegal hunters, the only thing in the field was rock, dirt, and plenty of birdseed.
Drinking and driving lead to arrests at Laurel Bed Lake... Conservation Police Officers were traveling to Laurel Bed Lake when they came upon a parked car with its engine running and hazard lights flashing. The officers noticed three individuals standing beside the car, two were holding wine bottles in their hands, and one had a beer. As the officers approached, the three individuals got into the vehicle to leave. One officer got out of the patrol vehicle and ordered all three out of the car. During the course of investigation, he discovered the driver was DUI and driving suspended DUI related. All three suspects were arrested. The following charges were made: one DUI, one driving suspended-DUI related, two possession of marijuana charges, and two intoxicated in public charges.
For information on these incidents 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
With the upcoming new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, there will be lots of youngsters hopefully getting a shot at their first deer. Whether it is a buck or doe doesn't really matter. For a young teenage deer hunter, his first doe on a hunt with his dad in the National Forest was his most memorable outdoor experience. Joshua Ryan Rather was a senior at Halifax County Senior High School, when he entered his article in the 2008-09 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest. His story ranked in the Top 10. Not only does the story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about Joshua's ‘first doe' adventure, note that he uses good safety practices both in handling his muzzleloader, being sure of his target before firing, and staying in contact with his dad during the hunt. Joshua also talks about the camping experience and the fun and adventure of being outdoors with family and friends. Getting a deer was not the, most memorable part of the hunt- it was the total experience of the trip with his dad. Congratulations Joshua on your first doe and more importantly promoting safety and the values of hunting with friends and family.
A Hunt with a Rolling Experience
By Joshua Ryan Rather
In November of 2003, my dad, a friend, and I went on our annual hunting/camping trip in the National Forest in Virginia. This is a hunting trip that I look forward to each year...
We set up camp in the National Forest, high atop a mountain where you could see for miles. It was a beautiful sight. As we sat around a warm camp fire laughing, talking and roasting hot dogs we got our gear ready for the next days hunt.
Morning came quick and we got up and took off up the mountain on a long two hour walk to get to our spots. The day went by quickly without seeing any deer, but I had a turkey walk up on me within several feet from where I was sitting. I decided to stay in the woods and wait to see if any thing would come through. It started to rain, so I packed up and headed back to camp. We all met at camp and waited for the rain to stop. That evening we headed back out in hopes of seeing a deer. We stopped our truck and walked up to a grassy meadow where we had seen deer grazing the day before. I stood beside a tree and my dad walked a distance from me and stood at another tree.
We stood at our spots for about 15 minutes and as I was slowly looking around, I spotted a doe within 10 feet from me. She caught me by surprise and as I watched her a second doe stepped out beside her. The second doe knew something wasn't right. She stood in an alert stance watching me not knowing what I was. She dropped her head as to feed but snapped her head back to an alert stance and caught me moving my muzzlerloader. At that moment she blew loud and both took off running across the field. As she was running my dad whistled and the does stopped and looked back. I shouldered by muzzlerloader and took the shot at approximately 80 yards and took my first deer in the National Forest.
The next day we set out again in hopes of finding a buck. We set off on another long hike up the mountain ridge. That morning we didn't see anything, but that evening our adventure began!!!! We decided to set up a tent blind on the mountain ridge overlooking a meadow. We sat for while and sipped on some hot chocolate watching patiently for deer to appear. As we sat and waited my dads chair leg sunk into the ground causing him to fall backwards and roll off the chair. My dad grabbed hold of me, then we both rolled down the hill, tent and all. After rolling about 10 yards, we laid on the ground laughing at what had just happen. We gathered our senses back and sat on a more level spot for the remaining time that was left before dark. When darkness came we headed back to camp and told our friend Tracy what a day we had and also about our rolling down the hill experience.
We headed back out to the same spot the next morning. It was cold and foggy as I sat watching the field, I started getting cold so I stood up next to the tree to stretch and warm myself. As I stood up and looked to my right a doe saw me and I saw her at the same time. We both jumped and she turned and ran. I quickly sat back down behind the blind, I radioed my dad and told him what had just happen. He said to sit still and wait. I waited and within 15 minutes she came back out in front of me knowing that I was still there. She blew and stomped as she was trying to figure out what I was. I sat very very still as she continued to blow and stomp. She walked further into the field, but she kept an eye on me. Then all at once she turned and charged at me trying to get me to move. I was startled by what had just happened, but I didn't move.
Slowly she walked back into the field and started feeding. As the evening came to an end there were several does in the field grazing but no buck showed ending our trip in the National Forest with lots of laughs and memories. Can't wait till next year !!
This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2008-09 High School Youth Writing Contest by Joshua Ryan Rather placed in the Top 10 in the Contest. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Contests 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: email@example.com
In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- Photos and Stories of Winners in State Big Game Contest
- Fall Turkey Harvest Forecast and Spring Harvest Results
- Turkey Hunting Tactics and Safety Tips