In this edition:

Season's Greetings!

This December edition is very special as it is the last edition of 2010 and completes the fourth - year anniversary of the electronic Outdoor Report. We have grown to 30,000 subscribers and we appreciate your continued interest. I am a bit sentimental and humbled about all the hard work and support from colleagues, partners, contributing reporters, and readers who have made this newsletter so successful. We hope you have been informed, educated, and even inspired on occasion to do something new and different to enhance your outdoor experiences, or better yet, share with others. This edition is somewhat longer than usual due to adding some articles that would have been posted in the next edition. Due to the holidays, our next edition will be posted January 12, 2011.

This "Holiday" edition is full of ideas for gift giving whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, birding, camping, or other outdoor adventures. My personal recommendation is to give someone special to you the gift of time together - an adventure shared out in the wild. You will create wonderful memories, especially for a youngster, or an adult that has not had the opportunity to discover the great heritage and traditions experienced by exploring our wild places.

Follow up with a personal commitment to be informed and get involved in working for solutions to the issues that threaten our wildlife, their habitat, and our opportunities to pursue traditional outdoor activities. Sharing activities with novice outdoorsmen is the best gift you can give back to the outdoors you respect and cherish. You don't have to do this alone, find a group that you can support that shares your views, and join. Each edition of the Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities and making our wild Virginia a great place to live and experience the bounty of our fields, streams and forests.

Encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for a free subscription to the Outdoor Report! We hope this newsletter has informed and inspired you to get involved and get outdoors. From all of us who work to bring you the Outdoor Report, we wish you and yours joy and peace this holiday season and throughout the New Year!

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 »

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.

Sharing The Bounty - Hunters Help 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, they processed and distributed more than 405,340 pounds of venison in the Commonwealth. Since 1991 we have processed and distributed over 4,200,000 pounds to those in need which equates to over 16.8 million servings. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters and non hunters alike can make tax deductible contributions to help offset the cost of processing the donated deer with the average cost per deer at $40.00.

Ken Schuler from Rockingham County, a prominent pencil artist who specializes in hunting and wildlife drawings, sent us this story about a father-daughter hunt on November15th that he reports "was a good hunting day!" His daughter Keena Wood from Lynchburg killed this trophy 8 point buck while they were hunting in Prince William County. Ken proudly notes, "Keena didn't hunt much as a teenager, but now that she is grown up and has 2 kids of her own, we look forward to our "father –daughter" time hunting. This season, one slug from a single barrel 20 gauge shotgun in the neck and Keena had a trophy buck bigger than ANYTHING I ever shot in 46 years of hunting deer. She now has a trophy on the wall and venison in the freezer. This was only her fifth time hunting, her 4th shot and her 4th deer......not bad for "my little girl! We've asked Santa to bring the grandkids their own guns this Christmas, so we can continue our family hunting traditions with three generations."

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

YES Virginia, You Can Hunt in the Snow!

Vance Shearin at the VDGIF Information Desk in the Richmond Headquarters office received a number of calls from hunters during last December's record snowfall asking, "Is it legal to hunt in the snow?" He notes that many of the calls were from hunters new to Virginia so he double checked with the VDGIF Law Enforcement Division and Major Mike Clark confirmed that the answer is "yes"! The questions may be from the fact that it is illegal to hunt certain game in the snow in some other states. Also there were a few regulations in years past prohibiting hunting in the snow, but over time all the exceptions have long since been repealed.

Here's an idea if the youngsters are out of school due to snow - take them hunting with you, (gun , binoculars or camera) rather than sit around the house. There is a vast outdoor classroom awaiting to learn the habits and movements of wildlife in the snow and bonding time that can't be beat. If they need a hunting license, Apprentice licenses are available on-line, or at area sporting goods retailers. So remember cold weather safety tips, check the regulations to be sure your game is in season and go hunt in the snow and create some great winter memories.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly will convene January 13, 2011, the day after our next Outdoor Report edition. To keep you informed we have provided several links related to your legislature. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, visit the Virginia General Assembly website. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804-698-1990 in Richmond.

Hunting & Fishing Licenses

Give the gift of enjoyment in Virginia's great outdoors!

Field Dressing, Skinning & Processing Deer DVD

Learn how to field dress, skin, and process a deer.

Virginia Wildlife Magazine Subscription

Virginia Wildlife offers you stories and insight on the natural world, supplied by the state's leading wildlife and outdoor experts.

2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Visually stunning and informative, this calendar highlights many of the most sought after game and fish species in Virginia.

2010 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife

Our 2010 Collector's knife has been customized by Buck Knives and features a bobwhite quail in flight. The elegant, solid cherry box features a field scene. Knives and boxes are made in the USA.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Workshop December 30 in Essex

A special youth waterfowl hunting workshop is scheduled for Thursday, December 30 in Essex. Workshop program includes: decoys and blinds setup, waterfowl habitat and ecology, firearms safety and instruction, guided waterfowl hunt, and a field side lunch. Participants must be under 18 years of age, must have completed the Basic Hunter Education Course, and must meet all license requirements. Goose and duck hunt provided by Waterfowl, USA. Guides, decoys and blinds are all included. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or

Basic Fly Fishing Workshop in Chesapeake January 8 and February 5

Learn to tie your first fly, cast a fly rod, and pick your equipment for a better fly fishing experience. Casting instructions, flytying, equipment basics, terminal tackle, and accessories. Held at Northwest River Park, in Chesapeake, on the first Saturday of the month, January through March 2011. No registration or experience required. Free and open to the public. Bring your own equipment if you like, but it's not required. For more information, contact Northwest River Park at (757) 421-7151 or

Youth Pheasant Hunting Workshop January 16 in Fauquier

The VDGIF Outdoor Education program is holding a unique workshop Sunday January 16 at Sporty's Hunting Preserve near Catlett in Fauquier County for young hunters under the age of 18. The workshop includes: a professionally guided pheasant hunt, shooting coaches, firearms safety instruction and basic wingshooting skills, upland game bird biology and habitat, as well as a "field side" lunch. Participants must have completed the Basic Hunter Education Course and must have a current Virginia Hunting License or Preserve License. This workshop is great for new, novice, or inexperienced hunters! Registration required by January 5, 2011. Workshop cost: $70. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or

Richmond Fishing Expo Moves to Meadow Event Park January 21-23

The Richmond Fishing Expo is moving to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County for the January 21-23, 2011 return to the Richmond area. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website.

January - April Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The six regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for January - April 2011 have set their dates and some have changed locations. These annual "Break the cabin fever and beat the winter blues" events feature seminars from the experts, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests, promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors from the pros. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsman's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's website for all the details.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Flintlock Rifle Building Workshop

The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox is again offering a unique workshop March 6-11, 2011, to 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. For details contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director, by email:, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749, or visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website. Register by December 20, 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 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 or call (703) 777-0343 or (703) 669-0316.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Hunters Convenient Lodging

Are you looking for a place to stay during your hunting trip to the Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest? The Holiday Lake 4-H Center has a deal for you! The Center is located in the middle of the 20,000 acre Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest for quick access and just a short drive from Featherfin and Horsepen Lakes Wildlife Management Areas. Like a bed and breakfast, the 4-H Center offers inexpensive lodging ($15.00 per night, per person, provide your own linens) and a kitchen is available for preparing your own meals. Meal service is available for an additional fee for groups of 10 or more, or several smaller groups combined providing breakfast, a bagged lunch, and dinner. Accommodations are available weekdays from October 26- December 18, 2010. Call for weekend availability at (434) 248-5444 or Visit the website for information on the Center's programs.

People and Partners in the News

Bill Hutchinson Reaches 1,000 hours of Volunteer Service

Region 5 Complementary Work Force Program (CWFP) Volunteer, John (Bill) Hutchinson, of Gordonsville has achieved a major milestone as the first Region 5 volunteer to reach the 1,000-hour service level. The three year old Complementary Work Force Program recruits, trains, and deploys volunteer workers in support of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Mission goals and objectives. The CWFP volunteers engage in tasks ranging from conducting deer damage permit inspections to performing general yard maintenance and minor equipment repair work.

Bill Hutchinson, retired Navy Senior Chief, Sprint Communications Technician, and Gordonsville Auxiliary Police Officer, joined the ranks of the CWFP in March of 2008. Notable is Bill reaching 1,000 hours of volunteer work in less than 32 months as a volunteer. This comes out to average just over 31 hours each month. When asked about his involvement in the program Bill responded, "My work in the CWF program is the result of a happy conversion of the circumstance of being retired, having lots of spare time, and my absolute enjoyment of doing things outside that keep my mind and body active and involved. The work with VDGIF allows me to enjoy the things that I do. I love anything that involves me working on the water or with boats and figuring out how to get a job done efficiently and quickly. It is great to be given and trusted with the responsibility for getting a project done successfully and properly. When the Captain tells me, "job well done", I know I have succeeded".

Of the activities, that he gets the most enjoyment from, The Graves Mountain Family Fun Day is the event that brings out the sparkle in his eyes. "I really enjoy working with those kids and seeing a youngster hook and reel in a fish. Hearing, job well done, from the biologist, Conservation Police Officers (CPOs), and other staff is another instance of my feeling that this volunteering is appreciated and contributes positively to helping the Department provide wildlife and conservation services in Virginia".

Thomas Goldston, Region 5 CWFP Coordinator, noted that only 2 other volunteers, Bill and Frank Showalter, of Region 4 Verona Office, have achieved the 1,000-hour level as of September 2010. These exceptional volunteers are a real asset to VDGIF and help recruit others. Bill encourages others interested in volunteering to "go ahead and give it a try, there are so many things that volunteers help with, you are bound to latch onto a project that you enjoy doing and will contribute to achieving the overall Department Mission".

Visit our website to learn how you can become a CWFP volunteer.

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 For the Collegiate Competition, contact Marie Majarov at

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, 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 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

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 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

Jake Wood of Chesapeake sent us this story of his daughter and son's "friendly rivalry" deer hunting this season… Photo shows Kayleigh Wood, age 12, with her very first deer. Pictured to her left is her 9 year old brother Hunter Wood. Both have been in competition to see who would get a deer first. Kayleigh missed a doe during the Youth Day hunt September 25th. Hunter took the lead with a nice 6 pointer during the muzzleloading season. Kayleigh was determined to show what she could do, so she started the season by harvesting this 4 pointer in Isle of Wight on November 13th, with a pink camouflage 20 gauge she got for Christmas last year. The race is far from over, to prove this, Hunter harvested a doe later that afternoon. Dad is coaching the young hunters to keep safety and sportsmanship in mind as with a tie score, there's more hunting and quality family time to be had.

Parker Everton, a seven year old from Chesapeake, went hunting with his father Greg and other family members for the first time ever on November 27. The members of the hunt club where he and his dad were guests graciously assigned him a choice stand where, as they put it, "he should see some deer and maybe get a shot!" After an uneventful morning and a short break for some lunch Parker, his father and a cousin, returned to the same spot for an afternoon hunt. Several minutes later this nice 8 point buck ran within 30 yards from them. Young Parker leveled his 20 gauge Browning and dropped the buck in his tracks. His cousin had readied his gun in case Parker suffered from Buck Fever… that was not the case! Parker, his father and cousin exchanged high fives and congratulatory hugs and to be completely honest a tear or two. By now several additional club members had assembled in the area. Parker asked the adults "Can you believe that my first deer was a big buck?" His smile was as wide as the rack on the deer. Congratulations Parker and Greg on making great memories and carrying on our precious hunting heritage and traditions.

VDGIF Outreach Education Coordinator Jimmy Mootz sent in this story of perseverance and patience as his son John got his first muzzleloader deer...

The first muzzleloader hunt of the year for my 13 year old son and I took us to a ground blind in the forested lowgrounds of the Appomattox River. As we watched the sun begin to set through the hardwoods, a beautiful heavy bodied 6 point buck meandered into the food plot we were set up on. At 25 yards out, the buck provided a perfect broadside shot. John quietly cocked his sidelock muzzleloader and squeezed the trigger. "Pop". A misfire!

The deer jumped and ran about 15 yards to our east before he settled back down and began feeding again. He slowly made his way back in front of our blind, this time providing a 37 yard broadside shot. Again, John quietly cocked his muzzleloader while trying desperately to control his breathing and the uncontrollable twitching in his right let. As the buck raised his head, John squeezed the trigger. "Pop." Another misfire! The buck stomped and snorted before high-tailing it out of there, disappearing into the heavily forested lowland.

Frustrated, but not defeated, we borrowed a friend's modern inline muzzleloader and went in search of another deer 3 days later. About 15 minutes before sunset, a small 4 point buck appeared some 135 yards across the field from our elevated box blind. At 85 yards, the young buck presented a near perfect broadside shot, as John grunted him to a stop. He placed the crosshairs just behind the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. "Ka-Boom!" Our vision was obscured as the 100 grains of Triple Seven smoke filled the air. Listening carefully, we heard the deer crash in the pine plantation. After a short wait, we followed a clear trail to find John's first muzzleloader kill. A well placed double lung shot. American educator Thomas Palmer was right when he penned the words "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

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!

Update on VDGIF - CWD Sampling in Frederick and Shenandoah Counties

VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon reports that hunters were very cooperative during sampling for CWD on November 20 and 27. VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources staff and volunteers working at check stations and a meat processor collected tissue samples from approximately 100 and 75 hunter-killed deer, respectively, in order to test for CWD. Hunters harvesting a deer in the CWD Containment Area (Frederick County west of I-81 and Shenandoah County west of I-81 and north of Route 675) on November 13, 20, and 27 were required to present it to the Department at one of these stations for sampling. In total, over 430 deer were sampled on these three days. Combined with road-killed deer and deer heads submitted voluntarily by hunters at self-service drop stations throughout the season, the goal of 500 samples should be reached. Hunters are reminded that self-service drop stations will still be up and running through January 1st.

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;
Tyler Urgo, CWD Technician; (540) 290-8158;

"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).

You Just Bagged Your Buck of a lifetime... Taxidermy Tip on Preserving Your Trophy

You hoped for it... that trophy buck of a lifetime, or bobcat, bear, swan or turkey, but when it happens are you prepared to handle skinning the trophy without causing costly damage and process to preserve your trophy before taking to the taxidermist. Todd and Vickie Rapalee of Rapalee Taxidermy from Goochland have shared with our Outdoor Report readers, advice on how to properly handle your trophy in the field and to transport and store it and what to look for in a quality taxidermist. Todd advises, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist to handle all of your taxidermy needs! The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted." Review taxidermy tips for Deer in the October 28, 2009 edition, waterfowl in the November 23, 2010 edition, and for bear in the November 10, 2009 edition. For additional information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association.

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!

Get Prepared for Winter Weather NOW!

Last winter, multiple record-breaking snowstorms and cold temperatures affected every part of Virginia. Citizens suffered in the wake of power outages, icy roads and bored school children. This is Winter Preparedness Week December 5-11, to focus on getting ready for possible bad weather. Here's how to start preparing:

Additional information and resources are available online at Ready Virginia.

Make Safety a Part of Christmas Tree and Holiday Decorations

The winter holiday season is a festive time of year throughout Virginia. Family gatherings and decorations are hallmarks of the season, and safety should be part of your planning when preparing for these festive days. The Virginia Department of Forestry website offers some of our suggestions to help you be safe during the holidays.

Christmas Trees - Selecting the ideal tree is an enjoyable part of the holiday season. Choosing the "perfect" tree will be easier if you know what species you are looking for, the different features that indicate a good tree, and how to maintain freshness. Learn how to select and care for your tree at the Virginia Department of Forestry website.

The best gift hunters can give, or receive are those of safety and courtesy - give often and generously!

Safety Harnesses: Post-Fall Self-Rescue

Dick Holdcraft is a Master Hunter Education Instructor, industrial safety expert and leads the VDGIF Tree Stand Safety Team. We have run a number of articles about wearing a proper safety harness when using a tree stand. Dick provides important information on what to do if you do fall and the harness prevents injury from your fall- but quick action is required to prevent injury from the harness itself. Through a nationwide tree stand safety awareness effort, more and more hunters are realizing they save lives and reduce the chances of being seriously injured in the event of a fall. Although safety harnesses do save lives, they come with some consequences; orthostatic shock, also known as "harness suspension trauma." Orthostatic shock occurs after a fall and while still hanging from the safety harness. Pressure on the inside of your legs causes the blood flow to be restricted. If you follow these suggestions you can recover from the fall and protect yourself from harness suspension trauma.

Safety harness suspension trauma can be a life-threatening emergency and requires a quick response by the hunter, particularly if hanging vertically. Serious injury can occur within fifteen minutes… not much time if you are deep into the woods, have no communication with your hunting party, or are not adequately prepared. The symptoms of orthostatic shock include light-headedness, palpitations, poor concentration, nausea, dizziness, sweating and muscle weakness. Hunters can become unconscious and suffer serious complications within a very short period of time if not properly self-rescued. Without proper advanced preparations, a hunter could become a medical emergency before assistance is available.

Here are some tips on how to plan for a self-rescue from a fall from your treestand:

When it comes to protecting yourself while hunting from a treestand, there is nothing more important than planning and preparedness or buying safe equipment. Being familiar with self-rescue techniques, and what to do after the fall is an integral part of your hunt plan. Being safe and following these simple guidelines will make hunting from a treestand an even safer sport.

To lessen the effects of harness suspension trauma immediately after the fall, keep your legs moving until you can step into the loop on your safety harness. This helps to keep blood flowing to your heart and prevent you from fainting. One of the best remedies for recovery from a fall is to attach a length of strong rope approximately six feet long to the front of your safety harness. On one end tie a loop large enough that your boot can easily slip into. Tie the other end to your harness so that it is short enough that you can step up to relieve pressure off the back of your legs from the harness. With pressure off of the legs and the blood allowed to flow normally throughout the body, the hunter can now regain control to either return to the treestand or ease themselves to the ground.

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

READ the inspirational and life changing story by Bill Cochran in his recent internet column at about Chip Studer who was seriously injured falling from a tree stand and wants you to learn from his mistake and have a safe and successful season hunting from your tree stand.

ALWAYS harness up, BEFORE you climb up!

"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.

Create a Holiday Tree for the Kids and the Birds

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Whether there is ice and snow, or just frigid temperatures, here are some ideas to help wildlife through severe weather. If you are wondering what to do with the kids over the long holiday break from school, these activities will get them away from the video screens and outdoors exploring nature.

When the holidays are over and all the decorations and tinsel have been removed, put your cut tree out in the yard to provide additional cover for the birds. Outside, cut trees will remain green long after the holiday has ended, if they were cared for properly inside. You may want to anchor the tree with tent stakes and string to prevent the wind from blowing it over. Once stable, you can "decorate" the tree again, this time with food for the birds. An evergreen holiday wreath can be recycled in your yard the same way.

Fill the cut tree (or old wreath) with fruits and nuts strung on narrow twine or tied with other inexpensive string. Suitable foods include apple slices, whole peanuts in the shell or cranberries, and raisins; suet in nylon net bags; or pine cones filled with peanut butter and rolled in seed. Use foods that are natural and not full of added sugars or artificial ingredients. Be sure to tie the treats close to the branches so that once eaten there isn't a long string dangling for a bird to become entangled in; remove strings as they are emptied. The birds will welcome the treats and will take advantage of the protective cover from the tree as winter winds and cold settle in. Keep re-decorating the tree with more fruits and nuts as the food is eaten through the winter.

When spring comes, don't haul the now leafless tree to the dump. Instead, lay it on its side in an out of the way location, or incorporate the dead twigs and branches into a compost pile. The tree can also be used with other dead limbs or fallen branches in the yard to construct a brush pile for chipmunks, rabbits, and other small animals.

For more info visit the VDGIF website for "Bird Feeding Basics" (PDF)

Don't Move Firewood

Trees are being destroyed through the transportation of invasive insects and diseases in firewood. Once transported into new areas, these insects and diseases can become established and kill local trees. You can help stop the spread: Use firewood from local sources only. DO NOT transport firewood across state lines or into campgrounds or parks. If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite. Even if an area is not under quarantine, it is a good general practice to not move firewood long distances. The quarantine regulations for an area usually lag well behind the arrival of a new invasive species. For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Forestry website.

Reminder: Feeding Deer is Illegal in Virginia Through January 1

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."

Snow Geese Signal Winter

By Marie Majarov, Majarov Photography

Huge December gatherings of snow-white birds along our coastal marshes, bays, wet grasslands, and agricultural fields signal the approach of winter. Often appearing as a large "blizzard" of birds, these avian visitors are called snow geese!

Bearing the scientific name Chen caerulescens, snow geese make a 5000-mile round trip to winter in our Commonwealth. Their summer breeding range stretches high across North America's sub-arctic and arctic tundra regions. Medium size geese, they sport orange/pink bills, legs, and feet, and a simple dark brown eye. Black wing tips can be seen on the under side of the wing during flight. Actually, two body colors exist: the common snowy white color and a darker morph that was at one time was thought to be a separate species called Blue Geese.

Snow Geese mate for life and travel together with their young on both southbound and northbound migration journeys. The raucous sound of these beautiful birds is distinct, sounding like a high-pitched, nasal, barking "bow-wow" or "howk-howk." Totally vegetarian, snow geese move together as a flock to find aquatic plants, grasses, and grain as well as roosting and resting locations.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) and Assateague National Seashore are favorite wintering spots for thousands of snow geese. In fact CNWR was originally established in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds with an emphasis on conserving snow geese whose numbers were then dangerously low. A great family nature-viewing destination, CNWR is managed to allow many species of wildlife to coexist; in addition to a now revitalized population of snow geese, 320 different bird species can be found on the refuge.

Hunting snow geese was for a long time prohibited in Virginia, but is once again allowed and even encouraged as booming population numbers threaten fragile habitat here and in their summer range.

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

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

Answers to November 23 edition quiz for nature events in December...

Thanks to photographer Marie Majarov of Majarov Photography for this photo of a total lunar eclipse on February 20, 2008, that captures the reddish hue of this rare nocturnal event. Marie notes for novice photographers that, "Night skies, moons, stars, etc. can be tough because they usually require longer exposures, higher ISO settings, and a tripod to get good, sharp images. It can also be difficult to capture the stars when you are exposing for the moon." Check the forecast on December 21 and hope for clear skies and test your photography skills on this eclipse - it will be a great experience. Also when photographing an unusual event, you discover, or pay attention to details you may have missed otherwise. Share your photos with us for the January 2011 edition by submitting to

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:, 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

Check Points helpful to officers... On Saturday, November 20, 2010, District 11 CPOs conducted two wildlife road check points, one in Lancaster County and one in Northumberland County. Approximately 75 cars passed through the check points and a total of 23 hunters and 2 fishermen were inspected. Two summonses were issued, one for having a loaded shotgun in a vehicle and one for a deer checking violation. The check points were well received by the general public and several persons provided the CPOs with information on problem areas.

Region II - Southside

Alert landowner's tip helps ID habitual spotlighter... On November 13, 2010 CPO Eric Dotterer received a spotlighting complaint with shots fired in Pittsylvania County. The landowner gave a description of the vehicle but could not get a tag number. On November 17, 2010 Officer Dotterer received a spotlighting complaint with shots fired in the same section of Pittsylvania County. This time the landowner pursued the vehicle and obtained a tag number. CPO Eric Dotterer and CPO Jeremy Hood contacted the owner of the suspect vehicle and obtained a confession to spotlighting deer on both nights. In addition to attempting to take deer with the aid of lights, two suspects were charged with trespassing and destruction of private property for driving through an "extremely wet" wheat field. The driver was also charged with driving with a suspended license.

Carload of poachers and felons nabbed on Thanksgiving... On Thanksgiving night at 2200 hours CPO Matthew Silicki observed a spotlight being cast from a vehicle in Pittsylvania County. He stopped the vehicle and was assisted by CPO Eric Dotterer. Five occupants of the vehicle were charged with attempting to take deer with the aid of lights cast from a vehicle. A .308 and a .270 rifle were seized. A passenger in the vehicle was arrested and charged with possession of firearms by a convicted felon--he was jailed in Chatham without bond. The driver had killed a deer earlier in the day that had not been checked, appropriate charges were placed. The .270 rifle possessed by the driver was stolen--charges pending further investigation.

Region IV - Mountain & Valley

Officers find missing elderly hunter safe in good condition... At approximately 1900 hours on November 24th, Senior Officer Kester, Officer McFaddin, and Officer Wheeler were requested by the Rockbridge County Sheriff's Office to assist with a missing hunter. According to the hunter's wife, the hunter was last seen at 1400 hours. The hunter was 76 years of age, unfamiliar with the property, had no flashlight, and had a history of high cholesterol. At approximately 2000 hours, the officers heard a gunshot in the distance and attempted to scour the woods, but were unsuccessful in locating the shot. At approximately 2130 hours, the officers heard another shot. Officer McFaddin relayed the information to Senior Office Kester and Officer Wheeler, who were on top of a hill at the time developing a search plan. The officers were able to pinpoint the location of the second shot and found the missing hunter in good condition. The family and Sherriff's Office expressed their gratitude for the officers assistance.

Safety lesson learned from this incident... Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return, so that if you do not return within a reasonable time, the search area can be reduced. Also, always carry a flashlight and matches even if you plan to be home before dark... better to be prepared, than to be sorry.

Region IV - Northern Piedmont

Spotlighting suspects charged after intense investigation- receive multiple charges... CPO Green received information that a large 9-point buck had been taken by spotlight in Powhatan County about 2 weeks ago. The main suspect in this case was also a suspect in several spotlighting complaints last year. After an extensive investigation and interviews, Officer Green was able to implicate three individuals and obtain confessions of their involvement. A total of 10 charges were placed on two of the suspects. The third suspect, a juvenile, is facing 6 charges pending a juvenile intake hearing. Charges include conspire to kill deer illegally, take deer by aid of light, hunt deer with caliber less than .23, and discharge a firearm across a highway.

Hunting over bait whether you put it there or not, still a violation... After receiving multiple baited hunting complaints in Orange County, Officer Bowling investigated and found some of the complaints to be valid. On the opening day of Muzzle-loading season, Officer Bowling visited two of the baited areas, each in separate locations within the county. At the first location, which was baited with corn and mineral blocks, one individual was found to be hunting in the baited area. After a quick investigation it was found that the individual had been placed in that particular stand by his hunting partner. After questioning it was found that the second member of the hunting party was responsible for the placement of the bait and had chosen the site for the first individual. Charges were placed on each individual for hunting over bait. Further charges are pending. At the second location, which had been baited with corn using a 30 gallon tripod feeder, an individual was found to have been hunting out of the baited stand and had killed a doe. After a quick investigation it was found that the individual was the landowner. The individual denied any knowledge of the corn or the 30 gallon tripod feeder, although the individual did admit to placing the stand in the area and to planting the food plots around the feeder. The individual was charged for hunting over bait and for killing a deer illegally.

New Book by Jon Ober Features Game Warden's Field Notes

Virtually any hunter or fisherman will enjoy these true stories about the little known job dedicated Game Wardens accomplish every day. In his third book, "A Game Warden's Field Notes III," Jon Ober relates with warmth and engaging wit, the rewards and dangers for Officers who are always on call. Jon has been a Game Warden with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries since 1985. His work has taken him from Eastern Shore marshes to the Chesapeake Bay and the western mountains of the Commonwealth. You may recall that the name 'Game Warden,' was officially changed to Conservation Police Officer two years ago to better describe the extensive duties and responsibilities of these highly trained and dedicated law enforcement officers. Even though the name has changed, Jon continues to capture the commitment to duty and the unique circumstances that come with the career. Outdoor enthusiasts from all interests will enjoy the stories in this up close and personal notebook journal. Soft cover—$15.00 + $3.00 s&h ; ISBN 978-0-9841128-2-1; 200+ pages; illus
Order online: Email:
Or call: (804) 725-8629

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

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

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.

Fishing Expo Moves to Meadow Event Park January 21-23

The Richmond Fishing Expo is moving to the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County for the January 21-23, 2011 return to the Richmond area. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit l featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website.

Give the Gift of a Fishing Trip with Family and Friends...

Outdoor Report Editor David Coffman offers a special gift idea to share with family and friends AND support your area fishing related businesses... Consider booking a fishing trip with some of the many guides that contribute their experience and expertise to the Fishin' Report each edition. Their websites and telephone numbers are listed with their reports. Also support your local bait shop, sporting goods store, marina, or other area retail businesses to help support your local economy. Visit any of the upcoming sportsman expos to learn from the pros. Also shop for a new personal flotation device for you or a fishing buddy. This is a meaningful gift that can be life-saving. There are new inflatable models that are more comfortable for adults allowing improved range of motion for casting. Also remember that a portion of your purchases of licenses and fishing equipment comes back to wildlife management agencies to fund management and research programs to enhance your sport. Remember it's the sportsmen that pay for conservation. Best wishes for a New Year of tight lines and calm waters.

Orange County Teen Anglers Raise Scholarship Funds at Lake Anna Tournament

The 5th Annual Joseph Thomson Memorial Scholarship Tournament sponsored by the Orange County 4-H and Jr. B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter was recently held at Lake Anna out of Sturgeon Creek Marina. Twenty-one boats participated with teams consisting of 3 anglers; 1 adult boat captain and two youths 18 years of age or younger. The team of Capt. Mark McGhee with Dylan McGhee and Rachael Lam won in the Top over-all team weight division with 9.94 lbs. brought to the scales. Second place team winners were Capt. Chris Craft, with Devon Bowling and Jamerson Gallihugh having a total bag weight of 8.05 lbs. Third place was Capt. David Smith with C.J. Garrett and Joe Houck, 7.7 lbs. Fourth place was Scott Davis and Zach Mastin with total bag 5.66 lbs.

The individual Winners for the Big Fish Category were: Boat Captain Scott Davis, 2.79 lbs. 15-18 year old youth - Devon Bowling 1.91 lbs, 11-14 year old Jacob Dodson 1.41 lbs.

The individual Winners for the total bag weight were: Boat Captain; 4.54 lb- Scott Davis; 15-18 year old angler: - Brandon Williams – 3.70 lbs; 11-14 year old youth – Dylan McGhee – 4.47 lbs.

The parents and family of the late Joseph Thomson live in Front Royal. They have presented a scholarship to a deserving Orange County and Warren County Angler Graduate for the past five years. The family also gives a scholarship to the most outstanding youth who participates in the "Fishers of Men" – Legacy Tournament Trail, as well as the Angler of the Year in the Jr. B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Tournament Trail.

Read more about the Orange County High School B. A. S. S. Youth Anglers Club and their community service projects and boating safety and fisheries conservation programs on their website. The award winning youth anglers will be doing casting and rigging demonstrations for kids at Richmond Fishing Expo January 21-23 at Meadow Event Park in Caroline. Don't miss the fun and trout fishing pond excitement at the 7th annual Orange County Sportsman Expo at the OCHS Hornets Sports Center, new date for 2011 is February 19-20.

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, or call 800-283-2883. Press Contact: Scott Croft, (703) 461-2864,

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 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

For Christmas this year, consider giving the angler on your list something that will never wear out, break or need to be replaced. The VDGIF has a lifetime license program: one payment and your angler is saved the cost and hassle of ever buying a license again! The fishing license comes in 3 special areas: freshwater, trout and saltwater, so you can choose the type your fisherman will need.

The licenses can be purchased for someone of any age, so they make great gifts for babies or toddlers whose parents are passionate anglers. They are also wonderful to give with that first "real" rod and reel set given to a child. If Mom or Dad has just retired, and will now have lots of time to fish, a lifetime license is a great way to help them enjoy their new job. There are also special rates for the disabled and disabled veterans. And, the licenses are prorated so the price is lower as you get a little older.

Each license comes with a durable wallet card and a special certificate drawn by renowned wildlife artist "Spike" Knuth.

So give the gift that will always be remembered. Your loved one will think of you each time they set out to fool the fish. To find out more check out the Department's website or call (804) 367-1000.

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 bass fishing there is very good indeed. Go deep with a diving crankbait or a jig. Not much word on crappie, cats or bluegills, as folks are concentrating on the great bass bite. The water is slightly stained, at full pool and 50 degrees.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim the rockfish are hitting hard around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and Fisherman's Island. They are going for live eels, bucktails and surface plugs. Bluefish are biting spoons around Cape Henry. The water is clear and 56 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown told me that he really had no news, as cold weather and the call of the hunt has kept anglers away. He did remind me to urge everyone to watch his Christmas special again this year as he and Snoopy still get royalties. The water is clear and 49 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that lots of bass are hitting small cranks. Crappie angling is also good, with the slabs favoring shiners and small jigs. No word on cats. White perch are biting nightcrawlers and small spinners. No word on bluegill. The water is clear and in the mid to high 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that bass are going for jigs and plastics. The crappie bite is very good in the lakes, with the traditional minnows and jigs producing. Lots of cats have been brought in, including some citation sized from the James. Try cut bait to get your lunker. Bluegill action is slow. Some perch are responding to minnows and worms. The water is clear and cooling.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner I spent three days on the Nottoway the 27th through the 29th. The fishing was pretty good. I started off catching largemouth on a crank bait and caught three up to 2 lbs. in about 20 minutes. By then I was at the deep curve right behind the Church in Courtland and I wanted to see if I could catch a blackfish. So I started jigging, and caught a couple of those, but I noticed I was having a lot of small hits and hanging fish for just a second, then they would get off. So I changed from a ½ oz. Silver Buddy to a ¼ oz. and that was the ticket. I started catching everything. I caught a bunch of really big redeyes, two shellcrackers, one which weighed 2 pounds, hung a nice jack and caught several speckle. Catching the redeyes was kinda aggravating, because I would get hung up sometimes 3 or 4 times in five minutes. But that was where the fish were, and I was just glad I had a good lure retriever with me. A lure retriever is a weight with little chains attached to it on a heavy line that you attach to your hung -up line. You attach the device and drop it down to your snag and hopefully get your lure back. I did not lose a single lure the whole trip. It is a great investment since it pays for itself after retrieving only three lures. It's also pretty easy to make one out of just regular fishing weights. Remember that in the Nottoway you can only keep 5 redeye, which are properly called rock bass, and they must be 8 inches at least .

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike says that he has heard that there are plenty of active crappie at the mouths of creeks. They are likely to go for your minnow. The cat bite is also good; try cut bait. Stripers are there to be had at night around the Benjamin Harrison Bridge. They like bucktails. The water is high, muddy and cooling.

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

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

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I ran out of acetylene, so I headed to South Hill and Earl's Welding to get another bottle and, not to waste fuel, thought I would take the boat and go fishing also. I was on Lake Gordon by 11:30 and fishing in the deep water to see if I could find some crappie. After an hour or so of trying, I decided to fish the shore line some to see if my luck would change, it did, but not much. I caught a 12 inch large mouth so I moved up the lake some to the edge of the first pasture and continued to fish the shore line. I spent the rest of the day fishing the easterly shore line and caught 7 nice bluegill, one 10 inch white perch, another bass and a 17 inch chain pickerel. The water was clear to about 4 feet so I used my purple twister and 1/32 lead head and the lime green also. Tried several other colors but nothing seem to help much so headed back in by 4:00 p.m. Something I have not said much this year but the water level is almost back to normal. I think this is the last report for the season so I will bore you' all with the final tally for the year. I hate to own up to these low numbers, but it is what it is. To make myself feel better I keep telling myself that I did not go fishing as often as I had in some past years. Either I did not record some of my trips or I only went fishing 31 times this year with the total below. 371 Crappie; 623 Bluegill; 165 Bass; 7 Yellow perch; 10 White perch; 1 Catfish; 4 Pike. I threw back a total of 326 fish, not counting bass, that were either over the limit or I considered too small for the frying pan. It looks like the total is 1503. There is always next year, which we always think will be better.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. No report this edition.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. At this time the James is on the rise. Much needed rain fell through the night causing some minor small stream flooding. Fishing on the James has been hit and miss. The smallmouth metabolism has slowed which means they don't need as much to eat. Crankbaits along with pig & jigs have seen some nice fish boated when fished in the deeper holes. The warm water discharge at Bremo would be the best bet to fish as we get into the winter months. Need a quick trout fix? The Delayed Harvest section of the Hardware has been stocked. Streamers have been the top producers bringing some nice rainbows and browns to net.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow Jr. reports that the bass bite is slow, but look around the points and throw cranks. Stripers are responding to top waters and bucktails. Crappie are lurking around deep brush piles and going for minnows and jigs. No word on cats, perch or bluegill. The water is stained and cooling.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says that there has been no word on smallmouths. Brown and rainbow angling on the Jackson River is good. They are going for small midges, pheasant tails, nymphs and hare's ear nymphs. Brookie action is good in the Piney and Tye rivers. The little guys seem to like prince nymphs and hare's ear nymphs. The water is clear and cold.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Holly Grove Marina is closed until mid Februaryy.

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,

Stripers: The striped bass that were heavily concentrated in the upper sections of the Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers for over a month are moving back down the lake. Shallow diving jerkbaits are producing stripers early and late as well as when stripers are chasing bait near the surface during the day. Live bait is also working early and late on shot lines behind floats and planer boards in creeks and off points near the mouths of creeks. Swimbaits, bucktails and flukes rigged on belly weighted hooks and jigheads continue to produce as well, especially in the morning, evening and on days when skies are overcast. As the lake continues to cool, the stripers will move deeper into the water column and will continue to move further down the lake. Several anglers report they have been catching stripers from small schools found 18 to 35 feet below the surface using live bait on downlines, jigging spoons and flukes. Vertically jigging with spoons and flukes is a fun and easy way to catch striped bass this time of year.

Crappie: Crappie fishing continues to be very good. Anglers are using small hair jigs or small live "crappie" minnows rigged on 1/16 oz. jigheads or numbers 4 or 6 gold thin wire. Live bait rigged 12 to 18 inches below a small spilt shot, on very light line, is producing good numbers of quality crappies. As the water cools, the crappies will be found suspended in deeper water cover.

Bass: Bass fishing has been mixed. Many anglers are finding it difficult to find and catch quality fish. The patterns are not consistent. Suspended fish are being caught off the front of deep-water docks and near selected deep-water cover using drop shot rigs and jigging spoons. Medium to deep diving crankbaits in shad and crawfish colors are successful. Bass are also being caught under docks and the sides of steep rock shoreline on pig & jigs and shakey head finesse jigs. Heavy football head jigs with plastic crawfish imitating trailers by Netbait are producing bass found in natural rock near steep drops and deep-water points. Suspending jerkbaits are also producing bass.

The water is fairly clear and 54 degrees. If you do not have cold weather clothing appropriate for fishing or hunting in the cold winter weather, I suggest you invest in a good set. The cold water temperatures found this time of year greatly increase the danger of hypothermia. The risk of slipping on an icy deck, dock or section of wet carpet and falling into the water is much greater in the winter than at any other time of the year and the consequences can be fatal. If you or a loved one enjoy being out on the water in the winter, a warm cold weather suit is essential.

Enjoy a wonderful holiday season and make time to get out on the water and enjoy the great fishing opportunities available this time of year.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Greg Osborne says that cold weather has, for the most part, kept anglers off the lake. Those that venture out find that the striper bite has picked up near the back of Peak Creak. Try live bait or umbrella rigs. The bass have gone deep. The water is slightly stained and in the high 40s to low 50s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that it's just been to cold, snowy and windy to fish, so no news. The water is clear and very cold.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that his part of the river is "blown out" and too high to fish. The water is very muddy and in the high 40s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. FINALLY some rain on the Upper New, but it's too much; feast or famine is the name of the game. As the river levels fall and the water starts to clear try bright jerkbaits or spinnerbaits with Colorado blade slow rolled for smallies and walleyes. Slow presentation works as well for the muskie with flashy inline spinners or glide baits. Water temperature is 47 degrees.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 Harry told me that the smallmouth streams are just too cold to fish. The stocked streams in the Valley are still producing good browns and rainbows. Fishing is best in the deep pools and the pockets below the riffles. Good flies are: Pearl Marauder, size 10; and the Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8. The water is clear and 41 degrees.

The delayed harvest streams are good for dry fly fishing. Try midges and olive dry flies. The best time to fish is from 2 p.m. until dark. The water is clear and 41 degrees.

The mountain streams are too cold to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, 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) All quiet in the Piedmont as the cold weather takes hold and the fish slow down. There was no new trout stocking activity over the last two weeks in the northern Piedmont waters leaving trout hunters to revisit the Robinson, Locust Shade Park, Hughes, Rose and Passage Creek. Several locations just to the south were stocked to include Sugar Hollow and Mint Springs Lake. Bass fishing is pretty much done (at least in terms of my activity) now that the water temperature is hovering around 42°.

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. No report this edition.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

'Tis the season' when familiar carols like "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" or, "I'll Be Home for Christmas," stir fond memories for many outdoor enthusiasts of experiences like a deep snowfall, a frozen-over creek or pond, animal tracks in a fresh snow, new birds at you window feeder. For a young teenager, a huge ice storm Christmas Eve provided not only a white Christmas, but a most memorable outdoor experience when family not only came home for Christmas, but got stranded in the storm. Taylor Nelson Fariss was a senior at Lancaster High School in Weems, when she entered her article in the 2008-09 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. Her moving story was awarded Third Place. Taylor has beautifully captured the joy and peace of the season being with family and friends and realizing a special connection with nature in all it power and beauty.

The Miracle of Winter

By Taylor Nelson Fariss

As the broad, structured limbs loosely intertwined above my head, a few warm rays of sunlight escaped from the frigid grasps of that December morning. As they leaked through the tree's canopy, each ray not only brought a small ounce of warmth to my chilled face, but also reflected against the icicles that hung from every frosted branch. This reflection projected mini rainbows that cascaded down from the highest branch to the snow dusted ground, where I lay. I was officially in a winter wonderland.

Christmas Eve was finally here; however, with it came the largest ice storm Lancaster County had seen in ages. No electricity, busted pipes, and icy roads were some of the side effects that came with this white Christmas. Most of the adults' minds were clogged with these thoughts and could not escape their worries. Where are we going to cook the Christmas ham? How am I going to get to the airport with the roads being covered in black ice? Wait, whose pipes just busted? I could have watched them panic, but instead, I watched the snow as millions of delicate snowflakes dotted the dark, bitter night sky. Christmas was only a few hours away.

By the early morning hours, calmness overcame the household. There were no frantic phone calls or people constantly pacing. However, there was a plan. Despite the slick roads and the freezing air, everyone bundled up and jumped into their cars, heading to an unknown destination. To me, this place was not unknown, but rather a place I had known for almost my whole life, a place I would escape to on a spring morning or a summer afternoon, but never during winter. As six cars pulled into this deserted and snow covered field, one by one we piled out and stood in amazement. In front of us was a 60-foot tall tree covered in ice. Icicles dripped from every branch while a light snow was sprinkled over every limb. Sparkling mimosas were passed around to all of the adults and homemade hot cocoa to all of the kids. As we toasted to this Christmas, we all gazed up at this miracle of nature that showed us the beauty of what we despised before. We saw nature for what it truly is... a gift.

Now, here I lay with my head up against this ancient tree. Laughs and pieces of my family's mid-morning chatter hum into my ears as a smile comes across my chapped lips. I watch a few snowflakes slowly descend from a branch above after a slight gust of wind pushed them off the edge. As they land, the frozen ground is dusted with these white shavings, slightly resembling the mounds of snow that lay outside this tree's canopy. I am completely engulfed by nature and its pure beauty portrayed as through frosted glasses. This magical touch truly shows me the miracle of winter and how sometimes it is what is needed to open one's eyes to life, a life with nature.

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:, 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:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: