In this edition:

Autumn Offers Bountiful Outdoor Adventure Opportunities...

Autumn has officially begun! With doves flying and the Special Youth Hunting Day last Saturday a big success and now part of the fall hunting traditions, how appropriate and timely that Virginia's hunters and anglers have good reason to continue to celebrate National Hunting & Fishing Day. Be sure and review the Wild Events You Don't Want To Miss section for the numerous youth and family opportunities for hunting and fishing related events, skill building workshops, and sportsmen's shows that offer something for beginners as well as the most experienced hunters. Visit your sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing, or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it. Be proud that 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. As you participate and celebrate in any outdoor activities this fall, be mindful of the rich traditions and heritage you enjoy and the responsibility to be a good representative of your sport. Remember safety and common courtesy are free—use them generously. Keep your outdoor adventures safe, successful, and fun.

David Coffman, Editor

3rd Youth Deer Hunting Day Record Success

A total of 1,195 deer were checked electronically on Saturday September 24th during the 3rd Youth Deer Hunting Day according to Matt Knox, VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator. This is up 82% from the 657 check electronically last year. Knox noted, "that after two consecutive years of terrible deer hunting weather on the annual youth deer hunting day, we finally got a break. Saturday was not perfect, but it was much better than the rain of 2009 and the heat of 2010."

Last year the final youth day total, including those deer checked at check stations, ended up being 1,124. If this pattern holds, it is safe to assume that 2,000 or more deer were taken by youth deer hunters this past Saturday. The success of this special hunting day is credited to the adult mentors who took time off from other routine fall Saturday activities to give these youngsters a memorable day afield and create a new tradition. If you took a young hunter afield that special day you created a unique memory and hopefully started a "new tradition" for the last Saturday in September to coincide with National Hunting & Fishing Day.

There's over 16 weeks of big game hunting left this season, so be sure and take a young person out for a hunting adventure before the seasons end – the future of our sport and hunting heritage traditions depend on it.

Youth Day Deer Kill
Year Electronic Check Stations Total
2009 951 891 1842
2010 657 467 1124
2011 1195

See the stories and photos of young hunters success in the Hunting News You Can Use section.

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.

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.

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 Waterfowlers 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 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.kneipp@dcr.virginia.gov.

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.

VA Cooperative Extension to hold 35th Anniversary Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, in collaboration with Virginia's natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will be holding their 35th Anniversary Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tour Programs starting October 13. The four tours will promote wise resource management on private forestlands and will focus on science-based forestry and wildlife management practices, public and private sources of technical and financial management assistance, and networking among landowners and natural resource professionals. There will also be demonstration stops on private, industry, and public lands that will center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices.

Tours will be held in Pittsylvania County on Oct.13, Spotsylvania County on Oct.21, Sussex County on Oct. 25 and Washington County on Oct. 28. Participants should arrive at sites by 8 a.m. Pre-registration is required, as space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is $45/person except for the Washington County tour, which is $30/person. This fee covers lunch, refreshments and transportation and is due one week before the tour date. Registration is available online. Come help celebrate the 35th anniversary of the longest running program of its kind in Virginia!

For more information, contact Jennifer Gagnon at jgagnon@vt.edu. For a printable registration brochure and on-line registration, please visit www.cnre.vt.edu/forestupdate.

Special Youth Deer Hunting Workshop at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge December 10 -- Application Deadline October 14

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in cooperation with Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is sponsoring a Novice Youth Deer Hunting Workshop on December 10, 2011 (8:30 AM - 6 PM) on the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge, VA. This workshop is designed for youth 12-18 years of age and provides the novice hunter an opportunity to develop skills beyond the basic Hunter Education course with instruction safe firearm handling, deer biology and hunting techniques for deer. The workshop includes lunch and an afternoon hunt with their mentor. Registration applications and required copies of their license must be received by October 14, 2011 to be considered for this workshop. Applications will be randomly selected to fill the available openings and will be notified by October 31, 2011. For more information, contact Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov.

Upland Classic Pheasant Hunt Scheduled in Albemarle November 12-13

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Cooler weather is here with Autumn leaves splashing color all over the Virginia landscape. It's a great time to go bird hunting! The Virginia Upland Classic Series is holding a "THANKSGIVING PHEASANT HUNT" near Charlottesville, at "Liberty Corners Farm" in Esmont, just two miles south of State Route #6, and five miles west of Scottsville. The National Upland Classic Series (NUCS) is an association of gundog enthusiasts and a division of the National Kennel Club (NKC) that caters to all pointing and flushing dogs used for bird hunting. Here in Virginia the association has been holding successful Winter Quail Hunting events at Keysville for several years now, and this year the club is holding its' first " Thanksgiving Pheasant Hunt" and gundog competition, November 12-13 at Liberty Corners Farm. All Bird hunters and their favorite dogs are welcome and invited to come participate in the fun.

Upland Classic hunts are based on as close to actual, safe hunting conditions as possible and are scored for the performance of the hunter and his dog as a team. Three pheasants are randomly planted out of sight of the upcoming hunters and then the hunter and his dog are then given twenty minutes to find the birds. Once the "find" is established the hunter (who is allowed six shells) flushes and kills the bird and the dog retrieves it. A simple point system is in place for each hunting activity, and bonus points are given for using less than six shots and for any unused minutes of the twenty minute time allowance. A scorekeeper goes along with the hunter to tabulate the score and maintain the rules. It is strictly about getting three birds safely, with fewer shots, and in less time ...it is a lot of fun.

The hunting will take place in separate fields of bird cover. Mature dogs, three years old and older, hunt in fields with dogs of similar age and experience. Younger, less experienced dogs (under three years) hunt in separate fields and compete only against each other as "amateurs". First time participants (Novices) are separated in a similar manner and the scorekeeper functions as somewhat of a coach for novices to help them learn the rules and enjoy the hunt. It is a great place to take your dogs and enjoy a day of bird work and shooting.

All flushing and pointing breeds used to hunt upland birds are welcomed in this hunt. Participants will vary from experienced field trial competitors, to first time hunters who just want to come out and shoot a pheasant or two over their dogs. The hunt is lots of fun and safe for all levels of experience hunting for birds and working with bird dogs. Prizes and Ribbons are awarded for each event.

To receive more information about participating contact: bgnorris@cox.net - VUCS, Box 430, Dutton, Virginia 23050 - phone 804-694-5118

People and Partners in the News

Virginia Naturally School Recognition Program Awards 48 Schools Certification

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Virginia Naturally School Recognition program will be awarding 48 schools for their efforts during the 2010-2011 school year. The schools have made a long-term commitment to increase the environmental literacy of their students. Each year schools have the opportunity to add to their accomplishments while continuing with past efforts.

Schools must meet minimum requirements to receive certification as a Virginia Naturally School. Schools meeting the requirements will receive a plaque for their first year of participation. First year requirements include: The integration of the environmental – related state standards into the overall school curriculum goals; staff development in environmental or resource conservation; and participation in school or community action projects. Thirteen schools will be recognized for the first time. Schools that continue their environmental stewardship efforts, receive a different state symbol pennant each year of participation. The complete list of criteria may be found on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website or linked through the Virginia Naturally website.

Virginia Naturally is the Commonwealth's official environmental education network to link citizens and students to programs and resources. For more information about the School Recognition portion of Virginia Naturally contact Suzie Gilley, Wildlife Education Coordinator, VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, P. O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104

Wildlife Center Holds 16th Call Of The Wild Conference November 12-13

The Wildlife Center of Virginia invites you to the 16th Annual Call of the Wild conference on wildlife rehabilitation November 12-13, 2011 at the Best Western Inn & Suites Conference Center in Waynesboro. Wildlife rehabilitators, veterinary professionals, wildlife biologists, environmental educators, and wildlife enthusiasts from Virginia and beyond will share ideas and knowledge that can benefit wildlife, the environment, and the continually evolving field of wildlife rehabilitation. Amanda Nicholson, director of outreach for the Wildlife Center notes that the conference is sponsored by The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation's leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. More information can be found online.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine located in Waynesboro, admitted a total of 2,302 animals for treatment during 2010 – injured, ailing, and orphaned wildlife from all across Virginia. More than 2,400 have been admitted so far in 2011.

Delta Waterfowl Northern Virginia Chapter Hosts Fundraiser Event

On Saturday August 6, the Northern Virginia Chapter of Delta Waterfowl held their annual fundraiser BBQ. Vintage decoys, guns, hunting trips as well as other outdoor gear was auctioned/raffled off to raise funds for Delta projects. Nationally the funding raised will be utilized to promote waterfowl and conservation based research as well as supporting the ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) in vital North American waterfowl breeding grounds. Locally, the Northern Virginia Chapter will use a portion of the proceeds to fund a scholarship for a university student who exhibits a desire to follow a conservation-based track in school. Remaining funds will be utilized locally among a variety of conservation and youth oriented projects. Special thanks go out to the Northern Virginia Chapter's Committee Members for their dedication and passion promoting all of Delta Waterfowl's goals. Delta Waterfowl is committed to strengthening North America's waterfowl hunting culture through its mentored hunting program and public-policy and advocacy work. All of these efforts are done with a single guiding vision—to secure the future of waterfowl and waterfowl hunting across North America.

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 wheelin4u@yahoo.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:

2011 NASP World's Tournament in Orlando October 6-8

Virginia will have seven schools represented at the 2011 National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Third World's Tournament in Orlando, FL according to VDGIF NASP State Coordinator Karen Holson. Archers, coaches, and families are invited to attend the Third Annual (NASP) World's Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex October 6-8, 2011. Competition for the 2011 NASP World's Tournament will begin the afternoon of Thursday, October 6th in the Jostens® Center & HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. All schools that attended the NASP Nationals in Louisville, Ky in July are invited to compete. For More information regarding the Third Annual NASP World Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, please visit the National Archery in the Schools Program website.

Congratulations to the Virginia school teams and good luck- shoot straight!!

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."

Virginia Bowhunters Association Celebrates 70th Anniversary

Recently, the Virginia Bowhunters Association (VBA) was recognized by VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan for their milestones and accomplishments as an outstanding hunting and conservation organization and partner with VDGIF celebrating 70 years promoting competitive archery and bowhunting throughout the Commonwealth.

The VBA was formed in 1941 by members of the Richmond Archers, to promote the sport of bowhunting and to encourage the then "Game Commission" to allow archery hunting in some of the "Game Refuge Areas." Knowing how strong a club the Bowhunters of Rockingham have always been, it was not surprising that the first county opened to bowhunting in the Old Dominion was Rockingham County, in 1949. Statewide bowhunting followed by the initiation of a season in 1956. In 1985, the VDGIF was able, with the full support and assistance of the VBA, to establish the use of a separate archery license.

The VBA has aimed to promote excellence in hunting sports throughout the Commonwealth by educating individuals and enforcing ethical practices among its members. In addition the VBA has continued to be active in the support of VDGIF initiatives centered on hunting and conservation, including membership on special commissions and study groups. The Association was also helpful in increasing funding for the Department and opening urban areas to bowhunting.

Today, the VBA is comprised of 19 clubs and includes more than 1,200 individuals and one pro shop in its membership. It is the pre-eminent organization of its type in Virginia and represents not only its members but tens of thousands of individuals who purchase an archery license. In addition, the VBA is a partner with the VDGIF and the National Bowhunter Education Foundation in the preparation and presentation of the International Bowhunter Education Program classes in Virginia, is responsible for coordinating the After School Archery Program (ASAP) in Virginia, hosts five state tournaments, sponsors more than 100 sanctioned club shoots, holds numerous charity shoots, and sponsors an annual conservation scholarship.

The benefits of a VBA membership include the ability to participate in the Annual Banquet held in March, to recognize the success of our bowhunters and tournament shooters; compete for the Bill Bennett Big Game Awards to individual bowhunters who successfully harvest one or more deer; receive the quarterly issues of FLIGHT magazine which are sent to each household; receive the Schedule Card listing all local and state tournament dates, types and times; and participate in the VBA Annual 3-D, Field Archery and Indoor Tournaments.

THE MISSION of the VBA

The purpose of this Association shall be to foster, expand and perpetuate the use of the bow in hunting all legal game; to cooperate with conservation organizations, Game and Fish Commission and Forestry Services in their efforts for preservation of our natural resources and wildlife, to promote and encourage all approaches to competitive archery activities with the State of Virginia and to generally require the highest standards of sportsman-like conduct in all phases of archery.

To learn more about the VBA, call 1.888.922.9536, e-mail: vbabowhunters@cox.net or visit their website: www.vbarchers.com.

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...

New State All Time Black Bear Record Set at Big Game Contest

It is fitting that the 72nd Eastern Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest was the same weekend sportsmen celebrate National Hunting & Fishing Day. This year what the contest lacked in quantity of deer entered, was more than made up by the quality of deer trophies scored,. The spotlight was on the new all time state record Black Bear. The winner is Clealen Dove from Rockingham County. His 592 pound bear set the new record. Ironically Clealen had hunted with bear dogs years ago but had never shot one. This was the first time he had ever shot at a bear! To read more of Clealen's humble, yet remarkable story, read award –winning outdoor columnists Bill Cochran's account at his blog Roanoke.com. The George Johnson Award for the Largest Deer Harvested in the State of Virginia during 2010-11 Hunting Season was won by Tommy Johnson of Gretna, VA. This 19 point trophy had a 24 inch spread and scored 239 14/16 under Virginia's measuring system, entering the record books as one of the state's highest scoring muzzleloader killed buck.

To view all the sores for Deer Bear and Turkey visit the VPSA website.

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

Tommy Johnson Wins State Deer Trophy Contest With "Buck of A Lifetime"

Tommy Johnson from Gretna, VA has been deer hunting for most of his 66 years. He spent a lot of seasons in the woods teaching his son Kevin and grandson Jason to be respectful, ethical, responsible sportsmen and the importance of passing on these family traditions and hunting heritage. Having never killed any "trophy bucks", the first day of muzzleloader season last year October 30, 2010 will be a day this patient hunter will always remember, as the biggest buck he had ever seen in the woods came within range. Tommy notes it was a combination of luck, experience and patience. The word around that part of the Pittsylvania County woods where the family hunted near their home, was that several 'big' bucks had been spotted. So Tommy was eager Opening Day hoping to get to at least see one. For safety walking in the woods, Tommy and his son and grandson waited till first light to move slowly to their tree stands. There was no movement till just after 9 am when he saw a big deer walking quickly out of the creek bottom up along the ridge moving away so he could not get a good shot, but the sun on the large antlers moving through the woods, Tommy knew this was a 'shooter!' Relying on his instincts, he gave a loud mouth grunt... the buck froze between 2 trees with a clear shot at the shoulder and neck... he placed the crosshairs on the shoulder and squeezed the trigger on his reliable Knight Muzzleloader BK93 loaded with 100 grains powder propelling the 240 grain Knight bullet –BOOM!! When the black powder smoke cleared, the buck had fallen to the ground 50 yards away. Tommy knew it was a big buck, but when he approached his long awaited "trophy buck", he could not believe the size of the rack and the body. He called his son on his cell and said " I just shot and killed the biggest buck I have ever killed and seen in the woods!" In fact it was the biggest deer killed in Virginia in 2010!

At the Virginia State Big Game Contest held in Franklin September 24-25 the 19 point trophy buck took First Place overall with a score of 239 14/16. The buck had a 24 inch spread and weighed 200+ pounds. It has been quite a journey for Tommy and his long awaited trophy buck this year. He recently won First Place at the Dixie Deer Classic in North Carolina for 12 point Non-typical Muzzleloader Class. He also won First Place 12 point Class Non-typical at the Virginia Deer Classic sponsored by the VA Deer Hunters Association at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in August in Richmond with a Boone & Crockett score of 189.75. When Tommy entered his buck in the Western Regional Big Game Contest in Harrisonburg sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Chapter Izaak Walton League of America September 11 and took First Place, he was wondering if one of the Eastern regional bucks may score higher- they didn't! Tommy Johnson had won the George Johnson Award for the Largest Deer Harvested in the State of Virginia during 2010-11 Hunting Season. Congratulations Tommy- nice guys do finish first!

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

3rd Youth Deer Hunting Day Record Success

A total of 1,195 deer were checked electronically on Saturday September 24th during the 3rd Youth Deer Hunting Day according to Matt Knox, VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator. This is up 82% from the 657 check electronically last year. Knox noted, "that after two consecutive years of terrible deer hunting weather on the annual youth deer hunting day, we finally got a break. Saturday was not perfect, but it was much better than the rain of 2009 and the heat of 2010."

Last year the final youth day total, including those deer checked at check stations, ended up being 1,124. If this pattern holds, it is safe to assume that 2,000 or more deer were taken by youth deer hunters this past Saturday. The success of this special hunting day is credited to the adult mentors who took time off from other routine fall Saturday activities to give these youngsters a memorable day afield and create a new tradition. If you took a young hunter afield that special day you created a unique memory and hopefully started a "new tradition" for the last Saturday in September to coincide with National Hunting & Fishing Day. There's over 16 weeks of big game hunting left this season, so be sure and take a young person out for a hunting adventure before the seasons end – the future of our sport and hunting heritage traditions depend on it.

Youth Day Deer Kill
Year Electronic Check Stations Total
2009 951 891 1842
2010 657 467 1124
2011 1195

Share the Memories...

Below are photos and stories from several proud young hunters who represent our future. A special note of appreciation is expressed for the adult mentors who took time off from other routine fall Saturday activities to give these youngsters a memorable day afield and create a new tradition. The creation of these new traditions are especially important in this fast paced society that tends to keep us from taking the time and effort to spend a day in the wild – appreciating the wonders of nature and spending real "quality time" with one of "tomorrow's conservation leaders." The true meaning of a "successful hunt" is also well expressed in the Young Writers Section at the end of this edition. If you took a young hunter out that special day you created a unique memory and hopefully started a "new tradition" for the last Saturday in September. Ironically and fitting this special Youth Deer Day coincides with National Hunting & Fishing Day – what better way to celebrate than taking a youngster on a hunting adventure. If you miss the special Youth Deer, Turkey, or Waterfowl Hunting Days this year, be sure and take a young person out before the seasons end – the future of our sport and hunting heritage traditions depend on it.

David Coffman, Editor

Patient Teen Passes Up Smaller Bucks for Shot at Trophy

Proud Father, Stacy Fincham sent in this great story and photo of his 15 year old daughter Alyza Fincham with her first trophy buck harvested in Rhoadesville on Youth Day September 24th.

"We have been watching deer all summer and had seen this buck in July and August but hadn't seen him lately. But the evening of the 24th was a great evening as we saw 5 other bucks and 8 does, but Alyza said she wanted to hold out for a big buck. She has harvested 2 other smaller bucks in years past, a 5 pointer and a 7 pointer, both basket racks and couple of does. She has passed up a lot of deer the last couple of years waiting for a shot at a buck she can enter in the Virginia Deer Hunters Association VA Deer Classic Trophy Contest at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond. When the time came she did very well making the shot at 80 yards with her Ruger Compact Hawkeye .260. Remington caliber. She hit the buck perfect, right behind the shoulder and he went about 80 more yards before pilling up. The buck has 9 points and field dressed at 180 lbs. We aged the buck to be 4 years old. I am so proud of her for letting the smaller bucks go and harvesting this great buck, but I am especially proud that she made a great shot to put the buck down quickly."

Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 15

The Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day, established for youth 15 years of age and younger, is on Saturday, October 15, 2011. With the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall. To provide added opportunities for fall turkey hunting, the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day was established, and the starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Youth hunters between the age of 12 and 15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Adult hunters supervising youth must possess a valid Virginia hunting license, may assist with calling, and shall not carry or discharge a firearm.

Fall turkey hunting has some unique methods and restrictions:

Be sure and check the regulations booklet for season dates, bag limits and other details.

How Does a Young Hunter Without a License Check in a Deer or Turkey?

One of the most frequently asked questions during the early youth seasons or any hunting season is how do deer and turkey hunters that do not have to purchase a license and therefore do not have deer or turkey tags check in their game?

What licenses are required for youths?

Resident deer or turkey hunters under 12 in Virginia are not required to purchase a license or have taken a hunter safety course. Conversely, deer and turkey hunters 12 and above must be licensed and have taken a hunter safety course. An exception to this rule is that hunters 12 and over could go hunting with an Apprentice License without having taken a hunter safety course. If a young hunter is over age 12 and has had a hunter safety course, the Junior Combination Hunting License (under 16 years of age) for $16.00 is the best deal. It includes statewide hunting privileges, archery, muzzleloading, and bear, deer, turkey tags.

Top Ten New Hunting Regulations and Opportunities for 2011-2012

  1. 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
  2. Partially disabled veterans shall pay half of the resident or nonresident hunting license fee, Veterans must have at least 70 percent service-connected disability
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The Youth Deer Hunting Day will be open statewide September 24, 2011.
  6. Urban Archery Season has been expanded to include new areas.
  7. Beginning fall 2011-2012, all deer killed after the first Saturday in January must be checked by the telephone or Internet checking systems.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

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.

Special Youth Deer Hunting Workshop at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge December 10 -- Application Deadline October 14

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in cooperation with Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is sponsoring a Novice Youth Deer Hunting Workshop on December 10, 2011 (8:30 AM - 6 PM) on the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge, VA. This workshop is designed for youth 12-18 years of age and provides the novice hunter an opportunity to develop skills beyond the basic Hunter Education course with instruction safe firearm handling, deer biology and hunting techniques for deer. The workshop includes lunch and an afternoon hunt with their mentor. Registration applications and required copies of their license must be received by October 14, 2011 to be considered for this workshop. Applications will be randomly selected to fill the available openings and will be notified by October 31, 2011. For more information, contact Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov.

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.

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

David Coffman, Editor

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 david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov. Please include your locality in the e-mail.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Treestand Safety: How Young Is Too Young To Use a Treestand?

Richard L. Holdcraft, BA, MS, HHD Consulting Group, LLC

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Injury Sciences (CIS), recently published researcher's findings suggesting that young hunters between the ages of 12 and 34 are most likely to be injured by using treestands. The study further reports that "men were twice as likely as women to be injured and younger hunters more likely than older ones."

The senior investigator for the study, Dr. Gerald McGwin, Jr., MS, PhD. Associate director for research at the CIS says that younger hunters may have higher injury rates due to a willingness to take risks, less exposure to safety information and more time to hunt than older hunters. He stated the study reveals certain target areas for prevention efforts to include safety education campaigns that recommend the use of safety harnesses and regular maintenance of stands.

In Virginia, all hunters under the age of 12 may not hunt unless immediately supervised by a licensed adult. Does that suggest that a child 12 years old or older can hunt alone, in a treestand, without direct adult supervision? In my way of thinking, it depends also on the maturity level of the child and how much hunting safety information and training they have been exposed to. A child 12 years old or older in Virginia must have a hunting license to hunt, which means they had to have taken the Basic Hunter Education course to get the license. This also means the child has had at least 10-12 hours of hunting safety education and of that about twenty minutes to one hour on treestand safety. Do you really think a child absorbed enough safety information in that time frame to be risk-free in a treestand? As a responsible parent I have serious doubts. So then, what is the answer?

Is the burden for more treestand safety training on the parent or on the State Hunter Education program? I believe it is up to both of them. Parents or guardians should take a more aggressive role in training their children in all aspects of outdoor recreational activities.

State Hunter Education programs can do more to promote education. Some states already have developed public safety announcements that are broadcast during hunting seasons. They have published newspaper articles on the need for hunting safety, attended outdoor shows and provided handout brochures on hunting and treestand safety. Statistically, the states that have more active public awareness programs are the ones with lower incidents per capita of licensed hunters for serious and fatal injuries. Virginia is about to put their "show on the road" to provide treestand safety classes to the public. They are equipping an enclosed trailer with various treestands, ladder stands, and other training equipment to go to all regions of the state and provide the training. National Bowhunter Education Foundation Certified Treestand Safety Instructors have been selected to start up the program. This will increase public awareness in geographical areas with higher risks for treestand incidents and reduce the number of serious and fatal injuries. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is to be commended for taking this initiative and for being a leader in treestand safety efforts.

These are some interesting ideas about when a child is old enough to hunt from a treestand either by themselves or with a responsible adult. Many state hunting regulations come into play as well and should be reviewed before allowing a child to use a stand. I agree with most folks that the child should have the basic hunter education course which should include instruction on treestand safety, and a few years in the woods learning the ropes before they are allowed to use a treestand independently. In any case, never allow anyone to hunt from a treestand without an approved fall arrest system. In my opinion, the best fall arrest system on the market today is the Rescue ONE CDS. Go to mountaineer-sports.com for more information.

Early Warm Season Deer Hunting Safety Tips

If you're planning to get an early start deer hunting during the archery season beginning October 1, you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure you have a pleasant and safe experience. If you're wearing camouflage, it should be lightweight. Keep hydrated – have plenty of water, sports drinks and salty snacks.

You'll also want to put on some bug repellent to ward off ticks, chiggers, gnats, and mosquitoes. Stinging insects like wasps, bees, and hornets are still active. Pay close attention to where you are walking going to and from your stand. Check your treestand before climbing up for nests under the seat or in the foliage near your stand! Also, if you are allergic to bee stings, be sure and tell your companions in case you are stung, and have the appropriate medication with you – just in case. Snakes are also out and about with the warmer temperatures, so be alert.

Learn to identify poison ivy (leaflets three let it be!) and avoid contact with the shiny green leaves and hairy vines. Note that you can also get a rash from handling clothes that have come in contact with this abundant woods plant. If you have walked through a patch of poison ivy, wash those clothes to remove the oils which cause the itchy rash.

If it is a very warm day, it would be a good idea to field dress your harvested game as soon as possible and hang in the shade to cool the meat. If it is cold — below 40 degrees — after being field dressed, a deer can hang for several days to chill and age the meat. If temperatures are getting above 40 degrees, you need to skin your deer and cut it up into manageable pieces: shoulders, hind quarters, loins, and "scraps" for burger, jerky, or stew meat, then place in unsealed plastic bags, and ice down these bagged pieces, or place in a refrigerator. "Field refrigerating" a deer can be as simple as four or five bags of ice and an insulating blanket or tarp and cardboard box. The meat also handles much easier for processing when chilled.

As always, practice basic firearm safety. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, clearly identify your game and what is beyond, and only aim at what you intend to shoot. If using a treestand, always stay attached with a full-body safety harness. So, spray on a bit of bug juice and take a youngster deer hunting in the early season when it's not freezing cold, or the deer have been alerted with increased hunter pressure. Spend some quiet time enjoying and appreciating the wild places. Be prepared, be safe, and have fun!

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:

Additional information and resources are available online at Ready Virginia.

"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.

35th Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours Scheduled for October

Join fellow forest landowners and a host of natural resource professionals for a fun and exciting day in the woods learning about forest and wildlife management! On-site check-in for all tours begins at 8 a.m.; tours begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. All tours will finish no later than 5:00 p.m. Registration fees include a tasty lunch, refreshments, materials and transportation. Please register at least one week prior to the tour date.

Tours will take place rain or shine. There will be a limited number of scholarships for K-12 teachers to cover registration. First come, first served. Contact Jennifer Gagnon jgagnon@vt.edu at (540) 231-6391. For a printable registration brochure and on-line registration, please visit www.cnre.vt.edu/forestupdate.

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.

Read the introduction to A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia »

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to September 14th edition quiz for nature events for September...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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:

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 I - Tidewater

Baited Dove Field Yields Several Charges... On Saturday, September 3, 2011, Conservation Police Sergeant Rich Goszka and Officer Ken Williams checked on a location in Westmoreland County that 5 years prior had been baited for doves. During the last five dove seasons the area was patrolled, but no one was ever found hunting the area. Upon arrival the officers heard numerous gunshots and called USFWS Officer Dustin Martin to assist. The officers conducted surveillance for a short period of time and observed five male subjects firing an unusual number of shots for the type of area they were hunting. When one suspect began to leave Sgt. Goszka stopped the vehicle while Officers Williams and Martin made contact with the remaining four hunters. One hunter fled into a wooded area after the officers identified themselves and ordered him to stop. The King George County Sheriff's Office K9 unit arrived to assist, but the suspect was unable to be located. The officers began conducting an investigation and were able to positively identify the suspect that fled. Sgt. Goszka had previously charged two of the suspects for drug and alcohol violations and one of them was the suspect that fled. The investigation revealed that the suspects were hunting an area baited with a large quantity of birdseed. The suspect that fled was a convicted felon and three of the suspects were in possession of marijuana. One suspect admitted to placing the bait and killing 34 doves, 19 over his daily limit. Three of the suspects were charged with possession of marijuana in state court. Thirteen charges will be filed in federal court for the following violations: (3) un-plugged shotguns, (3) bird tagging violations, (1) placing bait for hunting, (5) hunting over a baited area, (1) exceeding the daily bag limit of doves and (1) no HIP number. The following state warrants were obtained for the suspect that fled: (1) possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, (1) possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, (1) obstruction of justice and (1) hunting a baited area. Also the car this suspect was driving was seized and impounded.

Spotlighting... On September 10, 2011 at approximately 9:00 pm, Conservation Police Officer Philip Baker received a spotlighting complaint from the New Kent Sheriff's Department. When he responded to the scene, he along with a county deputy located a freshly killed doe deer. CPO Baker spoke with witnesses who gave him a vehicle description of the suspects. The deputy recognized the vehicle description from a previous traffic stop and knew where one of the suspects lived. Officer Baker and the deputy responded to the residence and found the vehicle in the suspect's driveway. The juvenile suspect acted as if he had no idea what was going on at first. But when presented with evidence of the violation, the suspect gave a full confession. Charges were placed on two subjects for spotlighting deer and hunting from a vehicle.

Region II - Southside

Outreach Events... Conservation Police Officers (CPO's) from District 21 participated in the Annual Jakes Event at Waid Park in Franklin County on September 10, 2011, with over 200 youngsters attending. CPO's manned the fishing simulator, laser shot, and assisted with tree stand safety exhibits. They also made presentations in a boating safety class at the Franklin Center, in Rocky Mount, on the same date.

Officer's Recognized... On September 15, 2011, CPO's Brandon Edwards and Dallas Neel received the Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Award for their outstanding efforts on and around Smith Mountain Lake to combat alcohol and drug abuse.  This is the third year in a row that both officers have received this prestigious award.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Spear Fishing in the James River... On September 4, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Chris Heberling and Sgt. Steve Ferguson were conducting a foot patrol along the James River in Fluvanna Co. During the patrol, the officers noticed three men in the river that appeared to be diving under the water. Upon closer inspection, the officers saw that two of the men were wearing swim goggles and had homemade spears. The third man had a gaff and was pulling a stringer toward shore. The CPOs made contact with the group and found that all three men were using the spears to take flathead catfish.  A total of four charges were made on the subjects including taking fish by illegal method, attempt to take fish by illegal method, and littering while fishing.

Illegal Fishing Practices... On September 4, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Crider, Dobbs and Solomon worked a special assignment in Clarke County at Watermelon Park on the Shenandoah River. Upon arrival, the officers were able to observe five individuals using a net and a homemade spear gun. After conducting surveillance for over an hour, the individuals started to leave the river. The CPOs stopped the individuals and discussed their activities. Nobody had a license to fish and all were charged with illegal fishing practices; the officers seized the net and spear gun.

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
1-800-237-5712.

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

Fishin' Report

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

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

The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested.

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.

Gathright Dam 'Test Pulse' to Increase Jackson River Water Flow September 28

Editors Note: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District announced last week that a 'Test Pulse' to increase the water flow in the Jackson River below the Gathright Dam in Allegheny County is scheduled for the morning of Wednesday September 28... Since this is our posting date for the Outdoor Report, we are adding the News Release from the USACOE here so as to provide background on this event and inform our readers of this situation and contact information to get updates on water levels and other effects of this test...

David Coffman, Editor

PRESS RELEASE U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District
September 21, 2011

NORFOLK – State and federal agencies will use Gathright Dam near Covington, VA., to simulate a storm event on the Jackson River September 28.

The test pulse, conducted by the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will begin at approximately 6 a.m. and peak at 3,500 cubic feet per second.

The agencies advise people to be aware of the river fluctuations that will be caused by the test pulse. The pulse is expected to raise the water level downstream in the Jackson River by up to five feet in some sections and up to three feet in the upper James River, but will remain several feet below flood stage. In some areas, the rate of the river rise may exceed two feet per hour.

The river is normally at a constant height and flow during this time of year.

Gathright Dam will gradually increase water releases from 240 cfs to a maximum of 3,500 cfs by 9 a.m. The maximum surge will last two hours, and at 11 a.m. releases will begin to gradually decrease, and return to 240 cfs by 2 p.m.

The controlled release will test whether the pulses effectively remove algae and improve water quality by simulating natural storm events that occur during the late summer and early fall. This natural variability is reduced by the operation of Gathright Dam.

A 3,000-cfs test pulse in August 2010 showed that the pulse raised dissolved oxygen levels in the river, scoured excess oxygen-consuming algae and "slightly improved" aquatic habitat of the Jackson River below Covington.

The pulses are part of a continuing Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study at the dam. The study will determine whether a change to current low-flow augmentation operations at the dam can improve the overall water quality and ecological resources in the lower Jackson River without affecting the existing fisheries in Lake Moomaw and the trout fishery below the dam.

For information contact: Pamela K. Spaugy
Deputy Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District
(757) 201-7059 (wk)
(757) 510-6398 (BB)
http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/BRAC
pam.k.spaugy@usace.army.mil

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!

Sharing the Joy of Fishing With the Starlight Children's Foundation

Two years ago I received a call from a representative of Starlight Children' s Foundation MidAtlantic asking about fishing opportunities for their group. Starlight MidAtlantic helps seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities. She wanted to set up a fishing trip as an activity for the Richmond area Starlight families. It sounded like a special opportunity, but one I could not pull off on my own. I sent out an email or two to some of my friends and the response was overwhelming.

Now, two years and two events later, we have dedicated partners and volunteers in what seems to be shaping into an annual event. Fishing is held at a private residence in a pond loaded with feisty sunfish and numerous bass; food is donated by Supervalu Inc. of Richmond; cooking supplies, tables, chairs and volunteers come from Unity Baptist Church; fishing prizes are donated by Green Top Sporting Goods; various necessities are provided by Fishers of Men Tournament Trail along with a multitude of volunteers who donate their time to help the Starlight families enjoy the experience of fishing.

This most recent event had nearly 50 participants and everyone caught fish. It was a rainy day, but the weather didn't dampen the spirits of all who attended. The rain was not going to hold those children back, they were there to fish! Everyone enjoyed the fishing and grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for lunch. Each child received a rod and reel combo from Green Top and left with a big smile on their face. The volunteers were there to give and help the families, but reported that they in fact were the ones who really received and were blessed.

Isn't that really true? We take someone fishing or introduce them to the sport we love and we really benefit. How great it is to see the smiles and joy when a child catches that first fish or the laughs when they are biting on every cast or a big one takes the bait. It is also proof that they are having a lot of fun too.

Fishing is a fun and wholesome activity that is about more than just catching fish. It is about spending time outdoors, enjoying nature and building memories and relationships with friends and family. I still remember just about every detail of the fishing trips I was taken on as an early teen by an experienced bass angler and the trips with my dad and grandfather when I was a child. Each trip was a new adventure!

So I encourage you to take someone fishing in the next year. Young or old, it will mean so much to them and you, but also to the sport. Kids today are not naturally gravitating to activities like fishing – there are so many other options. Who supports fisheries, who takes a stand for the resource and the rights of anglers? - Anglers. Thus, it is imperative that we pass along the tradition of fishing to the next generation of stewards of our fishing resources. If you would like to join the thousands who have made a pledge to share fishing with others, take the Angler's Legacy Pledge. Interested in learning more about Starlight, visit their website.

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.

Order your own copy today!

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

Remember the excitement? The rush? A picture is worth a thousand words, but sharing the memory of catching that first fish with your family or friends is priceless. Why wait? Start your memories today and buy your fishing license.

Go to HuntFishVA.com, call 1-866-721-6911, or visit your nearest license agent.

If you have already purchased your 2011 fishing license, we would like to thank you for helping to support Virginia's wildlife and natural resources.

Don't miss out on a great fishing season.
Your License Dollars Support State Conservation Efforts

Sarah White's Notebook

Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The lake is at full pool with a water temperature of 83 degrees and the visibility at mid lake is 14 ft. but in the coves it is only 8 ft. The top water bite for largemouths is still on in those coves with fish reaching 4 lbs., crank baits were effective. There are still large fish coming off mid lake points and humps so drop shoting is working. Bass also fell to the trusty Texas rigged worms. Some very nice crappie came in. Try small minnows and jigs. Other pan fish were caught on wigglers and jigs. The striper bite was slow, but some were caught by trolling or by casting into breaking fish with crankbaits and top-water baits. For the first time in months we saw a good pier bite and I believe it will get better. Stop by the shop and we will show you how to get a bite.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107, www.gloucesterva.info. Contributed by Park Supervisor Blair Evans. It's looking like the crappie fishing is beginning to improve here at Beaverdam. Dedicated crappie anglers are having successful days catching nice sized slabs. The bass fishing is still the best in shallower water early and later in the day. Those bass fishing during mid day will probably have their best luck fishing the shallow sides of drop-offs around grass. The catfishing remains good. The Big Bash Classic Bass Tournament will be held on October 15th. The top twenty teams from this year's tournament series will compete in the year's final tournament. 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. No report this edition.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim reports that spot are 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. Most flounders brought up from the Bay are too small to keep. Bluefish are hanging out at Cape Henry, and are going for spoons The water is fairly clear and 75 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams told me that the bass are biting fairly well on top-waters. No word on crappie. Catfishing is good down river, with the whiskered ones attacking eel and crabs. Up river the cat action is poor. No word on bluegill or perch. The water is slightly stained and 74 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says the bass bite is very good just now. Try top-waters, spinners and shallow running cranks. Crappie fishing is slow, as the slabs have not schooled up yet. No word on cats. Perch are responding well to small grubs, small spinners and small cranks. Bluegill are also cooperating and biting the traditional red wigglers and popping bugs. The water is clear and in the mid 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that bass are going for plastics. The crappie bite has been slow, but try a minnow or jig. No report on other fish, as the rain has kept most anglers away. The water is stained and cooling.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Fishing on the Blackwater and Nottoway is improving, I'm told. Dissolved oxygen levels are rebounding and the stench of dead fish from the hurricane is waning. Upper rivers are still high and not a good bet. However around the Franklin part of the rivers some largemouth are being taken. I also heard some fly-rod fishermen did pretty good on the bream. I have not fished yet, as I'm still picking up trash washed into the river. Hopefully the rain will slack up soon and the upper and lower rivers will get back to normal. I'm ready for fall top-water bassin'! One note to remember: skeeters are terrible out there. Wear light colored protective clothing and bug spray. With the explosion of the population of these blood suckers comes an increased risk of being bitten by a strain that carries West Nile or Encephalitis. People with compromised immune systems should probably wait until the skeeters calm down before going out. ALSO, remember to wash the bug spray off as soon as you get home. That stuff is not meant to be worn round the clock. Read the directions!

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike says that before the recent heavy rains, fishing was good above Richmond. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass were going for small bream, top-waters, Teeny Torpedoes, Pop R's and plastic worms. Crappie also bit well on 1/8 oz. glowing jigs, and jigs with a lime/chartreuse tail. Cats are taking live bream with great enthusiasm. The water is muddy, up and cooling.

Region 2 - Southside

Ft. Pickett Reservoir: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Such a nice day, I thought it was time to put the boat in the water and since I had not been to the county pond, "Brunswick Lake", for some time I knew it was time to feed those hungry fish some twister tails. I hooked ole blue up to the boat and then noticed that the full charge light was not on. It was then I remembered that the wife had unplugged the cord to the boat shed when we were running off the generator. The battery checked 3/4 charge and the spare checked ½, so I did not let it stop me. I was on the lake and fishing at 10:45 under the bridge and since the water was a dark brown with visibility about a foot I started out using chartreuse on a 1/32 lead head. I only caught 1 crappie on it before switching to purple and then caught 3 crappie and 1 bluegill on it before I headed towards the dam looking for those 12 inchers. I fished the shore from the dock to the first turn picking up a couple bluegill and one 10 inch bass. I fished the center of the lake all the way to the dam and then started back catching one 11 inch crappie and eleven between 8 and 10 inches. I had intentions of fishing all the way back to the dock but that was put on hold when I noticed that the trolling motor wasn't doing much so I checked it and found that light that I hope never to see again: "NO CHARGE". No problem, went to the back of the boat and put the spare trolling motor in the water and started in, got about half way in when it too went dead. About now I was starting to think that today may have not been the best day to be fishing. Alternating batteries and paddling, I finally got within sight of the dock and finally close enough to load the boat. Pushed the button on the electric wench and it would not work. Never caught a fish on the way back but there will be another day.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Fishing is a little different this week. With the rains, the lake is very high and the upper end is very muddy. But with fall here the fish are still biting. The best bass fishing I have found is to follow the shad and catch the bass feeding on them. This can be in the back of coves in 3 feet of water or over the channels on the main lake over 25 to 30 feet of water. I recommend throwing cranks, spinner baits, swimming jigs, swimbaits, wacky worms, jerkbaits, chatterbaits and so on that you can fool a bass into eating. You can look for these shad on the top of the water or on your graphs/depth finders. Also, not all bass chasing these fish will eat the same thing. As you move from bait to bait you may also have to change your lures during the day to catch those fish. Fishing in the back of pockets flipping plastics and jigs will also produce fish. Be careful putting your boats in the next few days, because of the water over the dock, but try and go have some nice fishing!

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James is in great shape. It's running at 3.7 feet and 2570 CFS and clear. The fish continue to take top-water along the banks and bait fish patterns around the mid stream structure. Look for the top water action to start slowing down as the water cools and the length of day light start to push the smallmouth towards deeper water.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. No report this edition.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf told me that smallmouth action is "decent" with popping bugs and minnow imitators. The rainbows and browns in the Jackson are going for hoppers and small nymphs. Not much is going on with the brookies due to low water levels. The water is clear and cooling.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski says that bass are moving to the shallows and biting well. Try fishing around structures using top-waters and Carolina rigs and you may just land a lunker. Crappie action is picking up, with minnows, jigs and small spinners being good choices. Cat angling is good at the edges of the river channel and at the mouths of creeks. Clam snouts, chicken livers and stinkbaits are getting the job done. Perch fishing is "okay" near grass or off shallow points. They are biting small spinners and red wigglers. Stripers can be found around 25 ft. down, and will take bucktails and spoons. The water is slightly stained and in the upper 70s.

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

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

Stripers: The striped bass continue to school near the mouths of most major creeks and are starting to chase bait to the surface. There have been a number of huge breaks reported by anglers over the past week or so, several revealing large stripers. As the moon continues to become less of a factor, the early morning breaks should become more prevalent. While bright sunlight typically pushes the stripers down into deeper water, with a fading moon and the overcast skies forecast this week stripers could be found feeding on the surface at any time of the day. Good lures for breaking stripers include a fluke or swimbait rigged on a hook or lightweight (¼ ounce) shad jighead with a sharp hook, a top-water popper or a floating twitchbait .Striped bass are also being found in deep water by anglers using electronic fish finders. Large schools and smaller pods are being found in the lower sections of the lake. These deep water stripers are being caught using a variety of techniques. Some anglers are presenting live bait on down lines, some trolling and others casting, counting down and retrieving flukes and bucktails or vertical jigging with flukes and jigging spoons. If you like to vertical jig with flukes and are experiencing line twist, adding a swivel to your jighead will help eliminate it. Those trolling are doing so with their gas motor and continue to report success pulling Umbrella rigs, individual swimbaits and the popular three-way rig. The three-way rig can be trolled using lead core line, downriggers or a trolling sinker with swivels.

Bass: The bass fishing this past week really picked up once they adjusted to the cooler weather. Bass have been found schooling baitfish very early in the morning and late in the evening. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits and top-water lures are all excellent choices. Bass are also being caught under deep-water docks on pig and jigs and on points and humps using Texas and Carolina rigged plastic worms, creature baits and lizards. Small finesse baits rigged on small shaky head jigs are also working under docks, along vertical structure and on natural rock bluffs. Small, medium and deep diving crankbaits continue to produce an occasional bass, especially when pulled across the top of submerged grass and deflected off structure behind and along the edges of deep water docks. Plastic worms are another lure that works well on fish suspended on dock pilings, vertical structure, under floaters and along the sides of steep rock bluffs. When fishing for suspended bass in deeper water, a popular option is to use a weighted, wacky hook with a Senko or other plastic worm. If the fish are found suspending close to the bottom, a drop shot rig with a floating worm is a good choice. If you want to learn how to catch bass in the fall I suggest you attend the "Fall Bass Patterns – The Lures, Presentation Techniques and Tips" workshop on Thursday, September 29th.

The water is 74 to 80 degrees and clear.

We will be open for two more weeks this fall and our storewide "Inventory Elimination Sale" continues. At close of business on October 1st, we will be closing the Virginia Outdoorsman's retail fishing tackle and marine supplies store for the winter. We will continue to buy, sell and transfer firearms throughout the winter in the adjoining suite where the U.S Post Office will continue to operate. Tight lines and have a great week.

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.

Bass: Some schooling activity is starting to take place. Finding the big pods of shad is the key to get into some exciting top-water action with schoolers. The IMA skimmers, Lucky Craft Sammys and Gunfishes are great walking baits for schooling fish. A chatterbait in a light color or a square bill crankbait worked over top of grass will produce a good reaction bite. Drop shotting a 4 ½" Roboworm is still the number1 way to catch bass with the top colors being Oxblood Light Red Flake, Martins Madness, and Prizm Krawler. After dark the action picks back up a little with a black/blue chatterbait or a dark colored Jolt spinnerbait being the best lure choices.

Stripers: There is a little bit of schooling activity around the Light House Bridge. The key is finding the bait.

Catfish: The cats are starting to turn on. Peak creek is has produced some good size and good numbers lately. Bottom fishing with live shad is the best technique.

Walleye: I have heard that the Walleye action is very good in the upper section of the lake/river. The Allisonia section seems to be the best to find the "eyes" stacked up in deeper holes. AEP has the lake pulled down now, so be careful in the river section.

Crappie/Yellow Perch: They have moved to their summer hideouts and are hard to find. Haven't heard anything on either species.

Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegill are plentiful in the back of coves around any docks or laydown trees. A night crawler is the best choice.

Water temperature is in the low 70s and clear. The lake is down about 1 ½ feet.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that cooler waters have really improved the smallmouth bite. Pig 'n jigs, flukes in all colors and dark colored Senkos are all producing well. Not much word on muskies. The water is clear and in the low 70s.

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. The Upper New River is the clearest we have seen in probably a year, but low. Fishing for all species should be HOT for the next 3 to 4 weeks. Striper are in the river but not in huge numbers due to the low water levels. Salty Shads on a Flutter hook or jerkbaits will work well for the stripers, smallies and walleye. Top water and jerk/glide baits should produce good results on the muskie. Water temperature is 66 degrees.

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. Harry reports that the smallmouth streams are producing well. The best areas to fish the North Fork are from Edinburg to Tom's Brook; in the South Fork it's from Luray to Front Royal. It's best to fish below the riffles and in the deep cuts between the river crossing ledges. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Shenk's Black Suclpin, size 4. The water is clear, at a good level and 68 degrees.

The delayed harvest streams in the valley going to be stocked in early October; and there is a strict no kill rule until June, so release whatever you land. You should land plenty as the streams are giving good action, especially in the deep pools and below the springs. Good files are Murray's Tan Caddis Pupa, size 12; and Murray's Dark Stonefly Nymph, size 12. The water is clear, at a good level and 65 degrees.

The brookies in the mountain streams are spawning right now, so it is probably best not to stress them any farther by fishing for them.

Editors Note: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District announced last week that a 'Test Pulse' to increase the water flow in the Jackson River below the Gathright Dam in Allegheny County is scheduled for the morning of Wednesday September 28... Since this is our posting date for the Outdoor Report, we are adding the News Release from the USACOE at the beginning of the Fishin' Report, so as to provide background on this event and inform our readers of this situation and contact information to get updates on water levels and other effects of this test...

David Coffman, Editor

FROM PRESS RELEASE U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District

September 21, 2011

Gathright Dam 'Test Pulse' to Increase Jackson River Water Flow September 28

NORFOLK – State and federal agencies will use Gathright Dam near Covington, Va., to simulate a storm event on the Jackson River Sept. 28. The test pulse, conducted by the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will begin at approximately 6 a.m. and peak at 3,500 cubic feet per second. The agencies advise people to be aware of the river fluctuations that will be caused by the test pulse. The pulse is expected to raise the water level downstream in the Jackson River by up to five feet in some sections and up to three feet in the upper James River, but will remain several feet below flood stage. In some areas, the rate of the river rise may exceed two feet per hour.

Gathright Dam will gradually increase water releases from 240 cfs to a maximum of 3,500 cfs by 9 a.m. The maximum surge will last two hours, and at 11 a.m. releases will begin to gradually decrease, and return to 240 cfs by 2 p.m. The controlled release will test whether the pulses effectively remove algae and improve water quality by simulating natural storm events that occur during the late summer and early fall. This natural variability is reduced by the operation of Gathright Dam.

For more information contact: Pamela K. Spaugy, Deputy Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District
(757) 201-7059 (wk)
(757) 510-6398 (BB)
http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/BRAC
pam.k.spaugy@usace.army.mil

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. Moomaw continues to offer quality catches of smallmouth bass if you are willing to pursue them after dark. The 3 to 4lb. fish are still in their summer nocturnal patterns. Most are being caught on a variety of jigs and creature baits fished in less than 10 feet. Daytime anglers are finding some largemouth activity with the drop shot rig high on the preference list. Anglers are waiting patiently for a strong fall schooling action to begin. Some activity has been observed but the best is yet to come. When these fish (both smallmouth and largemouth) do bust the surface, anglers have to be quick to get a bait to them. Popular baits include; walking baits, chuggers, flukes, and spinnerbaits. Water temps are in the lower 70s. Even with the recent rainfall the lake is still over 10 feet below normal pool, so please be careful.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff is busy fishing, and getting ready for bow season starting October 1 in the Highlands. Check his website for the latest news on fishing conditions and what's biting. Also check his site if interested in a great deer or fall turkey hunting experience.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) Kinda blown out... again! With the continued rain, both of the "Raps" were running high and brown last weekend. As the rain moderates towards this coming weekend, levels should come down and the rivers return to being wadeable. With the high water, I have not been to either, but Charlie Taylor reports that the smallies are moving on the Rappahannock, where the river can be fished safely, hitting on Yamamoto grubs, crank baits and live minnows. Although not fishable by wading anglers, the Upper Potomac is in pretty good shape. After a slight spike in levels last weekend, the river is slightly stained and levels are dropping. Looking at the predictive Little Falls gage, I do not believe the Potomac will be wadeable by the weekend. As bad as the continued rain has been for the rivers, it has been good for the mountains and the trout streams are in great shape. The brookies have had several weeks to spread out and should be well dispersed from the deep community pools they used to survive the summer heat. Cool nights will continue to push the water temperature down and the quality of the fishing will increase. It looks like we are in good shape for the start of the trout stocking season next month.

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. Angler's Landing is closing for the winter and will reopen in March.

Lunga Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. The look and feel of Lunga Reservoir on Quantico has changed over the last several weeks. The water levels are back to the highest I've seen all season (the concrete boat ramp is almost covered), and the temperature is beginning to drop, as it was only around 70 degrees this weekend. Despite some recent rain, the clarity has improved somewhat with visibility of two to three feet in depth. I still enjoy getting out in the early mornings, sunrise through late morning, and I've found the largemouth bass and chain pickerel cruising the newly covered flats and gladly hitting my top water shad-imitating PopR plug presentations. I also caught several very nice chain pickerel, yellow perch and crappie slow trolling small crankbaits in about 5 to 8 feet of water. Sure makes for a relaxing and peaceful way to shift from one spot on the lake to another. Good luck out there!

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

Largemouth Bass : Break the lake into three sections; up lake, mid lake and down lake and target the up lake region this month for the best catches. This region offers you plenty of shoreline structure in the form of willow grass lines, rocks, docks and stumps, especially above the first two bridges in both the North Anna arm and Pamunkey Branch. Pitching small plastic worms to docks has been the go-to pattern in September for the past several years. You might be able to visit the flats in the extreme upper end of both tributaries and some of the smaller tributaries and find bass feeding on threadfin shad. The 1/8 oz. Tiger Shad spinnerbait in the Lake Anna Special format is excellent for these skinny water areas as well as retrieved around docks and grass. If you cannot get them to take the spinnerbait, go to the worm and work docks and rocks in grass more thoroughly. Mid lake bass are moving to the backs of creeks like Marshall, Pigeon, Mitchell, Sturgeon and Contrary. Each will have fish in them somewhere, it's up to you be there early and leave late to bump into them. The water here is VERY clear now, so you'll have to use suspending jerkbaits and soft plastic jerkbaits, maybe even swimbaits for schooled fish. A big top-water you can "walk" is also good. Down lake bass are schooled up, but the lack of current at Dike III due to both reactors at North Anna being offline has the fish in unpredictable ways.

Stripers: There are fish breaking just about every morning in all three sections of the lake. Have a small top-water you can walk tied on and keep your eyes peeled. Birds are here, but they are on tiny threadfin, mostly, and not much of a help yet. Hotspots have been the Stubbs Bridge region, around Sunning Island, the mouth of Sturgeon Creek, the mouth of Duke's Creek and near Dike III. September stripers are mostly skinny and under 20 inches, however, there are bigger fish to be caught this month, even among the little ones breaking. Be on the water at dawn and dusk and in the striper hunting mode for the best part of the day. You can also venture way up into the upper portions of the lake and use swimbaits for bigger fish feeding on gizzard shad in shallow water. Bigger fish will begin to bite better by the end of the month when water temperatures stabilize in the mid 70s.

Crappie: We went from poor to good very quickly here as the specks responded well to the 5 in. of rain in early September and cooler water. Just about all of the docks in the upper Pamunkey are worth trying as long as they have 10 ft. of water on them. Slip bobbers and minnows set at 5 to 8 feet are deadly. You can also use 6 pound test and a one inch jig under and around docks. The up lake bridges are good now, too.

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 fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th, there were lots of youngsters hopefully getting a shot at their first buck- or doe for that matter. For a young teenage deer hunter, his first buck was his most memorable outdoor experience. Clark Swann was a sophomore at Tunstall High School in Dry Fork in Pittsylvania County, when he entered his article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest. His story ranked in the Top 25.

Be safe, have fun...

Not only does the story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about Clark's 'first buck' adventure, note that he uses good safety practices both in handling his 30-30 rifle, being sure of his target before firing, and using his tree stand safety harness. Congratulations Clark on your first buck and more importantly promoting safety tips for other youngsters that will be soon be hunting for their first buck!

First Buck

By Clark Swann

My most memorable outdoor experience was the time I killed my first buck. The morning I killed my first buck I woke up at four o'clock in the morning. After I drank a few cups of coffee to wake me up, I went and got dressed. It was a very cold morning, so I had to dress very warm to prevent from getting colder. I made sure I had my bullets for my 30-30 rifle and headed out my back door. I walked away from the house and it quickly got darker as I headed into the woods.

I turned my flashlight on and started heading through the woods and up a hill to get to my tree stand. When I finally got to my tree stand it was four-forty degrees. I climbed up in the tree stand, clipped in for safety, loaded my rifle, and waited for the sun to come up. When the sun finally started rising I could see parts of the field next to me and the sun glistening on the frozen pond down the hill. I heard something walking through the frost covered leaves in the woods and I got ready to shoot. The leaves were thrashing as it got closer. Finally it stepped out from behind a tree. The animal that I was about to shoot at ended up being a dog. The dog walked lazily away not paying any attention to me.

I waited for about an hour and I heard something else walking through the woods and I could hear it getting closer. I got ready this time because it was getting louder and louder and I could tell that it wasn't a dog this time. Finally, a nice-sized buck walked into the field. I raised my rifle and aimed at it. I took a deep breath and shot the buck.

The loud crack of the rifle scared all of the other animals in the woods and everything got quiet all of a sudden. The only noise I could hear was the wounded buck thrashing through leaves and jumping over dead brush. I watched as the buck headed towards a patch of pine trees. I waited for about twenty minutes then I unhooked from my stand and started climbing down.

When I got into the field where I shot the buck I started looking for a blood trail. I became impatient when I couldn't find the trail. I walked around awhile searching and finally spotted a tiny drop of blood. I followed that drop of blood, to another drop of blood, to another drop of blood, and kept repeating the process for eighty yards when finally I looked up at a brown heap on the ground. As I approached the heap I could make out the rack on top of the buck's head. I rushed to the dead deer and quickly counted all of the points. I counted eight points and I was overjoyed that I had actually killed a buck. I grabbed its rack and started dragging him back home.

When I got back to my house, I was worn out from all the dragging, but I knew I had to field dress the buck before the meat spoiled. I drug the lifeless animal under my deck and hung it from a pulley. I carefully field dressed the animal and butchered all of the meat. After that, I still had to wrap it up in freezer paper and put the meat in the freezer before it went bad. After about two hours, I had finished my whole task and I was proud of what I had done. This is my most exciting outdoor experience.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Contest by Clark Swann placed in the Top 25 in the 2008 Contest among over 120 other entries. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Contests visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, 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: