In this edition:

Demonstrate Respect and Appreciation for Veterans

This Friday, November 11th, is Veterans Day, honoring the brave men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedoms – especially the privilege to vote. Yesterday was Election Day, when we were free to select representatives that make our laws and regulations that ultimately determine our ability to pursue hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities. Without the service and sacrifice by our veterans over the past two centuries, we may not have these freedoms - as my Dad, a Navy vet from WW II constantly reminded me, "Freedom isn't free!" Since he passed away just before hunting season several years ago, I now honor his military service each November by first voting and also show respect by sharing a hunting day with a veteran or new young hunter to carry on these valued traditions he and many other of my mentors fought for.

This 'remembrance holiday' we encourage you to do something more than just remembering – demonstrate your appreciation by taking time to do something meaningful in some way this year for our veterans and their families. You might volunteer for a hunting or fishing outing for wounded warriors, share some extra venison with a military family, or send 'goodie' packages to troops serving overseas. There are numerous veteran assistance organizations that can use your support featured in this edition.

With Thanksgiving coming in two weeks, we are thankful for the opportunity to partake of all these wonderful blessings that have been, and are preserved and defended by the service, courage, and sacrifice by our military veterans and their families. Showing respect for our wildlife laws honors our military heroes for their service by demonstrating safety, courtesy, and sportsmanship throughout the hunting season.

David Coffman, Editor

Hunting Benefits All Virginians

With the archery deer hunting season, fall turkey, and muzzleloading-black powder underway, and general firearms season opening November 19, hunters should pause to reflect on all the benefits that their participation adds to their lives and the positive impact on fellow Virginians. Recent economic downturns have many people thinking about how to simplify their lives, how to stretch their dollars, put food on the table, let go of stress, and still somehow give to others. Reports on obesity, concerns about food quality, and the footprint we are leaving on the planet, has people wondering what to do. An activity that addresses all that and more is hunting.

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

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

Abundant population equals ample opportunity: Hunting is an important wildlife management tool. This time of year in Virginia the deer population is up around one million animals. Hunters harvest about 250,000 each year, but deer are a renewable resource and the population rebounds. Hunters enjoy liberal seasons and abundant game here in the Commonwealth: archery, muzzleloader, general firearms seasons, fall turkey hunting, waterfowl hunting, hound hunting, mounted fox hunting, special late seasons and urban programs. There's good hunting in Virginia!

When deer are not dear: Farmers, landowners, drivers, and outdoor recreationists all benefit from hunters harvesting the white-tailed deer population in Virginia. Hunting reduces pressure on crops, protects expensive landscaping, cuts down on deer in the roadways, and prevents deer overgrazing an area and destroying habitat needed by other wildlife such as songbirds. Hunters help maintain that balance for Virginians.

Hunt safely and responsibly, and have fun!

Drivers, Use Caution to Avoid Hitting Deer

With the ending of Daylight Saving Time and shorter days, many motorists will be commuting in the dark, increasing the likelihood of their vehicle colliding with a deer. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is encouraging Virginia's drivers to be more cautious as they travel the Commonwealth's highways this season. Deer are more active during the fall breeding season than any other time of the year, and a majority of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November and December. While less than 2 percent of vehicle fatalities and injuries involve deer collisions in Virginia, hitting a deer can cause considerable damage to both people and property.

Deer populations are managed with regulated hunting. The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries sets hunting seasons, bag limits, and other wildlife-related regulations based on sound science through a process that includes considerable public input. Wildlife biologists with VDGIF estimate the white-tailed deer population in Virginia at this time of year to be at approximately 900,000 animals. Each year, deer hunters harvest more than 200,000.

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

  1. When driving, particularly at dusk and dawn, slow down and be attentive.
  2. Deer typically travel in groups. If you see one deer, likely there will be others. If one deer crosses the road as you approach, others are likely to follow.
  3. Drivers should apply brakes to avoid hitting a deer, but should never swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree or other object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.
  4. Deer habitually travel the same areas; therefore deer crossing signs have been installed by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Use caution when you see these signs.
  5. Rely on your caution and your own senses. Deer whistles mounted on the bumper of a car have not been shown to be effective.
  6. Any person involved in a collision with a deer or bear while driving a motor vehicle should immediately report the accident to a law enforcement officer. Once properly documented, a driver may keep the carcass for their own use

Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting the Outdoor Report

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

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

New Hunter Education Graduates Offered Opportunity to Explore Wingshooting

Attention new hunter education graduates – have you ever dreamed of watching a bird dog lock up on point on a wily pheasant as you approach with shotgun in hand? Now you can make that dream come true. Fifty 2011 hunter education graduates from Virginia will hunt pheasants through the Explore Wingshooting program.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, North American Gamebird Association and International Hunter Education Association are sponsoring the program.

DON'T WAIT! Go to today to reserve your hunt or to learn more about Explore Wingshooting.

Hunter Education Instructors to Host Youth Deer Hunt for Boy Scouts at New Kent Forestry Center November 26 and December 31

The Virginia Hunters Education Association in partnership with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Department of Forestry has developed a ground breaking program with the Boy Scouts of America, Colonial Virginia Council to provide a youth deer hunt for Scouts at the VDOF New Kent Forest facility. This jointly sponsored first ever in Virginia hunt for Venture Scouts is scheduled for November 26.

The initial hunt planned for the September 24th Youth Deer Hunting Day had to be postponed due to Hurricane Irene which caused flooding and damage to facilities at the New Kent Facility and volunteer hunting education instructors handling the logistics and safety for the youth hunt were committed to various storm recovery activities. The purpose of this innovative program is to provide a genuine hunting experience during a variety of environmental conditions for Venture Scouts in an organized group that may not have access to hunting lands or training and skill building workshops. Hopefully this will be an incentive to encourage Scouts to participate long term in hunting which uses many of the skills and sportsmanship ideals found in Scouting.

This day long event combines hunting skills training, safety, firearms handling and hunting with a mentor. The format for this special hunt has been approved up the Boy Scout chain of command up to and including the National level for Venture Scouts and it will be a scout "event". By making it a scout "event" the Boy Scouts of America insures all scout participants from the time they leave home for an event until the time they return from the event. Only those scouts which complete the first day's safety activities will be permitted for the second day's hunt.

The first hunt day is scheduled for November 26th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with the Scouts arriving at the New Kent Facility Friday afternoon November 25th and camp out departing Sunday morning November 27th. Saturday's activities will include a review of Game Laws by a VDGIF Conservation Police Officer, a review of deer biology by a VDGIF Game Biologist, a review of firearms safety and handling by Hunter Education Instructors, inspection of Scout's firearms, live fire to pattern shotguns, clay pigeon shooting and other activities. After lunch, a late afternoon deer hunt will be conducted. Hopefully there will be a demonstration of field dressing/skinning/butchering at the end of the day. Scouts may also have the option to go on a squirrel hunt or other activity. For all scout hunts each hunter will be accompanied by a scout volunteer and a VDGIF/VAHEA approved volunteer who will be the "IN CHARGE" person.

A second Hunt Day has been set for December 31st, the Saturday after Christmas, as the day for this hunt with the Scouts arriving at the New Kent Facility Friday afternoon December 30th and departing the morning of Sunday January 1st. The day's activities will consist of a morning safety brief and stand assignments followed by a morning and afternoon deer hunt. A local hunt club will provide deer hounds for this day's activities.

To participate in this Youth Hunt interested scouts should contact: Mark Wenger at (757) 253-0056 or

Interested DGIF Hunter Ed, Outdoor Ed or Complementary Workforce volunteers should contact: Henry McBurney at (757) 357-6430 or

Wilderness and Urban Survival, Tracking and Camouflage Workshops Offered by Wilderness Discovery School October-November

Do you want to know the basics of wildland survival, or increase your knowledge and advance your outdoor skills for tracking and camouflage to avoid detection? Are you just looking for a fun get away to challenge yourself and put your skills to the test?

The Wilderness Discovery School led by Professional Instructor Roy Hutchinson is hosting a series of workshops on these topics at various locations through October and November. The programs includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include: Basics of Survival - What to think about to stay alive,  Primitive Shelter - Space Blankets to Debris Huts, Water & Wild Edibles - Finding Water and Food,  Situational Awareness – Use and detection of camouflage, Fire Craft - Making and maintaining a fire without matches,  Managing Hypo/Hyperthermia. Each participant will learn how to build their own survival kit.  Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshops vary as to length and topics covered. Pre-registration required. Contact Roy Hutchinson, email:,  For information on other wilderness survival and outdoor skills related classes visit the Wilderness Discovery website, the Holiday Lake 4-H Center website, or the VDGIF website on upcoming Outdoor Education classes.

Nov. 11 – 13 Camouflage and Awareness at the Holiday Lake 4H center near Appomattox, VA. Registration is being handled by the center. Contact Bryan Branch at (434) 248-5444 or Meals and Lodging included for only $90.00, cheaper than one night in a motel.

Nov.18 -20 Human Tracking in Cumberland, VA.. Cost is $100.00 and includes a primitive campsite. Contact Roy for info or to register.

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 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: - VUCS, Box 430, Dutton, Virginia 23050 - phone (804) 694-5118

Deer Processing Class At Cedar Mountain Range in Culpeper November 13

Sergeant David L. Dodson, VDGIF Hunter Education Coordinator announces that there will be a deer processing class at the Cedar Mountain Range in Culpeper on November 13, 2011, from 9 am to 3 pm. Register for this Advanced Hunter Education training online or by calling 1-888-516-0844.

If you are unable to make this class, VDGIF has a deer processing video produced for deer hunters, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer". This video begins with step-by-step instructions on how to field dress a deer, as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. Then, professional butcher and hunter education instructor Rob Bingel demonstrates the best way to cape out a deer for mounting. The video really gets good when he shows in detail how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. Sure, many of us think we know how to process a deer, but seeing the way Rob does it, with no wasted effort, is well worth the $12 price of the video. Order from our website at

Friends of Dyke Marsh to Meet November 16

The November 16 meeting of the Friends of Dyke Marsh will feature a program by U.S. Geological Survey scientists, led by Ron Litwin, on the study on erosion in Dyke Marsh, a study that concludes that Dyke Marsh is eroding as much as six feet a year. The program begins at 7:30 p.m., Huntley Meadows Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22306. Cosponsored by the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park.

Claytor Lake Youth Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Workshop December 9-10, Registration Deadline November 18

Claytor Lake State Park and VDGIF are partnering to offer youth 12-17 years of age an exciting educational workshop and an opportunity to harvest a deer with a muzzleloader! This workshop begins with 5:30 pm registration on Friday December 9th followed by a evening seminar on whitetail deer biology and game management, hunting safety and ethics, muzzleloader safety, shot placement and much more! The guided hunt begins on Saturday morning at 5 AM, with the young hunters having the opportunity to harvest a deer with a muzzleloader. All youth must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Hunting opportunities are only for the registered youth hunters. All youth must successfully complete the hunter education course and meet all license requirements. Registration is limited to 20 hunting spaces reserved for youth 12-17 years of age who have not harvested a deer with a muzzleloader. Please send in registrations to reserve your space for this workshop. For information or questions, contact Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or email Deadline for registration is November 18, 2011. The event information and registration form can be found at

Richmond Fishing Expo Returning to Meadow Event Park January 20-22

The Richmond Fishing Expo is returning to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County January 20-22, 2012. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website or view the Show flyer.

People and Partners in the News

Support and Volunteer With Organizations That Offer Hunting Opportunities for Veterans

On Veterans Day, November 11th, we honor the brave men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedoms. A great way to show appreciation for our military service men and women for their service , sacrifice and commitment is to volunteer to take them or a family member hunting. There are several organizations and events that honor and serve the needs of veterans and their families. Do something meaningful to show your appreciation to our veterans and their families in some way this year. You might volunteer for a hunting or fishing outing for wounded warriors, share some extra venison with a military family, or send 'goodie' packages to troops serving overseas.

There are numerous organizations we have featured in past editions of the Outdoor Report that provide outdoor adventure opportunities for veterans and wounded military servicemen and women. Visit these websites to see how you may support their efforts.

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.

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.

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

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 -- This is a free service offered by VTC. 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 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 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:

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."

Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning

Editors note... As I found myself with a trophy buck the first day of muzzleloader season 2 years ago, I was unprepared as how to handle skinning the trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in choosing a taxidermist. I personally know a dozen taxidermists with great reputations, so how do I choose? One of the first contacts I made was to Todd and Vickie Rapalee, of Rapalee Taxidermy in Goochland, who have an exceptional reputation for their stunning exhibits at major sportsman shows featuring wild animal trophies from around the world. I had visited their amazing showroom and facility in Goochland several times - it is worth a visit even if you do not have a trophy to mount. I assumed Rapalee and several other well known taxidermists I knew from sportsmen show exhibits would be too expensive, yet Todd notes that the foundation of his business and that of most Virginia taxidermists, remains the whitetail shoulder mount. His prices and those I checked of other taxidermists of similar quality and reputation were competitive and affordable. I ended up choosing a taxidermist that was closer to home and a fellow member of several sportsman organizations. I learned a lot from consulting with Todd and asked him to share his advice in the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "If you are looking to find a person to mount your hunting trophies in all of their former glory, here are some tips gathered from over 30 years of taxidermy experience."

Your search for a quality taxidermist should begin well before you have a trophy to be mounted. A good place to start is asking friends about their taxidermist. Are they satisfied with the quality and service provided? Another choice is visiting booths at hunting/sportsman shows. Here you can usually see a number of taxidermy booths at one location. Hugh Crittenden, Founder and Manager of the Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen Show in August in Richmond, and a retired taxidermist, provided similar advice and noted that the Big Game Contests in Richmond hosted by the VA Deer Hunters Association, Izaak Walton League in Harrisonburg and VA Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in Franklin are good places to see numerous trophy mounts and the various taxidermists' skills. The Virginia Taxidermist Association website and the internet are also good resources to learn more about licensed taxidermists.

Take the time to go and visit taxidermy studios, even when you do not have a specimen to deliver for mounting. Look around their showroom and facility. If a taxidermist takes pride in their work and business it will show. In short, the mounts should appear alive and be of a quality that you would be proud to display in your home or office. This is the time to ask questions and prepare for when you do need a taxidermist's services.

Some questions you may want to ask:

If you have already had a bad experience with a taxidermist and have a horrendous creature that was intended for your den, but is now hanging in your basement or garage, keep this in mind, most taxidermist will remount old or poor quality mounts using a new cape. If the trophy means something to you, it will be well worth it! Hopefully, you'll follow some of the tips here and not end up with such an embarrassing creation in the first place.

Field care tips for a whitetail shoulder mount:

For more information contact Rapalee Taxidermy, Inc. website and the Virginia Taxidermist Association.

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...

With Veterans Day observance November 11th, we wanted to feature several organizations and events that honor and serve the needs of veterans and their families for their courage, service and sacrifice to preserve our freedom. On Veterans Day, we honor the brave men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedoms. Do something meaningful to show your appreciation to our veterans and their families in some way this year. You might volunteer for a hunting or fishing outing for wounded warriors, share some extra venison with a military family, or send 'goodie' packages to troops serving overseas.

There are numerous organizations we have featured in past editions of the Outdoor Report that provide outdoor adventure opportunities for veterans and wounded military servicemen and women. Visit these websites to see how you may support their efforts.

Project Healing Water Fly Fishing Event Provides Recovery and Therapy

In mid-October the trout stocked waters of Back Creek below the Dominion Pump Storage Station provided valuable recreation and rehabilitation for a special group of anglers on a two-day trout fishing trip in the mountains of Bath County. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), Dominion, The Guilford Foundation of Richmond and Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) hosted a combination of 10 active duty military personnel and veterans recovering from wounds and injuries incurred while serving their country for a special rehabilitative and therapeutic fly-fishing experience. Warriors and Vets from the following location took part in the two day fly fishing event: Ft Eustis, Ft Belvoir WTU, McGuire, Salem, Beckley, Hampton and Huntington VA Medical Centers. Volunteer Guides from the PHWFF programs provided one on one support for each Warrior and Vet. Another 40 plus volunteers from the sponsoring organizations pitched in to make this event a great success.

Each warrior and vet was given a complete fly fishing outfit from rod to waders. Also included was a rain jacket, which came in very handy as during the trip there were a lot of rain showers. For the second year in a row, Dominion overstocked the delay harvest section of Back Creek with very nice rainbow trout. This assured the new fly fishers an opportunity to hook up with nice fish on their new 5 wt. rods. The Dominion pump back station employees provide great support and they kindly allow the group to use their facilities. Phil Johnson, PHWFF Regional Coordinator – The Virginias Region expressed a big "THANK YOU" to all the volunteers who help make this one of our program's best trips this year. Visit the Project Healing Waters website to see how you can support this valuable program. For outdoor recreation opportunities in Bath County visit their website.

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

Youth Turkey Day Successful On Several Levels...

The Special Youth Fall Turkey Hunting Day, on Saturday October 15th at a first look at the harvest data didn't seem to be very successful. This year, new regulations allow turkeys harvested in the fall to be checked at a Game Check Station, by telephone, or the Internet Reporting Systems. This is the first year hunters have the option of reporting fall killed wild turkeys using the telephone or Internet. Since feather samples are no longer being collected at Game Check Stations in the fall or spring, the telephone or internet options are required.

There were a total of 34 turkeys checked on Saturday October 15th which was the Fall Youth Turkey Day. Because the archery season for turkeys is also open, it cannot be specifically determined which were youth harvests. The total harvest by weapon was reported October 15th as:

We cross-checked how many turkeys were checked through Got Game by bow/crossbow hunters during the first 2 Saturdays of the archery season (Oct 1st and Oct 8th). There were 33 checked on opening day and 16 checked on the second Saturday. Our best count is 10 youth checked a bird via internet or phone on the Fall Youth Turkey Day. Since we did not allow phone or internet checking of turkeys until this year, it is hard to compare between years with the change in checking options, multiple harvest data sets, and overlap of youth day and archery turkey hunting opportunities.

The totals for the harvest on the Fall Youth Day hunt for the past several years are:

VDGIF Biologists Dave Steffen after some further analysis [he's a good "numbers cruncher" with great perspective for the big picture] explained that the 'apparent ' low number of youth turkey harvests may not be so dismal when you compare it to the more popular Youth Deer Day in September...

"Just to put these figures in perspective, the Fall Youth Turkey Day is not as bad as it might appear. In 2010, the Youth Day deer kill (657) was only 0.3% of the entire deer kill for the year (219,797). Although only 37 birds were killed on the 2010 youth day, that still represented 1.4% of the total fall kill (2,687). In proportion to the total harvests, the turkey kill on Youth Day is actually 5 times greater (and therefore more popular/effective?) than the Youth Day Deer kill. Even with subtracting archery kills, a corrected youth harvest of about 10 birds is still a greater proportion (0.4%) of the total harvest than resulted from Youth Day participants in deer hunting.

Fall hunting for turkeys isn't nearly as popular in general, but the relative kill on turkey youth day is comparable to or even greater than what we experienced for deer. Actually, The Youth Turkey Day may have even more to brag about than the Youth Deer Day!

Some hunters may question the purpose of the separate day for kids, a week before the regular season with such low numbers of "success". But as you read the stories and see the proud smiles of the young hunters that did bag a bird and the memories that are made are data that are hard to refute! After all, hunting is not just about the kill anyhow. Every study shows that making a kill is a much lower rated component of satisfaction than other aspects of hunting like enjoying nature, getting away from it all, companionship with friends and family, etc. The stories we get submitted to the Outdoor Report attest to this over and over. The value of a fun day in the woods with a parent or friend- PRICELESS! And memories to last a life time. Take a youngster hunting this year- you will both be better for it!

Fall Turkey Hunting Extended This Year

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 season dates have been extended in some areas. and the starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. {see Regulations for dates in your area}.

Note that 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, and may assist with calling.

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:

Hunters: Check the Regulations before Taking Your Deer Carcass out of Virginia

Since Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected from two deer harvested in Frederick County, Virginia, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia (see

Hunters anywhere in Virginia going into Kentucky or North Carolina must bone-out or quarter their deer carcass so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia's CWD Containment Area in which case, carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

For Tennessee, whole deer carcasses are allowed except those originating from anywhere in Frederick County and Shenandoah County, where carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord are removed.

For Virginia deer hunters hunting out-of-state, please make note of the following change to Virginia's carcass importation regulations. Whole deer carcasses from carcass-restriction zones, rather than from the entire state or province where CWD has been detected, are prohibited from entering Virginia. For example, only the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, and Morgan in West Virginia, and the county of Allegany in Maryland, are now restricted. For information regarding other carcass-restriction zones and deer parts allowed to be brought into Virginia from these zones, please visit the Department's website.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is continuing several management strategies in the northern Shenandoah Valley in response to the detection of CWD. These actions include:

Just as in previous years, hunters in the Containment Area should be aware of the mandatory sampling days (November 19, 26, and December 3) and be prepared to submit their deer heads for tissue samples. The Department will distribute additional information closer to those dates.

To assist with CWD surveillance, VDGIF is strongly encouraging hunters who harvest deer in the CA on days other than mandatory sampling days to voluntarily submit the head and neck from their deer for testing by bringing it to a self-service refrigerated drop station, which are located in the following places:

In addition to surveillance within the CA, VDGIF is collecting 1,000 samples this fall from across the entire state to assess the CWD-status of deer outside the CA.

CWD has been detected in 19 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting VDGIF. More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website.

New Hunting & Fishing License Fees Effective for 2011-12 Seasons

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.

There is a Second Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day February 4, 2012

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, 2012 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 hosts several workshops throughout the season. Visit the VAWFA website for more information.

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 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

Justin Farthing Gets First Deer at Ft. A.P. Hill on Youth Deer Day

Chuck Farthing from Chesapeake, sent in this great story of his son, Justin killing his first deer on a hunt at Ft. A. P. Hill in Caroline County during the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th...

"We were in the double ladder tree stand by 0600 and Justin was excited awaiting his first deer. Our stand was only 10 feet off the ground but proved to be extremely effective. Our first animal sighting was a large black bear without cubs. The bear circled us for approximately 2 hours and I explained to Justin that we would not see any deer while the bear was present. He shook his head in understanding and was amazed that a bear could get to within 10 yards of our stand and remain in the area. At 10:45am a doe presented herself to our left, his side of the stand, and he took his time and made a clean shot from about 40 yards with his Traditions Thunderbolt 50 cal. Muzzleloader. As you could imagine our excitement, the tracking and retrieval was hurried a little with thoughts of the bear in the area. We found her about 60 yards over a small hill from point of impact. Justin was all smiles and wonderment! We were able to share all these memories with a few close friends; actually they set up our stand and scouted for us, many thanks to them! After the morning hunt we traveled to his soccer game in which his team won. We returned to the same stand for the afternoon hunt by 3:00 and saw three more does. He had one in his sights, but decided to pass saying "It's too small Dad, I'll let her grow". Justin is prepared to return to the woods for muzzle loader season looking for his "first buck". I believe I have a new hunting partner!

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 Please include your locality in the e-mail.

Videos Available to Show Field Dressing Techniques

Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Whether you are a novice hunter who may not feel comfortable tackling the chore of field dressing and butchering a deer or squirrel themselves, or a more experienced hunter who would like to take their deer processing to a professional level, the VDGIF has a DVD to help you make the most of your harvest. VDGIF has two useful DVDs now being offered at the VDGIF store. One is a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. This video will show you 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 for the first time. In the second video, 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 and old.

For the deer hunter, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" video begins with step-by-step instructions on how to field dress a deer, as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. Then, professional butcher and hunter education instructor Rob Bingel demonstrates the best way to cape out a deer for mounting. The video really gets good when he shows in detail how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. Sure, many of us think we know how to process a deer, but seeing the way Rob does it, with no wasted effort, is well worth the price of the video. By the end of the video you will learn how to make butterfly chops, de-bone a front shoulder, tie up a roast using a butcher's knot, be able to identify all the proper cuts of meat on a deer, and more! This is one video you will watch over and over! The price is only $12 each.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

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

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

'Early Season' Tree Stand and 'After Dark' Safety Tips

The days are getting shorter now and with the end of Daylight Savings Time on November 6, 2011 and early muzzleloading black powder season ongoing, more and more time is being spent by hunters in the woods before daylight and after sunset, getting to their favorite stand. Here are some special safety tips for the autumn hunt gathered from experience and conversations with fellow sportsmen around the campfire, tailgate, and skinnin' shed...

  1. Let other hunters in your party know where your stand is located. Leave a map on the dashboard indicating the time you will return.
  2. Pack emergency items including a whistle, horn, strobe, lighter/matches, 2-way radio, or cell phone in your pack. Make sure cell phone is properly charged or have fresh replacement batteries.
  3. Carry an extra flashlight, one of them being the headlight or cap bill type that allows hands-free operation.
  4. Wear full-body safety harness at all times maintaining three points of contact at all times.
  5. Practice using your tree stand during limited daylight and wet weather conditions, to be familiar with the particular safe procedures for getting up, in, and out of the stand safely and quietly.
  6. Always use a hauling rope for your gear. Tie hauling rope to belt or stand when climbing to keep hands free.
  7. Unload gun or bow before climbing or descending stand.
  8. Wear blaze orange in stand. Let other hunters in area know where you are.
  9. Have a clear travel and "staging" area around the base of your treestand, remove rocks, logs, and trimmed branches so you don't snag or trip over obstructions. Use reflective tacks or yellow flagging on trees that will give you a 'lighted' path to your stand.
  10. Pack Several Glow Light Sticks - VDGIF Videographer, Ron Messina knows the importance of light in filming a good video. An avid bowhunter, he offers this tip to deal with loss of sunlight if you shoot a deer just before dark and need to track it with the light fading. "Crack" a glow light stick and hang it at your stand to find your way back in the dark. Carry several of these inexpensive light sticks to hang along the trail to keep you on track.

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

"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.

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

2011-2012 Fishing, Boating, and Wildlife Diversity (Non-Game) Regulation Review and Amendment

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.

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 late November:

Answers to October 26th edition quiz for nature events for late October...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

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

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

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

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

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, 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.

Support Your Local CPO...

Don't let the actions of a few outlaws or unethical outdoorsmen tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen! Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Last week the VDGIF Basic Law Enforcement Academy proudly graduated 15 new Conservation Police Officers from their 6th Basic Class. These officers took an oath to serve and protect you and the resources we all use and enjoy from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. These highly trained and dedicated men and women have a daunting task to serve in a new location and get acquainted with a new community. They can use your assistance to get oriented to their new assignments. Remember these officers are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors — support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and ethically. Get to know the new CPO in your county. They are your best partner in preserving and protecting our rich hunting and fishing traditions. Help make all our jobs safer and more successful - support your area conservation police officers in any way you can. They are there to benefit you.

The following is a list of the newest conservation police officers and the areas where they will be assigned:

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region II - Southside

Vehicle Crash nets Turkey Poacher... On October 13, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Matthew Silicki received a call from a VA State Trooper {VSP} in Pittsylvania County that had investigated an automobile accident near the city of Danville. A witness to the accident had observed one of the drivers throw a turkey and alcoholic beverages into a wooded area near the scene of the near head on collision. CPO Silicki traveled to the hospital in Danville and interviewed the accident victims. A follow-up investigation by CPO Silicki and CPO Jeremy Hood resulted in charges being made for taking a turkey during closed season, hunting without required licenses and littering.

Small Amount of Blood Found, Leads to Admission... On October 21, 2011, Conservation Police Sergeant Rolland Cox received a call from a landowner reporting he had observed a utility vehicle pass his residence, heard a rifle shot, and had found blood in the road. Sgt. Cox and Officers George Shupe and Randy Hurst responded to the area and after a short search stopped the utility vehicle as it crossed a pumpkin field. Although the suspect had washed the UTV, Sgt. Cox found a small amount of blood on the vehicle and after interviewing the suspect gained an admission that he had killed a deer with a rifle, hid the deer and rifle, and was going to return later to retrieve both.

Citizen Tip on Shots Fired at Night leads to poachers arrest... On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Jason Honaker received a complaint of shooting at night in Scott County. The anonymous complainant advised Officer Honaker that he observed a vehicle driving slowly down the road across the Clinch River after he had heard a gunshot. The complainant stated that the vehicle then continued down the road and appeared to stop just past a turn in the road. Officer Honaker was very familiar with this area and knew that a house in that area had just recently been occupied. Upon his arrival, Officer Honaker observed tracks through the frost leading to a barn that was behind the recently occupied residence. Officer Honaker followed the tracks to a pickup truck that was parked behind the barn that had fresh blood, a rifle, and spotlight in it. Officer Honaker then followed tracks that led to a wooded area behind the barn where he observed two fresh deer carcasses hanging from a tree. Officer Honaker then interviewed the new resident, who stated that he did not know anything about any gunshots in the area. The resident explained that the truck belonged to his brother, who was inside the residence. Officer Honaker then interviewed the brother, who admitted to killing both deer at night and transporting them back to his brother's residence. After Officer Honaker received a written statement from the suspect, he placed the following charges: shooting deer at night and possession/transportation of illegal deer.

Region III - Southwest

Bear in Tree Shot – Charges placed on shooter as bear was not aggressive... On October 24, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Tosh Barnette received a call from Lee County Sheriff's Department in reference to a black bear in a tree in a residential area of Pennington Gap. Officer Barnette was advised by a Pennington Gap police officer that a female subject had shot at the bear. Officer Barnette responded to the scene and located the bear in the tree. The bear was observed to have a bloody wound on its left rear leg near its rump area. Officer Barnette learned that a male and female subject had observed the bear from a location near their residence. The subjects then approached the bear about twenty yards up the street from their residence. The male subject held a flashlight on the bear, and advised that the bear was taking steps toward him. The male subject advised the female to retrieve a pistol from their residence. The female returned with the pistol and fired four rounds at the bear. Both subjects gave statements to Officer Barnette, but none indicated any aggressive behaviors exhibited by the bear. Officer Barnette remained on scene until the injured bear climbed out of the tree around 1 am and disappeared into a wooded area. Charges were placed for attempt to kill a bear illegally and reckless handling of a firearm.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Buckshot Retrieved from Trophy Buck Claimed to be a Bow Kill... On Sunday Oct. 8, 2011, CPO Kester received a tip in reference to an illegal kill of a trophy buck. CPO Kester went to the taxidermist to seize buckshot that was retrieved from the deer, the antlers and obtained pictures of the entrance wound from the buckshot. CPO Kester interviewed the suspect and obtained a written confession of killing the deer on opening day of archery season with a shotgun and buckshot in Highland County. A warrant was obtained for killing a trophy deer out of season and was served.

Poachers hide deer carcass in coveralls in truck toolbox- wasn't a good fit... Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Jason Culbertson received a call from Richmond dispatch of potential trespassing in progress in Greene County. Upon Sergeant Culbertson's arrival in the area, he was able to locate a white pick-up truck with two individuals standing in the bed. The two men observed Sergeant Culbertson and began to run in opposite directions on the property. After a brief foot pursuit, Sergeant Culbertson was able to secure one of the individuals. As luck would have it, the suspect secured by the Sergeant was the owner of the pickup. A search of the pickup revealed a number of spent rifle casings as well as a freshly killed and quartered 8 point buck zipped up in a pair of coveralls in the toolbox of the pickup. Officer Eric Plaster and Officer Amy Mills arrived on scene shortly thereafter and were able to locate the second individual. Evidence was collected and charges were placed.

Tip on baited tree stands helps nab bowhunter... On Wednesday afternoon October 19, 2011, Sgt. Bullman received information about a baited tree stand on a private farm in the Verona area of Augusta County. A walk through of the area on Thursday revealed two baited ladder stands between the river and 10 acre field of standing corn. On Saturday morning at approximately 0545 hours, Sgt. Bullman was in position to observe the entrance to the property and a pickup truck arrived shortly after. Giving the suspect(s) time to walk in and get settled, Sgt. Bullman walked in to one of stands and waited until about 0700 hours to approach it. Surprisingly no one was there and a check of the second stand revealed no one. At this time a check was conducted of a different section of the field and a third stand was located. This stand was also baited and two subjects were in the stand with a bow and arrow. The subject stated that he was not the owner of the stand, but he knew it was baited. A charge of hunting over bait was issued. The second subject was armed with a digital camera.

New Wildlife K-9 Team Pilot Program Needs Your Support

VDGIF Law Enforcement has introduced a pilot program K-9 Team with three Labrador retrievers trained in tracking, wildlife detection and evidence recovery. The dogs and their CPO handlers graduated from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' K-9 Academy in April. This was an intense and physically demanding eight week training course that all three handlers completed successfully with their dogs and returned to Virginia to begin their work. These K-9 units have already made an impressive start assisting CPOs and other state and local law enforcement and search and rescue teams with the dogs special skills and abilities. The members of the new K-9 Team are: from Portsmouth in Tidewater region, K-9 Officer Megan Vick and her partner Jake; from Appomattox County in Central Virginia, K-9 Officer Richard Howald and his partner Scout; and from Rockingham County in Western Virginia, K-9 Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice.

VDGIF Director of Law Enforcement Col Dabney Watts, Jr., has high expectations for this new versitle Team noting, "It is our hope to fund this new agency program through donations made by individuals, businesses and wildlife organizations. In fact all three of our original dogs, as well as the 2 dogs from Kansas, were donated either by individuals or animal shelters. Through the efforts of VDGIF Grants Manager Tom Wilcox and Jenny West, Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, the Wildlife Foundation has agreed to accept and manage monetary donations made to the Department's K-9 program. Information on how to donate is provided on both the Foundation and Department websites. In addition Lee Walker, Director of Outreach, arranged for the printing of trading cards with a picture of each canine unit on the front and a brief introduction of each officer and his or her dog on the back along with information on how to donate to the program. These cards will be handed out at all public events attended by one of our canine units. See the feature on the K-9 Team's introduction at the Richmond Squirrels baseball game in the July 13th editon.

Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K-9 Team and see demonstrations of their remarkable skills used in enforcement of wildlife laws and search and rescue.

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

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at

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

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.

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!

VDGIF Goes on the Air

A little over 2 years ago Richmond learned that the Triple - A baseball team, the Braves, would be leaving town for another venue. Soon after, The San Francisco Giant's Double - A team announced their plans to move to Richmond and fill the baseball void. The Flying Squirrels were named and kicked off their season in 2010.

Following the first season the organization reached out to VDGIF about hosting a theme night at the stadium. The idea for the Great Outdoors Event at The Diamond was born sponsored by VDGIF and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia. The evening featured boating safety, fishing and the new VDGIF K-9 Wildlife Team. I was even able to get out on the field and do a casting competition with some kids in between innings, which was a lot of fun!

Recently, Anthony Oppermann, Director of Media for the Flying Squirrels contacted us about a new project he was working on with Sports Radio 910 – WRNL –AM in Richmond. Anthony was going to host a sports program on Saturday mornings called, "The Weekend with Anthony Oppermann." His plan for the show was to not be like every other sports radio talk show, but focus on the people in sports, their personalities and lifestyles. Along with touching on national storylines and athletes, he also wanted the show to have a local appeal and that is where VDGIF came in. "I know fishing and hunting are important in this area," says Oppermann, "and local media does not always cover it."

A few phone calls and a couple meetings later and we were on for a wildlife segment on Anthony's new show. We will discuss fishing, hunting and wildlife and I will always look to keep the listeners up to date on what's biting in the area. We also plan to have expert guests come on the show. Tune in and join us, we are going to have a lot of fun with this!

"The Weekend" can be heard on Sports Radio 910 – WRNL –AM, 9-11am Saturday mornings. If you are out of range for the station signal you can listen live online or find 910 AM on the "I Heart Radio" app on your smart phone. The 10-15 minute wildlife segment will broadcast about 10:30 each Saturday. If you cannot tune in live, Anthony has created a YouTube channel where the segment will be posted following the show. The first show aired on Saturday November 5th; click here to listen now.

Learn more about Flying Squirrels Radio and Anthony Oppermann »

Richmond Fishing Expo Returning to Meadow Event Park January 20-22

The Richmond Fishing Expo is returning to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County for the January 20-22, 2012 . The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website or view the Show flyer.

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.

OCHS Teen Angler James Graves III Wins Junior World Classic

Submitted by Sarah White and OCHS Anglers Youth Advisor Becky Gore

For many the idea of High School sports conjures up images of cheerleaders and quarterbacks with letter jackets. But at Orange County High School, many of the big "stars" of sports are on the fishing team. These kids use fishing to learn teamwork, strategic thinking, hard work and have plain old good times fun. Like all High School athletes, team members must get good grades. This is not a problem, I have met these youngsters, and they are all extremely bright. They also excel at their sport. Case in point is young James Graves III.

James Graves III, on left, represented the OCHS Anglers, the Virginia Junior Bass Federation Nation and the Mid Atlantic states - Junior Bass Federation Nation, at the Junior World classic in Monroe, Louisiana and won big. Graves blew away the field on Bayou DeSiard with 5 pounds, 12 ounces, which was 3 pounds, 10 ounces better than his closest opponent in the 11 to 14 year-old age division. Graves was the only angler in the field to bring in more than two fish, and he credits the cypress trees in the shade against the bank for his good fortune. He was fishing a shaky head slowly around the cypress trees, and the bass would just pick it up.

"I was catching them on almost every cast this morning," said Graves, a member of the Orange County High School Anglers in Virginia. "I caught about 10 today, but only 4 were keepers."

James has participated with the OCHS Anglers team as an associate member, since his home town of Madison, VA has had no Junior Bass Federation Nation Program. Becky Gore, the OCHS youth advisor knew young Graves at Wetsel Middle School and now a freshman at Madison County High School. She taught both James' Mom, Missy, and his Dad, Lucky, during her tenure at Madison County High prior to teaching at Orange County High School. "I had watched young James fish the trout streams on his Granddad's (James Sr.) farm resort, and recognized quickly his natural talent", says Gore, "Also some of the locals", she says, call him "The Fish Whisperer"'.

Last year at the OC Fishing and Sportsman Show, Gore spoke with Lucky and James about fishing with the OCHS Angler's Program. Gore says "I wanted James to have the chance to fish competitively and also to encourage Lucky to start a similar program in Madison County." James' parents would bring him to meet Gore at her home in Madison, and travel with her to the tournaments. "Having the opportunity to talk with him on the way to tournaments, I could see that James was outgoing, not a bit shy and could be quite the competitor." says Gore. She linked him up with the OCHS Angler, President Devon Bowling, who helped James feel comfortable with this new group of peers. James won his first tournament at Lake Orange, and went on to do well in all of the following chapter tournaments. James then fished his first Junior State Qualifier at Lake Anna in June 2011 and in this tournament James won a spot in the July 2011, Junior State Classic- held on Buggs Island. At the JSC, Graves won his age division and was eligible to advance with the adult Bass Federation Nation VA state team to fish the Delaware River in the Mid Atlantic Regional tournament. Again his strong performance in this tournament allowed him to advance to the World Classic. James had only one day of practice on the Bayou DeSiard. Volunteer anglers from University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) team were the boat captains for the young competitors. "I would have fished the same stuff James did," said Nick LaDart, Graves' driver. "He really adapted today from the cloudy conditions in practice yesterday. He did great." James will receive a $5000.00 scholarship for college, and a 16 foot, Triton bass boat.

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, 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

Early black powder deer season continues through Friday the 18th of next week. The regular firearms season starts Saturday, November 19th, so if you don't hunt, but plan to be anywhere near where people may be hunting, I strongly suggest you wear a blaze orange hat or vest. (Read more about the importance of 'safety' orange in the Be Safe... Have Fun section feature "Blaze Orange Is Not Just For Hunters!")

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, No report this edition.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. Anglers that are visiting Beaverdam Reservoir are catching bass. The lake grass is starting to die back with the cooler water temperatures. This makes it a little easier to get at the bass. The crappie fishing is also on the upswing. I have seen some descent stringers of crappie. I think if more anglers were coming out we would see more fish being caught. The water is clear, at full pool and 55 degrees.

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 says that speckled trout are biting well at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. They are going for Mirrolures, chartreuse grubs and Fishbite. Bluefish can be found at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and will take cut bait and spoons. Tautog are at the Tubes at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are attacking green and fiddler crabs. A trip to Cape Henry is a good idea if you want to land flounder; use cut bait and Fishbite. To get stripers, go to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Fishing for stripers is best at night with bucktails and Storm Lures. The water is fairly clear and 57 degrees.

Back Bay: Local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that fishing has been slow, with few anglers on the water. He has heard nothing about bass. Cat action is good, with live eels working well. Crappie are responding to minnows and jigs. Some striper fishermen are having success with trolling. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is high, slightly stained and in the lower 60s.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that a strong North Eastern wind has made the water level too low to fish. By the time this report reaches you, however, things should be back to normal.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass fishing is still good. Plastics and cranks are the lures of choice. Crappie action is very good with minnows and jigs. Lots of cats are being fooled by cut bait. Perch are going for minnows, jigs and small spinners. Bluegill are being uncooperative. Stripers are biting jigs and minnow-like lures. The water is clear and cooling.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 2nd through the 4thon the Blackwater above Joyners Bridge. The water was clear, fast, 48 degrees and 7 ft. on the USGS gauge at Burdette. I saw no water quality problems on this trip and I picked up one fat bag of trash. The fishing on this trip was poor. I was hoping the blackfish were going to be hitting but I did not catch a one. I tried for speckle and did not have a hit. I did catch 1 jack and 7 largemouth, but to do so I wore out a reel from the nine million casts I made. All the largemouth were caught on either the AC Shiner or a number 3 Mepps Minnow and were very small.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike reports that the smallmouths are biting well on live minnows, either on a cork or along the bottom. Cats are attacking cut shad. Crappie angling is good in the creeks, with the traditional minnows and jigs being good bets. Some stripers were landed around the Benjamin Harrison Bridge on bucktails in the evening. The water is fairly clear and 54 degrees.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. The fall blue catfish season is heating up. When the water temperatures drop, the trophy blue catfish action heats up. Right now, the water temperature is around 56 degrees. Look for large blue catfish around channel ledges and other structure in the river. Fishing fresh cut shad is best right now. Last week's best catches included a 52 and 57 pound blue catfish caught by Fred Reicker from Wichita, KS.

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. No report this edition.

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. My guide season for smallmouth is over. I want to thank everyone that came and spent a day on the river with me. It was one of the best seasons I've had in a few years. Just to let everyone know it's never too early to book for next 2012. I have already booked trips from April to October. Smallmouth fishing is still pretty good. Pig & jigs, crankbaits and grubs have all boated fish the past couple weeks. The number of fish caught is down but the bigger fish are feeding! Fly anglers should go with the biggest streamers and crayfish patterns they have. Fish the deeper holes and fish slow.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow Jr. says that bass action is okay, with cranks performing well. Search for crappie about 10 to 15 ft. down and around points and brush piles. Minnows and jigs will work when you find them. No word on cats, perch or bluegill. Striper fishing is good, with live jumbo shiners or shad being your best bet. The water is fairly clear and cooling.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that few smallies are being landed, but try a crayfish imitator. The rainbow and browns in the Jackson are active and going for nymphs. Brookies are still spawning. The water is clear and 48 degrees.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Holly Grove Marina is closed for the season. It will reopen in February. The gas pumps will work with a credit card. Boats are still available for rental, just call ahead and leave a message.

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, No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the smallie action is hot, with big ones out there on the fall feed. Pig & jigs are your best bet. Muskie fishing is picking up. They are going for live bait, especially suckers and big chubs. The water is clear and in the mid 50s.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that smallmouth action is slowing down considerably, but cranks, jerks or soft plastics may get you one. Muskie fishing is picking up. Fly anglers should try big streamers. Spinning rod folks should try any "big lure", especially big sliders. The water is low, clear and cooling.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The Upper New River remains clear and water temperatures are dipping into the low 50s. Many people are in the woods hunting at this time so you may have the river all to yourself right now. Muskie fishing continues to be good and the walleye bite is picking up, especially in the early a.m., dusk and nighttime. Slow down your presentation for smallies with tubes or pig & jigs. Make sure to wear your PFD in this cooling water and it is not a bad idea to wear an orange hat while you are fishing with muzzleloader and gun seasons opening.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Smallmouth fishing is on the wane up here on the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) due to cold, frosty mornings for the last week or more. Some may still be caught using tubes, jigs, Senkos, jerkbaits and crankbaits. Trout fishing is the main order of business these days. Big Wilson and Chestnut creek were stocked last week. Chestnut Creek is delayed harvest; no trout may be kept until June 1st. When catching and releasing trout please use single hooks and crimp down the barb with forceps or small pliers. Fox, Helton, Elk, Cripple and Crooked creeks have also been stocked in the past few weeks.

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 Harry told me that smallies can still be had in the North and South forks of the river. Fish the deep pools and the deep cuts between the ledges. Use a SA Masterly Sink Tip 3 or a Teeny 200 line. Best flies are: Murray's Magnum Chub Streamer, size 4; or Murray's Magnum Hog Sucker, size 4.

The stocked streams in the Valley are giving good action, particularly at dusk with small nymphs and streamers. Fish below the riffles and in the tails of the pools. Best flies are: Murray's Cranefly Larva, size 12; and Murray's Tan Caddis Pupa, size 14.

The mountain brookies are still spawning and should be left alone.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. The bass fishing at Lake Moomaw has been very strong the last couple of weeks. As water temperatures continue to fall the bass continue to be active, feeding up for the winter season. Good numbers of 3 to 4 lb. smallmouth and largemouth bass are bending the rods of anglers. A host of techniques are being used to catch these nice fish but it seems as though plastic finesse baits, jigs, and some metal type lures are the baits of choice. Find the schools of shad and you will be on the way to success. Watch your electronics. The bass are most active in the morning hours.

It is taking 15 lbs. and more bags to compete in the local tournaments. The best bag this past week was a combo of smallmouth and largemouth bass weighing in at 19.14 lbs. for five bass. The bag was anchored by a 4.8 largemouth and 3.14 smallmouth. Water levels continue to fall so be very careful on the water and wear a life jacket!

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, 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: I've packed it in for the year. Fishing has wrapped up and now all I have to keep me going is the promise of next year! I'll be back on the water in late February or early March depending on the weather.

Lunga Reservoir and Rappahannock River: 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.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. No report this edition.

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

Note from Sarah: Captain Pressnell had a great idea. Please be sure to wear some blaze orange while fishing near wooded areas. No one wants the tragedy of a hunting accident, especially one so easily preventable.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With muzzleloader season underway and many youngsters having participating in the special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th, there are lots of youngsters who hopefully got , or will get a shot at their first deer. Whether it is a buck or doe doesn't really matter. For a young teenage deer hunter, his first "really big buck" was a memorable experience with a lesson of patience and scouting pays off. Hunter DeVall is a sophomore at Tunstall High School in Danville. He is a member of the varsity football team and wrestling team. Hunter is an avid outdoorsman. He began hunting and fishing with his father, brother, and grandfather at a very early age. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Hunter spends many hours during summer evenings observing and photographing area does and bucks. His article was inspired by a memorable hunting experience last fall.

Hunter's entry won Second place in the 18th Annual Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) High School Writing Competition. Not only does the story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about Hunters big buck, note that he uses good safety practices both in handling his firearm, being sure of his target before firing, and staying in contact with his dad during the hunt. Although he does not mention it in the article, Hunter notes that wearing a safety harness while in his tree stand is an important safety practice. The tradition of hunting is in good hands with responsible and respectful young sportsmen like Hunter. Good luck this season and thanks to your dad and granddad for teaching you safety and the values of our hunting traditions

The Wheat Field Giant

By Hunter DeVall

It all started one hot summer evening when I was sitting on a hill overlooking this wheat field. I sat there like I did almost every summer evening watching a few smaller bucks and does when this huge buck stepped out at the very far end of the field. I watched in amazement until it got dark then I rushed home to tell my family what I had seen. The next day I anxiously waited to see if the giant would come out so I could get a look at him through my binoculars. To my surprise, just before dark he came out at the same spot as the night before. When I looked through my binoculars I couldn't believe my eyes as I could count fourteen visible points. I was ecstatic that I would even have the chance to hunt the area with so many nice bucks as I had never really harvested a big buck. From that day on I counted down the days until hunting season, but as the summer progressed I only saw the buck a couple of times.

Finally after a summer long wait it was the night before opening day. I set my clock for six a.m. and went to bed. When I woke up I looked outside and it was misting. I climbed in my stand just before daybreak and as soon as I got in my stand I saw a tree shaking about 100 yards away. I looked through my binoculars and saw that it was a little 6 pointer rubbing a tree which was kind of interesting because I had never seen a deer do that before. I sat there about five minutes then I saw 2 does headed from the wheat field right down the oak ridge to my deer stand. They walked right by my stand into the thicket behind me. About 15 minutes later I saw a really nice 8 pointer and a six pointer skirting around the edge of the wheat field. I threw my gun up and looked through my scope and let them pass. I sat there watching the two bucks eating acorns when I saw a 10 pointer. I had made up my mind that I was going to wait for the wheat field giant that I knew lurked around those woods. I watched those bucks eating about 50 yards in front of me and I saw this monster buck step in the wheat field. It wasn't 'the giant' but it had points every where so I slowly raised my gun and pushed my safety to fire. I put the crosshairs on the deer's shoulder, but just as I was about to squeeze the shot off this huge buck stepped in front of the other buck. Then I realized it was the giant! It felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I was so excited but I knew I had to hold it together in order to make a clean lethal shot. I waited for the buck to turn broadside so I could shoot. I decided to take the shot right when he stepped in the opening between two forks of a tree. As he took that last step, I squeezed the trigger. Boom... I was so nervous, I didn't see whether I had hit the deer. Anxiously, I walked about halfway to where I shot at the deer and I could see the giant's enormous rack sticking up off the ground. As soon as I saw the deer I almost started crying because I couldn't believe that I had harvested him. I had thought and dreamed about killing this deer for the entire summer. I knew that the deer was big, but when I walked up to the deer, it looked like the buck had doubled in size. It was huge!

After I had calmed down my brother and I field dressed and loaded the deer up in the back of his truck. We went to the check station where people gathered all the way around the truck admiring the giant's horns. My summer evenings scouting the fields had paid off. I actually harvested the "wheat field giant." I now can't wait for the taxidermist to finish my mount. I will never forget that wonderful day in the great outdoors.

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 are now accepting stories with a deadline of February 23, 2012. We encourage you to write your most memorable hunting, fishing or other outdoor adventure story and enter the contest. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: