In this edition:
- Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving
- Hunting Benefits All Virginians - Share the Bounty
- Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting the Outdoor Report
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Youth Pheasant Hunting Workshop November 29 in Catlett
- Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop in Bedford December 5
- Youth Deer Hunting Workshop at Claytor Lake State Park December 18-19
- Bedford Youth Deer Hunting Workshop December 19
- Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Deer Hunts November-December
- Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop Scheduled for January 16 in Pittsylvania
- Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Hunters Convenient Lodging
- People and Partners in the News
- Governor Kaine Announces More Land Preserved Toward 400,000 Acre Goal
- Outdoor Writers Association Announces Annual Youth Writing Competitions
- Support Outdoor Activities for Disabled Veterans
- Hunting News You Can Use
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think
- Deer Hunters Must Follow Carcass Importation Laws When Crossing State Lines
- Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning
- Hunters - Are You Ready?
- New Migratory Waterfowl Regs and Seasons
- VDGIF Continues Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Blaze Orange is Not Just for Hunters
- Treestands Recalled by Gander Mountain Company Due to Fall Hazard
- Tree Stand Safety Tips
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- New Book Features Remarkable Trees of Virginia
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Outdoor Blogs Provide Nature Adventure Info for Kids
- Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest - Turkey Feathers
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- Make a Special Bird Treat
- Fishin' Report
- Attention Anglers -- Nottoway Lake Bass Regulation Change January 2010
- How to Avoid the Six Most Common Boat Winterizing Mistakes
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- 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
- Health Advisory for Walleye on Lake Gaston
- 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
- "My Own Trophy" by Josh Kramer
Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving
During this season of Thanksgiving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests in many ways. Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer, or a portion of it, to Hunters for the Hungry. The potential exists to receive, process, and distribute 500,000 pounds of venison annually to the less fortunate across Virginia. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 3.6 million pounds, equal to 13.5 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Another valuable contribution is to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public is also encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and rewarding Thanksgiving holiday.
David Coffman, Editor
Hunting Benefits All Virginians
With the general firearms season underway, hunters should pause to reflect on all the benefits that their participation adds to their lives and the positive impact on fellow Virginians. Recent economic downturns have many people thinking about how to simplify their lives, how to stretch their dollars, put food on the table, let go of stress, and still somehow give to others. Reports on obesity, concerns about food quality, and the footprint we are leaving on the planet, has people wondering what to do. An activity that addresses all that and more is hunting.
What benefits do all those hunters enjoy and what benefits do we all get from their activity? What benefits can you expect when you take up the tradition of hunting? Find the answers in various articles throughout this edition of the Outdoor Report that reveal the five benefits that hunting has been doing, and can do, for you...
- Boost the Economy
- Contribute to Conservation
- Wildlife Population Management
- Healthy Minds, Spirits and Bodies
- Sharing the Bounty
Sharing the Bounty
A tradition of stewardship – Hunting is a tradition that is often passed on from one generation to the next creating a special bond between family members and friends. Many hunters enjoy mentoring others in the pleasure of and importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. For most hunters it's not the killing of game that's key to hunting, but the experiences and life lessons they gain. People who hunt have a special connection with the outdoors and an awareness of the relationships between wildlife, habitat, and humans. With that awareness comes an understanding of the role humans play in being caretakers of the environment.
Helping others by putting food on their tables – Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry (www.h4hungry.org). Last hunting season, more than 363,000 pounds of venison was distributed in the Commonwealth through this program. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 3.6 million pounds, equal to 13.5 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest.. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing that donated meat.
Hunt safely and responsibly. Always be sure of your target and beyond! Have a safe, successful, and rewarding hunting season!
Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting the Outdoor Report
The Outdoor Report regularly posts to your email on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. With the various holidays observed in November-December, we will be 'tweeking' the posting schedule just a bit to accommodate both staff and subscribers holiday schedules and provide time to enjoy the season's festivities. Posting dates are revised as follows:
- Wednesday November 25 is a state holiday prior to Thanksgiving. The Outdoor Report will post on Tuesday November 24.
- The regular posting for Wednesday December 9 will be on schedule.
- This is the final Outdoor Report posting for 2009 as only one edition is posted in December due to extended Christmas / New Years Holidays.
- The first edition of 2010 will post on the regular schedule of Wednesday, January 13.
Please send in stories, announcements, events, and photos you may want posted to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 10 days prior to the listed posting date.
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Youth Pheasant Hunting Workshop November 29 in Catlett
The VDGIF Outdoor Education Program in partnership with Sporty's Hunting Preserve in Catlett, will host a Pheasant Hunting Workshop for youth under the age of 18, on Sunday, November 29. The cost of the workshop is $90 and includes:
- Professionally guided pheasant hunt
- Shooting coaches
- Firearms safety instruction & basic wingshooting skills
- Upland game bird biology & habitat training
- "Field side" lunch
- Must have completed the Basic Hunter Education Course
- Must have a current Virginia Hunting License or Preserve License
- This workshop is great for new, novice, or inexperienced hunters
- Pre-registration is required
Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop in Bedford December 5
On Saturday, December 05, VDGIF Outdoor Education Program will host a Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop in Bedford County. Workshop includes eastern cottontail biology and habitat, firearms and hunting safety, game care, and ethics. Participants must be 17 years of age or under, and must successfully complete the Basic Hunter Education Course, and meet all license requirements. Registration is limited! For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at 804-367-0656 or email@example.com.
Youth Deer Hunting Workshop at Claytor Lake State Park December 18-19
The Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation and VDGIF are co-sponsoring a Youth Deer Hunting Workshop at Claytor Lake State Park December 18-19. The workshop includes: Friday evening seminar, whitetail deer biology and game management, hunting safety and ethics, muzzleloader safety, and shot placement; Saturday is a guided hunt, lunch, game care, and much more! Participants must be 12 to 17 years of age, and never harvested a deer with a muzzleloading firearm; may be accompanied by a non-hunting parent or guardian; must have successfully completed the Hunter Education Course, and meet all license requirements. Muzzleloading firearms only are allowed. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bedford Youth Deer Hunting Workshop December 19
The VDGIF, in cooperation with the Bedford County Economic Development Authority and the Virginia Hunter Education Association, Inc., are offering a Youth Deer Muzzleloading Hunting Workshop on December 19, 2009, beginning at 6:00 AM.
This Youth Deer Hunting Workshop is an opportunity for area youth, specifically ages 12-15, to learn about deer, deer hunting and to hunt deer in a safe, controlled environment. Eight participants will be selected for this event. Selected youth must be accompanied by a properly licensed parent or guardian. Each team will be supervised by a certified hunter education instructor.
To be considered for this unique educational opportunity, completed applications must be received by close of business on December 11, 2009. For more information, an application packet and rules, please contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at: (434) 525-7522.
Applications are available at the VDGIF office in Forest at 1132 Thomas Jefferson Road, Forest, Virginia 24551.
Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Deer Hunts November-December
The schedule for 16 Wheelin Sportsmen sponsored deer hunts from November through December has been set. For details on these and other events and hunt event applications visit the VA NWTF website. Are you interested in volunteering to assist with an event or have a friend that is interested? Visit the Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation Web site to find numerous links to opportunities and information.
Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop Scheduled for January 16 in Pittsylvania
The First Annual Oliver "Route" Keatts Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop originally scheduled for November 7 has been rescheduled to Saturday, January 16, 2010. The workshop will be held at Wayside Park in Pittsylvania County. The workshop sessions include: Eastern Cottontail Biology & Habitat, Firearms & Hunting Safety, Game Care, and Ethics. Participants must be 17 years of age or under, and must successfully complete the Basic Hunter Education Course and meet all license requirements. A $20 refundable deposit is required to confirm registration.
Registration is limited. For information or to register, call Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or email Jimmy.Mootz@dgif.virginia.gov
Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Hunters Convenient Lodging
Are you looking for a place to stay during your hunting trip to the Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest? The Holiday Lake 4-H Center has a deal for you! The Center is located in the middle of the 20,000 acre Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest for quick access and just a short drive from Featherfin and Horsepen Lakes Wildlife Management Areas. Like a bed and breakfast, the 4-H Center offers inexpensive lodging ($15.00 per night, per person, provide your own linens) and a kitchen is available for preparing your own meals. Meal service is available for an additional fee for groups of 10 or more, or several smaller groups combined providing breakfast, a bagged lunch, and dinner. Accommodations are available weekdays from October 26– December 18, 2009. Call for weekend availability at (434) 248-5444 or email:email@example.com. Visit the website for information on the Center's programs: holidaylake4h.com.
People and Partners in the News
Governor Kaine Announces More Land Preserved Toward 400,000 Acre Goal
Governor Timothy M. Kaine recently announced the Virginia Outdoors Foundation's approval of 17,000 acres throughout Virginia to be placed under conservation easement. "One of the best things we can do for our children today is to preserve the environment for tomorrow," Governor Kaine said. "These actions will bring us even closer to meeting my goal of preserving 400,000 acres of open space by the end of the decade." As part of Governor Kaine's land conservation efforts, three new wildlife management areas, six new state forests, two new state parks, , and 13 natural area preserves are being created.
For more information on Renew Virginia, visit www.governor.virginia.gov.
Outdoor Writers Association Announces Annual Youth Writing Competitions
The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) announces its 17th Annual High School (grades 9-12) Writing Competition for 2009-10. The goal of the competition is to reward young people for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The competition is open to all Virginia students in grades 9 through 12, including home-schooled students.
The theme of this year's contest is based on "A Memorable Outdoor Experience." An experience by the student writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding or other outdoor activity should be the predominant subject matter. No athletic event or competition is an eligible subject matter. Submissions can be submitted in a Microsoft Word or text file since the three top winners will be posted on the VOWA Web site, and may be in other publications or on web sites. E-mail submissions are encouraged—write the document and then attach it to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between now and the January 31, 2010, deadline.
Awards will consist of gift certificates and gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA. Over $500 in prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the VOWA's Annual Meeting in Charlottesville, on March 17, 2010, at the Double Tree Hotel. The winner's parents (or mentor/teacher) will be guests of VOWA for the presentation event. There is also a separate competition for college level undergraduates interested in pursuing journalism or communication careers and interests.
For competition guidelines, entry information and required entry submission form for both the high school and collegiate undergraduate contests, visit the VOWA website or contact VOWA High School Competition Chairman, David Coffman at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the Collegiate Competition, contact Marie Majarov at email@example.com.
Winning entries are featured in each edition of the Outdoor Report in the Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers section. After reading these stories from exceptional young writers, we hope you will be inspired to write about one of your memorable outdoor experiences and submit it to the competition.
Support Outdoor Activities for Disabled Veterans
There are many sportsmen's organizations in Virginia that provide opportunities for disabled persons to participate in outdoor activities. The Virginia Deer Hunters Association, Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin' Sportsmen, Virginia Hunter Education Association, Virginia Waterfowlers Association, and numerous local hunt clubs provide opportunities. You can visit their websites to learn more about volunteer opportunities and contribution needs. The Outdoor Wire posted a story on Veterans Day featuring a new effort by Paralyzed Veterans Association to raise funds to help get our wounded veterans back outside. The goal is "100,000 Patriots" to give twenty bucks to help fund this program and give it the permanent resources it needs to keep doing its good work. To put that in perspective, twenty bucks is less than what many of us spend for a few cups of fancy coffee.
The graphic displayed here is a reminder that 100,000 Patriots are needed. We hope that many of you will take advantage of an opportunity that shouldn't put an undue financial burden on anyone. Neither are we suggesting this is the only opportunity that exists to help—there are a number of great programs that are working toward the same goal—saying thanks and welcome back to our veterans. We encourage you to get involved with any or all of them, if you can. This program, however, puts an opportunity to make a difference into the financial reach of all of us. And we all know that Americans pulling together can reach any goal.
To learn more about the PVA/ORHF's 100,000 Patriots program, you can visit www.pvaheritagefund.org. If you want to donate hunting or fishing trips or other opportunities, you can contact Lt. Col. Lew Deal, USMC (Ret.) at Lew4vets@aol.com. To get your media organization involved, contact Chris Chaffin at Chris@chaffincommunications.com.
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 huge success of the first new Youth Deer Hunting Day, we encourage you to send us photos of new young hunters that get their first deer, wild turkey, or maybe the buck of a lifetime during the upcoming bow and firearms seasons. Also any unusual pictures or stories from any hunters are considered for posting. We encourage you to send us inspiring stories of novice or experienced sportsmen or mentors 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 a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for a caption including: names, age, hometown, location of harvest, county , private, or public land, first deer, doe or # antlers, turkey, coyote, 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
Travis Jones from Warrenton sent in this picture of the deer his daughter Erin got this week, actually before school. He took her out for the first hour of light before school and they got lucky. Erin used a new rifle she got for the fall season, a Marlin XS7 in 243 caliber. She made a great double lung shot from roughly 75 yards. The buck only ran 100 yards and dropped. It's an 8 pointer with a 15 inch outside spread. Erin only missed math class and was in school by 10 a.m. after checking it in and donating the deer to Hunters for the Hungry, which is what she wanted to do. Congratulations on a nice trophy buck and for sharing the bounty during this Thanksgiving season.
A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think
Have you had a successful deer hunting season so far? You read over the new regs, sighted in your gun, double checked your equipment, scouted your hunting area, and reminded everyone you hunt with about basic safety precautions. So far, so good. When you went afield you were patient and didn't fall asleep (too long zzzzzz) at your stand. Then, rewarded by all your preparation, you made a great shot and harvested a deer. Well, you're still not completely successful yet! Proper preparation of that venison is now just as important for complete success as the effort leading up to that great shot. Whether you plan to butcher the deer yourself, take it to a meat processor, or share it with someone, here are some basic tips gleaned from a lot of experience and advice from "old timers" to complete your hunt.
- Field dress and cool down ASAP. If cold - below 40 degrees - after field dressing, a deer can hang for several days to chill the meat. If temperatures are getting above 40 degrees, you need to skin and cut up into manageable pieces: shoulders, hind quarters, loins, "scraps" for burger, jerky, or stew and place in open plastic bags and ice down these bagged pieces, or place in a refrigerator. 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 when chilled.
- Cleanliness is important for maintaining both the taste and quality. Use paper towels to blot up stray hair or leaves and grime from the field. Cut away and discard any bloody tissue. Trim off visible fat and any sinew, the shiny "silvery" lining on the outside. A fillet knife works well for this process. Wash debris off meat pieces and pat dry excess water before cooling.
- Plan what type of cuts you are going to process: steaks, roasts, burger, sausage, jerky, etc. If inexperienced at all this, ask for suggestions and advice from fellow experienced hunters - you don't want to mess up now. We also recommend purchasing the VDGIF video, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" which gives step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. The video also features professional butcher and Hunter Education instructor Rob Bingel who demonstrates how to cape out a deer for mounting and details how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. You can order by telephone or online.
- Before freezing your cuts, be sure all air is sealed out. Freezer burn and reduced shelf life will result if you don't. A vacuum sealer works best, but good-quality freezer paper also does an excellent job of preserving meat. Plastic freezer bags are also convenient and easy as long as you squeeze all the air out. Properly processed, venison should last at least a year in the freezer.
- Now you've had a successful hunt. If you are fortunate to harvest more deer than you can use and really want to do a little extra, donate your deer to a local processor who handles deer for Hunters for the Hungry. A list of processors can be found on the Hunters for the Hungry website. Also consider paying the $40 processing fee to help offset processing expenses. Another option is to ask the processor to set aside several packages of any deer they process for you for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Every donation helps whether it's cash or venison and helps show that sportsmen do positive things in their communities. Now we all can be proud of a successful hunt!
Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously
Deer Hunters Must Follow Carcass Importation Laws When Crossing State Lines
To prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Virginia, regulations were adopted in 2006 which prohibits the importation or possession of whole deer carcasses, or specified parts of carcasses originating from a state or Canadian province in which CWD has been confirmed.
Hunters should learn whether or not the state in which they intend to hunt deer or elk has CWD, a fatal neurological disease affecting deer and elk. The disease has been found in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. These include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Alberta and Saskatchewan. If you're going to be hunting in a CWD-positive state, be sure to check that state's regulations for proper handling of deer and elk and if samples are required.
For more specific information about the carcass importation requirements, visit the Cervid Carcass Importation Regulations FAQ.
Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning
Editors note... As I found myself with a trophy buck the first day of muzzleloader season last year, I was unprepared as how to handle skinning the trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in choosing a taxidermist. I learned a lot from consulting with Todd and Vickie Rapalee from Goochland who shared this advice for the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist to handle all of your taxidermy needs! Now is a great time to visit taxidermist's showrooms and web sites to decide on who will handle the preservation of your trophy, be it whitetail, bear, gobbler, bobcat, coyote, or waterfowl. Remember that you will take the trophy of a lifetime one day. Choose your taxidermist before the hunt. The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted." Here are some special tips for waterfowl.
World Class Waterfowl - From the Water to your Wall
A quality mount begins in the field. By following a few simple procedures your taxidermist will have a much better specimen to work with.
- Retrieve the bird yourself. Often a "hard mouth" retriever will do damage beyond repair.
- Carry your trophy by the feet. Carrying the bird by the neck can cause feather loss.
- Once the bird is in hand keep it in a cool, dry place until you get out of the field or off of the water.
- Keep the feathers as clean as possible. Wipe off any blood or dirt to help prevent staining.
- While broken bones or shot holes in the birds bill are usually not a problem. Missing feathers on the other hand are, and cannot be replaced. Handle your bird gently.
- Keep birds cool and put them in the freezer ASAP. Tuck the bill under the wing and place the bird in a plastic bag and freeze. Please DO NOT wrap in newspaper. Label your bird with the following information: Name, Address, Species, Date and County & State Collected.
- Deliver to your taxidermist as soon as possible. The faster they receive it, the better condition it will be in and the quicker you will get it back!
If your waterfowl hunting will be taking you outside of the United States you will need to follow some additional guidelines. Check with your taxidermist to see if he or she is a USDA approved facility, authorized to accept birds or bird capes for trophies. If they are a USDA approved facility you will be able to send your birds directly to their studio from any country in the world. Always contact your taxidermist prior to any hunt for proper shipping instructions.
Nothing adds more color and texture to your home or office than quality bird mounts! Make a commitment to yourself to start a collection this season. Years from now as the collection grows so will your fond memories and recollections of hunting adventures with your family and friends.
Review taxidermy tips for Deer in the October 28, 2009 edition and for bear in the November 10, 2009 edition. For additional information on taxidermist services visit Rapalee Taxidermy, Inc. website and the Virginia Taxidermist Association.
Hunters - Are You Ready?
The muzzleloader deer season has begun for deer, bear, turkey, and several other species. The general firearms deer season opened November 14. Bear firearms seasons have been expanded in many counties. There's a lot to do to get ready and there's always something overlooked... here are some items you need to check off on your "TO DO" list...
Purchase Your Licenses
A Customer Service Center has been established at VDGIF to help purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses. Call 1-866-721-6911 or email email@example.com for assistance 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, except holidays.
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
The Apprentice Hunting License is a good option for a friend or family member who wants to try out hunting this season. 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 for you.
Review the safety tips and common sense precautions in Be Safe... Have Fun! section.
Remember Safe Hunting is NO Accident!
Ultimately, every hunter is responsible for identifying their target and beyond before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of careless gun handling, the hunter not making sure of his or her target, or shooting at sound or movement. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded and never point the muzzle at anyone—including yourself. Before you go afield, let someone know where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. Take a few basic emergency items with you: snacks, water, safety whistle, a fold up space blanket, a method to light a fire, extra batteries for radios or GPS and fully charge your cell phone
Most importantly wear blaze orange—it's the law for a good reason—it can save your life!
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
VDGIF Continues Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has continued its active surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) during the 2009-2010 hunting season beginning October 31, 2009. To establish whether CWD occurs in Virginia, the Department has conducted CWD surveillance since 2002. Over 4,600 samples have been collected from deer in every county in the Commonwealth, and CWD has not been detected. However, since September 2005, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has detected CWD in approximately 45 white-tailed deer in Hampshire County, West Virginia. The closest case to Virginia was detected during 2007 near Yellow Spring, which is approximately 2.5 miles from the Virginia state line.
Because of the proximity of CWD to Virginia, VDGIF has established an active surveillance area that consists of the section of Frederick County west of Interstate-81 as well as Shenandoah County west of Interstate-81, and north of Route 675. The Department plans to sample as many road-killed and hunter-killed deer from this area during the fall as possible. Submission of deer heads for sampling will be voluntary in most areas. Department personnel and volunteers will be staffing 4 stations on 3 different dates (see below) to collect samples, as well as setting up "self-service" stations at 2 locations. More instructions can be found on the Department's website.
Mandatory Sampling in Effect for Specified Days in Parts of Frederick County
VDGIF has established a Mandatory CWD Sampling Area in southwestern Frederick County that consists of the area west of Route 600, north of Vance's Cove Road and Paddy's Cove Lane, and south of Fall Run Lane and Heishman Lane. Please see the accompanying maps (2009 CWD Surveillance Area PDF and Mandatory CWD Sampling Area PDF). This is the area of Virginia closest to the CWD detection in Yellow Spring, West Virginia. Consequently, deer harvested in this area on January 2, 2010 (last day of deer season) MUST be brought to one of the 4 stations:
- Graden's Supermarket (6836 John Marshall Highway, Lebanon Church)
- Gore Grocery (305 Gore Road, Gore)
- Stateline Store (1778 Bloomery Pike, Cross Junction)
- T&R Deer Processing (691 Carpers Valley Road, Winchester)
Please note that the telephone or internet checking system may still be used to report the harvest, but the deer should still be taken to one of these check stations for sampling. For hunters who harvest an animal they wish to have mounted, the deer should still be taken to one of these check stations. We will work with the hunter and/or local taxidermist to obtain the samples we need. Hunters will be able to check the CWD test results for their submitted deer heads on the Department's website. Results should be available within 60 working days after collection.
VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon added, "Concerns over CWD should not keep hunters from enjoying the deer hunting season." Persons who have questions or need additional information about CWD should visit the Department's website, or contact Fred Frenzel, (540) 984-4101, ext. 130, or Nelson Lafon, (540) 248-9295
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters! Be Safe, Be Seen!
Except for hunting waterfowl, wearing blaze orange during the general firearms hunting season is not only smart - it's the law! And a good one that saves lives each year. But blaze orange is not just for hunters. This high-visibility "safety orange" is recognized in the workplace, both indoors or out, so you can bee seen. If you are a landowner, jogger, hiker, or walk your dog on woodland trails, you would be wise to wear a blaze orange hat, vest, or coat so a hunter can see you and not mistake your movement for game. Just like driving defensively, you should take the same precautions and awareness if you go to the woods for any reason during the hunting seasons from October through January. Dress defensively. Wear blaze orange to be safe and be seen. Also, if you should fall and get injured, rescuers will find you easier... time saved that could keep you from further harm. If you have dogs that "roam" out of the yard, put a blaze orange collar on them so they are not likely to be mistaken for a fox or coyote. Remember whether you are a hunter, or just enjoying the outdoors, cutting firewood or walking a woodland trail, wear "safety orange"- it's the woodswise thing to do!
Remember: Safe Hunting is NO Accident!
Treestands Recalled by Gander Mountain Company Due to Fall Hazard
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Gander Mountain, has announced a voluntary recall of the Hang-On Fixed Position Treestands. Gander Mountain is recalling the 2008 model GMT101 and 2008 model GMT103 Hang-On Fixed Position Treestands. The recalled treestands have wire mesh on the base of the platform to the top of the footrest and a Gander Mountain logo on the front of the seat. Model GMT101 has "Steel Hang-On With Foot Rest" printed in large bold print on the exterior of the box and the GMT103 has "Large Steel Hang-On With Foot Rest" printed on the exterior of the box. This recall does not affect the 2009 year models GMT101 and GMT103 Hang-On Fixed Position Treestands manufactured by Rivers Edge.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled treestands and return them to Gander Mountain for a refund, exchange for a 2009 model, or a store credit. About 13,000 units were sold only at Gander Mountain stores from July 2008 until July 2009. The GMT101 was sold for about $60 and the GMT103 was sold for about $80.
The recall hazard resulted from reports that the clasp may open unexpectedly if the strap is fastened incorrectly, causing the treestand and user to fall to the ground. Gander Mountain has received two reports of consumers falling while using the treestands: one sustained unspecified injuries and a second person sustained a broken pelvis and broken arm.
Treestand Safety Tips
Now that Daylight Saving Time is over, the days are getting shorter and with bow season and early muzzleloading season ongoing, more time is being spent by hunters in the woods before daylight and after sunset, getting to their favorite stand. Here are some special safety tips for the autumn hunt, gathered from experience and conversations with fellow sportsmen around the campfire, tailgate, and skinnin' shed...
- Let other hunters in your party know where your stand is located. Leave a map on the dashboard indicating the time you will return.
- Pack emergency items including a whistle, horn, strobe, lighter/matches, 2-way radio, or cell phone in your pack. Make sure cell phone is properly charged or have fresh replacement batteries.
- Carry an extra flashlight, one of them being the headlight or cap bill type that allows hands-free operation.
- Wear full-body safety harness at all times maintaining three points of contact at all times.
- Practice using your tree stand during limited daylight and wet weather conditions, to be familiar with the particular safe procedures for getting up, in, and out of the stand safely and quietly.
- Always use a hauling rope for your gear. Tie hauling rope to belt or stand when climbing to keep hands free.
- Unload gun or bow before climbing or descending stand.
- Wear blaze orange in stand. Let other hunters in area know where you are.
- Have a clear travel and "staging" area around the base of your treestand, remove rocks, logs, and trimmed branches so you don't snag or trip over obstructions. Use reflective tacks or yellow flagging on trees that will give you a "lighted" path to your stand.
- Pack Several Glow Light Sticks - VDGIF Videographer Ron Messina knows the importance of light in filming a good video. An avid bowhunter, he offers this tip to deal with loss of sunlight if you shoot a deer just before dark and need to track it with the light fading. "Crack" a glow light stick and hang it at your stand to find your way back in the dark. Carry several of these inexpensive light sticks to hang along the trail to keep you on track.
"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.
New Book Features Remarkable Trees of Virginia
Take a trek across the Old Dominion to learn of the grandest trees and forests in a stirring tribute to Virginia's trees. Share in the author's insight and lore of some of the state's oldest, largest and most historic trees. The book, Remarkable Trees of Virginia distills the four year effort of authors Nancy Hugo and Jeff Kirwan to locate and describe the state's most treasured, interesting, and significant trees. Through their words and the fine art photographs of Robert Llewellyn, you'll see as you've never seen them before and learn more about tree life and lore along the way.
The 120 trees featured in the 216 page book were selected by the authors from over 1000 nominations from tree lovers throughout Virginia. Co-author, Jeff Kirwan, a 4-H Extension Specialist and Professor of Forestry at Virginian Tech who has spent many years developing the "Big Tree" List for Virginia, notes that, "This book goes far beyond listing the biggest trees, and thanks to the interest of tree lovers throughout the state, Nancy Hugo and I were able to feature and chronicle very special trees that were nominated because they were historic, centuries old, aesthetic specimens or unique and significant trees to a local community." Anyone who is interested in the forests, history, culture, and uniqueness of trees in our daily lives will cherish this book and marvel at the stunning photographic images that enhance the stories of Virginia's remarkable trees.
For more information on remarkable trees in Virginia, you can visit the website and read the nominations for the more than 1000 specimens. The site also allows you to search by tree species, or county location. The popular edition is now in its third printing and information on purchasing outlets can be found on the website.
Looking for the perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast?
Notes for Young Nature Explorers
This section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature.. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun: plus provide the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. 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 adventure!
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 school year 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.
- Kids Discover Nature by Jodi Valenta
- Virginia Naturally newsletter
Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd
Wild Turkey Feathers
Native Americans used wild turkey feathers, among others, to decorate their tribal headgear, on clothing, on arrows for archery, and on their tomahawks. Colonists carved a point on the feather tip and used them for writing instruments, each of which lasted about one week.
Feather coloring among wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), both male and female, is interesting to read about and observe. These members of the partridge family have 5,000 to 6,000 feathers in what is known as feather tract pattern, covering the body. They range from tiny hairs to quill-like stiff feathers. Eight different shapes dress, provide heat, waterproof, aide in flight, and help the gobbler show off to the hen. These birds have 10 stiff primary and 18 to 19 secondary wing feathers. Eighteen large quill feathers make up the large tail you see when fanned.
There is an iridescence about the feathers, which includes red, green, copper, bronze, and gold. The brightness of the light and the angle at which turkeys are viewed, makes a difference in what is seen at various times, particularly on the tom, the male species. Only toms ruffle their feathers; as the wing tips drag the ground, the tail fans out, and it remains upright as he struts around the hen. Since they are very mobile, they can run at 25 mph on the ground and fly at 55 mph.
Visit a federal or state park, or a wildlife management area to find wild turkey feathers and experience the beautiful colors—it is not like any you will see on a local turkey farm.
For More Information:
Habitat Improvement Tips
Make a Special Bird Treat
The following recipe is a great food mixture for birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts, the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the yard where they can be seen from your windows. This mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun, inexpensive and something the whole family can join in.
First, in large bowl, stir together:
- 1 part flour
- 3 parts yellow corn meal
- 1 part bird seed
- a handful of raisins
- a handful of shelled peanuts
Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. (Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)
This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and even bluebirds. Keep a record of the different species of birds you observe, it's fun, and educational for "children" of all ages. The birds will appreciate it too!
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.
Attention Anglers -- Nottoway Lake Bass Regulation Change January 2010
Effective January 1, 2010, the largemouth bass length limit at Nottoway "Lee" Lake will be changed to a 14-18 inch slot limit. All bass between 14 and 18 inches must be released unharmed. The five (5) largemouth bass/day creel limit will remain the same. Nottoway Lake has always been a very good bass fishery with very high bass numbers and also a high percentage of quality bass over 15 inches—not usually something that most systems can maintain. Unfortunately, conditions have shifted in the past 2-3 years with fewer of these quality fish sampled in the population; potentially due to harvest. While the 18-inch upper limit won't protect all big fish it does fit the average growth potential of Nottoway Lake. An index commonly used by VDGIF to measure the relative abundance of bass in Virginia waters highlights this decline in bigger largemouth bass; this is the measure of the number of bass greater than 15 inches collected in one hour of sampling effort:
CPUE - Preferred
2005 24.5 f/hr
2007 15.8 f/hr
2009 5.0 f/hr
Overall total numbers of bass in the Nottoway population remain very high so the number of young bass entering the system is definitely not a concern at this time. The new slot limit will serve a dual purpose at Nottoway Lake. First, it will allow for the harvest of some larger fish up to 14 inches. Second, it will reduce the number of smaller largemouth bass competing for limited prey resources which should provide more available prey for the larger bass in the population. We are confident that this regulation change will be very beneficial for anglers and for the bass population at Nottoway Lake.
How to Avoid the Six Most Common Boat Winterizing Mistakes
Free BoatU.S. Winterizing Guide Available
With winter approaching, BoatU.S. Marine Insurance has reviewed its claim files and reports the following six most common mistakes made when winterizing a boat:
- Failure to winterize the engine: Freezing temperatures occur in all 50 states and while they are taken seriously up north, it's the balmy states of California, Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia where boaters are most likely to have freeze-related damage to engine blocks. It routinely occurs to boats stored ashore here. Boats left in a slip are less susceptible to sudden freezing as the surrounding water retains heat longer than air.
- Failure to drain water from sea strainer: If your winterizing plan calls for draining the engine, the seawater strainer must be winterized or residual water could freeze and rupture the watertight seal. Sometimes you won't know it's damaged until spring launching and water begins to trickle in.
- Failure to close seacocks: For boats left in the water, leaving seacocks open over the winter is like going on extended vacation without locking the house. If a thru-hull cannot be closed, the vessel must be stored ashore - the sole exception is cockpit drains. Heavy snow loads can also force your boat under, allowing water to enter thru-hulls that are normally well above the water line.
- Clogged petcocks: Engine cooling system petcocks clogged by rust or other debris can prevent water from fully draining. If one is plugged, try using a coat hanger to clear the blockage or use the engine's intake hose to flush anti-freeze through the system.
- Leaving open boats in the water over winter: Boats with large open cockpits or low freeboard can easily be pushed underwater by the weight of accumulated ice and snow. Always store them ashore.
- Using biminis or dodgers as winter storage covers: A cover that protects the crew from the sun does a lousy job protecting the boat from freezing rain and snow. Unlike a bona fide winter cover, biminis, and dodgers tend to rip apart and age prematurely by the effects of winter weather.
To get a free copy of the BoatU.S. Winterizing Guide full of tips to help you prepare your vessel for the winter, go to http://www.BoatUS.com/seaworthy/winter, or call 800-283-2883. Press Contact: Scott Croft, (703) 461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
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.
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 Robert Horner. Weather conditions have kept most anglers off the water this week, but with the rain subsiding, some boats have started to hit the water again. The rain has brought the water level up several inches and stained the usually clear water much darker than the usual; as a result baits that produce a good vibration like spinnerbaits and rattletraps are producing best. Good numbers of bass and chain pickerel are providing most of the action with a few panfish thrown in the mix. As the water continues to cool the fish will be feeding to put on weight for the winter months, so fishing should remain good in the week to come.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, there are plenty of rockfish around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. They are big ones too, and hitting on bucktails, plugs, spoons, and Fishbite. White perch can be found in the York and James, and like Fishbite and bloodworms. Look for tautogs around inshore wrecks and Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings. These fish like green crab and clams. The water is clear and 61 degrees.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Things have been quiet, due to recent rains, so Alton Williams has no word on bass or crappie. Cats are in their holes and going for eel. By the time you read this, things should be better. The water is slightly stained and the temperature is fluctuating.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that the water is too high for good fishing. The water should go down soon and be back to normal. The water is clear and cooling.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that due to the recent rains, water is too high to fish. Some local landings are under water. When the waters go down, good striper fishing will be had. The water is muddy and cooling.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com I'm afraid there is no fishing happening on the Blackwater and Nottoway right now. Both rivers have been at flood stage all week and it is not advisable to venture onto them. Possibly the middle of next week, but it depends on the rain we get this weekend. Sorry for the short report folks, but Mother Nature has decided the rivers need a break.
Region 2 - Southside
Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Crops are still in the field but the rain put a hold on harvesting and with the promise of 60 degrees and sun, I thought it was time to get the boat out of the shed. I must have lost my horseshoe somewhere, because I could not find the bait the fish wanted today. Checked out Nottoway Falls on Thursday and found it clear about a foot or so and slightly muddy. I got to the lake today around 10:00 A.M. to find that the storm last night had pulled in lot more mud. The water was muddy and visibility all of 3 inches. Fished bright color twisters and only caught three fish, a 10 in. bass and two crappie, 8 in. long. If you could count logs and leaves I had a great day, seems the 8 inches of rain we had moved all the logs and trash everywhere.
James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James is running 8580 CFS with the water temps in the high 40s to low 50s. With last week's rain event and another one this week the James is high and muddy. The ramps are covered in mud and may be so for a while. It will be at least two weeks or more without any more big rain events before more favorable fishing conditions return. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kerr Reservoir: Contributed by Bobby Whitlow, Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Taken from the website.
Stripers: Stripers are moving heavy now. They are starting to use major creeks like Rudds, Island Creek, Grassy Creek, and Clarksville area. Fishermen are using bucktails super flukes with jigheads and live bait. They are finding fish in the shallows in the morning and deeper water later on in the day. Average fish are weighing in the 6 to 8 lb. range.
Bass: Fall patterns are in full swing now. Fishermen are finding fish in the backs of major creeks and main lake pockets. Fish are using wood and rock. Good baits are small crankbaits, rat-l-traps, spinnerbaits, and plastic. Water temps are in the high 60s to low 70s and water color is stained to clear.
Crappie: Crappie fishing has picked up. Anglers are finding fish on deep brush, 15 to 25 ft. deep. Casting jigs and tight lining minnows seem to be working well. Good fall colors are black/chart, pearl, red/chart, blue ice and Cajun cricket.
Catfish: Blues 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 drifting using bottom rigs and free lines using large corks. Baits of choice are bream, large shad, goldfish and, cut bait.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane reports good trout angling. Try a Flashback Hare's Ear Nymph, sizes 10 to 14 or a caddis imitating style nymph, sizes 12 to 16. The water is dingy and in the mid 40s.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski says that bass are moving to the shallows and responding to soft plastics in green pumpkin and pumpkin colors. They will also go for jitterbugs. Stripers are also biting. Troll with spoons or drift with cut bait. Crappie fishing should pick up in the next few weeks, with small minnows being the bait of choice. Cat fishing is okay, try chicken livers. The water is stained and in the 60s.
WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN IMPORTANT WARNING: The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory on walleye fish consumption due to mercury contamination in Lake Gaston . Recent fish tissue sample results from the North Carolina Division of Public Health show mercury levels in walleye fish exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of walleye taken from Lake Gaston. Virginia's advisory stretches from John H. Kerr Dam downstream 18 miles to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.
VDH recommends the following precautions to reduce any potential harmful effects from eating contaminated fish:
- Eat smaller, younger fish (within the legal limits). Younger fish are less likely to contain harmful levels of contaminants than larger, older fish.
- Eat fewer or smaller servings of fish.
- Try to eat different species of fish from various sources (i.e., different creeks, rivers and streams).
- Cleaning or cooking contaminated fish does not eliminate or reduce mercury. For more information about fish consumption advisories, including frequently asked questions, go to the Virginia Department of Health website.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett reports that the bass angling has been slow. You may be lucky if you throw jerkbaits or crankbaits. Recently a 7 lb. largemouth was landed. No word on crappie or cats. The yellow perch have arrived and are going for jig head minnows. Stripers have been acting "weird" due to the lack of baitfish. Mike suggested that you bring your own trout! The water is clear and in the upper 50s.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that things have been slow due to the high water level. This should clear up soon. For bass try crankbaits and spinners. Muskies have been quiet. No word on crappie. John says the upcoming weeks should make for "excellent" fishing. The water is dingy and in the low 50s.
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry told me that the smallmouth streams in the North and South forks of the river are giving "still fair" action. He advises you to fish deeply and use a sinking tip line. Good flies are: the Roadkill Nymph, size 6, and the Murray's Chub Streamer, also size 6. The water is clear and 54 degrees. The stocked streams in the Valley are going well, especially if you use small streamer nymphs. Big Stony Creek west of Edinburg and Passage Creek east of Edinburg are good places to try your luck. Good flies are: the Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph, sizes 12 to 14; and the Casual Dress, sizes 10 to 12. The water is 48 degrees and clear. The mountain streams are too cold to fish. Remember that Harry puts out a new report every Friday on his website.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Mike has not been out lately as the river has been too high to fish. Once it goes down, the fishing should be good. The water is very high, muddy, full of debris, and cooling.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. Big John advises that you not try fishing until the water goes down. He also notes that there is debris under the surface that is very dangerous. Once the water goes down, there should be excellent cat fishing. The water is very high and muddy with lots of debris. The temperature is going down.
Lake Anna: C. C. McCotter, Local guide and Editor-In Chief, Woods & Waters Magazine, (540) 894-5960. Despite Mother Nature's attempt to give us six months worth of rain in two weeks, Lake Anna is holding up. Water temperatures are 50 in the upper North Anna, and the water is muddy above the Rt. 522 bridge. The upper Pamunkey is not quite as muddy and slightly warmer at 54 degrees around Hunter's Landing. Mid lake is around 56 degrees and down lake is 62 degrees. Striper anglers that are getting out are catching fish. Bass fishing is good in the mid and down lake region. Crappie fishing is excellent in the lower, up lake region over brush piles. Here's what you can expect on your next visit:
Largemouth bass: There are plenty of bass still biting in the lower end of the lake. The large masses of threadfin once at Dike III have moved to the backs of creeks and coves like Valentines, Blount's, Levy, and Rockland. You'll find bass harassing them daily. Use soft plastic jerkbaits and topwaters when you find the schools of bait. Shaky worms on docks is a back up pattern that continues to work well. Mid-lake bass are in some of the larger creeks like Mitchell, Marshall, and Pigeon. Sturgeon always has fish due to ABCs released from tournaments. Use shaky worms on docks and brush, soft plastic jerkbaits and swimbaits in the backs of creeks where baitfish are present. Up lake bass fishing is hit-or-miss due to the muddy water. It's now Lake Anna Special spinnerbait time in the North Anna grass now that the lake is back to normal levels. You can also pitch a jig to the same structure if you have the patience. Pamunkey largemouths are on rocks and shallow structure and will take a small crankbait and the Lake Anna Special spinnerbait.
Striper: Some of the best fishing of the year awaits you now. There are breaking fish under birds in the Jetts Island area while the same region in the North Anna should heat up soon. Just above Stubbs Bridge at Plentiful Creek you'll also find striper. Once the water clears a bit, you'll want to push into the bridge area of Terry's Run and the upper part of Pamunkey Branch. Fish right on the bank with big swimbaits and live bait. The North Anna was hot before the rains and the muddy, colder water. It should get going again soon. Fish from Christopher Run on up to Gold Mine Creek. Live jumbo minnows have been excellent this fall no matter where you are fishing. If you like lures the hottest new lure is the Berkley Rippletail Minnow in the 3" and 4" sizes.
Crappie: Lots of specks are now being caught and will continue to be caught on docks in the upper Pamunkey and North Anna. Those that know where lower, up lake brush piles are will find bigger and bigger fish holding on them this month and into early December. Slip bobbers tipped with small minnows is the top bait and tactic now.
White Perch: The vertical jigging season for white perch is about to begin. Expect good action in the Stubbs Bridge region down to The Splits for those using the Crazy Blade. Jig right off the bottom in 28 to 38 in. range and you should find plenty of white perch and catfish. As the water cools, expect some bass, crappie and striper to mix in.
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
Tip helps catch poachers with no hunting licenses and illegal firearms... On November 6, 2009, Conservation Police Officer Justin White and Senior Officer Wes Billings received information of several baited tree stands in the Rocky Gap area of Bland County. During a foot patrol in search of the tree stands a vehicle parked on a logging road below them. The vehicle then proceeded up the mountain and a shot was fired. Officer White and Senior Officer Billings backtracked down the mountain to gain an advantage on the subjects. While following the tire tracks the Officers located the vehicle at the top of the logging road (with what it appeared to be occupied by two subjects). After making contact with the subjects a loaded firearm was taken out of the vehicle and both subjects were interviewed. One subject admitted to hunting deer and failed to produce a valid hunting license. Charges were placed for hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license and hunting deer with a illegal firearm during muzzleloader season. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.
Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley
Complaint on discarded deer carcass leads to multiple charges for poachers... On Saturday October 3, 2009, Conservation Police Officer William Herndon and Officer Robb Ham responded to a complaint in Augusta County in reference to the illegal dumping of deer parts along a state road. Upon interviewing the witness and investigating the deer carcass, the officers were able to obtain a description of the driver and vehicle. They were also able to determine that the deer had been killed with a small caliber rifle. The officers interviewed the first suspect and obtained a confession to the illegal killing and dumping of the deer. The second suspect involved was back in the woods behind the residence again hunting with the .22 caliber rifle. The suspect was located and found to have marijuana on his person. The suspects were charged with hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, hunting without a crossbow license, illegal possession and transportation of illegal deer, illegal dumping on state right-a-way, killing deer during the closed season, use of a firearm less than .23 caliber and possession of marijuana. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.
These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!
If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
With the firearms season underway and the Thanksgiving holidays coming soon, 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 teenager who went hunting with his dad and granddad, he came home with his most memorable outdoor experience. Josh Kramer was a junior at Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville, when he entered his article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest. His story ranked in the Top 20. Not only does the story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about Josh's encounter with a big ten pointer, note that the ‘perfect shot' does not always mean success.. Getting a big buck was not the most memorable part of the hunt- it was the season long experience and patience finally resulting in success.
My Own Trophy
By Josh Kramer
The great outdoors is a wonderful place to be. If there is one place where I can clear my mind and just relax, it is in the woods. I have been hunting since I was the tender age of four, walking the hilly power lines of Powhatan County with my father. I did not start carrying a gun until I was 10-years-old, so it took me awhile to harvest my first deer, but at the time, I did not mind because I loved being with family and friends enjoying everything nature had to offer.
After I got my hunting license, at twelve years old, everything changed. It seemed like I started to see more deer, and watching the Team Realtree hunting shows helped me become more educated in the field of hunting. I started to get more and more into hunting, and I was getting more shots, but I could never capitalize.
I remember this one moment clear as day; three years ago, at age 14, on Nov. 26, 2005, I saw one of the biggest deer in my life. It was 7:30 a.m. and it was a frigid 20 degrees when a faultless 10 point buck, 21 inches wide walked out at 35 yards. I had a Winchester .270 rifle and a Remington 1300 shotgun with 3 inch Number 1 buckshot shells. I have always felt more comfortable with a shotgun, so I decided to use that. I slowly raised the shotgun, and took my time focusing my aim on his front shoulder. I took the safety off, and squeezed the trigger.
I have never seen an animal run so fast in my life, and I felt very comfortable about my shot. At 8 a.m., my father and grandfather heard my shot so they came down to my tree stand. So, we looked all around and no blood was ever found. I was still optimistic that I had hit this deer, but when no blood was found we ended the search. I have not, nor will I forget that moment, because that buck would have been my first deer, first buck, and first mount all at once. How sweet would that have been?
The hunting season went uphill for the remaining part of the season. On Dec. 10, my luck had changed for the good. That morning was another especially cold morning. I saw a few deer, but I did not want to shoot because I was still waiting for a buck. The mid-part of the day had some action, but not much. We stopped for lunch that day at the Red Barn, which was a little gas-station off Route 60, near Route 522. I ordered a Bar-B-Que sandwich, a chilidog, and a Gatorade, and I would need all that energy for my evening hunt.
At 3 p.m., I slipped into the woods and set up on the intersection of three power lines, with a creek to my left and one down 60 yards in front of me. My tree stand was 20 feet high and enclosed with a big, ole, comfortable computer chair. Daylight was getting away from me when I finally started seeing deer. At 5 p.m., I saw three does walked to my right 100 yards away, but I never was offered a shot.
Sunset that evening was at 4:53 p.m., so legal shooting time was over at 5:23 p.m. At, 5:21 p.m., I had just called my father, and said I was about to get down and walk to the truck. Then, a doe stepped out at 70 yards, and I said to myself, "She is mine." I raised my Winchester .270 rifle with the 130 grain bullets, and I centered the crosshairs of the Bushnell scope on her front shoulder. Next thing I know, I shot and she jumped, and ran into the pine trees.
I called my father and said, "I just shot a doe, and it's a good hit because she jumped like a mile in the air." He hurried down to where I was, and I climbed down onto the ground. There was a puddle of blood there, and we trailed her 20 yards from the power line and she was lying up against a tree.
I was swollen with pride of myself for finally harvesting my first deer, and I would not have traded it for the world. The doe was really healthy and she weighed 100 pounds, which was a nice size deer. Harvesting my first deer is my most memorable experience of the outdoors and of my life. Of course, the doe might not be a big trophy to a veteran hunter, but to me, she is and will always be a trophy.
This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Contest by Josh Kramer of Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville, placed in the Top 20 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- Venison Recipes
- Winter weather safety tips
- Gift Ideas for Sportsmen