In this edition:

Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving

During this season of Thanksgiving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests in many ways. Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer, or a portion of it, to Hunters for the Hungry. The potential exists to receive, process, and distribute 500,000 pounds of venison annually to the less fortunate across Virginia. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 3.6 million pounds, equal to 13.5 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Another valuable contribution is to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public is also encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and rewarding Thanksgiving holiday.

David Coffman, Editor

Hunting Benefits All Virginians

With the general firearms season underway, hunters should pause to reflect on all the benefits that their participation adds to their lives and the positive impact on fellow Virginians. Recent economic downturns have many people thinking about how to simplify their lives, how to stretch their dollars, put food on the table, let go of stress, and still somehow give to others. Reports on obesity, concerns about food quality, and the footprint we are leaving on the planet, has people wondering what to do. An activity that addresses all that and more is hunting.

What benefits do all those hunters enjoy and what benefits do we all get from their activity? What benefits can you expect when you take up the tradition of hunting? Find the answers in various articles throughout this edition of the Outdoor Report that reveal the five benefits that hunting has been doing, and can do, for you...

  1. Boost the Economy
  2. Contribute to Conservation
  3. Wildlife Population Management
  4. Healthy Minds, Spirits and Bodies
  5. Sharing the Bounty

Read the full story on the Department's website »

Sharing the Bounty

Helping others by putting food on their tables – Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry. Last hunting season, more than 363,000 pounds of venison was distributed in the Commonwealth through this program. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 3.6 million pounds, equal to 13.5 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest.. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing that donated meat

A tradition of stewardship – Hunting is a tradition that is often passed on from one generation to the next creating a special bond between family members and friends. Many hunters enjoy mentoring others in the pleasure of and importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. For most hunters it's not the killing of game that's key to hunting, but the experiences and life lessons they gain. People who hunt have a special connection with the outdoors and an awareness of the relationships between wildlife, habitat, and humans. With that awareness comes an understanding of the role humans play in being caretakers of the environment

Hunt safely and responsibly. Always be sure of your target and beyond! Have a safe, successful, and rewarding hunting season!

Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative

The distinctive "Bob-White!" call of the quail is becoming just a memory for many rural Virginians. Quail populations in Virginia have declined 80% over the last 40 years. Along with the quail, many songbirds and other animals have also disappeared, due to the loss of the early successional habitat these animals need for food, shelter, and raising their young. Early successional habitat consisiting of native grasses, brushy weeds and wildflowers also attract useful pollinators like bees--a benefit to farmers. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is joining other state and federal agencies and groups to educate landowners about how they can get involved to help bring quail back to Virginia. View the video to learn more »

Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting the Outdoor Report

The Outdoor Report regularly posts to your email on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. With the various holidays observed in November-December, we will be 'tweeking' the posting schedule just a bit to accommodate both staff and subscribers holiday schedules and provide time to enjoy the season's festivities. Posting dates are revised as follows:

Please send in stories, announcements, events, and photos you may want posted to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov at least 10 days prior to the listed posting date.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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.

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.

Claytor Lake State Park Youth Deer Hunt and Workshop December 10-11

This workshop and muzzleloader deer hunt is for youth ages 12 -17 on December 10 and 11, 2010. The workshop includes a Friday evening seminar on deer biology and management, hunting safety and ethics, and muzzleloader safety, and a Saturday either – sex guided hunt. Participants should be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, and must meet all licensing requirements. For more information and to register contact Jimmy Mootz (804)367-0656 or Jimmy.Mootz@dgif.virginia.gov. Registration deadline is November 15, 2010.

Loudoun County Plans Managed Deer Hunts at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve

The Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PRCS) will conduct a series of managed hunts at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Leesburg, Virginia beginning in January 2011 to reduce the level of deer at the site. Fee-based, lottery-style managed hunts for antlerless deer will be conducted, followed by a maintenance program to keep the deer population in check. Interested hunters must register for the lottery by December 13, 2010. Online registration is available at www.loudoun.gov/webtrac using activity number 267501-01.

On-site registration is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the PRCS Administrative Office, 215 Depot Court, SE, Leesburg, Virginia. The lottery registration fee is $10 for Loudoun residents and $15 for non-residents. (An additional fee of $1.00 applies to on-site registrations.) Twenty-five hunters (plus five alternates) will be selected through the lottery and will be notified on December 14. Participating hunters must have a Virginia hunting license, pass a qualifier at local ranges, attend a weekday orientation at Banshee Reeks, purchase a Loudoun County hunting permit ($25) at the orientation, and participate in up to three weekday hunts. Personnel from PRCS and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have conducted deer herd health assessments at the preserve over the past four years. VDGIF biologists have determined that the health of the deer is declining and that the carrying capacity of the herd has been far exceeded. For more information about the managed hunt program, visit www.loudoun.gov/prcs or call (703) 777-0343 or (703) 669-0316.

Plan Now to Attend the Wildlife Foundation of VA Annual Fundraiser Event

Mark your 2011 calendars to join with fellow sportsmen when The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia will be holding its annual fundraiser event on Thursday, February 24, 2011, at the Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond. For additional information, please visit the Foundation's web site at www.vawildlife.org.

People and Partners in the News

Giving the Gift of Life

On September 28th, Virginia Blood Services (VBS) arrived at the Richmond Headquarters of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and employees responded with the gift of life- their own blood. The VDGIF recognizes the importance of improving the community where it operates through our ongoing partnership with VBS. Over 5,000 folks volunteer at VDGIF to help get our work done and we desire to model the same giving in Richmond through VBS. The blood donors expressed their appreciation to the VBS staff for their smiles, encouragement and great snacks before going back to work after their valuable donation was made. We hope you will give blood or help volunteer in your community when VBS arrives. Cleva Pierce, representing the VDGIF Human Resources Division, who coordinated and helped organize the blood donation event, reminds us that the upcoming holiday season is traditionally a time of critical need for blood donations to save lives. Consider donating this special gift of life this season, it could just be the most treasured gift you provide to a neighbor or friend or child in need in your community.

Virginia Bowhunters Charity Shoot Benefits St Jude Children's Research Hospital

The Virginia Bowhunters Association (VBA) charity shoot to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was a great success thanks to the host clubs, the participants and those who donated prizes for raffles and auction. VBA Charity Shoot Committee Chairman Jerry Wenzel, representing the Manahoac Bowmen noted that the charity shoot was held last July at two locations, Sherwood Archers in Roanoke and Augusta Archers in Staunton. Both clubs offered a 3-D round and a 14 target field round that archers could shoot multiple times during the two-day event. There were an estimated 75 shooters on Saturday and 100 shooters on Sunday, including some generous archers who shot both days. Several shooters also registered multiple times to help St. Jude. This was the first year for the VBA statewide charity shoot.

Another factor in the event's success was the broad range of donations from a variety of individuals, organizations and businesses, all of whom contributed greatly to the funds raised. Items such as guided fishing trips, archery accessories, binoculars, knives and wildlife prints were made available as door prizes and a raffle as well as a silent auction. Some lucky archers took home great stuff! There were also a variety of "fun shoots" to interest archers and raise additional funds. For example, at Augusta Archers a "Jug Shoot" was held after the main shoot for even more prizes. This was a popular shoot with a lot of laughter, cheering and camaraderie. The young men on the "jug crew" probably had the most fun as getting a little wet was rather pleasant in the heat.

St. Jude representatives expressed much appreciation for the VBA's first year efforts that raised $4,573. A special acknowledgement of appreciation goes out to all those archers who participated, the workers at the two clubs who held the shoot and the many prize donors. You can all know that your efforts are much appreciated by the kids, families and staff at St. Jude.

Outdoor Writers Association Announces Annual Youth Writing Competitions

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) announces its 18th Annual High School (grades 9-12) Writing Competition for 2010-11. The goal of the competition is to reward young people for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The competition is open to all Virginia students in grades 9 through 12, including home-schooled students.

The theme of this year's contest is based on "A Memorable Outdoor Experience". An experience by the student writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding or other outdoor activity should be the predominant subject matter. No athletic event or competition is an eligible subject matter. Submissions can be submitted in a Microsoft Word or text file since the three top winners will be posted on the VOWA Web site, and may be in other publications or on web sites. E-mail submissions are encouraged - write the document and then attach it to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between now and the January 31, 2011, deadline.

Awards will consist of gift certificates and gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA. Over $500 in prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the VOWA's Annual Meeting in mid-March – date and location to be announced in December.. The winner's parents (or mentor/teacher) will be guests of VOWA for the presentation event. There is also a separate competition for college level undergraduates interested in pursuing journalism or communication careers and interests.

For Competition guidelines, entry information and required entry submission form for both the High School and Collegiate Undergraduate contests, visit the VOWA website or contact VOWA High School Competition Chairman, David Coffman at david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov. For the Collegiate Competition, contact Marie Majarov at marie.milan@majarov.com.

Winning entries are featured in each edition of the Outdoor Report in the Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers section. After reading these stories from exceptional young writers, we hope you will be inspired to write about one of your memorable outdoor experiences and submit it to the competition.

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.

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.

The Virginia's Lottery's Southwest Virginia Customer Service Center at 408 East Main Street in Abingdon has begun providing additional services for Lottery players and non-players alike including:

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:

A Friendly Hunter's Challenge To HELP Hunters for the Hungry...

The buddies in my hunt club came up with an interesting challenge... As we make drives on Saturday hunts during the 10 week season to get venison for all the club members, we agreed to donate any extra deer to Hunters for the Hungry. Well, last year several of us admittedly missed several good shots, so rather than do the traditional "cut the shirt tail", I challenged my fellow hunters to donate $5 for every missed shot towards the cost of processing a deer. With all the shooting I hear during some of our hunts we should collect the $40 needed to pay for processing a deer donated to Hunters for the Hungry several times over!

This year with the added drain on food banks from hard economic times, Hunters for the Hungry can use every donation whether it's cash or venison from sportsmen to show that they do positive actions to support their neighbors and communities. If you have a successful hunting season and were fortunate to have harvested more deer than what you need, and you use a 2010-11 Hunters for the Hungry participating processor, consider setting aside several packages of venison for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Share and enjoy your harvest with those in need! If you don't have a deer to donate, how about $5 bucks for every one you missed! Last year Friends & Family Hunt Club in Louisa donated $80 to Hunters for the Hungry. And we also built a sighting in bench for our target practice range to use before this season.

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.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

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



Paul Moore, from Portsmouth sent us this cautionary tale on being prepared during his 'primitive hunting' experience this fall...

"In early November, I was bow hunting in Lunenburg County near Victoria on the Nottaway River. Being left handed I shoot well straight in front or off to my right. Just before dark, a very nice eight pointer appeared in the road 15 yards to my left. He stood there watching me as I turned and started to raise my crossbow to take the shot. All this I did in extreme super slow motion. I was 2 seconds from ready when this very large deer jumped and was gone.

The next week, I was in the same stand hunting with two 50 cal. In-line muzzleloaders. I  usually carry two rifles so I have a quick second shot if needed.  One gun is cheap, but very accurate and usually fires. The other is high dollar with sling and scope and very accurate and dependable for longer shots.

I set with cheap gun handy for aiming to the left and held other gun expecting deer to appear to my right. During this two hour hunt, I would pickup cheap gun and practice holding to my shoulder and aiming at a spot on the ground just in case a deer was to appear on my 'bad side.' About 5:45 pm, I had picked up cheap gun to practice again when a doe ran down the road and entered woods to my right. Before I could grab better gun, a very large 8 pointer came into sight about 80 yards down the road. He stopped to figure out what I was. He pawed the ground which was the last move he made. The cheap gun did work. I aimed for shoulder and hit deer through neck and spine. He dropped right down and never moved anything. People all over the county could probably hear me yelling with excitement. The 'cheap gun' has a little more respect than before."

License Options for Novice Hunters

Take a look at 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.

A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think

Have you had a successful deer hunting season so far? You read over the new regs, sighted in your gun, double checked your equipment, scouted your hunting area, and reminded everyone you hunt with about basic safety precautions. So far, so good. When you went afield you were patient and didn't fall asleep (too long zzzzzz) at your stand. Then, rewarded by all your preparation, you made a great shot and harvested a deer. Well, you're still not completely successful yet! Proper preparation of that venison is now just as important for complete success as the effort leading up to that great shot. Whether you plan to butcher the deer yourself, take it to a meat processor, or share it with someone, here are some basic tips gleaned from a lot of experience and advice from "old timers" to complete your hunt.

  1. Field dress and cool down ASAP. If cold - below 40 degrees - after field dressing, a deer can hang for several days to chill the meat. If temperatures are getting above 40 degrees, you need to skin and cut up into manageable pieces: shoulders, hind quarters, loins, "scraps" for burger, jerky, or stew and place in open plastic bags and ice down these bagged pieces, or place in a refrigerator. Refrigerating a deer can be as simple as four or five bags of ice and an insulating blanket or tarp and cardboard box. The meat also handles much easier when chilled.
  2. Cleanliness is important for maintaining both the taste and quality. Use paper towels to blot up stray hair or leaves and grime from the field. Cut away and discard any bloody tissue. Trim off visible fat and any sinew, the shiny "silvery" lining on the outside. A fillet knife works well for this process. Wash debris off meat pieces and pat dry excess water before cooling.
  3. Plan what type of cuts you are going to process: steaks, roasts, burger, sausage, jerky, etc. If inexperienced at all this, ask for suggestions and advice from fellow experienced hunters - you don't want to mess up now. We also recommend purchasing the VDGIF video, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" which gives step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. The video also features professional butcher and Hunter Education instructor Rob Bingel who demonstrates how to cape out a deer for mounting and details how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. You can order by telephone or online.
  4. Before freezing your cuts, be sure all air is sealed out. Freezer burn and reduced shelf life will result if you don't. A vacuum sealer works best, but good-quality freezer paper also does an excellent job of preserving meat. Plastic freezer bags are also convenient and easy as long as you squeeze all the air out. Properly processed, venison should last at least a year in the freezer.
  5. Now you've had a successful hunt. If you are fortunate to harvest more deer than you can use and really want to do a little extra, donate your deer to a local processor who handles deer for Hunters for the Hungry. A list of processors can be found on the Hunters for the Hungry website. Also consider paying the $40 processing fee to help offset processing expenses. Another option is to ask the processor to set aside several packages of any deer they process for you for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Every donation helps whether it's cash or venison and helps show that sportsmen do positive things in their communities. Now we all can be proud of a successful hunt.

Remember to make a donation to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your licenses through the convenient check-off option- give $5 to show you care for those in need!

New CWD Management Actions Effective for Northern Shenandoah Valley

CWD Monitoring and Sampling Update: On November 13 and 20, VDGIF staff and volunteers working at check stations and a meat processor collected tissue samples from 300 plus hunter-killed deer in order to test for CWD in western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties. This was an excellent start to the sampling season, so the Department wishes to send out a big thanks to hunters for their cooperation!

On Saturday, November 27, hunters harvesting a deer in the CWD Containment Area in Frederick County are required to check their deer at one of the check stations set up for sampling. This is the last mandatory sampling day for this season. The Department hopes to collect up to 500 tissue samples total from the CWD Containment area in order to monitor the spread of CWD in Virginia. We're well on our way! More information about CWD management can be found on the Department's website.

Actions to Monitor and Manage CWD...

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).

Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning

Editors note... As I found myself with a trophy buck the first day of muzzleloader season last year, I was unprepared as how to handle skinning the trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in choosing a taxidermist. I learned a lot from consulting with Todd and Vickie Rapalee from Goochland who shared this advice for the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist to handle all of your taxidermy needs! Now is a great time to visit taxidermist's showrooms and web sites to decide on who will handle the preservation of your trophy, be it whitetail, bear, gobbler, bobcat, coyote, or waterfowl. Remember that you will take the trophy of a lifetime one day. Choose your taxidermist before the hunt. The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted." Here are some special tips for waterfowl.

World Class Waterfowl - From the Water to your Wall

A quality mount begins in the field. By following a few simple procedures your taxidermist will have a much better specimen to work with.

  1. Retrieve the bird yourself. Often a "hard mouth" retriever will do damage beyond repair.
  2. Carry your trophy by the feet. Carrying the bird by the neck can cause feather loss.
  3. Once the bird is in hand keep it in a cool, dry place until you get out of the field or off of the water.
  4. Keep the feathers as clean as possible. Wipe off any blood or dirt to help prevent staining.
  5. While broken bones or shot holes in the birds bill are usually not a problem. Missing feathers on the other hand are, and cannot be replaced. Handle your bird gently.
  6. Keep birds cool and put them in the freezer ASAP. Tuck the bill under the wing and place the bird in a plastic bag and freeze. Please DO NOT wrap in newspaper. Label your bird with the following information: Name, Address, Species, Date and County & State Collected.
  7. Deliver to your taxidermist as soon as possible. The faster they receive it, the better condition it will be in and the quicker you will get it back!

If your waterfowl hunting will be taking you outside of the United States you will need to follow some additional guidelines. Check with your taxidermist to see if he or she is a USDA approved facility, authorized to accept birds or bird capes for trophies. If they are a USDA approved facility you will be able to send your birds directly to their studio from any country in the world. Always contact your taxidermist prior to any hunt for proper shipping instructions.

Nothing adds more color and texture to your home or office than quality bird mounts! Make a commitment to yourself to start a collection this season. Years from now as the collection grows so will your fond memories and recollections of hunting adventures with your family and friends.

Review taxidermy tips for Deer in the October 28, 2009 edition and for bear in the November 10, 2009 edition. For additional information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association.

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 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.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Remember: Safe Hunting is NO Accident!

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

Most importantly wear blaze orange - it's the law for a good reason - it can save your life!

Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters! Be Safe, Be Seen!

Except for hunting waterfowl, wearing blaze orange during the general firearms hunting season is not only smart - it's the law! And a good one that saves lives each year. But blaze orange is not just for hunters. This high-visibility "safety orange" is recognized in the workplace, both indoors or out, so you can be seen. If you are a landowner, jogger, hiker, or walk your dog on woodland trails, you would be wise to wear a blaze orange hat, vest, or coat so a hunter can see you and not mistake your movement for game. Just like driving defensively, you should take the same precautions and awareness if you go to the woods for any reason during the hunting seasons from October through January. Dress defensively. Wear blaze orange to be safe and be seen. Also, if you should fall and get injured, rescuers will find you easier... time saved that could keep you from further harm. If you have dogs that "roam" out of the yard, put a blaze orange collar on them so they are not likely to be mistaken for a fox or coyote. Remember whether you are a hunter, or just enjoying the outdoors, cutting firewood or walking a woodland trail, wear "safety orange"- it's the woodswise thing to do!

Do You Have ICE on Your Cell Phone?

No, not the frozen stuff. Most outdoor enthusiasts carry a cell phone with them on their outings. They are a great safety item. But what if you are injured and cannot operate your phone to communicate? Emergency responders remind you that for safety purposes you should enter the numbers of at least two people that can be contacted In Case of Emergency (ICE). Program the numbers in your phone under ICE, so if you are injured and unable to communicate with rescuers, they can use your cell phone ICE numbers to contact a friend or family member about your situation. Do this for all your cell phones in the family.

Drivers, Use Caution to Avoid Hitting Deer

With shorter days, many motorists will be commuting in the dark, increasing the likelihood of their vehicle colliding with a deer. The VDGIF is encouraging Virginia's drivers to be more cautious as they travel the Commonwealth's highways this season.

Fall is the breeding season for deer, and consequently, deer are more active now than any other time of the year. One-half to two-thirds of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November, and December. While less than 1 percent of vehicle fatalities and injuries involve deer collisions in Virginia, hitting a deer can cause considerable damage to both people and property.

VDGIF estimates the population of white-tailed deer in the Commonwealth at this time of year to be approximately one million animals. Each year, hunters in Virginia harvest over 250,000 deer. Without hunting, white-tailed deer, due to their reproduction rate, could double their population within five years.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recommends the following tips to drivers to avoid hitting a deer.

  1. When driving, particularly at dusk and dawn, slow down and be attentive. If you see one deer, likely there will be others. If one deer crosses the road as you approach, others may follow.
  2. Deer habitually travel the same areas; therefore deer crossing signs have been installed by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Use caution when you see these signs.
  3. Drivers should apply brakes, even stop if necessary, to avoid hitting a deer, but should never swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree or other object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.
  4. Rely on your caution and your own senses, not deer whistles you can buy for your car. These devices have not been shown to be effective.
  5. Any person who is involved in a collision with a deer or bear while driving a motor vehicle, thereby killing the animal, should immediately report the accident to the Conservation Police Officer or other law enforcement officer in the county or city where the accident occurred.
  6. Drivers who collide with a deer or bear, thereby killing the animal, may keep it for their own use provided that they report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives the person a possession certificate.

If you have questions about white-tailed deer or deer behavior, please visit the Department's website.

Tree Stand Safety is No Accident

Tree stand accidents account for more injuries than most other hunting activities. Outdoor Report contributor, Bill Cochran in his recent internet column at Roanoke.com relates a compelling story about Chip Studer and his "last walk in the woods." In December 1991 a treestand accident left him paralyzed. The Franklin county sportsman now spends his time sharing his story, telling how God has blessed him and how a treestand can change your life, even take it, if it isn't in good condition and used properly. READ this inspirational and life changing story before you harness up and climb up your tree stand this season!! Share it with all your hunting buddies too. Chip Studer wants you to learn from his mistake and have a safe and successful season hunting from your tree stand.

Review these two links on the VDGIF website for tips on how to stay safe and use tree stands effectively:

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 outdoors enthusiast 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.

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."

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 including:

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.

Please Don't Feed Deer - 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 or visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. 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

Visit the Virginia Naturally website now for 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 next semester.

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

Make a Special Bird Treat

The following recipe is a great food mixture for birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts, the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the yard where they can be seen from your windows. This mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun, inexpensive and something the whole family can join in.

First, in large bowl, stir together:

Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. (Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)

This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and even bluebirds. Keep a record of the different species of birds you observe, it's fun, and educational for "children" of all ages. The birds will appreciate it too!

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to November 10 edition quiz for nature events in late November...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

In January 2011 as part of implementing the VA Quail Action Plan (VQAP), five new pairs of field boots hit the wildlife habitat dirt. These boots belong to Virginia's first cooperatively hired Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Co-Project Leader for the Quail Recovery Initiative (QRI) reports that this unique program represents a joint hiring effort between the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they are the first of their kind in Virginia. Similar, highly successful, programs have existed for several years in Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and other states. They represent the closest partnership ever between the cooperating agencies. Jack Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS and Bob Duncan, Director of the VDGIF, signed an agreement formalizing the partnership December 2009. The new biologists work daily with partners in the agricultural community – one critical to wildlife nationwide. Their primary role is helping private landowners develop wildlife habitat through a variety of financial incentives programs.

VQAP was the impetus for this successful partnership. In its first year of implementation, the hiring of the 5 new biologists was a major goal of the VQAP. The biologists spend a great deal of their time working on early-successional habitat – a habitat type that benefits not only bobwhite quail but dozens of early-successional species including pollinating insects.

These wildlife biologists can be contacted for habitat assistance at the following USDA Service Centers:

Large-scale habitat restoration and education are the key elements of the VQAP. The Virginia Quail Council was established as a coordinating group of conservation organizations and agencies actively supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land management practices and programs that increase the quality and quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes.

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, read the feature article in the Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! section. View the new video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative," featured in this edition of the Outdoor Report.

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.

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

County Sheriffs deputies assist in apprehending Spotlighters... On November 3rd, Conservation Police Officer M. Booden received a call from the Southampton County Sheriff's Office asking if he was available. A deputy was discreetly observing a vehicle parked at the edge of a field using headlights to spotlight the field. The vehicle started to leave the area and, fearing it would be too far gone before Booden's arrival, the deputy conducted a traffic stop. A search of the vehicle by the deputy yielded marijuana, a marijuana smoking device and numerous prescription medications not in a proper bottle. Charges are being handled by the Southampton Sheriff's Office for spotlighting, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription pending analysis of the medication found. As this was in an area of numerous spotlighting complaints, CPO Booden decided to set up on an adjacent field in the area and, within 3 hours, 3 more arrests were made for spotlighting without permission.

Hold my beer... watch this! On Sunday morning, November 14, 2010, the King George Co. Sheriff's Office received a call from a motorist of 3 subjects loading a still live and kicking deer into the bed of a red pickup truck. A deputy arrived on scene and located and contacted the suspect vehicle, 2 of the suspects fled the scene on foot into the woods. CPO Tyler Bumgarner and Senior Officer Frank Spuchesi were contacted by the Sheriff's Office to assist. The investigation revealed that the 3 suspects were driving to a local store to procure more beer when a deer ran in front of their vehicle and became lodged in a fence. The 3 suspects stopped and loaded the deer into the pickup truck and took it to the logging road to finish it off and field dress it. The suspects that fled were later located in a local trailer park near the scene. All 3 suspects were under the influence of alcohol and one suspect had left his very young children alone to go to the store for beer. All 3 suspects were arrested and charged with general trespass, unlawful possession of a deer and the father of the young children was charged with 2 counts of felony child endangerment after consultation with the CWA. The magistrate lodged all 3 suspects in the Rappahannock Region Jail.

Region II - Southside

Officers use lengthy surveillance to catch multiple wildlife violators... On Saturday, November 6, 2010, CPO Eric Dotterer arrested a DUI suspect at 0230 hours in Pittsylvania County. Officer Dotterer was returning to his residence after working a spotlight patrol when he encountered a vehicle that was "driving erratically". He failed all preliminary tests and registered .23 on the breathalyzer. He was jailed in Chatham.

On Saturday, November 6, 2010, CPO Matthew Silicki charged a Pittsylvania County man with hunting over bait. The suspect was charged after lengthy surveillance.

On Sunday morning, November 7, 2010, at 0100 CPO James Slaughter charged two suspects with spotlighting deer in Patrick County. A 30.06 rifle was seized.

On Monday, November 1, 2010, CPO James Slaughter and CPO Matthew Silicki charged two men with hunting deer over bait in Henry County. The officers had checked the illegal sites a number of times without success. Six stands on the 300 acre tract were baited with corn.

Poacher caught when he shot himself with rifle during bow season... On 10/29/10, CPO Brandon Harris was notified by Richmond Dispatch of a hunting incident involving a hunter shooting himself in the foot with a rifle during the archery deer season. Officer Harris responded and began processing the scene. A .270 rifle and doe bleat call were found in the stand where the victim had been hunting. As Officer Harris was speaking with deputies about the incident, a neighbor reported that the victim had possibly killed a deer with a rifle two weeks prior. With this information, Officer Harris traveled to the hospital to speak with the victim. The victim stated that the rifle was not supposed to be loaded and he was only using the scope to watch deer because he had broken his binoculars. Officer Harris informed the victim that he knew that he had shot a deer a few weeks ago with the same rifle . When confronted with this, the victim admitted to killing an 11-point buck with the rifle earlier in the archery season. The victim had not checked in the buck nor did he have any valid hunting licenses. The victim also described to Officer Harris the location of a corn pile near the stand where the hunting incident took place. A total of eight charges were places for violations including hunting during closed season, failing to check a deer, hunting over bait, and hunting without a license.

On Sunday afternoon, November 14, 2010, CPO James Slaughter charged a suspect in Henry County with hunting deer on Sunday.

Region III - Southwest

Citizen complaints lead to multiple arrests for hunting violations... On November 6, 2010 Virginia Conservation Police Officers Jason Harris and George Shupe conducted several foot patrols in regard to complaints that had been received. The officers checked an area that was known to be hunted by a subject that both officers had received complaints on concerning failing to check and exceeding bag limits. The officers were discussing the subject as they were traveling up the road and upon rounding the bend in the road observed the said subject dragging out a ten point buck. Upon inspection of the license it was found that he had failed to validate a tag for the deer. The officers left that location and went to a location that the officers had been checking for four years and located two hunters, one of which was hunting over bait, and both subjects were charged for hunting without valid licenses. The officers than checked an area and found two subjects hunting with rifles and over bait. The officers issued a total of 12 summonses, 2 for hunting deer with modern firearms the closed season, 3 for hunting over bait, 2 for hunting without valid licenses, 2 for hunting without muzzleloader licenses, 2 for hunting without valid big game licenses, and 1for failing to validate deer tag at place of kill.

Alert Officers nab turkey poachers and discover evidence of suspects killing an eagle... On November 6, 2010 Conservation Police Sergeant Cox, and Senior Conservation Police Officers Jeff Pease and Wes Billings conducted a wildlife checkpoint on Peak Creek Road in Wythe County. During the checkpoint the officers were able to detect violations of Failure to Validate a Big Game Tag (Deer), No Hunting License, and Loaded Firearm in a Vehicle on a National Forest Road. The officers also checked two hunters that were in possession of un-validated notched turkey tags. The officers traveled with the hunters to their nearby hunting camp and located four turkeys and a deer. The two other unchecked turkeys at the camp were supposedly killed by a man and woman that were not at the camp. The officers gathered information on the man and woman and finally located their vehicle parked and unoccupied a few miles away. The officers split up and utilized their tracking training to locate the man and woman in a pop-up ground blind about ½ mile from their vehicle. The man and woman were both in possession of muzzle-loading rifles and were hunting over corn and pears. Senior Officer Billings questioned the man and woman at the ground blind and they admitted to killing the two turkeys the day before over the baited area and not checking in the birds. Senior Officer Billings collected evidence from the scene and a game camera was seized as evidence. The man and woman were each charged with two counts of Hunting over Bait (11/06/10), two counts of Killing Turkeys over Bait (11/05/10), and two counts of Failure to Check Turkeys Killed on the day of kill. When the pictures on the game camera were reviewed they contained pictures of the male suspect and three pictures of a dead immature bald eagle lying in a yard. One of the pictures showed a pair of loppers being used to cut off the legs of the eagle. The pictures and suspects information will be turned over the USFW.

Citizen tip and detailed intel leads to poacher's arrest... On November 12, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer James Hale received an anonymous tip through DGIF dispatch in Richmond. The caller gave information about a hunter that had allegedly taken two antlered bucks in muzzleloader deer season, killed both of them with a high powered rifle and had checked only one of them out. The caller also gave the name of the suspect. On November 13, 2010, Officer Hale spoke with an informant on other cases. The informant began talking about the suspect involved in the call from the night before. Officer Hale was able to find out where the suspect hunts. Officer Hale went to the area where the suspect usually hunts and found his truck. Officer Hale hid and watched over an hour for the suspect. The suspect arrived on an ATV. Officer Hale Mirandized the suspect and interviewed him. The suspect admitted to killing the two bucks and checking only one of them out. Officer Hale issued summonses for trespassing, no blaze orange, hunting after obtaining yearly limit, and operating an ATV without a helmet. Magistrate Summonses will be obtained for other crimes to which the suspect confessed.

Alert Officer discovers hunter's delay in telechecking deer... On November 13, 2010, as Senior Officer R.A. Salyers was on patrol, he observed a deer hanging behind a residence in Russell County. As he drove by, the subject skinning the deer was observed in the patrol vehicle's mirror to be running into the house. Officer Salyers turned around and returned to the residence, where he contacted the subject inside. The suspect was on the telephone trying to tele-check the deer in. It was determined that the subject killed the deer at 0800 hrs and had not checked the deer in. The time was 1620 hrs when Officer Salyers observed the subject skinning it out. The subject was charged for failing to check deer as required by code.

Decoy buck used to catch poachers... On November 13, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer D. L. Austin, Officer L. R. Walls, and Sergeant Jamie Davis conducted a decoy operation in Washington County. A vehicle occupied by two male subjects passed by the decoy location.  The vehicle turned around not far beyond and came back to the decoy location. The operator stopped in the middle of the roadway at the site of a gated entrance with three yellow posted signs.  The passenger fired a 30-30 caliber rifle once and a 30-06 three times at the decoy.  Then the operator of the vehicle cut the engine off, stepped out of the vehicle and fired a 30-06 two more times at the decoy from the middle of the roadway.  The subjects shot at the decoy a total of six times.  Sergeant Davis and Officer Austin stopped the subjects without further incident.   Officers Austin and Walls charged the individuals with the appropriate charges and seized both firearms.

No fishing license or life jackets get canoeists in trouble... While on vehicle patrol along the New River, Conservation Police Officers Wensel and Brewer saw four individuals fishing the New River. They were in two canoes that were lashed together, and several of the individuals were standing. Officers could see no life jackets, so they launched a jon boat to investigate. As the subjects saw the officers approach, they began to paddle into very shallow water toward shore. The officers caught up to the subjects and conducted a license and safety equipment check. Of the people fishing, three had no license. There were only two wearable PFDs to be found. Three summonses were issued for fishing without a license, and one more for being short PFDs.

Check the local season dates before going hunting for bear... On November 7, 2010, Conservation Police Officer Tosh Barnette received information from Richmond Dispatch regarding a black bear that was shot with a muzzleloader the previous day. The caller wanted to remain anonymous, but gave information stating the suspect who shot the bear was currently at the property in the Ewing area looking for the bear. Officer Barnette responded to the location along with a Lee County deputy. When Officer Barnette arrived, the deputy was speaking to the landowner and the suspect outside. The suspect gave voluntary statements to Officer Barnette stating how he had shot the bear with his muzzleloader, but had since been unable to find it. Officer Barnette accompanied the suspect to his treestand to survey the area. The suspect inquired as to the reason Officer Barnette was so interested in this situation and was advised that muzzleloader season for bear was closed in Lee County. Due to the close proximity to Cumberland Gap National Park, Park Rangers assisted Officer Barnette by attempting to locate the bear, with no success. The suspect was charged with hunting bear with a muzzleloader during closed season and attempting to take a bear during closed season.

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.

How to Avoid the Six Most Common Boat Winterizing Mistakes

Free BoatU.S. Winterizing Guide Available

With winter approaching, BoatU.S. Marine Insurance has reviewed its claim files and reports the following six most common mistakes made when winterizing a boat:

  1. Failure to winterize the engine: Freezing temperatures occur in all 50 states and while they are taken seriously up north, it's the balmy states of California, Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia where boaters are most likely to have freeze-related damage to engine blocks. It routinely occurs to boats stored ashore here. Boats left in a slip are less susceptible to sudden freezing as the surrounding water retains heat longer than air.
  2. Failure to drain water from sea strainer: If your winterizing plan calls for draining the engine, the seawater strainer must be winterized or residual water could freeze and rupture the watertight seal. Sometimes you won't know it's damaged until spring launching and water begins to trickle in.
  3. Failure to close seacocks: For boats left in the water, leaving seacocks open over the winter is like going on extended vacation without locking the house. If a thru-hull cannot be closed, the vessel must be stored ashore - the sole exception is cockpit drains. Heavy snow loads can also force your boat under, allowing water to enter thru-hulls that are normally well above the water line.
  4. Clogged petcocks: Engine cooling system petcocks clogged by rust or other debris can prevent water from fully draining. If one is plugged, try using a coat hanger to clear the blockage or use the engine's intake hose to flush anti-freeze through the system.
  5. Leaving open boats in the water over winter: Boats with large open cockpits or low freeboard can easily be pushed underwater by the weight of accumulated ice and snow. Always store them ashore.
  6. Using biminis or dodgers as winter storage covers: A cover that protects the crew from the sun does a lousy job protecting the boat from freezing rain and snow. Unlike a bona fide winter cover, biminis, and dodgers tend to rip apart and age prematurely by the effects of winter weather.

To get a free copy of the BoatU.S. Winterizing Guide full of tips to help you prepare your vessel for the winter, go to www.BoatUS.com/seaworthy/winter, or call 800-283-2883. Press Contact: Scott Croft, (703) 461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com.

Largemouth Bass Virus Detected in Virginia Reservoirs...

No impact to people; impacts to fish normally are short lived and fish populations recover

Largemouth bass virus (LMBV) is a disease that impacts several fish species but only appears to cause death in some largemouth bass. First discovered in Florida in 1991, LMBV spread throughout the southern United States and was responsible for a number of largemouth bass deaths in the late 1990's. However, in some reservoirs LMBV only led to a decrease in survival and growth rates. When those declines occur, anglers catch fewer quality-size (greater than three pounds) largemouth bass. The good news is that impacts from the virus outbreak are normally short lived and largemouth bass fisheries recover in about three years.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) tested several reservoirs between 2000 and 2003 with most either having no occurrence of LMBV or very slight infection rates. However, in a few reservoirs in North Carolina almost 40% of the largemouth bass tested were positive for LMBV. One of those systems was Shearon Harris Reservoir, which continues to support one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the state.

Recent virus testing coordinated by VDGIF this past August revealed that LMBV was present in about 40% of the bass tested at John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake and is responsible for the decline in the bass fishery. Largemouth bass from Briery Creek Lake and Sandy River Reservoir (Prince Edward County) were also tested and the virus was detected and confirmed. A small largemouth bass mortality event which occurred at Briery Creek Lake in late June, 2010, was most likely the result of LMBV in the population.

Due to the popularity of the largemouth bass fishery at Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake, anglers have expressed concerns about the LMBV spreading to other area reservoirs. However, some of the area reservoirs already contain LMBV and fish have likely built-up an immunity to the virus. For example, largemouth bass in Lake Gaston tested positive for LMBV in 2000. However, recent surveys at Lake Gaston indicate that the largemouth bass population is doing well. Nevertheless, anglers should follow the precautions listed below to limit the spread of LMBV.

FAQ:

What can anglers do?

For information contact:

Dan Michaelson
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Fisheries Biologist
434-392-9645

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. C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, told me that things have been slow in general. The bass have gone deep, but might go for a jig or a deep running crank. The crappie action is slow as well, but some big ones are being landed with the traditional minnows and jigs. No word on cats or perch. Those fishing for bluegill off the pier are more likely to bring up a crappie! The water is slightly stained and in the mid to low 50s.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim reports that bluefish are hitting hard at Cape Henry. They are going for spoons and stretch plugs. Some 10 to 12 pound lunkers are being brought up. Black sea bass are around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel; they like Fishbite and squid. Rockfish are also at the Tunnel, they are attacking bucktails, Fishbite and jigs. The water is fairly clear and 57 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says that everyone has been hunting this week, so there's not much to report. The water is slightly stained and 56 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that lots of bass are there to be had. Try topwaters early and late and cranks and spinners during the day. Crappie are slow to bite, but you may get lucky with a minnow or jig. No word on cats, but they should be out there. Very large white perch are being brought in; recently an angler pulled up a 2 ¼ lb. monster. To get your big one, try small spinners, cranks and beetlespins. Lots of bluegill are going for crickets and worms. The water is clear and in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that bass are still coming in on plastics. Crappie are really turning on for minnows and jigs. Lots of cats are being landed, especially in the James, on cut bait. There are still some good perch in the lakes waiting for your minnow. Bluegill fishing is slow, but try a worm or cricket. The water is clear and cooling.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com The fishing in the Nottoway has been pretty good. I was in at the VDGIF ramp on Rt. 671 for three days the 7th through the 9th and caught a lot of largemouth up to 2 ½ pounds. I mostly used a Cordell shad crank bait and a number 3 Mepps Minnow. I also did well on floating limb lines and caught a bunch of catfish up to 25 pounds. The 11th through the 13th, I was on the Blackwater below the VDGIF ramp in Franklin. The fishing was fair with several small largemouths and a nice chain pickerel being caught on the same lures mentioned above. Floating limblines yielded one blue catfish of 10 pounds. So it looks like the blue catfish in the Nottoway are heavier than the ones in the Blackwater.

On the 17th through the 19th I was on the Blackwater for three days above the VDGIF ramp on Rt. 611. The fishing was not good. Also I could tell that part of the river has been invaded by folks that do not care about our rivers. The parking lot was torn up from people doing 360's and I have NEVER EVER seen so much fishing line all up and down the river. Some num-skulls had used monofilament to set limblines and had left all these lines in the water and hanging from the trees. ALSO, I saw where someone (most likely the same people) had camped on shore and carved their initials all up and down the trees. Remember, if you're going out to experience the great outdoors, others will come behind you and they do not want to clean up your mess. VDGIF also provides the public with nice facilities for launching our boats, don't tear these places up, it only hurts us all in the long run and it cost a lot of money to grade these parking lots. So grow up and please do not leave fishing line and trash behind and if you must leave your info don't carve it on a tree, just please leave your card or write on your trash that you leave and be sure to include your full name and phone number so I can give that info to my friends at VDGIF.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Mike hasn't been on the James this past week, as he has been busy helping cut down the population of those pesky deer you hear so much about. He did hear that cats are hitting well on cut shad. Crappie are hot and going for minnows and jigs. The water is slightly stained and 55 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. The James River's tidal water's are cooling into the low 50s, which is my favorite time of the year for big blue catfish. Large blue cats have been biting well on cut shad fished on the bottom at different depths (from 10 to 40 feet). Striped bass are also around with plenty of fish within the legal creel limits.

Region 2 - Southside

Amelia Wildlife Management Area: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Since I had promised the tractor a day off and the temperature was to be in the upper 80s I thought it would be a good time to check out Amelia Wildlife Management Area Lake. I had a little trouble floating the boat off the trailer even though I had backed into the water. Judging by the shore line, the water level is down from a foot and half to two feet. Even with the low level the water is clear to about 5 feet. I started fishing from the ramp toward the dam and fishing pier and caught a 10 inch largemouth on my favorite purple twister tail and 1/32 lead head. I kept fishing the shore line for another hour or so having many strikes and almost landing them, you know how you move them several feet before losing them. I got one almost to the boat before I lost it, then I decided to switch over to a pumpkinseed twister. Broke the line to attach the pumpkin seed and tried to hook the purple worm on the carpet when I noticed that it did not have a hook. I just sat there looking ashamed for little while. I thought my fishing would improve for the rest of the day, but I was wrong again. The lake has a lot of grass from the shore to about 6 or so feet out which hindered me a little all the way around the lake. By the time I had got back to the ramp all I had in the boat were 7 bluegill from 6 to 9 inches and I threw back 6 bass from 8 to 13 inches. The next trip I will fish more to the center of the lake to see if I can locate some crappie and I would love to get back there with the fly rod in the spring.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. The Longwood University Fishing Club has been out very little the past few weeks. We have been catching some smaller fish on Senkos and shakey heads. Hopefully we should be getting out this Thanksgiving weekend and I hope to see some people out there.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Fishing on the James has been up and down. The warmer periods have seen fish eager to take crank baits and stick baits. Pig and jigs fished in the deeper holes are always a safe bet. Fly anglers should fish crayfish patters slow using a hopping retrieve. The Albemarle County Lakes have been fishing well also. Crappie and largemouth both have been feeding. Soft plastic stick baits have been boating fish and the usual crappie jigs have produced some nice fish. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and be safe on both the water and in the field!

On December 5th, L.E. will be one of several master fly-tiers on hand at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing shop in Harrisonburg, to demonstrate their tying skills. There will also be lots of tying equipment on sale. For more info call the shop at (540) 434-2444.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow Jr. reports that bass are to be had on the points; try spinners, cranks and plastics. Look for crappie in deep brush and see if they don't go for a minnow or a jig. Cats are in the main channel and are going for live or cut shad or bream. Perch are responding to spoons. No word on bluegill. The water is slightly stained, "a good fishin' color" and around 50 to 55 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Jimmy Cheers told me that fishing for browns and rainbows has been good. They are responding to nymphs, pheasant tails, deer's ears and copper johns. The water is clear and in the mid to upper 40s.

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.

Stripers: Huge schools of baitfish have been in the upper sections of the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers for weeks attracting large numbers of striped bass. Live bait has been producing stripers, and the bait of choice is a medium to large gizzard shad. Anglers have been pulling live bait in very shallow water on in-line planer boards, large pegged floats and freelines. Anglers are also rigging live bait on downlines and are catching stripers marked in deeper water. Stripers are also being found in the backs of creeks early and late where they can be caught on live bait and lures. The new soft, paddle tail swimbaits are a good choice for stripers feeding near the surface.

Bass: Bass fishing is improving, but patterns continue to be mixed. A number of bass are being caught under docks using the traditional pig and jig, and shakey head jigs. Bass suspending off deep-water dock pilings continue to hit lightweight jigheads and worms as well as the whacky rigged 5 inch Yamasenko worm. Bass are also suspending in deeper water off the sides of points, humps and near the top of submerged timber and stumps. Jigging spoons, drop shot rigs and the whacky shakey jighead and plastic worms are all proving to be good choices for these suspended fish.

Perch: A jigging spoon will also produce when used to catch white perch which are presently being found in good numbers near the mouths of selected creeks.

Catfish: Channel catfish are being caught on a sliding bottom rig using Magic prepared baits rigged on a spring hook and nightcrawlers on a circle octopus hook. Flathead catfish prefer live shad and small pan fish.

Crappie: Crappie fishing has been outstanding. Anglers report catching good numbers of crappies using "small minnows" on small jigheads and gold hooks and by counting down small hair jigs and lightweight jigheads rigged with small plastic trailers by Bobby Garland.

The water is clear and 59 degrees.

Virginia general firearms season continues, so it is a good idea to wear blaze orange if you are going to be in or near the woods this time of year. Due to family commitments, we have reduced our winter store hours and are now open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Although we will be closed Thanksgiving Day, we will be open Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Tight lines and enjoy a great Thanksgiving.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. No report this edition.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that fishing is good if the river has enough water. You can find the water level here or Google Claytor Lake Dam and click on AEP – Hydro Plant Levels/Flows. If the level is high enough, expect good fishing with the bass going for brown on brown jigs. The muskies are attacking big jerks (and this doesn't mean your brother-in-law that you had to take with you).The water is clear and in the upper 50s.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that things have slowed down, but some bass are still taking cranks. Muskies are active and going for swimmers and big cranks. The water is clear and 50 degrees.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The upper New River is at all time historic low water levels. Water temps are in the low 50s and it is still crystal clear. Slow roll a big spinner or pig and jig for a shot at a big smallie. Muskie and walleye fishing are best on cloudy days. The striper never made it up the river out of Claytor Lake due to the low clear water level. This is pretty much the pattern on the river until the walleye spawn in late Feb. or March.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry reports that the smallmouth streams in the north and south forks of the River are cooling, but a few days ago he had good luck with nymphs and streamers fished deeply on a tenne 200 sinking head line. Good flies for the area are: Murray's Mad Tom, size 8; and Murray's Black Heavy Hellgrammite, size 4. Harry says to get to these streams soon, before they get too cold to fish. The water is clear and 46 degrees.

The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are providing good fishing for rainbows and browns. Try to fish below the riffles and the upper areas of the deep pools. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8; or a Shenk's White Streamer, size 8. The water is clear and 45 degrees. The water in the mountain streams is too cold to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. No report this edition.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing Guidebooks covering the: Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac) Things are slowing down as the season transitions away from fishing. Not much moving on the Upper Potomac since the water temperature took a dramatic plunge to punch through the 50° mark and begin the transition from fall to winter fishing. The best bet continues to be the warm outflow from the Dickerson Power Plant. Except for the most aggressive anglers, both the Rappahannock and Rapidan have shut down for the season. On any of these rivers, the few bass being caught are hanging deep. The stocking truck returned to the Piedmont and reloaded the Robinson. Beyond that spot, there should still be plenty of trout in Locust Shade Park, the Hughes and Rose with declining numbers in Passage Creek. Please continue to avoid the mountain streams during the ongoing spawn.

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.

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

Largemouth Bass: The mid and down lake coves and creeks finally have schools of feeding fish in them. The schools range from 12 bass wolf packs to 50 fish mobs. Most are feeding on the small threadfin shad plentiful in the lake. Some are on blue back herring and tend to feed at any time during the day. The shad eaters go early and late. Top lures for these fish are soft plastic jerkbaits on a 3/0 hook or the Berkley Realistix 3 inch Minnow. You might even catch a few on a topwater popper. Small crankbaits can do the trick as well. Vertically jig or yo-yo Krazy Blades through the area too, when the surface activity dies. Up lake, bass are still biting, but you'll have to work a little harder now that the water has cooled.

Striper: Some great fishing awaits you now. The period from Thanksgiving to Christmas is one of the best. Fish are active all over the lake but the top zones are around the Holiday Mill Bridge and the North Anna Rt. 522 Bridge, as well as from the mouth of Plentiful Creek on up to the mouth of Terry's Run. Fish are very active early in the morning and again late in the evening. Look for them to be swirling on baitfish in mid lake creeks, too. Top lures are the soft plastic jerkbait, a suspending jerkbait, swimbait, Toothache Spoon and Crazy Blade. You can catch them on live bait, but this type of fishing impedes your ability to move around and chase an active school.

Crappie: Some fish have now moved away from cover and are schooled on bait. Good areas include the region around the Rt. 522 Bridge in the North Anna and Stubbs and Hunters Landing Bridges in the Pamunkey. If you see your depth finder light up in 15 to 18 feet of water, it could be crappie. Try jigging a small (¼ oz) spoon or Krazy Blade or even a minnow on a drop shot right below the boat. Some fish remain on deep structure, but mostly in the mid lake and down lake region.

White Perch: These tasty fish abound in Anna and are easily caught once you locate the school. You'll often find them at the mouth of Christopher Creek, the mouth of Serks Creek, the mouth of Plentiful Creek, the mouth of Marshall Creek, Pigeon Creek and Mitchell Creek this time of year. Lower down a 1/4 oz. spoon or Krazy Blade and tap the bottom on the downstroke of your vertical jig. If you see fish, but don't get a bite, go to the drop shot and minnow rig with the minnow about a food off the bottom.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. All species of fish are feeding well now and with water temperatures in the mid 50s the bite will continue for the next couple of weeks.

Stripers: With oxygen levels back up stripers are making up for lost time feeding extremely well throughout the lake. Gulls are advertising schools from the dam up to the splits but the jump fisherman are spooking more fish than catching them. Better tactics have been to stay in an area where fish are and work the area thoroughly avoiding running the big motor. We are having great success pulling gizzard shad on boards and downlines as is evident by our latest catches. (View our catches on my journal at www.JimHemby.com). During low light conditions work the upper water column pulling planner boards with live bait or throwing topwater plugs, in bright sun run downlines with gizzards or throw swimbaits or jig spoons near the bottom.

Crappie: Slabs are being caught on all bridges and very shallow up the rivers and creeks. Once good size fish are located it is easy to fill the cooler using 2 to 3 inch baits mimicking threadfin shad.

Bass: Fish are still in the backs of the creeks relating to the schools of bait but should move out to the main lake once the water temps drop below 50 degrees. It is hard to beat suspending jerkbaits to cover water quickly locating the better fish.

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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email your material to
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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

This November 23 Thanksgiving edition of the Outdoor Report is featuring the second place winning story in the 2009-10 VOWA Collegiate Writing Competition by Robert Bodendorf, a senior at Hampden-Sydney College. Entitled "Up That Mountain," Robert describes his feelings for coming home to the mountain where he grew up to reconnect with the past. We hope you will get the opportunity and blessing to spend some time with family and friends this season of "giving thanks" for all the good people and special places where we can share our experiences, time and bounty.

Up That Mountain

By Robert Bodendorf

Walk with me—let's go up Quarles Mountain, past the pastures of tall grass and through the oak and locust trees that dance to the wind's tune. Still higher up, the brush thins out, and there is more space between trees than before. We look out to the Blue Ridge Mountains that give us our horizon. It seems those blue ridges are our rivals, but in reality we are much lower than they are. Still, the mountain feels like a seat of power, as we are looking down upon ridges that run away and back toward each other in their descent to the bottom. And yet, there are times when I feel out of place. Sometimes, I feel I don't belong there anymore.

I grew up in a log cabin on Quarles Mountain, in Orange, Virginia. Orange is a town that sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A thirty-minute drive south lands you in Charlottesville. My dad came to this place twenty-five years ago and immediately built a log cabin. Before you start thinking I grew up in a raccoon-skin hat on dirt floors, let me assure you this "log cabin" is not made of felled trees, and we do not have open air fires in the living room. Some visitors comment on its rustic quality, probably because it includes a huge stone fireplace made out of rocks smoothed by the Rapidan River. The back deck provides a view down the mountainside, through the hardwood trees, over the rolling pastures, to the blue ridges in the distance. And though there's central heating, expect to find stacks of firewood piled high all around the house. Some stacks, I'm sure, still remain far out in the woods, waiting to be discovered and put to use. It's a lazy place, where the leaves change reluctantly, where the snow melts only after days of the sun's coaxing. Everything gets done slowly here, and as a person who begs, sometimes out loud, for a chance to be lazy, I like that. The best days are not the days when I head out into the forest to split firewood. Instead, the best days are when there's a fire in the fireplace (not made by me), stockings hung from the black walnut mantle, and snow falling outside. Maybe none of those details are necessary except the snow, because when there's snow, there's no work. Are you getting the idea that we're lazy?

When I was just a kid, mom would sweep me out of the house with a push and a "go outside and play." But that was never really a punishment to me. With forty acres of woods, valleys, rocks to climb, streams to splash in, and trails to follow, it was pretty easy to "go outside." Maybe I was a Marine on a mission, or a frontiersman just trying to scrape by, or an understudy of Indiana Jones looking for dinosaur bones while avoiding spears and arrows slung from natives' hands. Lately, I've not been a soldier, or a cowboy, or an adventurer, but just a walker, scanning the mountain I know well, looking for clues to where my childhood has gone. Sometimes the time, the memories go when the land gets logged, sometimes when it gets sold. The 'big hill' where we used to sled by moonlight and bonfires is now covered in corn stalks. And the pasture is now halved by an electric fence because our neighbor needed a little more grazing land for his cattle.

The mountain has weathered the history that was made on it. Five minutes from Orange and two minutes from my house, the small village (yes, it's actually a village) of Rapidan changed hands fifteen times on Christmas Eve of 1863 ("Historic Orange, Virginia"). Robert E. Lee worshipped in Orange in that winter of 1863-1864, and the church he worshipped in still stands today ("History"). We find campfire bricks and Civil War bullets every now and then, but who's to say whether a Union or Confederate soldier fired them? Now, the most activity the mountain gets (besides the occasional logger) is the rare fox hunt, when beagles pour down the mountain and split around our cabin like traffic around a median. A rider in full fox-hunting garb, complete with a red riding jacket and a muffin-top black helmet, crashes down after them.

Except for the occasional fox hunts, the mountain, like the town, is a quiet place. There's not much for a young person to do, which is probably why young people are few and far between. There are a couple of bars, but they're filled with husky farmers in Carhartt work pants and John Deere trucker hats. As a skinny kid in a button-down, khakis, and loafers, I don't really fit into the Orange social scene. Often I reconcile myself to the mountain, where there's not much to do, and sometimes it gets boring, even lonely.

There isn't really any reason for me to go back there. Yet still I feel an indescribable pull toward the place. I sense an obligation to the mountain. I don't know what will happen to the mountain if I leave. And much like the memory of the largely nonexistent snow on Christmas, perhaps the best years of living on the mountain are behind me, in my childhood. So, should I go back? I don't know. I can't answer that. I'm not a farmer or forester, and I doubt I ever will be. But I know that in the future, when people ask me where I'm from or where I grew up, I'll say I grew up in a log cabin, on the side of a small mountain. I'll say that because it's a part of me now. My home helps define me. Sometimes I wonder, can I ever find another place worthy enough to call home? I hope so. I want my children to grow up on a mountain like that.

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 November with a deadline of January 31, 2011. Details are posted in the People & Partners section of this edition. 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: