In this edition:

April Showers Bring May Flowers and the Rebirth of Spring...

This April 27th edition has warm sunny days and ample April showers bringing the promise of May flowers and the busting out all over with the rebirth of spring. Gardens and food plots are being tilled and seeded to renew the cycle of planting and harvest. Hen turkeys and soaring eagles are nesting. This is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. We've posted the Kids Fishing Day calendar, so look for an event near you and plan for some family fun.

From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from around the state it looks like many youngsters took part of their spring break to pursue thundering gobblers or shiny trout. This edition has some great photos and stories of success and excitement by young hunters and anglers during this season of renewal.

Be safe and have fun enjoying the blossoming of spring.

David Coffman, Editor

Norfolk Botanical Garden Eaglets Banded for On-going Research

On April 21 eaglets at the Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG) were removed from their nest to be banded. Tree climbers with Nuckols Tree Care accessed the nest and carefully lowered the chicks to the ground assisted by staff from Norfolk Botanical Garden and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). The Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) at The College of William and Mary conducted the banding to collect research information about the lower Chesapeake Bay bald eagle migration patterns and the way eagles utilize their environment. The eaglets were weighed and measured as part of the data collected.

During the entire nesting season, exclusion barrier fences are in place to create a wide perimeter around the nest area. The exclusion area reduces disturbances to the eagles, providing an environment that promotes the successful fledging of any eaglets hatched. During the procedure, WVEC-TV used their on-the-ground webcam to provide a close-up look as CCB biologists banded the chicks and collected their vital information. Staff with the Norfolk Botanical Garden used the Eagle Cam itself to cover the event and providing commentary through a moderated chat. Both the live video streams and the moderated chat are available at wvec.com/eaglecam.

Norfolk Botanical Garden represents an oasis of over 30 theme gardens encompassing 155 beautiful acres. This diverse natural beauty can be explored by tram, boat or walking tours. NBG is accredited by the American Association of Museums, is recognized as a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information about the Garden and classes, visit www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org.

WVEC.com is the award-winning website for WVEC Television, the ABC affiliate serving Hampton Roads and surrounding areas of Virginia and North Carolina. WVEC.com has hosted the Eagle Cam images since the camera went online in 2006. The station provides regular updates on the eagles on TV 13 News. View the Eagle Cam at www.wvec.com/eaglecam.

Breaking News...

Female Eagle Struck By Plane

On Tuesday morning April 26,an adult bald eagle was struck and killed by an incoming airplane at Norfolk International Airport.  It is believed that this bird was the female of the nesting pair from Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG). The strike occurred sometime between 8:30 and 8:50 a.m. These eagles were well known through the Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagle Cam provided by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Norfolk Botanical Garden, and WVEC, and have been at NBG since 2003. According to Stephen Living, VDGIF biologist, and Reese Lukei, a research associate with the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB), "We are fairly certain that this is the Norfolk Botanical Garden female eagle due to her physical characteristics, size and the fact that she has not been seen at the nest since the strike." This year the pair of eagles has produced three chicks at that nest site. Biologists with the VDGIF, CCB, and the staff at NBG will continue to monitor the nest and are working to ensure the health of the eaglets.  For further information contact Kelly Gaita Dierberger, kelly.gaita@nbgs.org, (757) 441-5830 ext. 346; or Julia Dixon, julia.dixon@dgif.virginia.gov, (804) 367-0991.

Eaglets Being Removed From Nest

Wildlife Center of Virginia to raise eaglets to be released back into the wild

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has confirmed that the female of the eagle pair nesting at Norfolk Botanical Garden was killed by an airplane strike Tuesday April 26. VDGIF wildlife biologists, acting on concerns that the adult male will not be able to provide sufficient food for the three five-week-old eaglets, determined that the birds should be removed from the nest. While the male may be able to meet the needs of the chicks in the near term, the amount of food they will require as they grow will increase exponentially, likely exceeding the hunting capacity of even the most capable provider.

A number of options were considered as the VDGIF assessed the situation, including no intervention, providing supplemental food for the chicks, or separating them for placement in the nests of other eagles. Ultimately, the biologists and agency eagle expert determined that the most appropriate response would be to remove the eaglets and transport them to The Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV). There the birds can be reared in specialized facilities and cared for by trained, permitted eagle rehabilitators until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.

According to VDGIF Biologist Stephen Living, "The agency recognizes that there is a very high degree of public investment in these birds. Thousands of people worldwide have watched these eagles over the years and followed their progress."

Living continued, "Without intervention, it is all but certain that one or more of these eaglets would not survive the next three months. Pulling the birds and sending them to the Wildlife Center gives them their best chance. The birds are already old enough to know that they are eagles and to recognize their siblings. Maintaining them as a family unit and releasing them together when they are ready to go will certainly improve their survival potential."

Nuckols Tree Care Service is assisting with the removal of the eaglets from the nest. They had participated in the banding of the eaglets that took place on April 21 and have been long-time supporters of the Eagle Cam project at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

At WCV the eaglets' health will be evaluated and monitored closely throughout their treatment. They will be placed in an artificial nest that has been constructed in the Center's 200-foot eagle flight cage. Other adult Bald Eagle patients may also be in this enclosure. While the chicks will be separated by a physical barrier from direct contact with other eagles, the eaglets will be able to see other eagles flying and feeding. As they begin to fledge, the barrier will be removed and the young eagles will have full access to the long enclosure, to build their wing strength and to learn to fly. The goal would be to get the young eagles ready for release back into the wild this summer.

In 2008, an eaglet was removed from NBG because it had a growth on its beak caused by avian pox. That bird – known as Buddy – is not able to be released back into the wild and still resides at the Wildlife Center and serves as an education bird.

According to Don Buma, Executive Director of Norfolk Botanical Garden, "The eagles have put Norfolk Botanical Garden on the map. They have increased awareness and developed an appreciation of nature for millions of school children and Eagle Cam viewers from around the world."

Many people followed the progress of the Norfolk Botanical Garden eagles through the Eagle Cam hosted by WVEC TV 13 in Norfolk.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 35 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'. For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

Virginia Living Museum to Host Sporting Clay Classic in Providence Forge April 30

The Virginia Living Museum is hosting a Sporting Clay Classic Saturday, April 30, At the Old Forge Sporting Clay range in Providence Forge. There will be teams for Men, Women, and Youth. The Four-Person Teams will shoot on 12 stations. Proceeds from this event go to support the education and conservation programs of the museum. For information and registration visit www.theVLM.org for details, or call (757) 534-7487.

Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation Hosts Shooting Event in Remington April 30

The Northern Virginia Chapter 16 Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation™ will host its annual youth and adult shooting event Saturday, April 30, at the Shady Grove Kennel in Remington from 7 AM to 2 PM. Adult sporting clay shooters (age 13+) will get 50 target sporting clays, lunch, drinks and chance at winning top shooting prizes. Shells not included. Youth shooters will get 15 targets 5-stand shooting, 25 rounds of 22 and BB gun shooting, food and drinks plus a chance to win a top gun prize if person shoots highest combined score at shotgun, .22 rifle and BB gun. All youth shooting ammo costs included. Shotguns (12, 20 and 410 gauges) will be provided. Payment accepted at door. Other activities include, demonstration, door prizes, raffles, and silent auction.

The purpose of the event is to get adults and young people actively involved in the great outdoors and to learn the importance of wildlife habitat restoration and management. QUWF Chapter Chairman AC Duckworth commented, "Most of the funds raised in the region are used in that region for habitat improvement and youth projects. We are a member of the Virginia Quail Initiative and are working on partnerships with farm owners and the National Park Service on quail and upland wildlife habitat restoration projects." This is the Chapter's annual fund raising event and promises to be a fun time for all participants. More information about Shady Grove can be found at http://shady-grove.com. For more information about the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation™, a 501(C)(3) national conservation organization founded in 2009, or to register for the Shooting Event, contact AC Duckworth, Chapter Chairman, at 540-840-5892 or visit website: www.quwf.net

Virginia Bats at Risk is Topic of Lecture Series at VA Living Museum May 1

The mysterious White Nose Syndrome (WNS) that has killed hundreds of thousands of bats in the northeastern U.S. has been confirmed in some Virginia counties. Learn what is known about WNS, the current status of WNS in our state, which bats are affected and what the spread of WNS may mean to Virginia's caves and other wildlife in this lecture at the Virginia Living Museum 1 p.m. Part of the museum's Sunday lecture series. Included in museum admission of $17 adults, $13 ages 3-12.

Master Naturalist Central Piedmont Chapter Offers Training Starting May 11

Beginning in May, residents of the heart of Virginia will have an opportunity to share their love of nature with others. The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a grass-roots effort to train a cadre of volunteers who will work in their local community to improve the environment. The program is based on a model that is proving highly successful in other states and that is similar to the Master Gardener Program. The 2011 training classes will begin May 11, 2011 and run until July 27, 2011.

Most of the classes will be held at the Prince Edward County Extension Office in Farmville on Wednesday evenings. Some classes and field trips will be held at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County. Most field trips will be held on Saturdays. Cost of the forty hour course is $100. The Virginia Master Naturalist program is supported by Virginia Cooperative Extension/VA Tech, the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation, The VA Department of Forestry, the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the VA Museum of Natural History.

For information on the training course and on the Central Piedmont chapter visit the website: www.virginiamasternatrualist.org, or contact Tom Kneipp at Thomas.kneipp@dcr.virginia.gov, Catherine Fleischman at (804) 375-3121 or at stelladog1@aol.com, or Laura Moss at laure.moss@dcr.virginia.gov.

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake May 13-15

The Virginia Hunter Education Association, in cooperation with VDGIF will sponsor the Hunter Skills Weekend at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, May 13-15, 2011. Designed to help the beginning hunter develop skills beyond the basic Hunter Education course, the program offers instruction in shooting, woodsmanship, and hunting techniques for a variety of species. Registration deadline is April 30, 2011. For more information, visit the 4-H Center website using the link above, or call Holiday Lake 4-H Center at (434) 248-5444 or bbranch@vt.edu.

Man Tracking Workshop in Cumberland May 13-15

Do you do Search and Rescue and want to increase your ability to find lost people? Are you a police officer who wants to be able to safely follow a suspect in the woods? Would you like to be able to follow your tracks back to where you started in case you get lost while out hiking? Or are you interested in perimeter security and knowing if someone has been there? If you answer yes to any of those questions, then this class is for you! Roy Hutchinson with Wilderness Discovery Tracking & Survival School will conduct a workshop on Man Tracking Level I, May 13-15 at their property in Cumberland. Topics include: Tracking Tools – what to carry and how to use them / Aging sign, Finding and interpreting signs of passage / Reading the story, Tracking on various groundcovers / Closing the time/distance gap, Identifying the evasive subject / Tracking team security, Search and Rescue Tracking / Night tracking, Distinguishing human and animal sign. The cost is $90 per person if registered before May 1, 2011; $100 after May 1. For information on other wilderness survival related classes visit the Wilderness Discovery Tracking and Survival School website, or the VDGIF website on upcoming Outdoor Education classes.

Youth Fishing Event At Occoquan Bay Refuge Set for May 14

The 10th Annual Youth Fishing event at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge is scheduled for May 14 from 9 am to 2 pm.. The event is for kids ages 5-12 and is catch and release only. Bait is provided as well as some loaner gear. A limited number of loaner rod/reels will be available for children that may be in need of fishing gear for the event. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks are provided by donation for adults- free for kids fishing. Entrance fee to the refuge is waived for this event. Pets are prohibited and only lead-free shot weights are allowed. Bring insect repellant.

Learn About the Restoration Efforts for Shad on the Potomac River May 18

The Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Elizabeth Hartwell Environmental Education Fund will sponsor an educational program on the Restoration of The American Shad On The Potomac River by Jim Cummins of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin on May 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Huntley Meadows Visitor Center 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22306. The program will feature: how scientists have stocked over 50 million American shad fry in the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers to restore what was once one of the Potomac River's most abundant and economically important fish, how pollution, over-harvesting and dams led to their decline, shad biology and ecology and how the shad have been a part of American history and culture. The program will note how volunteers have helped make restoration a success. For information on attending call (703) 768-2525, or visit the Friends of Dyke Marsh website.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshop at Graves Mountain Lodge May 20-22

VDGIF Outdoor Education Program has scheduled the Becoming An Outdoors-Woman® in Virginia workshop at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County near Syria, May 20-22. This workshop is designed primarily for women. However, it is an excellent opportunity for anyone 18 years of age or older to learn the outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but useful in a variety of outdoor pursuits. This workshop is for you if you have never tried these activities, but have hoped for an opportunity to learn, if you are a beginner who hopes to improve your outdoor skills, if you would like to try your hand at some new outdoor activities, or if you are looking for the camaraderie of like-minded individuals. Registration is limited. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or Jimmy.Mootz@dgif.virginia.gov.

Herpetological Society to Hold Annual Surveys At Pocahontas State Park in May 20-22 and Fairfax Park June 4

On May 20-22, 2011, the Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) will help Virginia State Parks celebrate their 75th birthday by holding the VHS Annual Survey and Meeting at the state's largest state park, Pocahontas State Park near Richmond. Almost 8,000 acres is available to the VHS in our first large-scale survey around Richmond. Pocahontas State Park is relatively centralized in the state, and has a lot of on-site amenities for family members not attending the survey.  Information for this survey can be found online.

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, VHS will hold a special survey at Old Colchester Park in Fairfax County.  The VHS has been invited to conduct a survey by the Fairfax County Park Authority on a recently acquired property on Mason Neck in Fairfax County, called Old Colchester Park. This will be a one-day survey to help the park authority inventory their natural resources on the site. Old Colchester Park is 140 acres and is currently closed to the public. This means that the VHS is giving you access to sites where other harpers are not permitted! Please contact John Orr (jorr1@gmu.edu) for further information regarding this survey.  Information for this survey can be found online.

Friends of Phelps WMA Hold Youth Fishing Event June 4

The Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA are sponsoring a Youth Fishing Event at the C.F. Phelps WMA Fishing Pond near Remington on Saturday, June 4, from 9 am to 12 pm for all ages. The event is FREE! Come have some fun and learn the basics of fishing!!! Some loaner rods and reels available Cancelled if inclement weather! To register for the event or if you have questions contact Patricia Wood @pwood12@earthlink.net.

Wild Edible Plants Workshop in Cumberland June 4 – Learning Nature's Bounty

Have you ever wondered which plants are edible, medicinal, poisonous or just ornamental? Is that plant in your lawn or garden just a 'weed' or is it a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins and minerals?

The Wilderness Discovery Tracking & Survival School will conduct a workshop on Wild Edible Plants June 4, from 10am to 4 pm at their property in Cumberland. The cost is $20 per person. Pre-registration required by calling VM: (877) 614-5289 (toll free) or email: roy@trackingsurvival.com, or the Wilderness Discovery website.

This introductory workshop can begin a wonderful journey into the often ignored world of wild plants. A starting point for new learners or an opportunity to sharpen existing plant identification skills, the workshop will cover individual plants in various habitats, help students to learn how to use available printed resources and most importantly introduce the skills of awareness and attention to detail needed to successfully locate and identify edible wild plants. This workshop is an expansion of a wild edible plant class developed and taught by Wilderness Discovery instructors for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Education Programs. The workshop will also incorporate various components from other Wilderness Survival Classes taught to better establish the relationship of plants into the overall wilderness survival package of skills.

Instructor Will Dotson's 20-plus years of outdoor experience include 10 in Search and Rescue. He is a member of the International Society of Professional Trackers (ISPT) and is an Operational Tracker and Assistant Director of the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI). Will is also a member of Commonwealth Search and Rescue and the Training Officer of Carroll County Search and Rescue. He teaches animal tracking, short term survival, use of wild plants, etc. as a volunteer instructor for such organizations as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. For information on other wilderness survival related classes visit the Wilderness Discovery website, or the VDGIF website on upcoming Outdoor Education classes.

People and Partners in the News

Celebrities Honor Vets at 4th Annual Wounded Warrior Spring Gobbler Hunt in Suffolk

J.C. Gaitley III , VDGIF volunteer Hunter Education and wilderness survival expert instructor, was one of the many volunteers who assisted in the 4th Annual Wounded Warrior Spring Hunt at Rob and Cindy Zepp's farm in Suffolk. He sent us this great story of how celebrities and sportsman volunteers honored 16 disabled veterans from across Virginia and North Carolina with a turkey hunt featuring all the fixins'. The weather was to play a large part in what was to be another grand event. All the preparations beforehand had been made and last minute details were being worked out to make sure the wounded warriors were taken care of.

When the vets started showing up each was greeted by Rob and a cadre of volunteers who saw to it that they were shown a good time, fed well and made at home. No task or request by the vets was too large as we assigned their living arrangements for the next 2 days or the videographer and caller whose job was to tape there hunt or call in that big Tom. Friday afternoon we all went out back of Rob's to assist the vets in patterning their shotguns to make sure they were dead on for the morning and later that day we had the pleasure of one of the finalist from the History Channel's reality show Top Shot. Adam"Bam Bam" Benson came out and shook up the audience with his wit, stories from the show and his own special brand of specialty shots. After a superb dinner put on in by Nansemond River Baptist Church volunteers all settled in for last minute instructions and passing out of donated items meant to be used at a later time in the vet's further pursuit of turkey hunting.

You would have thought you were on a domestic turkey farm with all the clucking, purring and putting these guys were making as HS pro staff caller Bruce Wilds and Safariland Rep Pat Popek instructed them in the finer points of bringing those illusive birds in. Then Mother Nature decided she wanted to throw her hat in the ring and a cold front with torrential downpours came and lasted most of the night. Saturday morning early saw clouds and dampness but spirits were high just the same and everyone loaded up on coffee and egg sandwiches grabbed their snack bags and shotguns and were loaded up to be taken to there perspective sites to start the hunt.

Just when we thought things had settled down we got our first of 2 calls with "Bird Down" they were to be the only calls of the day. First up was a young Jake harvested by James McGee from Fort Eustis and then a huge Tom from Arnold "Bird Down, Man Down" Beard weighing in at 21.9 lbs. with an 11 inch beard and spurs over 1 ½ inch long. That being said everyone else waited anxiously for more calls and more vets coming in with birds but it wasn't to be which is why it's called hunting not shooting but still none of the vets felt bad but encouraged that if they can get out once more then they will be going more and more. The final hurrah was during lunch when a special guest Mr. F.J. Outland arrived. He is one of the last living survivors of the ill-fated sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis which carried the parts for the Atomic bomb that ended World War II. Upon being introduced there wasn't a dry eye among all as Mr. Outland merely said thank you to those vets who had come to hunt and to the volunteers who put the event on. At the close of this year's hunt Rob stated his many thanks and assured all that the 5th Annual Wounded Warrior Spring Hunt was being planned as he spoke. In closing there is never enough room to thank all the sponsors, vendors, volunteers and people who just donated time, money, or land to this event. But for those who would like to know who they are go to the Virginia Hunter Education Association website for a complete article and list of sponsors.

Want to be an Informed and Skilled Advocate for People with Disabilities?

If you become a Partner in Policymaking, you'll learn from national experts about independent living, inclusive communities, assistive technology, natural supports, employment, and so much more. Participants agree to attend eight two-day (Friday afternoon-Saturday afternoon) sessions from Sept. 2011-May 2012. Sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, all expenses (training, lodging, meals, and travel) are covered for 30 participants. Partners include adults with developmental disabilities (DD) or parents/guardians of children with DD.

Your application must be received no later than April 29; see the complete schedule and download the form.

NOVA Quail Federation Receives Grant for Manassas Battlefield

The Northern Virginia Founding Chapter of Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Inc.™ (QUWF) has been awarded a Grant from the National Park Service to provide educational materials for the Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas The organization will help the National Park Service provide environmental educational racks and information flyers that help educate the thousands of visitors to its historic grounds which is home to quail and many other upland species, especially with 2011 being the 150th anniversary of a historic point in our countries growth as a nation.

"The purpose of this project is to educate the general public as they see first-hand upland wildlife in its natural state" explains A.C. Duckworth, chairman of the QUWF chapter. "The information flyers will stimulate an increased public interest into not only using the park but to explore and understand its natural beauty and the ecosystem represented there. The full color flyers will include fascinating facts about the wildlife and natural resources and how we have the responsibility to maintain the resource so many more can enjoy its God given beauty" states Duckworth.

The flyers will also provide information on "turnin-the-dirt"™, hands on, volunteer opportunities for wildlife habitat improvement within the Manassas National Battlefield Park . 2011 will be the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, for which visitor numbers are expected to substantially increase in the historic park. Use of the racks and flyers will highlight the natural resources within the park and provide a significant outreach ability to many who otherwise may never read or see natural habitat of upland wildlife that is all around us. Providing the first exposure and natural incentive to learn more about the natural resources within the park and throughout the country, can springboard further involvement by visitors to join in the work to preserve our natural wildlife habitat. Chairman Duckworth sums it up well "the more people understand their natural environment, the more we hope they will appreciate its needs and preservation and join in the great work to sustain it for others to experience".

Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Inc.™, a tax exempt 501(c)(3) conservation organization, was formed to serve its members and chapters nationwide, providing a strong local source of habitat focus on quail and upland wildlife and population recovery. Millions of dollars of habitat work have been completed by its members over the years on thousands of acres of both private and public lands, now that work continues with a renewed vitality. Our chapters from coast to coast, provide the grass roots, local habitat work that is making a difference each and every day. For more information or to join QUWF please visit our website.

Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Conference Features Fishing and Chesapeake Bay Restoration Theme

This year's Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association Annual Conference and Awards Banquet was held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center and Marina, located in the beautiful Historic waterfront town of Solomon's, Maryland from March 31st to April 3rd. The group attracted many excellent speakers with programs for restoring the Chesapeake Bay and fishing opportunities both fresh and salt water throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Dominion Resources, one of the Conference Sponsors informed members on environmental safety and protection measures taken at their various facilities in Virginia and Maryland. Representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Careful Catch program, “Keep America Fishing” campaign sponsored by the American Sportfishing Association and Coastal Conservation Association all provided the communication professionals with timely information on the successes gained by their programs through cooperation, coordination and support from sportsmen, concerned citizens and outdoor sports and tourism related businesses particularly in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Several M-DOWA members from Virginia received recognition for their “excellence in craft” work during 2010. For additional information on the association, the awards program and recipients and the Conference sponsors and program presenters, visit the M-DOWA website.

The M-DOWA is a professional association for writers, editors, photographers, videographers, artists environmental and conservation non-profit organizations and agencies which cover outdoor topics and interests in the Mid-Atlantic region with members in VA, MD, PA, WV, DE and NJ. VDGIF has been a Supporting Member of MDOWA for many years and members routinely contribute information for the Outdoor Report, Virginia Wildlife Magazine and other communication materials.

Special thanks for the photos courtesy of Robert Thomas, from Richmond. Robert is Editor, The Mason-Dixon Line, the M-DOWA newsletter; a M-DOWA and VOWA Board Member; Editor, The Singing Reel, Fly Fisher's of Virginia newsletter; owner of Robert Thomas Photography; freelance writer-photographer to Woods & Waters, Chesapeake Angler, and The Sportsman magazines.

Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Events in Spring

Hunting, fishing and outdoor skills building workshops for disabled persons will be hosted by the VA NWTF chapter of the Wheelin' Sportsmen Program this spring with details posted on their website in PDF format. In the current issue of the VA NWTF Gobbler Tracks newsletter, available on the website, you'll find articles about their exciting Spring events. VA Wheelin' Sportsman Coordinator Mike Deane reports, "There are several spring gobbler hunts scheduled all over Virginia, and we encourage anyone with a disability to apply for these hunts. There is no charge for our events, and they are open to anyone with a disability. Our NWTF Chapters have worked hard to arrange these hunts, so please plan to participate. In addition, we are always looking for new hunt hosts or volunteers to help with our events." If you are interested in hosting or helping with an event, contact Mike Deane, tel (434) 996-8508 or wheelin4u@yahoo.com.

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen (VAWS) Spring Gobbler Hunt Schedule

If you have a disability and would like to participate, select your choice of hunts in order of preference, 1st, 2nd, etc. to be entered into the hunt draw. Schedules and applications are available on the VANWTF website.

Hunts offered are as follows:

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen (VAWS) Trout Fishing Events

If you have a disability and would like to participate, select your choice of fishing events and complete the Application available on the VANWTF website. Mail or email completed Application by deadline of April 20 to Mike Deane wheelin4u@yahoo.com.

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

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

Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...

Editor's note: One of our New Year's resolutions was to get out in the field as much as possible and participate in a variety of the great events and activities that we write about each edition of the Outdoor Report. In this new Section called "Been there – done that! Can't wait to go again...", here's the 'rest of the story' from staff and partner observations participating in these memorable events...

Support Your Sport!

Check the Upcoming Events calendar for numerous outdoor skills training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like VA Hunter Education Association, NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, VA Waterfowlers Association and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation. Also in the People & Partners Section we list fundraising events for our many conservation partner organizations. We encourage you to make a small "investment" in the future of our hunting heritage by attending a local fundraising event by one of many sportsmen conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year. These events are carried out by fellow sportsmen in your community and most of the funds raised go to local projects to improve habitat, teach children outdoor skills, ethics and safety. The events are family oriented and you will have a great time and meet new friends - you may even win a shotgun or find a new place to hunt or fish. Remember sportsmen pay for conservation!

Hunting News You Can Use

The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in getting ready for hunting season, or reports of interest compiled from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.

Just in Time for Spring Gobbler, New Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area Opened

The Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is the newest VDGIF land acquisition and latest addition into VDGIF's WMA system and opened for public use on Wednesday, March 30. The WMA was opened for hunting on the Youth Turkey Hunting day on April 2 and for the spring gobbler season beginning on April 9. The Mattaponi will also open on March 30 for angling and the other wildlife -oriented recreational activities that are allowed on all of our WMAs. A map and description of the Mattaponi WMA will be posted soon on our website in the WMA section.

Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates and Tips

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

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

Keep sending in great photos of smiling young hunters. Also, any unusual pictures or stories from any hunters are considered for posting. The pictures need to be in good taste for publication—minimal blood, classic pose, etc. Our award-winning professional photographers offer a few tips on composition of your photos so as to capture the moment with a good photo—consider background, good light, contrast, and have both young hunter and mentor in the photo, especially father-daughter, or mother-son, etc. Any firearms pictured MUST be pointed in a safe direction.

Send us the basic information to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov for a caption including: names, age, hometown, location and date of harvest, county, private, or public land, first deer, doe or # antlers, turkey, coyote, bow or gun specifics, comment from the young hunter or mentor.

David Coffman, Editor

First Gobbler and Morel Mushrooms Make for Memorable Father – Daughter Hunting Trip

Ralph Nicholson from Madison County sent in this story and photo of his 13 years old daughter, Lydia Nicholson, who shot her first turkey on Saturday April 2 during the special Youth Turkey Hunting Day. She shot the turkey with a Remington youth model 870 using Winchester 3 inch mag #5 shot. I was calling an older boss gobbler who had hens with him, but two young gobblers showed up. She was cool as a cucumber during the hunt and I think I was more excited than she was! The gobbler was shot on the farm of a family friend in Culpeper County. She just had her Hunter Safety course last fall and says she is  now ready for her first deer this fall. She is also an excellent morel mushroom hunter, and has found quite a few so far this spring.

Jacob Hodges Gets First Longbeard and Trapped Coyote

William Hodges from Callaway sent this picture of his 12 year old son , Jacob Hodges with a gobbler he took on opening day of the regular season this year in Floyd County. Visibility was only about 60 yards. This was his 4th turkey, but his first true longbeard, the beard was 10 inches and the spurs measure 1 3/8 inches. Jacob was using a Remington 870 20ga. It was a very foggy morning and we called a jake away from a large group of turkeys and the longbeard became jealous and followed the jake to make sure he didn't sneak away in the fog with the hen that he heard. The jake was less than 15 yards as we waited for the gobbler to get within range, it took several minutes for the gobbler to close the distance and then get out from behind a fence post, but we didn't move and Jacob made a great shot at 15 yards.

The coyote was caught in Callaway over Christmas break. It was Jacob's first trap line, the weather made trapping a challenge, but he managed to catch the coyote, a gray fox, and a raccoon. Jacob and I had some good luck again this morning, but it was dad's turn to shoot this time! I took this turkey in Floyd also. We found him alone and looking for love in all the wrong places!

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.

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!

Volunteer VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors do much more than teach the required Hunter Education Courses, they also develop and assist with outdoor skills training events such as Becoming an Outdoor Woman workshops, sportsman show exhibits and other Special Youth Hunts throughout the year for deer, rabbit, waterfowl, squirrel and much more. To become involved as a Hunter Education Instructor, contact Sgt. David Dodson at david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov. Please include your locality in the e-mail.

Attention Date Changes Made For Purchase of Waterfowl Blind Licensees

There has been a change in the dates when stationary blind licenses can be purchased and posted. The change was made to avoid confusion and overlap between when riparian and non-riparian blind licenses can be purchased and erected. The change creates separate time periods for the purchase and posting of stationary blind licenses based on whether you purchased the blind license as a riparian owner, as a non-riparian owner for a blind that had been licensed in the previous year, or as a non-riparian owner for a blind that had not been licensed in the previous year. The new dates for the purchase of stationary blind licenses are as listed below:

Riparian owners, their lessees or permitees: May 1 through June 15; plates with current decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by June 30.

Nonriparian license for a stationary blind in the public waters previously licensed the year before: July 1 through August 15; plates with current decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by August 31.

Nonriparian license for a stationary blind in the public waters not previously licensed the year before: September 1 through October 15; plates with current decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by November 1.

There has been no change in the date that a stationary blind must be erected. For all stationary blinds, if a stake has been erected on the site of a stationary blind, such stake must be replaced by a blind by November 1.The other major change waterfowl hunters will need to be aware of is the way blind licenses are purchased. All blind licenses will now be available through the department's point of sale (POS) system just as other licenses are sold. You no longer have to go to the license agent in the county where your blind will be located. You can go to any license agent in the state or you can do it on the internet from your home! In the case of stationary blind applicants the same information provided to agents in the past will be collected by the license sales systems. This includes the county and body of water where the blind will be located. A license will be provided to you at the time of sale. Applicants will have the option to request that a blind plate be sent if they do not already have one. The blind plate, if requested, and a decal for the plate will be mailed to you within 3 to 5 business days. Information on the new dates and the purchasing process is posted on our website and will be listed in our 2011-12 hunting and waterfowl regulation brochures. Thank you for your support of our wetland and waterfowl resources.

Agricultural Depredation Order For Resident Canada Geese Offered Again In Virginia For 2011

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Wildlife Services Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working together to offer Virginia farmers an additional tool to manage problems caused by Resident Canada geese. This tool is an Agricultural Depredation Order.

The Agricultural Depredation Order was proposed in the Environmental Impact Statement on Resident Canada geese published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September 2006. The Agricultural Depredation Order was offered for the first time in Virginia in 2009. This Depredation Order authorizes landowners, operators, and tenants actively engaged in commercial agriculture to use certain lethal methods to control Resident Canada geese on lands that they personally control where geese are damaging agricultural crops.

The Agricultural Depredation Order is a bit different than the Nest and Egg Order in that it is administered by the state agencies and state authorization is required to conduct this control. There is no federal website registration or federal permit, but a state permit is required. The permit is free and agricultural producers can apply for the permit by calling the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, P.O. Box 130, Moseley, VA 23120 Phone: (804) 739-7739 FAX: (804) 739-7738. The authorization process will provide a quick turn-around for permits and should make the process more user friendly for landowners and managers.

Activities allowed under this permit include the lethal take of Canada geese from May 1 through August 31, and the destruction of Canada goose nests and eggs between March 1 and June 30. All management actions must occur on the property controlled/managed by the applicant. Geese may not be taken using hunting methods such as decoys and calls. Permit holders must keep a log of their control activities and must submit a report by September 30 of each year detailing the number of birds taken. A copy of the Permit Application, detailing the terms and conditions of the permit, and an Annual Report Form can be obtained from the USDA at the address/number above.

Past efforts have shown that Canada goose depredation control is most effective when a combination of management techniques is used in an integrated approach. These techniques include hunting seasons (special early and regular Resident Canada goose seasons with liberal bag limits), nest and egg destruction, non-lethal treatment methods like hazing and harassment, habitat management and lethal alternatives when needed.

For additional information about Resident Canada geese and other waterfowl populations in Virginia, visit the waterfowl section on the Department's website.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

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

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

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

This edition features numerous workshop opportunities sponsored by sportsmen's groups in partnership with VDGIF, encouraging special training for youth and novice hunters to participate in the upcoming Spring Gobbler season. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends reviewing the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

Hunt safely, responsibly and ethically.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt!

You Live in Bear Country...

As new spring growth emerges, so do bears, and they are following their stomachs in search of food.

With a healthy and growing black bear population, bear sightings are becoming the norm throughout Virginia. While the highest concentration of bears occurs in the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains and around the Great Dismal Swamp, bears are likely to be seen just about anywhere in Virginia. During the months of April and May bears have left their dens and are ending their winter fast. Bears do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate while they are in dens. Additionally, while denning, female bears may give birth to cubs. Cubs are born weighing less than a pound and are reliant on their mother's milk.

In Virginia, bear diets consist of 80% vegetation and only 20% protein from common sources like insects and carrion. Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. In their search for food, bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes.

Please don't feed the bears.

Always remember that a bear is a wild animal, and that it is detrimental to the bear, as well as illegal in Virginia, to feed a bear under any circumstances. Even the inadvertent feeding of bears is illegal. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food. Additionally outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears.

Click on the following link to learn details on how to handle bears in your backyard...

If you do see a bear in your area, enjoy watching it from a distance. If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify your Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Regional Office. Phone numbers for the regional offices can be found by visiting the Department's website.

Remember, if you live in Virginia, you live in bear country.

"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.

Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Clean Rivers Day Big Success

Thanks to Jeff Turner, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper for providing this report on the 11th annual Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program (BNRP) Clean Rivers Day (CRD) on Saturday April 2.

It was a perfect day for a river clean up. Individuals, groups, families and organizations from all over Tidewater came to help spruce up the Blackwater/Nottoway River watershed and our community once again. This year 26 teams participated in the Clean Rivers Day event with a total of 234 volunteers. The total weight of all the trash bags collected, weird stuff and other junk was an astounding 6,153 pounds removed from the watershed. That included 41 tires and some strange items to boot. Things like a computer monitor, old washing machine, a bathtub and a microwave oven. But I think the top weird item found goes to the Ivor Ruritans who found and removed a skunk pelt! WHEW!! Top heavy hitters this year with the most weight collected were the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia bringing in 1,040 pounds cleaned up from the Carey's Bridge area along the Nottoway. Largest number of volunteers participating was the Franklin Black Achievers with 53 hard working souls. In 11 years the volunteers on CRD have now removed 68,209 pounds of stuff from our community.

All of these people that participated on Clean Rivers Day and gave up their time to clean up our environment are hero's in my book and should be in yours. They spent their Saturday making your and my homeland a better place. I also have to thank Southampton County, City of Franklin, The Litter Control Council and VDOT for all their help again this year. Without that help year after year, CRD could not be a success. I hope I have not missed anybody, it's a lot to keep up with. I also want to thank Anne Parker for helping me so much. Her amazing ability to motivate and get folks involved is awesome. It would be truly something to behold if CRD totals eventually dwindle down zero, and we would not even have to hold anymore CRD events. I doubt if I live to see that, but I do believe all these dedicated volunteers that came out for CRD have made the place we call home a much better place to live. Thank you all.

Editors note: Jeff Turner, Founder and Director of the Blackwater-Nottoway Riverkeeper Program was recently recognized by WHRO and Dominion Virginia Power as the 2011 Community Impact Award Recipient in the Environmental category. The awards honor people or organizations that work at the grassroots level; people who are, generally, under-appreciated for the selfless work they willingly do to help others. The honoree receives a $1,000 award for the charity of his or her choice. Jeff will be recognized May 11, 2011 at an awards ceremony at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. Turner's nomination cited his contributions to the protection of the two area rivers and his outreach activities. Southampton County Administrator, Mike Johnson, added that, "Perhaps most importantly, he has single-handedly raised to unprecedented levels this community's awareness of its most precious resources, the two rivers we call the Blackwater and the Nottoway." Projects such as the Clean River Day are an example of Jeff's exceptional commitment and dedication to his community and the natural environment he cherishes. For information on how you can get involved and support the Riverkeepers program visit their website.

Virginia's Newest Wildlife Conservationist Bluebird License Plate Now Available

Motorists in Virginia have a new opportunity to show how much they care about Virginia's wildlife by being one of the first to drive away with the latest in the series of Virginia Wildlife Conservationist License Plates, The Bluebird of Happiness. Not only will drivers have a chance to show everyone they care about wildlife, but they will also help increase public awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting Virginia's diverse natural resources. After the first 1,000 Bluebird plates have been purchased, the VDGIF will receive $15 of the $25 additional annual fee. In 2010, the Wildlife Conservationist License Plate series generated $369,420 for VDGIF's conservation efforts. The proceeds are reinvested in wildlife management, research, educational programs, and for purchasing public lands that benefit all wildlife while assuring that outdoor opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, and wildlife watching will be enjoyed by Virginians and by future generations.

The artwork for the new Bluebird Wildlife Conservationist License Plate was painted by nationally-renowned wildlife artist and conservationist Spike Knuth. As far back as the 1950s, Spike has had an eye for painting birds in their natural habitat. Spike has five state waterfowl duck stamps to his credit. After 29 years of service, he retired from VDGIF where his paintings, writings and photography highlighted the beauty of the wildlife and nature in a multitude of publications, including Virginia Wildlife Magazine, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail guides, posters, and brochures. He has donated more than 460 original paintings and nearly 100 prints to Ducks Unlimited and other conservation organizations to support fundraising efforts.

VDGIF Executive Director and avid birder Bob Duncan predicts "the Bluebird of Happiness – the eighth in the Wildlife Conservationist License Plate series – will be one of our best-selling plates." Since 1991, the VDGIF and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have worked hand-in-hand to develop the very popular series of wildlife license plates. The complete wildlife series includes Mallard Duck, White-Tailed Deer, Largemouth Bass, Brook Trout, Wild Turkey, Black Bear, and Bald Eagle. All are currently available through DMV offices.

The Virginia Bluebird Society, a VDGIF conservation partner, was thrilled to hear of this addition to the Conservationist License Plate series. "The Bluebird is emblematic of conservation success in Virginia and this plate celebrates that success," said Anne Little, President of the Virginia Bluebird Society. To date, with the support of DGIF, the VBS has helped to fledge over 158,000 cavity nesting birds through their Bluebird Box Trails.

Learn more about the DGIF Wildlife Conservationist License Plates online or visit The Virginia Bluebird Society.

Small Boats Needed For Clean The Bay Day June 4

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and its partners are now recruiting volunteers to clean up shoreline litter for the 23rd Annual Clean the Bay Day, Saturday, June 4, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Clean the Bay Day is a hands-on opportunity for individuals, families, businesses, and groups to join CBF, municipalities, concerned organizations, and businesses in one of the largest volunteer cleanup efforts in Virginia. The annual project, managed by CBF, involves thousands of Virginia citizens working on foot and by boat to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, and streams. The event also raises public awareness about pollution issues beneath the surface. Last year, 7,430 volunteers removed 217,641 lbs of debris at 245 sites along 419 miles of Chesapeake Bay watershed shorelines. Cleanup sites are available throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia's Eastern Shore, Northern, and Central Virginia. To register, visit cbf.org/clean, send an e-mail to ctbd@cbf.org, or call 1-800/SAVEBAY.

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program check off box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

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."

Summer Adventure Camps

Outdoor Report Fishing Report contributor Tee Clarkson runs a series of summer fishing schools and canoe adventures. Visit the Virginia Fishing Adventures website for details and schedule of sessions and registration.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for early May:

Answers to April 13 edition quiz for nature events in early Spring...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Trappers & Waterfowlers Partner to Host Waterfowl Predator Management & Trapping Workshops

For the second year in the row, the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program, Virginia Waterfowlers ' Association (VAWFA) and Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) will partner to provide the general public educational component workshops. Last year 117 constituents participated in four statewide workshops. This year, beginning on April 30th., there will be four more waterfowl predator management & trapping programs workshops throughout the state. These educational component workshops will be FREE educational workshops relating to wildlife and predator animals. The locations are hosted by Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores. Listed below are the workshops ' dates and locations:

These workshops will benefit the sportsmen and landowners who want to know more about managing wildlife and controlling predators. There will also be opportunities of HANDS-ON educational workshops with traps provided by the Virginia Trappers per request. For more information visit the Virginia Trapper's Association website or the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association website.

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.

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.

Cold Case Re-activated... After 8 Years, Family Still Waits for Answers to Hunter's Death

Hunters in the Rockbridge County area will be getting letters asking if they have information that will help Conservation Police Officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries solve an eight-year-old case involving the death of turkey hunter David B. Stack of Nanjemoy, Maryland. Stack was killed while turkey hunting in Rockbridge County on Saturday, April 12, 2003. He was hunting in the area between South Buffalo Road and Bluegrass Trail near an area known as Saville Hill when he was shot in the back. Conservation Police Officers investigating the case feel strongly that someone has information that will lead them to the responsible person.

In 2003, a fund was established to reward anyone with tips leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for the death of David B. Stack. The fund quickly grew as donations came in and reached a total of $32,000. Despite publicizing the reward, the case remained cold. In the fall of 2003, the case was featured on an episode of the Fox television program America's Most Wanted. Still, the case remains unsolved.

Now VDGIF is trying a new approach by reaching out directly to turkey hunters in the area with a special mailing. The letter recounts the basic information and asks those with any information that may lead to the identity of the shooter to call the Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712 or email wildcrime@dgif.virginia.gov. The identity of those who provide information will remain confidential.

The reward fund is currently being managed by The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and has grown over the last eight years. The Foundation, in consultation with David Stack's family, has agreed that a portion of the funds can be used by VDGIF to cover the cost of mailing the letters in hopes of finally getting answers to this mystery. This still leaves an approximately $30,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of David Stack.

The David Stack hunting incident is unique in that it is the first case in more than 20 years in which the shooter in a hunting fatality is unknown. It is uncommon in hunting-related shooting incidents for the shooter not to come forward or to offer assistance at the scene. Conservation Police Officers with VDGIF and the Stack Family hope that this letter will generate sufficient interest and information to solve the case.

Region I - Tidewater

CPO is first responder to fall accident victim... On April 13, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Booden was leaving the Sussex Courthouse when a call went out over the Sheriff's radio channel of a 76 year old man having fallen out of a tree. The location was only a couple of blocks from the courthouse. Officer Booden is also a firefighter/EMT, so he responded to the location. Upon arrival, he found that the male patient had fallen approximately 24 feet from a ladder while cutting tree limbs. The patient was complaining of severe neck and back pain. Officer Booden retrieved his medical equipment from his vehicle and began assessing the patient. A C-Collar was applied and C-spine was held by another EMT that responded. The patient's vitals were taken, and his condition was deteriorating quickly. Upon arrival of Waverly Rescue Squad, the patient was flown by Medflight to MVC hospital.

Hunters tip leads CPOs to catch poachers... On Saturday, April 9, 2011, at approximately 0730 hours CPO Ken Williams received a complaint in reference to a turkey shot from a vehicle and on a roadway in Northumberland County. The witness was hunting in a field with his juvenile daughter and her friend. The group was watching a large gobbler near the road when they observed a blue compact 4 door sedan turn around and stop in the road. The passenger of the vehicle emptied a shotgun from the vehicle at the turkey and as the turkey was still flopping he fired several rounds from a small caliber rifle. The witness began yelling at the suspect for he was shooting in their direction. The suspect exited the vehicle and retrieved the gobbler. The vehicle fled towards the Potomac River and since there is only one way out of the area the witness watched the road as they waited for CPO Williams to arrive. At 0900 hours Sgt. Rich Goszka and CPO Jackson arrived to assist CPO Williams with the search. The witness did not get a plate number from the vehicle, but described one of the suspects as wearing a camo shirt, pants and a white baseball cap. CPO Williams setup on the main road leading out of the area as Sgt. Goszka and CPO Jackson searched the numerous summer homes along the river. At 12:00 hours Sgt. Goszka and CPO Jackson observed a subject fitting the suspect's description mowing grass at a summer home, but no vehicle was observed. The subject was contacted by CPO Williams and was obviously very nervous and eventually gave a full confession. The vehicle was hidden in a shed and inside was a shotgun, a .17 cal rifle and fresh blood and turkey feathers. The gobbler was located hidden behind some debris in the shed. The suspect admitted the he was the driver in the poaching incident and that his brother was the shooter. The brother arrived and also gave a full confession. The shooter in this case was charged with Reckless Handling of a Firearm, Shooting from the Road, Shooting from a Vehicle, Having a Loaded Firearm in a Vehicle, Trespass to Hunt on Posted Property, Illegal Possession of a Wild Turkey, and Fail to Tag and Check a Wild Turkey. The driver was charged with as a principal in the second degree for Shooting from the Road and Shooting from a Vehicle and for Unlawfully Transporting a Wild Turkey.

Region II - Southside

Convicted felon caught at illegal bait sight with firearm... On April 13, 2011, while checking an area that had previously been found to be baited, Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris heard three gunshots in a wooded ridge above him. Officer Harris located a four-wheeler and a male and female subject. He observed the male subject with a rifle and watched him secure the rifle in the gun rack on the four-wheeler. Contact was made with the subjects and after a brief conversation with the individuals a check was run on the male which indicated he was a three time convicted felon, with one violent felony. The subject was also in possession of a box of ammunition, as well as several medications that was prescribed to him, which he had been taking while consuming alcohol. The subject was arrested, charged with Possession of Firearm by violent felon and Possession of explosive devices by a violent felon. He was remanded to the New River Valley Regional Jail without bond.

Kayakers caught without lifejackets and underage drinking... On 04-10-11 Conservation Police Officer Francis Miano began surveillance on three subjects on two kayaks on the New River in the City of Radford. Observing through binoculars, Officer Miano observed from Dudley's Landing boat ramp, three subjects drinking Michelob Ultra beers. One subject sank an empty beer bottle in the water. Officer Miano waited for the two kayaks at a landing near the Radford FOP. While checking the kayaks, it was determined that two of the subjects were 18 yrs of age and one subject was 16 yrs old. The New River water level was up due to the recent rain and two subjects had no Life-Saving devices aboard their kayaks. 6 summonses were issued including 3 for Underage Possession of Alcohol, 2 summonses for No Life-Saving Devices on Board and 1 summons for Littering.

Covert Trout patrol catches trout 'snaggers'... On April 7th, 2011, officers from district 31 conducted a covert trout patrol special operation on Big Stoney Creek in Giles County. Sergeant Mullins had watched a hole for three hours when the two subjects started throwing rocks into the hole to chase the trout into shallow water. The fishermen then start attempting to snag the trout. Sgt. Mullins videoed this activity for about ten minutes before making his approach. These fishermen were charged with attempting to snag trout. At 1600 hours, Conservation Police Officer Troy Phillips observed a fisherman catch his limit and leave the stream. Officer Phillips got a description of the man and the vehicle that he was driving including the license plate. Later that evening, Officer Phillips noticed that the fisherman was back on the stream fishing again. The suspect was questioned by Sgt. Charlie Mullins about how many trout that he caught while Officer Phillips stood near by in plain clothes unidentified. The fisherman claimed that he had only caught four trout and none out of the current hole that he was fishing where he had taken his limit earlier in the day. Officer Phillips then identified himself and asked the man about the six trout that he had caught earlier in the day and the times that he had caught them. The violator replied, "Oh those trout." He was issued a summons for exceeding the daily limit for trout and the illegal trout were seized.

Region III - Southwest

Trout Heritage Day patrol nabs violators... On Friday, April 1st and Saturday, April 2nd, Senior Officer Jeff Pease and Officer Jason Harris worked a special assignment at Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in District 33 for Trout Heritage Day. Senior Officer Pease and Officer Harris patrolled the stocked trout stream and camping areas on Friday after dark. On Saturday, the officers worked with District 33 Senior Officer Dennis Austin to coordinated patrol efforts on the stream. Despite inclement weather and a significantly reduced turnout, the officers detected seven violations that including Fishing before Legal Hours and License Violations. While issuing one of the summonses the officers were given inconsistent information from one subject, prompting further investigation. It was determined that the subject was using the license of another individual and was in possession of prescription drugs without a prescription. Additional drug charges are pending a laboratory analysis.

CPOs assist with successful Kids Fishing Heritage Event in Madison... District 46 had its annual Kids Fishing/Heritage Days event in Madison County (4-2-11 thru 4-3-11) this event involves the stocking of two rivers the Robinson and Rose at 2pm on 4-1-11, at which point both rivers will be closed for fishing until the following morning at 0900. At this time only fishing by children 12 and under will be allowed on one of the rivers, with the other being open to everyone. In addition to the regular patrol of this event officers are task with ensuring no fishing in either river occurs the night before as well as manning a booth containing the Laser shot simulator. This event usually has between 800-1000 people attending. In the past this has been a one day event, however this year it has been expanded to include a second day. 9 Summonses were issued for fishing violations and 46 warnings for adults fishing in designated Kids 12 and under stocked waters.

Out of season poachers nabbed during investigation... On March 10, 2011 Officers Bilwin and Dobbs responded to a call in Shenandoah County in reference to a hunter having exceeded the bag limit for deer during this past hunting season. The two officers, along with the assistance of Senior Officer Herndon, were able to interview the two suspects and received a written statement from each suspect. The suspects admitted to killing thirteen bucks from 10/30/2010 to 12/17/2010. As a result of the suspects' admissions, thirteen racks and three firearms were seized. Multiple magistrate summonses were issued for exceeding the bag limit for deer, failure to notch license, and failure to check deer.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

Officers from several jurisdictions team up to catch suspected turkey poachers... On the opener of Spring Gobbler season, Master Officer Randy Grauer, Officer Mark Sanitra and two US Fish & Wildlife Officers worked a Special Operation in attempt to catch a well known poacher in the Gunston area of Fairfax County. When the suspect and his wife left the house in full camouflage, they were followed to land owned by the Federal Bureau of Land Management and posted private property. While waiting for the couple to reappear, Grauer made contact with USFWS Officers Gareth Williams and Mike MacManima for assistance. Sanitra was dropped off near the suspect's vehicle and Grauer took the handheld Thermal Imager to locate the two hunters. After some time, a shot boomed in the woods from where a turkey had been heard. Now it was a waiting game to see if the hunters came out with a turkey. When the hunters were spotted, they did not have a turkey with them but the man was carrying the shotgun and the woman was carrying the turkey decoys. When Williams and MacManima made contact with the male suspect, initially he denied everything but after prompting, he decided to confess (a little). He said he did not shoot at the turkey, but did shoot at a squirrel. This operation resulted in several summonses: general trespass (18.2-119) issued to the wife; trespass to hunt on posted property (18.2-134), attempt to take a squirrel during the closed season (29.1-550) and violation of Fairfax County ordinance for hunting with a shotgun without a required permit (sec. 6-1-2) issued to the husband. The shotgun, two rounds of ammo, slate turkey call and decoys were confiscated for evidence. A spent shot shell was found in the woods that matched the other two shot shells. It was also found that he placed corn and mineral blocks out so the suspect was given summons for feeding deer during the closed period (4VAC 15-40-285).

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

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

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

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) website. New Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) Requires Angler Registration Starting January 1, 2011: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) will implement a free state saltwater angler identification program as of January 1, 2011. Purchasers of annual Virginia saltwater fishing licenses do NOT have to register. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) will require unlicensed saltwater anglers aged 16 and older to register and receive an identification number annually. Adult anglers who fish for anadromous or marine species in freshwater must also register. There is no cost for registration. Online registration is available on VMRC's website. To register by phone, call toll-free 1-800-723-2728. For more information, visit VMRC's website or contact VMRC at (757) 247-2200.

The new 2011 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. 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 2011.

Two Streams Added to the VDGIF Catchable Trout Stocking Program

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has added two new streams to its Catchable Trout Stocking Program in southwest Virginia. A 2.3 mile section of the South Fork Powell River in the Town of Big Stone Gap and a 0.75 mile section of the Middle Fork Holston River in Chilhowie have been added to this very popular program. Included in the program are those waters that are posted as "Stocked Trout Waters" and are stocked with catchable-sized trout from October through May each year. Designated stocked trout waters are listed by the Director of the Department in the annual Trout Stocking Plan published in the "2011 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia" regulations pamphlet on pages 20 - 21.

This modification to the trout stocking plan will be effective with the formal posting of regulations on the new streams. "We are very excited about this great opportunity for anglers in Wise and Smyth Counties," stated Bill Kittrell, Regional Aquatic Manager in the Department's Marion Regional Office. "It has taken a considerable amount of work on the part of both the Town officials as well as Department staff to bring this about," Kittrell explained. Officials from both the Town of Big Stone Gap and the Town of Chilhowie have presented the Department with formal resolutions supporting the concept. "In both cases, the Towns own large tracts of land adjacent to the streams, and access for the public is excellent," Kittrell continued. These waters will only be considered designated stocked trout waters from October 1 through June 15, and a trout license will be required to fish in addition to the regular fishing license. A trout license is not required from June 16 through September 30. Trout angling hours on designated stocked trout waters are from 5:00 a.m. until one hour after sunset. For more details on the Department's Catchable Trout Stocking Program and the many other great fishing opportunities in Virginia, please check out the Department's website.

Contact: William B. Kittrell, Jr., Regional Aquatic Manager, Marion Regional Office, (276) 783-4860, bill.kittrell@dgif.virginia.gov.

Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest In celebration of National Fishing Week

Picture the excitement!

It certainly isn't hard to "picture it," kids 'n fishing that is - smiles, laughs, looks of anticipation and excitement. So, join in on the fun, catch the excitement of your child on film while fishing and enter his or her picture in the annual Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Green Top Sporting Goods, and Shakespeare Tackle Company... celebrate National Fishing Week! The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing." Children in the first through third place photographs of each category will receive a variety of fishing-related prizes. Winning pictures will also be posted on the VDGIF website and may be used in a variety of VDGIF publications. There is no need to be a professional photographer. Any snapshot will do.

Contest Rules:

To Enter Send your photo, with the child's name, age, phone number and address, along with the Photo Contest Release Form (PDF), to:

2011 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230-1104

View the winning entries from the 2010 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest!

Annual Shad Run Underway... Check Regulations for Catch & Release of American Shad

Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad has begun as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. Fishing should start picking up as the rivers return to normal after recent flooding and the temperature continues to climb due to the warmer than normal weather. In recent years, many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. Hickory shad have already arrived at Richmond in the James River and in Fredericksburg in the Rappahannock River. American shad are not far behind and will soon be arriving in Richmond and then Fredericksburg by late-March. Fishing for hickories usually winds down in late-April in the James and early-May in the Rappahannock. Americans may be caught through the end of May, but most are gone by the middle of the month. Remember, it is catch and release only for American shad (check VDGIF and Virginia Marine Resources Commission regulations). The fishery for river herring (blueback herring and alewife) is still open with no new regulation changes for 2011. However, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) is considering placing a harvest moratorium on river herring beginning in 2012 under direction by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Pay close attention next spring for any possible regulation changes.

The American Shad Restoration Project is also underway to collect American shad eggs and stock the young fish when they're only a few days old as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock rivers. Eggs are collected from American shad in the Pamunkey River for the James stockings and from shad in the Potomac River for the Rappahannock stockings. Since 1992 over 111 million shad fry have been stocked in the upper James, and since 2003 over 30 million have been stocked in the upper Rappahannock.

Shad Cam Ready to Roll as Fish Passages Open

The Boshers Dam fishway is now open for the season and Shadcam is up and running. Once again, enthusiasts will be able to enjoy capturing images of American shad and the 20+ other species of riverine fishes that typically pass through the fishway on the James River each spring.

Fish passage progress continues throughout Virginia. American shad and blueback herring have been found 28 miles upstream of the former Embrey Dam by VDGIF biologists. Hickory shad and striped bass have also been found in the upper Rappahannock.

VDGIF is also continuing to tag American shad and hickory shad to learn more about their populations and spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock rivers. The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish just below the dorsal fin on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number as well as the date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested. Remember that all American shad must be released, as well as all hickory shad caught upstream of the 14th Street Bridge. There is no limit on hickory shad caught downstream of this bridge.

Attention Freshwater Anglers Fishing In "Anadromous" Tidal Waters

If you are a freshwater angler who is fishing for "anadromous" species in tidal waters or rivers where andromadous fish migrate upstream to spawn, you need to be aware of new regulations enacted by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) that affect you. The new Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) requires Angler Registration starting January 1, 2011 for all saltwater anglers. VMRC will also implement a free state saltwater angler identification program as of January 1, 2011. Purchasers of annual Virginia saltwater fishing licenses do NOT have to register. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) will require unlicensed saltwater anglers aged 16 and older to register and receive an identification number annually. Adult anglers who fish for anadromous or marine species in freshwater must also register. These species include striped bass (rockfish), shad or other tidal species that live in saltwater but spawn in freshwater. So if you're fishing for, or may catch, a saltwater fish such as a striper anywhere in Virginia's tidal waters, you'll need either a Virginia saltwater fishing license, or to register with the FIP.

There is no cost for registration. Online registration is available on VMRC's website. To register by phone, call toll-free 1-800-723-2728. For more information, visit VMRC's website or contact VMRC at (757) 247-2200.

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. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website.

Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats, except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

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

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

Attention Readers – If your favorite body of water is not covered in the Fishin Report, and you are a guide, tackle shop owner, marina or just a devoted angler; please drop me a line and we will see about adding your bi-weekly or periodic reports in the e-newsletter by telephone or email contacts. You can reach me, Sarah White at fishing_report@hotmail.com.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107, www.gloucesterva.info. Fishing at Beaverdam Reservoir continues to be good. The bass fishing is decent, but I expect things to pickup real soon. We held our second Beaverdam Big Bash Bass tournament this past weekend. The results are as follows:

Anglers fishing for other species are doing well. Linwood Green of Henrico County weighed a 2 lb. crappie that was 17 inches. Green also reported catching chain pickerel and yellow perch. The water is clear, at full pool and 61.5 degrees.

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The time of year that most bass anglers get excited about is here. Big sows are on the beds. Don`t throw crankbaits or spinnerbaits. Sight fishing is the key, use large lizards or worms. Cast them right into the bed let it sink, then wait as long as it takes! The top water bite should start soon. Good stringers of crappie are being caught, with minnows and jigs. Some keeper shell-crackers are showing up now. Red wigglers and a number 10 hook is all you need. Some nice catfish showed up this weekend, try night crawlers or minnows. James Bradley of Toano caught a 6.1 lb. bass and a 6.8 lb. channel cat. The water temperature is holding at 67 degrees now with the visibility is at 10 ft.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that the red drum are back. They can be found at the Barrier Island and Fisherman's Island, and will take crabs and clams. Flounder action has slowed down, but try a bull minnow or squid. Croakers can be found at Ocean View and the mouths of the York and James Rivers. They go for Fishbite and bloodworms. Bluefish are at Cape Henry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are attacking cut fish or spoons. The water is clear and 56 degrees.

Back Bay: New reporter and local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that some 4 lb. to 5 lb. largemouths have been landed. Cranks, spinners and plastics may land you your lunker. Crappie are biting well on minnows and jigs. Some 60 lb. blue cats have been brought up on cut bait. Herring are going for jigs at the dam. A few bluegill have been fooled by red wigglers and jigs. The water is stained and warming.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that lots of bass are going for spinners, cranks and top-waters. Crappie are hanging out in the shallows and will take minnows, jigs and small spinners. Lots of good "eatin' sized" cats are biting cut bait, shiners and night crawlers. White perch are schooling up and "will hit anything a bass will." Bluegill action has slowed until the next full moon in May. The water is clear, a little high and in the 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that the recent temperature fluctuations have been making bass fishing erratic, some are being landed on cranks and plastics. Crappie fishing has slowed, but try a minnow or jig. Cats are going for shad, and you likely won't be disappointed if you give it a try. Bluegill are starting to go on their beds and fishing should be good at the first full moon of May; try red wigglers or crickets. White perch in the Nottoway and Blackwater rivers are taking beetle spins, red wigglers and minnows. The water is clear and in the mid to high 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com The fishing is really good in the Blackwater and Nottoway. Everything is biting. White Perch are still being caught, Stripers are in the river and catfish are jumpin'. Largemouths are getting ready to bed and chain pickerel are ready to be fed. Just go, you will catch something.

Remember with these nice sunny days comes a hidden killer, SUNBURN, and all the bad stuff that comes with it. Take it from me, 45 years of fishing with half of that done nearly naked in my youth is dangerous. We used to go get in the boat with just cut offs on, the muddy water was our sun block and it didn't work. I have already had one melanoma cancer removed from my neck that left an ugly 3 inch in diameter scar. So wear a hat or something that will cover your face, neck and ears. Put on a good high number sun block on the rest of you exposed to the world. It's not sissy to put on sun block; it beats having chunks of your face and arms/legs removed for cancer down the road.

Use common courtesy on the river and at landings... If you're boating or fishing on the river this spring please remember that a lot of people fish anchored in the middle of the river this time of year. So, please slow down around those blind curves and don't wake people hard when they are fishing. At the boat ramps please don't prepare your boat to put in on the ramp or prepare your rig for going home on the ramp. There is usually lots of room in the parking lot. If you're in your boat waiting for the boat ahead of you to get out of the way, remember, don't make it harder on them by cruising back and forth in front of the landing at ¼ throttle and throwing a 3 ft. wake. You're only going to make him mad and take longer to get their boat on the trailer, plus it's against the law! Be courteous and respectful of others, after all we all want a safe and enjoyable trip to and from the river.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike has no word on bass; but stripers are biting well, with some up to 25 lbs. being landed in the James and Appomattox. Crappie action is also good up in the creeks where the slabs are getting ready to spawn. Cats are going for cut shad, live herring and live white perch. Hickory shad and herring are attacking shad spoons. The water is stained to clear and 66 degrees.

Region 2 - Southside

Brunswick Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. The Dogwoods are in full bloom so old blue, me and my fly rod headed to the county pond sometimes called Brunswick Lake. I fished under the bridge for a short time, picking up several 9 inch crappie using the standard 2 inch purple twister tail before heading under the bridge and to the flats. I fished the shore line with a number 10 popping bug and found many beds of 7 and 8 inch bluegills. After putting 50 of them in the live well and throwing back 26, I switched over to the spinning rod and fished back to the dock and caught 15 nine inch crappie on my chartreuse and purple 2 inch twister tails. The soybeans need planting but I am not sure I will get them done before I make a trip to Holliday Lake and Briery Creek. I know there are some monster fish that need feeding some popping bugs too.

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 www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Looks like the James will level out at 6 feet for most of the upcoming week. It's running at 6.4 and 7480 CFS at this time. The ramps from Scottsville to Bent Creek are all still mud covered. The New Canton ramp is clear and clean. Take caution when out at this time. There was a boat that got caught on some rocks and sunk at Hatton. They had to be rescued late Saturday evening so WEAR THOSE LIFE VESTS.

The Albemarle County Lakes have been fishing well. Largemouths have been taking spinnerbaits, crankbaits, pig and jigs and soft plastics. The crappie bite has been good as well, with fish being caught on small jigs and minnows.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that lots of bass are in the bushes and shallows, with some on their beds. Try a spinner or plastic creature bait. Some crappie are still spawning and will go for minnows and jigs. No word on perch. Bluegill are slow to bite, but look around docks and rip rap and try the traditional worm. The water is slightly stained in the upper lake and clear down lake. The temperatures range from the 60s to 70s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf told me that brookies, rainbows and browns are all going for Little Yellow Stoneflies. No word on smallmouths. The mountain streams are a little high, but very fishable.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that that the bass fishing is "excellent". Lizards, plastic worms, buzzbaits and spintails are all producing well. Crappie action is good too, try a minnow or jig. Cats are going for chicken livers at the creek mouths and main channel. No word on perch. Bluegill should spawn soon and may respond to a worm or cricket. The water is clear and in the 60s.

Lake Gaston Health Advisory: The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory on walleye fish consumption due to mercury contamination in Lake Gaston. Recent fish tissue sample results from the North Carolina Division of Public Health show mercury levels in walleye fish exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of walleye taken from Lake Gaston. Virginia's advisory stretches from John H. Kerr Dam downstream 18 miles to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.

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

Crappie: Fishing continues to improve. Currently good numbers of nice crappies are being caught in shallow water by anglers using small lead headed jigs and bladed jigs rigged with plastic trailers. Crappie anglers report the fish are scattered and are hitting a number of different colors of Bobby Garland and Slider plastics. Crappies are also being caught on small, live minnows and the new Berkley minnows rigged on lightweight jigheads or gold, thin wire hooks on light line.

Stripers: Fishing has been mixed. Anglers using live bait and lures all report they can do well one day and struggle to catch stripers on the next. Those fishing with live bait are catching most of their fish near the surface pulling live bait behind planer boards, floats and freelines across deep water points and close to the shoreline early and late in the day. Anglers trolling umbrella rigs and plastic swimbaits are also catching striped bass. Stripers are being caught near the bank early and late in the day on flukes and swimbaits rigged on belly-weighted hooks, jigheads, bucktails and jerkbaits. The alewives are just starting to move to the shoreline at night and as more of them move up, the top-water night bite for bass, stripers and flathead catfish will intensify.

Bass: Fishing continues to be good and should get even better as both the night bite and sight fishing opportunities develop. Bass can be seen suspending under docks near shallow water, cruising the shoreline and an occasional fish is being found on a bed. As the bass move near the shoreline to spawn they can be caught using "sight fishing" lures and techniques. Bright colored plastics are good sight fishing lures. Lures like regular plastic worms, sinking Yamasenko worms and tubes in highly visible colors like bubble gum and white are good choices. Bass are also hitting spinnerbaits anywhere shad are found, especially on windblown guts, docks and submerged structure early in the day. Anglers also report that flukes on belly weighted hooks, crankbaits, shakey head and pig and jigs are all producing bass during the daytime. At night bass are being caught on top-water lures and floating jerkbaits cast and retrieved slowly along the shoreline.

The 2011 Virginia Outdoorsman Fishing Workshop schedule has been finalized and will be emailed to those who requested it this week. If you would like a copy, just send an email to virginiaoutdoorsman@gmail.com and ask that a copy be sent to you. The first seminar, Night Fishing For Bass and Stripers will be in May and will cover the tackle, lures and techniques used to catch stripers and black bass at night in the spring. The water is fairly clear and 61 degrees.

Tight lines and enjoy what promises to be some excellent fishing over the next several weeks.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. No report this edition.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the river has been too high and muddy to fish this past week, but things should settle down and improve in a few days.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. No report this edition.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. This Spring has been the year of the "mud" on the Upper New River. Each time the river seems to be ready to clear up enough to be fishable more heavy rains come and blow it out. We are in the same situation now. When it does clear the smallmouth should be feeding heavy getting ready for the spawn. Muskie should be feeding aggressively as they are coming off of their spawn as should the walleye. All species will be gorging on the shad as they come up the river out of Claytor Lake, so keep that in mind when choosing lure selections. With water levels up the striped bass should be following the shad up river in full force. Water temp is 54 and the water is brown and stained but hopefully clearing as this report comes out.

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry says that the smallmouth streams in the South Fork are too high and discolored to fish right now, but should be okay in a week or so. The streams in the North Fork, however, are presently fishable, especially upstream from Woodstock. It is best to fish the protected areas below riffles and ledges. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub Streamer, size 4; and the Murray's Heavy Hellgrammite, also size 4. The water is 48 degrees.

The stocked streams in the Valley are full but fishable. Fish protected areas like below boulders and in back of eddys. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8; Casual Dress Nymph, size 10; and Murray's Cranefly Larva, size10. The water is 46 degrees and clear.

The upper reaches of the mountain streams are good places to fish just now. For the best action drive to the stream heads on National Park and National Forest roads. Good flies are: Murray's Black Delta Wing Caddis, size 14; and the Spirit of Pittsford Mills, size 14. The water is clear and 48 degrees.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff says Lake Moomaw water levels have gone to being several feet over full pool several times over the last two weeks.  Seems like about every other day we get hard downpours and localized flooding occurs. Area trout streams are running extremely full which should make for some scattered fish.  Lake Moomaw would be a little discolored, but the past few weeks smallmouth fishing has been second to none.  Fish seem to be staging up on rocky points, lots of citation size fish being caught, trout seem to be a little bit more hesitant a few showing up in the 10-20 foot range.  Windy days with a little chop on the water seems to help.  The next few weeks the trout bite should increase. Largemouth becoming very active also, yellow perch showing up occasionally with the numbers being down considerably from previous years.  Crappie bite should also increase in the next couple of weeks and a few nice channel cats have been caught recently.  As always the alewives would be the preferred bait for all species. Frontal systems has played an important part in fishing as well as turkey hunting, 'some days they do, some days the don't.'

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) It won't come as a surprise to anyone who has walked outside over the last week that the river and lake fishing conditions are exceptionally poor as a result of the huge torrent of rain the area experienced. All of our major rivers are running high and muddy with most lakes being a solid chocolate color as the rain pushed silt into those still waters. While the rivers will clean up fairly soon, it will take additional time for the lakes to clear and the water to warm up from their current chilly 50° temperature. However, once that happens, fishing should be great. The shad season is in full swing at this point. Anglers will be successful fishing for shad between the Route 1 and I-95 bridges near Fredericksburg. Exercise extreme caution given the current turbulent state of this powerful river. The National Weather Service predicts water levels just as they do regular weather and you can use the forecast to make plans for future fishing trips. Here is the link for the Rapidan; this service is not currently active for the Rappahannock, but you can extrapolate from the Rapidan results. The mountain trout season was not impacted significantly by the rain. In fact, it improved conditions. The mountain streams are running just below 50° with active brookies pursuing Adams and Mr. Rapidan as well as hares ear nymphs and copper Johns. Spin fishermen should use small spinners or spoons that can kick into action quickly given the fast moving water.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The crappie and bass are spawning. Some nice stringers of crappie have been caught in the brush along the shore lines with jigs and small minnows. Largemouth bass are biting a variety of soft plastics. In low light periods, the bass are hitting some top-water baits for an exciting catch. Local angler, Kenny Smith, caught three nice walleyes ranging from 20 to 26 inches while bass fishing with a crankbait; all three were released alive. Pan fish are moving shallow, as well. Bluegills are starting to come up with many children catching them with worms. Catfishing is picking up with chicken liver and night crawlers drawing them in. The water is clear with temperatures in the low to mid 60s.

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.

Bass: Fish are roaming the shallows looking to fatten up prior to the spawn. Work faster moving baits in warmer water such as swimbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Slow down and down size in cold front conditions, using Carolina rigged lizards, crawfish imitators and twitch baits. A great tried and true technique for the lake is barely twitching a floating Rapala in place nearby a boulder or stump. It is hard to beat sight fishing mid and down lake in the clearer water. Polarized glasses are a must for this type of fishing, use your trolling motor and scan the shallows on high till you see bass, then work the areas with your favorite lures. If you find beds you can throw tube baits, lightly weighted worms or lizards into the bed and leave it there to provoke strikes, remembering to please release bedding fish where you catch them. Up lake, if the water is very stained, work structures with moving vibrating baits. Docks in and around marina's hold large numbers of bass.

Stripers: These fish are feeding all over the lake now on 5 to 15 foot flats, humps and points. Stripers are feeding from all the way up the rivers down to the Dam and are not being selective of what they want to eat gorging themselves on herring and gizzard shad. Stripers only have two things on their mind, eating and spawning. When we have warming trends the fish feed more aggressively, feeding shallow and feeding often. Conversely, when cold fronts blow through the fish will not be as aggressive and will usually back off to deeper water, and anglers will have to put their live bait in their faces to entice strikes. Slow down and use smaller baits for more action. Fisherman who fish with artificial baits will also get some explosive results by throwing top water baits like Spooks, waking a Redfin and popping chuggar type baits. Swimbaits work well all month, good baits to try are Berkley's Hollow Body Swimbait when the fish are feeding on shad and downsize to Sassy Shads and Sea Shads when in cold fronts. A good pattern for stripers this month is to cast up to and under docks. stripers are also feeding on crappie and many are caught nearby deeper docks.

Crappie: Fishing for crappie doesn't get any better than this month and it is a great time to stock up the freezer. Locating the fish is very simple. Most shallow docks where baitfish are present will hold crappie, especially where there is some cover present. Every dock up lake above Hunters Landing has crappie under it, Simply fish the docks quickly till you hit the one that has the size fish you are looking for. Other great areas to fish are beaver huts, shallow brushpiles, shallow rock piles, stumps and especially the shoreline grassbeds in the North Anna. Good locater baits to use are small tube jigs on 1/16 oz heads. Pull up to a structure, make a few casts, catch a few fish, have a lot of fun. Once you locate the area where the larger fish are holding, try some small and medium minnows under a bobber. Everyone loves to watch a bobber slowly ease out of sight with the anticipation of catching a huge crappie.

Attention Readers – If your favorite body of water is not covered in the Fishin Report, and you are a guide, tackle shop owner, marina or just a devoted angler; please drop me a line and we will see about adding your bi-weekly or periodic reports in the e-newsletter by telephone or email contacts. You can reach me, Sarah White at fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the warming weather trend and beginning of Spring, many students are counting down the days till the end of school and Summer vacation! For a Fredericksburg teen, her "summer vacation" would not be a vacation at all, but a memorable outdoor learning experience that brought adventure and an appreciation of the dark, mysterious and fascinating underground world of caves and the unique life forms that inhabit them. This story by then 15 year old, Suzy Richards, a Freshman at Mountain View High School in Fredericksburg of a field trip to a cave as part of her Governor's School experience earned her a Top10 place winner in the 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. Suzy's memorable first cave exploration hopefully will inspire you to learn more about these underground treasures throughout Southwest Mountain & Shenandoah Valley regions of the Old Dominion.

Editors Note: Last week April 17-23 was Virginia Cave Week, as featured in the April 13th Outdoor Report, to promote an understanding of Virginia's caves and the surrounding limestone habitats known as karst. Sponsored by the Virginia Cave Board, the week is used to encourage educators of all subjects to actively engage their students from kindergarten through high school using in-class activities and by visiting one of the state's numerous commercial caves. This year's Virginia Cave Week theme, "Bats in the Web of Life," highlights how bats are connected to so many other animals in our fragile ecosystem. Bats play a crucial role in the food web by ridding the world of vast numbers of insects that would otherwise affect human quality of life and destroy crops that we rely on for our own food sources.

Many education efforts are aimed at combating White-Nose Syndrome, a disease that has killed more than a million bats in the U.S. and which has now infected some Virginia bats. While the disease does not spread to humans, if unchecked its effect on the food web is potentially devastating. Educators and others are encouraged to visit www.vacaveweek.com to access a variety of cave-related education resources. Virginia is rich in cave and karstland resources with more than 4,000 known caves. The Virginia Cave Board was established to conserve and protect the state's caves and karstlands and advocate the wise use of these resources.

A Wild and Exciting Outdoor Experience

By Suzy Richards

My most exciting and memorable outdoor experience was a summer governor's school field trip to a wild, unlit cave. It was a fun, scary, and challenging, both mentally and physically.

Our class of about twenty kids and teachers took an early bus ride to the Grottoes of Virginia. My group first went to the commercial cave, called Grand Cavern. Daniel, our tour guide, told us that the Grand Cavern was discovered in 1804 and turned into a recreational site in 1806. He showed us stalactites (from the top) and stalagmites (from the bottom), and other formations such as shields, drapery, flow stone, and bacon. The formations really looked like the names they were given. We also learned that people in the 1800's used the Grand Cavern as a location for lavish parties and balls. They walked around touching all the limestone formations while having dinner and drinks. One of my favorite rooms was the Rainbow Room that was lit with colorful lights that reflected in the three or four underground pools. It really did look like an amazing setting for a special party.

After we left the Grand Cavern we went to lunch and to the gift shop. Then we geared up to go to the wild cave, dressing in long sleeved shirts and pants that could be thrown out later, boots with good traction, helmets, and head lamps.

To get to the wild cave we had to hike up a steep hill to the entrance. When we arrived we saw that it was surrounded by long grass and weeds. As we entered we realized there would be some difficult terrain ahead. Starting down a steep slope we went lower and lower, climbing over giant boulders along the way. We got to a big room deep inside the cave and turned off all of our headlamps. It was so dark and silent that it almost hurt my ears. The temperature was very cool and damp. We could occasionally hear the distant sound of dripping water. I felt kind of scared because it was so black that I couldn't see anything, not even my sister who was standing right next to me.

Turning on our lamps, we moved on until we came to a small decline which I rode down like a sliding board. It was wet and slick, and the quickest way to the bottom. I landed in an area that had water pools immediately on each side of me and two stalagmite columns in front of me. It was easy to make a wrong move and end up in the water. I got stuck on one of the stalagmites and briefly separated from the group. That shook me up for a few minutes too.

Continuing on, we crawled on our bellies through a small opening that was so low I wondered how the adults were going to get underneath. I pushed from behind with my feet and clawed forward with my hands, hoping I wouldn't get stuck. We crept along until we reached a solid wall of rock. The only way forward was a low, narrow crevice about six inches wide. I had to get up onto my knees and squeeze through sideways. Along the way, a broken stalactite blocked the crevice and I had to crouch into a ball in order to squeeze under the obstacle.

We finally arrived in an area called the waiting room and regrouped before heading back up and out. We hiked a inclining path and I lifted myself over a rock called the "platform". Further up we came to another hill that was perfect for sliding. At the bottom, I found myself in the original room where we had first turned off our head lamps and felt the eerie discomfort of dead silence. Our guide showed us some Civil War writings on the walls and the signature of Robert E. Lee on one of the stalagmites. The Confederate troops once used this wild cave for target practice.

Finally we pulled off our dirty over clothes and headed home. The wild cave was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. It made me realize that there are places on earth unlike anything most people can imagine. I felt like I had taken a voyage to another world. I thought about my trip frequently for days afterward, and told everyone about this amazing adventure.

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 deadlines for entries this year were closed February 25, 2011. Details of the Annual Awards presentations April 14 at Bear Creek Lake State Park will be posted on the VOWA website. We encourage you to write your most memorable hunting, fishing or other outdoor adventure story and enter the 2011-12 contest. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org.

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: