In this edition:

Honor and Remember Our Veterans Who Answered the Call This Memorial Day

As spring gobbler season comes to an end and we clean and stow our gear, and get out the boat and fishing gear, be reminded that Memorial Day is a few days away on, Monday, May 28th when we honor and remember those heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. We also honor and remember all our veterans and active duty service men and women and their families for your service, courage, and sacrifice. Thank you for "answering the call" to defend freedom and preserve liberty. Thanking those who now actively serve and live in our communities by helping them in some good deed is a tangible way to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice that we memorialize this special day.

The following weekend June 1-3, 2012 we celebrate Free Fishing Days and the opening of the Spring Squirrel season June 2-16. As we join with family and friends to continue our rich hunting and fishing traditions and introduce new sportsmen and women to our outdoor pursuits, we recognize that these opportunities are intertwined in your service and preserved for future generations to enjoy due to the ultimate sacrifice of so many for our benefit. Honor these veterans by pursuing your outdoor adventures with safety and courtesy for your fellow outdoor enthusiasts and appreciation for the opportunity just to be out there.

David Coffman, Editor

Elk Released in Buchanan County as Part of Restoration Plan

Since the 1990's, public interest to restore elk in Virginia has increased. In response to this public interest and neighboring states which have undertaken elk restoration programs, the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries directed the VDGIF Executive Director to create an operational plan for elk restoration and management in Virginia with consideration of biological, sociological, economic, and environmental issues. At its August 17, 2010 meeting, the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries approved a motion where VDGIF would establish a pilot program for the reintroduction of elk by stocking not more than 75 elk in Buchanan County only. The goal would be to have an elk herd not to exceed 400 animals. The elk management area would include Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise counties where elk hunting would be prohibited. Hunting of elk would begin in Buchanan County within 4 years of the last elk stocking. A reserve of 20% of elk hunting tags would be held back for hunters or applicants from Buchanan County. VDGIF would organize and coordinate activities of a damage response team made up of representatives from the management area, local chapter of RMEF and VDGIF, with a goal to respond to damage calls within 24 hours.

Mark Taylor, Outdoor Editor for the Roanoke Times did an excellent story on the first release May 18th of 11 of the majestic animals into a holding pen high atop an open knoll on a reclaimed strip mine site in Buchanan County. Read the full story at Mark's column.

http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/309033

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

"Elk Released to the Wild"

Virginia history was made when a small herd of elk was released on May 18, 2012, in Buchanan County, by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries with assistance from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Free Fishing Days June 1-3 - Try it, You'll Be Hooked!

June 1-3, 2012 have been designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in freshwater or saltwater, except in designated stocked trout waters, on these days. Plan some time to go fishing and boating; take the family fishing and boating or learn to fish and boat! See our Where to Fish section to get started!

There are few better times to reconnect with family and friends than while waiting for that next strike. Time spent fishing is always a welcome retreat, a bit of an adventure and the perfect setting for getting back in touch with what matters most. Escape, relax, play, reconnect with nature. And rediscover the fun of fishing and boating. You'll be surprised at how much you've missed it. Buy your fishing license today!

Don't forget that June 16, 2012 is the deadline for submitting photos to the Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest

Next Edition Three Weeks Away June 13...

Since we post the Outdoor Report on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the next edition will be in three weeks, June 13. This 'extra week' in the calendar will be well spent celebrating the Memorial Day Holiday weekend honoring those fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. With the 'official' start of summer hope you take the opportunity to smoke a venison tenderloin for a neighborhood party, or dangle some crawdads at smallies on the James., or participate in any of the dozens of events listed in Wild Events. We look forward to getting your photos and stories of your outdoor adventures with friends and family for the June 13th edition. Have a safe and enjoyable beginning of Summer.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 40 Kids Fishing Days are being planned state wide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend statewide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'. For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

Basic Trapper Training Course May 26 in Lancaster County

The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) is sponsoring the Basic Trapper Training Course, Saturday, May 26, from 8 am to 5 pm at the Belle State Park 1632 Belle Isle Rd Lancaster, Virginia 22503 in Lancaster Co. This class is free, but pre-registration is required. All youths under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There is a $5 parking fee at the Park. Bring your own lunch and wear appropriate clothing for outdoors, rain or shine, with boots for water portion of the class. For directions and pre-registration contact: Tim Tate (804) 580-3130 email: timtate.nn@gmail.com. For information on VTA and other training and trapping opportunities, visit their website.

Waterfowl Predator Management Workshops Scheduled Statewide May- June

The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association (VAWFA), Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and Virginia Trapper's Association (VTA) in partnership with VDGIF will be hosting four Predator Management Workshops throughout the state this May-June. These educational component workshops are developed for the general public and will be conducted free at both Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores. These workshops will benefit sportsmen and landowners who want to know more about managing wildlife and reducing predator numbers. There will also be opportunities for HANDS-ON educational workshops with trapping equipment provided by the Virginia Trappers Association. Workshops are scheduled as follows:

For scheduled times and additional information visit the Virginia Trapper's Association website, or the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association website.

Todd Cocker, Executive Director for the VAWFA notes this is the third year for these unique, hands -on predator management workshops with over 320 participants thus far. Steve Colvin, President for VTA advises that one of the benefits of the workshops is that it gives non-hunting participants an opportunity to address their issues and concerns and gain education and training from professionals on the purpose/benefits of predator management. VDGIF Furbearer Biologist Mike Fies commented that these workshops provide a unique partnership among the four organizations to combine resources and reach new constituents and address concerns by trappers, landowners and concerned citizens. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Workforce will be on hand at the workshops to distribute educational and training materials.

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Host Events in June

The Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will host a Kids Fishing Event at the Phelps Pond on Summerduck Road in Remington Saturday June 2 from 9 a.m. to noon. Kids up to 18 years old are eligible, lunch provided, some rod & reels available, bait provided, go to 'Phelps Pond Register' at friendsofcfphelpswma@gmail.com -limit 25 participants. Special Access Permit waiver notice for this event: No Access Permit is required for registered participants in this Kids Fishing Event June 2, 2012 at the Phelps WMA. To learn more about the WMA Access Permit visit the VDGIF website.

The Friends have a scheduled meeting on Wednesday, June 20 at 7 p.m. The group will meet at the Sumerduck Ruritan Club at 5335 Sumerduck Road, Sumerduck, VA 22742.

To view what the Friends group has been doing, visit the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA on Facebook at Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area and see photos of our Work Day and Tour of Phelps. For more information on the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA or to be added to the distribution list for meeting reminders and notes, contact Patricia Wood at pwood12@earthlink.net or friendsofcfphelpswma@gmail.com.

Ft. Lee Dusters Hosting Sporting Clays Fundraising Shoot June 23

The Ft. Lee Dusters are asking for your support to represent Virginia AGAIN at the SCTP Nationals in Sparta, Illinois in July. The Dusters won the Nationals last year in Sporting Clays and are well on their way to do it again. On Saturday June 23, beginning at 10 AM a Sporting Clays Fundraising Shoot will be held at Central Virigina Sporting Clays in Palmyra in Fluvanna County. This will be a 100 Target shoot with a registration of $65.00. The format is 3 Lewis Classes 1st, 2nd, 3rd each class- $50/$30/$20 payout. BBQ Lunch will available to purchase. For more Info or directions call Brad @ 703-405-2110.

Ducks Unlimited To Host Greenwing Day for Kids in NOVA June 23

Parents! Looking for some outdoor fun for your kids? Consider Virginia Ducks Unlimited's District 1 Greenwing Day. Virginia DU District 1 is hosting its annual Greenwing Day for kids up to 17 years old from 8 am to 3 pm on June 23, 2012 at the Izaak Walton League Facility, 14708 Mount Olive Road, Centreville, Virginia 20122-0366. For $20 per kid, you get access to all kinds of outdoor activities such as Fishing; a Working Dog Retrieving and Training Demonstration; Duck Calling Contest and Demonstration; Building Blue Bird and Duck Nesting Boxes; Decoy Carving Demonstration by Charles Jobes, a renowned carver from MD; archery instruction; air rifle and/or .22 rifle instruction and target shooting; lunch and more. In addition the child will receive a Greenwing membership in Ducks Unlimited, the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Lunch for adults attending with their Greenwing(s) is by donation. Ducks Unlimited, Inc. is tax exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit www.ducks.org/virginia/events or contact Sarah Mullins at novadu031@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!

Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) to Hold Annual "HerpBlitz" at Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area (WMA), June 23-24

The VHS will hold its Annual 'HerpBlitz '(survey) at the new Mattaponi WMA, owned by VDGIF, in Caroline County along the beautiful Mattaponi River. This property is 2,542 acres and includes mature upland hardwood and mixed forest, managed loblolly pine stands, wetlands, and rivers. The WMA contains and borders 5 miles of the scenic Mattaponi River and another 1.5 miles of the South River, which include opportunities for canoeing or kayaking. There are also clearcuts, thinned pine stands, and log decks. Old oxbows lakes from the old channels of the Mattaponi River provide excellent aquatic habitat. Wetland habitats are abundant, too. All VHS surveys aim to find and document as many different herpetofaunal species as possible during each event. This data will be entered into VDGIF's databases, helping to keep these resources of data as up to date as possible. Anyone is invited to come join us and participate in survey events, as these events encourage educating as many as possible about Virginia's herpetofauna. Membership in VHS is encouraged, but not required. Please keep checking the events section of the VHS website for further details about the event as we get closer to the date. The WMA is on Paige Road, State Rt. 605, near the town of Bowling Green. Only primitive camping is allowed on the WMA, while there are 2 private campgrounds nearby: Hidden Acres and R&D Family Hidden Acres and R&D Family Campground. Hotels may be found in the Bowling Green and Fredericksburg areas. Please contact the event leader to RSVP: Jason Gibson at frogman31@gmail.com.

People and Partners in the News

Eagle Flight Pen Dedicated At Wildlife Center of VA

The Wildlife Center of Virginia dedicated its new eagle flight pen on Thursday, May 10. Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech and Bob Duncan, Director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

After lunch and tours of the facility, a group of 40 people gathered in the new eagle flight pen — designated as A3 — for a few remarks from Wildlife Center President Ed Clark and Secretary Domenech. The group was then invited outside for a special ribbon-cutting by Secretary Domenech and VDGIF Director Duncan.

After the ribbon was officially cut, rehabilitator Suzy Doell carried Chesapeake Bald Eaglet #12-0529 to the "raptor tower" portion of A3 — a room specially designed for young raptors. Dr. Miranda Sadar caught up NX and moved her to the main flight area of A3.

For information and photos about the eagle pen dedication visit the Wildlife Center website.

VDGIF Volunteers Provide Outdoor Fun for Military Families

April is not only a wonderful month to get back outside in Virginia, it is the month of the Military Child. The Sierra Club partnered with the National Park Service and other organizations including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to get children of families serving in the military outdoors for fun and adventure. On April 1st at Prince William Forest Park these organizations came together to bring children and families back into the outdoors.

There were hikes and nature walks taking place, groups with information for families with a deployed parent, a local raptor club, summer camp opportunities, and information from the regional National Parks.

VDGIF Complementary Workforce volunteers participated in this wonderful event to share some information on the VDGIF area programs and opportunities to explore the outdoors throughout the year. Tim Hall and Michelle Flynn displayed animal pelts, handed out coloring books featuring local wild animals and stamps so the kids could make their own tracks. The families always love seeing the furs up close and guessing which animal is which and then matching them to the track stamps. The VDGIF volunteers were proud to participate in this event and give back to these military families and show appreciation for their service and sacrifice.

To find out how you can participate in programs to benefit military families visit these websites:

Wheelin' Sportsmen Schedule Spring Fishing Events

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen currently have planned four Trout Fishing Events. There is also a new West Augusta Outdoor Day with skeet, crossbow, and catfishing planned for July 14th. If you have a disability and would like to participate, please find all of the Applications available on the VA NWTF website. If the application deadline has passed, contact the Event Coordinator to see if spaces are still available. Also, check out Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Facebook page!

Contact Rick Layser 540-886-1761 rglayser@gmail.com or Mike Deane 434-996-8508 Wheelin4u@yahoo.com for tickets or information.

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 and skill building workshops throughout the year. 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:

Public Comment Period May 1 - August 4, 2012 on Proposed Regulation Amendments

Proposed Regulation Amendments

The Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, pursuant to §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, 29.1-502, and 29.1-701 of the Code of Virginia, proposed the below amendments to the Commonwealth's fisheries, wildlife diversity (nongame), boating, and ADA-related land access regulations.

A public comment period on the regulatory proposals opened May 1, 2012 and closes at 5:00 PM on August 4, 2012. The Board will consider the proposals for possible adoption as final regulation amendments at its August 14, 2012 meeting. Written comments on the proposed regulation amendments should be submitted online at www.dgif.virginia.gov, or may be emailed to regcomments@dgif.virginia.gov or postal mailed to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn. Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230, and received no later than August 4, 2012.

Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife

In recognition of the yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), we are featuring the VDGIF partner organizations that support our Mission. WSFR is one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history. The "WSFR 75 - It's Your Nature" celebration brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to mark a milestone of partnership success that has led quality wildlife-related outdoor opportunities. This also marks the beginning of a new era in wildlife conservation, during which the partners will establish new goals for fostering and maintaining partnerships to continue conservation and outdoor recreation into the next 75 years and beyond.

The VDGIF is pleased and honored to have the support of numerous non-profit conservation organizations, outdoor industries and local businesses 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, outdoor 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."

Little Tumbling Creek - A Partnership Success Story

Virginia Sets Stage to Restore First Southern Appalachian Brook Trout Stream in the State

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be returning brook trout to a stream that has been devoid of fish for over 20 years. Thanks to a joint initiative by the VDGIF, the American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation, the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited (VCTU) and James Madison University, Little Tumbling Creek at Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Smyth and Tazewell counties could well become the first restored Southern Appalachian brook trout stream in the state.

The upper four miles of Little Tumbling Creek lost its brook trout population due to naturally occurring and man-made acid depositions in the 1970s and 1980s. This past winter, when AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power built a new road to service its transmission lines that cross the wildlife management area, it carved a spur into the headwaters of the creek so limestone sand could be placed in the stream. Liming the stream is a proven strategy for recovering waters where acid rain has made habitat unsuitable for trout.

"What makes the liming of Little Tumbling very exciting," says Bill Kittrell, VDGIF Aquatic Resources Manager for Southwest Virginia, "is the opportunity to restore the Southern Appalachian brook trout to its native habitat." Kittrell explains that two strains of brook trout are native to Virginia. "Generally speaking, southern strain brookies occur south of the New River, and northern strain brookies are found north of that river. "

Though VDGIF grows northern strain brook trout for stocking in the state, no major hatchery source of southern strain brookies currently exists in the state or the Southeast. A partnership among the United States Forest Service, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Trout Unlimited is pioneering the raising of Southern Appalachian Strain brook trout in a prototype hatchery at Tellico in Tennessee.

A team from VDGIF and VCTU visited the Tellico hatchery early this spring and felt that a similar facility may be a possibility in southwest Virginia. "We've just begun preliminary planning," Kittrell says. "It will probably be dependent on outside funding sources and would be years before VDGIF could grow southern strain brook trout for stocking streams in southwest Virginia." Until then northern strain brook trout, cultured so they cannot spawn, will be stocked in Little Tumbling Creek.

"With $20,000 from the AEP Foundation and assistance from James Madison University and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, we will monitor water chemistry, the growth of the brookies, and the development of aquatic insects that trout eat," Kittrell says. As soon as VDGIF can produce southern strain brook trout that retain their wild characteristics, the Agency will begin placing them in Little Tumbling Creek. VDGIF believes the creek will serve as a model providing lessons that will lead to the restoration of other southern brook trout streams in the region.

Representatives from the partner agencies released about 4,000 fingerling trout into the stream on May 15th. For more information contact Bill Kittrell (276) 783-4860.

VA Fly Fishing Festival Continues to Grow as Tourist Destination

Fly anglers from across the country celebrated the 12th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 21-22, 2012. Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Only here can you learn all the latest techniques from the experts and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. The festival featured small-group casting classes with fly fishing and fly tying experts from across the Mid-Atlantic. Members of the Federation of Fly Fishers helped children catch native brook trout from an on-site Children 's Catch and Release Tout Pool and then release them into the South River (with the help of their parents). Members of the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Club, the largest FFF Club in Virginia, also provided casting classes and basic fly tying tips to beginners.

The highlight of the weekend was the Festival Foundation Dinner sponsored by Dominion, at which the festival committee presented the 2012 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award to Urbie Nash for his work in promoting the health of the South River, Virginia's first urban trout stream. Nash was instrumental in opening up over 3 miles of private water for public fishing and also ensured the removal of a century year old defeunct dam. The removal of the dam will help reduce water temperatures, and allow trout to summer over for miles below the site of the dam, which is just outside the City of Waynesboro.

This year's Festival sponsors included Temple Fork Outfitters, Dominion Resources, Subaru, Orvis, Hanover Fly Fishers, Natural Retreats, DuPont Community Credit Union, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Eastern Fly Fishing, the City of Waynesboro, Montana Fly Company, Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, South River Fly Shop, Virginia Sportsman, Appomattox River Company, Virginia Living, Mid-Valley Press, Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. The Festival was also delighted to have the Herring Alliance as this year's conservation sponsor.

The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is a one-of-a-kind event: Monies received from sponsors, vendors, ticket sales, and raffles are used to cover the cost of next year's Festival with the remainder going to the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation, which promotes conservation and stream restoration projects.

According to Beau Beasley, Director of the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival the event continues to grow and pay dividends for fly anglers and non-anglers alike. "The Festival used to be a small local event which at best drew a couple hundred people. Now the Festival has grown to the point that tourists from out of state make up a large percentage of our customer base. These tourists stay in hotels, eat in local restaurants and shop locally bringing in much needed tax revenue and at the same time the Festival promotes Waynesboro in a positive light. Since the inception of the Festival, the South River Fly Shop and The Speckled Trout B&B have located to Waynesboro in large part because of the river and our Festival. This year we had nearly 1,400 attendees and we think we can easily pass that number next year if we don't get hurt by bad weather. This year Sunday's numbers were way down from last year because of rain."

For more information on the festival go to their website.

"Bigger, Better Trout"

Nestled in a beautiful valley in Bath County, Virginia, trout from Coursey Springs Hatchery go to the streams west of the Blue Ridge, from Alleghany County and north.

In this video, Hatchery Manager Eric Wooding takes us on a tour of the recently-renovated facility and its daily operations.

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

Editor's note: When the Apprentice License was introduced four years ago, it was meant to allow persons, both youth and adult, who may be interested in hunting to "test drive" the sport by being mentored by an experienced hunter before investing the time in taking the required Hunter Education Course prior to actually hunting. The program has been very successful with nearly 20,000 Apprentice Licenses sold and new hunters added to our sport. Back in the December 14, 2011 edition, Glenn Carter sent us this great story of the success of the Apprentice License for his grown daughter, Amanda, and what it meant to both new hunter and mentor in continuing a family tradition with Dad and Daughter sharing her first deer hunt. Glenn entitled it "Apprentice Hunting - 101". I challenged Glenn and Amanda to continue her "apprenticeship" with spring gobbler season. The spring season went great and Glenn sent in this sequel story "Apprentice Hunting - Graduate Level - Spring Gobbler Season."

This is a great primer on how to make the most of the Apprentice License program to safely and successfully introduce hunting to a novice. The photo is worth a thousand words, here is the rest of the story of how more proud memories were made.

"Apprentice Hunting - Graduate Level - Spring Gobbler Season"

After Amanda's very successful first year of deer hunting, the only natural order of things was to have her try for the ever elusive wild turkey. Actually this was Amanda's first introduction to hunting back in the spring of 2011 when she followed me around 3 or 4 mornings just to see what it was all about. We heard a few birds and I setup and let several torment us. We had several very close encounters but none committed to make a showing.

I had gone over shot placement, head and neck only. I had gone over and explained the calling, tree clucks, yelps, cutting, and the purr. That's about all I do but I'm sure there are many more that are just as effective as these. I don't claim to be a pro. I just like to hear a gobbler sound off at day break. Bagging one every now and then is just a gift from God.

I had also explained to her to sit with legs bent and knees up. This allows you to sit with gun shouldered and up and pointing to the decoys. The only movement you need to make when the gobbler arrives is pushing the safety off and maybe adjusting your aim point an inch or so.

I told her not to make the same mistake I did on one of my first spring hunts. If the bird quits gobbling after coming to you, DO NOT BELIEVE HE HAS GONE AWAY. It only means he is looking for you.

I had explained what the gobbler will usually do once he commits and comes into the decoy setup. At this point I told her to take her time and enjoy the show because he will USUALLY strut and display in the Jake decoys face and give you plenty of time to take the shot.

I also told her that once I say "shoot" it didn't mean to pull the trigger. It only means to take the shot when you are comfortable and ready.

I had gone over so many turkey hunting "what if" scenarios that I'm sure she was totally confused.

The 20 Ga. Browning Gold Hunter's rifled slug barrel had been replaced with the smooth bore and loaded with Remington Nitro Turkey 3" magnum 5 shot.

I had located a couple of birds the week before opening day. We went on the opening Saturday only to be humbled once again. We heard him sound off at day break and got set up. I called using my "good morning big boy" clucks and then waited quietly. I've had several over the years fly from the roost tree and land in my lap doing this. It wasn't to be today. He never even answered.

After a brief wait, I gave a series of yelps to let him know that the love of his life was wide awake and "over here". There was total silence again. About 5 minutes latter he gobbled for the second time and I didn't think things were looking to good for us.

I continued to call for about 45 minutes. His third gobble was now on the ground and the fourth, fifth and six gobbles were headed further away and off the property. We never heard another peep.

I found another bird the following Thursday and set up on the same tree where several have met their doom over the years. I called a few times and he was answering when it dawned on me that this was now the only bird I had to take Amanda to on Saturday, so I quit the hunt. I went back to this location on Friday and he was sounding off pretty good at daybreak. I just sat on the tailgate drinking coffee and listening to him just waiting for the next day, Saturday, when Amanda could go again.

We were back in the dark on Saturday morning. We had gathered all our equipment and were heading to "the tree" when he gave us a good morning gobble. What a sound! Amanda was smiling and pointing to the distant gobble. He sounded good, they all sound good.

There was non stop gobbling as I cut some cedar branches to freshen the blind I had put together on Thursday morning.

I placed the decoys at 25 steps from our set up. We were 10 yards into the woods and the fakes were 15 steps out in the field. I had Amanda sit in the shooting position facing the decoys and I sat guarding her right flank since she is right handed. If you are a hunter you already know it is easy for a right hand shooter to shoot to the left so I guard the right flank. This position allows me to see what is going on and more importantly, I can whisper to her as the hunt unfolds.

Everything was sat up and we were ready. I gave him my "good morning" clucks and his reply was instantaneous. I didn't wait very long when I made a few more clucks that ended with a few yelps. He boomed right back at us. I told Amanda, "I think he's interested".

We traded yelps for gobbles for about 10 minutes or so. I made another series of yelps and he gobbled back again but was now on the ground. We traded calls for another 5 minutes or so. I yelped and he gobbled but this time he was half way to us. This is when I slow up calling. The closer he gets the less I call.

I told Amanda that he was coming and to be very careful not to move. I waited a little bit and made 4 soft yelps. No reply. I told Amanda, "he's coming, be careful".

From my position, I was looking toward the end of the field where the gobbler was coming to. From our position, the end of the field was about 40 yards away.

Then I saw a flicker of movement and saw the red, white and blue head bobbin at the end of the field. I whispered, "There he is".

He saw the decoy set up and sprinted as fast as he could right up to the Jake decoy and fanned out and strutted, just like I had predicted. I didn't give the "Shoot" command because I thought we could just watch the show for a while.

I felt like a genius at this point, but the feeling didn't last very long.

He immediately let down and started walking straight toward our set up. The only problem was the two big trees about 5 steps in from of our blind. I had placed the Jake decoy out in the field to be visible between these two trees. My thinking was that the two trees would give us some cover but I had not planned for the gobbler to get behind the tree to our left and walk toward our position.

But that's exactly what he did. Once he got behind the tree, I said "shoot", thinking we had to take advantage of the next opportunity for a shot or we may not even get a shot.

He had totally lost interest in the decoys and walked all the way to the edge of the field. He came out from behind the tree to the left but there was no shot to be had. That put him in our laps at 10 steps, wayyyyyyyy to close for comfort in my opinion. Too many things can go wrong when they get this close. He then turned and started walking back toward the end of the field.

When he got in our shooting lane between the two trees, his head shot straight up and he stared straight at us. At 10 steps, I feel certain he could hear our hearts pounding. I knew he had us made at this point and things were deteriorating rapidly. He started stepping off with the head bobbing like they do when heading somewhere with a purpose.

I whispered, "Shoot, shoot, shoot".

The Browning barked and Amada's first gobbler was flapping on the ground.

I just sat there for a moment in shock. I couldn't believe that he was down. That was not an easy shot to make at such close range. We ran to the downed bird and looked on in amazement. I gave Amanda a hug and she said she couldn't quit shaking. I told her if that didn't make you shake , you should just give up hunting and stay at home.

He weighed 20lbs. 8 oz. and had a 10 inch beard and 1.25 inch spurs, a fantastic trophy.

The Spirit Lives in This Special Gun...

Glenn Carter added a 'footnote' to his daughter Amanda's story of a successful father-daughter spring gobbler hunt. You probably have a similar story about a treasured firearm in your family, handed down through generations to carry on the family hunting heritage and traditions.

Glenn writes, "Just want to add that this 20 Ga. Browning Gold Hunter means more to me than I can express. I obviously like guns and this one is in a beautiful Walnut, not the ugly ol' composite's more common in recent years.

This Gun belonged to my long time hunting friend Tom Barnett. Tom and I and Bob Duncan have spent a "few" days in the woods together. Tom had a few articles published in Virginia Wildlife as well as some other publications. He died too young a few years ago with cancer.

This was the last gun Tom purchased and he only shot it a few times. His wife, Mary Barnett, offered it to me since Tom and I had shared so many days hunting and fishing and had been friends since we first met back in the late '70's. The gun is now creating fond memories with my family...

Tom killed his last deer with this gun.

Amanda bagged her first deer at 97 yards with this gun last November.

She has now bagged her first gobbler with this gun this spring.

I have taken a few deer with it as well as my longest ever shot at 130 yards just this past season.

Each time we go afield with this faithful old Browning, old memories are shared and new memories made... That's why I mention this gun as much as I have in these two articles. The "spirit" lives in this little gun."

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

June Squirrel Season Opens on Private Lands and Selected WMAs June 2-16

For the sixth year a statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 2-16, 2012 on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF website and on all private lands. Fox squirrels may only be harvested on all private lands in counties with an open fox squirrel season and on the following WMAs: Big Survey, Goshen, Havens, Little North Mountain, Merrimac Farm, Phelps, Rapidan, and Thompson WMAs. Hunting squirrels with dogs is now allowed during the June season.

Although it may be a foreign idea to many sportsmen, a June season is biologically justified. Squirrels have two peak reproductive periods - one during February-March and another during July-August. Therefore, hunters can harvest squirrels during the June season without impacting populations.

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

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 email.

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

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

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

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

David Coffman, Editor

First Gobbler for Ethan Belton Creates Great Memory With Dad

Ethan Belton, age 8 from Grayson County killed his first turkey on opening morning while hunting with his Dad, T.J. Belton. After calling to the Tom while he was still on the roost, this big gobbler flew down right into his decoy spread and immediately went into full strut and began attacking the Jake decoy. Ethan made a perfect shot with his 20 gauge shotgun to get this big tom which had a 9.5 inch beard and weighed 21 pounds. Ethan, even at the young age of 8, is already an avid outdoorsman and a excellent shot, who loves nothing more than spending time out in the woods, or out fishing with his family. This is just the beginning of many more wonderful memories that him and his Dad will get to share in the outdoors together.

License Options for Novice Hunters

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

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

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

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

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

Be Safe... Have Fun!

National Safe Boating Week is May 19-25, Time To Remember Life Jackets Save Lives

National Safe Boating Week is May 19-25, making right now the time to remind boaters to be safe on the water. First and foremost, boaters need to think about life jackets and plan to wear them. A significant number of boaters who lose their lives by drowning each year would be alive today had they worn their life jackets.

It is the law in Virginia that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. In addition, no person may operate a recreational vessel on federal waters with any child under age 13 on the vessel unless each child is either wearing an appropriate life jacket approved by the USCG, or below deck, or in an enclosed cabin. This applies to waters in which the USCG has enforcement jurisdiction, and in Virginia that includes the Chesapeake Bay, Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Gaston, Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake), Claytor Lake, Lake Moomaw, and other inland waters that are considered navigable. VDGIF is asking boaters to make a commitment to wear their life jackets at all times while on the water.

It is recommended for anyone who operates a boat to complete a boating safety education course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by VDGIF. Virginia's Boating Safety Education Compliance Regulation is being phased in over the next several years. If you have previously taken a boating safety education course and have your card, you are in compliance with the new regulation. Visit the VDGIF website for course information and for information about how to get replacement cards. To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and about boating education courses, visit the Department's website.

Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?

How do you know if a life jacket really fits you? First, check the label to make sure the life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable. Life jackets (or PFDs) come in a couple of basic sizes: infant, child, and adult. Within those basic sizes, there will be a range (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). The label will indicate the basic size and the size range, which will include a weight range and usually also a chest size range. After you check the label, make sure you move on to the second step, try it on!

Before every boating season, try on your life jacket. Make sure that it fits correctly. What does a correct fit mean? It should be snug, but not tight. Lift your arms over your head, can you turn your head left, right, and over your shoulder or has the life jacket ridden up and in the way of moving your head? For a child, have them stand with their arms to their sides. Lift the life jacket up by the shoulders. The life jacket should not move more than 3 inches, no higher that the child's ears. If the life jacket does move up more than 3 inches, it is too big and the child can slip right out - get a smaller life jacket! A younger child's life jacket should also include a crotch strap - this will help insure the life jacket stays on. Finally, practice using the life jacket in shallow water. Make sure it is snug enough to stay put and not ride up over the chin and ears when in shallow water. Have children practice in shallow water with their life jacket so they don't panic in case of emergency. Check out this informational video about properly fitting a child's life jacket.

For more information about life jackets, check out the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety website.

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

Spring Squirrel Hunting Safety Tips

If you're planning to go squirrel hunting the June 5-19, 2010 spring season, you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure you have a pleasant and safe experience. If you're wearing camouflage, it should be lightweight. You'll also want to put on some bug repellent to ward off ticks, chiggers, gnats and mosquitoes. Learn to identify poison ivy (leaflets three let it be!) and avoid contact with the shiny green leaves and hairy vines. Note that you can also get a rash from handling clothes that have come in contact with this abundant woods plant. If you have walked through a patch of poison ivy, wash those clothes to remove the oils which cause the itchy rash. Snakes are also out and about with the warmer temperatures, so be alert. If it is a very warm day, it would be a good idea to field dress your harvested game as soon as possible and bring along a cooler with ice and plastic bags to store them. You may want to view the instructional squirrel skinning video featured in the next article.

As always, practice basic firearm safety. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, only point at what you intend to shoot, and clearly identify your game and what is beyond. So spray on a little bug juice and take a youngster squirrel hunting on one of the selected VDGIF's WMAs or private woodlands. You can locate the WMAs at the VDGIF map information system on our Find Game website.

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!

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

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

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

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

The VDGIF would like boaters to be aware of a problem at Mill Creek Landing in the community of Wake in Gloucester County. The landing has become sanded-in to the extent that only small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can safely launch. Signs warning boaters have been posted at the landing to alert them of the problem, as well as a notice on the VDGIF website. John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says capital project monies will need to be budgeted for and approved before doing so, and boaters will unfortunately have to use other landings in the interim.

"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.

VDGIF Richmond Headquarters Staff and Volunteers Clean-up Local Stream

On May 4, 2012, VDGIF employees performed a clean-up of Jordan's Branch, the small tributary to the Chickahominy River that flows along the western edge of the Richmond HQ Campus. The Spring 2012 cleanup marks the 7th cleanup event we have organized on Jordan's Branch and the 9th year of our participation as an adopting organization in the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Adopt-A-Stream program. For the past 7 years, our cleanup events also have qualified as part of the Governor's Stewardship Virginia Campaign. Not only do the clean ups meet our requirements under the aforementioned programs, but they also provide VDGIF employees and other volunteers the opportunity to socialize, step away from their desks, and participate in an event that allows them to demonstrate their personal commitment to natural resource stewardship. Having removed 16 large bags of trash from the stream, the stream cleanup team determined this year's cleanup event to be quite a success! We are always looking for more volunteers to help us during the cleanup as well as to donate boots and waders for use during the event. If you would like to get involved in the stream cleanups, please contact Amy Ewing at Amy.Ewing@dgif.virginia.gov or 804-367-2211. If you are interested in organizing your own stream cleanups, please visit DCR's website for more information.

VDGIF Launches Wildlife Internship Network (WIN)

If you are interested in a career in wildlife conservation, public education, marketing or information technology and many more career areas, we may have the WIN-WIN place for you. As Virginia's wildlife agency, we are always looking for future talent to assist us in field sampling, conducting public workshops or promoting wildlife conservation efforts across the Commonwealth. Come join our team for a semester, a summer or a year-long assignment. We'll show you a WINning future!

Our Wildlife Internship Network (WIN) student internship program "pays" students in the form of academic credit (if applicable), real-world experience and professional networking opportunities. It is designed to provide college students challenging opportunities to:

The program is designed to inspire college students to broaden their education in a manner that complements the agency's professional staffing needs. The WIN will work hard to provide internship opportunities closely tailored to the students' interests to maximize their opportunities for future career success.

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.

If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone

It's that time of year again when white-tailed deer fawns are showing up in yards and fields and concerned citizens want to know how to help. In almost all cases, the best way to help is to simply give the fawn space and leave it alone. By giving it a wide berth, you also reduce the risk of inadvertently leading dogs and other predators to the hidden fawn. The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. Fawns, born from April through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators to their location. They will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young. You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a very few minutes before leaving it alone again.

Concerned people sometimes pick up animals that they think are orphaned. Most such "orphans" that good-intentioned citizens "rescue" every spring should have been left alone. Most wild animals are dedicated parents and will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food. If a fawn or rabbit has been "rescued" when it shouldn't have been, it can often be released at the same location. Parents tend to remain in the area for at least a day, looking for the lost youngster.

If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, do not take matters into your own hands. You may contact a licensed rehabilitator by visiting the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) website. Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit. Besides, each animal's nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for early June:

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

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

NRCS Awards 2012 Funding for Quail Habitat Restoration

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has awarded $85,000 to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for ongoing partnership activities to create or improve quail habitat in Sussex, Halifax, Wythe, Culpeper, King and Queen, and Augusta counties. Although program signup is continuous, the deadline for the upcoming ranking period is May 31. Assistance is available to help farmers install conservation practices to:

"The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is a key partner in our efforts to help landowners improve wildlife habitat on their land," says NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker. "Working through shared Private Lands Wildlife Biologists, we are continuing to piece together 'quail quilts' of habitat to help the species recover."

This is the third year NRCS has provided funding through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) to support Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative, a cooperative effort between several agencies, groups, and individuals. These landscape-scale quail recovery projects are beginning to yield positive results with surveys in one rural Virginia county recording one quail per three acres.

States Marc Puckett of VDGIF, "NRCS continues to be a 'diamond' partner in Virginia's quail recovery efforts. Their support is playing a key role in helping Virginia's landowners strive to reach habitat goals outlined in the Quail Recovery Initiative. While dubbed 'quail habitat,' these projects help dozens of wildlife species, including pollinating insects."

Visit your local NRCS Office in Emporia, Tappahannock, Halifax, Culpeper, Verona, or Wytheville to learn more about signing up for this CCPI funding for quail recovery activities. Contact: Marc Puckett, VDGIF, (434) 392-8328, or Galon Hall, NRCS, (804) 287-1669 for habitat program information.

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.

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

K9 Team CPO Billhimer and Justice Find Missing Child... Happying Ending to Partnership Effort!

Wildlife K9 Conservation Police Officer Wayne Billhimer filed this report of the successful search and rescue for a missing 12 year old girl in Augusta County. The story relates the tremendous value of the highly trained and skilled Wildlife K9 team - CPO handler and dog, and the added service they provide to both wildlife investigations and public safety. Also this story demonstrates the vital coordination and partnership with fellow law enforcement agencies and emergency services professionals and volunteers at the local level...

K9 CPO Wayne Billhimer reports: On May 18, 2012 Captain Kevin Clarke called me and informed me of a missing 12 year old girl in Augusta County. The family of the missing girl said she went out to feed the family chickens and never came back. The girl had wandered off before and had been unable to find her way home. Search crews and other law enforcement waited until K9 Justice arrived to the scene so the scene wouldn't be contaminated beyond where the family had already searched for the girl. CPO Neil Kester went with me on the search. Justice picked up the girls scent and we tracked her from a neighborhood into a thicket of woods. Several snakes were observed along the track. CPO Kester would radio the direction of our track to alert ground units where to search. Justice tracked several hours. A Department of Corrections (DOC) Officer and his bloodhound relieved Justice to allow him time to cool off due to the heat and length of the track. When the bloodhound got exhausted Justice took back over the track. At this time the search party grew. Augusta County Sheriffs Office along with State Police and volunteers, even community members gathered to aide in the search. CPO Kester went every step of the track informing the search crew and helicopter of our track progress. He had been involved in a previous search and his experience proved to be the strategy that led searchers to where the girl would most likely be. The girl would make large circles, as CPO Kester reported this by radio ground teams came in behind us where we just tracked and sure enough it worked, the girl circled back to where we just tracked. The 12 year old girl was found okay, hiding by a downed tree. I spoke with the girl as she feared she was in trouble for wandering off and she gave me a hug and thanked Justice for finding her as she threw his red Kong for him to retrieve. This was very touching to see the bond between Justice and the girl. Several news teams gathered and filmed the joyful reunion of the girl, relieved parents and volunteer searchers.

Editors note... The overwhelming and continuing success to the VDGIF law enforcement and educational efforts of the three K9 Teams during the past year has not gone unnoticed. Although the K9 Teams focus is on wildlife-related activity, including wildlife detection, tracking, and article recovery, the educational and public relations value is priceless as noted in this latest missing child search and rescue. In order to have enhanced coverage of all five administrative regions statewide, two additional K9 teams have been authorized and are undergoing an extensive and comprehensive training course leading to graduation and certification. These two new K9 teams will help reduce response time to incidents, which is usually a critical factor in the successful outcome of an investigation or search and rescue as in this story. Look for a feature on the two new K9 teams in the June 13, 2012 edition of the Outdoor Report... We've gone to the dogs!! And we're proud and pleased as we can be!!

YOU can help support the K9 Teams

The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia has partnered with VDGIF on this special initiative. Your tax-deductible donation to the Wildlife K9 Team will help provide food and veterinary care for these great dogs.

Help support the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Wildlife K9 Team, by making a donation through the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia.

Make a Donation to the K9 Team at: www.vawildlife.org/k-9.html

Region I - Tidewater

CPO Demonstrates Proper PFD Use at Kids Day Festival... On Saturday April 28, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Ken Williams participated in the Kids Day Festival at the new Northumberland County YMCA facility in Heathsville. There were approximately 20 vendors and various displays. Officer Williams spoke with over 100 children and adults about boating safety and carriage requirements. The children were shown how to properly wear a PFD. Also on display were hunter education firearms and children were instructed on the proper way to carry a firearm and general firearm safety.

CPO's Do More Than Enforce Laws... On May 1, 2012, Conservation Police Sergeant Worrell and CPO Woodruff were conducting a fishing patrol in Emporia when they encountered a young boy fishing in the Meherrin River from the pier. The two officers approached and noticed that he was fishing with a stick about 6 inches long, fishing line, and a hook. He had found a lower half of a broken rod (no reel) in the bushes and said he was going to try to tie his line on that. In the mean time the young man's grandmother pulled up and was bringing him some worms. She said that the young man's mother had passed away last year so she was raising him. Sergeant Worrell pulled out a new rod and reel that he was carrying in his truck and gave it to the young man. He was delighted to get a fishing pole and the grandmother, teary eyed, thanked the two officers for taking a moment to spend some time talking to the young man.

Region III - Southwest

Young Angler Thrilled To Help CPOs Stock Trout... On May 11, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officers James Hale and James Brooks were stocking trout on the Dismal River in Buchanan County with VDGIF Fish Division employees. Officer Hale walked down to check an area for stocking and came across a 7 year old boy, Peyton Blankenship, and his Granddad. The young man was all excited about seeing Officer Hale and asked "Are ya'll going to stock trout?!" Officer Hale told him yes and asked if he would like to help. The guys on the trout truck got Peyton a net of fish and let him carry them to the water for release. A rather nice trout was in the net that Peyton saw as he released the net of fish. He exclaimed' "That's a good ol' big un!!!" During a conversation with Peyton's Grandparents, they advised Peyton is autistic. It tickled them and him greatly that Peyton got to "help". They are avid readers of the Outdoor Report.

Editors Note... We appreciate Peyton and his Grandparents being "avid readers" of the Outdoor Report. We are sending a 2012 Virginia Wildlife calendar and a goodie bag with some fishing gear in appreciation for their 'help' and taking the boy fishing. We hope they will send us some photos of Peyton's trout catching success for the Fishin' Report.

Surveillance on Stocked Trout Stream Leads to Summons... On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer Gene Wirt conducted surveillance on Peak Creek, a stocked trout stream in Pulaski County. After several hours of watching a popular fishing spot on the stream, Officer Wirt observed two separate fishermen catch their limit of trout from the stream. Within 5 minutes of the two catching their last fish, they both went back to casting their lures into the waters again. Senior Officer Wirt, who had been lying in the bushes, approached and checked the fishermen and informed them of their violations. The pair of fishermen said they were "just having a good time". The fishing spot they were at is 6 miles from the nearest house, on a dead end road. They felt comfortable that they could hear any vehicles that would come their way. Senior Officer Wirt had hidden his vehicle nearby and walked into position. Summonses were issued for fishing for trout after having obtained the daily limit.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

National Wild Turkey Federation Jake's Event... On Saturday, April 28, 2012 Conservation Police Officer Beth Harold assisted the Highland Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation with their annual Jake's Event. Officer Harold helped to set up, run, and take down the .22 rifle range. The participants had a great time, competing for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. They were very appreciative of Officer Harold and the Head Range Officer, VDGIF employee Hank Tomlinson.

CPOs Host Kid's Fishing Day... On Saturday, May 5, 2012 Conservation Police Officer Beth Harold conducted her 3rd Annual Kid's Fishing Day on the Bullpasture River in Highland County. The event has nearly tripled in participation from the first year, hosting 96 children this year. The biggest fish caught was a 23 inch rainbow trout caught by an 11 year old boy. CPO Sergeant Steve Bullman assisted with set up, take down and patrolling the area for the event.

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 2012 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 2012.

Stocking Efforts in Back Bay to Restore Largemouth Bass Fishery

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) initiated a three-year largemouth bass stocking project in Back Bay with an experimental stocking of approximately 75,000 surplus largemouth bass fingerlings in 2009. It is through the post-stocking sampling, results, and ultimate success of that project that DGIF was able to justify a large-scale stocking that will attempt to improve, and ultimately aid in restoration of, the largemouth bass fishery Back Bay.

An official stocking request was made to American Sportfish Hatchery (ASH) in Alabama for approximately 125,000 fingerling (1-2 inches long) largemouth bass that were stocked in Back Bay on May 8th. These bass will be F-1 hybrids, a cross between the northern strain largemouth bass and the Florida strain largemouth bass. Both strains are the same genus and species of largemouth bass, with just a slight variation due to temperature and climate.

DGIF does not have any concerns with stocking these bass in Back Bay, primarily due to the fact that nearly 100% of the bass in the mid-Atlantic are hybrids to some degree. Pure strains of largemouth bass simply do not exist in the mid-Atlantic, east of the Mississippi River, as largemouth bass are not native fish to the mid-Atlantic or even east of the Mississippi, excluding some regions of Florida. As with the previous stockings, these fingerlings will be chemically marked to allow DGIF staff to track their movement, survival, and distribution within the bay.

Back Bay was noted in the late 1970s as one of the top trophy bass fisheries in the nation. This outstanding bass fishery peaked in 1980, when 240 citation-sized largemouth bass (bass that weighed at least eight pounds) were reported to be caught in the bay. In recent years, Back Bay has undergone a tremendous recovery in terms of water quality and the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). The growth and coverage of SAV is near levels not seen since the early 1980's, and the fisheries populations have shown a positive response to this increased and improved habitat. The Back Bay Restoration Foundation whose mission is to preserve, protect, and improve Back Bay and its watershed through education, stewardship, and outreach was instrumental in assisting with the purchase of a portion of the fish that were stocked on May 8th. In the near future, DGIF staff will be sending out additional updates on the actual stocking timeline.

Triploid Trout Stocked in Clinch Mountain WMA May 15th

On May 15th, VDGIF Wildlife Bureau staff stocked triploid brook trout into Little Tumbling Creek on the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Region 3. This is part of a major restoration effort of approximately 4 miles of Little Tumbling Creek which was once a pristine brook trout stream. In recent decades, acidic precipitation and poor buffering capacity in the watershed have resulted in degraded water quality which prevents fish from surviving. VDGIF in partnership with Dr. Dan Downey at James Madison University have developed a liming program which should mitigate the impacts of the acid deposition and help restore the stream to a suitable condition to support aquatic life. Appalachian Power (AP) agreed to construct a "spur" road to access the stream in conjunction with a transmission line maintenance road that was constructed in the watershed. This road was completed last fall, and it provided suitable access to apply lime which had been stockpiled in the vicinity. Due to the warm temperatures and very little snowfall, Bureau staff was able to apply lime in the stream during the winter.

VDGIF Regional Aquatic Resources Manager William B. Kittrell, Jr. noted , "Other partners include Trout Unlimited who is providing approximately $20,000 (a grant from AP) for water quality analysis, additional lime and signage. DEQ is also assisting in this effort by providing expertise with aquatic insect surveys. This project was originally developed over 10 years ago, and with the help of many Bureau staff members and all our partners, it is finally moving along. The stocking of triploid brook trout is an attempt to develop a non-reproducing fishery as a "place holder" until we can eventually get a reproducing population of southern strain brook trout established. This is something that TU is really interested in doing with us. I recently gave a tour to some Appalachian Power and TU officials. The AP public relations staff will be working with us to attend the May 15th stocking and do a press event. We'll keep you posted on our website."

Attention Trout Anglers - Special Regulation Permit Cards Available Online

VDGIF is pleased to announce that special regulation written landowner permit cards to fish Mossy Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Upper South River are now available online. A link to maps of each of these areas is also new function on the agency website.

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

The VDGIF would like boaters to be aware of a problem at Mill Creek Landing in the community of Wake in Gloucester County. The landing has become sanded-in to the extent that only small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can safely launch. Signs warning boaters have been posted at the landing to alert them of the problem, as well as a notice on the VDGIF website. John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says capital project monies will need to be budgeted for and approved before doing so, and boaters will unfortunately have to use other landings in the interim.

Moratorium on River Herring Fishing Now in Effect

On January 1, 2012, a moratorium on River Herring fishing went into effect. The VA Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) states that the purposes of the moratorium are to rebuild the Virginia stocks of River Herring and to comply with the requirements of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring. It is unlawful for any person to possess any river herring in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fishermen that traditionally fish for river herring with hook and line, dip nets, cast nets, gill nets or any other gear should be aware of this fishing closure and not purchase a gear license if they were only interested in fishing for river herring.

For more info on the regulation establishing the moratorium visit the VMRC website.

FAQs Updated on VDGIF Website for New Access Permit

Effective January 1, 2012, an Access Permit is required when using any VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) 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 VDGIF or persons 16 years of age or younger. The Access Permit requirement does not apply to Department- owned boat ramps and segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department- owned land. The Access Permit fee is $4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit. The Access Permit may be purchased online, over the phone, or at any license agent.

VDGIF is committed to an excellent customer experience as this new permit is introduced. We know that many people may be unaware of the requirement for the permit until they reach our property. That is why all of our properties have new signs explaining the permit and including a phone number and QR code to allow people with cell phones or smartphones to easily comply before enjoying the property. During 2012, our Conservation Police Officers will focus on educating any visitors not in compliance with this new rule and ask them to please purchase a permit before they return. We believe this is a respectful approach and we appreciate your compliance on your very first visit.

Due to the number of questions coming in from many individual constituents and groups regarding special circumstances for possible waivers and discounted Daily Group Permit rates and other questions and suggestions, the online information has been updated and supplemented. For more information, visit the Access Permit section on our webpage and the following applicable links:

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!

David Dudley; Virginia's Top Angler (Part 2)

Note: To read part 1 of this article, please reference the May 9th edition of the Outdoor Report. David, a Lynchburg native and resident, is one of the best professional bass anglers in the nation. He is currently ranked #1 in the world and holds two FLW Angler-of-the-Year titles, an FLW Tour Championship and is the winner of this season's FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake and took 3rd place in the recent event on the Potomac River.

For those who are relatively new to fishing or wanting to improve their skills; David recommends picking one body of water and learning it before expanding to other locations. Focusing on one place will help you learn the seasonal patterns of bass and the basic concept of lures. Once you master these details on a particular lake you then have a good starting point for a new body of water. David has an opportunity to fish many different places all over the country, but his favorite fishing holes in Virginia include the Potomac River and Buggs Island Lake. He also recommends Leesville Lake, a smaller lake with good fishing located just below Smith Mountain Lake.

With so many new and different lure styles and colors to choose from, one might think David has a wide variety of tackle and secret weapons in his boat. Not so; David actually believes in simplifying his tackle selection so he can be more focused on the fish and less distracted by so many choices. He sticks to natural colors like watermelon and green pumpkin in most conditions for all his soft plastics and will only stray from that in dark water where he will use colors such as junebug or black/blue. He sticks to shad colors for all his hard baits such as crankbaits and topwaters. By limiting his choices, he saves time and mental energy and can completely focus on figuring out what the fish are doing and developing a pattern.

David is also a strong family man. He comes from a family of five and lives with his wife Angela and their five young children all under the age of 10. As one of the best bass anglers in the world, one would think there is a lot of pressure on his children to fish, but David doesn't want to force it. He wants them to choose what they want to do and love. He readily takes them hunting and fishing when they ask, but never insists. He recommends taking children fishing where they can be successful and catch lots of fish. "Start them out on catfish or bluegill and allow them graduate to other species like bass at their own pace," Dudley advises.

Another distinction of David is his faith in God. His success in fishing has afforded him the opportunity to purchase a ranch and develop it to minister to the community. Called, One Body in Christ Ministries, the ranch provides a location for community and church events and retreats, summer camps, horseback riding and features stocked ponds for community kids fishing days that see up to 700 attendees. The ranch is a non-profit organization and fees are used to cover expenses and provide for free fishing events offered to children. Learn more about the ministry at www.obicministries.org

David is a young man in his mid-thirties and with his tournament philosophy, competitive drive and uncanny understanding of bass behavior; the future looks bright for this Virginia pro. To read more about David and learn some of his tips, check out his website at www.daviddudley.com.

Listen for "The Weekly Wildlife Segment" with Chris Dunnavant, Saturdays, 9-11 am during the "The Weekend" with Anthony Oppermann on Richmond Sports Radio 910 - WRNL -AM. Listen to the latest or past segments on the YouTube channel, theopps83.

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 2012 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

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

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

The VDGIF would like boaters to be aware of a problem at Mill Creek Landing in the community of Wake in Gloucester County. The landing has become sanded-in to the extent that only small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can safely launch. Signs warning boaters have been posted at the landing to alert them of the problem, as well as a notice on the VDGIF website. John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says capital project monies will need to be budgeted for and approved before doing so, and boaters will unfortunately have to use other landings in the interim.

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The water temperature is at 72 degrees with a visibility of 14 ft. All the rain the last two weeks has kept the fishermen off the water. But the fish seem to be holding tight to shoreline cover, with larger fish holding along ledges at 10 to12 ft. Try Carolina rigged worms or deep running crankbaits on those ledges before fishing the cover. That way your boat will not move the fish out. Another good way to fish this pattern is to free swim large shiners over these ledges. With the rain keeping the water cool the crappie are staying in shallow water, fish were caught in as little as 3 ft. last week; small minnows out fished jigs. Shellcrackers are not on the beds now but can be caught in over 10 ft. of water. Try red worms, small inline spinners, and jigs, also some were taking small minnows last week. The striper fishermen are finding bait but not as many fish. Stripers have moved off the flats and are in very small groups so they are harder to find but will school and start to chase bait any time now. Pier fishermen are doing okay with night crawlers and medium minnows; some cats were on their stringers too. Oh yes, the pickerel are biting, your bait and your hand.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. The May Big Bash Bass Tournament was held on May 19th with 44 boats participating. James Reed and Brian West took first place with five fish weighing 15 lbs. 4 oz. Second place went to Jerry Jenkins and Ricky West, third were Bubba West and Matt Marshall, fourth were Michael Cox and Billy Redfearn and fifth were Quillie and Robert Countiss. The next Big Bash Bass tournament will be on June 23. Roy Moon of Newport News caught a 23 ½ in. bass on Sunday, May 20th. Fishing remains good with nice catches being reported on all species with bluegill and bream fishing increasing.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by our new reporter Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. No report this edition.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that things are really hot just now. Red drum are at Fishermen's Island and Nautilus Shoal. They are taking crabs and clams. For black drum, head to Cape Charles and use chowder clams and sea clams. Bluefish are at Cape Henry and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, and are attacking spoons and cut bait. Croakers are going for Fishbite and Mirrolures at the mouths of the York and the James. Speckled trout are at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets and are biting Mirrolures and plastic grubs in chartreuse or pink. The water is fairly clear and 61 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that bass are biting well on spinners, Senkos and green frogs. No word on crappie, perch or bluegill. Catfishing is very good, with the whiskery ones taking ell and shad. The water is slightly stained and 70 degrees.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by our new reporter, Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475 out of Ed Allen's Boats and Bait. Chickahominy Lake mid day main lake water temperatures were in the low to mid 70s last weekend. The lake level was about 6 inches above the top of the dam. The water was dark but not muddy in the lower lake, but was slightly muddy up some of the creeks. Most crappie and a few white perch were around the creek mouths and on mid depth wood cover in the main lake. Crappie and white perch were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs and tubes, small swimbaits, and Kalin crappie scrubs. Small to medium bluegill were scattered in the creeks and were moderately numerous around shorelines in the main lake, but most larger bluegill had moved to mid-depth areas, frequently on wood structure. Bluegill were hitting live worms and crickets, curlytail jigs, small swimbaits, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small spoons. A few pickerel were scattered in creek channels down to the creek mouths, and on main lake flats. Pickerel were primarily hitting spoons and live minnows. Bass were scattered, with some next to the shoreline vegetation up the side creeks and others along the shorelines and mid-depths in the main lake. Bass were hitting live minnows, creature baits, soft plastic stick baits, and plastic worms. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Malcolm Turnbull had 12 crappie, 51 bluegill, 1 shellcracker, 1 yellow perch, 1 warmouth, and 1 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that bass action is okay on top waters, spinners, shallow running cranks and chatterbaits. Crappie are not being very cooperative, but a minnow and jig might do the trick. Bluegill and white perch are responding well to night crawlers, worms and crickets and popping bugs for the bluegill. Catfishing is good and should get even better soon. The water is clear and in the low to mid 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass are hitting well on cranks, top-waters and plastics. Lots of big crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. Local cats are wolfing down cut bait. Yellow perch are going for minnows, worms and small spinners. White perch have moved on. Bream are being fooled by red wigglers and crickets. The water is clear and in the low 60s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Well the rivers are getting back to normal as far as settling down after the spring anadromous fish runs. The only thing now is that the Blackwater is muddy and high from recent rains, but hopefully that will clear up soon. The Nottoway is not as bad. Largemouth and bream are slowly coming up to speed and hitting well. People are still caching a bunch of catfish also. The water was 69 degrees on the 18th, so let this high water get out of here and by the holiday weekend the fishing in both rivers should be really good. That is of course, if we don't get a lot more rain!

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. No report this edition.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. No report this edition.

Swift Creek Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Archie Spencer. No report this edition.

Region 2 - Southside

Fort Pickett: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I waited until almost 9:00 a.m. to see if the wind was going to be blowing and since it was under 5mph. I thought I would see if I could find any hungry bluegill on Pickett reservoir. I wasn't half way there when it started up but I am thinking maybe it will just be gusting, so much for hoping. I started fishing the fly rod from the ramp toward the dam and picked up several what I call "cat fish" two fingers wide and about as long as my fingers. They get fed to my cats. I did catch a few that were 7 inches long before the gale winds showed up. I put the fly rod down and started fishing the spinning rod along the aeration and caught a few 8 to 9 inch crappie. I fished the flats and did not catch any fish; I did have something make mince meat of my 4 lb. line, I assume it was a real catfish. As the wind would die down, I would pick up the fly rod and try to catch some bluegill but I did not do well, the water was so choppy that I could not see the size12 popping bug and the only fish I got were the ones that caught themselves. I finally gave up and just fished the spinning rods in the deeper water where the aeration lines are. It is so much fun fishing Pickett where you do not have to keep count of the fish you have. I stopped by Cricket and Worm Man's house and gave him 19 six and seven inch bluegill and 61 crappie from 7 to 10 inches, with most being 8 and 9 inches. The water is much warmer now and has a dark brownish green stain and clear to about 2 feet. I caught most of the crappie on the purple and a lime twister tail. Fished the popsicle, bumble bee, black blue with yellow tail but did not catch many on it. The crappie wanted the bait moving faster and would hit it when you stopped the retrieve. I caught most in 7 ft. of water about 4 ft. down. On the way back to the ramp, I fished the shore line and ran into a bunch of black crappie that would hit anything you threw at them. They were in 2 to 4 ft. of water. I guess I caught about a dozen or so before moving on, hard to leave a good spot when you have them because it happens so seldom for me. If it had been 12 to 15 in. ones I would still be there fishing.

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. Currently the James is running at 7750 CFS and 6.5 feet. That's 6 feet lower than what it got to last week. The rain brought the river up to over 12 feet in Scottsville along with muddy water. It is slowly recovering but will still be a couple days before it calms down. Fishing had been on fire prior to the high water. To date we have boated 21 smallmouth over the 20 inch mark. The fish have been taken on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and soft plastics. Fly anglers have had claw dad patterns just crushed by the big smallies. Don't be afraid to go BIG. We have been using size 2/0 Magnum Claw Dads and the fish have loved them. Bait fish patterns are also taking fish. A chartreuse or white size 1 or again a 2/0 have accounted for several of the 20 inch fish.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow reports that bass action is good with top-waters and plastics in green pumpkin, watermelon and June bug. Crappie can be found near bridge pilings, docks and brush. Someone recently brought in a 2.85 lb. lunker. To get yours, try minnows and jigs. Catfishing is good as well with live bream and cut shad. No word on perch or bluegill. The creeks are clear, with the main lake being muddy. Temperatures range from the upper 60s to Low 70s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf told me that smallmouths are going for minnow and crayfish imitators. In the Jackson, rainbows and browns are hitting nymphs. Brookies are taking caddis and light cahil. Muskies are biting big minnow imitators. The water is clear in the mountains and in the Jackson, with the James being dingy. Temperatures range from the high 50s to low 60s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski says that the bass are done spawning and are taking Carolina rigged worms and lizards in green pumpkin and fire tiger. They also like plugs in white/chartreuse. Crappie action is okay 8 to 15 feet down with minnows and jigs. Catfishing is so good, Craig guarantees good numbers and size. He recommends clam snouts, cut bait and stink baits. Perch are going for small minnows and spinners. Bluegill will take worms and small minnows. The water is clear and 68 degrees.

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.

Bass: While the peak of the spawn has passed, anglers are still finding largemouth and smallmouth bass in spawning patterns, especially in the lower lake where there is a higher concentration of smallmouth bass. Smallmouths often spawn on the long rocky points found there and anglers are still catching fish in these locations on jigs, tubes, Texas rigged plastics and lures that imitate small bluegill. Several anglers report they are still able to find and catch late spawning bass when conditions are right using sight fishing techniques and finesse lures. Post spawn bass are also being caught near the mouths of creeks, guts and channel edges as well as under the front of docks by anglers using Texas rigged worms, pig & jigs, small shaky head jigs with finesse worm and crawfish imitating plastics and crankbaits. Finesse worms rigged on dropshot and ichy-head jigs are working on suspending bass located in deeper water. Top-water poppers, spinnerbaits, flukes and swimbaits continue to produce fish found chasing shad early in the morning and late in the evening.

The night bite is really picking up as the alewives continue to move into guts and closer to the shoreline and begin their annual spawning ritual. This has, and will continue to, provide some really good night fishing for bass, stripers and flathead catfish for several months. This pattern brings out those who love to fish in the quiet waters found around the lake at night. Anglers simply attempt to imitate the alewives by casting and retrieving lures that resemble shad near where the alewives are located and targeted fish are feeding. Often this is close to the shoreline. Early and late in the day when the shad are deeper in the water column many anglers prefer flukes, bucktails or swimbaits. While these lures will work at night, most anglers shift to floating jerkbaits and wakebaits once the alewives move toward the shoreline and start to flip on the lake's surface. The alewives have been coming up at different times at different sections of the lake. Many anglers report that while alewives are coming to the shoreline within an hour or two of the sun going down, the best fishing has been between midnight and 2:30 a.m.

The key to success at night is to find the targeted species (bass, striper or flathead catfish) feeding on alewives on an "active bank" and then present the lure slowly it stays on the surface and just puts out a slight wake as it moves through the water. Locating your boat up close to the shoreline and presenting your lure close to and parallel to the shoreline will increase your success as this keeps your lure in the strike zone for a much longer period of time.

Stripers: Fishing in the day time is still mixed, but appears to be improving. Anglers are catching stripers with live bait presented on freelines, shot lines, downlines and even bottom rigs. Planer boards and floats allow the angler to spread out the baits and cover more water and allow them to place their live bait close to the shoreline. When stripers are marked in deeper water using electronics, live bait on downlines and vertically jigging with flukes and curl tail grubs rigged on jigheads are being used effectively. Stripers continue to be caught at night as they come to the bank to look for spawning alewives. Trolling with umbrella rigs, Sutton spoons, crankbaits and diving jerkbaits continues to produce stripers, especially along the edges of deep drop-offs, humps and points. Stripers can typically be found breaking on the surface chasing baitfish this time of year, so I suggest you keep a rod rigged and ready with your favorite top-water plug and keep an eye on the lake surface any time you are out on the lake.

Crappie: Slabs are still being caught on small "crappie minnows" rigged on either gold, light wire hooks and split shot or small jigheads. Many crappies have moved into post spawn locations and are being found suspending near different types of structure at the mouths of creeks, under deep water docks and on the edges of deep water drop offs and channels. Crappies are also hitting small jigs and tubes cast or slingshot counted down and retrieved under deep water docks.

Tight lines.

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 70s. The bass are through spawning for the most part. The top water action has really picked up with the Lobina Lures Rico popper seeming to be the best bait to throw. Wacky rigged Senkos are catching a lot of dock bass also. The shad spawn is in full swing, so after it gets dark throw a Storm Thunderstick or Cotton Cordell Redfin for some exciting night time top-water action.

Stripers: With the shad spawn going on, night time is the time to go striper fishing. A Storm Thunderstick or Cotton Cordell Redfin slowly walked across the top of water will result in some exciting strikes.

Catfish: Fishing is doing great in Peak Creek, Live shad is the best choice for bait.

Crappie/Yellow Perch: The crappie and yellow perch are starting to move to their deep summertime holes. A small jig head with a live minnow is still the best bait.

Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegills are starting to spawn in the back of coves. A small spinner or a night crawler under a float will work great.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says the river is finally settling down and getting good for anglers. Bass action is picking up with cranks and spinners. Muskie action has slowed down and the fish are in the deep hollows. They may take an inline spinner. The water is a good color and warming.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The river has been muddy for several weeks so there hasn't been much fishing going on. It is just trying to clear up now but more rain is forecasted for the next few days. Smallmouth are finishing up their spawn right now. Water is dingy and in the low 70s.

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

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. The Top New was fishing great until heavy rains discolored the water last week. By the time you read this it should be back to fine fishing shape. Trout fishing in the tributaries remains good. These small tributaries clear up much faster than the main New River.

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 the smallmouth steams in the North fork are really good places to fish just now. The water is clear, at an ideal level and 61 degrees. Good flies are the Shenandoah Damsel Popper, size 4 for the surface, and Shenk's White Streamer, size 4 for below the surface. The streams in the South fork are running at a higher level, but the same flies will work well. The water is clear and 61 degrees.

The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are giving up large numbers of rainbows and browns. It is best to fish the deep pools and the pockets below the riffles. Good flies are: the Betsy Streamer, size 12; and the Pearl Marauder, size 12. The water is 62 degrees at a good level and very clear.

The brookie streams in the Appalachians and the Blue Ridge Mountains are giving good fishing. The level is excellent, the color good and the temperature is 56 degrees. Good flies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, size 16; Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Olive Caddis, size 14; and the H&L Dry Fly, size 16. The best way to fish these streams is to park at the tops of the mountains and hike down to the streams. These trailheads can be found in Harry's book Virginia's Blue Ribbon Streams.

Attention Trout Anglers - Special Regulation Permit Cards Available Online

VDGIF is pleased to announce that special regulation written landowner permit cards to fish Mossy Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Upper South River are now available online. A link to maps of each of these areas is also new function on the agency website.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. Lake Moomaw is still in a transitional stage as the bass move to post spawn areas. Water temperatures are now in the mid 70s. Anglers are finding success with a variety of techniques and lures. Soft plastics still are the favored lure with drop shotting small worms and Carolina rigs with some type of creature bait, the preferred techniques. Crankbaits are starting to fire up with the bass moving deeper on points and drop off areas. Everyone is talking about the uncovered technique (the recent BASS Event on Lake Douglas, TN) of long lining with crankbaits to get baits down to deeper than normal depths. It essentially involves moving the boat with the trolling motor while allowing the bait to trail out a long distance (double or triple the length of a normal cast) then begin a fast retrieve to get the baits (some claim) down to 30 ft. This of course enters a zone most crankbaits have never entered. I will try this myself and talk to other anglers who have tried this and see what happens. Obviously this technique is targeted for highland type lakes. Night fishing will start in earnest during the next few weeks. I will keep you posted as I hear of results.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. No report this edition.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: CatchGuide.com) No report this edition.

Occoquan Reservoir and Lunga Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s. Most of the fish in the lake are in a post spawn mode with fish moving to slightly deeper water. The upper end of the lake seems to be the best location for largemouth bass and crappie which are moving out into the flats feeding up to renew their strength from the spawn. Largemouth bass are hitting well on crankbaits and soft plastics. Crappie have moved off the shoreline structure and are in the brush piles and around the fish attractors in 10-12 ft. of water, feeding well on small minnows. A few pods of bluegill are still spawning with some nice shellcrackers being caught on red wigglers. Catfishing remains strong throughout the lake on chicken liver and night crawler.

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

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.

Stripers: Fishing has been excellent this year and certainly will only get better in the month of May. My clients have been catching nice limits of fish topped off with Craig Rasmusson's 21 pound citation striper which he caught on a gizzard shad. Fresh live bait has been the key to success, with most artificial fisherman catching primarily smaller fish. May is a transition month for the stripers; the fish will be converting from feeding in the upper water column early in the month and in low light conditions of the day to feeding over deeper 25 to 30 foot flats later in the month as the water temperature rises into the 70s. Fish are still scattered all over the lake and we have been having our best success fishing where there is little fishing pressure away from boat traffic. We are pulling planner boards rigged with the largest gizzard shad we can find over flats, points and humps in water less than 20 feet. When a big striper blows a 12 inch gizzard out of the water, you better be ready to wrestle a hog to the boat. As the water warms to above 75 degrees the fish will convert to smaller baits and also retreat to deeper flats where they will school in large numbers. We will use down-lines and put them in the exact depth we see the schools on our Lowrance to catch up to 40 fish a day. May is a good month to catch fish on top water on lures like pencil poppers, redfins, spooks and chuggars. Hit main lake points early and late in the day for explosive strikes. Trollers will start to catch more fish as the water warms later in the month. Swimbaits will also catch stripers this month when fished nearby schools of bait. To view our catches check out my journal at www.JimHemby.com.

Bass: Bass fishing has also been off the charts this year with some of the largest stringers of bass being weighed in at tournaments, almost 28 pounds for 5 fish! The warmer than normal winter has been responsible for the excellent fishing this year and consequently early spawns. Spawn and post spawn patterns will work early in the month before the bass retreat to deeper waters later in the month. Better fishing will be early in May and slow down as the month progresses. It is hard to beat top water action this month using your favorite top water lures. Early in the month sight fishing will still be very good in the clear water. Grass beds at the Splits and up lake in the North Anna have been producing some great catches.

Crappie: Crappie have spawned and are headed for deeper waters (10 to 20 feet). Rock ledges, brush piles and bridge pilings will hold catchable fish. Crappie may not be as easy to catch as when they were shallow but once you locate them they will be schooled in larger numbers. Traditional small jigs tipped with small tubes and grubs along with small and medium minnows work well. The back of Christopher Run is holding some nice slabs.

Catfish: Catfish have feeding all over the lake as well and are being caught at depths ranging from 8 to 20 feet deep, primarily on live bait. A couple fish in excess of 30 pounds have already been caught on Shad. The third Dike area is a great place to catch a HUGE kitty this month.

Carp: The Carp are rolling in all the grass beds now and bow hunters are enjoying keeping their skills sharp shooting the big fish. Up lake, in both arms, and in any one of the large grass beds, fishing will be productive. If we get some good rains and the lake rises fishing will just get better.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

Got Tips?
Got Tricks?
Adventure Stories?
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?

email your material to
fishing_report@hotmail.com
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

We seem to find nature in a variety of outdoor pursuits. Sometimes we take an opportunity to do a chore to find an excuse to go out and enjoy the outdoors. For 18 year old Natalie Jackson, a Senior at Lancaster High School near Whitestone, a 'job' for an elderly family friend to walk her dog was an eye-opening adventure to the wonders of nature and a time to unwind and relax fro the hectic daily events. The daily walks through the seasonal changes provided a special look at the serenity of nature and thrill of exploring wild places and having fun with a four- legged furry companion. What outdoor adventure during your summer vacation may inspire you to become more aware of the wonders of nature and make efforts to conserve them for future generations? Natalie entered her article in the 2010-11 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Competition and placed in the Top 10.

Blue Collar Red Leash

By Natalie Jackson

Walking a dog sounds boring, and to some extent it is. But it's the twenty minutes of my day where I can unwind, relax, and be outdoors. It's so peaceful, yet there is always something new and different about the experience. The weather is always changing. When it rains, the ground becomes wet with puddles scattered about and my toes always end up soaked. It's a challenge sometimes to walk across ice or walk through a heat wave that has me sweating bullets the first five steps out of Mrs. Drake's door.

I walk this old dog named Bear every day and have been for the past two years. He lives at Rappahannock Westminster Canterbury, a retirement home near where I live. An elderly lady named Charlotte Drake is his owner and pays me to walk him. My family members have walked this dog for many years. My cousin Ben first started walking him when he was in high school and gave the job to my other cousin Billy. Then my sister Megan took over and passed the job down to me.

Everyday we walk the same route, walking down a small, quiet road into a trail in the woods. This poor old black lab has arthritis and intestinal problems that make him waddle and wheeze as we walk. I feel really sorry for Bear. His blue shock collar that is around his neck imprisons him while I keep him controlled with the red, knotted rope that I use as his leash. But even as old, wobbly, and restrained as Bear is, he still is as lively and happy as ever, smelling trees, trotting down the road, searching for new things to explore.

Over time I've watched the leaves fall and decompose while new leaves and flowers come to bloom. There always seem to be squirrels that run around chattering, jumping from tree to tree and different types of birds that fly by chirping. Their noises make me wonder what animals have to talk about. Seeing everything, taking it all in, I feel calmer. The air is so crisp and clean it's like every breath I take is a release of the stress from the day and I feel almost renewed.

Our world is so caught up in new technological advances that it's hard to see the beauty that we were already given to enjoy. I feel like we are all like Bear sometimes. Instead of a blue shock collar we imprison ourselves in our work and electronics. We always seem to have the same routine and are confined to a leash that only gives us so much slack. We don't take enough breaks from the hustle and bustle of everyday life nor do we realize that nature is a freedom that is so easy to experience. We should be able to love life and take in the beauty that surrounds us everyday. If we just took the time to let our minds go, to stop and appreciate the gifts we have been given with the outdoors, our emotional states could be summarized with one simple word, peaceful.

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 opened in the fall and typically close in February. 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: