In this edition:

Youth Hunting Days Create New Traditions

As you read the testimonials from parents, mentors, and the young hunters themselves in this edition, we are confident that you will be inspired by the comments from those who braved the record heat and drought 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 a 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 many competing activities and not disappointed whether they harvested a deer or not, if you took a young hunter out that special youth day, you created a unique 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 missed 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.

David Coffman, Editor

Virginia Lottery and VDGIF Team Up For a "Wild" Scratcher Game

As lottery games go, this is definitely one of the wildest. The Virginia Lottery and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) are teaming up for Virginia's Wildlife, a Scratcher game featuring cash prizes up to $100,000. In addition, the game features a unique photo contest in which players can enter their photos of Virginia wildlife for great prizes and the chance to have the photo published in Virginia Wildlife magazine.

The Virginia's Wildlife Photo Contest will feature nine winners every week for 10 weeks. Amateur or professional photographers can submit color or black and white photos of living, native Virginia wildlife: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles or amphibians. By submitting the original photo with a non-winning Virginia's Wildlife scratch ticket, the photographer is eligible for great prizes like $100 gift cards and prize packs from Bass Pro Shops.

Qualifying photos will be displayed at www.valottery.com/wildlife, where visitors can vote for their two favorite photos each week. The photo receiving the most votes each week will become a finalist for the top photo prize. At the end of the contest a panel of judges will review the top 10 photos. The grand-prize winner will receive $2,500 and the photo will be published in Virginia Wildlife magazine, published by the VDGIF. The second-prize winner will receive $1,000 and the third-prize winner $500. The winners will be announced on January 18, 2011.

"Working on this project with the Virginia Lottery offers a great opportunity for Virginians to learn more about our native wildlife," said Game and Inland Fisheries Executive Director Bob Duncan. "We are fortunate to have habitat in the Commonwealth to support a wide variety of species, many of which can be easily observed and photographed."

"This is an exciting partnership for the Virginia Lottery," said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto. "This game will appeal to lottery players, photographers and people who enjoy the wonderful beauty of wildlife in Virginia. Most importantly, it will help raise money for Virginia's K-12 public schools."

The Virginia Lottery generates approximately $1.2 million per day for Virginia's K-12 public schools. Operating entirely on revenue from the sale of Lottery products, rather than tax dollars, the Virginia Lottery raised more than $430.2 million for Virginia's public schools in fiscal year 2010. That represents about 8 percent of state funding for public education in Virginia. For more information, visit www.valottery.com. Follow the Virginia Lottery on Facebook and Twitter. Please play responsibly.

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.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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.

Friends of Dyke Marsh Host Fall Educational Events October 23 and November 17

The Friends of Dyke Marsh are hosting a walk to enjoy the fall colors and observe the wildlife at the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve on October 23, at 10 a.m. The walk is co-sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society. It is free and open to all. The walk leader is Ed Smith, a biologist in the Amazonia Department of the Smithsonian National Zoo, focusing on amphibian conservation and husbandry. For a few weeks each year Ed serves as a Smithsonian Journeys Study Tour Leader taking groups to Central and South America. Ed is also a lecturer for Smithsonian Associates and an instructor for Smithsonian Scholars in Schools programs. To get there: Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, U.S. National Park Service, and is located on the western shoreline of the Potomac River about two miles south of Old Town Alexandria. On the Parkway, turn east at the sign, "Belle Haven Marina/Dyke Marsh" and park in the Belle Haven picnic area lot. Meet at 10 A.M. in the south parking lot of the Belle Haven picnic area. Rain or shine!

A hands-on workshop to learn all about insects will be hosted by the Friends of Dyke Marsh at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center at 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, November 17, at 7:30 p.m. Georgetown University Professor Dr. Edd Barrows will give a talk and conduct a hands-on arthropod workshop using preserved specimens from the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, as well as specimens found in other areas. Dr. Barrows says that there could be 18,000 species in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, from bacteria to beavers, and of these total species, 4,000 could be arthropods.

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 19th.

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.

December 10-12: Awareness Workshop. Do you think that you are truly aware of your surroundings? Would you like to learn skills that will help you see and recognize what others often miss or overlook? This workshop although originally designed for law enforcement and search and rescue personnel, is applicable to hunters, sportsman, and anyone else who frequently visits and enjoys the outdoors. Come join us for an adult version of "Hide and Seek" and let our professional instructors teach you how learning to hide well can improve your ability to find the hidden. Cost of workshop is $90 and covers all programming and instructor fees, meals, and lodging. Register by December 1st.

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

State and National Records Shattered at Big Game Contest

It is fitting that the 71st Western Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest was the same weekend sportsmen celebrate National Hunting & Fishing Day. This year what the contest lacked in quantity of deer entered, was more than made up by the quality of deer trophies scored, with three long standing state records being broken. The spotlight was on John Feazell of Clifton Forge with his 22-point buck killed with a bow in Botetourt County. This trophy scored 264-4/16 under Virginia's measuring system, entering the record books as the state's all-time highest scoring bow-killed buck. For details on Feazell's hunting story and the results of other record breaking entries see special feature outdoor writer Bill Cochran Column at Roanoke.com.

Two other state all time records were set at the contest. Kevin Tabor of Pearisburg placed first in black powder with a 10-point buck killed in Pulaski County in the 9, 10 and 11 point black-powder category with a score of 228-5/16. An 8-point Southampton deer taken by Delaine Babb set a record for gun/crossbow 7- and 8-point class with a score of 199.

The East and West Regional and State Big Game Contests are sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association, Rockingham-Harrisonburg Chapter Izaak Walton League and VDGIF. Running these contests takes more than 100 organization volunteers and VDGIF staff to administer the Contests, set up show displays, score trophy entries and award certificates to the contestants. If you are interested in assisting one of these organizations in their efforts to promote our hunting heritage traditions and recognize the exceptional game trophies found throughout the Commonwealth, visit their websites and contact one of their officers. For Contest results, rules, and information visit either of the sponsoring organizations websites: www.iwla-rh.org, or www.vpsa.org.

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.

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 »

Time to Browse Your Photo Files

Don't forget that entries for this year's Virginia Wildlife Photo Contest must be postmarked by November 2, 2010. So pull up your monitor, unwrap some blank CDs, and get comfortable while scrolling through the dozens (or hundreds?) of pictures you took outdoors this past year. Entry categories for the contest have not changed. You can refresh your memory on those, as well as all other contest rules, at the VDGIF website.

Now get going... November will be here before you know it!

Wildlife Center Holds Rehabilitation Classes in November

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

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.

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. 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.

Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25th Creates Great Memories

A total of 657 deer were checked electronically on Saturday September 25, during the 2nd annual special Youth Deer Hunting Day according to Matt Knox, VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator. This is down (~31%) from the 951 checked electronically last year in the inaugural season. Knox noted, "Last year it was the wind and rain. This year is was the heat. When I left the Big Game Show in Harrisonburg on Saturday about 3 p.m. it was 92 degrees. It made it to 93 in Roanoke on Saturday according to the 6 p.m. news. I would imagine it had to be mid 90's in eastern counties. The bumper mast crop probably also contributed to the reduced kill total, along with numerous local outdoor oriented family events."

Last year, the final total ended up being 1,842 for this day including the check card data. If the same checking pattern holds, it is logical to assume that nearly 1,300 deer were probably killed on Saturday.

The top 10 counties are as follows:

AB Does BB Total
Bedford 16 12 2 30
Rockingham 8 10 2 20
Shenandoah 4 13 3 20
Augusta 10 7 3 20
Grayson 6 14 0 20
Botetourt 4 10 2 16
Nottoway 7 8 0 15
Dickenson 5 9 1 15
Brunswick 7 6 1 14
Halifax 4 8 1 13

Share the Memories...

Below are photos and stories from several proud young hunters who represent our future. A special note of appreciation is expressed for the adult mentors who took time off from other routine fall Saturday activities to give these youngsters a memorable day afield and create a new tradition. 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." The true meaning of a "successful hunt" is also well expressed in the Young Writers Section at the end of this edition. If you took a young hunter out that special day you created a unique 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

Michael McCay from Henrico sent us this great story about his daughters first deer...

"I'm writing you today because this past Saturday during the special Youth Deer Hunting Day, while hunting with my 14 year old daughter Jessica, we had an amazing father-daughter experience when she took an incredible trophy buck with her crossbow.

I am fully disabled since 2000 with a spinal cord disease and was forced from law enforcement to early retirement.  Finally last year my daughter asked if she could come and learn everything I could teach her about whitetail hunting. So all last season, that's all we did. She learned all about hunting, including that it's not about just the killing of an animal. She had many close encounters with deer, but knew it wasn't the time to pull the trigger - she was mad a few times, but now she understands and is happy she waited...

For her first buck, she scouted and put in hundreds of hours in the woods, preparing for the opening of Youth Day. She even had nicknames for eight of the bucks on this one property. Hers was named " BIG DADDY", appropriate after you see the photo. This huge 6 point buck had a spread of 23 inches and rough scored 150+ when taken.

It's every hunters dream to see a nice buck like that, BUT to be able to share it for the first time with my teen-age daughter has been an incredible experience for the both of us. She is "HOOKED" now and can't wait to go back in. This special youth only day is a wonderful opportunity to spend 'quality time' with our kids and pass on our treasured hunting traditions.

Michael & Jessica McCay

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

We're looking for some good deer, squirrel, rabbit, bear, 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

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.

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.

New CWD Management Actions Effective for Northern Shenandoah Valley

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:
Hank Tomlinson, CWD Technician; (540) 290-9359; Hank.Tomlinson@dgif.virginia.gov
Tyler Urgo, CWD Technician; (540) 290-8158; Tyler.Urgo@dgif.virginia.gov

"What about taking deer carcasses out of Virginia?"

Now that Virginia has detected CWD, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia (see CWD Alliance website). Hunters anywhere in Virginia going into Kentucky, North Carolina or West Virginia must bone-out or quarter their deer carcass so the brain and spinal cord is removed. Maryland and Pennsylvania will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia's CWD Containment Area where carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord is removed. Tennessee will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Frederick County and Shenandoah County where carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord is removed.

* The restrictions listed above for Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Maryland have not been updated in the 2010-2011 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia digest or the 2010-2011 Question and Answers on Chronic Wasting Disease brochure (PDF).

Elk Hunting During 2010-2011

At its October 5, 2010 meeting, the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries did not place a moratorium on elk hunting. Elk may be hunted during the remainder of the 2010-2011 deer seasons. The information published in the Hunting & Trapping in Virginia 2010-2011 regulations booklet remains correct.

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.

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.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

'Early Season' Tree Stand and 'After Dark' Safety Tips

The days are getting shorter now with bow season ongoing, and early muzzleloading season starts October 31 in 2½ weeks, with the end of Daylight Savings Time on November 1. More and more time is being spent by hunters in the woods before daylight and after sunset, getting to their favorite stand. Here are some special safety tips for the autumn hunt gathered from experience and conversations with fellow sportsmen around the campfire, tailgate, and skinnin' shed...

  1. Let other hunters in your party know where your stand is located. Leave a map on the dashboard indicating the time you will return.
  2. Pack emergency items including a whistle, horn, strobe, lighter/matches, 2-way radio, or cell phone in your pack. Make sure cell phone is properly charged or have fresh replacement batteries.
  3. Carry an extra flashlight, one of them being the headlight or cap bill type that allows hands-free operation.
  4. Wear full-body safety harness at all times maintaining three points of contact at all times.
  5. Practice using your tree stand during limited daylight and wet weather conditions, to be familiar with the particular safe procedures for getting up, in, and out of the stand safely and quietly.
  6. Always use a hauling rope for your gear. Tie hauling rope to belt or stand when climbing to keep hands free.
  7. Unload gun or bow before climbing or descending stand.
  8. Wear blaze orange in stand. Let other hunters in area know where you are.
  9. Have a clear travel and "staging" area around the base of your treestand, remove rocks, logs, and trimmed branches so you don't snag or trip over obstructions. Use reflective tacks or yellow flagging on trees that will give you a 'lighted' path to your stand.
  10. Pack Several Glow Light Sticks - VDGIF Videographer, Ron Messina knows the importance of light in filming a good video. An avid bowhunter, he offers this tip to deal with loss of sunlight if you shoot a deer just before dark and need to track it with the light fading. "Crack" a glow light stick and hang it at your stand to find your way back in the dark. Carry several of these inexpensive light sticks to hang along the trail to keep you on track.

Dress for Success - Fall Turkey Hunts Require Different Tactics and Safety Precautions

The best hunt is a SAFE hunt! Both novice and experienced sportsmen should continuously review basic safety practices. The fall turkey season requires different tactics and safety precautions from the spring gobbler season. Dressing right is the key to both safe and successful turkey hunting. With the special Youth Turkey Hunting Day Saturday October 16 and the firearms turkey season starting October 23, now is the time to be planning your hunting strategy and special safety precautions. While sitting still is most important, full camouflage helps hunters blend into the surroundings, and elude the turkey's keen eyesight. But, those aren't the only eyes that could be fooled. Other hunters could mistake a hunter dressed in full camouflage using a turkey call for a wild turkey. Hunt defensively- keep in mind, when you hear a turkey call or see movement, it could very well be another hunter. Assume you are not alone in the woods and act accordingly. Your firearm, clothing, and turkey calls are all-important equipment, but thinking safety is the best tool a hunter can use.

The National Wild Turkey Federation and VDGIF Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors teach these rules to dress for success and safety:

  1. Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey.
  2. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
  3. Camouflage your gun.
  4. Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling
  5. Select a spot that is in the open woods rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
  6. When using a camouflage blind or netting, maintain a clear field of view.
  7. Dress in dark colored layers to adjust to temperature changes.
  8. Wear blaze orange when walking to and from calling positions and when setting up or moving decoys. Wearing blaze orange is always recommended. However, if you choose not to, tie a strip of blaze orange to a nearby tree to alert others of your presence.

Ultimately, every hunter is responsible for identifying their target and beyond before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target, or shooting at sound or movement. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Before you go out, let someone know where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. Take a few emergency items with you - snacks, water, safety whistle, a fold up space blanket, a method to light a fire, extra batteries for radios or GPS, and fully charge your cell phone.

Remember: Safe Hunting is NO Accident!

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. 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. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.

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.

Autumn Leaf Color Viewing Tips

One of the great rewards of living in the Old Dominion is the blaze of autumn color as the leaves turn from summer green to the brilliant hues of gold, red, yellow, and orange. If you are looking for information on when and where to view the color change, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) has developed VDOF-Recommended Fall Foliage Driving Tours. If you don't want to fight the traffic that clogs some of the best-known places, such as Skyline Drive, this site is for you. Each of these tours is designed by a local VDOF forester and is sure to exceed your expectations and fill your eyes with wide swatches of vibrant autumn colors. And, because these recommended drives are "off the beaten path," you'll be able to enjoy a leisurely trip without the hassles of a lot of traffic on the road or large crowds at vistas along the way.

To view the Fall Foliage Report and Driving Tours, see VDOF's "Fall Foliage in Virginia" website.

For Information by Phone:

"On the Trail"

VBWT Site MNR07 Reddish Knob

With the onset of autumn's brilliant color show, this visit on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is to the highest car-accessible peak in northern Virginia. Located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest on the ridge line that serves as the border between Virginia and West Virginia, Reddish Knob, officially listed at 4,397 ft., offers travelers one of the most spectacular 360° views to be found in Virginia. Site MNR07 on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail's North River Loop, Reddish Knob is less than an hour's drive from Harrisonburg, some 30 miles to the east. The popular Hone Quarry Recreation area, Trail site MNR04, which offers excellent camping, picnicking and hiking opportunities, is just a short trip to the bottom of Shenandoah Mountain on FR924 and SR 257 (see North River Loop map). If you're not accustomed to traveling U.S. Forest Service roads, be aware that FR 924 is a graveled road that may not be accessible during the winter months. Thankfully, the last 0.4 miles from the ridgeline to the peak is paved, but it's a narrow single lane with few pull-outs, so drive carefully and be on the look out for turkey, ruffed grouse and mountain bikers! The summit actually consists of a large asphalt parking lot, so you'll have no problem sharing the incredible views.

A favorite location to watch the fall hawk migration, one of the best times to visit Reddish Knob is right now. A late-September, early-October visit could reward you with sharp-shinned, Cooper's, broad-winged, red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks in incredible numbers. You'll also have a good chance to see bald eagles, peregrine falcons and American kestrels. Later in the season, golden eagles and northern goshawks are also possible sightings. If you are an avid birder or wildflower enthusiast, you'll definitely want to get out of your car and do a little high-altitude exploring. Shenandoah Mountain is home to many birds that only breed at high altitudes, such as the veery and black-throated blue and Canada warblers. When I visited in mid-June of this year, 3-foot high wild columbine was in bloom all along the final ascent to the summit and you are sure to find fire pinks and mountain mint among the myriad spring wildflowers. Considered by many to offer some of best opportunities in Virginia for remote backcountry adventures, Shenandoah Mountain and Reddish Knob are definitely on the Trail's "must see" list.

The Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail (VBWT) features over 680 sites from every corner of the Commonwealth into 65 driving loops. The VBWT offers visitors the opportunity to discover and experience our incredible wildlife diversity throughout the 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.

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."

The Colors of Autumn

By Marie Majarov, Majarov Photography

Glorious reds, oranges, yellows, golds, and browns are the colors of autumn. The leaves of Virginia trees put on a beautiful show of theses hues beginning early October each year.

Leaves are food factories for trees and plants. In summer a chemical called chlorophyll gives leaves their green color and enables them to use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugars to nourish the tree and oxygen for us to breath. This is called photosynthesis. As autumn arrives the days begin to shorten and cool. Trees prepare to rest during cold winter months. Food is stored and chlorophyll production slows down and eventually comes to a stop. As the green disappears other pigments in the leaves become visible – the leaves change color and the dazzling palette of fall colors begins to glow.

As you admire the colors of autumn, take time to learn tree names. Tree identification is fun. Various trees have characteristic colors: oaks turn red, brown or russet; ginkgoes shine brilliant gold; hickories favor golden bronze; and sourwood and black tupelo are crimson. Maple colors differ by species and can be scarlet, orange-red, or brilliant yellow.

Warm sunny days with cool, crisp nights seem to encourage the most spectacular displays of fall colors. Moisture also plays a role. Different combinations of these factors make each and every autumn unique. Severe summer drought can delay the onset of fall colors by up to a few weeks. Given our hot dry summer, it will be interesting to see what will be in store for Virginia's Fall 2010.

Autumn colors can be seen anywhere there are broad-leaved trees: your neighborhood, parks, woodlands, countryside, and mountains. Shenandoah National Park has impressive vistas; our State Arboretum at UVA's Blandy Experimental Farm a spectacular grove of glittering ginkgoes; and back roads can provide opportunities for less traveled family outings and fun activities.

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 late October:

Answers to September 8 edition quiz for nature events in early October...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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.

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

CPO and Hunter Education Instructor team up to train young hunters... On Saturday, September 18, 2010, Senior Officer Frank Spuchesi and Hunter Education Instructor Buddy Fines coordinated a JAKES Youth Day event held at the DCR Caledon Natural Area in King George County. VDGIF partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation, DCR Caledon Natural Area personnel and The Virginia Deer Hunters Association to provide hunter skills training and fun-filled activities for over 150 kids in attendance. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Alert CPO notices something 'fishy' in the trash... While on patrol in the Chesapeake Bay on Sunday August 29th, 2010, Officers Dunlevy and Dobyns stopped a charter boat to check the creel of persons onboard. While onboard the vessel, Officer Dobyns noticed a plastic bag that appeared to contain trash. When he asked the captain about the bag he said it just contained trash. At that point, Officer Dobyns noticed what appeared to be a fish tail in the bottom of the bag. Upon digging through the trash, he found 7 undersized grey trout. After inspecting all coolers onboard, another undersized trout was found bringing the total to 8 undersized trout. Summons were issued for undersized and over the limit fish. The officers then proceeded to the next boat and discovered two undersized flounder. Summons were also issued for possession of undersized flounder. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Region III - Southwest

Sportsman Expo big success in Southwest region... The Third Annual Hunting and Fishing Expo was held September 11-12 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVHEC) on the Virginia Highlands Community College campus in Abingdon. Region Three personnel from Law Enforcement and the Wildlife Bureau worked cooperatively in planning the event. District 33 Conservation Police Officers displayed their patrol boat, staffed an information exhibit, and a hunting simulator that provided a variety of literature about Department programs, regulations and activities. A Hunter Education class offered aspiring hunters the opportunity to gain certification. Officer Brooks discussed laws and regulations during the class and assisted with Map and Compass. Conservation Police Officers fielded a multitude of questions about new regulations, upcoming seasons, license requirements, boating safety education requirements and topics related to operating under the influence. Conservation Police Officers also assisted the Bureau with their exhibits.

The SWVHEC provided an ideal location and excellent facilities for this event which attracted nearly 3000 sportsman families. It was a great opportunity for hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts from Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee to interact with VDGIF personnel and obtain information about the Department's mission, programs and activities. For more information contact Lt. Rx Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley

Illegal Spotlighters nabbed by night patrol... Virginia Conservation Police Officer Mike Entsminger received information of several big bucks being in the vicinity of the Millboro area of Bath County. Entsminger and CPO Lisa Quesenberry decided to work a spotlighting patrol on the night of September 18th in an attempt to apprehend closed season violators. At 11:45 p.m., a pickup truck spotlighted the field that the CPOs had under observation. The vehicle was stopped and found to be occupied by two adult males who turned out to be local to the area. Upon searching the truck, two rifles were found. One was a loaded 30-06 and the other a .22 magnum. The two subjects stated they had heard about a big buck being in the area and had intentions of getting him if they saw him close to the road. Both subjects were charged with appropriate charges and both weapons were seized. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

Drinking and boating a dangerous combination... On August 30, 2010, Senior Officer Mark Diluigi and Officer Jessica Douglas were on boat patrol on the Potomac River. At approx. 17:45, they observed a 30 ft. Sundance weaving in and out of boat traffic and failed to slow down when it entered the "no-wake" zone. They activated lights and siren, but the operator failed to see or hear them until another passenger made him aware of their presence. During the course of the stop, the operator admitted to having three beers that day and willingly participated in FST's. He blew a .175 on the PBT and was taken to the Fairfax Adult Detention Center where he blew a .16. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

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

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

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.

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. According to Blair, the bass bite is slow, but you just might get lucky with plastic worms or cranks. Crappie action is heating up; trolling a minnow over the grass beds is the way to go. A 27 ½ in. channel cat, weighing over 10 lbs. was landed off the pier. Cut bait and chicken livers are your best bet for cats. Not many perch have been landed. Bluegill are still going nicely for crickets. Note: They do not sell crickets at the station. The water is slightly stained, at full pool and 72 degrees.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Despite there being lots of wind, things are not too bad up Capt. Jim's way. Very large spot are being landed at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets, they are going for Fishbite and bloodworms. Speckled trout are in the same spot attacking Mirrolures. Bluefish are there to be had around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, try cut bait and spoons. The water is fairly clear and 66 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says that he hopes that this Football season, Lucy will not pull the ball away at the last moment. He also reports that lots of bass are being landed. They like spinners, plugs and soft plastics. Lots of cats, some up to the 60 lb. range are coming in; try cut bait or chicken livers. Not much word on crappie, but they should be moving to their fall patterns. Bream are going for crickets. No word on perch. The water is slightly stained and cooling.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey's store was flooded due to recent heavy rains, but he was able to share some information with us. Bass angling has been good, with the focus being on top waters, spinners and cranks. Crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. Bluegill are biting crickets and red worms. The water is slightly stained and in the mid 70s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that there are plenty of bass going for top waters early and late, try soft plastics during the day. Crappie are not very cooperative just now, but soon should be schooling as the water cools. Lots of cats are going for cut bait. The bream bite is "slacking off", but try a cricket or red worm anyway. The water is clear and in the mid 70s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com The Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers have been at flood stage for the last week. The rivers are falling but still too high to be fishable and that status will remain at least until this weekend.  After all this freshwater gets gone, the fishing in both rivers should be fantastic. All the accumulated yuck and stagnant summer water will be gone and dissolved oxygen levels should be back on the healthy side.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Capt. Mike says that both large and small mouth angling is good; try soft plastics, inline spinners and cranks. Crappie are really hitting in the creeks and around structures, white curly tail grubs are the lure of choice. The cat bite is good, especially flatheads, one of Mikes clients brought a 34 lb. one to the boat! Blues are biting too; try cut bait. Striper action is also going well; try white perch, bucktails or cut eels. Gar are responding to minnows on a cork. The water is stained, but clearing towards Richmond and around 63 degrees.

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

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Into everyone's life some rain must fall, all the rain we needed last summer fell last week, which kept me off the lake some and also created work I have been putting off most of the summer. I couldn't take it any longer, so Cricket Man and I were on Lake Gordon by 9:45. As soon as my boat hit the water the wind started blowing so I left the fly rod in its case, vowing only to use the spinning rods. Somehow I think you have heard this before but the water is still low but it is clear with a slight greenish stain and much cooler. We fished from the ramp down to the first pasture to the right as you go up the lake just drifting with the wind, me with the spinning rod and Cricket Man with his worms. I would catch a crappie fairly often and Cricket Man was having trouble finding fish that were dining on worms, so he started trolling the worms and picked up his spinning rod with jig and twister tail and joined me catching crappie. He did catch 4 crappie with worms trolling behind the boat. I moved him in an area where we have caught white perch and he caught 5 nice ones on the worms and I got 2 but one of them wasn't much bigger than my thumb. He also caught 4 hand size bluegill there, too. We finished the day drifting down the lake about 100 feet from shore line in water from 8 to 4 feet picking up crappie from 8 to 12 inches. Cricket Man caught his limit and threw back several and I ended the day with 49 crappie keeping my limit of them in the 9 to12 inch range. The 2 inch lime and purple twister tail on a 1/32 lead head on a slow retrieve stopping now and then seemed to work best. My guess is we were catching the crappie from 3 to 6 feet of water. We caught the most in the area where the 2 by 4 is sticking out the water. Cricket Man caught one channel cat and one chain pickerel on his worms. Neither of us were bothered with any bass.

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 James is in great shape. The Smallmouth have pretty much moved into the deeper holes. Around mid day look to the shallows as the fish will move up, chasing baitfish as the day and water warms. Soft plastics (grubs, stick baits and fluke style) are the best producers. Fly anglers throwing streamers and crayfish patterns are bringing fish to the boat. Do be careful around the ramps as the high water from a couple weeks ago has them covered in mud.

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. Bobby Whitlow says that things are looking up as the water level rises and the water cools. The bass will be found in the shallow (2 to 12 ft.), they will go for shallow running cranks. Crappie fishing will also pick up and also be in the shallows. Look for them around docks, bridge pilings and brakes. The cat bite is good, try cut bait, live shad or live bream. Stripers are biting early and late on top waters. The water is clearing and in the 60s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf told me that smallmouth are going for top waters and minnow imitators. Rainbows and browns in the Jackson are attacking sub-surface caddis imitators sizes 14 to 16. The recent rains have really helped the brookie bite; try a caddis dry, size 14. The water is in the mid to high 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Holly Grove is closed for the season, but will re-open in February.

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.

Crappie: The crappie fishing is really picking up during the day and the quality of the fish being caught has been exceptional so far this year. Many crappie anglers report good success using the small and medium sized "shiners", available at local tackle shops, rigged on gold, thin wire hooks. Submerged brush and timber continue to be the best producing structure. Crappies are also being caught at night around "underwater lights". The lights are designed to be used underwater (submersible) and are reportedly more effective than floating lights or those sometimes suspended over the water on booms.

Stripers: Stripers continue to be caught using live bait and most anglers continue to report success using both downlines and shotlines. Shotlines pulled behind planer boards and floats have also been productive. Stripers continue to chase schools of baitfish to the surface and break on them around the lake. Recently most breaks have been seen near the mouths of the major creeks and in open water either early in the morning or on days when the sky is overcast. Anglers continue to catch nice stripers and an occasional bass on lead core line outfits and the traditional three-way rig with a Sutton spoon and swimbait, bucktail or sassy shad. Another effective trolling rig is the four arm Umbrella rig.

Bass: Fishing continues to be mixed. While some report having luck finding and catching schooling bass off points and humps, others report having found schooling bass, but having a difficult time hooking up. The Rico continues to be one of the favorite topwater lures for schooling bass. Buzzbaits and spinners have also been working as have other top water poppers. Several anglers reported success using Carolina Rigs on points and humps while others said they caught bass using jigs off rock ledges and in deeper water. Light weight shaky head jigs and Senko worms continue to produce an occasional fish under docks, especially under structure up along the rocky shoreline.

Catfish: Channel catfish continue to be caught using Magic prepared stink baits. Flathead catfish are being caught on nightcrawlers, live shad and shiners presented on bottom rigs in deep water.

Panfish: Panfish have moved back up along the docks and shoreline where they can be caught on small crappie minnows, red wigglers and small jigheads rigged with curly tailed grubs and other selected plastics.

The water is fairly clear and 70 degrees.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Greg Osborne says that the bass bite has been slow, but try topwaters in the morning and plastic frogs in grass during the day. No word on crappie, but things should improve. Cats are biting well on live shiners and live shad. No word on perch, but as with the crappie, things will get better soon. Bream are around the docks, going for crickets and worms. The water is clear and in the high 60s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Recent minimal rains and cloudy weather really fired the fish up on the River for several days. The river has since dropped to low levels again with clear water so it can be a challenging bite. Water temps are dropping as well, so slow down your presentation for the smallies with tubes, grubs, etc. Jerkbaits have remained good for walleye at night or cloudy days. Muskie are becoming much more aggressive.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says bass fishing has picked up; try GitZits or small cranks. Cats like live or cut shad, Muskies are still wary due to the clear water, but you can't go fishing in his area without having a "muskie encounter". The water is clear and in the 60s.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash told me that local bass are going for cranks. Muskies are hitting hard on soft plastics, inline spinners and top waters. The water is clear and in the low 60s.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry is on vacation in Montana (shades of A River Runs Through It!) He will be back soon.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff reports that the lake is filling again due to recent rain. With temps cooling and some more rain to fill in the lake a little more, the fishing will pick up dramatically the next few weeks. Puff notes he will be busy this week catering for a group of wounded warriors that Dominion Power is hosting for a trout fishing trip in a remote area of Bath County. These heros are participating in a Project Healing Waters program and will get to fish for 2 days with guides and tackle all courtesy of Dominion, VDGIF and volunteers. Visit Puffs maple tree outdoors website 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. Finally! The massive rainfall we received over the last week has recharged all of the Piedmont rivers and has brought new life back to the trout streams in the Blue Ridge. The Upper Potomac is fishing well with most of the smallmouth concentrating in the deep channels. The best wading will be above the confluence with the Monocacy while those who fish from boats will have the run of the entire river. You should see the thick grass beds start to break up fairly soon and that will open more of the river to fishing. The Rappahannock and Rapidan are back to their seasonal normal levels. It remains to be seen whether the bass will move back into the shallow areas of the confluence and other places typically targeted by wading anglers. The Rapidan is below the threshold for enjoyable canoeing or kayaking. The good news is that the float from Motts Run to Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock is within the lower margin of the acceptable levels. Good places to target in that section include the bend in the river at 38.318707,-77.528722 and the half mile leading into the I-95 bridge. Trout stocking has begun with the Robinson River getting the first dose in the Piedmont area! Anglers are encouraged to avoid the mountain streams since the fall spawning season is upon us. With the trout stocking program in full swing, you'll have plenty of alternatives.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Angler's Lane is closed for the season. Although the shop is closed, the Lake remains open for use.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Chuck Taylor reports that few anglers have been out due to high winds. The water is cooling.

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.

Largemouth Bass: Fish have fed heavily prior to the turnover and remain schooled but less willing to feed now. They've seen plenty of shad and lures that look like shad, so you'll have to search out the most aggressive pockets of fish that have not been touched yet. Or.... you can go dock by dock, looking for the loners. When using the first pattern, turn your attention up lake in the top one third of the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch. Use spinnerbaits, swimming jigs and small crankbaits for fish on willow grass and rocks. Try a jig or shaky worm for fish under docks. Going dock by dock is good in the mid lake region and the shaky head is the bait of choice with this pattern.

Stripers: Plenty of actively feeding small fish remain around the dam even with one reactor off. It is scheduled for restart by the middle of the month. Fish swimbaits like a Berkley Realistix Minnow or Ripple Shad near the surface when you see breaking fish. Birds are now present and will let you know where to fish. Use a Toothache Spoon or Crazy Blade for deeper fish. You can follow these schools for hours if you pay attention and don't spook them. The region from Jetts Island up to Hunter's Landing is full of striper, too. They should turn on in the coming days and weeks. No reports yet of fish up the North Anna, but they should be above the Rt. 522 Bridge around the mouth of Duck In Hole creek.

Crappie: The fish returned to the docks at the end of September. No saddlebags yet, but some slabs. With the continued low water level you can shoot a jig way back under docks where the fish are. Hottest regions are the upper Pamunkey and North Anna.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. No report this edition.

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

With bow season underway and many youngsters participating in the special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25, there are lots of youngsters who hopefully got , or will get a shot at their first deer. Whether it is a buck or doe doesn't really matter. For a young teenage deer hunter, his first shot at a doe on a hunt with his dad was his most memorable outdoor experience. Obaid Rehman was a sophomore at Centreville High School, in Clifton, Virginia when he entered his article in the 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest. His story ranked in the Top 10. Not only does the story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about Obaid's 'first doe' adventure, note that he uses good safety practices both in handling his crossbow, being sure of his target before firing, and staying in contact with his dad during the hunt. Obaid also talks about the wilderness experience and the fun and adventure of being outdoors with family and friends. Getting a deer was not the, most memorable part of the hunt- it was the total experience of the trip with his dad. The tradition of hunting is in good hands with responsible and respectful young hunters like Obaid. Good luck this season and thanks to your dad for teaching you safety and the values of our hunting traditions.

What is Success in the Hunting Woods?

By Obaid Rehman

BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! The alarm goes off, 3:30 AM. It was an early November morning, and a great day to hunt. I awoke from my restless night of sleep, which was haunted by non-stop images of goliath bucks with massive antlers and long bearded gobblers. My dad and I left the house after our high energy breakfast, encountering many roadside does on the way to our hunting spot, sort of a preview.

My dad and I reached the property, we walked quite as mice through the pitch black forest to our blind. We settled in and waited for the sun to rise. Until daylight we eavesdropped into the conversations of the forest. The sunrise was stunning, with rays peeking through the many branches on to the collage of leaves on the forest floor. The eerie bark of a fox echoed through the seemingly empty wood, and birds sang their songs as if they were competing with each other. Squirrels were scurrying about the forest floor, over scarred logs, under bare bushes, and up skeleton-like trees, like balls in a pin ball machine.

As I knocked my arrow into my crossbow, I realized something very important. The reason I'm crazy about hunting is not just because of the feeling of being successful by fooling the animals senses, but because I am able to see something many people will never see other than on TV, the pure wilderness. Some things that make you realize that we are not alone in this world and that the forest is its own community.

As the day went on and the sun rose, I noticed the glistening feathers of a turkey in the distance to my right, and as it approached I saw there was a whole gang behind him. I admire them quietly, as they are out of range, clucking and kicking back leaves, going on without raising their pecking heads from the ground, and hopping over obstacles like logs as if floating. And this makes me realize how wonderful it is that I have the opportunity view, even if not harvest, this wonderful creature, which is normally thought of as the big oval bag in the meat department by the general public, in the wild.

I turned back to face the front, and see a big doe gracefully walking towards my blind, but there is a problem, she is walking straight towards it. Her light brown fur softly glows in the sun and the white is blinding, her ears stand up high, ever vigilant, and her big black eyes seem fake. I flick of the safety and stay as still as possible. She walks past a mature oak and stands at 10 yards, but only her head shows beyond the massive trunk. She pauses and stares, stomps her foot. I stay as still as statue, and wait for her to turn so I can raise my crossbow. She turns and walks back behind a thorn bush, I get into position but she is walking away. Filled with hope I stay ready for her to appear as she disappears behind a bunch of bushes. She reappears on my left in a little opening between two trees, My dad hits the bleat call and she pauses, looking straight at me, I focus my sights on her, and... FLUMP! My arrow shoots out and just above her back. I shot high, instantly my thought races back to those hot and sweaty summer afternoons spent practicing, I figured I misjudged the distance which ended up being 40 yards. She raises her white flag and hops away pausing out of range as if taunting me.

But I realize something, yet again, what I have just been through happens to many hunters who are more experienced than me and all I can do is practice harder and hunt harder instead of moping about it. Because at 8:00 AM when most of my friends are sleeping their Saturday morning away, I am experiencing something most of them never will, the American wilderness at its best and something very important to our country, the tradition of hunting. I now remember an important fact, that every hunt is successful!

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: