In this edition:

Autumn Offers Bountiful Outdoor Adventure Opportunities...

Autumn has officially begun! How appropriate and timely that this coming weekend Virginia's hunters and anglers have good reason to celebrate National Hunting & Fishing Day on September 25th. 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 experienced 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. 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

Be Proud To Be an Angler or Hunter!

It is YOU, America's sportsmen, that have funded and lead the fight for conservation, restoration, and management of our precious wildlife and natural resources. For the past 39 years, National Hunting and Fishing Day has served as a public reminder that hunters and anglers are America's premier conservation supporters. The President, Congress, and state Governors annually proclaim this event to recognize the vital role of sportsmen in conservation. 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.

Here are five ways to observe National Hunting and Fishing Day this month:

  1. Introduce a newcomer to the outdoors — purchase a Legacy or Apprentice Hunting License.
  2. Visit your sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing, or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it.
  3. Organize, volunteer, or attend a National Hunting and Fishing Day related event in your area. Many events are listed in the Outdoor Report and also posted at the National Hunting and Fishing Day website.
  4. Remember those whose service to our country and communities will prevent them from joining us afield this fall. Appreciate the freedoms that make hunting, fishing, shooting, and conservation possible.
  5. Log on to www.nhfday.org to learn more about the historic conservation leadership of hunters and anglers. Share the story with non-hunters!

Lapsed Hunters... We Want You Back!

Have you not hunted or purchased your hunting license the past few years? VDGIF Outreach Manager Lee Walker announced that the VDGIF has launched the first of two direct mail efforts to send postcard reminders out to over 60,000 lapsed hunters. The overall goal of this direct mailing effort is to notify former hunters of the many new hunting opportunities awaiting sportsmen and sportswomen with increased bag limits, abundant populations of game and outdoor adventure with family and friends to make new memories. This re-recruitment campaign aimed at lapsed hunting license buyers is based on the integrated marketing campaign that the Department initiated in 2009. The postcard direct mail effort has been funded through a grant by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) titled Lapsed but Not Forgotten: Developing an Integrated Marketing Campaign to Target Lapsed Hunters in Virginia. Walker noted, "We appreciate the support of NSSF in funding this important campaign to re-connect with past customers, and are excited to have this opportunity to better serve our customers and let them know about positive hunter friendly changes that have been enacted in recent seasons, and we look forward to very positive results from this campaign."

If you received a post card from us and have any questions, please contact VDGIF Customer Service hotline directly 1-866-721-6911, or email: customerservice@dgif.virginia.gov, and knowledgeable, friendly agents will be glad to assist you. If you did not get a post card, consider this your invitation to join back with your fellow hunters and re-discover the many benefits that hunting brings to those who participate in our great hunting traditions. See information on license purchasing, new license options like the Legacy, or Apprentice licenses, new public hunting lands available and additional new opportunities like the special upcoming Youth Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl hunting days in the Hunting News You Can Use section.

Next Edition Two Weeks Away October 13...

Since we post the Outdoor Report on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the next edition will be in two weeks, October 13, 2010. This 'extra week' in the calendar will be well spent getting ready for early muzzleloader season, safety checks on tree stands, some bass fishin' before the leaves fall and taking some wounded warriors on a trout fishing trip. We look forward to getting your photos and stories for the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25th and results of the State Big Game Contest in Harrisonburg the same weekend. Have a safe and successful beginning of Autumn!

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Visit the Natural Resource Pavilions at the State Fair - Opening September 23

Virginia's Natural Resource Agencies will once again be at the Virginia State Fair at its new location at the 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. 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 3; details available on their website.

"Calling for the Cause" Charity Benefit Contest in Colonial Heights September 26

Virginia Waterfowlers' Association and Dance's Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights, will be hosting the fourth annual "Calling for the Cause" charity benefit calling contest this year on Sunday, September 26, 2010. In the past three years, this event has drawn in callers from surrounding states including North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware. This year the organizers have two additions to the event, a Swap Meet and Vendors Showcase /exhibits &sales. There will be FREE spaces at the Swap Meet for those who wish to participate. Due to ATF regulations, guns and ammo sales will be PROHIBITED at the Swap Meet. We are asking people to register for spaces in advance to make sure we can accommodate. If you would like to reserve a space at the Swap Meet or Vendors Showcase, please register by sending an email to callinforthecause@yahoo.com.

September Big Game Contests Promote New Hunting Opportunities

Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... On September 25th 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. These are excellent opportunities to bring a friend who is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience. The trophy bucks on display can provide some inspiration too!

September 25-26: 71st Western Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest is sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds south of Harrisonburg in partnership with VDGIF. VDGIF's exhibit will feature information on new VDGIF programs and hunting opportunities and the CWD surveillance plan for the northern Shenandoah Valley. Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors will teach safe gun handling and shooting with the laser shot range for youth attending the event. Exhibitors will be on hand with the latest in gear, supplies, artwork, taxidermy, and more. Come see the truly awesome trophy bucks harvested in Virginia. This year the Western Regional is also the State Championship. For Contest rules and information: www.iwla-rh.org

WSLS 10 Sportsmen's Banquet to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 25

Come enjoy an evening of food, fun, and fellowship while helping to make a difference in the lives of many less fortunate in our community and our state at the WSLS TV 10 Annual Sportsmen's Banquet to benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 25. The event will be held Roanoke Moose Lodge in Salem at 5:30 pm and includes dinner, dessert, and beverages, a variety of raffles as well as live and silent auctions of donated merchandise. Advance ticket sales ONLY! This event has been a sellout the last several years. NO tickets sold at the door! For tickets or additional information contact: Ralph and Lois Graybill (540) 427-5125 or Fred & Phyllis Wells (540) 992-3874.

Basic Trapper Training Courses September 25 in Gordonsville, October 9 in King George

The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) is sponsoring the Basic Trapper Training Course, Saturday, September 25, from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm near Boswell Tavern in Louisa County, south of Gordonsville. This class is free but pre-registration is required. All youths under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you have a folding chair it is recommended you bring it as chairs are in short supply. You should also bring boots which you may wear in a few inches of water. Bring your own lunch or take your chances with burgers and dogs provided by the instructors. For directions and pre-registration contact: Charlaine/Ed Crebbs: (540) 832-2708; email: ed.crebbs.1959@gmail.com. For information on VTA and other training and trapping opportunities, visit their website.

A second opportunity to take the Basic Trapper Training Course is Saturday, October 9, from 7:45 am to 5 pm in King George east of Fredericksburg. This class is free but pre-registration is required. See information above on what to bring and age requirements. For directions and registration contact Bob Graham at (540) 846-6702 after 4 pm, or email: kbn2sons7@yahoo.com.

12th Annual Youth Fishing Day September 25 at Lake Orange

The 12th Annual Youth Fishing Day sponsored by the Gordonsville Lions Club is Saturday, September 25th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. at Lake Orange. We will have recognition for: Largest fish caught, Largest Largemouth bass, Largest Catfish, Largest Bream, Largest Crappie, as well as many other categories too! Event is open to any child who can hold a fishing pole up to age 16. Fishing is permitted from the shoreline, from your boat or from one of the rental boats available at Lake Orange. Come make a day of it and bring the family to Lake Orange! This Event is FREE! Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. to acknowledge all of the participants. For information contact Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing: (540) 672-3997.

Bowhunters Tuneup Event in Spotsylvania September 26

Get ready for bow season and improve you archery skills Sunday, September 26 from 9 am to 1 pm when the Manahoac Bowmen Archery Club is hosting a "Bowhunters Tuneup" at the Izaak Walton League Park in Spotsylvania. There will be 25 animal 3-D targets available in a woodland setting as well as a broadhead range. Crossbows welcome. Cost for entire day is only $10. For information contact Manahoac Bowmen:Jarrett Frame, cjmframe@aol.com, (540) 373-2278 or John Gamble, jg0326@comcast.net, (540) 972-3379.

Kayak Fishing Workshop at Bear Creek Lake State Park October 2

Learn the basics of kayak fishing at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County on Saturday, October 2. Kayak paddling and fishing instruction will be provided followed by fishing on Bear Creek Lake. Event is from 9-4 pm, bring your own lunch, for those age 12 and up, kayaks and fishing tackle provided. To register: send names of participants, address, day & evening phone numbers, email address, date of birth and a check made out to "Treasurer of VA", $15 per person to VDGIF Angling Education - P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230. Informational mailing will be sent prior to the event. For additional questions contact Chris Dunnavant at (804) 367-6778 or chris.dunnavant@dgif.virginia.gov.

Hunter Skills Weekend Returns to Holiday Lake October 1-3

The first of its kind Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend held this past May was such a success that the sponsors have decided to offer a second event set for October 1-3 at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox. This workshop offers expert instruction for participants to learn new hunting skills or hone the ones they already have developed.

The Virginia Hunter Education Association, in partnership with VDGIF and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, sponsor this unique training event. Designed to bridge the gap between the basic Hunter Education course and actual hunting experiences, the event will offer specialized training in the use of hunting firearms and archery equipment, hunting techniques for deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game, and other useful woodsmanship skills. All instruction is provided free; participants pay only for meals and lodging. To find out more, or to register, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website or call (434) 248-5444.

Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors October 2

Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors is an all-day event for women ages 14 years and older, offering 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 $50. Early registration discount applies. See registration form for details. Includes coffee and pastries, lunch, educational materials, equipment use and, an event commemorative item. For more information, contact Elizabeth at (540) 535-8891 or lcciwla_welo@hotmail.com.

Virginia State Duck & Goose Calling Championship October 3 at Green Top

The 2nd Annual Virginia State Duck & Goose Calling Championship sponsored by the Virginia Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be held at Green Top Sporting Goods in Glen Allen Sunday, October 3, 2010. Pre-registration entry form deadline (State & Open) is September 22, 2010. Contestants must be present promptly at 9:00 am with the mandatory caller's meeting to begin at 9:15 am. Order of calls will be Youth Goose, Youth Duck, Open Goose, State Goose, Open Duck, and State Duck. The 2 winners of the VA DU Lower Chesapeake Open Duck and Open Goose Calling Contests will each receive $500 and a shotgun. For contest rules and pre-registration telephone (804) 836-6688 or email Derrick Davis,E. Virginia Regional Director ddavis@ducks.org.

Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival October 7-10

The Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival marks its 18th year this fall. The festival will be headquartered in the bayside Town of Cape Charles in Northampton County on October 7-10. (note this is correct date- Virginia Wildlife calendar shows Sept 16-19—this is incorrect as date was changed by organizers after calendar publication). Birders and wildlife enthusiasts flock to the Eastern Shore to witness an amazing natural spectacle as countless numbers of shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds pour along the Delmarva Peninsula in their fall migration. The festival offers the opportunity for birders to have expert guides lead them to some of the best birding sites on the shore, many of which are not typically open to the public. This year's festival will feature a keynote address by Dr. Greg Butcher, Director of Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society. His talk is entitled "State of Virginia's Birds." For the first time festival participants can register completely online. Trips can be selected and registration fees paid on the convenient and secure Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival website. For more information, contact ESVA Festivals at (757) 581-1087.

Herpetological Society to Hold Fall Symposium in Norfolk October 16

The Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) will hold its 2010 VHS Annual Fall Symposium at the Virginia Zoological Park, in Norfolk, on Saturday, October 16th. View this link for information and any further updates. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Robert Weems, of the US Geological Survey, who is a renowned expert in Virginia's herpetological fossils. The event will also feature silent and live auctions, behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo, other presentations related to Virginia's herpetofauna, and student papers and posters, along with prizes awarded to students with the top judged papers and posters.

Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary & Sustainability Symposium in Roanoke October 14-15

In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a symposium entitled Imagining the Blue Ridge Parkway for the 21st Century-Sustaining Communities, Environments, and Economies is being held at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center (hosted by Virginia Tech), in Roanoke, October 14-16, 2010. What is the Blue Ridge Parkway's impact on your community? Are you capitalizing on that potential? Is there more that you can do to keep the Parkway's scenic views scenic, foster economic development and tourism initiatives, and be a good steward to this important natural resource? This symposium is designed to assist community leaders, businesses, economic development authorities, tourism offices, academics, and supporters of the Parkway in working together for a sustainable future for the Blue Ridge Parkway. A host of local and regional experts will present, including Carlton Abbott, son of original Parkway designer Stanley Abbott, as well as three national keynoters: Peter Jenkins, author of A Walk Across America, Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, and Gerard Baker, as seen in Ken Burns's film, The National Parks: America's Best Idea.

The Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Leadership sponsors include: Blue Ridge Parkway Association, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area North Carolina Tourism, Virginia Tourism Corporation, County of Roanoke. Register online here. Conference registration deadline is Friday, September 24, 2010. For information on the Blue Ridge Parkway 75th events call Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters in Asheville, NC, (828) 271- 4779, ext 224.

Waterfowlers Sponsor Boy Scouts Shotgun Shooting Workshop in Waverly October 23

The VA Waterfowlers Association (VAWFA) is sponsoring a Boy Scouts Shotgun Shooting Workshop to provide 60 Boy Scouts the opportunity to earn their Shotgun Shooting Merit Badge credits. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday, October 23, from 10:30am – 3:30 pm at Sussex Shooting Sports, two miles west of Waverly on Route 460. The VDGIF will provide certified shooting instructors and there will be a complimentary lunch served. The workshop will be held outdoors, rain or shine, in a special designated area so the Scouts will not be on the general courses of Sussex Shooting Sports. If you wish to shoot the general courses after you have completed the workshop, you must sign up with Sussex Shooting Sports clubhouse after completion of the workshop and pay standard course fees. Sussex Shooting Sports sells eye & hearing protections and a variety of shotgun shells. Scouts are required to wear eye and hearing protections when shooting. They need to bring their own shotgun and shells with no shot sizes larger than #7. Participant information regarding all event details: schedule, directions, what-to-bring, etc., will be sent out by mail and/or email a week prior to the event to all pre-registered participants. There will be a charge of $20 per participant to cover cost. All participants will be required to be pre-registered by October 14, 2010. For registration or more information email VAWFA President Todd Cocker at: goosesmacker@aol.com.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Survival Skills Workshops and Flintlock Rifle 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 both wilderness and urban survival and next spring building your own flintlock rifle! Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly. For details contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director, by email: nmahanes@vt.edu, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749, or visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website.

October 22-24: Basic Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend. Do you want to know the basics of wildland survival, or increase your knowledge and advance your outdoor skills? Are you just looking for a fun get away to challenge yourself and put your skills to the test? The Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center near Appomattox is hosting a Basic Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend October 22-24. The program includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include: Land Navigation, Building Temporary Shelters, Locating and Collecting Water, Improving "Situational Awareness" Skills, Primitive Tools and Cordage, and Sleep Overnight in Temporary Shelters. Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshop is $175 and covers all programming and instructor fees, meals, and lodging. Register by October 8th.

November 12-14: Urban Survival Course. Would you know what to do if the power went out, the water stopped flowing and the grocery stores and gas stations were closed or inaccessible? When most people think of survival training they envision learning about outdoor wilderness outings gone bad, yet every year thousands of people endure survival situations in their own homes. Remember, if you are caught unprepared even a winter snowstorm can turn into a catastrophic event. This program includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include: Finding Water, Preparing your Home, Family, and Pets, Controlling Hyper & Hypothermia, Outdoor Cooking, Identifying Security Issues, Personal Safety, Storing and Preparing Food, and many more. Cost of workshop is $150 and covers all programming and instructor fees, meals, and lodging. Register by October 22nd.

March 6-11, 2011: 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. The cost is $1,650. This covers all programming fees, instruction, the rifle kit, meals, and lodging. Click here for information or to register. Register by November 26, 2010.

Landowner Weekend Retreat at Twin Lakes State Park October 30-31

Join natural resource professionals and fellow landowners for a weekend in the woods October 30-31. This retreat will be held at Twin Lakes State Park in Green Bay in Southside region of Virginia. Participants will see forest management practices in action, learn about estate planning and passing their land on to their heirs, hone their tree identification skills and much more. Registration is $45 and includes all meals Saturday, breakfast and lunch Sunday, refreshments throughout, and transportation. Participants are responsible for obtaining their own lodging (RV camping and cabins are available in the park). For more information, contact Jason Fisher jasonf@vt.edu (434) 476-2147. Registration brochure and on-line registration are available at www.cnre.vt.edu/forestupdate.

Hunters Helping Kids Hosting Annual Deer Hunt for Girls in NC November 6

Hunters Helping Kids (HHK) will hold an "All Girl Whitetail Deer Hunt" in Edenton, NC on November 6, 2010. This unique hunt is open to girls ages 10-15. Dennis Campbell, HHK Virginia representative and National Director of Chapter Development notes, "It is our belief that by involving our youth in outdoor shooting sports, the desire to preserve the conservation and hunting heritage will endure through future generations. It's all about the kids! We would like to especially invite Wounded Warriors and their daughters to attend this hunt as we already have several of our veterans registered and are looking for more. This would be a great opportunity for a soldier to have time to bond with his or her child while enjoying the great outdoors. If you know or are aware of a soldier who has been wounded, who has a daughter, and they would like to take theirs kid hunting, contact us as soon as possible." All motel expense, food, etc. will be paid by HHK and each girl will be given their very own rifle with which to hunt and to keep. HHK is a non-profit 501c3 organization of volunteers, dedicated to inspire and educate our youth in wildlife conservation and management. For more information on HHK hunting events in Virginia, or to volunteer to help with a hunt for kids, who may otherwise not have the opportunity to experience an outdoor adventure, visit: www.huntershelpingkids.com, or contact: Dennis Campbell (540) 529-2202, dmc-1@comcast.net.

People and Partners in the News

Become a Quail Hunter Cooperator - We Need Your Help

VDGIF Small Game Project Leader Marc Puckett needs the help of Virginia's quail hunters. VDGIF biologists conduct a Quail Hunter Cooperator Survey annually that helps them keep track of hunter success, as well as the hatching dates and nesting chronology of wild bobwhites in Virginia. Puckett notes, "During its "hey day", we had over 200 quail hunter cooperators. Today that number has fallen to 58. We are in danger of losing this important survey. Please help us by becoming a quail hunter cooperator. All participants receive a free 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar and a report on previous surveys each year."

Cooperators are asked to report on each quail hunt via a reporting envelop. They are also asked to remove and include one wing from each quail harvested. They report on hunts whether quail are harvested or not. The postage is covered so there is no cost to participants. Each cooperator will receive between 5 and 50 quail wing envelops, one for each quail hunt they expect to go on annually. They are for wild quail hunts only and pen-raised quail should not be included.

To participate, send an e-mail to Marc Puckett at: marc.puckett@dgif.virginia.gov, or call him at (434) 392-8328. We will need your name and full mailing address, plus the anticipated number of hunts you would need an envelop for. Feel free to call or email with questions if you are unsure whether you want to help, or are unclear about anything.

VDGIF Acquires Short Hills Wildlife Management Area in Botetourt-Rockbridge

VDGIF announced that it has acquired Short Hills Wildlife Management Area, a 4,232-acre tract in Rockbridge and Botetourt counties. The acquisition involved The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation who combined resources to provide interim funding to assist the VDGIF with the acquisition. VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan noted, "Without the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia this acquisition could not have been possible."

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation used a grant from The Virginia Land Conservation Bond Funds to purchase the northern half of the Short Hills tract with the ultimate intention of transferring the property to VDGIF. The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia purchased the southern half of Short Hills using loan funding from The Conservation Fund and held the property until VDGIF had accumulated the necessary funds to purchase the southern tract. VDGIF purchased that parcel for $3 million and closed on the property on July 2, 2010. The remainder of the tract was acquired when the Virginia Outdoors Foundation donated it to the Department in conjunction with the purchase.

The Short Hills WMA consists of an approximately 10-mile long ridgeline, known as Short Hills Mountain, which runs from just south of Lexington, on south to Natural Bridge. The property contains habitat for game and non-game species including black bear, deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, songbirds, raptors, and rattlesnakes. A management plan is being developed for the site. Information about public access will be available once that plan is finalized. For more information about the Department's Wildlife Management Areas and wildlife work in Virginia visit the agency website.

New CWD Management Actions Effective for Northern Shenandoah Valley...
Public Information Meeting September 30 in Woodstock

VDGIF will be hosting the third, and last, of scheduled open public meetings regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and how it will impact hunters this coming deer season. A confirmed case in Virginia this past year will affect hunting and other activities in the northern Shenandoah Valley region this year. The public meeting will be held September 30 from 7-9 p.m. at the Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock. Wildlife biologists and conservation police officers will be on hand to discuss the Department's CWD management actions and what hunters and other citizens can do to help.

Since VDGIF received laboratory results confirming Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a white-tailed deer killed by a hunter in western Frederick County in 2009, the agency has been working to develop appropriate measures to manage CWD in the area. Guided by the CWD Response Plan, a CWD Response Team, composed of staff from VDGIF and other state and federal agencies, considered a range of potential measures to manage CWD in the area. Management actions, endorsed by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries on April 20, 2010, include:

The full text of management actions can be found on the VDGIF website, along with other information about CWD.

Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs of CWD (see website for symptoms) should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF. For additional information contact Nelson Lafon, Deer Project Coordinator, (540) 248-9295.

American Fisheries Society Unveils New 'Freshwater Fishes' Poster for the Classroom

Ever seen a "mountain redbelly dace?" Do you know the difference between a white catfish and a channel catfish? A new educational poster featuring photos identifying all the commonly found freshwater fishes of Virginia was unveiled September 10th at the Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) meeting at Big Meadows Lodge, Shenandoah National Park. The poster includes color photos of the fish, information about the watersheds in which they are found, and much more. "We wanted to tie all the info into the (Virginia) SOLs. We hope to get this poster into every 7th grade classroom in the Commonwealth," said Paul Bugas, a VDGIF Fisheries Biologist. This poster was developed for classroom use and is not available to the public.

Besides common game fish such as the large and smallmouth bass, the poster includes some seldom-seen species like the tangerine darter, and one fish that's relatively new to Virginia: the northern snakehead. Snakeheads are an invasive exotic fish that have shown up in the Potomac River and its tributaries in recent years. "We included native and introduced (non-native) species too. Some are fishes that are common but not native to a particular watershed," said Dawn Kirk, a Forest Fisheries Biologist with the USFS. The poster according to Bugas, represents "a great snapshot" of the variety of freshwater fish in Virginia. The AFS' Virginia Chapter marked it's 20 year anniversary with the meeting. The group is comprised of many fisheries professionals, including state, federal and corporate members, as well as college students.

Wildlife Center Holds Rehabilitation Classes in October

Amanda Nicholson, Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor for the Wildlife Center, announces that the "On the Road" Rehabilitation classes scheduled for this summer:

For more information, including class descriptions and costs, visit the Wildlife Center of Virginia's website.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine located in Waynesboro, admitted a total of 2,534 animals for treatment during 2009 – injured, ailing, and orphaned wildlife from all across Virginia. The 2009 caseload was the highest number of patients treated at the Center since 2004.

Public Hearing on Elk Hunting Regulatory Proposal October 5 in Richmond

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries requested a moratorium be placed on hunting of elk in Virginia at the August 17, 2010 meeting in Richmond. The proposal is to (i) designate that the term elk refers specifically to Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) and (ii) prohibit the hunting of Rocky Mountain elk in Virginia. The Department will be embarking on a pilot program to restore elk in southwest Virginia and until a viable herd is established the hunting of elk will be prohibited.

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 amendment 4VAC15-90-85 (PDF). A public comment period on the regulatory proposal opened August 20 and closed September 20, 2010.

The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its meeting 9:00 am October 5, at 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond, and will consider the proposal for possible adoption as a final regulation amendment at that time.

Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Events in Fall

The new Fall 2010 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Newsletter is now posted on their website in .pdf format. Included in this issue you'll find articles about their exciting Spring events as well as the Outdoor Day VII. The Fall Hunt events schedule and Application is now available. Note that the application deadline is October 2. VA Wheelin' Sportsman Coordinator Mike Deane reports, "There are 14 deer hunts scheduled all over Virginia, and we encourage anyone with a disability to apply for these hunts. There is no charge for our events, and they are open to anyone with a disability. Our NWTF Chapters have worked hard to arrange these hunts, so please plan to participate. In addition, we are always looking for new hunt hosts or volunteers to help with our events." If you are interested in hosting or helping with an event, contact Mike Deane, tel (434) 996-8508 or wheelin4u@yahoo.com.

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

A number of sportsmen and conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year are hosting annual award and fund raising events during the summer months. If you are a member of one of these groups we appreciate your support of our aligned missions and volunteer efforts to improve opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and conservation of our wildlife and their habitats. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, we encourage you to find an organization that shares your views and join and support them. It is the strength in numbers that will allow us to preserve and continue our treasured outdoor traditions, be it hunting, fishing, boating, or viewing wildlife. The following is a listing of events that our partners have asked us to post:

Information from VDGIF is featured on the new Mapping Virginia section on the Virginia government portal. VDGIF wildlife management areas, boat access sites, and Birding and Wildlife Trail sites are included. Check it out!

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.

Just 3 Days Till the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25th

With the exceptional success of the first Youth Deer Hunting Day last year, we are confident that this second annual special day September 25, 2010, set aside just for young hunters, will be even more successful. We encourage you to read the special edition of the Outdoor Report we posted last October 14 and be inspired by the comments from those who braved the fierce rainstorms and took time off from other routine fall Saturday activities to give these youngsters a memorable day afield and create a new tradition. I'll bet you remember your first deer hunt, or special day afield sharing the traditions, skills, and character building experiences that can last a lifetime. The creation of these new traditions are especially important in this fast paced society that tends to keep us from taking the time and effort to spend a day in the wild – appreciating the wonders of nature and spending real "quality time" with one of "tomorrow's conservation leaders." Despite the torrential rain and whether they harvested a deer or not, if you took a young hunter out that day you created a special memory and hopefully started a "new tradition" for the last Saturday in September. Ironically and fitting this special Youth Deer Day coincides with National Hunting & Fishing Day – what better way to celebrate than taking a youngster on a hunting adventure. If you miss the special Youth Deer,Turkey, or Waterfowl Hunting Days this year, be sure and take a young person out before the seasons end – the future of our sport and hunting heritage traditions depend on it.

David Coffman, Editor

Youth Deer Hunting Day - September 25, 2010

For more details visit the Department's website.

Early Warm Season Deer Hunting Safety Tips... If you're planning to go deer hunting this September 25th during the special Youth Deer Hunting Day, or get an early start with archery season beginning October 2, 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. See more tips in Be Safe... Have Fun below...

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. 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. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122. Our team of over 800 volunteer instructors have classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches.

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.

License Options for Novice Hunters

With the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25th, and the third year for the Youth Turkey Hunting Day on October 16, 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.

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

New Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License Now Available

The new Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License which became available for sale July 1, is a great way of creating lasting memories with your family and friends. For more information or to purchase a Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License please visit the Department's website.

New 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations Available

VDGIF is distributing the new 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest. This year's hunting seasons will be very similar to last year. However, hunters in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties as well as in the City of Winchester will want to note the additional regulations for these areas based on the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in western Frederick County in November 2009. Another noteworthy change this year is the addition of a Legacy Lifetime License.

The 70-page booklet is available free of charge from license sales agents, Regional VDGIF offices and the Richmond Headquarters office. You can access the new regulations booklet on the VDGIF website. To offset printing costs, paid advertisements have been included again this year.

Looking For A Place To Hunt Or Fish?

If your favorite deer or turkey woods now has houses growing on it, or you are looking for a new place to hunt, or you're new to Virginia, do some scouting online through VDGIF's award-winning Find Game interactive Web-based map-viewer and public hunting lands locator and information system.

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

Fields Declared A "Crop Failure" Is Not A Normal Agricultural Practice

The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Office of Law Enforcement in Richmond states that under existing definitions and case law, waterfowl cannot be hunted in fields that have been manipulated after being declared "crop failures due to drought". Many hunters incorrectly assume this practice is a "bona fide" agriculture practice. With widespread drought and crop failures this year throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, questions from hunters for what was legal prompted the USFWS to make the determination.

Citing regulation: 50 CFR 20.21(h)(i)(1)(i) allows the taking of migratory game bird, including waterfowl, on or over... lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice. Using M.J. Farms vs. USFWS (Western District of Louisiana ruling dated 12/15/2008) for guidance, the shredding and discing of a standing crop, failed or not, is not a normal agricultural harvesting. Thus the area would be considered baited for the purpose of waterfowl hunting.

As a reminder, 50 CFR 20.21(h)(i)(2) allows for the taking of migratory game bird, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas... where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed in the land where grown. So a shredded and disced field would not be considered baited for hunting dove.

For information on this ruling contact: Dan Rolince, Resident Agent-in-Charge (WV - VA - DC - MD - DE) U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Richmond, VA. Tel (804) 771-2883 office dan_rolince@fws.gov

2010 Hunting Opportunities on State Natural Area Preserves and State Forests

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is offering managed hunts for deer and waterfowl at state natural area preserves in 2010.

At Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve on the Eastern Shore, a lottery hunt is available for white-tailed deer. There are both Muzzleloader ONLY hunts in early November and shotgun or muzzleloader hunts in November and December. The application deadline is Oct. 1, 2010.

At Dameron Marsh and Hughlett Point natural area preserves on the Northern Neck, a lottery hunt is available for waterfowl beginning in November and running through January 2011. Hunts are on Mondays only during the last segments of the general duck season. The application deadline is Oct. 8, 2010.

Anyone 16 years of age or older may enter these lotteries by completing an application and returning it along with a $5 non-refundable application fee to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation – Division of Natural Heritage, 217 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219. As with all DCR hunting opportunities, proof of completion of a hunter safety course is required for each hunter. Hunter safety certificates must be in possession and presented along with licenses if checked during the hunt. For specific hunt dates and additional information and to download an application form, go to the DCR website.

Lottery Now Open for Conway Robinson State Forest in NOVA

The lottery is now open for the Conway Robinson State Forest hunt, consisting of three days only: November 15th, November 22nd, and December 13th. Hunters will be selected using a lottery system with the application deadline 12:01 am, October 4, 2010. Hunt information, rules, and an online lottery ballot can be found at www.dof.virginia.gov/stforest/index.htm (scroll down to Conway-Robinson).

New Seasons to be 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 17, 2010, 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.

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, then 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!

Videos Available to Show Field Dressing Techniques

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. 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.

Lots of Smiles Posted at Young Hunters Wall of Fame

The VDGIF Outdoor Report and the VA Deer Hunters Association official magazine Whitetail Times sponsored a "Young Hunters Wall of Fame" at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond Aug 13-15. Young hunters age 15 and under were invited to share their favorite hunting photos at the Show by posting a copy of their hunting photo from any past season, on the wall at entrance to the Show. The top ten best photos were selected by a panel of Outdoor Report photographers and contributors. These winning photos will be used in the Outdoor Report and Whitetail Times magazine throughout the Fall season. The winners received a new 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar and other hunting related items.

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

We're looking for some good deer and turkey hunting photos from youth, or novice hunters. Congratulations to those who have taken the time and commitment to mentor a young or novice hunter-- the dads and moms, uncles, aunts, grandparents, or friends for discovering the passion for the outdoors and providing this most important opportunity for developing new traditions, resulting in wonderful experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

Keep sending in great photos of smiling young hunters. Also, any unusual pictures or stories from any hunters are considered for posting. 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. Any firearms pictured MUST be pointed in a safe direction.

Send us the basic information to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov for a caption including: names, age, hometown, location and date 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.

David Coffman, Editor

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Treestand Safety: How Young Is Too Young To Use a Treestand?

Richard L. Holdcraft, BA, MS, HHD Consulting Group, LLC

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Injury Sciences (CIS), recently published researcher's findings suggesting that young hunters between the ages of 12 and 34 are most likely to be injured by using treestands. The study further reports that "men were twice as likely as women to be injured and younger hunters more likely than older ones."

The senior investigator for the study, Dr. Gerald McGwin, Jr., MS, PhD. Associate director for research at the CIS says that younger hunters may have higher injury rates due to a willingness to take risks, less exposure to safety information and more time to hunt than older hunters. He stated the study reveals certain target areas for prevention efforts to include safety education campaigns that recommend the use of safety harnesses and regular maintenance of stands.

In Virginia, all hunters under the age of 12 may not hunt unless immediately supervised by a licensed adult. Does that suggest that a child 12 years old or older can hunt alone, in a treestand, without direct adult supervision? In my way of thinking, it depends also on the maturity level of the child and how much hunting safety information and training they have been exposed to. A child 12 years old or older in Virginia must have a hunting license to hunt, which means they had to have taken the Basic Hunter Education course to get the license. This also means the child has had at least 10-12 hours of hunting safety education and of that about twenty minutes to one hour on treestand safety. Do you really think a child absorbed enough safety information in that time frame to be risk-free in a treestand? As a responsible parent I have serious doubts. So then, what is the answer?

Is the burden for more treestand safety training on the parent or on the State Hunter Education program? I believe it is up to both of them. Parents or guardians should take a more aggressive role in training their children in all aspects of outdoor recreational activities.

State Hunter Education programs can do more to promote education. Some states already have developed public safety announcements that are broadcast during hunting seasons. They have published newspaper articles on the need for hunting safety, attended outdoor shows and provided handout brochures on hunting and treestand safety. Statistically, the states that have more active public awareness programs are the ones with lower incidents per capita of licensed hunters for serious and fatal injuries. Virginia is about to put their "show on the road" to provide treestand safety classes to the public. They are equipping an enclosed trailer with various treestands, ladder stands, and other training equipment to go to all regions of the state and provide the training. National Bowhunter Education Foundation Certified Treestand Safety Instructors have been selected to start up the program. This will increase public awareness in geographical areas with higher risks for treestand incidents and reduce the number of serious and fatal injuries. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is to be commended for taking this initiative and for being a leader in treestand safety efforts.

These are some interesting ideas about when a child is old enough to hunt from a treestand either by themselves or with a responsible adult. Many state hunting regulations come into play as well and should be reviewed before allowing a child to use a stand. I agree with most folks that the child should have the basic hunter education course which should include instruction on treestand safety, and a few years in the woods learning the ropes before they are allowed to use a treestand independently. In any case, never allow anyone to hunt from a treestand without an approved fall arrest system. In my opinion, the best fall arrest system on the market today is the Rescue ONE CDS. Go to mountaineersports.com for more information.

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

Remember summer is the time to be aware of ticks and the potential for Lyme disease.. Information about Lyme disease and what people should do if they are bitten by a tick can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website. Virginia Wildlife Magazine featured an article about Lyme disease prevention that can be read on our agency website.

The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Use insect repellant to prevent ticks from getting on you. There are many kinds of effective insect repellants on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Some may be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be applied to clothing. Read the label! Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. Should you notice the target type ring around a tick bite or any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, as early detection and treatment will speed recovery in most cases. Be sure and check yourself, your children and your pets frequently whenever outdoors and after you return home for a few days.

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

The upcoming summer boating season is right around the corner, and VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

"Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you as an outdoor enthusiasts can join with others to do simple things in your outdoor pursuits that can make a big difference in keeping Virginia "green" and wildlife "wild" to benefit us all.

Garden of Eagles 2011 Calendar Now Available

Dedicated fans of the Eagle Cam at the Norfolk Botanical Garden have found a unique way to show their support for Virginia's wildlife. Countless thousands have been captivated by the bald eagles at the Norfolk Botanical Garden and the unprecedented chance to witness the daily lives of these amazing birds. The Eagle Cam is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the Norfolk Botanical Garden and WVEC Channel 13 with support from the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB). Last year, volunteers created The Garden of Eagles, a 2010 calendar showcasing remarkable bald eagle photos taken at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. This beautiful calendar won praise from eagle lovers all across the country — and sold out three printings!

The 2011 version of the calendar is just in – and it's "bigger and better"! This 11″ x 17″, 12-month wall calendar includes 18 large color photographs and more than 35 smaller full-color photographs — photos donated by the "Eagle Paparazzi". The calendar also includes special highlight dates from the 2010 nesting season.

Proceeds from the sale of The Garden of Eagles 2011 will benefit the Wildlife Center of Virginia and will be earmarked for construction of a new permanent home for Buddy (more about Buddy here) a young eagle admitted to the WCV in 2008, which may include a web-cam , better opportunities for public visitation and appropriate room for a fully flighted bird. A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries non-game fund and the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary.

Order the calendar today »

"On the Trail"

VBWT Site MFR06 Blandy Experimental Farm and State Arboretum of Virginia

VDGIF Watchable Wildlife Program Biologist Dr. Lou Verner is introducing this first of a series of "snapshots" of interesting sites on Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail (VBWT). They will hopefully give you a little incentive to get out and explore some of the many fascinating places found throughout the Commonwealth. The Trail was completed in 2004 as the nation's first statewide wildlife viewing trail. Managed by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, development of Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail would not have been possible without the support of many partners, including: the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's Coastal Zone Management Program, and the hundreds of local communities and tourism offices across Virginia.

Organizing over 680 sites from every corner of the Commonwealth into 65 driving loops, the Trail offers visitors the opportunity to discover and experience Virginia's incredible wildlife diversity throughout its coastal, piedmont and mountain regions. The best way to appreciate what the Trail has to offer is with the help of a Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail Guide. You can visit the website to download any or all of the 65 scenic loops that cover Virginia's 43,000 sq. miles. You can also call toll-free, 1-866-721-6911, to purchase the comprehensive guidebook featuring all of the sites statewide. Both the website and the guidebook provide detailed descriptions of the trail loops and sites, maps, driving directions and information about the wildlife you'll see.

Our first visit on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is to the Blandy Experimental Farm and State Arboretum of Virginia (hereafter Blandy, for short). Blandy is Site MFR06 on the Front Royal Loop in the Mountains region. For more information about both, be sure to visit the VBWT link. Blandy is easily accessible by all, even those traveling by motor coach. Located near Boyce, VA, about 10 miles east of Winchester (or 60 miles west of Washington, D.C.) on US 50/17, Blandy is open to the public free of charge, from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. Sometimes described as an "oasis" or "an island of beauty", the 700-acre University of Virginia property is also home to the State Arboretum and over 8,000 species of plants, including nearly half of the world's species of pine trees!

Although the UVA's Department of Environmental Sciences has been conducting both significant plant research and environmental programs here for over 80 years, visitors most often come to enjoy Blandy's beautiful trails. Not to be missed is the Virginia Native Plant Trail, especially during spring and early summer when the wildflowers are at their showy and fragrant best. That also makes it a great time to see the great diversity of butterflies attracted to their native host plants. Other trails feature shaded pathways, old limestone walls and various ponds and marshes that attract a variety of dragon- and damselflies.

If birding happens to be your passion, Blandy's diverse mix of habitats - woods, open fields, meadows and wetlands, will reward you with an equally diverse tally of birds. The farm's extensive undisturbed meadowlands provide critical nesting habitat for some species in notable decline, including the northern bobwhite, loggerhead shrike, dickcissel, and grasshopper and vesper sparrows. Even short-eared owls have been reported here. Photographers are especially fond of Blandy. As one said, "If you're like me… early in the morning or late in the afternoon, the light here is special," "It's absolutely spectacular."

Throughout the year, Blandy has special programs that deal with topics like gardening and horticulture, nature photography, lectures, films and even music concerts in the outdoor amphitheater. Right now, you're just in time to make plans to attend Blandy's biggest, most popular event of the year, the annual fall Arborfest. This year's family-friendly festival will take place on the weekend of October 9-10 and feature dozens of plant and garden supply vendors, scarecrow-making, hay rides, and more! While there is usually no fee to enter, this event does charge $10 per car, so be sure to bring the entire family! For more information, visit the Blandy website.

Save Time, Money and Gas - Plan Your Fall Outings in Virginia

With rising gas prices, consider visiting Virginia on your fall outings this year. There is a good reason why our Commonwealth is a top tourist destination - there are thousands of attractions, outdoor adventure opportunities, and natural and cultural history opportunities to explore right here at home! Rediscover why Virginia is for Lovers!

To help plan your Virginia adventure, visit VirginiaGreenTravel.org, a website dedicated to environmentally friendly travel in Virginia. The new site has convenient links to Virginia state parks, outdoor adventure programs, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, eco-friendly events, 140 green lodging facilities, restaurants, attractions, and travel tips. "Virginia Green is an important focus for our tourism industry, as we work to educate ourselves and improve upon how we treat the natural habitat that helps make Virginia a top travel destination," said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. "It's smart business sense for Virginia and will help preserve and protect our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and tourists."

Outdoor Recreation Focus of New Website

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech announced a new Virginia parks and outdoor recreation website. The Virginia Outdoors website will make planning summertime trip planning easier. The site content includes video tours of trails in all Virginia State Parks and audio podcasts with park staff and others who provide an insider's view on what our parks and open spaces have to offer. Also visit the VDGIF Birding & Wildlife Trail website for trail features and locations.

Encouraging visitors to enjoy Virginia's outdoors also has real benefits for the state's economy. In 2009, Virginia State Parks had a record 7.5 million visitors. This generated an economic impact estimated at $175 million. Donations from the Dominion Foundation helped develop the new 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. 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!

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

Schools are back in session, but there's still a great time to get outdoors and discover nature. You can visit the Virginia Naturally website now for more ideas on nature learning activities. Teachers- there are also ideas for workshops and training available for your "continuing education," and getting a start on environmental lesson plans for the new semester.

Kids Discover Nature by Jodi Valenta also provides ideas for parents to get your kids "nature aware."

Winter Visitors Arriving Soon

By Marie Majarov, Majarov Photography

As the weather begins to cool, it's time to watch for the first of our feathered friends that migrate from colder climates north of us to winter here in Virginia. White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos are the first to arrive.

White-throated sparrows are smallish, plump birds that are very distinctively marked with black and white head stripes, a white throat patch edged by a crisp black line, and yellow spots, called lores, in front of their eyes. Wings are brown streaked and underparts clear gray. They like ground habitats under dense brushy shrubs, in thickets, and weedy fields, but will come readily to backyard feeders where they prefer to scratch through shells under the feeder looking for dropped seeds. The White-throated Sparrow song is one of the one of the most beautiful of all sparrow melodies, sounding much like "Oh-sweet-Canada," their breeding home.

Dark-eyed Juncos are more simply colored birds, having slate-gray/brownish sides and hood with a white abdomen. Brightening their appearance are pink bills and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash in flight. These "snowbirds" are also members of the sparrow family and like their cousin White-throated Sparrows flit about the ground choosing to hop rather than walk or run. The Junco song is a simple musical trill, sometimes likened to the sound of a ringing telephone. Both of these bird species primarily eat seeds.

You and your family can get winter feeders (PDF) ready and review bird-feeding basics (PDF) that will help keep your backyard birds healthy and discourage unwanted intruders to your feeders. A brush pile will give these guests a place to take cover between trips out in the open to feed. The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, wending its way all over our state provides excellent opportunities for family walks to view and welcome arriving Juncos and White-throated Sparrows.

Marie Majarov and her husband Milan are retired Clinical Psychologists, nature enthusiasts, and members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association. They maintain a butterfly garden and bluebird trail at their home in Winchester, VA. Inspiring children, both young and old, about the wonders of nature and encouraging the preservation of our precious natural resources is their dream for Majarov Photography. More about their work can be seen at www.majarov.com.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for when these nature events occur in early October:

Answers to September 8 edition quiz for nature events in late September...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Local Companies' Certified Habitats Benefit Wildlife and Business

No one can deny that this past summer has had its challenges for those responsible for maintaining gardens and grounds. But property owners who have native plants in their landscapes and sustain natural areas fared far better than those who struggled to maintain vast green lawns and non-native shrubs and flowers. Because native plants and natural areas tolerate drought conditions and hot temperatures better, less maintenance of those areas is needed.

Wildlife in those gardens benefited, too, so landscaping with habitat in mind can be a win-win for people and wildlife. Corporations are taking note of the benefits of native plantings and natural areas and are getting on board by improving habitat for wildlife on their properties.

Capital One, Union First Market Bankshares Corporation and Pfizer Consumer Healthcare were recently recognized by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) for their work to incorporate sustainable gardening practices in the commercial spaces they occupy. The Virginia DGIF Habitat Partners© program encourages corporate and private landowners, schools and homeowners to improve habitat in their community that will benefit Virginia's song birds, mammals, amphibians and other wildlife.

Improvements come in many forms: gardening with native plants, providing shelter with brush piles and bird houses, and enhancing water features. For companies, such improvements not only benefit Virginia wildlife and green spaces, they make good business sense.

Guided by DGIF, Capital One recently received a Corporate Habitat Certification for its West Creek Campus in Goochland County. As a result of the certification, the 100+ acre property now features ongoing grounds maintenance with an eye towards sustainable best practices. Conservation and 'be green' efforts include no mow zones, a campus tree farm, a blue bird nest box trail, native plantings and a perennial garden to attract butterflies and birds. Associates assisted with over a dozen projects and took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony held September 8 where the habitat certification was formally conveyed.

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and Union First Market Bankshares are also implementing green practices at their Richmond-based facilities. The Pfizer Consumer Healthcare campus is home to a butterfly garden, rain garden and a large area planted with native trees and shrubs. Union First Market Bankshares implemented a large-scale native planting project around its storm water retention pond in Caroline County, in support of a LEED green building certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

To receive a Virginia DGIF Habitat Partners© Corporate Certification, companies must complete a five-step plan which involves inventorying existing habitats, documenting wildlife species, identifying improvement areas and developing/executing a habitat improvement plan over the course of one year. Annual monitoring by the company and Virginia DGIF is required for continued certification. Businesses, schools and Virginia residents can learn more about becoming a certified wildlife habitat by visiting the Department's website.

34th Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Bus Tours Scheduled

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 34th Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours in three locations this fall. The popular day-long field trips are scheduled for:

Registration fee includes lunch, refreshments, and transportation. See individual tour descriptions on website for tour schedule, location and fees. On-line registration is now available!

Reminder: Effective September 1, Feeding Deer is Illegal in Virginia

Effective September 1, it is illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The annual prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. In addition, it is now illegal to feed deer year-round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties as part of the Department's chronic wasting disease (CWD) management actions established in April.

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 diminishing the wild nature of deer.

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 law enforcement problems for the Department's conservation police officers.

VDGIF Deer Project Coordinators Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon noted when the regulation first took effect in 2006 that, for more than 20 years, the practice of feeding deer had expanded across the eastern United States among both deer hunters and the non-hunting general public. The most common reason for feeding deer is to improve their nutrition and to supplement the habitat's ability to support more deer; in other words, to increase the carrying capacity for deer.

According to Knox, many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but this is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia. In Virginia, deer die-offs due to winter starvation have been almost nonexistent. As a case in point, this past winter's harsh snowstorms apparently caused little deer mortality. In addition, according to Lafon, "We do not need more deer in Virginia. In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state."

In their natural state, deer are wild animals that have a fear of humans because we have preyed upon deer for thousands of years. However, when deer are fed by people, they lose this fear, becoming less wild and often semi-domesticated.

Fed deer are often emboldened to seek human foods, leading them into conflict with people. Despite their gentle appearance, they can become lethally dangerous during mating season capable of goring and slashing with their sharp hooves and antlers. There are numerous cases across the country of individuals injured, and in some cases even killed, by deer they treated as pets.

People often treat the deer they feed as if they own them, even going so far as to name individual deer. Not only does this association diminish the "wildness" of "wildlife", it also leads to a mistaken notion regarding ownership of wildlife. Deer and other wildlife are owned by citizens of the Commonwealth and are managed by the Department as a public resource.

Deer Feeding Congregates Animals, Increasing the Spread of Disease

The increase in deer feeding that has taken place in Virginia over the past decade now represents one of Virginia's biggest wildlife disease risk factors. Deer feeding sets the stage for maintaining and facilitating the spread of disease.

Diseases are a big issue in deer management today across the United States. Feeding deer invariably leads to the prolonged crowding of animals in a small area, resulting in more direct animal to animal contact and contamination of feeding sites. Deer feeding has been implicated as a major risk factor and contributor in the three most important deer diseases in North America today. These include tuberculosis, brucellosis, and CWD. Virginia's first case of CWD was discovered in a doe killed during November 2009, in western Frederick County less than one mile from the West Virginia line.

Please Don't Feed Deer

It is clear that the negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits. If you are not feeding deer, you should not start. If you are currently feeding deer, you should now stop. Feeding deer is against the law between September 1 and the first Saturday in January. 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 Contact:
Deer Project Coordinator Matt Knox, 434-525-7522
Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon, 540-248-9295
or visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available

The 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. Visit our website to purchase your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!

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 I - Tidewater

Retiring CPO spends last assignment promoting good will with sportsmen- especially the kids... Agency staff representing the Outreach, Wildlife and Law Enforcement Divisions, and volunteer Hunter Education Instructors (HEI) and Complementary Work Force (CWF) staffed the VDGIF exhibit at the 71st Annual East Regional Big Game Contest in Franklin, September 11-12. The Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association (VPSA) sponsors and administers the event in partnership with VDGIF. More than 1100 sportsmen and families attended the event. VDGIF exhibit featured subscription sign-up and reader surveys for the Outdoor Report and information on the apprentice license and new regulations and opportunities for the upcoming hunting seasons. CPOs Robert Etheridge and John Rush worked with the CWF and HEI volunteers to answer questions from hunters and promote hunting and fishing with the many kids and families that attended the show. For CPO Sgt. Robert Etheridge this was a special duty assignment he insisted on working, in that he was retiring, effective October 1st, after 25+ plus years of service. Sgt. Everidge commented that he wanted his participation in this event as one of his last official assignments as he enjoys the interaction with the sportsmen families that come to the event. His exceptional rapport with the sportsmen and families at the show was evident of his commitment to serving our constituents. He plans to return as a volunteer next year. During the Awards Ceremony, VPSA President and Contest Director Ken Pickin, complemented and noted the exceptional work by VDGIF staff and partnership with sportsmen's conservation organizations like VPSA in managing the deer, bear and turkey wildlife resources in the state that provide exceptional hunting opportunities for sportsmen and result in the large number of record breaking entries and trophy game animals harvested statewide. President Pickin also recognized the outstanding efforts by CPOs in serving all sportsmen and citizens by apprehending those who break the law and steal wildlife resources and jeopardize the safety of honest sportsmen and protect the safety of all. VDGIF has been the official sponsor for the Big Game Contests for over 70 years. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Region III - Southwest

Antlered Buck illegally kept captive by landowner... On September 1, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall made contact with a landowner in Smyth County who reportedly had a captive, antlered white-tailed deer. Senior Officer Hall was able to verify that the deer was being kept at the landowner's residence and subsequently issued a summons for unlawful possession of a white-tailed deer. The deer, reported to be approximately four and one-half years old, was removed from the property by Wildlife Biologist Bill Bassinger and Lt. Rex Hill without further incident on Thursday, September 2nd. The eight-point buck sported trophy-class antlers. It is illegal to keep any wild animal captive to protect the safety of both humans and the animal. If you are interested in being a wildlife rehabilitator visit our website or the Wildlife Center of VA for procedures and details. For more information contact Lt. Rx Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley

Cast nets illegal for taking game fish... On July 17h – 18, Sgt. Carl Martin and Conservation Police Officers Keith Crider, Beth Harold, and Rob Ham conducted a plain-clothes special operation on the Shenandoah River in Clarke County. This operation targeted the illegal use of cast nets for the taking of game fish near Watermelon Park. On September 2, 2010, eight of ten defendants (cases were continued for two) appeared in Clarke County General District Court and entered guilty pleas to violating 29.1-531, taking and/or possession of game fish by illegal methods. The court imposed fines ranging from $100 to $250. In addition, five cast nets and five mesh bags used to hold the fish were forfeited to VDGIF for educational and outreach efforts. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

Region V - Northern Piedmont

County Police and CPOs team up to stop illegal drinking on James River... On August 21, 2010, CPO Heberling and officers from the Albemarle Co. Police Department conducted a saturation patrol on the James River targeting alcohol, littering and trespassing violations. There was also a group of Albemarle officers targeting DUI drivers from the various outfitters along the river. While on patrol, a group of 8 individuals were observed drinking alcohol on the bank of an island. Many of the individuals appeared to be under 21. Upon further observation, 7 of the individuals started to smoke what appeared to be marijuana. Officer Heberling and two Albemarle PD Officers identified themselves and detained the group. All but 2 of the individuals were under the age of 21 and the group admitted that they were smoking marijuana. A total of 21 summonses were issued, including 8 Drinking in Public, 7 Possession of Marijuana, and 6 Underage Possession of Alcohol. A total of 25 summonses were issued by the officers involved in all areas of this operation. For more information contact Lt. Milt Robinson at (540) 899-4169.

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.

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) website. Mandatory Saltwater Angler Registry: Effective January 1, 2010, there is a new requirement that saltwater anglers obtain a federal registry number by calling 1-888-674-7411, or online at www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov.

The new 2010 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. VDGIF Fisheries Division Director, Gary Martel, notes, "This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2010.

Hardware River WMA Boat Ramp Now Open with Completion of New Bridge

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has officially opened the new bridge across the Hardware River leading to the boat ramp on the James River and improved the access road into the 1,055 acre WMA. The access road and boat ramp were opened on August 4 and officially dedicated September 2. The new bridge replaces the one originally constructed in 1932, and re-built by the Department in 1984. In the fall of 2008, the bridge failed is annual safety inspection and had to be closed to vehicular traffic. This made difficult the full use of the boat landing on the James River Access and a significant portion of the WMA. The Department and the Board recognized the importance of the bridge to restoring access to the boat landing and that portion of the WMA that lies beyond the Hardware River and made the replacement a priority project. Mattern and Craig from Roanoke, completed the design and Burleigh Construction Company of Concord, Virginia was selected to build the replacement bridge.

The Department invested boat registration fees to match Sports Fish Restoration Funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to re-establish the critical boating access to the James River. The cost was approximately $600,000. VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan noted at the dedication, "This bridge represents the sportsman and women's investment in hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and boating. Without their continuing support, the boat landing would still be closed, and a portion of the WMA would remain inaccessible. Our partnerships with those who love wildlife and boating, with those such as our elected officials who supported this project, with local governments that support our activities in their jurisdictions, and many other partnerships is what keeps the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and its Board serving our customers."

Lake Thompson is Draining (Again)

Lake Thompson, a 10-acre lake on the VDGIF G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Fauquier County, is draining again – the first case occurring almost exactly two years ago. The drain near the lake bottom failed somewhere along its course upstream of the outlet pipe and, unfortunately, was not fixed before the failure became clogged (probably by mud) last time which allowed inadvertent refilling. VDGIF engineers, in consultation with contract dam safety engineers, will evaluate potential repair possibilities to the drain system and conduct additional assessments of the entire outlet structure and emergency spillway that need extensive renovations to meet current Department of Conservation and Recreation Dam Safety Standards.

As of August 23rd, the lake was down to about 2 acres of pool and was still draining rapidly. It is likely that the lake will be dry by the first of September given current flow rate. Anglers are advised to use caution when fishing the lake, as the exposed substrate is slippery and littered with debris. However, fishing is still allowed, and fish may be creeled (harvested) in compliance with State regulations. For updates check our website or contact the Region 5 office in Fredericksburg at (540) 899-4169.

Fish Virginia First - Your Fishing Vacation Planning Tool!

Fish Virginia First is an inter-jurisdictional marketing effort seeking to link Virginia's fisheries with anglers, travelers, outdoor television networks, and tournament organizers from across the nation. The initiative's goal is to better inform anglers, vacationers, and fishing tournament organizers of the outstanding fisheries available in the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs and to provide assistance with planning a fishing adventure in Virginia by linking visitors with local hotels, restaurants, guide services, campgrounds, state parks, and fishing related businesses that can make fishing trips easy and fun. Visitors are encouraged to visit the site and begin exploring the fisheries resources that are awaiting you whether you are planning a day trip on your next day off or a two week family vacation of a life time!

Visit the Department's website to learn more about this innovative fishing trip planner.

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 35 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.

Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the May 26, 2010 Outdoor Report Be Safe... Have Fun section.

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: (757) 566-1702. No report this edition - call for updates.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, (804) 693-2107. The cooler weather is beginning to move the fish all around the lake. Anglers are reporting that the bass seem to be in random locations and are being caught on jigs, crankbaits and plastic worms. However, anglers are having a tougher time keeping up with the movement of the fish. The park's last open tournament was held last Saturday and the weights and amounts of fish that made it to the scales were low and proved that the fishing is a little challenging during this transition to Fall. The water is slightly stained, 10 inches below full pool and 76 degrees. Park hours are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in September and 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. in October.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that rough and windy conditions have slowed things down. The flounder bite has dropped off. There are still some spot and croaker at the mouths of the York and James Rivers. They will go for Fishbite or squid. He thinks that things should pick back up by next week. The water is fairly clear and 77 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Alton Williams and Charlie Brown the bass bite has been slow. Other fish have been better with a citation 44 in. blue cat landed with cut live eel. Some crappie are going for minnows and jigs. Not much word on perch or bluegill. The water is slightly stained and 76 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that there have been lots of responsive bass, as the fish have been schooling up. Top waters, spinners, cranks and plastics all work well. If you choose plastics, try a dark color. Crappie are starting to pick up, but have been a little slow. Use minnows and jigs around bridge pilings and old stumps. Not many cat anglers are getting lucky. Perch are also schooling up and will go for almost anything. They especially like live shiners, nightcrawlers and spinners. Local bluegill are biting crickets, red wigglers and, if you are a fly fisherman, poppers. The water is clear and in the mid 70s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that there are still a few bass out there and that they will go for soft plastics. Crappie will be schooling up soon and become very responsive to minnows and jigs. There are lots of big cats out there, try cut bait. Not much word on perch. Lots of bream are biting crickets. The water is low but clear and in the mid to high 70s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Fishing on both rivers still remains fair despite adverse river conditions. Low water conditions continue to be an issue on the upper rivers as there is just not enough water to get anywhere. Water temps have fallen to 75 degrees which has eased the strife the low flow conditions have been causing. The ticket to catching fish seems to be finding a place where the water is forced to flow in narrow or shallow places or over logs etc. Topwaters are working well in those situations for largemouth. We need significant rainfall to put the rivers back in great shape; unfortunately there is no relief in sight.

Squirrel hunting from the boat is a great way to put some meat on the table if the fish are not biting. Check local game laws in your area before going and you must have landowner permission to hunt along someone's shoreline from the boat. Also when hunting from a boat remember that if you shoot ground level be sure of what is beyond your target and that it is safe to shoot in that direction. Wear your life jacket... this is a great time to invest in an inflatable vest which allows better range of motion.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. No report this edition.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. No report this edition.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. No report this edition.

Region 2 - Southside

Nottoway Falls: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I thought it was time for a trip to Nottoway Falls looking for hungry fish. I arrived at the lake around 10:00 a.m. to find the water with a dark stain and visibility to only about a foot or so. I know people are tired of hearing that the water level is low, but it is! It is a good 8 inches below normal there, with no water overflowing the dam. I was afraid I would not be able to float the boat off the trailer but either lack of rain did not wash soil onto the ramp or it has been cleaned real well. I found two new signs in front of the spillway saying no boats beyond this point, which is far enough to keep me from reaching the dam on a cast. I caught several 10 inch or so crappie in the middle of the lake between the signs as well as some bluegill. I fished all over the lake all the way up river picking up 35 crappie, 18 bluegill and 6 bass. The largest bass was 13 inches down to 7 inches. I got several 10 inch or so bluegill but most were in the 5 to 7 inch range. I threw back 10 crappie in the 7 and 8 inch range and kept 25 of the 8 to 10 inch ones. I could only travel in the channel to get up river because of the low water, and also did not have any problem seeing the stumps. I only fished the spinning rod with 1/32 lead heads using several colors, chartreuse, yellow, brown and purple. My thinking was the chartreuse would show up better in the dark water but my favorite purple seemed to be the bait of choice for the day on a slow retrieve .

Twin Lakes: Cricket Man was well rested so we thought we would check out Twin Lakes on Ft. Pickett, the water is only few inches low there with a slight brown stain. I had only gotten a few feet from the ramp when I lucked out on a nice 11 inch shellcracker and almost made my arm sore patting myself on my back about picking the right place to fish. However it was a long time before we got another fish and then it was only because I broke out the fly rod with a size 10 popper. Cricket Man was fishing his worms and crickets and did not get a fish for about two hours. We fished the shore line all around the lake only catching a few small bluegill and few bass. While I was eating lunch I just trolled around the middle of the lake and that is when Cricket Man picked up his spinning rod with his 2 inch twister tails and he started catching bluegill and two crappie. For the day, we ended with a lot of casting and a few fish. Cricket Man had 12 blue gill, 2 yellow perch, 2 crappie and 1 bass. I had 12 blue gill, 4 bass, the largest being 12 inches and one nice yellow perch. Oh yeah, we did bring 6 'cat fish', i.e. two finger blue gill that I fed to the cats. Things will get better and who knows we may even get to see some rain.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Studying hard with classes back in session - no report this time.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The low, clear river conditions have the smallmouth moving to the deeper holes. Fish are still taking soft plastics with the stick baits being the preferred bait of choice. Fly anglers see top water action slowing down. Crayfish patterns have produced the most fish this past week. Until we get some rain and the river levels rise look for some tough floating conditions.

The bridge work at Hardware River landing has been completed opening up two sections of river that hasn't seen much traffic for close to two years. There is about a month of quality top water action left for the year. Get out if you haven't and enjoy the James. Give me a call if you want to book a trip or just talk fishing!

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Taken from the Bob's website.

Striper: Size and numbers are starting to pick up as fish are moving back into the lake. Fishermen are finding fish in the Goat Island area and up to Eastland Creek. They are trolling bucktails, deep diving red fins and Capt. Mack's umbrella rigs with downriggers. Heavy jigging spoons in the 2 ¼ to 4 oz. range on main lake points in the Nutbush area will soon pick up.

Catfish: Fishing for cats remains good with blues in the 20 to 40 lb. range being caught and flatheads in the 30 to 40 lb. range. Fish can be found from the mouth of rivers to Goats Island. Fishermen are anchoring on main channel breaks fishing with shad, bream, and jumbo shiners. Noodling has also picked up in major creeks.

Crappie: Fish have moved to their summer hideouts. Deep brushpiles around main lake points in the 15 to 30 ft. range. Fishermen are reporting catching fish up to 1 ½ lbs. Most are casting jigs like Bobby Garland, Kalins and Southern Pro and are also using the slip cork method.

Bass: Fish are being found in all depths. Fishermen are reporting finding topwater fish early using Zara Spooks & Splash-It's. They are catching them around bridge poles with crankbaits, flick shake rig and shakey heads. Deeper fish can be found in the 15 to 25 ft. range using big worms 10 to 12 in., Carolina rigs, football jigs and deep crankbaits like Bill Norman DD-22, Spro DD Little Johns and Rapala DT's.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Jimmy Cheers says that smallmouths will take a crawdad fly, size 4 or 6; a baitfish fly, size 4 or 6; or an Appalachian Shine, also size 4 or 6. Browns and rainbows are going for wooly buggers, size 12; nymphs, sizes 14 to 18; and hoppers, size 10. Brookies can be fooled by nymphs and hoppers, the same size as above. The water is clear, very low and cooling.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass fishing is so-so, with topwaters working best early and late. During the day try soft plastics; use dark colors on cloudy days and bright colors on sunny days. Crappie fishing is okay, try about 5 to 10 ft. down with a minnow. The cat bite is good with cut and stink baits. Perch are in the shallows, 3 to 7 ft. down. They will go for minnows, worms or small spinners. Bluegills are in the same depths and like small worms. The water is clear and in the mid 70s.

Lake Gaston Health Advisory: 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.

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com.

Stripers: Anglers continue to report catching striped bass while trolling with umbrella rigs and three-way rigs using Sutton spoons and selected swimbaits. Sutton spoons with the hammered finish seem to be producing best over the past week or two. Stripers are also being caught on live bait presented on downlines and shot lines as well as on flukes rigged on lead headed jigs and jigging spoons. The flukes and spoons can be jigged vertically or cast and retrieved. Large schools of stripers continue to be found in the main channel and inside the major creeks, especially early and late in the day. Since the schooled stripers have been moving very rapidly, it is important to get lures or bait down on them as quickly as possible.

Bass: Bass are also schooling baitfish early in the morning. When bass are found schooling baitfish, a small, shad colored, Lobina Rico popper is one of the preferred lures. This lure features a unique spitting action when retrieved and extremely sharp hooks, so it can be fished right out of the box. The smaller suspending jerkbaits are also good choices when bass are schooling. Bass are hitting spinner baits in shad colors, especially in the morning and later in the day when it is windy. As the sun moves overhead, many bass will move to the shade and structure found under deep-water docks. They are drawn to vertical structure like pilings and ladders as well as edges. Large bass are also being found and caught in shallow water right up next to the shoreline under floaters and walkways or in the back of windblown guts off the main channel and mouth of large creeks.

Crappie: Crappie fishing continues to improve. Good numbers are being caught on small minnows in and around submerged brush and trees in the major creeks. Crappies are also being caught around deep-water docks where there is some form of structure or brush. Anglers also report they are successfully drawing crappies to submerged lights.

The water is fair to clear and 75 degrees. This is my favorite time of year. Too much to enjoy and so little time. Leaves are starting to turn and cooler Fall weather is on the way. Tight lines and please enjoy what promises to be a beautiful week and weekend.

Help VDGIF Monitor Striper Growth Rates...
This is the last month before the 26 to 36 inch striped bass slot limit goes back into effect. If you catch and decide to keep a striper this month weighing 10 pounds or more, you can help the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) biologist monitor the fishery. Just weigh the fish and measure its length. Cut off the fish's head behind the gills, place the head in a plastic (ZIP Lock) bag, along with information about the fish and your name, address and telephone number, and freeze it. Bring it to the Virginia Outdoorsman the next time you are in the Westlake area and I will insure the head gets to Dan Wilson, the VDGIF biologist for the lake. Dan will remove the otolith (ear bone) and use it to age your fish. Its age and the information you provide will allow him to establish and monitor growth rates. We have also changed our hours as we do every fall. Virginia Outdoorsman Sporting Goods is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and are closed on Sunday and Monday, unless by special appointment. Tight lines and have a great week on the water or in the woods.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Glendon Jones reports that the bass bite is slowing down as the fish are starting to school up. Try soft plastics. Not much word on crappie, bluegill or perch. The catfish action, however, is picking up. The best baits are alewives and gizzard shad. The water is clear and 77 degrees.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The Upper New River continues to suffer from the drought. Low waters levels and clear water continue to make for a tough bite. Smallmouth fishermen can stay with topwater early and late in the day switching to plastics and slowing down during the day. Fly fisherman should stay with poppers near the banks early and late then switch to deceivers, half and halfs or the new Forage Fly would be a good bet. Muskies are still following and looking but are not being very aggressive. A few walleye are still being caught at night on jerkbaits. No stripers in the river yet but they are moving up in Claytor Lake. No info on the cat fishing but it should be doing well at night right now. Water temps are slowly falling which should continue to help with the bite.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that the river is so low; it can only be navigated by kayak or canoe. If you can get out, there are smallmouths to be had. The muskies are hiding in their deep holes and not cooperating. The water is low, clear and cooling.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that muskies are "on fire" and are attacking tubes and spinners. Bass action is "phenomenal" on soft plastics. The water is clear and cooling.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. The North and South Forks have cooled considerably and had some rain, so the action is great. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; Murray's Magnum Bluegill; and Shenk's White Streamer, size 4. The water is clear, 68 degrees and at a good level. The stocked streams in the Valley are also providing good angling. The best spots are the Smith River at Bassett and the Hidden Valley of the Jackson. Good flies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 16 and 18; Mr. Rapidan Ant, sizes 16 and 18; and the Sprit of Pittsford Mills, sizes 16 and 18. The water is low, clear and 68 degrees. The streams in the Mountains are too low for good fishing.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff reports that the lake is lowering daily due to lack of rain. With temps cooling and some rain to fill in the lake, the fishing will pick up dramatically within a week or two. Puff will be at the West Regional and State Big Game Contest in Harrisonburg September 25-26 with a full assortment of hunting supplies and wild game processing gadgets and spices from Mapletree Outdoors. Come see him for hunting and fishing tips and information for the Highlands area.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River - DC to Harpers Ferry. Dry, dry, dry! Most of the Piedmont rivers are in horrible shape as we head into the fall when smallmouth bass start their winter oriented feeding frenzy. All rivers are running far below the 20th percentile and it looks like the Rappahannock will set a new record for low discharge with the unofficial instantaneous values being half of the previous record minimums. The Upper Potomac is your best bet for fishing right now since, as a larger river, it has more deep areas that shelter fish. In fact, the flow on the Upper Potomac, while low, remains above the 20th percentile mark even though it is far below the average for a typical year. Anglers can turn this negative into a positive since low water means that wading access to areas that are typically deep might be possible. In particular, there are deeper holes upstream from the boat launch on the Maryland side of Point of Rocks that are now more accessible. Another area to check out is Swains Lock. Check the book for the places that are not normally recommended and investigate (book now available at the One Stop Deli on Clay Street ½ mile east of the Point of Rocks launch and Smoketown Bait in Brunswick). For boaters, the best areas continue to be White's Ferry, Edwards Ferry and the deep water above Seneca Breaks. Maryland is currently considering revoking the catch and release regulation on the Upper Potomac between Seneca Breaks and the Monocacy River. Please express your opinion by sending an e-mail to fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us. I don't have any recommendations for the Rapidan; it's just that bad. In spite of a few intermittent rainstorms, trout hunters need to avoid the mountain streams that are now just a trickle of water, if that. I visited several popular streams on the west slope of the Blue Ridge this week and was stunned at what I saw. If you can kick the streambed and see an explosion of dust instead of water, there is a problem. The first mile of Paines Run, Madison Run and the West Branch of the Naked Creek are all dry as a bone. As a side note, in addition to dust, I saw more bears than I had ever seen before (one on each stream). They are on the move! Be prepared for an encounter if you head to the mountains. Instead of dealing with that, fish the cold tailwater of the North Branch of the Potomac, the Jackson or Smith River.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. With the shortening daylight and longer nights, largemouth bass have gone from their Summer patterns into a Fall pattern: shallow feeding early and late. Then they will take top water baits. During mid-day crankbaits and soft plastics are the bait of choice. Keep an eye out for balls of bait fish and fish beneath them, for there you will find large predator fish such as bass, walleye, and crappie, which are feeding on the balls of bait fish. Crappie are feeding on small minnows around the fishing pier and fish attractors in 5 to10 ft. of water. Catfishing is strong throughout the lake on chicken liver and night crawlers. The upper end of the lake seems better for the catfish bite. The water is clear with temperatures around 80 degrees.

Our 12th Annual Youth Fishing Day sponsored by the Gordonsville Lions Club is Saturday, September 25th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. at Lake Orange. We will have recognition for: Largest fish caught, Largest Largemouth bass, Largest Catfish, Largest Bream, Largest Crappie, as well as many other categories too! Event is open to any child who can hold a fishing pole up to age 16. Fishing is permitted from the shoreline, from your boat or from one of the rental boats available at Lake Orange. Come make a day of it and bring the family to Lake Orange! This Event is FREE! Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. to acknowledge all of the participants.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Chuck Perry says that the bass are hiding in the heavy grass mats and might take a topwater frog. No word on crappie, perch or bluegill. Some stripers can be had with large minnows. The water is dingy and in the mid 70s.

Potomac: Outdoor writer and fishing guide, Charlie Taylor provides a weekly Fishing Report for the Potomac River and other NOVA lakes and rivers, which may be accessed at any time at: http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeqbewt/. This web-report is updated every Thursday afternoon.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. See website for updates.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.

Bass: The cooling water temperatures and shorter daylight hours will trigger the bass this month to start feeding up for the Fall and will position the larger bass in the backs of the creeks and up the rivers. The bass are feeding on threadfin shad and herring so popper style baits and flukes work well on top and smaller crankbaits worked on the lips of the flats will produce well. Start all the way back and work your way out hitting ledges on the old creek channels where old stumps are present. Fish will usually congregate in the channel bends where it passes through the flat. Deeper diving crankbaits digging into structure will yield catches of nice bass while covering a lot of area. The bass around the bridges will be blowing shad out of the water in low light conditions as well as out on the main lake on shallow flats and the older fish structures. Down lake schools of nice bass have been feeding heavily around the rocks in the current of the third dike, some days the bass are breaking for up to 3 hours at a time chasing small 2 to 3 inch baits up to the surface.

Stripers: Catches have slowed the last 2 weeks as the schools follow the baitfish migration to the backs of the creeks. The schools are dispersing as the stripers break up and feed in very shallow water on herring and gizzard shad. Catches will improve if the lake receives some significant rainfall this month helping to put oxygen back into the lake. Fisherman using artificial baits can throw Spooks, Devil Horses, Chuggars and Poppers as well as subsurface rubber twitch baits to catch the stripers. Probably the best way to catch them is pulling planner boards rigged with herring and larger gizzards covering as much area as you can to locate the feeding fish. If you are looking for plenty of action check out Dike 3, schools of breaking stripers are busting in the current early and late in the day.

Crappie: These fish are moving shallow following the schools of threadfin shad. Most docks, rock piles and shallow brush are producing nice catches. The shallower bridge pilings will hold nice fish also, especially if the water stays low. Small and medium minnows along with 2 in. jigs will catch nice slabs.

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

First Youth Deer Hunting Day in 2009 Created New Traditions

With the upcoming second annual special Youth Deer Hunting Day, September 25, 2010, there will be lots of youngsters hopefully getting a shot at their first buck- or doe for that matter. Whether hunting, fishing, camping or hiking, outdoor adventure shared with family members can create lasting memories. We received several great stories from young hunters last year about their first deer hunt, and kill during the special Youth Deer Hunting Day. We wanted to share some of them here to inspire you to go deer hunting this special Saturday designated just for young hunters and hopefully begin a new tradition and a lifetime of great memories.

As you read the testimonials from parents, mentors, and the young hunters themselves reprinted here to recognize the exceptional success of the first Youth Deer Hunting Day, we are confident that you will be inspired by the comments from those who braved the rainstorms and took time off from other routine fall Saturday activities to give these youngsters a memorable day afield and create a new tradition. I'll bet you remember your first deer hunt, or special day afield sharing the traditions, skills, and character building experiences that can last a lifetime. The creation of these new traditions are especially important in this fast paced society that tends to keep us from taking the time and effort to spend a day in the wild - appreciating the wonders of nature and spending real "quality time" with one of "tomorrow's conservation leaders." Despite the torrential rain and not caring whether they harvested a deer or not, if you took a young hunter out that day you created a special memory and hopefully started a "new tradition" for the last Saturday in September.

Read all the great stories from these young hunters in this edition and if you miss the special Youth Deer, Turkey, or Waterfowl Hunting Days this year, be sure and take a young person out before the seasons ends - the future of our sport and hunting heritage traditions depend on it. For the full special Edition of the Outdoor Report for the First Annual Youth Deer Hunting Day posted October 14, 2009 visit our archives.

David Coffman, Editor

Ball Family Starts New Hunting Tradition

Kiersten Ball (photo below, center), 11 years old from Fauquier County, got her first buck and first deer during the first ever Virginia Youth Deer Hunting Day( September 26, 2009) on a guided hunt with brother Hunter Ball and proud dad "KD" Ball. Last Call guide, Andy Maneno led the adventure. Kiersten used her guides' trusty old .243 with 100 grain Winchester bullets to shoot her first deer - a button buck. Then Kiersten recalls, "While watching some does in a field, a spike buck came in on us and was now directly in front of me. So I had to turn the gun and did not want to scare him, so I placed the gun on my left shoulder, looked thru the scope with my left eye placed the cross hairs on his neck and pulled the trigger. The deer folded over and rolled down the hill. I began shaking more than I had ever shaken before. My brother and Mr. Andy helped me clean the spike. We finished just as it began to rain. I had a wonderful time, I love hunting and now I have the antlers to show that I am a girl and I do know how to hunt!" Andy noted he planned to guide both Kiersten and her mother for muzzleloader season coming up. This family has started a memorable and rewarding hunting tradition.

Greg Lewis sent this picture of his daughter Emily's first deer...

Emily Lewis, age 14, took her first deer on the Virginia Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, 2009. She lives in Red Oak, and killed the deer in Charlotte County, shooting a .243 Remington model 7400. The buck has 9 points with a 17 inch spread. This was Emily's first shot at a deer! She sat in the rain for 2½ hours with her father Greg Lewis, before she got the shot. Patience and perseverance has its rewards.

This note received from David Slagle (September 30, 2009) from Bristol says it best...

I love to hunt and enjoy the outdoors in Virginia every time the opportunity presents itself. I can't think of a place I'd rather be than in Virginia approaching the fall of the year. I was very happy to find out that Virginia was offering a youth day this year on the last September Saturday. I enjoy taking my 10 year old son hunting and have done so for about 2 years now. Although I love to hunt I find it more pleasing to take my young son in the woods. It's great time together and he learns things that he'll remember for the rest of his life.

He got his first deer last November and it was more exciting to me than any deer I've ever killed. The only downfall was that there are a number of hunters out in the woods and I truly worry about his safety with other people in the woods. I've luckily had no problems, but it does stay on the back of your mind. It was great to find out that he would be able to hunt on youth day and not have worry about tons of people in the woods and it was limited to the kids.

We had a great safe hunt and I think that we were 1 of 2 kids in the woods where I hunt and not having to worry so much about his safety as opposed to days where any and all can hunt was absolutely wonderful. He shot a nice doe and is a very happy young man along with a very proud dad.

My son and I want you to know that we really appreciate you having the youth day and I hope it is something that you will continue to do. It's great to be able to have a day set aside just for the kids and knowing that they will have a safe, happy and ethical hunt is super rewarding. Youth day was a success in my household and you made my sons day. My thanks to the VDGIF.

Respectfully, David E. Slagle Bristol, VA

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) annually sponsors a High School and Collegiate Writing Competition. with the theme of "a memorable outdoor experience." The contests will begin accepting stories in October with a deadline of January 31, 2011. Details will be posted in future Outdoor Reports beginning in October. We encourage you to write your most memorable hunting , fishing or other outdoor adventure story and enter the contest. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Competition Chairman:

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

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: