In this edition:

Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving

During this season of Thanksgiving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests in many ways. Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer, or a portion of it, to Hunters for the Hungry. The potential exists to receive, process, and distribute 400,000 pounds of venison annually providing 1.6 million servings to the less fortunate across Virginia. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 4.2 million pounds, equal to 15.7 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Another valuable contribution is to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public is also encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and rewarding Thanksgiving holiday.

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

Sharing the Bounty

Helping others by putting food on their tables: Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry. Last hunting season, a record 407,800 pounds of venison was processed and distributed in the Commonwealth through this program. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 4.2 million pounds, equal to 15.7 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. The goal for 2011 is to process 400,000 pounds that will provide 1.6 million servings. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing that donated meat.

A tradition of stewardship: Hunting is a tradition that is often passed on from one generation to the next creating a special bond between family members and friends. Many hunters enjoy mentoring others in the pleasure of and importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. For most hunters it's not the killing of game that's key to hunting, but the experiences and life lessons they gain. People who hunt have a special connection with the outdoors and an awareness of the relationships between wildlife, habitat, and humans. With that awareness comes an understanding of the role humans play in being caretakers of the environment.

Hunt safely and responsibly, and have fun!

A Friendly Hunter's Challenge To HELP Hunters for the Hungry...

The buddies in my hunt club came up with an interesting challenge... As we make drives on Saturday hunts during the 10 week season to get venison for all the club members, we agreed to donate any extra deer to Hunters for the Hungry. Well, last year several of us admittedly missed several good shots, so rather than do the traditional "cut the shirt tail", I challenged my fellow hunters to donate $5 for every missed shot towards the cost of processing a deer. With all the shooting I hear during some of our hunts we should collect the $40 needed to pay for processing a deer donated to Hunters for the Hungry several times over!

This year with the added drain on food banks from hard economic times, Hunters for the Hungry can use every donation whether it's cash or venison from sportsmen to show that they do positive actions to support their neighbors and communities. If you have a successful hunting season and were fortunate to have harvested more deer than what you need, and you use a 2011 Hunters for the Hungry participating processor, consider setting aside several packages of venison for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Share and enjoy your harvest with those in need! If you don't have a deer to donate, how about $5 bucks for every one you missed! Last year Friends & Family Hunt Club in Louisa donated $60 to Hunters for the Hungry. And we also built a sighting in bench for our target practice range to use before this season.

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:

Hunting & Fishing Licenses

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

Field Dressing, Skinning & Processing Deer DVD

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

Virginia Wildlife Magazine Subscription

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

2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

2011 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife

Our 2011 Collector's knife has been customized by Buck Knives and features a bobwhite quail in flight. The elegant, solid cherry box features a field scene. Knives and boxes are made in the USA.

New for 2012 - Facility Access Permit

Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake. Such permit shall not be required for any person holding a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license or a current certificate of boat registration issued by the Department or persons 16 years of age or younger. The Facility Access Permit requirement does not apply to Department- owned boat ramps or segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department- owned land. The Facility Access Permit fee is $ 4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit. The Facility Access Permit may be purchased online or at any license agent.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Pheasant Hunt is Perfect Christmas Present for Your New Hunter

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. If you are looking for that perfect gift for the new hunter in the family, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and North American Gamebird Association may have just what you're looking for – an 'Explore Wingshooting' gamebird hunt. Fifty recent hunter education graduates in Virginia will hunt pheasants at no charge through the new Explore Wingshooting program while their adult partner can hunt at a special discount price.

The first 50 graduates to respond to the Explore Wingshooting invitation can take part in a specially packaged pheasant hunt at one of the preserves listed online.

"As the grandfather of a young hunter, I can't think of a better Christmas gift for my grandson than a day afield hunting pheasants on a professional hunting preserve", said Ladd Johnson, Executive Director of the North American Gamebird Association. "It's an especially good value since NSSF will pay for my grandson's hunt", added Johnson.

Hunters must contact the preserve closest to them and mention the Explore Wingshooting program to reserve their hunt. Hunts can be taken on any mutually agreeable date during the preserve's hunting season, which typically extends well into the next calendar year.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, North American Gamebird Association and International Hunter Education Association are sponsoring the program to provide a safe and enjoyable game bird hunting experience for new hunter education graduates on their first outing. All hunts are fully guided by professional hunting guides with trained bird dogs. Each hunt will be for a preserve half-day, which is typically three to three and one-half hours. The hunts will include only the student and his or her adult hunting partner.

Students will receive a complimentary hunter-orange hat, eye and ear protection and vest courtesy of NSSF and Cabela's. NSSF is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. NAGA is the professional association of the game bird breeding and hunting preserve industries. DON'T WAIT! Go to www.nssf.org/explorewingshooting 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 markwenger@cox.net.

Interested DGIF Hunter Ed, Outdoor Ed or Complementary Workforce volunteers should contact: Henry McBurney at (757) 357-6430 or h-smcburney@charter.net.

Claytor Lake Youth Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Workshop December 9-10, Register ASAP

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 karen.holson@dgif.virginia.gov. Register ASAP as workshop is nearly full. The event information and registration form can be found at www.HuntFishVA.com/events.

Christmas Bird Count - Get Involved!

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

Turkey Hunters Care... NWTF Chapters Distribute Turkey Dinners for Thanksgiving

Since 2001, National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) chapters throughout North America have helped ensure a happy holiday season for their neighbors through the Turkey Hunters Care program. The program is about brightening the holidays for others. NWTF chapters across the country provide frozen, domestic turkeys to less fortunate families in their communities. 2010 was another incredible year for the program as dedicated NWTF members continued to help others during the holidays. Chapters in 40 states and Ontario provided 19,932 frozen turkeys for their neighbors. The generous donations of turkeys, accompanied in many cases with stuffing mix, potatoes, bread and dessert to complete the holiday meals, provided over 114,000 meals for the recipients.

The Virginia State Chapter had over 20 local chapters in all areas of the state participate in the Turkey Hunters Care program in 2010. The Augusta County Chapter led the way with 252 turkeys donated to local food banks.

These impressive numbers are another shining example of NWTF volunteers proving that although the NWTF's mission is to conserve the wild turkey and preserve our hunting heritage; in many cases the NWTF is about even more. NWTF volunteers recognize that just as the NWTF presence is felt by wildlife in the woods and fields, it can also be felt by people in the surrounding community.

The gratefulness of families receiving this gift is seen in their eyes and felt in the heart. Become a part of this community service by joining the NWTF, and you'll also help ensure the future of conservation, hunting and the wild turkey.

Conservation Police Association Offers Collectable Knives for Raising Funds

The Virginia Conservation Police Association was formed in 1981 as the Virginia Game Warden Association, with its mission to, "improve the professionalism of the Virginia Game Warden and better serve the citizens of the Commonwealth." Since its conception, the Association has achieved numerous goals such as gaining full police authority under the Code of Virginia, implementing a Police Bill of Rights for officers, mandating training standards, improving retirement benefits, and gaining protection from outside recruitment for promotional opportunities. In 2008 the Virginia Game Warden Association was reorganized and renamed to the Virginia Conservation Police Association. The reorganized Conservation Police Association is comprised of over 100 Conservation Police Officers that provide statewide law enforcement and serve all the citizens in this great Commonwealth.

The collectible knife program was created to assist in fundraising efforts for the Association. These knives have become a yearly collector's item to many across our state and somewhat of a tradition for our Association. During the recent VDGIF Board Meeting, a CPO knife was presented to each member for their support for Law Enforcement and our efforts to promote the wise use of our abundant natural resources. These knives have been produced yearly until 2010. Due to the decline of our current economy, the future of knife sales has led to a business decision to sell stored knives at cost (currently $50.00/$60.00). After the inventory is depleted from 2006 to 2010, it is possible a 2011/2012 CPO knife will be offered. If this attempt is successful the current series will be continued every other year (2013/2014, 2015/2016 etc.) with 350 knives offered on even years 2012, 2014, 2016 etc. To continue knife sales, a commitment from all members will be required. If you're interested in purchasing a Conservation Police knife please email your request to jamesslaughter47@gmail.com. Please indicate what year you're interested in and if you're interested in a set. Please support your Conservation Police Officers and purchase a collectors knife to support our mission. Supplies are limited!

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Events for Fall Hunting Opportunities

If you have a disability and would like to participate, select your choice of hunting or skill building events and complete the Application available on the VANWTF website. Mail or email completed Application to Mike Deane wheelin4u@yahoo.com. Hunting opportunities are available through December, check the website for details. Photos and stories of November hunts will be posted in the December 14 edition of the Outdoor Report.

Hunters for the Hungry Announces New Fund Raising Raffles for 2012

Hunters for the Hungry has announced the winners of their 2011 Electronic Prize Raffle with the official drawing taking place at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show at The Richmond Raceway Complex, Sunday August 14th, 2011 at 6:00 pm (see the Hunters for the Hungry website for a list of the winners). Fund Raising Coordinator Gary Arrington expressed appreciation to the many folks and organizations that have supported and helped with the raffles and other fund raisers in past years. He noted, "These funds raised are critical in paying for the processing of the donated venison and supporters continue to be a blessing to our program and to all those whose lives are touched by what you do! For every $5 ticket we sell, we can provide 25 servings of venison to needy men, women, and children."

Tickets are still available for the Outdoor Adventure Raffle for 2012 that has a first ever TOP PRIZE of an ALASKAN FISHING ADVENTURE FOR 2 - it is about 10 days with about 7 days of fishing, meals, lodging, and AIRFARE! To be scheduled in 2012! This trip package is over $6,000 in value!

Drawing to take place on March 1, 2012, between 4 pm and 5pm at the Hunters for the Hungry Office located at the Sedalia Center, 1108 Sedalia School Road, Big Island, VA.

To view the actual photos of the electronics package items, check out the website and if you would like to purchase some of these tickets and / or would like to help us sell some of these please let us know! We could so use your support in these special fund raising efforts!

Virginia Tourism Corporation Offers Popular Website To Promote Outdoor Events & Activities

With the summer vacation season heating up, thousands of visitors will be looking for outdoor adventures throughout the state. The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) encourages everyone who has an event, workshop or outdoor-related activity to post it to the official tourism website of Virginia -- www.Virginia.org. This is a free service offered by VTC. Virginia.org is very popular with both in-state outdoor enthusiasts and out-of-state visitors interested in vacationing and seeking outdoor adventures here in the Old Dominion. Dave Neudeck, Director of Electronic Marketing for VTC, notes that the Virginia.org website attracts approximately 500,000 viewers per month.

The events or workshops need to be open to the public and should be something in which the traveling public can participate. Log in to the new Virginia.org Administration Tool to submit a new listing or update existing listings.

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

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

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."

Wild Turkey Restoration Legacy of Kit Shaffer

Editors note... With Thanksgiving this Thursday and turkey being the primary focus on everyone's mind and activity, it was only natural that the sportsman conservation organization we would feature for this edition for the Partners in Wildlife section would be the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). As one of the largest conservation organizations in the world, NWTF founded in 1973, in Fredericksburg Virginia, is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. At the time the NWTF was established, there were only 1.3 million wild turkeys. Today that number stands at more than seven million birds throughout North America, thanks to the efforts of state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members and partners. NWTF and partner organizations and agencies have spent more than $372 million to conserve nearly 17 million acres of habitat. Wild turkeys and hundreds of other species of upland wildlife, including quail, deer, grouse, pheasant and songbirds, have benefited from this improved habitat. While wild turkey restoration is nearing completion, the NWTF still has much work to do. Across North America, supporters are working to enhance habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife while providing hunters with more opportunities and access to public and private land.

According to many state and federal agencies, the restoration of the wild turkey is arguably the greatest conservation success story in North America's wildlife history. One of the key figures in this historic restoration effort for the Wild Turkey is Virginia's own C.H. 'Kit' Shaffer, VDGIF biologist for over 35 years. Kit is credited with making the change in restoration practice from releasing pen raised birds {Kit called them fox food} as was common practice in the 1950's, to using rocket nets to capture live wild turkeys in areas where plentiful and restocking them to barren areas. AND most importantly recommend and implemented habitat management changes from large expanses of oak woods to more diverse habitat creating clearings and nesting and brood cover. The spring gobbler season is also in part thanks to his recommendations. Kit was instrumental in the founding of NWTF and its early growth and success, receiving many awards and recognition over the years. But it was his dynamic personality and dedication and commitment to his profession that benefited all of us and generations to come.

View this NWTF video on the restoration of the wild turkey...

Kit was a great personal friend, mentor, hunting companion, colleague, wood worker, fellow outdoor writer and observer and 'ponderer' of history and nature. Every minute spent with him was entertaining, educational, instructional, fun, and memorable from the simple observation of a found turkey feather, to long philosophical life lesson discussion ended with a joke and a laugh out loud.

This Thanksgiving edition, we want to memorialize and acknowledge the contributions to our lives as a friend, colleague and pioneer for the restoration of the wild turkey and preservation of our hunting heritage traditions. Fellow outdoor writer and friend Bill Cochran, related Kit's remarkable legacy in his on-line outdoor column at Roanoke.com shortly after Kit's passing in October at the age of 93. All of us that knew Kit will forever think of him and some wonderful shared experience when we hear wild turkey mentioned. And sportsmen everywhere will forever be in his debt for the restoration of America's great game bird, the wild turkey. DC

Kit Shaffer was the king when it came to turkeys

By Bill Cochran from Roanoke.com

The world of hunting, conservation and wildlife management lost a giant Friday ( ) in the death of 94-year old Kit Shaffer, a legionary VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist whose career made Virginia a better place for the hunter and hunted.

I first met Kit when I was a freshman at Lynchburg College. He was on campus to present a program about bear research the DGIF had undertaken in the late '50s. He looked like a guy who could wrestle bears. He projected a craggy appearance, tall, broad shouldered, a strong chin, piercing eyes, hair combed straight back like plumage. He had played center for Franklin & Marshall College and had some teeth knocked out by football legend Vince Lombardi.

He became a frequent subject during my 36 years as outdoor editor of The Roanoke Times. He was the kind of guy a writer loved. Most every word out of his mouth was colorful and quotable once you edited out the risqué seasoning.

When I wrote my most recent column on Kit, which appeared on this site June 30, I labored over what to say about this great man. Nothing I could muster would be adequate, so I simply let readers experience his wit, bite and experiences by stringing together some of his quotes that I'd recorded through the years.

The one I like best was on the rigors of turkey hunting. Kit had this to say:

"You remember Havilah Babcock, a Virginia boy who lived in Appomattox? He wrote a book about how his health always improves in November. He was a quail hunter."

"Well, as a turkey hunter, my health deteriorates. I can't sleep. I set the alarm for 4 a.m. and wake up at 2 a.m. By the end of the season you are a zombie. You are irritable, you have lost weight, your eyes are sunken, your body is scarred, you have neglected your family, your friends, your job and your church. You can't help it. You are an addict. Once that turkey bug bites you, you are helpless."

Kit loved humor. You had to work hard to top him. For several years, I would call him in the fall for story material, asking: "What kind of turkey season can we expect?" "Hell, I don't know," Kit would say, then laugh like crazy.

After doing this three seasons in a row, I began an article in The Roanoke Times this way: "When asked what kind of turkey season hunters can expect, state wildlife biologist Kit Shaffer said, 'Hell. I don't know.'" It was something only a good friend could get by with.

Kit's work in wildlife biology involved numerous species, including elk. He and his wife, Janet, spent six rugged months trapping raccoons on a wild, bug-invested island near Back Bay as research for his master's degree which he earned from Virginia Tech in 1947. That was pure dedication on the part of Janet, because she was a lady of the arts more than the outdoors. She preceded Kit in death after 64 years of marriage.

There was little question that turkeys were Kit's favorite wildlife species. He helped prefect trapping and relocating practices that were the key to establishing turkeys in every county of the state, although he always gave credit to his helper, Andy Huffman.

He went against fellow game officials when he supported either-sex hunting in the fall, and he was point man for a spring gobbler season which was an extremely controversial idea in the '60s. One DGIF board member told him in a public meeting, "I wouldn't even shoot a Kennedy in the spring."

Some groups were so opposed to spring turkey hunting that Kit wondered if they had tar and feathers set aside for him. He would travel the state diffusing the opposition by inviting the loudest critic to go hunting with him. Spring gobbler hunting grew to become one of the most popular of the hunting sports.

Kit was an expert at managing turkeys and those who hunted them because he was a master hunter himself. He loved to pursue turkeys in the fall with a dog, and he bristled at anyone who thought dog hunting was somehow less than honorable. One of his dogs, Chris, was credited with 228 flushes.

"We use dogs in every type of hunting, why not turkeys?" he said.

Kit got to the point that he seldom carried a gun when turkey hunting. He put aside his old L.C. Smith and toted a walking stick, preferring to call in turkeys for others. For this, he declared himself to be a "turkey pimp." Like Aldo Leopold, he saw no conflict between hunting and conservation.

I remember proudly holding a gobbler up for him to see and Kit said: "Once you kill one, what do you have? You have feathers, guts and blood. I am not squeamish. I believe in game harvest, because you can't stockpile wildlife. But if your objective is kill, kill, kill you misrepresent what turkey hunting is all about."

Kit was an excellent writer. He put together one of the best collections of Indian artifacts in the state. When he retired, he took up golf and won an out-of-state tournament. He raised boxwood trees and taught my wife, Katherine, how that's done. He made decorative walking canes. He helped organize the National Wild Turkey Federation. Late in his life, he read the Bible through nine times, talked about the power of prayer and was certain to send you on your way with a "God bless you."

In Kit's last hours, his family sang to him, read him the 23rd Psalm and recited the Lord's Prayer. Kit breathed his last while listening to an article he wrote, his favorite, called "Old Blabbermouth."

"The story is about a legendry turkey near Leesville Reservoir that became Kit's personal grail or Moby Dick quest," said his son, Criag. "He took his last breath on the words 'King Turkey.' How ironic that he was known always to the Shaffer Family as 'The King.' "

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...

"Dogs Rule!" at VA Upland Classic Gundog Trials Pheasant Hunt

Ben Norris, is a bird dog enthusiasts who puts his dogs to the test in competition to improve and demonstrate their skills. He organizes the Virginia Upland Classic Series Gundog trials held this year at "Liberty Corners Farm" in Esmont, in Albemarle County near Scottsville November 12-13. 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. 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. Ben sent in this story and photos of the event.

While we are going down the list of "Thanks" at the table on Turkey-day those of us in the Virginia Upland Classic will be giving an extra big "thanks" for the gorgeous weather provided on November 12th & 13th for our Pheasant Hunt and gundog trial. "Outstanding" is not enough to describe the two days of great hunting conditions.

Saturday morning was a clear and chilly 28 degrees and a strong campfire at daylight started a special two day event with 81 runs for over 70 dogs. If you are a fan of gundogs, Liberty Corners was the place to be that weekend. Pointers, Setters, Brittanys, Shorthairs, Wirehairs, Griffons and even a Drahthaar showed up to represent the pointing breeds. American and English Labs (black, blonde, & chocolate) showed up along with a great hunting poodle, some Boykins, and two Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers to create a stellar field of upland flushing gundogs.

The pheasants were strong flyers, but a slight breeze put the bird scent up and available to the dogs, and there was nowhere to hide, even though the cover was waist high and plenty thick. The birds were much safer in the air, and they knew it. A burst of feathers and a noisy cackle to startle a hunter was a better path to freedom than staying on the ground with this caliber of bird dog on the prowl.

Upland Classic gundog trials are a team sport; a shooter and his dog. Both have to be on top of their game to be in the running. Finding three birds in a big field of heavy cover as quickly as possible is the dog's part. Killing the birds with the fewest number of shots is the handlers responsibility. When the bird hits the ground the dog is right there to grab it and bring it back to the waiting hunter. A scorekeeper tallies the points and adds for unused minutes of the 20 minute time allotment and for any leftover shells of the six allowed. The team with the highest point score is declared winner.

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. It is a lot of fun.

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 in field trials contact: bgnorris@cox.net - VUCS, Box 430, Dutton, Virginia 23050 - phone (804) 694-5118

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

Hunters Needed for CWD Surveillance in Frederick & Shenandoah Counties

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) would like to ask for hunters continued support in its surveillance and management of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Chronic wasting disease was detected in Virginia for the first time in a deer killed November 2009 in Frederick County less than one mile from the West Virginia state line. A second CWD-positive deer was also harvested in 2010 approximately 1.5 miles from the first. In addition to the two positive cases thus far diagnosed in Virginia, the continued existence of the disease nearby in Hampshire and Hardy Counties, West Virginia, remains a concern.

Similar to last year, the entire CWD Containment Area is a mandatory sampling area for any deer killed on November 19, November 26, and December 3, 2011. Any deer, or at least the head and neck of any deer, killed in the Containment Area on these three days must be brought to a designated sampling station (listed below). The CWD Containment Area has the same boundaries as the last year - west of I-81 in Frederick County and the City of Winchester, and west of I-81 and north of Rt. 675 in Shenandoah County.

VDGIF strongly encourages hunters who are successful on days other than those listed above to volunteer the head and neck from their deer for sampling by bringing it to one of our self-service refrigerated drop stations:

In addition to mandatory checking VDGIF is continuing several other management actions in the northern Shenandoah Valley in response to the detection of CWD, including: prohibiting the feeding of deer year-round, prohibiting the movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the Containment Area (with exceptions), restricting the disposal of deer wastes from the Containment Area, prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer in the Containment Area, and changing seasons and bag limits on private lands in an attempt to reduce the deer population. More information about these management actions and CWD can be found on the VDGIF website.

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.

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 www.cwd-info.org).

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.

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.

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 purchase the Facility Use Permit. The Permit fee will provide the means by which outdoor enthusiasts who use the VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas and state fishing lakes can contribute, on either a daily or annual basis, to the stewardship, maintenance and management of these facilities and their natural resources.

Refer to the full description of these new regulations in the Hunting & Trapping in Virginia July 2011 - June 2012 booklet available at license agents, VDGIF Regional Offices and sportsman shows statewide, or view on our website: www.HuntFishVA.com

New Hunting & Fishing License Fees 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.

License Options for Novice Hunters

Take a look at an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season. Apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the new Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted on YouTube. The video is an overview of how the Apprentice Hunter program works. Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, stars of the Outdoor Channel program, "The Crush with Lee & Tiffany," have a special video message to take the time to introduce a friend or youngster to the great outdoors with an Apprentice Hunting License.

Licensed adults who take a novice hunting with an Apprentice License should be vigilant to ensure that hunting safety rules are followed at all times. It is best if the licensed adult does not carry a loaded firearm, so that the focus can stay on the apprentice. Teach new hunters to be safe from the start!

There are youth and family-friendly events throughout the year all across the state, where you can go to get information and the right gear to make your outdoor adventures safe, successful, and fun. Visit your local sporting goods store or sportsmen event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends.

Remember to make a donation to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your licenses through the convenient check-off option- give $5 to show you care for those in need!

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

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.

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.

Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning

Editors note... As I found myself with a trophy buck the first day of muzzleloader season last year, I was unprepared as how to handle skinning the trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in choosing a taxidermist. I learned a lot from consulting with Todd and Vickie Rapalee from Goochland who shared this advice for the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist to handle all of your taxidermy needs! Now is a great time to visit taxidermist's showrooms and web sites to decide on who will handle the preservation of your trophy, be it whitetail, bear, gobbler, bobcat, coyote, or waterfowl. Remember that you will take the trophy of a lifetime one day. Choose your taxidermist before the hunt. The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted." Here are some special tips for waterfowl.

World Class Waterfowl - From the Water to your Wall

A quality mount begins in the field. By following a few simple procedures your taxidermist will have a much better specimen to work with.

  1. Retrieve the bird yourself. Often a "hard mouth" retriever will do damage beyond repair.
  2. Carry your trophy by the feet. Carrying the bird by the neck can cause feather loss.
  3. Once the bird is in hand keep it in a cool, dry place until you get out of the field or off of the water.
  4. Keep the feathers as clean as possible. Wipe off any blood or dirt to help prevent staining.
  5. While broken bones or shot holes in the birds bill are usually not a problem. Missing feathers on the other hand are, and cannot be replaced. Handle your bird gently.
  6. Keep birds cool and put them in the freezer ASAP. Tuck the bill under the wing and place the bird in a plastic bag and freeze. Please DO NOT wrap in newspaper. Label your bird with the following information: Name, Address, Species, Date and County & State Collected.
  7. Deliver to your taxidermist as soon as possible. The faster they receive it, the better condition it will be in and the quicker you will get it back!

If your waterfowl hunting will be taking you outside of the United States you will need to follow some additional guidelines. Check with your taxidermist to see if he or she is a USDA approved facility, authorized to accept birds or bird capes for trophies. If they are a USDA approved facility you will be able to send your birds directly to their studio from any country in the world. Always contact your taxidermist prior to any hunt for proper shipping instructions.

Nothing adds more color and texture to your home or office than quality bird mounts! Make a commitment to yourself to start a collection this season. Years from now as the collection grows so will your fond memories and recollections of hunting adventures with your family and friends.

Review taxidermy tips for Deer in the November 9, 2011 edition and for bear in the November 10, 2009 edition. For additional information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association or contact Rapalee Taxidermy, Inc. website.

A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think

Have you had a successful deer hunting season so far? You read over the new regs, sighted in your gun, double checked your equipment, scouted your hunting area, and reminded everyone you hunt with about basic safety precautions. So far, so good. When you went afield you were patient and didn't fall asleep (too long zzzzzz) at your stand. Then, rewarded by all your preparation, you made a great shot and harvested a deer. Well, you're still not completely successful yet! Proper preparation of that venison is now just as important for complete success as the effort leading up to that great shot. Whether you plan to butcher the deer yourself, take it to a meat processor, or share it with someone, here are some basic tips gleaned from a lot of experience and advice from "old timers" to complete your hunt.

  1. Field dress and cool down ASAP. If cold - below 40 degrees - after field dressing, a deer can hang for several days to chill the meat. If temperatures are getting above 40 degrees, you need to skin and cut up into manageable pieces: shoulders, hind quarters, loins, "scraps" for burger, jerky, or stew and place in open plastic bags and ice down these bagged pieces, or place in a refrigerator. Refrigerating a deer can be as simple as four or five bags of ice and an insulating blanket or tarp and cardboard box. The meat also handles much easier when chilled.
  2. Cleanliness is important for maintaining both the taste and quality. Use paper towels to blot up stray hair or leaves and grime from the field. Cut away and discard any bloody tissue. Trim off visible fat and any sinew, the shiny "silvery" lining on the outside. A fillet knife works well for this process. Wash debris off meat pieces and pat dry excess water before cooling.
  3. Plan what type of cuts you are going to process: steaks, roasts, burger, sausage, jerky, etc. If inexperienced at all this, ask for suggestions and advice from fellow experienced hunters - you don't want to mess up now. We also recommend purchasing the VDGIF video, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" which gives step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. The video also features professional butcher and Hunter Education instructor Rob Bingel who demonstrates how to cape out a deer for mounting and details how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. You can order by telephone or online.
  4. Before freezing your cuts, be sure all air is sealed out. Freezer burn and reduced shelf life will result if you don't. A vacuum sealer works best, but good-quality freezer paper also does an excellent job of preserving meat. Plastic freezer bags are also convenient and easy as long as you squeeze all the air out. Properly processed, venison should last at least a year in the freezer.
  5. Now you've had a successful hunt. If you are fortunate to harvest more deer than you can use and really want to do a little extra, donate your deer to a local processor who handles deer for Hunters for the Hungry. A list of processors can be found on the Hunters for the Hungry website. Also consider paying the $40 processing fee to help offset processing expenses. Another option is to ask the processor to set aside several packages of any deer they process for you for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Every donation helps whether it's cash or venison and helps show that sportsmen do positive things in their communities. Now we all can be proud of a successful hunt.

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

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

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

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

David Coffman, Editor

Mary Hite Gets 7 Point Buck for First Deer

Editors note: I have a great group of friends to hunt with in Louisa as part of a small hunt club where I serve as President. The club membership affords me many opportunities to experience hunting, try out new gear and tactics and do habitat work, with the benefit of bringing these experiences to you in the Outdoor Report in stories and photos. The following story is one I have been waiting to tell for over 4 years now...

Mary and Gary Hite are husband and wife members of Friends & Family Hunt Club in Louisa County. Gary has been a life long hunter, but Mary did not start hunting till about six years ago when she thought it would be fun to spend time in the woods hunting with Gary and other friends in the hunt club. She is the only female member and insists she be treated like one of the guys—and we do. Other wives and daughters of members hunt from time to time as guests, but Mary is a full time member and gets in plenty of hunting time and work days, but had one thing missing - she has yet to kill a deer! The farm the club leases is just a few miles from home so access was easy to get in a few hours hunting after work and weekends when she and Gary were off. The first few years Mary got several shots at deer, but even she admits "buck fever" must have gotten the best of her as she got her share of misses... it became a club mission to get Mary her first deer. Mary's luck continued to run out season after season, but she never gave up! She got frustrated, but with a twinkle in her eye and big smile she kept on trying and having fun enjoying the time afield with her friends and family. This 66 year old grandma hung in there and embraced the true spirit of the hunter that the rewards and benefits of hunting don't rely on killing a deer.

Monday November 7, after hunting all day the opening Saturday, and seeing several deer too far for a good shot, at 8:30 am she finally got a good 25 yard shot at a 7 point buck from her favorite stand in oak woods adjacent to a field. Mary relates she was nervous as usual, but readied her .45 cal. Omega muzzleloader with a Nikon Omega 250 scope, placed the crosshairs on the shoulder and squeezed the trigger... BOOM! It seemed like an hour before the smoke cleared, but she had finally done it - the buck laid right where she shot it. Mary not only had gotten her first deer but it was a nice 7 point buck to boot. Ironically the first week of muzzleloader season there were 6 bucks killed at the club and 4 of them were 7 pointers!! Congratulations Mary, you are an inspiration to all us guys in the Club for your persistence, patience and joy you bring to the Club while hunting with us.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Remember: Safe Hunting is NO Accident!

Ultimately, every hunter is responsible for identifying their target and beyond before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target, or shooting at sound or movement. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. 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. Here's a tip from an experience I had last week...

Don't get caught in the dark... Got a 3 inch piece of tape?? Here's a good use for it. This happened to me last week when coming out of the woods as it got dark after helping trail a doe shot by a fellow hunter. I had one of those new cap lights that slides on your bill- it's really neat- hands free, has 4 settings and 3 colors- red, green, white!! I didn't have my spare flashlight in my tree vest as I had taken it off to go help drag the doe back to the trail. While walking thru the woods, a dogwood branch knocked my hat and light off- no big deal right? WRONG! The branch knocked open the little 2 inch battery compartment cover and the nickel-size batteries went flying- ever try to find two 'nickels' in heavy leaves in the dark!? I did have my butane lighter in my pocket so after a few minutes on the ground on my hands and knees, I found the batteries with the lighter light and got back on my way. When I got to my jeep, I grabbed the duct tape and took a 3 inch piece and made sure the battery cover would not get knocked off again. Next morning, I did the same with every type of portable light I had where the battery cover could get knocked loose by dropping it or otherwise hit- better safe than sorry. Be Prepared for the unexpected- always have an extra light - keychain type or small led model in your pocket so you are never without it.

Most importantly wear blaze orange - it's the law for a good reason - it can save your life!

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

Except for 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!

Tree Stand and 'After Dark' Safety Tips

With the end of Daylight Savings Time, 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 firearms deer season 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. In case of a fall - carry an extra piece of rope / strap with you to use as a pressure relief device using self-recovery techniques.
  11. Know the dangers of harness suspension trauma and how to lessen the effects while suspended.
  12. Review these links on the VDGIF website for tips on how to stay safe and use tree stands effectively:

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.

"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.

Do you Use a Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake?

New Facilities Access Permit Required in 2012

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 Access Permit' 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 Access Permit 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.

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.

Make a Special Bird Treat

The following recipe is a great food mixture for birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts, the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the yard where they can be seen from your windows. This mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun, inexpensive and something the whole family can join in.

First, in large bowl, stir together:

  1. 1 part flour
  2. 3 parts yellow corn meal
  3. 1 part bird seed
  4. a handful of raisins
  5. a handful of shelled peanuts

Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. (Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)

This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and even bluebirds. Keep a record of the different species of birds you observe, it's fun, and educational for "children" of all ages. The birds will appreciate it too!

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 December:

Answers to November 9th edition quiz for nature events for late November...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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.

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 - 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 leading to serious injury or death.

Deer Feeding Congregates Animals, Increasing the Spread of Disease - 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 - Feeding deer is against the law between September 1 and the first Saturday in January. If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to the Department's Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712.

To learn more about Virginia wildlife regulations visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at www.dgif.virginia.gov.

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 I - Tidewater

VDGIF Staff Assist in Search and Rescue in Hanover... During the week of October 24-28 the Hanover County Sheriff's Department requested the assistance of VDGIF Law Enforcement Division to assist in the Search and Rescue efforts of 9 year old Robert Wood Jr. Robert went missing from his family in the area of North Anna Battlefield Park. Thirty Five (35) VDGIF Conservation Police Officers and 4 Wildlife Bureau personnel from Region's 1, 2, and 4 were utilized in the search over a 5 day period. VDGIF personnel conducted numerous foot, vehicle, boat and ATV patrols and lead search teams through heavily wooded and rough terrain. Robert was found in good shape after the 5th night within a mile of his disappearance. Editors note: The massive search and rescue effort drew national attention and showed the exceptional volunteer and good neighbor spirit of the region as more than 6000 people volunteered to assist in this search over the five days. The Hanover Sheriffs Dept . noted this search was made more difficult as young Robert was autistic and non-verbal and the terrain where he was lost contained thick undergrowth vegetation and steep dropoffs and ravines along the North Anna River. The combination of the professionalism and organization of the many cooperating law enforcement, search and rescue, first responders, military and volunteer groups that joined tirelessly in the search, demonstrated as the Hanover Sheriff noted, "That miracles do happen!!"

Spotlighters charged with multiple offences... On October 21, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Murray was working spotlight enforcement in a vacant subdivision. Shortly after setting up he witnessed a vehicle spotlight an agricultural field and heard a faint gun shot. After he was able to close the distance, he initiated a stop on the Chevy truck. It had five occupants inside whose ages ranged from 17 to 27. The front passenger was holding a Ruger 10/22 and the ammunition they were using were .22 shorts. Statements obtained from the occupants confirmed that the group was spotlighting deer. The charges for the four adults included 1) Spotlighting/ attempt to take, 2) Use a scoped gun at night for deer and 3) Using a rifle for deer in Northampton County. The rifle and truck were seized.

Region II - Southside

Double trouble- hunter caught shining lights on way to baited stands... In the early morning hours on November 5, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Koloda and Officer Neel were staking out a piece of property in Bedford County awaiting a hunting party suspected of illegal baiting. This property was discovered to have been heavily baited and appeared to be used by several hunters. As the hunters drove into the area that morning, officers saw one vehicle spotlighting fields on the way into the property. Officers allowed the hunters to get on stand and approached the hunters at approximately 0730 hours. Four individuals were found hunting over bait throughout the property. Charges were placed on all four subjects for hunting over a baited area. Two subjects were also charged with attempting to take deer by the aid of light and several other misdemeanor charges.

Deer hunter arrested on Blue Ridge Parkway... On November 3, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Joe Williams was called by Roanoke County to assist a Blue Ridge Parkway Ranger at mile marker (MM) 109. Williams responded to the scene and received information from the ranger that he had heard a gunshot near the parkway and believed someone was hunting on the parkway. Both officers ultimately located a suspect but could not prove the suspect was hunting on the parkway. However, the hunter had a .223 rifle and stated he was turkey hunting. Not believing his story, officers canvassed the area the next morning and located a large 9-point buck lying dead near the property in question. A bullet was then removed from the carcass of the animal. Officer Williams obtained a search warrant and with the assistance of Officer Michael Morris, Officer Denis Kiely, and a park ranger, executed the search warrant on November 5th. Upon executing the search warrant, the suspect willingly forfeited the firearm and admitted to Officer Williams that he had been hunting deer on a piece of property near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Williams obtained warrants for killing deer illegally, hunting during closed season, and several other misdemeanor charges.

Region III - Southwest

Hunter charged using barrel feeders and solar spotlight located near State Park... On November 11, 2011 Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris received information about barrel feeders hanging near the property line of the Grayson Highland State Park in Grayson County. The feeder and a hunter were located and while Officer Harris was making his approach the feeder activated and spread more corn on the ground. The hunter was approached and upon initial contact a rifle was observed. The subject admitted to hunting for deer and coyotes and was charged for hunting over bait and hunting during the closed season for deer. Upon further examination of the feeder a solar spotlight was observed attached to another tree where the light would shine down near the feeder. The subject admitted to hunting after dark by the aid of this light during past rifle season.

Virginia State Police Call for Assistance with poachers... On November 5, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst and Officer Jason Harris responded to a call from the Virginia State Police for assistance with several game violations. When the officers arrived on scene they found two deer that had been shot with a rifle. The officers interviewed the two male occupants of the vehicle and obtained confessions from both that each individual had shot a deer with a rifle. One male suspect was found to be under a protective order prohibiting him from possessing and transporting a firearm. Officer Hurst arrested the individual for violating the protective order and summonses were issued for the game violations.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Hunters caught in act baiting illegally... On October 29, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Kevin Bilwin and Ian Ostlund along with Senior Conservation Police Officer Solomon checked an area in Warren County where a tree stand was located over bait. CPO's Bilwin and Ostlund approached the stand and checked the individual's hunting license. He was properly licensed and admitted to hunting with a friend, who was just below his position. The officers sent the first individual down to Senior Officer Solomon's position while they checked for the other individual. The second individual was located a few minutes later and it was determined he was also hunting over bait. Both individuals were charged with hunting over bait; trespassing charges are also pending for both.

K9 Teams

K9 Justice quickly finds suspect hiding in woods and foils escape plan... On November 8, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Entsminger was dispatched to a shooting from the road incident in the Kerrs Creek area of Rockbridge County. Officer Entsminger was advised by the landowner that he heard a shot, saw a truck leave the area, and saw a subject trying to retrieve a six point buck that had been killed. When the landowner approached the subject, he ran into the woods and disappeared. Officer Entsminger called K9 Officer Billhimer and Justice. Justice quickly led Officer Billhimer and Officer Entsminger to the subject hiding in the woods. The subject was using his cell phone to communicate with his companion, who had gone home and changed vehicles to come back and pick him up. Both subjects gave written statements confessing to killing the deer; both were charged with trespassing and road hunting violations.

K9 Jake picks up suspects scent and leads CPOs to baited site... On November 8, 2011 Conservation Police Officer George Shupe set up on a suspected convicted felon thought to be hunting in Bland County. A pickup registered to the felon's brother was parked in the area and when checked was found to have a set of antlers and numerous bags of corn and apples in the bed. When the suspect had not exited the woods two hours after sunset, Officer Shupe called assistance from Senior Conservation Officer Randy Hurst and a Pulaski County Bloodhound. Soon after their arrival a light was observed two ridges from the Officers location. Contact was made with the subject and he was found to be in possession of a crossbow with a red lens light affixed to its front. The bloodhound and his handler arrived on scene after the hunter had exited the woods. The handler informed the investigating CPOs that his bloodhound was not capable of backtracking a subject and that he would not be able to help them. When interviewed, the subject would not answer any questions about bait or why he had left the woods so late. Shortly after the officers released the subject, K-9 Unit 11, Meagan Vick and Jake, Sergeant Rolland Cox and Senior Officer Wes Billings arrived on scene. Officer Vick and Jake, quickly picked up the suspect’s scent and followed it to the location where the light was first observed. Once there, the Officers found a ladder stand baited with corn, apples, cherry cool-aid, and chicken. Evidence suggested the bait had been frequently visited by a large bear and explained the light attached to the crossbow and the hunters late exit from the woods. Magistrate summonses will be obtained for hunting after hours, hunting over bait, and illegal possession of deer antlers.

New Wildlife K-9 Team Pilot Program Needs Your Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

The new 2011 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2011.

NEW Facility Access Permit Required in 2012 for Using WMAs and Fishing Lakes...

Hunting and Fishing license holders and registered boaters exempt

Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake. Such permit shall not be required for any person holding a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license or a current certificate of boat registration issued by the Department or persons 16 years of age or younger. The Facility Access Permit requirement does not apply to Department- owned boat ramps or segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department- owned land. The Facility Access Permit fee is $4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit. The Facility Use Permit may be purchased online or at any license agent.

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!

Fly Fishing for Trout Year Round

Virginia is well known for great fishing diversity and year round fishing opportunities and trout are no exception. Trout can be taken with spinning equipment using bait or artificial lures, but on the fly has to be one of the most popular methods. Rob Tucker, in a cooperative effort with Trout Unlimited, has recently joined VDGIF as the Angling Strategy Coordinator to oversee the Trout in the Classroom program. Rob is an avid fly fisherman and trout are his favorite quarry.

Rob shares that there are 2 factors to consider regarding fly fishing for trout as a year round pursuit. First, the weather the angler is willing to tolerate and secondly, finding water temperatures that fall within the fish's comfort zone. There are 3 types of water that maintain consistent water temperatures throughout the year making them the best areas to fish during the extreme heat or cold of summer and winter. These include Tailwaters, the waters downstream of a dam, such as the Smith and Jackson River; Pure Spring Creeks such as Mossy Creek and Spring Fed Streams such as the South Fork of the Holston in Marion. These bodies of water are productive because the fish can feed year round and are protein rich with plenty of forage for fish to feed upon. Rob adds, "The enterprising angler will find more examples of these types of waters if they are willing to do a little exploration."

Rob's fly rod of choice for these waters is a 7.5-8.5 foot, 4 weight rod which is heavy enough to deliver the fly and light enough to enjoy a good fight. Match the rod with a weight forward floating line, size 4 (WF4F). He determines the length of the leader and tippet by the length of his rod, for an 8.5' rod he would use a 6' leader and a 2.5' tippet. His recommended fly patterns in size 12 to 16 include: Nymphs (Hair's Ear & Pheasant Tail), Dry (Adam's & Elk Hair Caddis), Terrestrials for the summertime (beetles, ants & grasshoppers) and the Wooly Bugger which he reports as "the all purpose trout catching machine" in sizes 6-8 and colors of olive, brown or black.

Although these are year round fisheries, Rob says the best time of year is the spring, March-May, the aquatic insects are flourishing – the hatch is at its' peak, the days are increasing in length, weather is warming and there is more surface feeding which is Rob's favorite bite. When you arrive at your fishing location, first look around and watch to see what may be hatching and if there is any surface activity or fish movement. Also, turn some rocks over to see what might be underneath or check out a spider web for what has been trapped. These will all be good indicators of what the trout are feeding on and allows the angler to learn specifics and apply specific fly patterns which make the fishing experience more complete and enjoyable.

Rob offered a few closing tips that are valuable, "Wear drab clothing, the fish can be spooky and are very aware of predators. Also, invest in a quality pair of polarized sunglasses and match it with a wide brim hat." He also recommends that folks support local fly shops, if you purchase from them, they are more likely to provide valuable information about the waters you fish which can be advantageous. Check out some of the fly fishing web forums to get an idea of what the fish are doing before heading out on your trip such as the South East and Blue Ridge Fly Fishing Forums.

VDGIF Goes on the Air With Weekend Sports Radio 910 WRNL

"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.
The Memories Are Always Bigger Than the Fish
Buy your fishing license today.

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

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

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

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

Sarah White's Notebook

Many of us have anglers on our Christmas lists this year but, fortunately, there are lots of items that they will really like. Really like, not the way they like the hand knitted orange and purple wool scarf from Aunt Hattie. Another lucky thing is that there are fishing related gifts to fit any budget.

The least expensive items for your fisherman are lures. They tend to be under five dollars and can, of course, be used again and again for years to come. Try to find out what kind of fish and what time of day and weather your angler likes to fish in so that you can get the right one. The internet and your local tackle merchant should be able to help you with this, as will reading the fishing report!

A good rod is always a welcome gift, and they range in price so there are lots of options. Take note, there are rods designed especially for women nowadays. For your little angler or soon to be angler, you have plenty to choose from. There are rod kits that are designed around popular cartoon characters; with Sponge Bob, Spiderman, Toy Story, Cars, Barbie, Disney Princess and Disney Fairies, and Mickey Mouse to name but a few. Some of these are suitable for very young kids. For the older and more serious child angler Ugly Stick and Zebco have rod and lure kits.

But fishing involves more than rods and lures. For example, there are now many soft-sided, durable tackle boxes. When that lure pays off and the fish is brought up, there are many welcome gifts that can help; such as pliers, line clippers and hook removers. Then the angler needs a fish ruler and scale. Scales come in digital and old fashioned spring scales, with digital ones being more costly. If it's a keeper, scale scraper, filet knives and boards and safety gloves come in handy. An emergency hook extractor may also prove invaluable.

For anglers who use live bait, a baitfish net would be gratefully received; as would a good bait bucket.

Safety oriented gifts are also welcome. Everyone who fishes from a boat should have a life jacket. There should also be a first aid kit. The pre-made ones tend to be pricey, and it's often better to get a fanny pack and fill it up with first aid items. Fire extinguishers are an excellent idea as are signal whistle and a good flashlight.

If your angler is a real die hard who fishes every chance he gets, you might want to consider a lifetime license. They are priced according to the age of the recipient, with older ones being less expensive. A recent retiree who now has lots of time to fish would love it.

Another option is hiring a guide for a day on the water. I've seen so many photos of anglers with big smiles, holding up the lunker they just brought to boat with the aid of a good guide.

No matter what gift you choose, fishing gifts remind the angler how much you care and they will think of you whenever they use them.

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

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

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. Eddie Hester says that anglers are getting lucky with chain pickerel off the dock at the Ranger Station. Minnows and spinners are your best bet. Some crappie are also coming in around the dock on minnows. Live bait is also good for bass. Cats will take chicken livers. The water is clear and 56 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 told me that flounder are at Cape Henry and attacking cut bait and Fishbite. Tautog are at the Tubes at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are going for green and fiddler crabs. Speckled trout can be found at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets and like Mirrolures, Fishbite and chartreuse grubs. Bluefish are taking spoons and cut bait at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Big rockfish are in the same place and are biting on bucktails, cut bunker and eel. The water is 54 degrees and clear.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that bass action is fair with spinners and top-waters proving most effective. Some crappie are coming in on minnows. The cat bite is slow, but try cut bait or live eels. No word on perch or bluegills. The water is 56 degrees and clear.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that the wind has brought the water level down again, but that should change soon. Last week, when the water was higher, fishing was good. Lots of bass were brought in on spinners, cranks and plastics (preferably darker colors or chartreuse and white). Many crappies were landed, but no big ones yet. They are going for spinners, minnows, jigs and beetle spins. Cats are there for the taking, but not many have tried it. White perch have arrived and will take spinners, cranks and night crawlers. Local stripers "will hit anything a bass will." The water is low, clear and in the mid to high 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that local bass are being very cooperative. Try plastics or jigs. The crappie bite is also good, with the traditional minnows and jigs working well. Cats are going for live bait. White perch will take minnows and jigs. Bluegill are about gone for the season. Striper action is picking up in the James. The water is cooling and clear.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Freezing Deer, Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 12th through the 14th on the Nottoway below the Bronco Club. The water was clear, fast, 50 degrees and 7.29 on the USGS gauge at Sebrell. Air temperatures ranged from 41 to 70 degrees. Other than the wind being bad, it was a perfect weather trip. I saw no water quality issues on this trip. Trash was pretty heavy though for the Nottoway and we picked up a half a bag. Well, I just do not know what is going on with the fish. We caught three 10 inch largemouth, two small bream and a 6 pound blue catfish in two days of fishing. I talked to 7 different fishermen out there and none had caught a fish and some had not even had a hit. It seems the lower river really suffered worse from the fish kill than I originally thought. I'm not even seeing many fish on sonar where there are normally hundreds. The dissolved oxygen is above 7ppm and the water temperatures are perfect for the fish to be really jumping right now. This time of year I am usually filling up the boat. Way upriver I hear the fishing is better but I have not tried that yet.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike told me that crappie are biting minnows and jigs in the tidal creeks. Some big blue cats are coming in on cut shad. The water is stained and in the 50s. There is also debris in the water, so use caution.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Fishing on the tidal James River is great right now. Water temperatures are in the low 50s and slowly dropping. Lots of cats in all sizes are coming in with some up to 50 lbs. I heard of one fish that weighed in at 100 pounds this week. Probably the third or fourth biggest fish ever landed on the James. Fish fresh cut bait along the channel ledges, and on flats for best results.

Region 2 - Southside

Fort Pickett: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Temperature in the 60s and it was no way I could continue with the wife's chores so I hooked old blue to the 14 ft. john boat and headed for Lewis pond on Ft. Pickett. I used that boat because I thought I had to carry the boat to the lake because I thought it did not have a ramp. I arrived at the lake about 1:00 pm. to find the lake did have a good gravel ramp. I only took a few color twister tails, purple, chartreuse and bubble, black and yellow. I started fishing as soon as the boat hit the water and had my first 9 inch crappie not 20 ft. from the ramp. Since I did not know the lake, I fished both sides of the boat all the way up and back down the lake, just looking to see what was there. I continued to catch crappie all the way down the lake until I got into less than 4 feet of water. I caught 19 hand size blue gill in 4 ft. or less water as well as two bass, one 14 in. and one 12 in. I also put the hook into something that made my 4 lb. test line look like it was a spider web. I got it almost to the boat when it decided to go under the boat and that was it. I loaded the boat by 4 p.m. and had 22 crappie between 8 and 10 inches with most being 8 and 9 in. The water had a green tint and clear down to about 3 feet. I caught the fish on purple and chartreuse. You can bet I will be going back to that lake with the other boat, paddling was okay but I'd much rather use the trolling motor.

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. No report this edition.

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

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that he has heard no news on bass. Fishing for rainbows and browns in the Jackson has been slow, but try prince nymphs. Spawning is over for the mountain brookies and they are taking Purple Haze Dry Flies. The water is clear and in the high 40s.

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, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com. No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488.

Bass: Water temperature is in the low to mid 50s. Drop shotting a 4 ½ in. Roboworm is still the best way to catch bass, with the top colors being Oxblood Light Red Flake, Martins Madness, and Prizm Krawler. Fishing the back of the larger creeks seems to be the best location due to the shad running there. Once you find the shad, a 1/4 or 3/8 oz. bucktail is a good choice to swim thru the open water. Shad color crankbaits are also a popular choice. If you mark a deeper pod of shad on your electronics, dropping a jigging spoon is also a good choice.

Stripers: The action is picking up in Peak Creek with everything from umbrella rigs, trolling live bait, and casting artificial lures working. The bite should only get better with the cooler weather.

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

Crappie/Yellow Perch: The Yellow Perch are really starting to turn on with small jig heads tipped with a live minnow being the best choice.

Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegills are starting to become scarce as the water temperature cools down. Water temperature is in the low to mid 50s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that he has seen some big smallmouths coming in recently. The best lures seem to be brown pig & jigs and creature baits in green pumpkin. The muskie bite is very good, try live creek cubs, suckers or trout. The water is clear and in the low 60s.

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

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Due to the fact I have been in the woods and not on the water I don't have a firsthand report for the fishing. Water temperatures are in the low 50s, so the smallmouth should be very slow, try tubes and jigs on the bottom in eddies, current breaks, etc. Walleye should be fishing pretty well now with jerkbaits but the bite will be toughest during bright sunny days. Muskie are still hitting well on glide and jerk baits. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving Holiday.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Early winter weather has set in on the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). Working tubes and jigs patiently in deeper, slow areas may get you a smallie. Trout streams are in fine shape. Elk Creek and Cripple Creek have been stocked in the past week. Water in the streams is clear and running about average flow for this time of year.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry told me that even with the colder water, some big smallmouths have been coming in. Good flies are: Murray's Olive Marauder, size 6; Shenk's White Streamer, size 4; and Murray's Hog Sucker, size 4. The water is clear, at a good level and 49 degrees.

The stocked streams in the valley are giving good rainbow fishing just now. Both Big Stoney Creek West of Edinburg and Passage Creek East of Edinburg have recently been stocked. Good flies are: Murray's Dark Stonefly Nymph, size 12; Murray's Olive Caddis Pupa, size 12; and Murray's Betsy Streamer, size 12. The water is a good color, at a good level and 49 degrees.

The brookies in the mountain streams are still spawning and don't need the extra stress of being fished for.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. Though the lake level is 19 feet below normal pool, the bass fishing continues provide anglers with many quality catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass. Bass in the 3 to 4 lb. size have been plentiful lately with an occasional one over 5 lbs. showing up. The bass are feeding heavily on the schools of alewife shad. Find the shad on your electronics and the bass won't be far away. Plastic baits, jigs, and metal baits such as spinnerbaits and Silver Buddies are the most successful right now. Bass can be found anywhere from 5 to 35 ft. deep. It all depends on the forage.

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

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) 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: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. Lunga Reservoir water temperatures have dropped to almost 50 degrees, maintaining its usual murkiness with visibility only about one to two feet in depth. Lunga "range flags" were up once again too. As a result, we checked several transition areas along points on the main lake without seeing much on the depth finder. We did find a few chain pickerel which hit larger suspending jerk baits in about 6 to 8 feet of water, and one 3 lb. largemouth bass near rocks and structure. Marked fish down deep on the depth finder in the main lake, but with a brisk breeze we had a hard time keeping worms and drop shots near the bottom. Still enjoyed the sunrise, what color remains with the fall leaves, and time on the water with a good buddy!

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. With water temperatures in the mid to upper 50s throughout Lake Anna the bass, striper and crappie are now at the start of their heavy feeding period. One of the units at North Anna will come back online this month and that should raise the water temperature only slightly at the Dike III discharge. The increase in current will be notable, however, and this might make the down lake region turn on again. Here's what you can expect on your next visit.

Largemouth Bass: Mid and up lake are the best areas to fish now since the Dike III region is transitioning again. Use shakey worms on docks mid and down lake and consider vertical jigging Crazy Blades and Toothache spoons at the mouth of mid lake creeks. Many fish have gone deep and are feeding on 3 inch threadfin shad, so the spoon and blade bait is a good choice. In the up lake region, bass are moving away from the shoreline willow grass and onto bait. Hard cover like rocks, road beds and brush offer them sanctuary as they make their annual move deeper. Once the bass get off the banks and grass, pursue them with crankbaits and jigs in 10 to 15 ft. of water. You can also try yo-yo jigging them with a Crazy Blade in the upper sections of both the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch where you find bait and 15 to 20 ft. of water.

Stripers: With the units off and very little current until just recently, the schools of striper left the Dike III region and scattered throughout both sides of the lake. There are some around the Rt. 208, some around Jett's Island, some around the mouth of Plentiful Creek and many in the upper reaches of both the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch. Determine if they are feeding on threadfin or gizzard shad or herring and use a lure that matches the baitfish profile. Swimbaits are good now in the upper end of the lake when you want to imitate a gizzard shad. Spoons are good mid lake when the fish are eating threadfin shad. Birds have moved to the lake in mass, so pay attention to what they are doing as you fish. Pulling live bait like jumbo shiners and shad is good on sideplaners late in the day and early in the morning.

Crappie : Bridges, docks and brush piles in the up lake region are where to fish now until the fish begin to move deep. Some are moving in this direction already in the upper end of the lake. You can find large schools of them in 18 to 24 ft. of water near bridges and deep docks. Slow swim a 1 in. jig through the area to locate them, then follow up with a slip bobber and minnow to fill the live well.

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 fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With deer season fully underway with the start of the general firearms season November 19, there are many more youngsters out hunting now than in seasons past. One of the events that has more youngsters participating in hunting is the special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 24th, now in its third year. This year a record 2000 plus deer were killed by the young hunters- nearly double last years total on Youth Day. For many youngsters this was their first "real hunt" and their all important "first deer". Whether it is a buck or doe doesn't really matter. For a young teenage deer hunter, her "first deer" was a memorable experience hunting with her Mom, to carry on a family tradition, with a lesson that patience and preparation pays off. Katlyn Farley was a Junior at John S. Battle High School in Bristol when she entered her story in the VOWA High School Outdoor Writing Competition in 2010-11.

A Passionate Family Tradition

By Katlyn Farley

While I watch deer through my scope, the rush of adrenalin mixed with excitement surges throughout my body. My confidence increases as I aim for the kill zone; all of this is the first sign of addiction to a very challenging sport. The smell of the fresh autumn leaves and the beautiful white-tailed deer making their way toward my sites is a passion that makes one's heart race. Sometimes it feels as if no animal will come out until the crunching of leaves interrupt my daydreaming. Every deer hunting experience is electrifying because of the surrounding nature full of vibrant colors and life, but the special ones are the victorious ones. My most memorable moment was when I killed my first deer because of my physical exertion to reach my success, my mixed emotions before, during and after, and the subsequent effects.

As a child I have been raised around hunters, but never had the desire to kill a deer or any animal. On the Youth Hunting Day in September 2009 I changed my mind. I packed on an abundance of warm clothes and headed to my hunting blind with my mom by my side. We crept through the woods and finally spotted the blind. As we stepped in, I rested my Savage .30-.30 Pump Rifle against the cut-out window and got a clear look at my surroundings. I rested and waited, hoping to see a deer come.

As hours went by, we watched for our prey; and I began to feel hesitant about the trip. It started getting dark and my anxiety continued to increase, but a moving brown spot caught my attention. There was a huge cedar tree blocking my view of the undecided creature. I placed my scope on that spot, thinking it was a leaf blowing in the wind then suddenly, it dramatically moved making mine and my mom's hearts race. My nerves were at their highest degree as I clicked the safety to the off position.

The deer ran from behind the tree making its way inline with my crosshairs. A mixture of excitement, adrenalin, frightfulness, hopefulness and happiness rushed through my heart as I pulled the trigger to receive my reward. She ran a short distance and fell, dead, on the ground. I have never been so thrilled in my life and my mom has never been more proud. I had finally killed my first deer, making me congruent with the rest of my family. My prize awaited me behind the blind.

My excitement continued as I went out to look at my trophy. Mom congratulated me with a handshake and a hug which made me feel even more jubilant than I already was. My family rode up on the four-wheeler to see my deer and help drag her out. They were very proud of my accomplishment which put a smile on my face. I also fulfilled the dirty part of hunting afterward: gutting, cutting and skinning, but it did not bother me because I was happy to continue the family tradition. I told my hunting story to my family and sent many picture messages of me, my rifle and my honor. I was and am very proud of that doe.

After experiencing the physical effort, the combined emotions and the victory afterward, I have learned to love deer hunting. I will always remember that rush of excitement going through my veins on that day. The hide is hanging up to allow me to reminisce that day of great joy and accomplishment. Many say that deer hunting is inhumane animal cruelty, but the real cruelty is the overpopulation that results in starvation, diseases then death. Deer hunting is not all victories; it comes with disappointments, but that is what makes it a challenge and a passion.

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: www.vowa.org.

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: