In this edition:
- Be Proud To Be an Angler, or Hunter!
- “Hunt Fish VA”: Hunting & Fishing in Your Pocket
- 2011-2012 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity (Non-Game) Regulation Review and Amendment Process Underway
- Art Contest Commemorates 75th Anniversary of Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Detailed Descriptions of Outdoor Events Across Virginia
- People and Partners in the News
- Sgt. Karl Martin Presented Governor's Career Achievement Award
- Douglas Dear Wins L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes Award
- Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Events for Fall Hunting Opportunities
- Hunters for the Hungry Announces New Fund Raising Raffles for 2012
- Virginia Tourism Corporation Offers Popular Website To Promote Outdoor Events & Activities
- Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events
- Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife
- VA Deer Hunters Association Works to Enhance Opportunities for Youth and Veterans
- Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...
- Volunteers Work Long Hours to Complete Range Opening at C.F. Phelps WMA
- Hunting News You Can Use
- Just 10 Days Till the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th
- Hurricane Damage To Waterfowl Hunting Blinds Requires Action By Hunters To Retain Their Locations
- Top Ten New Hunting Regulations and Opportunities for 2011-2012
- New Hunting & Fishing License Fees Go Into Effect July 1
- Early Dove Season Open Till October 10
- There are 2 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days for 2011-12
- Apply for 2011 - 2012 Quota Hunts July 1
- VDGIF Board Approves Facilities Use Fee and Certain License Increases
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- License Options for Novice Hunters
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Like Father, Like Son (or Daughter)... Tree Stand Safety Must be Taught by Example
- Stay Prepared for Hurricane Weather!
- Protecting Your Boat During Hurricane Season -- Berthing & Shelter Requirements
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Call VDACS to Get Regulations Before Digging Ginseng
- Reminder: Effective September 1, Feeding Deer is Illegal in Virginia
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs
- Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia Now Available
- Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- Quail Restoration With Warm Season Grasses Workshop Scheduled September 24
- Fall is Best Time to Establish Wildlife Plantings
- Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters
- Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available
- Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
- Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
- Fishin' Report
- The Fishing Spot by Chris Dunnavant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator
- Concession Closed at Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area
- New Boat Ramp Opened on New River at Ivanhoe
- Gear up for Fall Boating! Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
- Video Features Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- Sarah White's Notebook
- Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
- Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
- "Attack of the Does" by Micheala Bryant
Be Proud To Be an Angler, or Hunter!
It is YOU, America's sportsmen, who have funded and lead the fight for conservation, restoration, and management of our precious wildlife and natural resources. For the past 40 years, National Hunting and Fishing Day has served as a public reminder that hunters and anglers are America's premier conservation supporters. The President, Congress, and state Governors annually proclaim this event to recognize the vital role of sportsmen in conservation. Through licenses and excise taxes, sportsmen generate the funds that support the management, protection, and conservation of fish, wildlife and habitat programs—benefiting all citizens who appreciate wild things and wild places.
Here are five ways to observe National Hunting and Fishing Day this month:
- Introduce a newcomer to the outdoors—purchase a Legacy or Apprentice Hunting License.
- Visit your local sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing, or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it.
- Organize, volunteer, or attend a National Hunting and Fishing Day related event in your area. Many events are listed in the Outdoor Report and also posted at the National Hunting and Fishing Day website.
- Remember those whose service to our country and communities will prevent them from joining us afield this fall. Appreciate the freedoms that make hunting, fishing, shooting, and conservation possible.
- Log on to www.nhfday.org to learn more about the historic conservation leadership of hunters and anglers. Share the story with non-hunters!
Remember safety and courtesy are free, use them generously...
David Coffman, Editor
“Hunt Fish VA”: Hunting & Fishing in Your Pocket
Now Available for iPhone® and iPod touch®
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' new app for iPhone and iPod touch is perfect for:
- getting the latest news from VDGIF;
- looking up hunting regulations, seasons, and bag limits while in the field;
- viewing freshwater fishing regulations and state record fish;
- identifying the fish you just caught;
- getting the sunrise and sunset times for your location;
- recording your trophy harvests;
- finding nearby boat ramps, Wildlife Management Areas, and lakes;
- and more!
Best of all, it's absolutely FREE!
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later. Some features require an active Internet connection and are subject to carrier service availability.
2011-2012 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity (Non-Game) Regulation Review and Amendment Process Underway
What Changes Would You Like to Virginia's Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity (Non-Game) Regulations for 2013?
Stage 1: September 1 - November 30, 2011 Scoping Period
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries review and amend all of the Virginia regulations governing wildlife and boating biennially. The regulations are reviewed in two separate biennial processes, with different regulations being under review in alternating years.
September begins the 2011-2012 Regulation Review and Amendment Process for Virginia's regulations governing fishing, boating, and wildlife diversity. "Wildlife diversity" includes regulation of those wildlife species not hunted, fished, or trapped. In this earliest, scoping stage of the current regulatory review process VDGIF staff is soliciting the public's views on what changes in regulations citizens would like to see. During this period, staff also collects and analyzes biological and sociological data relevant to regulatory issues. Such information typically includes constituent satisfaction survey results, conversations or meetings with constituents in groups and individually, and other forms of feedback from the public that occurs continuously including before the scoping period.
VDGIF strongly encourages the public's participation in the regulation review process. You are invited to use this online comment submission system to submit your views.
- Submit your views on changes needed to fishing regulations »
- Submit your views on changes needed to boating regulations »
- Submit your views on changes needed to wildlife diversity (non-game) regulations »
Regulatory Proposals to Establish Multiple-Year Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping Licenses, and to Update Boating Safety Education Course Provider Requirements
A public comment period on the regulatory proposal opened September 2, 2011 and closes on October 3, 2011. The Board will consider the proposal for possible adoption as final regulation amendments at its October 20, 2011 meeting. Your comments are solicited »
Art Contest Commemorates 75th Anniversary of Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program
Celebrate 75 years of better hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife-related recreation through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) by sharing your nature with us. Enter the "WSFR 75-It's Your Nature" Art Contest today to have your artwork featured as a limited edition anniversary print in 2012 and win a $500 gift certificate to Cabela's and travel and registration to the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in March 2012. VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan is serving as the official Chairman of the WSFR 75th Anniversary Committee and is hoping for some great artwork entries from Virginia artists. The "WSFR 75-It's Your Nature" Art Contest is hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the nation's most successful conservation effort—the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. The deadline to enter the contest is November 14, 2011! For contest eligibility and entry instructions please visit the WSFR website.
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Hawk Migration Approaching Peak in September - October
The annual fall hawk migration is once again upon us. The migration begins in early September and lasts through November with peak numbers from late September to mid-October. During this time, thousands of raptors leave their breeding grounds and make their way south to their wintering grounds. Most follow geographical features such as mountain ranges and coastlines. Raptors take advantage of updrafts along mountain ranges and rising thermals along coastal areas, allowing them to travel great distances while reducing their energy expenditure," according to VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Steve Living. Hawk watch sites are set up throughout the Commonwealth to view and count the migrating raptors. Raptor species that can be viewed from these platforms include Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, Northern Harriers, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Golden Eagles. Black and Turkey Vultures are usually counted at these sites as well.
72nd Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest, September 24-25
More than 3000 sportsmen and families are expected to attend the official Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest at the Southampton County Fairgrounds west of Franklin September 24-25. This popular event is sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in partnership with VDGIF. The VDGIF exhibit will feature subscription sign-up for the Outdoor Report and information on the new hunting regulations and opportunities of interest to sportsmen in the eastern regions of the state. The event will feature exhibitors with gear, calls, supplies and taxidermy as well as activities for youth. Biologists and Law Enforcement staff will be on hand to answer questions. This year the Eastern Regional is also the State Championship. For Contest rules and information visit: www.vpsa.org.
Ruffed Grouse Society Hosting Bird Dog Seminar in Goochland September 17-18
The James River Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS), in cooperation with Doug Deats and Don Parks of Kennels of Mill Creek Farm and Rasawek Hunting Preserve, will host a two-day bird dog training seminar for pointers, flushes and upland retrievers on Saturday-Sunday, September 17-18, 2011 at Rasawek Upland Game Preserve, end of Tori Lane (0ff State RT. 606) in Goochland.
According to Mark Joseph, reservations for this unique 5-principle training technique are $75 for RGS members or $100 for non-members (includes 1-year membership) for the one-day session; or $150/$175 respectively for both. Either way, reservations include a continental breakfast, training birds and lunch. Each session begins with a briefing on the technique and a Q&A at 8 a.m. For more information and/or registration contact Joseph at 434-296-4320 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage. Information on RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
Visit the Natural Resource Pavilions at the State Fair - Opening September 29
Virginia's Natural Resource Agencies will once again be at the Virginia State Fair at the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, located on Rte. 30 approximately two miles north of I-95 (exit #98), near Kings Dominion. Virginia's Natural Resource agencies will be sharing exhibit space in two new pavilions that were recently landscaped with native plants. The exhibits will feature the variety of ways we conserve woods, water, wildlife, and historic resources. New exhibits as well as perennial favorites like VDGIF's live fish tank and snakes exhibit will be sure to delight families. The Fair runs until October 9; details available on their website.
VA Waterfolwers Salute U.S. Military by Providing Free Workshop
The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association (VAWFA) is saluting U.S. military personnel by offering 10 complimentary registrations to the Virginia Waterfowl Hunting Workshop at the Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center near Appomattox scheduled for September 30-October 2. This offer is for active members of the U.S. Military who are stationed in Virginia. Also eligible, members of the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard who were deployed and have returned home to Virginia within the past year. The VAWFA will select the 10 winners through a lottery drawing to provide U.S. Military personnel the opportunity to attend the workshop free of charge. All registration, food and lodging costs are covered for the 10 lottery winners through a generous grant to the VAWFA by an anonymous donor.
To be enter the lottery drawing, eligible military participants must submit, their name, email address and telephone number by email to Kent Callahan (VAWFA's President) at kentC56@yahoo.com. Lottery winners will be notified by email after the drawing. Deadline for entrees submitted by email is Monday, September 19, 2011.
Workshop participants do not have to be a member of the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association. Information about the Virginia Waterfowl Hunting Workshop is available online. And the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association website's event page.
Waterfowl Hunting Workshop at Holiday Lake September 30 - October 2
The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, is sponsoring the Virginia Waterfowl Hunting Workshop the weekend of September 30 - October 2 at the 4-H Camp near Appomattox. The Virginia Waterfowl Hunting Workshop provides novice, intermediate and experienced hunters skills training beyond a basic education course. The workshop will provide participants of all ages, the opportunity to participate in 22 hands-on classes including:
Beginner & Intermediate Wingshooting Techniques, Duck & Goose Calling, Duck & Goose Decoy Placements, Decoy Carving & Restoration, Waterfowl Boating Operation, Waterfowl ID & Game Laws, Retriever Training, Waterfowl Blind Design & Construction, Waterfowl Nesting Structures, Waterfowl Game Care & Cooking, Waterfowl Habitat Management, and Predator Management.
Todd Cocker, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association Executive Director, notes that the weekend workshop is designed to introduce beginners and improve experienced hunters knowledge, skills and confidence. Cocker notes, "We have arranged for some of the most respected and experienced instructors the state offers. Instructors are confirmed from program supporters including the VDGIF, Holiday Lake 4-H Center staff, Virginia Hunter Education Association, Tidewater Retriever Club, Webfoot Mafia Waterfowl Guides and Virginia Waterfowlers' Association. This event and the Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend event are two great opportunities to improve your waterfowl hunting skills and other outdoor adventure opportunities." For more information and to register for this upcoming workshop or to find out about similar opportunities in the future, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website or the VAWFA website. Come join us for a fantastic weekend at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center near Appomattox.
There are 2 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days for 2011-12
Youth days are no longer required to be consecutive hunting days, so Virginia is able to provide two Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days this season. The first Youth Hunt Day has been set for October 22, similar to when it has been held in the past, and the second day has been set for February 4 after the close of the regular duck season. See Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days.
Explore the Outdoors Through Archery at Bear Creek Lake State Park
Since ancient times, the bow and arrow has been one of human beings' most important tools for survival and recreation.. Beginning Saturday October 1, 2011, Bear Creek Lake State Park will offer the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Education Program "Explore Bowhunting." The curriculum was developed by the Archery Trade Association, but this program is much more than archery alone. There will be five consecutive sessions, each with a different class focus. In these sessions, participants will learn valuable wilderness skills, such as animal tracking, shelter making and the secrets of camouflage. They will develop an understanding of animal communication done by grunts, purrs, or snorts. There will be hi-tech tools, too, such as range finders and motion detecting cameras. The archery component will include basic instruction in compound, recurve bows and crossbows. This instruction will cover safety and maintenance as well as technique.
Each two- hour session will be split between archery and outdoor education. All equipment will be provided. There will be five sessions held on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. from October 1 through October 29, 2011. A maximum of twelve participants may register for the course. This program has been developed for student age participants, but even older adults may find the activity rewarding. Minimum age is ten years old. There is a $10.00 per person fee, payable upon registration.
To register for this exciting new program, call the Bear Creek Lake State Park Office, at (804) 492-4410, or contact Park Ranger Tom Kneipp at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.
19th Annual Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival October 7-9
Head over to Virginia's Eastern Shore to witness the fantastic fall migration as raptors, shorebirds and songbirds funnel down the Delmarva Peninsula during their journey south. The 19th Annual Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival October 7-9, celebrates this phenomena. The festival features field trips to some of the best birding sites across the shore, including some not generally open to the public. Last year festival participants tallied 175 species of birds and over the last 18 years 286 species have been seen! Of special note are the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory's bird banding station and hawkwatch platform at Kiptopeke State Park, which has recorded nearly 750,000 raptors since opening in 1977.
The festival kicks off on Friday October 7 and runs through Sunday October 9 and is headquartered in picturesque Cape Charles. Friday evening join us for a reception at the Stage Door Gallery followed by our guest speakers: cinematographers Michael Male and Judy Fieth. Michael and Judy will share "Mud Matters" - an amazing eye-level look at at life on the mudflats of the Shore.
Festival registration is available online and there is still room on many of the trips. Hike unique natural areas, bird along historic farms and explore the plentiful creeks by boat or kayak. The festival headquarters features an exhibit area that will be fun for the whole family, along with vendors offering the best in birding gear.
People and Partners in the News
Sgt. Karl Martin Presented Governor's Career Achievement Award
Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Karl P. Martin was recently presented the Governor's Career Achievement Award for 2011. Employed by the VDGIF Law Enforcement Division since 1972, Sgt. Martin has been a devoted and faithful employee of the Commonwealth for more than 39 years. After being assigned to Franklin County in the Smith Mountain Lake area, Sgt. Martin quickly became a leader in his enforcement efforts as well as leading the area in the number of public presentations offered. By 1980, Martin's outstanding efforts led to him being promoted to area leader, where he specialized in innovative educational and enforcement techniques on Smith Mountain Lake while supervising five counties. By 1986, Sgt. Martin was promoted to District Supervisor and was at one time supervising 22 counties by himself. Although he could have easily applied for promotion and been transferred to another area of Virginia, Sgt. Martin chose to stay in his current role supervising operations on and around Smith Mountain Lake, where he continues to recruit, mentor, and groom new Conservation Police Officers for leadership roles within the Agency. In a prime example of his mentoring and teaching skills, two of Sgt. Martin's recent protégées were just promoted to the ranks of Captain and Major.
Sgt. Martin has donated literally thousands of hours of his own time to get the job done and has instructed over 10,000 students in Hunter Education courses and has impacted tens of thousands of Virginia citizens with almost forty years worth of civic and youth group presentations along with numerous radio, television, and newspaper articles and stories promoting safe boating, safe hunting, and enforcement education. Additionally, Sgt. Martin attained DCJS instructor status and has instructed hundreds of DGIF law enforcement personnel as well as members of other agencies in the areas of boating under the influence, boating and hunting accident investigation, interview and interrogation techniques, and wildlife law enforcement techniques. Among his many career accolades, Sgt. Martin has been formally recognized by The Virginia Wildlife Federation for significant contributions to Conservation Law Enforcement; named Virginia's Game Warden of the Year; has been publicly recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for his alcohol enforcement efforts on Smith Mountain Lake multiple times. The Smith Mountain Lake Water Safety Council presented him with the first annual "Karl Martin Water Safety Award", named in his honor, in March of this year. Martin's 40 year legacy of promoting boating safety in Virginia will now live on into future generations of boating safety advocates via this award. In presenting the award, SML WSC President Randy Stowe noted, "Thanks to Sgt. Martin, Smith Mountain Lake has become a leader in Virginia and around the country in joint efforts between Conservation Officers and other law enforcement agencies to promote safety and responsible recreation and conservation in the region."
Douglas Dear Wins L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes Award
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing program to benefit
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. (PHWFF) is the big winner due to Douglas Dear being named a winner of the prestigious L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes Award. Dear, who serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of PHWFF, won this distinction by gaining a majority of popular votes through online voting during July. "I am humbled to have received such significant support from so many individuals," stated Dear¸ "and this award gives me the opportunity to share the exemplary programs with individuals who may not have heard about Project Healing Waters before. In addition to the $5,000 donation that will be made by L.L. Bean to PHWFF, and the $500 L.L. Bean gift card I have passed along to PHWFF, the disabled veterans and wounded warriors are the real winners."
Douglas Dear was recognized for his passionate leadership and tireless efforts which brought about significant and sustained program growth to PHWFF. From the program's inception at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. to more than 100 programs in 2011, PHWFF volunteers have assisted disabled veterans and recovering soldiers by exposing them to the therapeutic benefits of fly fishing. The number of PHWFF volunteers and participants has increased every year, and, in 2010, some 3,000 disabled veterans and recovering military service members were involved in regularly scheduled classes and fishing outings offered by PHWFF. Through fly fishing instruction, fly tying classes, fly casting lessons, rod building and fly fishing outings, participants learn new skills that help them enjoy the healing properties of the outdoors and lessen the symptoms of their disabilities.
Ed Nicholson, Capt., USN (Ret.), President and CEO of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, commented that, "Dear's advocacy of fly fishing and his responsible stewardship of fly fishing waters have been instrumental to the success of the PHWFF program as well as other nonprofit organizations. He has dedicated time, effort and considerable personal resources to conservation initiatives and environmental issues." He maintains over a mile of private water on the Rose River, in addition to a trout pond and two bass ponds at his Rose River Farm in Madison County. He hosts Casting for Recovery retreats and Trout Unlimited youth programs in addition to many Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing events. VDGIF is a proud partner with PHWFF and supports fly fishing event in cooperation with numerous sponsors and volunteers throughout the state. Douglas has been a "can do " partner and cooperator with VDGIF staff for many fishing and stream conservation activities.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization with over 100 programs run by volunteers in 38 states. Funding for program expenses comes from individual and corporate donations and foundation grants. Visit the L.L. Bean website to learn more about the recipients of the award. For information about PHWFF, visit www.projecthealingwaters.org
Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Events for Fall Hunting Opportunities
If you have a disability and would like to participate, select your choice of hunting or skill building events and complete the Application available on the VANWTF website. Mail or email completed Application to Mike Deane email@example.com.
Hunters for the Hungry Announces New Fund Raising Raffles for 2012
Hunters for the Hungry has announced the winners of their 2011 Electronic Prize Raffle with the official drawing taking place at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show at The Richmond Raceway Complex, Sunday August 14th, 2011 at 6:00 pm (see the Hunters for the Hungry website for a list of the winners). Fund Raising Coordinator Gary Arrington expressed appreciation to the many folks and organizations that have supported and helped with the raffles and other fund raisers in past years. He noted, "These funds raised are critical in paying for the processing of the donated venison and supporters continue to be a blessing to our program and to all those whose lives are touched by what you do! For every $5 ticket we sell we can provide 25 servings of venison to needy men, women, and children."
Tickets are still available for the Outdoor Adventure Raffle for 2012 that has a first ever TOP PRIZE of an ALASKAN FISHING ADVENTURE FOR 2 - it is about 10 days with about 7 days of fishing, meals, lodging, and AIRFARE! To be scheduled in 2012! This trip package is over $6,000 in value!
Drawing to take place on March 1, 2012, between 4 pm and 5pm at the Hunters for the Hungry Office located at the Sedalia Center, 1108 Sedalia School Road, Big Island, VA.
To view the actual photos of the electronics package items, check out the website and if you would like to purchase some of these tickets and / or would like to help us sell some of these please let us know! We could so use your support in these special fund raising efforts!
Virginia Tourism Corporation Offers Popular Website To Promote Outdoor Events & Activities
With the summer vacation season heating up, thousands of visitors will be looking for outdoor adventures throughout the state. The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) encourages everyone who has an event, workshop or outdoor-related activity to post it to the official tourism website of Virginia -- www.Virginia.org. This is a free service offered by VTC. Virginia.org is very popular with both in-state outdoor enthusiasts and out-of-state visitors interested in vacationing and seeking outdoor adventures here in the Old Dominion. Dave Neudeck, Director of Electronic Marketing for VTC, notes that the Virginia.org website attracts approximately 500,000 viewers per month.
The events or workshops need to be open to the public and should be something in which the traveling public can participate. Log in to the new Virginia.org Administration Tool to submit a new listing or update existing listings.
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:
- More than a dozen local Virginia Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation (VA NWTF) Chapters will be hosting fund raising events and skill building workshops throughout the summer months. Funds raised at these events are used locally by the volunteers to enhance habitat, access to hunting lands, support law enforcement, the Wildlife Crime Line and Rewards Program and fund research to improve wildlife management. For details on these upcoming events and how you can participate visit their website: www.vanwtf.com.
- Hunters – Remember to donate to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your hunting licenses this season. The traditional $2 donation check-off option has been changed to allow you to donate any amount. Many sportsmen and hunt clubs are recommending at least $5. With all the news about the poor economy many of our neighbors are experiencing hard times. Show that hunters are supportive of those in need in our local communities. Not only share your deer harvest, but provide some much needed funds to pay for the cost of the processing of this abundant resource by donating $5 when you purchase your licenses. To learn more on how Hunters for the Hungry is helping neighbors in need feed their families with nutritious, high protein venison, visit their website: www.h4hungry.org. Also learn how you can help by donating deer, raising funds and the location of meat processors to donate your deer harvest. More than 4 million pounds of venison have been distributed since 1991. Help them raise the funds to process their goal of 500,000 pounds this year.
- September 17, Ducks Unlimited Fundraiser Dinner for the Pentagon Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. : 5:30 pm-10:30 pm, at Elk's Lodge, 8421 Arlington BLVD, Fairfax, VA.
Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife
The VDGIF is pleased and honored to have the support of numerous non-profit conservation organizations that are dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Through the involvement of thousands of citizen volunteers, as well as a financial commitment to a variety of agency projects, organizations have supported wildlife conservation efforts that benefit all Virginia sportsmen and women. We encourage everyone to support these organizations and to become active participants in one or more of these groups. In this section of the Outdoor Report we spotlight one of these partner organizations, highlighting the groups programs and activities that support us in our Mission "working together for wildlife."
VA Deer Hunters Association Works to Enhance Opportunities for Youth and Veterans
The Virginia Deer Hunters Association, (VDHA), is a volunteer, statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to responsible management of Whitetail deer as a valuable resource. VDHA serves as "the voice" of deer hunters while protecting the rights and traditions of deer hunting.
The VDHA was founded in March of 1985, by a few dedicated hunters who became concerned with the increasing threats to deer hunting. They recognized that it was critical for deer hunters to unite in a statewide organization in order to protect deer hunting from these threats. These few dedicated deer hunters used their own money to launch the organization. Their first effort was to start a membership drive to the nearly 300,000 hunters in Virginia, so the rights and needs of deer hunters could be represented on all hunting legislation at the state and local government levels. In the next few years, officers of VDHA lobbied at the Virginia General Assembly, attended local government meetings and worked with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries whenever there was a threat to hunting or when an issue arose which would affect hunting.
The founders also recognized the importance of keeping deer hunters informed so they published a newsletter during the first year. By 1990, VDHA had recruited over 2,500 members and the simple newsletter had become the Whitetail Times magazine, published four times a year. Executive Director Denny Quaiff also serves as Editor for the Magazine.
The VDHA holds an annual banquet in October to recognize sponsors and partners and raise funds to sponsor biological studies of Whitetail deer which ultimately will improve the herd. The banquet funds many of the projects of the VDHA which go directly back to the sport and to deer hunters. The annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show and the celebrated Virginia Deer Classic provide an opportunity for all members to volunteer their time to promote the sport for the public to appreciate. Over 20,000 sportsmen families enjoy this great show each year. The "Youth Day Hunts", held by some affiliated Federation Clubs and the annual handicapped Veteran hunts were started in 1986 and have grown each year. VDHA members were instrumental in getting the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day established the third Saturday in September. VDHA is also a primary supporter of Hunters for the Hungry which annually provides thousands of pounds of venison donated by hunters to feed our less fortunate neighbors.
VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan noted during the recent VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond that, "The VDHA is an exceptional partner with the Agency supporting initiatives and programs to benefit all hunters, landowners and non-hunters . Their support for legislation, new regulations to improve opportunities for hunters and efforts for habitat improvement and protection and hunter safety and ethics are invaluable to preserving our rich hunting heritage and traditions."
Virginia Deer Classic Winners Posted on VDHA Website
The winners among the 300 plus trophy deer entries at the Virginia Deer Classic Contest are posted on the VDHA website. This popular annual deer trophy contest featured some of the largest bucks harvested in Virginia last season. The Classic was hosted by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA) and sponsored by Keystone Tractor Works Museum at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show August 12-14 at the Richmond Raceway Complex.
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...
Volunteers Work Long Hours to Complete Range Opening at C.F. Phelps WMA
Nine hardy volunteers worked long hours to help in preparing the sighting in range for opening day on September 1st. They received their game strategy from Joe Ferdinandsen, the Wildlife Management Area Supervisor, on what needed to be done and enthusiastically pitched in. The team split into two work parties. One half of the team worked at the work center erecting new target supports for the 25, 50 and 100 yard positions. The other half traveled to the range and began the tasks of cleaning the six shooting stations, mowing grass and trimming the areas unreachable by the mowers. When the volunteers at the work center were done erecting the target supports they transported them to the range for installation and began helping the volunteers who were already working hard at the range. Joe Ferdinandsen and his assistant Tommy Willingham worked along side the team for the four hours that it took to complete the rejuvenation. It was a team effort all the way. Volunteers came from both the Complementary Work Force and the Friends of C.F. Phelps group. They were Rick Atchinson, Robert Booth, Roger Brown, Wink Harned, Meg Hennigan, Jim Scibek, Bob Simpson, Jennifer Smith and John McMann. McMann commented, "I work at the range frequently and speak with many of the users. The comments I hear are that they are very impressed with the facility itself and also thankful and surprised it is kept in such good condition. The volunteers who pitched in for this activity should be proud of their accomplishment.". If anyone wants to help with the upcoming workday at C.F. Phelps WMA on Sunday, September 25 from 8am to 12pm--please contact Patricia Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hunting News You Can Use
The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in getting ready for hunting season, or reports of interest compiled from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.
Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously
Just 10 Days Till the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th
Youth Deer Hunting Day - September 24, 2011
- Hunters must be age 15 or under
- Must be directly supervised by a licensed adult
- Bucks or does may be taken
- Blaze orange required
- Modern and muzzleloading firearms or archery tackle can be used, subject to local firearms restrictions, dogs not allowed
For more details visit the Department's website.
Hurricane Damage To Waterfowl Hunting Blinds Requires Action By Hunters To Retain Their Locations
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) mailed a letter September 1 alerting waterfowl blind license holders that in light of the recent hurricane, they should be aware that Virginia Code 29.1-347 states that if a stationary blind or blind stake (either riparian or non-riparian) has been destroyed in any manner beyond the control of the owner, it may be replaced within thirty days of the event to avoid losing the position which it formerly occupied. Since Hurricane Irene impacted Virginia on August 27, 2011, the 30-day period began that day and runs through September 25, 2011.
Hunters looking to license a new blind starting September 1 may see a location for a waterfowl hunting blind that appears available when in fact that location may have been previously licensed. VDGIF wants to let waterfowl hunters know that in the event of a conflict, the original license will be honored within the 30-day period. Beyond the 30 days (September 26, 2011) the position becomes available to anyone through October 15, 2011.
To retain their stationary blind or blind stake, waterfowl hunters need to take appropriate action. They must have their plates with current decal affixed to the stake or blind. If hunters need a replacement decal or plate, they are asked to please contact VDGIF Customer Service at 1-866-721-6911. The same information provided to license agents to purchase the original license will be required to provide a new decal / plate for that site.
A replacement decal and or plate will be provided free of charge. The blind plate, if requested, and a decal for the plate will be mailed within three to five business days.
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 pursuant to the provisions of Code of Virginia § 29.1-341. Such stationary blinds shall conform to the standards prescribed in § 29.1-341.
For information about waterfowl blind licenses visit www.dgif.virginia.gov.
Top Ten New Hunting Regulations and Opportunities for 2011-2012
- License fees for hunting and trapping have increased slightly – only the second increase in 24 years… License fees for youth, crossbow, archery and muzzleloader did not increase
- Partially disabled veterans shall pay half of the resident or nonresident hunting license fee, Veterans must have at least 70 percent service-connected disability
- Tracking dogs maintained and controlled on a lead may be used to find a wounded or dead bear or deer statewide during any archery, muzzleloader, or firearm bear or deer hunting season, the retrieval participants must have permission to hunt on or to access the land being searched and cannot have any weapons in their possession.
- The Special Muzzleloader Season for bears will be a uniform 1- week statewide season. Firearms Bear Season dates have changed for many areas of the state.
- The Youth Deer Hunting Day will be open statewide September 24, 2011.
- Urban Archery Season has been expanded to include new areas.
- Beginning fall 2011-2012, all deer killed after the first Saturday in January must be checked by the telephone or Internet checking systems.
- Changes in the length of the fall turkey season in many counties- most new seasons are longer, some are shorter. Turkeys killed in the fall may be checked using the telephone or Internet.
- Turkey hunting in January is provided in many counties for the first time. Turkeys killed in January must be checked using the telephone or Internet.
- A Facility Use Permit has been established, effective January 1, 2012. Users with a valid hunting, trapping or fishing license, boat registration, 16 years old or younger, or hiking the Appalachian Trail are exempt and will not have to pay the Use Fee. The fee will provide the means by which outdoor enthusiasts who use the VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas and state fishing lakes can contribute, on either a daily or annual basis, to the stewardship, maintenance and management of these facilities and their natural resources.
Refer to the full description of these new regulations in the Hunting & Trapping in Virginia July 2011 - June 2012 booklet available at license agents, VDGIF Regional Offices and sportsman shows statewide, or view on our website: www.HuntFishVA.com
New Hunting & Fishing License Fees Go Into Effect July 1
Effective July 1, 2011, some hunting and fishing license fees will be increasing in Virginia. This was the first license fee increase since 2006 and only the second license fee increase for hunting and fishing since 1988.
The basic annual fishing and hunting licenses for adult Virginia residents will increase from $18 to $23 which includes the $1 license agent fee. Annual youth licenses will not increase. Non-resident fees for similar licenses were increased by the same percentage as the resident fees. For a list of fishing and hunting licenses and the fees to purchase them, including the cost for non-residents, visit the Department's website.
The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries enacted the fee increase at their May 3, 2011 meeting with an effective date of July 1. At that same time they created a facility use permit for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) wildlife management areas or public fishing lakes that will go into effect January 1, 2012. Anyone over 16 years old who does not have an annual hunting, fishing, or trapping license or a boat registration will need this new use permit. Users will have the choice of paying $4 for a daily pass or $23 for an annual pass to all VDGIF facilities.
Early Dove Season Open Till October 10
- Dove hunters had a unique opportunity again this year with the opening day for Dove Season coinciding with the Monday Labor Day Holiday weekend. Many hunters took the opportunity to introduce a youngster, or adult friend to hunting with the Apprentice Hunting License. See details on this new license option in this section. A new regulation enacted last year states that dove hunters are no longer required to wear blaze orange during the deer firearms seasons. The first segment of Dove Season runs September 3 - October 10, and the second segment starts October 25 through November 5, 2011. Remember safety first and have fun!
- Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
- 2011 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
- Remember to get a new HIP number.
- Non-Toxic Shot Now Required for Hunting Rail, Snipe, Moorhen and Gallinule
- Shotguns Need to be Plugged for Doves, Ducks, Geese and More...
New Seasons Set For Waterfowl and Webless Migratory Birds
New season dates for waterfowl were set by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries at their August 16, 2011, meeting in Richmond. The dates and bag limits for various migratory waterfowl and webless species are posted in the sidebar of the Outdoor Report under the "Hunting Season at a Glance" section, or can be found on the Department's website.
There are 2 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days for 2011-12
Youth days are no longer required to be consecutive hunting days, so Virginia is able to provide two Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days this season. The first Youth Hunt Day has been set for October 22, similar to when it has been held in the past, and the second day has been set for February 4 after the close of the regular duck season. See Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days. To get prepared and learn the skills necessary to be a successful waterfowler, the VA Waterfowlers Association in partnership with the VDGIF and Holiday Lake 4-H Center are hosting a Waterfowlers Workshop September 30-October 2. For more information and to register for this upcoming workshop or to find out about similar opportunities in the future, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website or the VAWFA website. Come join us for a fantastic weekend at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center near Appomattox.
Apply for 2011 – 2012 Quota Hunts July 1
For the 2011 – 2012 hunting season, there are 35 quota hunt opportunities to take black bear, feral hogs, quail, rabbits, turkeys, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer. Beginning July 1, 2011, hunters may apply by mail, telephone or online. For telephone application call: 1 - 877 - VAHUNTS (1/877-824-8687). For online application go to: www.HuntFishVA.com
VDGIF Board Approves Facilities Use Fee and Certain License Increases
At the May 3, 2011, Board of Game & Inland Fisheries meeting in Richmond, several milestone decisions were made that will benefit the Agency and its ability to continue to provide a multitude of services to all the citizens and visitors of the Commonwealth. The Board approved only the second increase in license fees in the past twenty-four years along with an exciting array of hunting and trapping regulation proposals. The adoption of a facilities 'Use Fee' is important well beyond the actual revenue derived since it provides the means by which folks who use these wonderful Wildlife Management Areas and state fishing lakes can contribute, on either a daily or annual basis, to their maintenance and management. Users with valid hunting, trapping or fishing licenses, boat registrations, 16 years old or younger, or hiking the Appalachian Trail will not have to pay the use fee. In order to educate the public sufficiently, the Use Fee will have a sunrise of January 1, 2012. Additionally, the Board approved license increases on some, but not all licenses with a special focus on basic hunting and fishing licenses, the trout license and the big game license. Nonresident licenses were increased in a manner that was proportional to the increase for resident sportsmen and women. Staff's recommendations and the Board's action reflected the general theme learned during the 120-day public comment period. The Board's decisions were made easier due to solid support from the Agency Advisory Group, which is made up of leaders of sportsman and outdoor enthusiast organizations that meet quarterly with the Director and Department staff to gain input and make recommendations on program management, operations, legislation and future services options. The details of the hunting and fishing regulations, license fee changes and facilities user fees are being reviewed by staff and will be posted on the VDGIF web site shortly and will be covered in more detail in future editions of the Outdoor Report.
Award winning outdoor writer and Outdoor Report contributor Bill Cochran has posted a review of the Board actions from the "sportsman's perspective" on his Roanoke Times online outdoor column. Bill's own insight and interviews with various sportsmen leaders on these Board actions will provide you with the background and projected program enhancements to be gained by these actions.
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 email@example.com 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
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.
Licensed adults who take a novice hunting with an Apprentice License should be vigilant to ensure that hunting safety rules are followed at all times. It is best if the licensed adult does not carry a loaded firearm, so that the focus can stay on the apprentice. Teach new hunters to be safe from the start!
There are youth and family-friendly events throughout the year 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your locality in the e-mail.
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Like Father, Like Son (or Daughter)... Tree Stand Safety Must be Taught by Example
Mark Allamong is a Certified Treestand Safety Instructor and has provided this article to stress the importance of adults setting the proper example for safety and responsibility with young hunting companions.
As a volunteer Hunter Education Instructor, I've talked with literally hundreds of people about treestand safety. One question that is always asked is "do you wear a safety harness?" There are three answers that we hear: 1) Yes, all the time; 2) Most of the time; and 3) Never. If you're one of the hunters that answer #1, fantastic! If you answer #2 or #3, you need some help.
One thing that I have noticed about hunting habits (including treestand use) is that if a father answers "most of the time" or "never", the son (or daughter) will give the same answer. Despite nearly all of the youngsters having recently taken a Hunter Education class, the answer is not surprising at all. Children that hunt with their parents tend to pick up the same habits, be they good or bad. When a young hunter says they use a harness sometimes or not at all, I ask them what they learned in their Hunter Education class. The answer is always the same – to wear a harness from the time you leave the ground until you get back down. When asked why they don't heed this warning, they will say "my dad doesn't use one" or "my dad said I didn't need one". HELLO!!!!
Let me address the adult hunter that does this to their child. Would you let your child carry a loaded gun pointed at their head? Would you let them play in the middle of a busy road? Would you put an apple on top of their head and try to shoot it off with an arrow? As ridiculous as this may sound, you're doing the same thing to your child by not making them properly use a safety harness when they hunt from a treestand.
Do you want to be responsible for the death of your child? Do you want to spend the rest of your life taking care of your quadriplegic or paraplegic child…and then worry who will take care of them when you're gone? Let's be real here folks, gravity is not selective, it doesn't care if you're old or young, male or female, rich or poor. One slip and you're on the ground before you have time to think about it.
Statistics show that at least one-third of all hunting incidents are falls from treestands. Youngsters take chances; it's the Superman complex of "I can't get hurt". Well, I got news for you; they can and will get hurt if they fall from an elevated position. The majority of falls result in SERIOUS injury—broken legs, back, neck, ribs, pelvis, lacerated liver, ruptured spleens, or worse, death.
Parents, if you don't use fall protection, that's your business…you're an adult. If your child doesn't use a safety harness, shame on you. Insist that your child hunts safe and make them wear, and properly use, a safety harness from the time they leave the ground until the time they get back down. Someday they'll love you for it. And who knows, maybe you'll pick up some good habits too so you'll be around to hunt with them for a long, long time.
For more information on tree stand use and safety, review other articles by Dick and the VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors Tree Stand Safety Team at: http://www.bowhunting.net/.
Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!
If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website. There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10-hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.
Stay Prepared for Hurricane Weather!
With Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee causing flooding, power outages and devastation through a large portion of Virginia and with more storms brewing in the Atlantic and Gulf that could cause more threats, it is time to review your preparedness and restock your emergency supplies and procure any items you may have now realized you were without to maintain your safety and protect your property. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has timely and useful information on getting prepared for a hurricane or severe rain storm events:
- Make a plan. Decide on a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if your family is separated and cannot return home because of closed roads. Choose an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family's point of contact for emergency communications.
- Get a kit. Gather these basic supplies for stormy weather: three days food; three days water (a gallon per person per day); a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with extra batteries; and your written family emergency plan.
- Stay informed. Before, during and after a winter storm, you should listen to local media for information and instructions from emergency officials. Be aware of winter storm watches and warnings and road conditions
Additional information and resources are available online at Ready Virginia.
Protecting Your Boat During Hurricane Season -- Berthing & Shelter Requirements
Considerations to remain in port during hurricane passage must include an evaluation of the amount of protection afforded by the port. The direction from which the strongest winds are forecast to blow along with the potential for storm surge must be factored in when deciding whether to seek haven pier side, at anchorage, or further inland to more protected anchorage. For instance, storm surge can pose significant problems to vessels tied pier side. Substantial rises in water level may place a vessel, previously in a protected wind/wave regime, into an area exposed to significantly greater winds and waves. Similarly, many port and dock facilities are fixed. Although sufficient to support the normally small tidal range of the region, they can quickly become submerged when exposed to even minimal hurricane related surge. Additionally, attention to the tying of lines is also of considerable importance. This is because the force on a moored vessel will nearly double for every 15 knots of wind from tropical storm force (34 KT) to hurricane force (64 KT). Therefore, a vessel tied to the pier under normal situations can quickly break from the pier in periods of higher winds causing substantial damage to itself or other vessels. www.nhc.noaa.gov
Boat owners need to keep a close eye on hurricanes when they are approaching. Regardless of whether you own a trailerable boat or a boat moored in a marina there are some very important precautions you need to take. First and foremost: Don't wait until the hurricane hits to prepare!
Hurricane Preparedness Checklist from the USCG Auxiliary
If you need to secure your boat in a marina:
- Tie high on pilings to allow for rising water.
- Run extra line and double tie every knot.
- Purchase rope, duct tape and other materials early before supplies run low.
- Cover all tie lines at contact points with rubber to prevent chafing.
- Disconnect shore power.
- Verify battery power is sufficient to run bilge pumps throughout and after the storm.
- Remove or secure all deck gear, radio antennas, outriggers, rafts, sails, tops, canvases, curtains, booms and dinghies and all other objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Insert plugs in engine ports.
- Close fuel valves and cockpit seacocks.
- Install fenders to protect the boat from rubbing against the dock.
- Use duct tape to seal windows and hatches.
- Remove all canvas, chains, life preservers and other equipment to reduce wind load.
- Ensure fire extinguishers and lifesaving equipment are in working order.
- Keep copies of boat registration and insurance in a safe place NOT on the boat.
If you choose to take your boat out of the water, or have your boat on a trailer:
- Park the boat/trailer in the garage or near a building.
- Fill the boat no more than halfway with water to add weight. (Overfilling can damage the trailer.)
- Remove outboard motors (if possible).
- Let some air out of trailer the tires.
- Place blocks in front and back of the tires to prevent rolling.
- Lash the trailer down with heavy ropes or chains.
"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.
Call VDACS to Get Regulations Before Digging Ginseng
National Forests and VDGIF Lands Closed to Harvest of this Threatened Plant
As the temperatures cool in September and ginseng diggin' season begins, Vance Shearin who staffs the VDGIF Headquarters Information Desk notes that numerous calls come in for information on harvesting ginseng on Wildlife Management Areas and other public wild lands. Since wild ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, American ginseng) is a threatened species where it occurs in the wild, harvesting this medicinal plant is regulated by the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). and you can find detailed information and guidelines online. Interested 'sengers' can also call the VDACS Office of Plant and Pest Services at (804) 786-3515 for more details.
Reminder: Effective September 1, Feeding Deer is Illegal in Virginia
Effective September 1, it will be illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The annual prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. In addition, it is now illegal to feed deer year-round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and in the city of Winchester as part of the Department's chronic wasting disease (CWD) management actions established in April 2010.
This regulation does not restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences.
Problems with feeding deer include: unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats; increasing the likelihood for disease transmission, and increasing human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and diminishing the wild nature of deer.
In addition, feeding deer has law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused law enforcement problems for the Department's conservation police officers.
Deer Feeding was Booming Along with the Population
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Deer Project Coordinators Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon noted when the regulation first took effect in 2006 that, for more than 20 years, the practice of feeding deer had expanded across the eastern United States among both deer hunters and the non-hunting general public. The most common reason for feeding deer is to improve their nutrition and to supplement the habitat's ability to support more deer; in other words, to increase the carrying capacity for deer.
According to Knox, many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but this is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia. In Virginia, deer die-offs due to winter starvation are rare. In addition, according to Lafon, "We do not need more deer in Virginia. In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state."
Nelson Lafon completed a revision of the Department's Deer Management Plan in June 2007. Based on his research, it appears that the citizens of the Commonwealth would like to see deer populations reduced over most of the state. Lafon noted that Virginia's deer herds could be described as overabundant from a human tolerance perspective and stated that feeding deer only makes this overabundance problem worse.
Is Your Birdfeeder Attracting Deer?
Supplemental feeding artificially concentrates deer on the landscape, leading to over-browsed vegetation, especially in and around feeding sites. Over-browsing destroys habitat needed by other species, including songbirds.
It is not unheard of for deer to take advantage of birdfeeders and begin to eat spilled birdseed. Individuals who inadvertently are feeding deer through their birdfeeders may be requested by VDGIF conservation police officers to remove feeders temporarily until the deer disperse.
Deer Are Wild Animals
In their natural state, deer are wild animals that have a fear of humans because we have preyed upon deer for thousands of years. However, when deer are fed by people, they lose this fear, becoming less wild and often semi-domesticated.
Fed deer are often emboldened to seek human foods, leading them into conflict with people. Despite their gentle appearance, they can become lethally dangerous during mating season capable of goring and slashing with their sharp hooves and antlers. There are numerous cases across the country of individuals injured, and in some cases even killed, by deer they treated as pets.
People often treat the deer they feed as if they own them, even going so far as to name individual deer. Not only does this association diminish the "wildness" of "wildlife", it also leads to a mistaken notion regarding ownership of wildlife. Deer and other wildlife are owned by all citizens of the Commonwealth and are managed by the Department as a public resource.
Deer Feeding Congregates Animals, Increasing the Spread of Disease
The increase in deer feeding that has taken place in Virginia over the past decade now represents one of Virginia's biggest wildlife disease risk factors. Deer feeding sets the stage for maintaining and facilitating the spread of disease.
Diseases are a big issue in deer management today across the United States. Feeding deer invariably leads to the prolonged crowding of animals in a small area, resulting in more direct animal to animal contact and contamination of feeding sites. Deer feeding has been implicated as a major risk factor and contributor in three of the most important deer diseases in North America today. These include tuberculosis, brucellosis, and CWD. Virginia's first case of CWD was discovered in a doe killed during November 2009, in western Frederick County less than one mile from the West Virginia line.
Please Don't Feed Deer
It is clear that the negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits. If you are not feeding deer, you should not start. If you are currently feeding deer, you should now stop. Feeding deer is against the law between September 1 and the first Saturday in January. If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to the Department's Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712.
To learn more about Virginia wildlife regulations visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at www.dgif.virginia.gov.
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.
Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia Now Available
A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia is a 44 page field guide that covers all 27 species of frogs and toads that inhabit Virginia. Species accounts, descriptions, biology, behavior, habitats and conservation issues are all described and illustrated through more than 80 photographs and drawings. Included is a complimentary CD of The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads. The price is $10.00 and is available through the VDGIF website.
Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
Look at the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for September:
- What are some of the bird species that begin migration south?
- What date does Autumn officially begin? What natural event determines this date?
Answers to August 24th edition quiz for nature events for September...
- What happens to the "velvet like" covering on buck deer antlers during this time of year? The velvet is a series of blood vessels that nourish the antlers as they grow. When the growing is done the velvet like covering dies and is rubbed off on saplings. Many hunters search the woods for these "buck rubs" as an indication of the number and size of bucks in the area.
- Which of the "puddle" or surface feeding ducks is the first to begin migration to South America? Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors orphna).
Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.
Habitat Improvement Tips
Quail Restoration With Warm Season Grasses Workshop Scheduled September 24
Virginia's new Quail Management Plan (QMP) aims to restore native bobwhite quail populations to the levels that existed in the 1970s. Learn about efforts to restore the population to the Catawba Valley by establishing native warm-season grasses on your property. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday September 24 from 10am to noon at the Catawba Community Center. VDGIF Biologist Andy Rosenberger will share information about programs and options, followed by a guided tour of the meadows established at the Catawba Sustainability Center. This event is co-sponsored by VA Tech Catawba Sustainability Center and the Catawba Valley Ruritans. Workshops are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, contact Paul Hinlicky at email@example.com.
Catawba Landcare is a group of residents and landowners in the Catawba and North Fork Valleys near Roanoke, dedicated to the care of the land and community. The group organizes workshops to share their stories about caring for the land and to learn from the experiences of neighbors and professional natural resource managers.
Fall is Best Time to Establish Wildlife Plantings
Thinking about establishing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife? "Your timing is excellent," advises VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Lou Verner. "Fall is absolutely the best time to establish new plants, whether you're considering trees or shrubs, wildflowers, or if you have the space, a wildflower meadow. Remember to seek out those species that are native to your region of the state." Fall planting (September through early November) gives trees and shrubs 6-8 months to establish their root system under cool, moist conditions. This will greatly increase their odds of surviving their first hot, often dry, summer. One of the more common mistakes made in planting trees or shrubs is digging the hole too deep and not digging out two to three times the diameter of the root ball. Directions for properly planting trees and shrubs can be found on the Virginia Department of Forestry's website: How to Plant a Seedling. A list of native species and their benefits for wildlife habitat, erosion control and other benefits can be found on the VDGIF website.
Fall seeding of native wildflowers imitates natural reseeding. Changes occur to the seed and seed coat (stratification) during winter that enhances germination. Spring annuals may germinate and lie dormant through the winter, while most perennials and warm season grasses will germinate in the spring. Properly preparing the seedbed this fall will help develop a successful wildflower garden next spring.
One final thing to put on your fall "to NOT do" list: do NOT deadhead all your wildflower seed heads! Rudbeckia and Echinacea species (Black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans, many species of coneflowers) are especially valued seed resources used by many of our over wintering finches. Happy fall gardening!
For more information on the Habitat at Home© program, see the Department's 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:
- Andy Rosenberger – Christiansburg – (540) 381-4221 ext. 128
- Katie Baker Martin – Farmville – (434) 392-4171 ext. 106
- Debbie Wright – Verona – (540) 248-6218 ext.108
- Mike Budd – Fredericksburg – (540) 899-9492 ext. 101
- Bob Glennon – Smithfield – (757) 357-7004 ext. 126
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, and activities and accomplishments of the Quail Recovery Team read the latest edition of The Bobwhite Bulletin (PDF). Also view the video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative."
Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available
The Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs. VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Carol Heiser advises, "Native shrubs in particular are an excellent choice for wildlife, because they support native insects that make up a critical part of the food web. Native plants are better adapted to our growing conditions and are much easier to maintain than non-native ones. So many of our neighborhoods lack the kind of native plant diversity that wildlife really needs. You'll be surprised at the number of birds and other wildlife that use native shrubs. Visit our website to purchase your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
|To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.|
Region III - Southwest
Illegal Fish Found on Stringer... On August 27, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall and Sergeant Jamie Davis conducted a boat patrol on Laurel Bed Lake at Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Russell County. During the patrol, Senior Officer Hall noticed a boat with three people onboard making its way directly to the upper boat ramp on the lake. The subject on the bow of the boat kept struggling with a stringer hanging off the bow of the boat as he observed the Officers approach. Senior Officer Hall had previously noted the subjects fishing in a small cove. After making contact with the subjects, Senior Officer Hall asked if they had any fish onboard the boat. The subject on the bow of the boat picked up the end of a stringer that he had been working with furiously upon the Officers approach. When asked by Sergeant Davis to see the other end of the stringer that was in the water, the subject produced the other end. The stringer contained three bluegills and a sixteen inch smallmouth bass, which is illegal to creel from Laurel Bed Lake. Officer Hall issued two summonses for possession of illegal fish and operation of a motorboat without the required safety equipment.
Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont
Homeowner Caught Killing Bear Illegally... While patrolling an ATV trespassing complaint, Conservation Police Officer Nick Gleeson came upon a freshly killed bear. Using his knowledge of bear movement and the terrain he was patrolling, Officer Gleeson was able to track the bear approximately 300 yards to an access road between a number of houses. The following day Officer Gleeson and Sergeant Culbertson returned to the last observed track and began to interview the homeowners. After a short time, the Officers obtained enough information to identify a potential suspect. Upon interviewing the suspect, he stated that while outside mowing his lawn his wife observed the bear in the front yard. The suspect then went into the house, retrieved a 30-30 rifle, got in his pick-up truck and proceeded to chase the bear down the road. When the bear exited the road, the suspect "got out of his truck" and shot it. When asked why he shot the bear, he stated he didn't mean to kill it he only wanted to hit it with his truck. Warrants were obtained and court date set.
Goggles and Fins Tip Off Illegal Spear Fishing in the Rappahannock... On two different occasions in one weekend patrol on the Rappahannock River, Conservation Police Officers Gleeson and Plaster encountered two different groups of individuals in the water wearing goggles, fins and using spear guns to catch game fish. Once approached, both groups stated that they were unaware that their activity was illegal. The appropriate summonses were issued.
Unlawful Fishing "Net" Summonses... On 9/5/2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Bilwin and Solomon responded to the Morgan Ford Boat Ramp in Warren County to address a complaint of people using a cast net to catch game fish. Once the officers arrived they noticed a group of individuals about 500 yards north of the boat ramp using what appeared to be a cast net. Officers utilized a nearby landowner's property to gain access to the part of the river where the individuals were located. After searching the banks of the river, it was determined that the individuals were already on their way back to the boat ramp. The officers met the individuals back at the ramp and noticed a stringer with 40+ game fish and a cast net. The individuals admitted to having two guys holding the net while the other two guys attempted to scare the fish into the net. One of the individuals was a juvenile and was given a warning while the other three males were issued two summonses each. One for no fishing license and one for unlawful fishing practices.
New Wildlife K-9 Team Pilot Program Needs Your Support
VDGIF Law Enforcement has introduced a pilot program K-9 Team with three Labrador retrievers trained in tracking, wildlife detection and evidence recovery. The dogs and their CPO handlers graduated from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' K-9 Academy in April. This was an intense and physically demanding eight week training course that all three handlers completed successfully with their dogs and returned to Virginia to begin their work. These K-9 units have already made an impressive start assisting CPOs and other state and local law enforcement and search and rescue teams with the dogs special skills and abilities. The members of the new K-9 Team are: from Portsmouth in Tidewater region, K-9 Officer Megan Vick and her partner Jake; from Appomattox County in Central Virginia, K-9 Officer Richard Howald and his partner Scout; and from Rockingham County in Western Virginia, K-9 Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice.
VDGIF Director of Law Enforcement Col Dabney Watts, Jr., has high expectations for this new versitle Team noting, "It is our hope to fund this new agency program through donations made by individuals, businesses and wildlife organizations. In fact all three of our original dogs, as well as the 2 dogs from Kansas, were donated either by individuals or animal shelters. Through the efforts of VDGIF Grants Manager Tom Wilcox and Jenny West, Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, the Wildlife Foundation has agreed to accept and manage monetary donations made to the Department's K-9 program. Information on how to donate is provided on both the Foundation and Department websites. In addition Lee Walker, Director of Outreach, arranged for the printing of trading cards with a picture of each canine unit on the front and a brief introduction of each officer and his or her dog on the back along with information on how to donate to the program. These cards will be handed out at all public events attended by one of our canine units. See the feature on the K-9 Team's introduction at the Richmond Squirrels baseball game in the July 13th editon.
Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K-9 Team and see demonstrations of their remarkable skills used in enforcement of wildlife laws and search and rescue.
These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!
If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
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.
The Fishing Spot
by Chris Dunnavant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator
Greetings folks! My name is Chris Dunnavant and I am the Angling Education Coordinator and Director of the Angler Recognition Program here at VDGIF. My travels with the Agency as well as my personal fishing exploits have taken me all over the Commonwealth to experience great fishing and meet some really neat and talented people. In this new feature of the Outdoor Report, I will be sharing a variety of fishing information including fishing tips & hotspots, interviews, stories, program news and much more. I hope to pass along to you some of the wonderful opportunities afforded to me as an angler that may help improve your skills and at the least, provide some enjoyment. After all, Fishing is Fun!
Catfishing on the James
As Angling Education Coordinator one of the opportunities I have is to conduct educational fishing workshops. One of the most popular, and my personal favorite, is the Flat Out Catfishing Workshops on the James River at Pony Pasture. Every summer we gather on the banks of the James and receive instruction from Captain Mike Ostrander and then wade out in the river to go after big Flatheads. Typically we catch 20-35 catfish in a day with some toping the 25 and even the 30 pound mark.
The James River has developed into a world class fishery for both Blue Cats and Flatheads. They are relatively easy to catch once located and are found in abundance and grow big, really big. That combination makes them a great species to target for some great fishing fun. Whether an experienced angler or a novice; everyone enjoys the pull of a hard fighting fish and the anticipation of the next bite being a 40, 50, 60 pound fish or more is almost too much to bear.
Catfishing is a year round opportunity. Captain Mike says the best time to fish for Blues is mid-October through April and the best time for Flatheads is May through October. The primary habitat for Blues is the tidal section below the fall line. There are a few places to fish from the bank, Ancarrows and Dutch Gap boat landings, but access to Blues on the Lower James will be primarily by boat. For starters, fish from Richmond to the old channel at Turkey Island. The river channel is easier to navigate in this section and inhabited by plenty of fish. Deep Bottom and Osbourne boat landings are other good launch points along with those previously mentioned.
Mike says channel ledges or drop offs are a good place to begin locating concentrations of Blue Catfish. Idle around watching the Depthfinder for drops and schools of bait. Mike recommends to not stay on one spot too long if you are not getting bit, "move around and learn a little bit more each time you go, add to your knowledge base and do not get discouraged."
The rocky, current laden waters of the upper river are where you will you will find the best habitat for Flatheads. Any deep hole within the city of Richmond may contain Flatheads and can be accessed for wading through the numerous sites in the James River Park System, www.jamesriverpark.org or by kayak, canoe or raft.
It is tough to have one rod for both species of catfish, but if he had to choose he would recommend a 6'6"-7' medium heavy or heavy action casting rod and a Shimano Calcutta 400 or Abu Garcia 6500 reel. If you are going for Blues you can go to a larger and heavier rod/reel combo and if you are targeting Flatheads exclusively you can even use a smaller reel. It has been demonstrated by many pros that today's quality bass baitcast reels can handle even big saltwater fish like Redfish and Sharks. Spool up with 20-30 pound mono, use a sinker slide above the leader and attach a 1-2 oz weight for flatheads and a 4-8 oz. weight for Blues. Tie your main line to a leader consisting of a barrel swivel, about 12" of 50-80 pound fluorocarbon, and tip it off with an 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hook. Use a live sunfish for Flatheads and fresh cut Gizzard Shad for Blues. Mike uses a cast net to catch shad the morning of his trip, "the fresher the better," he says.
To learn more about Captain Mike's guide service, go to www.DiscovertheJames.com.
Concession Closed at Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area
Effective August 13, 2011, the concession is closed at Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area in Washington County. Anglers may purchase daily permits at any license agent or online. Tom Hampton, VDGIF Lands and Facilities Manager for the Region 3 Southwest in Marion, noted, "Trout stocking and all other operations at the Fee Fishing Area will continue through September 30th. We regret any inconvenience that the closure of the concession for purchasing licenses and supplies may cause."
The Clinch Mountain fee fishing area (Tumbling Creek) offers put-and-take trout fishing with the added advantage that trout are stocked several times per week throughout the season. The fee fishing program operates from the first Saturday in April through September at Clinch Mountain. During the fee fishing season, a daily permit is required in addition to a valid Virginia freshwater fishing license. After the fee fishing season, these areas revert to designated stocked trout waters and a trout license is required instead of the daily permit.
The fee fishing area is located within the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in southwest Virginia, about 7 miles west of Saltville. The area consists of approximately 7 miles of Big Tumbling Creek and its two major tributaries, Briar Cove Creek and Laurel Bed Creek.
New Boat Ramp Opened on New River at Ivanhoe
The latest of 216 public boating access sites managed or developed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is now open in Carroll County for hand-launched boats. Located just off Trestle Road near Ivanhoe, the site serves the New River. The facility consists of a gravel parking lot and gravel trail to the water's edge. Located on the north shore of the New River about one mile below Buck Dam and about four miles upstream from the VDGIF's boat landing at Austinville, the Ivanhoe boating access site should be popular with anglers wishing to fish from the shoreline or float to Austinville. The Ivanhoe Public Boating Access site is reached by turning east off of Route 94 south of Ivanhoe onto State Route 658 (Trestle Road). Continue on Route 658 under the New River Trail, and then take an immediate left to the boat landing. For information on fishing the New River, check the reports in the Fishin' Report- Sarah White's Notebook, or Visit the VDGIF website for New River fishing and boating access.
Gear up for Fall Boating! 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.
Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the Be Safe... Have Fun section.
Video Features Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.
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:
- Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
- 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:
- Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
- Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
- Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Region 1 - Tidewater
Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, email@example.com. After all that rain, the striper bite has slowed down, and the herring can't be found in numbers. Bass fishermen have not fished much last week because of all the rain, but the ones that did caught fish. We had the first top water bite of the year, and with good water and lower temperatures it will get better. The fish are in the 1 to 3 lbs. class. There are lots of large bluegills in the shallows, wigglers and small jigs should work. Some crappie showed up this week, not in good numbers, but some were caught, which is an improvement over weeks past. The creek is only 6 in. down the temperature is 87 degrees and the visibility is at 9 ft.
Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107, www.gloucesterva.info. Contributed by Park Supervisor Blair Evans. From talking with some of the regular anglers here at Beaverdam, it sounds like bass fishing has remained slow. The cooling water temperatures should hopefully be turning things around and the fishing should be improving soon. My recommendation would be to try to fish grass and stumps located around transitional areas of the lake. It looks like anglers will really need to pay attention to their depth finders. Anglers looking for catfish and sunfish should still have pretty good luck. The water is 85 degrees, at full pool and slightly stained.
The last open Big Bash Bass Tournament will be held this Saturday September the 17th. For more information, visit our website or call the park at (804) 693-2107. Park Hours: September: 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; October: 7:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Cat Point Creek: Contributed by our new reporter Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. Penn Burke is a licensed boat captain running fishing charters for shad in the spring and early evening catfish/rockfish bite at the Deep Water Terminal area of Richmond. He also teaches sailing, kids or adults in his fleet of Sunfish or he will come aboard the owner's vessel for detailed lessons if they are unsure of their skills.
Late August and September is a prime time for gar fishing on Cat Point Creek. Lots of fun to catch but I wouldn't want to eat another one. I tried it one time, it was okay, but I'd rather fry up a mess of small catfish fillets. I went up in the creek a couple of times in late August and the action was great. The fish are schooling up and gulping on the surface while putting on a show. I was fishing recently by myself and had 3 fish on at one time. That got pretty exciting. Once I had them all sorted out and under control, I did take one picture of the largest of the 3 at 47 inches. The others were about 40 to 42 inches but I did not measure them. Not bad, 3 citations on at one time! Life is good. These fish know that fall is coming and they are feeding pretty good right now. The action is hot and you need to give them about 3 minutes of chew and scale time before they swallow the bait and you stand a chance of setting the hook. During this time they are swimming towards the boat, away from the boat, on the top, down deep and you just never know. You can imagine how much fun it was to have 3 on at one time and by myself.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, spot are there for the taking around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, at the mouths of the York and James, and at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. They are biting on Fishbite and blood worms. Croaker can be found at the same places, and will take the same bait. Bluefish are hanging out at Cape Henry, and are going for spoons. Most flounders brought up from the Bay are too small to keep. The water is fairly clear and 77 degrees.
Back Bay: New reporter and local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that bass action has been hit and miss. Anglers are having good luck with spinners; with one lucky man landing a 6.71 lb. lunker with one. Anglers using plastics have not been as successful. No word on crappie. Cat action has been fair with cut bait and live or cut eels. No word on bluegill or perch. The water is stained and in the mid 80s.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that the bass bite is good in his area. Top-waters, shallow running cranks and spinners are all producing well. Crappie fishing is slow, but should pick up soon as the slabs start to school up. No word on cats, but they are out there if you want to fish for them. Lots of bluegill have been brought up on worms, crickets and popping bugs. White perch are schooling up and attacking jigs and night crawlers. The water is clear and in the mid 70s to low 80s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass are being very cooperative. Top-waters early and late and plastics during the day should do the job. Crappie action is not very good, but should improve as they start to school up. Lots of cats are coming in on cut bait. Bluegill and perch have been hard to land, but fishing for both will improve as the water cools. The water is fairly clear, low and in the low to mid 80s.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Fishing on the Blackwater and Nottoway as of this writing (September 9th) is not advised. River levels are on the rise again and the fast water is dangerous. Also some small fish kills are being reported, though mostly red horse suckers so far. Dissolved oxygen levels are still falling (1.12 ppm 9/8/11 on the Blackwater at Franklin) and there could be more fish kills by the weekend.
Recycle Your Used Fishing Line
You know how aggravating it can be to be pulling in you lure and you snag a wad of fishing line discarded by some discourteous angler into the water or strewn on the bank where some unsuspecting critter will get hopelessly entangled. In 2009, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) launched a monofilament fishing line recycling program across the Commonwealth. Both state agencies installed PVC pipe recycling containers at public boats launches at numerous lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Anglers and boaters are encouraged to deposit used monofilament fishing line into the PVC containers. According to VDGIF Fisheries Assistant Director Ron Southwick, who is coordinating the line recycling program for the Department, "Several conservation organizations and municipalities jumped on board as partners sponsoring sites for the containers across the state." Sponsoring groups include the Virginia Bass Federation, Fairfax County Park Authority, Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter of the Isaac Walton League, Northern Virginia Kayak Fishing Club, Orange County High School Anglers Club, City of Richmond Parks and Recreation, VA B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club. In addition to providing the monofilament fishing line recycling containers, the sponsors also help maintain the containers and collect the used line for recycling. Groups interested in participating in the fishing line recycling program can contact Ron Southwick at (804) 367-1292 or by email Ron.Southwick@dgif.virginia.gov. If you're out with a novice angler during the Free Fishing Days June 3-5, set a good example and make an effort to collect any litter and discarded fishing line from others and recycle in proper containers.
- Why a Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling Program?
- Recycling Container Construction Guide (PDF)
- Recycling Container Assembly and Installation Guide (PDF)
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike told me that the all the rain has resulted in lower water temperatures. Blues and flatheads are going for live eels, cut shad and bream. No word on bass or crappie. Fishing should improve as the water level gets lower. Mike also reminds us to always use caution when fishing in his area after such strong storms: the water will be full of debris, some of which could be large enough to wreck your boat. So don't fish in the main current, stick to the sides. The water is muddy and cooling.
Region 2 - Southside
Ft. Pickett Reservoir: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. For several years I have been trying to catch Tommyeden Lake open on Ft. Pickett and I finally got a chance to fish it on Labor Day week. I got to the lake by 10:00 a.m. to find the water very brown with visibility down to about a foot. Since the water was dark I thought I would fish my chartreuse 2 in. twister tail. I fished water from 4 to 8 feet deep, catching a couple bluegill in several hours before I gave up and dug out the fly rod and fished the number 10 popping bug and caught a total of 16 bluegill and two 14 inch bass. I had the boat back on the trailer by 4:00 p.m. I got all the bluegill around the shore line and lily pads in the deeper water since all the water less than 4 feet was covered in lilies. I did have the water explode once with one of those larger pesky bass, but he was slower than the others and I was able to snatch the bug away without him latching onto the hook.
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. We got water! Even though the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee dumped a lot of water on us; the James is dropping but still off color. Hopefully by mid week we will be back to chasing the smallmouth. The week before the storm, fishing was insane! It was the best week for catching numbers of fish this year. Several 16 to 17 inch fish were boated. Fish were eating just about anything you threw to them. They must have known conditions were getting ready to go downhill. The smallies will start their transition towards the deeper holes as we move into the fall. Start looking for fish in more of the midstream structure along and in the ledges and shelves.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that bass action is fair, with cranks, buzzbaits and Carolina rigs working well. Crappie are in deep brush piles, and will take a minnow or jig. Catfishing is good on the upper end of the Reservoir, with live bream and cut shad being the baits of choice. Bream are being landed around docks and banks; they are going for red wigglers. The water at the upper end of the Reservoir is stained, while the lower end is clear. Water temperature is in the low 80s.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. According to Tom Reisdorf, there's a lot of water in the James and "the fish are hungry". A popping bug on the surface or a minnow imitator under water will likely land you a smallmouth. Fishing for rainbows and browns in the Jackson is good. Grasshopper imitators are a good bet there. The water in the James is clearing and in the low 80s.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski reports that the bass bite is fair, with top-waters early and late and plastics during the day being your best bet. Fish these lures on the drop-offs. Striper fishing is "excellent". They are going for cut bait and shad. Ron noted that netting shad is very easy on the Virginia side of the Lake now. No word on crappie. Cat action is okay, with worms and stinkbaits proving effective. No word on perch. The water is clear and cooling.
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. The store will be closing for the winter on October 3rd. Bargain hunters take note: there is a big sale going on, with low prices on fishing, hunting and shooting equipment.
Remember with these nice sunny days comes a hidden killer, SUNBURN, and all the bad stuff that comes with it. Blackwater and Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner cautions, "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."
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett says that bass fishing is slow during the day. Your best bet is to find some hydrilla and drop shot a 4 inch Roboworm. Another good bet is to rip a chatterbait or square billed crankbait through the grass. Action picks up at night; with Jolt Spinners in a dark color or a black and blue chatterbait being good choices. The striper bite is picking up. Try slow trolling an umbrella rig around 30 to 40 feet down. Soon it will be time to try live shad behind a planer board. No word on crappie. Cat action is good with live shad. Bluegills are "anywhere and everywhere", so get some worms and "have a ball". The water is clear and in the upper 70s to low 80s.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that local smallmouths are going for spinners. Muskie fishing is slow, but try a live sucker. The water is slightly stained, at a good level, and cooling.
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. Well, Tropical Storm Lee has left the Upper New River a red, muddy mess. The fishing was just starting to pick up nicely, so hopefully the good fall bite will be on when the river starts to clear, probably around September 14th or so. Top-water should be the ticket for smallies and muskie as soon as we get back on the water. Catfish and carp fishing has been hot. Corn seems to be out producing dough baits for the carp. Water temp is in the mid 70s.
Use common courtesy on the river and at landings... Blackwater and Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner advises 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.
Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont
North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly guru Harry Murray says the smallmouth streams in both the North and South Forks of the River are clearing and giving good fishing. Due to the water level in the South Fork, floating is better than wading. The North Fork is fine for wading. Good surface flies are: Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; and the Papply Deerhair Bug Green/White, size 4. Good underwater flies are: Murray's Dying Dace, size 4; and Murray's Dying Chub, size 4. The water is 68 degrees and clear.
The stocked streams in the Valley are doing well after the recent rains. Most streams are carrying some big rainbows. Fishing the deep pools is your best bet. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 10; and the Betsy Streamer, size 10. The water is clear and 65 degrees.
The mountain streams are also producing well. Good flies for the brookies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, size 16; Murray's Professor Dry Fly, size 16; and Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Caddis Olive, size 16. The water is at a good level and color and is 59 degrees.
Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. For a while Lake Moomaw was taking in four times the volume of water as was being released due to the heavy rainfall. However, due to the fact that Lake Moomaw is a flood control lake, the water levels have subsided and returned to the previous levels. The current pool is 13 ft. How has this impacted the bass fishing? Not very much! Anglers continue to catch decent numbers of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. There were a few fish in the 4 pound range caught late in the week. The strongest pattern continues to be drop shots and jigs. Some anglers have found success dragging twin tail grubs in green pumpkin color across points. Night fishing is still strong for smallies, jigs in 3/8 and 1/2 oz. sizes in black/blue and green pumpkin are proving successful. Most are rubber leg with some anglers preferring a hair jig. The most consistent trailers seem to be a twin tail twister type. Don't be afraid to fish below 20 ft., especially during the day. Water temps are still in the 80s but are starting to come down due to the cooler nights. I have not seen a migration of baitfish to the backs of coves or the upper end; stay tuned.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff is busy fishing, check his website for the latest news on fishing conditions and whats biting.
Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) Blown out! With a massive amount of rain pounding the East Coast, both of the "Raps" are running high and brown. With no significant additional rain in the near term forecast, they should be back to seasonal norms by the weekend. Double check the water levels before you go. After looking at the predictive gage for Little Falls, I doubt the Upper Potomac will be wadeable by the weekend. One of the great joys of living in Virginia is that we have opportunities! Smallie fishing blown out? Head for the Blue Ridge trout streams. The injection of water revitalized them after a hot, hot summer. The brookies should spread back out over the next week, but the water remains lower than normal so look for them near the deep holes.
Northern Virginia Lakes: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.
Rappahannock - South of Fredericksburg: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.
Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. No report this edition.
Lunga Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.
Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. No report this edition.
Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. No report this edition.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
With the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th just 10 days away away, there will be lots of youngsters hopefully getting a shot at their first deer, with the hopes of sighting a 'monster buck!' Whether it is a big buck, or just a day in the woods hunting with a parent or friends, doesn't really matter.
For a young teenage girl deer hunter, time spent in the woods with her dad can be very special and full of great memories. When your dad is a Navy Commander deployed for months on an aircraft carrier, those hunting opportunities become even more memorable. For Micheala Bryant, then a sophomore at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, her deer hunt with her dad in 2006 provided her most memorable hunting experience. Michaela won First Place for her comical and touching story about her encounter with some "gossiping does" and the different accounts of the event between her and her dad. As the First Place winner in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest, Michaela was awarded several prizes including outdoor gear and a gift card from Bass Pro. She decided to use the gift card to purchase a new slug gun from Bass Pro to go hunting with her dad that fall.
Attack of the Does
By Micheala Bryant
My most memorable outdoor experience happened in the 2006 hunting season. When the does attacked!
After a forty five minute drive to the base, we checked out our tree stands. We got there in time to get my favorite stand; number 17. Stand 17 has always been my favorite because it is the Cadillac of stands. It is big enough for two and has a wooden railing that makes you feel safe. Granted, this stand has its downfalls, one being that there have always been creepy, hairy spiders that randomly pop out of nowhere.
I climbed into my stand with my backpack and my father climbed up and handed me my gun. He stayed for about ten minutes, briefing me on where to shoot. He then left telling me that he would pick me up after dark.
I sat scanning the area while I read a horse magazine. A couple hours later, I was doing my routine scan when I saw them. Two does had popped up about two hundred yards ahead of me. I started to panic because this was the first time I saw two deer at once. I sat there as still as an iceberg for what seemed like an eternity! There were so many thoughts running through my head. I had a third person conversation with myself.
I kept my cool while watching the does. The meanest part was that they were just standing there, whispering into each other's ears as if they were gossiping about the latest hunky buck, and waving their little tails. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I didn't realize that they were slowly coming into range.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better; two other deer pop out of the woods from my left and two from my right. I thought "Oh Great! What am I supposed to do now?"
I was getting confused and pretty angry. I had six deer around my stand. I picked up my gun very slowly and sat pondering. "Now do I go for one of the two gossiping deer in front of me?" "Or do I go for the two on my left or my right?" There were so many thoughts running through my head, and the worst part was that three of the does were in range. It was just plain unfair. They had purposely popped up and were just standing there gossiping.
My father snuck in and was shocked when he discovered my doe dilemma. He laughed with me for about two minutes. He saw a very frustrated hunting buddy (me) being thoroughly mocked by the does, creepy spiders, and whatever else Mother Nature had in store.
I ended up not shooting because it got dark before I could make my decision. I'm kind of glad that I didn't shoot one because it meant that I might have taken a long shot which may have injured, but not killed. We would have then spent the night tracking down that poor doe. I learned one very important lesson: does are crafty.
My father will not let that story die. He came up with a heck of a lot funnier version that goes:
It was day three of no food, and Micheala was sitting in that stand with only a single round. Out of the blue the tree stand started to shake. She turned around only to find a doe climbing up. This doe had a black eye patch, a red bandana around her head, biker clothes, a knife in her teeth, and a tattoo that read "I HATE HUNTERS". She knew it was the doe or die. So she picked up her shotgun and pointed it at the doe. The doe's mission was simple... Micheala knew it was the moment of truth... Would it be the doe? Or would it be her?
He never finished the ending of that story, although I love his version a whole lot better than mine. All my family and friends know it. It doesn't bother me because what happened in that stand stays with the does and me... (Although I can't say that I'm not silently plotting my revenge.) The 2006 hunting season was officially dubbed "Does one, hunter none" for the Bryant household. The does had an unfair advantage over the poor lonely hunter. I will get one of them another season, another day.
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 are 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:
- Special Youth Turkey Hunting Day, October 15
- Early Warm Season Deer Hunting Safety Tips
- Treestand Safety Tips