In this edition:
- Be Proud To Be an Angler, or Hunter!
- Safety First - Time To Take Your Hunter Education Class
- State and Regional Big Game Contest Features Biggest Bucks, Bears and Turkeys September 22-23
- Reminder: Effective September 1, Feeding Deer Will Be Illegal in Virginia
- "Hunt Fish VA": Hunting & Fishing in Your Pocket
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Detailed Descriptions of Outdoor Events Across Virginia
- People and Partners in the News
- VDGIF to Host Outdoor Open House in Montross September 15
- VA Wheelin' Sportsmen Host 19 Deer Hunts for Mobility Impaired Hunters -- Application Deadline October 1, 2012
- VA Hosts 39th Annual Natural Areas Conference in Norfolk October 9-12
- Safari Club International Supports 4-H Shooting Education Program
- Opportunities for Public Comment
- Hunters for the Hungry Raise funds through Raffles at Sportsman Shows and Events
- Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events
- Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife
- Bill Cochran's Outdoors: It takes deer and dollars to operate Hunters for the Hungry
- Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...
- Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club Promotes Safe Dove Hunting
- Hunting News You Can Use
- New 2012-13 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations Available
- Just 17 Days Till the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 29th
- Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 20
- Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days: October 20, 2012 and February 2, 2013
- "It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- License Options for Novice Hunters
- Wildlife Conservation Projects Update
- Elk Restoration Update
- Secretary of Natural Resources Domenech Views Elk Restoration in Buchanan
- Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters
- Habitat at Home© DVD Available
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Like Father, Like Son (or Daughter)... Tree Stand Safety Must be Taught by Example
- Choose the Right Tree Stand For You with Safety in Mind
- Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Cadet Bat Research to Support Preservation
- Know the Law Regarding Feeding of Wildlife - Let's Keep Wildlife 'Wild'
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs
- Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
- 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar Now Available
- Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
- Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
- Fishin' Report
- State Record Fish Committee Confirms New State Record Freshwater Drum
- Grants Available to Localities for Public Boating Access Facilities
- Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats
- FAQs Updated on VDGIF Website for New Access Permit
- The Fishing Spot by Chris Dunnavant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- Sarah White's Notebook
- Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
- Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
- "Just Wait" by Dillon Frazier
Be Proud To Be an Angler, or Hunter!
It is YOU, America's sportsmen and sportswomen, who have funded and lead the fight for conservation, restoration, and management of our treasured wildlife and natural resources. For the past 40 years, National Hunting and Fishing Day September 22, 2012 has served as a public reminder that hunters and anglers are America's premier conservation supporters. Congress and state Governors annually proclaim this event to recognize the vital role of sportsmen in conservation. Through licenses and excise taxes, sportsmen generate the funds that support the management, protection, and conservation of fish, wildlife and habitat programs—benefiting all citizens who appreciate wild things and wild places.
Here are five ways to observe National Hunting and Fishing Day this month:
- Introduce a newcomer to the outdoors—purchase a Legacy or Apprentice Hunting License.
- Visit your local sporting goods retailer, treat yourself to a new piece of hunting, fishing, or shooting gear, then get outside and enjoy it.
- Organize, volunteer, or attend a National Hunting and Fishing Day related event in your area. Many events are listed in the Outdoor Report and also posted at the National Hunting and Fishing Day website.
- Remember those whose service to our country and communities will prevent them from joining us afield this fall. Appreciate the freedoms that make hunting, fishing, shooting, and conservation possible.
- Log on to www.nhfday.org to learn more about the historic conservation leadership of hunters and anglers. Share the story with non-hunters!
Remember safety and courtesy are free, use them generously...
David Coffman, Editor
Safety First - Time To Take Your Hunter Education Class
September has arrived and the fall hunting seasons will begin soon. Are you ready?!?! For new hunters, NOW is the time to take the required Hunter Education Class to qualify for your license. Our team of over 900 volunteer instructors have over 100 classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website. With the Youth Deer Hunting Day September 29th, this is a great opportunity for a new hunter to schedule the class and take it together for a refresher. This is also a good time to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season. There are youth and family friendly events throughout September 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 sportsman event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends.
State and Regional Big Game Contest Features Biggest Bucks, Bears and Turkeys September 22-23
The 73rd Western Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest is scheduled September 22-23 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds south of Harrisonburg. This official State Big Game Contest is sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League in partnership with VDGIF. Registration for trophy entries begins Friday September 21 at 9 AM. Trophy Entry Deadline is 2 PM on Saturday September 22. This is the official VA State Record Contest. This year the Western Regional is also the State Championship and includes entries of the top scoring entries from the East Regional Contest sponsored by the VA Peninsula Sportsmen's Association held in Franklin last weekend. To view score results at the East Regional Contest visit: www.vpsa.org. This year trophy entries of all deer and bear will be given Boone & Crockett Scores along with the official Virginia score. Specially trained and experienced VDGIF staff and Complementary Work Force volunteers will handle the official scoring of an estimated 350 plus trophy entries.
IWLA Contest Director Linda Tobin notes that this year's event is full with more exhibitors and activities for the whole family. A special feature this year is the NRA Great American Whitetail Collection sponsored by Blue Ridge Power Sports. Also 6 Guided Youth Hunts for deer and spring gobbler will be given away to young hunters attending the show. VDGIF Conservation Police Officers will be on hand to answer your questions and provide information on new VDGIF programs and hunting opportunities. Come meet K9 Senior Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice, an amazing Labrador retriever specially trained to assist law enforcement officers in wildlife detection, tracking, and evidence discovery and article recovery. The K9 Team will be at the show on Saturday from 2 PM – 6 PM, with a 30 minute Talk on Safety in the Woods and a Mock Crime Scene Demonstration at 5:15 PM. They will be back on Sunday from 11 AM – 3 PM with the same presentation at 2 PM. Baseball style trading cards of Justice will be given to all youth in attendance.
Over 60 exhibitors will be on hand with the latest in gear, supplies, artwork, taxidermy, and more. A special feature this year is Clealen Dove from Rockingham County will have the full mount on display of his State Record black bear weighing 592 pounds! You have to see this bruin up close to appreciate its enormous size and hearing Clealen's story is even more amazing. Come see the truly awesome trophy bucks, bears and gobblers harvested in Virginia. For Contest rules and information: www.iwla-rh.org
Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... This is the perfect event to bring a friend that is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience.
Reminder: Effective September 1, Feeding Deer Will Be Illegal in Virginia
Effective September 1, it is illegal to feed deer statewide in Virginia. The annual prohibition runs through the first Saturday in January. In addition, it is now illegal to feed deer year-round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and in the City of Winchester as part of the Department's chronic wasting disease (CWD) management actions established in April 2010. This regulation does not restrict the planting of crops such as corn and soybeans, wildlife food plots, and backyard or schoolyard habitats. It is intended to curb the artificial feeding of deer that leads to negative consequences. Problems with feeding deer include: unnaturally increasing population numbers that damage natural habitats; increasing the likelihood for disease transmission; and increasing human-deer conflicts such as deer/vehicle collisions and diminishing the wild nature of deer. In addition, feeding deer has law enforcement implications. Deer hunting over bait is illegal in Virginia. Prior to the deer feeding prohibition, distinguishing between who was feeding deer and who was hunting over bait often caused law enforcement problems for the Department's conservation police officers.
Deer Feeding was Booming Along with the Population
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Deer Project Coordinators Matt Knox and Nelson Lafon noted when the regulation first took effect in 2006 that, for more than 20 years, the practice of feeding deer had expanded across the eastern United States among both deer hunters and the non-hunting general public. The most common reason for feeding deer is to improve their nutrition and to supplement the habitat's ability to support more deer; in other words, to increase the carrying capacity for deer. According to Knox, many people feed deer because they believe it will keep them from starving, but this is not a legitimate reason to feed deer in Virginia. In Virginia, deer die-offs due to winter starvation are rare. In addition, according to Lafon, "We do not need more deer in Virginia. In fact, we need fewer deer in many parts of the state." Nelson Lafon completed a revision of the Department's Deer Management Plan in June 2007. Based on his research, it appears that the citizens of the commonwealth would like to see deer populations reduced over most of the state. Lafon noted that Virginia's deer herds could be described as overabundant from a human tolerance perspective and stated that feeding deer only makes this overabundance problem worse. Read more on our website to learn more regarding the problems with feeding deer in Virginia:
- Is Your Birdfeeder Attracting Deer? -- VDGIF conservation police officers may ask you to to remove feeders temporarily until the deer disperse.
- Remember Deer Are Wild Animals -- when deer are fed by people, they lose this fear, becoming less wild and often semi-domesticated. Fed deer are often emboldened to seek human foods, leading them into conflict with people. Despite their gentle appearance, they can become lethally dangerous during mating season, capable of goring and slashing with their sharp hooves and antlers.
- Deer Feeding Congregates Animals, Increasing the Spread of Disease -- Deer feeding sets the stage for maintaining and facilitating the spread of disease due to crowding in a small area.
- Please Don't Feed Deer – the negative consequences of feeding deer outweigh the benefits.
If anyone sees or suspects someone of illegally feeding deer during this time period, or observes any wildlife violations, please report it to VDGIF's Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712. To learn more about Virginia wildlife regulations visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
For more details on the ban on feeding deer and deer habitat, contact: Nelson Lafon, Deer Project Coordinator tel 540-569-0023
"Hunt Fish VA": Hunting & Fishing in Your Pocket
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries app for your iPhone®, iPod touch®, and Android™ is as useful as any other "must have" hunting or fishing gear. This easy to use app is perfect for:
- getting the latest news from VDGIF;
- looking up hunting regulations, seasons, and bag limits while in the field;
- viewing freshwater fishing regulations and state record fish;
- identifying the fish you just caught;
- getting the sunrise and sunset times for your location;
- recording your trophy harvests;
- finding nearby boat ramps, Wildlife Management Areas, and lakes;
- and much more!
Best of all, it's absolutely FREE!
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
WSLS TV Hosts Sportsman's Banquet to Benefit Hunters for Hungry in Roanoke September 15
The WSLS TV 10 Sportsman's Banquet to benefit Hunters for the Hungry will be held this Saturday, September 15, 2012 at the Roanoke Moose Lodge #284, beginning at 5:30 PM. A great evening of food, fun, and fellowship, complete with raffles, live and silent auctions, all to raise funds for the Hunters for the Hungry program in the Roanoke and surrounding areas. LIMITED TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE! For additional information or tickets contact Ralph and Lois Graybill at (540) 427 – 5125 or Fred and Phyllis Wells at (540) 992 – 3874 or Hunters for the Hungry 1-800-352-4868.
Wildlife Foundation Offering Hunting Permits for Albemarle Property- Application Due September 15
The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is accepting hunting permit applications for the upcoming season on the Foundation's 2,000 acre property in southern Albemarle County. Hunt permits are free of charge, but you must attend an on-site safety and orientation briefing in order to receive your permit. Permit applications, as well as additional information about the property, can be found on the Foundations' website. Applications must be postmarked by September 15. If you have questions or need additional information, you can call Jenny West, Executive Director, at 757-566-4000.
Migratory Birds and their Journey Subject of Program in NOVA September 12
"Taking Flight -- Migratory Birds and Their Journey" is the subject of a September 12 meeting sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and the Friends of Dyke Marsh, 7:30 p.m., Huntley Meadows Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria 22306. Alicia F. King, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Program will examine the mysteries of migration, migratory flyways, how and why birds migrate, current research addressing migration and more. The program is free and open to the public. For information on attending visit the Friends of Dyke Marsh website or www.audubonva.org.
Outdoor Skills Sampler Workshop at York River State Park September 22
Ever wanted to try a new outdoor skill, but weren't sure where to start? This event is for designed for beginners who like to spend time in the outdoors and have the desire to learn new outdoor skills! VDGIF certified instructors will offer courses in activities to include: basic fishing skills, introductory archery skills, mountain biking, outdoor cooking, fly fishing, kayaking and more! There will be opportunities to try your hand at geocaching or the hiking trails in the Park. The event will be conducted in the beautiful York River State Park. Pre-registration is recommended to secure your space. Event fee is $10 per person if registered before August 31st, which covers the Park fee. Event fee is $15 after September 1. This event is in cooperation with York River State Park and the Amber Nease Outdoor Education Foundation. Scholarships are available. Come join us for a fun filled day in the outdoors! For more information, contact Karen Holson at 804-367-6355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waterfowl Hunting Workshop at Holiday Lake September 28-30
The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, is sponsoring the Virginia Waterfowling Workshop the weekend of September 28-30 at the 4-H Camp near Appomattox. The Virginia Waterfowling Workshop provides novice, intermediate and experienced hunters skills training beyond a basic education course.
The workshop will provide participants of ages 12 through 90+, the opportunity to participate in 18 hands-on classes including: Beginner & Intermediate Wingshooting Techniques, Duck & Goose Calling, Duck & Goose Decoy Placements, Decoy Carving & Restoration, Waterfowl ID & Game Laws, Retriever Training, Waterfowl Blind Design & Construction, Waterfowl Nesting Structures, Waterfowl Game Care & Cooking, Waterfowl Habitat Management, and Predator Management.
Todd Cocker, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association Executive Director, notes that last year the weekend workshop was rated by participants 96% Excellent. The workshop is designed to introduce beginners and improve experienced hunters knowledge, skills and confidence. Cocker notes, "We have arranged for some of the most respected and experienced instructors the state offers. Instructors are confirmed from program supporters including the VDGIF, Holiday Lake 4-H Center staff, Virginia Hunter Education Association, Tidewater Retriever Club and Virginia Waterfowlers' Association. This event is a great opportunity to improve your waterfowl hunting skills and other outdoor adventure opportunities."
Portable Duck Blind Special Door Prize: The workshop's participants will be eligible for door prizes being given away at the workshop including a 5ft. X 8 ft. duck blind. The blind is a modular unit that can be taken apart and reassembled at desired location by the winner. The blind can also be installed on a raised platform in the marsh or attached to a skid platform and be used in afield.
For more information and to register for this upcoming workshop or to find out about similar opportunities in the future, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website or the VAWFA website. Come join us for a fantastic weekend at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center near Appomattox.
VA Cooperative Extension To Host 36th Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Field Tours
Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, in collaboration with Virginia's natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will be holding their 36th Annual Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours starting October 8, 2012.
The tours will promote wise resource management on private forestlands and will focus on science-based forestry and wildlife management practices, public and private sources of technical and financial management assistance, and networking among landowners and natural resource professionals. There will also be demonstration stops on private, industry, and public lands that will center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices. Tours will be held:
- Oct.8 - Highland County
- Oct.12 - Wise County
- Oct. 19 - Prince Edward County
- Oct. 24 - Charles City County
Pre-registration is required, as space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is $45/person for the Highland and Charles City County tours, $25/person for the Wise County tour and $30/person for the Prince Edward County tour. This fee covers lunch, refreshments and transportation and is due one week before the tour date. Registration is available online. Come participate in the longest running program of its kind in Virginia! For more information, contact Jennifer Gagnon at email@example.com.
Gourmet Gone Wild in Stafford October 21
Interested in the "original" organic? Hosted by Potomac Point Winery, this exciting event will include activities and outdoor skill stations with admission. This event features locally grown foods and wild game sampling, as well as storytelling and demonstrations by the Patawomeck Indians. Come learn about the Chesapeake Ray and the Virginia Oyster Growers! This educational event is designed for the entire family! See the flyer for details on all the activities! Cooperative partners for this event include: Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; Potomac Point Winery; Stafford Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities; Stafford Tourism; Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Virginia Oysters Growers; and the Patawomeck Indians. Parking will be available at Patawomeck Park with complimentary trolley transport to the event. Reservations are required. For ticket purchases, please call: 540-446-2107 or visit www.potomacpointwinery.com. For more information, contact Potomac Point Winery at 540-446-2107.
Thanksgiving Pheasant Hunt Near Charlottesville November 17-18
"Shoot to retrieve" style bird hunts and gundog competitions are fast gaining popularity in Virginia. Lack of available wild birds and limited access to good bird hunting tracts in Virginia has prompted bird hunting enthusiasts to look for other ways to take their dogs to the field. The Virginia Upland Classic Series along with the National Bird Dog Circuit, are scheduled to hold a "shoot to retrieve" style Pheasant Hunt November 17-18 at Liberty Corners Farms near Charlottesville, Virginia.
Upland Classic and Bird Dog Circuit events are organized and designed for bird dog owners to be a safe and sporting venue to hunt with their dogs for game birds and the events include bird dogs of every size, shape, and color; both the pointing breeds and the flushing breeds. These events follow a format that closely resembles an actual safe bird hunt.
Competitors are assigned to an appropriate field of about six to ten acres of good bird cover, and are scored for the performance of the hunter and his dog, as a team. Three live birds are randomly planted out of sight of the upcoming participants and the hunter and his dog are then given twenty minutes to find the birds. Once the "find" is established, the hunter (who is allowed six shells) flushes and shoots the bird, and the dog then relocates the down bird and marks it or retrieves it. A simple point system is in place for each hunting activity, and bonus points are given for using less than six shots and any unused minutes of the twenty minute time allowance. A scorekeeper goes along with the hunter to tabulate the score and maintain the rules. It is strictly about getting three birds, safely, with fewer shots and in less time. It is a fair competition between bird hunters using dogs to find and retrieve the game.
Separate events are held for experienced "Open" dogs (Flushing & Pointing breeds over three years old) and experienced "Amateur" dogs (Flushing & Pointing breeds less than three years old). Also, there are doubles events for a team of two dogs and two hunters working together, and is considered by many to the most fun of all.
For First Time participants a special "Novice" event following the exact same rules as the Open and Amateur participants is held separately to introduce newcomers to the sport. The scorekeeper for the novice events goes along with the hunter and coaches the new participant, and assists them during the hunt. The competition is lots of fun for all levels of experience, hunting for birds and working with bird dogs. Six separate events keep everybody competing within their own experience level to make it a fair game/sport.
Virginia Upland Classic hunts are open to all bird hunters and their dogs. If you think you might be interested, you may contact the following to receive more information:
B.G. Norris, Box 430, Dutton, Virginia 23050 Phone 804-694-5118 firstname.lastname@example.org
Riverine Virginia Master Naturalists Host OpenHouse October 18
The Riverine Virginia Master Naturalists will train their seventh class of volunteers beginning Thursday, January 10, 2013. Participants provide education, outreach, and environmental stewardship to the greater Richmond area. An open house to explain the Master Naturalist Program will be held at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 18 at the Tuckahoe Library, Starling Drive off of Parham Rd. in Henrico County. For further information contact Emily Gianfortoni at email@example.com or 804-741-9126.
People and Partners in the News
VDGIF to Host Outdoor Open House in Montross September 15
The VDGIF is hosting an Outdoor Open House Saturday, September 15, 2012 at the A.T. Johnson Building 18849 Kings Highway in Montross, Virginia 22520. This is an opportunity to come speak with local Agency law enforcement officers and biologists to get your questions answered. Delegate Margaret Ransone, Director Bob Duncan, and Colonel Dee Watts will be present to hear from you on Agency matters. The DMV 2 GO Mobile Service Unit will be on site to sell hunting and fishing licenses, register boats and trailers, renew driver's license, and more. For information contact: Sgt Rich Goszka at 804-313-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VA Wheelin' Sportsmen Host 19 Deer Hunts for Mobility Impaired Hunters -- Application Deadline October 1, 2012
Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen is proud to offer 19 quality deer hunts to MOBILITY-IMPAIRED hunters in all areas of the state this fall. We are an outreach program of the Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation providing outdoor opportunities to sportsmen with disabilities. Our NWTF Chapters, State agencies and private hosts have hunts planned from Bentonville to Wytheville, from Galax to Southampton, from Albemarle to Warsaw! Our hunts are free of charge, but are only open to hunters with physical disabilities. If you have a mobility-impairment disability and would like to participate in any of our hunts, please visit our website, and return the Fall Hunt Application by the October 1st deadline. You can also find more info on our Facebook page.
VA Hosts 39th Annual Natural Areas Conference in Norfolk October 9-12
Nature's caretakers are invited to the 39th Annual Natural Areas Conference Oct. 9-12, 2012, in Norfolk, VA. The conference is hosted by the Natural Areas Association, a nonprofit that supports the work of natural areas professionals worldwide. Each year, hundreds of lands managers, scientists, educators and other professionals from a variety of fields and backgrounds attend this conference. They come to learn new conservation strategies, sharpen their skills and network with peers. This year's event will cover a range of topics related to the theme, "Keeping Natural Areas Relevant and Resilient." Session topics include coastal and marine systems, rare species conservation, climate adaptation, volunteer management, invasive species control, social marketing and communications and more. Workshops will offer attendees opportunities to recertify in burn management or pesticide application. Two sessions will be offered for students to work directly with natural area professionals.. The 2012 conference is being coordinated by staff from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Noted naturalist Thomas Jefferson will make a special appearance to share his thoughts about Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery. The conference site is the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, and a number of rooms have been reserved for attendees. Daily registrations also are available. Register or sign up as a sponsor or exhibitor online.
Safari Club International Supports 4-H Shooting Education Program
Safari Club International is about protecting and promoting the Hunting and Outdoors Heritage, and the pursuits of Hunting, Camping, Shooting Sports, Fishing and all the activities that outdoorsmen and women cherish. Each year the Mid-Atlantic Bowhunters Chapter of SCI holds a fundraiser banquet. The purpose of the event is to raise money to fund activities and organizations dedicated to protecting and promoting the outdoors.
At the local level, the Mid-Atlantic Bowhunters Chapter this past year supported youth leadership development with a donation to the Virginia 4H Shooting Education Ambassador program. Support was also given to youth archery through a donation to the Frederick County, MD, 4H archery program. Another program that is dear to the members of Mid-Atlantic Chapter members is Operation Second Chance where donations of time, funds, and land enable our wounded warriors to once again enjoy the thrill of the hunt and just the plain joy of being outside. Also, individually and as an organized group they support the Hunters of the Hungry program.
Opportunities for Public Comment
Editors note: One very important "partner" we acknowledge in determining the conservation and management of our wildlife and natural resources is "the public"... yes, YOU! Whether you fish, boat , hunt, trap, hike, camp, observe, photograph, or participate in outdoor activities, or not- your voice is important as wildlife belongs to all of us. There are currently five management plans and regulation proposals open for public comment. This is your opportunity for input into the management of our wildlife and habitat resources and the regulations that guide our efforts. Click on the live links below for details on how you can participate in the Public Comment process and let your views be heard. DC
Through November 1, 2012, during the Hunting and Trapping Public Input.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Developing Wild Turkey Management Plan
VDGIF has partnered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech to develop The Wild Turkey Management Plan, which will provide guidance on how to address the complex management challenges and issues related to desirable population levels, recreation (including hunting), human-turkey conflicts, and habitat conservation. To effectively manage wild turkeys over the next decade, VDGIF is using a process that affords multiple opportunities for public input as means to incorporate the diverse values of different stakeholders. Technical guidance from wildlife professionals also will be incorporated to develop planning goals, objectives, and strategies. Do you have questions or suggestions regarding the project? Please contact Gary Norman, VDGIF Wild Turkey Project Leader, at email@example.com, or Holly Morris, Virginia Tech Graduate Student, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunters for the Hungry Raise funds through Raffles at Sportsman Shows and Events
Hunters for the Hungry has announced their newest 2012-13 Raffles that are very different in nature and have some of the neatest prizes they have ever offered at the best price going! A single ticket is $5 and 3 chances for $10. Fund Raising Coordinator Gary Arrington expressed appreciation to the many folks and organizations that have supported and helped with the raffles and other fund raisers in past years. He noted, "These funds raised are critical in paying for the processing of the donated venison and supporters continue to be a blessing to our program and to all those whose lives are touched by what you do! For every $5 ticket we sell we can provide 25 servings of venison to needy men, women, and children."
Details on the raffles and prizes can be found on the Hunters for the Hungry and they will be set up at the sportsmans shows starting with the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond August 10-12. We could so use your support in these special fund raising efforts!
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:
- More than a dozen local Virginia Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation (VA NWTF) Chapters will be hosting fund raising events and skill building workshops throughout the summer months. Funds raised at these events are used locally by the volunteers to enhance habitat, access to hunting lands, support law enforcement, the Wildlife Crime Line and Rewards Program and fund research to improve wildlife management. For details on these upcoming events and how you can participate visit their website.
- Hunters – Remember to donate to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your hunting licenses this season. The traditional $2 donation check-off option has been changed to allow you to donate any amount. Many sportsmen and hunt clubs are recommending at least $5. With all the news about the poor economy many of our neighbors are experiencing hard times. Show that hunters are supportive of those in need in our local communities. Not only share your deer harvest, but provide some much needed funds to pay for the cost of the processing of this abundant resource by donating $5 when you purchase your licenses. To learn more on how Hunters for the Hungry is helping neighbors in need feed their families with nutritious, high protein venison, visit their website. Also learn how you can help by donating deer, raising funds and the location of meat processors to donate your deer harvest. More than 4 million pounds of venison have been distributed since 1991. Help them raise the funds to process their goal of 500,000 pounds this year.
- September 15 – WSLS TV 10 Sportsman's Banquet to benefit Hunters for the Hungry at the Roanoke Moose Lodge #284, beginning at 5:30 PM. For info or tickets contact Ralph and Lois Graybill at (540) 427-5125 or Fred and Phyllis Wells at (540) 992-3874 or Hunters for the Hungry 1-800-352-4868.
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."
Bill Cochran's Outdoors: It takes deer and dollars to operate Hunters for the Hungry
By Bill Cochran
Editor's note... Award winning outdoor writer and Outdoor Report contributor Bill Cochran recently posted a very informative and impassioned review of the very successful, yet struggling Hunters for the Hungry program here in Virginia. Bill's writings can be read on his blog at Roanoke.com. He has been a long time supporter of Hunters for the Hungry and he and his wife Catherine work as volunteers throughout the year to assist in fundraising events and the Annual Sportsman's Appreciation Banquet in Roanoke this year scheduled for September 15. We hope you will join the Cochran's, VDGIF staff and volunteers and the many supporters of Hunters for the Hungry to make 2012-13 another record breaking season in feeding our neighbors in need. DC
Deer hunting season can seem a long way off during the heat of August, but Hunters for the Hungry already is asking sportsmen to remember to donate venison to its program this fall and winter.
"Help us get back on track" was the theme of a recent mailing to supporters.
"As you know, last year was the first year in the program's history that we did not grow," said Laura Newell-Furniss, Director of the program.
Since it's beginning in 1991 the program had set a record every year for the pounds of venison distributed to food banks, missions, food pantries and other agencies that feed the needy. Then last year came a bump in the road when the figure dropped to 391,922 pounds, a decline from the 407,796 of the previous season.
A decline had to come. You really can't expect to set a record every year in anything. Besides, 391,922 still is an awesome figure. Virginia's program, by far, distributes more venison to the needy than any of the 47 states that have similar efforts, according to Outdoor Life Magazine.
The decline certainly wasn't for the lack of effort. The program's two fulltime staffers, Newell-Furniss and special projects coordinator Gary Arrington, do the work of a dozen people. They labor beyond all expectations, because the cause to them is a mission and their hearts are in the effort. So you can make a strong argument that the program really never got off track; it just slowed a bit.
But even that was difficult to accept.
So what was behind the first-ever decline?
In the past, money to process and distribute venison has been the limiting factor in how many pounds of meat get onto the tables of the needy. Hunters always have provided an abundance of deer, sometimes more than the funds available to process them. But last season, for the first time, tight money wasn't the program's only challenge. There was a decline in the number of deer that hunters contributed.
No, the deer kill wasn't down. The 231,454 kill was a 4-percent increase over the previous year and it was above the 10-year average.
Arrington blames the decline in contributions of deer on the tight economy. Rather than giving the excess deer they killed to Hunters for the Hungry, successful sportsmen often were putting the meat into their own freezer or giving it to a friend or family member, maybe someone who had lost their job.
No problem there, but Hunters for the Hungry hopes to redirect more contributions of deer to its cause by reminding sportsmen that the program needs both deer and dollars. A shortage of either will results in less meat to feed the needy.
"As a hunter, I can't think of a program that does more for the image of hunting than Hunters for the Hungry," said Arrington.
Here's how you can help:
- Send a check to Hunters for the Hungry, P.O. Box 304, Big Island VA 24526.
- Plan now for you and your hunt club to contribute deer to the program.
- When you buy your hunting licenses, use the check-off option to designate that at least $2 automatically goes to Hunters for the Hungry.
- Take part in three great raffles to benefit Hunters for the Hungry. Check them out at www.h4hungry.org.
- Attend the Hunters for the Hungry Sportsmen's Banquet, Sept. 15 at Roanoke Moose Lodge #284 (on Virginia 311 at the foot of Catawba Mountain). I'm on the banquet committee and know first hand that we are putting together a great evening with numerous prizes and special treats for kids and women. The meal alone is worth the $40-per couple fee. Singles are $25 and kids under 12 get in free. Tickets and information are available from Ralph and Lois Graybill, 540-427-5125 or Fred and Phyllis Wells, 540-992-3874. Major sponsors are WSLS 10, Sportsman's Warehouse and Elliot Electrical Excellence.
- Play in the 11th annual David H. Horne Hunters for the Hungry Memorial Golf Tournament Oct. 3 at London Downs Golf Club in Forest. visit www.h4hungry.org.
- Test your skill at the Oct. 14 fourth annual Hunters for the Hungry/Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays Benefit Shoot, at Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays, Mt. Crawford contact Carlyle Martin, 540-746-0215.
Look for tips and opportunities for you to support Hunters for the Hungry in each edition of the Outdoor Report. Look for the license check-off donation logo.
Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...
Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club Promotes Safe Dove Hunting
Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club in Hartfield, hosted a Dove Hunter's Clinic on August 25, 2012. The ½ day clinic was designed to promote hunter safety and ethical harvesting of mourning doves, North America's most populous game bird. The clinic was produced in partnership with the Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Hunter Education Association. "The clinic's 23 participants learned about dove biology, habitat and behavior, hunting safety, and dove hunting etiquette," according to event coordinator and chief shotgun instructor, Tim Cleary. In addition to classroom instruction, participants honed their wing shooting skills by shooting clay targets on the club's two skeet fields and wobble trap under the supervision of NRA-certified shotgun instructors.
At least 8 of the participants were brand new to the sport. "It's great to see beginner hunters come out and learn how to do things the right way, right from the start," said MSHC vice-president John Caperton. Participants were separated into skill level groups and each group spent an hour in the classroom and two hours on the range. The classroom portion was led by VDGIF wildlife biologist Todd Engelmeyer and VHEA hunter safety instructor Jerry Ward. The classroom session covered mourning dove biology, habitat, hunting guidelines, season and bag limits, effective hunting techniques (shot size, chokes, max. shooting distance, etc.) dove behavior and hunting strategies, as well as, dove hunting safety and hunting etiquette in the field.
The range portion was taught by MSHC's certified shotgun instructors and consisted of one hour on the skeet range and one hour on the wobble trap field. Beginners learned safe firearms operation, proper stance, gun fit, and, how to hit moving targets. The more advanced hunters honed their shills at shooting crossing and going away clay birds.
The Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries provides educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and promotes safe hunting, fishing and boating. The Virginia Hunter Education Association was organized in 2007 with the primary goal of improving hunter education in Virginia. VHEA has more than 750 instructors throughout Virginia.
The Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club is located at 1860 Twiggs Ferry Road in Hartfield, VA. The club's mission is to promote hunter safety and hunting skills, good sportsmanship, wildlife conservation and management, and compliance with local, state and federal game laws. On September 22, the Club is sponsoring the state required Hunter Safety course free of charge. To register for the Hunter's Education Class one can go online to the VDGIF website or call instructor Roger Ammons at (804)693-4397 between 3pm and 10pm daily.
Special Thanks to Macey White, Secretary/Treasurer, Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club for preparing this article for the Outdoor Report.
Torrential Rains Thin Crowd – But Do Not Dampen Spirits of Volunteers at Farmville Outdoor Festival
It seems like if you need to break a drought, just have the dedicated volunteers at the Farmville Outdoor Festival schedule the Festival the week you need rain. For two years in a row the Festival has experienced torrential, all day deluges. Event Organizer Jeff Atkins notes it is a real blow to the many volunteers and organizations and vendors who work and plan all year to get all the activities and exhibits there and then to get rained out is disappointing, but we just dry off and start planning the next event to serve our community. The festival is a one day event providing an opportunity to get outdoors and learn some exciting outdoor skills. Riverside Community Church hosts this Annual Outdoor Festival in Farmville at the Five County Fairgrounds. Jeff notes that the Church will sponsor their Annual Wild Game Dinner in March, which is a fundraiser to put on the August Festival. This year a Church volunteer, Kevin Jordan, a videographer and website developer with Redpoint Marketing Consultants, not only produced the website for the Festival and did all the marketing and promotional media materials, but videotaped and interviewed as many vendors and organization volunteers as he could get to during the rainy day at the Festival. View the videos below and support the organizations listed on the festival website, that support sportsmen and their families enjoy the great outdoors- even when it rains!
- Quaker Boy calls
- Heroes on the Water
- Couches Creek Taxidermy
- Hunters for the Hungry
- Clay shooting clinic
- Healing Waters
- Kid's Fishing Pond
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.
New 2012-13 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations Available
VDGIF is distributing the new 2012-13 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest. This year's hunting seasons will be very similar to last year. One new change that is sure to be popular with sportsmen is multi-year resident hunting and trapping licenses for two, three and four year periods are now available at reduced prices (see pages 13-14). Another noteworthy change this year is the addition of Service –connected totally and permanently disabled resident veteran lifetimee license is now available at no cost. This also includes the freshwater fishing license.
The 70-page booklet is available free of charge from license sales agents, Regional VDGIF offices, upcoming sportsman shows, and the Richmond Headquarters office. You can access the new regulations booklet on the VDGIF website. Also you can download the Regulations through the new HuntFishVA app. To offset printing costs, paid advertisements with valuable money saving coupons have been included again this year.
Just 17 Days Till the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 29th
Youth Deer Hunting Day - September 29, 2012
- Hunters must be age 15 or under
- Must be directly supervised by a licensed adult
- Bucks or does may be taken
- Blaze orange required
- Modern and muzzleloading firearms or archery tackle can be used, subject to local firearms restrictions, dogs not allowed
For more details visit the Department's website.
Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day October 20
The Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day, established for youth 15 years of age and younger, is on Saturday, October 20, 2012. With the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall. To provide added opportunities for fall turkey hunting, the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day was established, and the starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Youth hunters between the age of 12 and 15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Adult hunters supervising youth must possess a valid Virginia hunting license, may assist with calling, and shall not carry or discharge a firearm. Fall turkey hunting has some unique methods and restrictions:
- Decoys, blinds, and dogs may be used
- Either sex may be harvested
- Unlawful to use electronic calls
- Hunting hours are from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset
- In the fall, harvested turkeys must be checked at a Game Check Station so feather samples can be collected to estimate reproductive success
Be sure and check the regulations booklet for season dates, bag limits and other details.
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days: October 20, 2012 and February 2, 2013
Youth 15 years and younger may harvest the allowed daily bag limit of ducks (as specified above), coots, mergansers, gallinules, moorhens, 2 Canada geese (except in Canada Goose Zones where the bag limit is higher, see page 14) and 1 tundra swan (if the youth possesses a tundra swan permit) on the designated youth waterfowl hunting days. Youth 12 years of age and older will need a valid Virginia state hunting license. All participating youth must be HIP registered and accompanied by a licensed adult at least 18 years of age or older. The accompanying adult may only hunt for those species for which there is an open season on these dates.
Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously
"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"
- Help new hunters prepare. Get them excited by sighting in or patterning firearms, selecting equipment, planning hunts, and fine tuning their hunting skills.
- Make sure they have adequate clothing for the weather.
- Make sure the gun or bow are appropriate for the novice's size and skill level.
- Do not focus on killing an animal. Instead, stress enjoyment of the hunt.
- Keep hunts to reasonable length according to age. Take reasonable bathroom breaks. Be conscious of uncomfortable weather. If you insist that you both stay in the treestand all day, in freezing weather with strong winds, it will likely be the last time the novice goes hunting.
- It is your responsibility to keep them safe. Make sure everyone follows firearm and treestand safety rules.
- Safety also includes boats if they are used.
- When the new hunter is very inexperienced, it's best for the two of you to carry only one firearm. It's safer, and your focus should be on the novice. If both of you will shoot, then take turns (the novice should get the first shot, of course).
- Planning to Take a Youngster on a Youth Deer Day Hunt, September 29? Schedule a Hunter Education Class Now!
- Hunter Education is mandatory for hunters 12-15 years of age and for all first-time license purchasers. Avoid the last-minute rush just before the fall hunting season, when the class you want may already be full.
- Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous hunter training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation.
- 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Liz Maddox Earns Citation for "First Buck"
Liz Maddox age 13 from Campbell County proudly holds this 8 point buck she killed last December while hunting on private land with her Dad, Wayne Maddox. She had shot a doe earlier in the season, but this was her first buck. She entered her trophy in the East Regional Big Game Contest sponsored by the VA Peninsula Sportsman Association and received a Citation, officially scoring 141 3/16. Liz was excited to get the recognition for her first buck and plans to "get a bigger one " this season. She noted the Citation was great, but the time she gets to spend in the woods hunting with her family are very special. Her Dad is very proud of the accomplishment of his daughter and advises fellow hunters, "Take your son or daughter hunting and fishing, it will not only provide great memories, but the experience will teach them safety, self reliance, fair chase and many other useful skills and life lessons they won’t learn from books or videos." Liz is anxious to start the season on the Youth Deer Hunting Day September 29th with her Dad… they’ve been scouting and there’s some good "shooters" to be hunted.
We want you to send us pictures like these showing smiling kids hunting with a friend or relative who took the time to mentor and guide these new hunters and make memories to last a lifetime. Take a young hunter to one of the sportsman shows and check out the new gear and new places available for your next outdoor adventure.
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!
Wildlife Conservation Projects Update
Editor's note... Based on recommendations from our field staff, conservation organization partners and readers, we are 're-naming' the "Habitat Tips" section to better reflect the featured articles placed in this section. Habitat Tips was originally used to announce habitat management workshops for landowners and habitat management tips, but has evolved to feature, new wildlife restoration initiatives like the Elk Restoration in Buchanan County and the VA Quail Action Plan. We will focus on news items and not duplicate detailed information that is found in other newsletters and websites. We will continue to provide links to habitat management information from accredited sources, but just the links- not the details. In the past two years VDGIF has established restoration programs for bobwhite quail, mussels, elk and other species. Our readers have noted great interest in updates on these programs in particular and other species that are "in the news" and subject to special management considerations by VDGIF staff and partner agencies and organizations. So we are renaming the section "Wildlife Conservation Projects Update". Let us hear from you on how we can continue to improve this e-newsletter to better serve your interests. DC
Elk Restoration Update
Elk Release in Buchanan County Makes History... Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) biologists brought 11 elk to Virginia from southeastern Kentucky on May 18, 2012. They returned to Kentucky and brought another 7 elk to Virginia on May 24th. Sixteen of these elk had been in quarantine for disease testing since February 7th and two were calves born in quarantine. All received a clean bill of health before coming to the release area near Vansant in Buchanan County. Once in Virginia, the elk were placed in an acclimation corral to calm down before release. All adult elk wore new GPS telemetry collars so that biologists could monitor their movements following release. The Elk Restoration Project is the result of a long term partnership between VDGIF, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Buchanan County. Biologists released the first 11 elk on the night of May 23rd. They released elk in the second group on three different nights due to the birth of two additional calves in the acclimation corral. Two pregnant cows were released on May 29th, a pregnant cow and two cows with calves were released on May 31st, and the last cow and calf were released on June 7th. The telemetry equipment performed well in the rough terrain, providing three locations per elk each day. Following release, all elk remained within a mile of the acclimation corral for several weeks. Elk found plentiful forage due to the reclamation work completed by the mine operators and the abundant rainfall this spring. In July and August, cows with calves had the smallest activity areas, ranging in an area encompassing approximately 1000 acres while the two 2-year old bulls had the largest activity areas, ranging an area over 9,000 acres. Radio collars and trail cameras located at frequented areas have provided detailed information on movements by the herd.
August Update: The elk released in May in Buchanan County remain in the release area. All 16 elk released are still alive, although two telemetry collars are not regularly communicating with the satellite. The 10 adult cows released have produced 8 calves and another calf may drop soon.
The elk appear in great condition. The plentiful rainfall since late June has produced ample forage in the release area. During hot weather, elk have spent a good deal of time around a large spring and vernal pools at the mine reclamation site. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers have used trail cameras to capture some great images of the elk.
One notable change in elk behavior began in late July. Elk that had dispersed 1 to 5-miles from the release area returned. These returning elk were two 2-year old bulls and several adult cows that had dispersed to calve. These elk are now in two groups, one of 12 adult elk with 5 calves and another of 3 adult elk with 3 calves.
No wild elk have appeared, although they may when rut begins in September.
Look for exclusive updates in this section of future editions of the Outdoor Report.
For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:
- Elk Restoration and Management Options for Southwest Virginia (PDF) »
- Elk Restoration Operational Plan (PDF) »
- Watch the VDGIF video »
- vaelk.org and swvaelk.com »
Secretary of Natural Resources Domenech Views Elk Restoration in Buchanan
Joining with VDGIF staff from the Marion Regional Office, Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech and Asst. Secretary Moore traveled to Vansant to view elk that have recently been released. Buchanan County is the location of the pilot program to reintroduce elk to the region and with the hopes that this will be a tourist draw and will result in significant economic benefits. With the support of Buchanan County and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, VDGIF brought in 16 elk from Kentucky. After being quarantined for a period and being fitted with tracking collars, the elk were recently released. From preliminary observations, it seems as though the elk move as a herd, but do not move very far from where they were released, usually staying within a five mile area.
Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters
In January 2011 as part of implementing the VA Quail Action Plan (VQAP), five new pairs of field boots hit the wildlife habitat dirt. These boots belong to Virginia's first cooperatively hired Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Co-Project Leader for the Quail Recovery Initiative (QRI) reports that this unique program represents a joint hiring effort between the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they are the first of their kind in Virginia. Similar, highly successful, programs have existed for several years in Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and other states. They represent the closest partnership ever between the cooperating agencies. Jack Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS and Bob Duncan, Director of the VDGIF, signed an agreement formalizing the partnership December 2009. The new biologists work daily with partners in the agricultural community - one critical to wildlife nationwide. Their primary role is helping private landowners develop wildlife habitat through a variety of financial incentives programs.
VQAP was the impetus for this successful partnership. In its first year of implementation, the hiring of the 5 new biologists was a major goal of the VQAP. The biologists spend a great deal of their time working on early-successional habitat - a habitat type that benefits not only bobwhite quail but dozens of early-successional species including pollinating insects.
These wildlife biologists can be contacted for habitat assistance at the following USDA Service Centers:
- Andy Rosenberger - Christiansburg - (540) 381-4221 ext. 128
- Katie Baker Martin - Farmville - (434) 392-4171 ext. 106
- Debbie Wright - Verona - (540) 248-6218 ext.108
- Mike Budd - Fredericksburg - (540) 899-9492 ext. 101
- Bob Glennon - Smithfield - (757) 357-7004 ext. 126
Large-scale habitat restoration and education are the key elements of the VQAP. The Virginia Quail Council was established as a coordinating group of conservation organizations and agencies actively supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land management practices and programs that increase the quality and quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes.
A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, and activities and accomplishments of the Quail Recovery Team read the latest edition of The Bobwhite Bulletin (PDF). Also view the video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative."
Habitat at Home© DVD 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!
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Like Father, Like Son (or Daughter)... Tree Stand Safety Must be Taught by Example
Mark Allamong is a Certified Treestand Safety Instructor and has provided this article to stress the importance of adults setting the proper example for safety and responsibility with young hunting companions.
As a volunteer Hunter Education Instructor, I've talked with literally hundreds of people about treestand safety. One question that is always asked is "do you wear a safety harness?" There are three answers that we hear: 1) Yes, all the time; 2) Most of the time; and 3) Never. If you're one of the hunters that answer #1, fantastic! If you answer #2 or #3, you need some help.
One thing that I have noticed about hunting habits (including treestand use) is that if a father answers "most of the time" or "never", the son (or daughter) will give the same answer. Despite nearly all of the youngsters having recently taken a Hunter Education class, the answer is not surprising at all. Children that hunt with their parents tend to pick up the same habits, be they good or bad. When a young hunter says they use a harness sometimes or not at all, I ask them what they learned in their Hunter Education class. The answer is always the same – to wear a harness from the time you leave the ground until you get back down. When asked why they don't heed this warning, they will say "my dad doesn't use one" or "my dad said I didn't need one". HELLO!!!!
Let me address the adult hunter that does this to their child. Would you let your child carry a loaded gun pointed at their head? Would you let them play in the middle of a busy road? Would you put an apple on top of their head and try to shoot it off with an arrow? As ridiculous as this may sound, you're doing the same thing to your child by not making them properly use a safety harness when they hunt from a treestand.
Do you want to be responsible for the death of your child? Do you want to spend the rest of your life taking care of your quadriplegic or paraplegic child...and then worry who will take care of them when you're gone? Let's be real here folks, gravity is not selective, it doesn't care if you're old or young, male or female, rich or poor. One slip and you're on the ground before you have time to think about it.
Statistics show that at least one-third of all hunting incidents are falls from treestands. Youngsters take chances; it's the Superman complex of "I can't get hurt". Well, I got news for you; they can and will get hurt if they fall from an elevated position. The majority of falls result in SERIOUS injury—broken legs, back, neck, ribs, pelvis, lacerated liver, ruptured spleens, or worse, death.
Parents, if you don't use fall protection, that's your business...you're an adult. If your child doesn't use a safety harness, shame on you. Insist that your child hunts safe and make them wear, and properly use, a safety harness from the time they leave the ground until the time they get back down. Someday they'll love you for it. And who knows, maybe you'll pick up some good habits too so you'll be around to hunt with them for a long, long time.
For more information on tree stand use and safety, review other articles by Dick and the VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors Tree Stand Safety Team.
Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!
If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website. There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10-hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.
Choose the Right Tree Stand For You with Safety in Mind
The use of tree stands for hunting has increased dramatically in the past few years. Along with the increase in their use comes an increase in the number of serious or fatal injuries. While firearms-related incidents have declined tremendously since mandatory hunter education courses were instituted and blaze orange laws were passed, the number of tree stand-related incidents has increased significantly. Recognized "tree stand expert," Dick Holdcraft, a former volunteer Hunter Education Master Instructor and Coordinator for the Tree Stand Safety Team advises whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time using a stand, here are valuable tips to help you prepare and stay safe:
- Go For Quality Design - Use a well designed and built, sturdy tree stand.
- Heed Instructions - Practice Use Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions on the use of your tree stand before using it. Practice using the tree stand in the morning and evening hours.
- Inspect for Dangerous Wear Carefully inspect your tree stand for wear, rust, metal fatigue and cracks, loose, or missing nuts or bolts, rot and deterioration before and after each use.
- Check for Defect Recall - You should also check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to see if your stand has been recalled due to safety defects.
What's the best stand for you depends on the terrain, users physical condition and type of hunting- bow, crossbow, or firearm. Stand features need to be thoroughly evaluated by the hunter before purchasing or erecting the stand prior to the season.
Hunters have a variety of features to choose from when selecting tree stands. These features include portability, bars, chains, straps and rails that affix the seating device to the tree, gun rests, bow rests, outward facing stands, forward facing stands, and multiple-occupancy stands that include a tree stand with a seating capacity for four individuals.
Recent surveys have determined that the most common reason for falls from elevated hunting positions was due to some type of structural failure. These types of failures included rotted wood, loose nails, nails pulling through boards, broken bands, bolts, ropes, or other attaching devices. However, according to Sgt. David Dodson, the Virginia Hunter Education Coordinator, "Staying attached to the tree through proper use of a high-quality full-body harness is your best protection against serious injury while using a tree stand. In almost all cases, those who were injured were not wearing a harness at all. Stay attached from the time you leave the ground."
For more information on tree stand use and safety, review other articles by Dick and the VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors Tree Stand Safety Team at: www.bowhunting.net.
Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!
Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
Currently, PWC (jet ski) operators age 50 and younger and motorboat operators 20 and younger who operate boats with motors of 10 horsepower and greater must complete a boating safety education course and have such proof in their possession while operating a boat or PWC.
On July 1, 2012, the law requires all PWC operators, and motorboat operators age 30 and younger who operate boats with motors of 10 horsepower and greater to have completed a boating safety education course and carry such proof in their possession while operating the vessel.
To learn more about boating laws in Virginia, and about boating safety education courses, visit the Department's website. Remember, everyone wants to have a safe, enjoyable day on the water. Do your part by wearing your life jacket and taking a boating safety education course. Be responsible, be safe, and have fun on the water!
This summer boating season VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:
- wear your life jacket
- do not mix alcohol and boating
- take a boating safety course
Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!
"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.
Cadet Bat Research to Support Preservation
By John Robertson IV
Three cadets worked this summer to preserve one of the smallest mammals in the world, the eastern small-footed bat. The work took them out into the field at Sherando Lake and other sites, where they crossed the paths of black bears, flying squirrels, and rattlesnakes. The cadets, Molly Western '14, Zackary Hann '13, and Micah Hosler '14, each had a separate research focus, but they worked as a team to gather data and collect samples. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying the bats in response to a petition for classifying them as endangered. If that happens, a series of habitat protections and conservation efforts will be implemented.
"The problem is we don't know much about these bats. No one has done work on their ecology, so they can't protect them if they don't know what makes them tick," said Maj. Paul Moosman '98, assistant professor of biology. "So that's what Molly Western's project is all about. She's studying where they're roosting as well as the differences in the biology between males and females. She's filling in this picture about what they're doing and what their habitat needs are." Hosler's research is filling in another aspect of bat ecology. He's using stable isotope analysis of bat fur to determine the diets of the eastern small-footed bat and two other species."This is my passion. I care about the environment, and I enjoy learning about it," said Hosler. "I love going out into the field and working alongside my team." Hann is studying the eastern red bat, another species about which little is known.
The team of cadets ventured out at night to catch bats in nets set up in areas where bats hunt for insects, such as over streams or across trails."We go out just before dark, and that gives us about half an hour of sunlight to set up the nets," said Western. "When we do catch a bat, we have to be really careful about not breaking their wings because they're so fragile." Eastern small-footed bats are about the weight of a nickel and about the size of a person's thumb; eastern red bats are only twice that size. Once the bats were netted, the cadets collected fur samples and attached radio transmitters to relay information on the bat's body temperature and location. The team then went out in daylight to locate the sleeping bats and collect more data. "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Western. "There are thousands of rocks, and you're looking for one tiny little bat in a tiny little crevice." Once they found the bats' roosts they measured the location, size, and temperature of the roosts in order to figure out what kind of habitat the bats require, including the roosting requirements of mother bats, which congregate into maternity roosts to conserve energy.
All this information will be built into the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' dataset on the species, which will contribute to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision on whether or not to list the bats as endangered. "We're spread fairly thin, so it's really a good fit for us to work with people like Paul and his students," said Rick Reynolds, VDGIF wildlife biologist. "It always ends up being a personnel numbers game to get enough people out there to study these populations." Although fur samples were collected during this summer's research, Hosler's lab analysis of bat fur focused on a larger sample of fur from New Hampshire."As long as their hair is growing, you can see what the bats are eating," said Hosler. "Bats control insect populations, so by studying what they're eating we can get support behind preserving these species." This line of research is likely to provide exciting opportunities for years to come, since many more local samples must to be collected in order to draw definite conclusions."The work is pretty exciting; they've been seeing snakes and bears," said Moosman. "It's eye opening. A lot of cadets have a love of nature begin with, but a lot of them don't have an idea of how exciting this aspect of biology is, with all the field work and conservation opportunities." That excitement was echoed by all the cadets studying bats in the field. "I really enjoy being out in the field rather than in a lab or office," said Western. "I love hiking, and I love animals, so I couldn't have wound up in a better spot."
Know the Law Regarding Feeding of Wildlife - Let's Keep Wildlife 'Wild'
Last year, on July 1st 2011, it became unlawful to feed wildlife in such a way that the food or attractant being placed creates a situation where the increased presence of wildlife causes property damage, endangers people or other species of wildlife, or creates a public health concern. Even though the effects of feeding wildlife can seem minimal to some, this behavior has the potential to create dangerous situations, as well as to have a significant impact on personal property. When wild animals are allowed to feed on human-related food sources, they can become dependent on people for food and lose their innate fear of humans, a situation which could be detrimental to both the animals and to people. Feeding also draws animals unnecessarily close to our homes, where they could cause damage to residential landscaping, decks and patios, gardens, and crops.
People who feed wild animals are often doing harm to the very animals they are trying to help. An artificial food source will often create unnatural concentrations of animals, increasing the potential for the spread of wildlife diseases. A pile of food meant for one species is going to attract many others, some of which may carry undesirable parasites or diseases such as Lyme disease and rabies that can impact humans and domestic animals. The spread of wildlife diseases is also a serious concern to wildlife management officials both here in Virginia and across the United States. Keep wildlife wild by not feeding them and by letting them live as nature intended.
Go to www.dgif.virginia.gov to learn more about responsible wildlife feeding practices. You can also find the telephone number for your nearest Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regional office if you have any questions concerning feeding regulations and would like to talk to a wildlife biologist or conservation police officer.
Virginia regulation reads as follows: "It shall be unlawful for any person, as defined in § 1-230 of the Code of Virginia to place, distribute, or allow the placement of food, minerals, carrion, trash, or similar substances when it attracts any species of wildlife in such numbers or circumstances to cause property damage, endanger any person or wildlife, or create a public health concern. Upon notification by department personnel, any such person shall be in violation of this section if the placing, distribution, or presence of such food, minerals, carrion, trash, or similar substances continues."
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.
Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
Look at the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for September:
- What are some of the bird species that begin migration south?
- What date does Autumn officially begin? What natural event determines this date?
Answers to August 22 edition quiz for nature events for late August...
- What happens to the "velvet like" covering on buck deer antlers during this time of year? The velvet is a series of blood vessels that nourish the antlers as they grow. When the growing is done the velvet-like covering dies and is rubbed off on saplings. Many hunters search the woods for these "buck rubs" as an indication of the number and size of bucks in the area.
- Which of the "puddle" or surface feeding ducks is the first to begin migration to South America? Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors orphna).
2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar Now Available
It's time to purchase the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar! For more than 23 years the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been publishing one of the most visually stunning and informative wildlife calendars in the country. The 2013 edition highlights many of the most sought after game and fish species in the state. Virginia hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the rich colors and composition of the 12 monthly photo spreads. Each page is full of useful tidbits for the outdoors lover -- including wildlife behavior, preferred fishing and hunting times, hunting seasons, state fish records, and much more! Life history information is provided for each species featured. Virginia Wildlife Calendars make great holiday gifts and are being offered at the bargain price of only $10 each. Quantities are limited, so order yours now!
Get your copy of the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.
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...
Region I - Tidewater
CPOs Discover 33 Undersized Fish... On September 3, 2012, Conservation Police Officers Josh Jackson and Josh Thomas were patrolling Westmoreland County, when they observed several shoreline fishermen. Upon inspection of the fishermen's creel the officers discovered 19 undersized red drum, 4 undersized striped bass, 8 undersized flounder and 2 undersized speckled trout. Charges were placed for the possession of illegal fish.
CPOs and K9 Assist in Foot Pursuit and Evidence Collection... On September 4, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Josh Jackson was at the King George County courthouse when he heard a loud crash. He immediately went to the road and observed a King George Deputy pursuing a male subject on foot. Officer Jackson also began a foot pursuit. The foot pursuit lasted for approximately a quarter mile through briars and other obstacles when the suspect was finally subdued and captured. Officer Jackson assisted a King George Deputy with handcuffing the suspect. The suspect was fleeing from a Deputy in a motor vehicle at a high rate of speed when his vehicle collided with a parked car. It is unknown why the suspect was fleeing from the Deputy, but a syringe was found in the car. K9 Senior Officer Frank Spuchesi was called to use his dog, Comet, to retrace the path of the foot pursuit to look for additional evidence the suspect may have dropped.
Region III - Southwest
Illegal Killing of Bear... On August 21, 2012, Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer R.A. Salyers received a call from Richmond dispatch concerning a bear being shot and killed as it was killing a goat. Upon arrival, Officer Salyers located a large bear that had died from a single gunshot to the neck. Several witnesses were interviewed, photographs taken, and the bear was removed from the scene. Upon further investigation and interviews with witnesses and suspects, a shooter was developed and it was determined that the bear had not killed the goat as reported, but the goats owner had euthanized it earlier that same day as it was sick. The bear had actually been observed in the area near the goat, walking around a yard of a vacant residence. The shooter fired one shot from approximately 80 yards and killed the bear instantaneously. On August 29, 2012, Senior Officer R.A. Salyers obtained magistrate summonses and served them on the subject who shot the bear. The subject was charged with Illegally Killing Bear During Closed Season, and Trespassing To Hunt on Posted Property.
CPO Assists PD in Large Fight Call... On August 29, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer R.A. Salyers received a request to assist Lebanon Police Department (LPD) in Russell County with a fight in progress call. Officer Salyers was in town and had just talked to a LPD patrolman when the call came in. There were approximately 15 subjects involved in an altercation where a 10 year old subject had been injured in the activity. Officer Salyers and one LPD officer were the first on the scene. The subjects were separated and calmed down and LPD started an investigation. The juvenile was transported to the local hospital, where he was treated and released for injuries to his head and arm. Officer Salyers assisted until other LPD units and Russell County Sheriff's Office units arrived on the scene. This case is still under investigation by LPD and charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.
Fisherman Found to Have Outstanding Warrant for Felony Hit and Run... On August 30, 2012 while patrolling the Guest River portion of Wise County, Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke observed a Ford pick-up truck parked in an area commonly used by fisherman. While approaching the river, Officer VanDyke noticed a female subject holding a stringer of fish. Officer VanDyke also noticed a male subject standing in the river fishing. After Officer VanDyke indentified himself, the male subject advised that his license was in the truck. A check through Richmond Dispatch revealed that the male subject had an outstanding warrant out of Chesterfield County for felony hit and run. The male was taken into custody and later turned over to Wise County Sheriff's Office.
Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont
Get Your Questions Answered by CPOs at Big Game Contest... VDGIF Conservation Police Officers will be on hand to answer your questions and provide information on new VDGIF programs and hunting opportunities at the 73rd Western Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest September 22-23 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds south of Harrisonburg. This official State Big Game Contest is sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League in partnership with VDGIF. Come meet K9 Senior Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice, an amazing Labrador retriever specially trained to assist law enforcement officers in wildlife detection, tracking, and evidence discovery and article recovery. The K9 Team will be at the show on Saturday from 2 PM – 6 PM, with a 30 minute Talk on Safety in the Woods and a Mock Crime Scene Demonstration at 5:15 PM. They will be back on Sunday from 11 AM – 3 PM with the same presentation at 2 PM. Baseball style trading cards of Justice will be given to all youth in attendance.
Gloomy, But Busy Day on Lake Anna... On August 25th 2012, Sergeant Shuler and Senior Officer Boulanger had just finished fueling their patrol vessel and were preparing for a very rainy boat patrol on Lake Anna when they heard the sound of one vessel striking another. The next thing they heard was someone yelling "sorry" at the top of their lungs. Sergeant Shuler and Officer Boulanger immediately walked over to where they heard the commotion and found that there had been a boating incident. Based on their investigation, the officers determined that the operator of a 26 foot vessel was attempting to dock when he struck the dock causing the vessel to bounce into another vessel that was moored. The striking vessel then went full throttle into reverse and crushed a personal watercraft that was moored between two poles. Upon completion of the investigation, appropriate charges were placed against the operator of the striking vessel.
Sergeant Shuler and Officer Boulanger then proceeded up Lake Anna for an authorized watercraft safety checkpoint. Due to the heavy rains the boating traffic was slow. However, approximately 30 minutes into the checkpoint the officers encountered a personal watercraft being operated by a male subject. The officers immediately noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the individual and had the subject perform field sobriety tests. The subject did not complete the field sobriety tests satisfactorily and was placed under arrest. He was then transported to the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Department where he gave a breath sample. The results of the test were .13 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. The subject was subsequently transported to the magistrate where appropriate charges were requested and served.
Suspects Charged with Several Violations Including Spotlighting and DUI... On September 3rd, 2012 at approximately 0245hrs Senior Conservation Police Officer Rob Ham was requested to assist the Highland County Sheriff's Office with a spotlighting complaint in the Doe Hill area of Highland County. Senior Officer Ham responded to the area; once he arrived on location both suspects were in custody of Highland County Sheriff Deputies for suspicion of DUI. Senior Officer Ham interviewed the complainant that stated he saw the vehicle casting lights into the field and then heard a gunshot. The complainant approached the vehicle and one subject fled through the field on foot. Shortly thereafter the Sheriff's office arrived and located both suspects. Senior Officer Ham responded to the Sheriff's Office to interview the suspects. Written confessions were obtained for the spotlighting and killing of the doe deer. Charges for spotlighting with the attempt to kill a deer, hunting under the influence of alcohol, trespassing and shooting from the road way were placed on the suspects. Highland County Sheriff's Deputies also placed several traffic violations including DUI.
K9 Team Update
Two New K9 Teams Added to VDGIF Law Enforcement
To address the demands of the public in providing a comprehensive list of services, VDGIF developed a K9 investigative team within the Law Enforcement Division over a year ago. In partnership with the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, three K9 units were placed into service in May 2011. The program was so successful in its first year of operation, with numerous arrests and lost/missing persons found, that two more K9 units were added this past May. The Department's K9 program officially grew by two units with a graduation ceremony on May 1, 2012 at VDGIF Headquarters in Richmond. Senior Conservation Police Officer Frank Spuchesi with his partner "Comet" and Senior Conservation Police Officer Wes Billings and partner "Josie" received their Certificates of Completion in Wildlife Detection, Tracking, and Evidence Recovery from Agency Director Bob Duncan. The two new K9 Teams will be assigned to Region 3 in Southwest Virginia and northeastern portion of Region 4 in Fredericksburg. With the addition of the two teams all geographical and administrative regions are covered more effectively thus reducing response time to incidents – time being a critical factor in many instances.
The first three K9 Team members introduced over a year ago included: from Portsmouth in Tidewater region, Conservation Officer Megan Vick and her partner Jake; from Appomattox County in Central Virginia, Senior Officer Richard Howald and his partner Scout; and from Rockingham County in Western Virginia, Senior Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice. All of the dogs are Labrador Retrievers, and underwent intensive training before joining their handlers working the woods and waters of Virginia. The K9 teams all focus on wildlife-related activity, including wildlife detection, tracking, and article recovery. They have had much success already, and will be invaluable to the law enforcement and educational efforts of VDGIF.
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. Make a Donation to the K9 Team at: www.vawildlife.org/k-9.html.
For more information visit the Law Enforcement section on our website. There is also a feature article in the June 2012 edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine, "Canines On A Mission", by Clarke C. Jones. Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K9 Team and see demonstrations of their remarkable skills used in enforcement of wildlife laws and search and rescue. Their activities are featured in the K9 Team Update in the Virginia Conservation Police Notebook section of each Outdoor Report.
These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!
If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides, and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.
The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.
The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested.
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.
State Record Fish Committee Confirms New State Record Freshwater Drum
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) State Record Fish Committee has certified a new state record freshwater drum caught by Nancy Cash of Martinsville. Her huge fish weighed in at 26 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 38.5 inches long. Cash caught the record fish at Buggs Island Lake on July 10th, 2012. She hooked the monster drum on a Sting Silver Spoon and battled it for 15 minutes before her fishing partner Jimmy Cannoy was able to get a net under it and bring it into the boat. The record freshwater drum was taken to Bobcat's Bait and Tackle in Clarksville where VDGIF Fisheries Biologist Vic DiCenzo was able to confirm the species, size, and weight of the fish. Cash's catch easily surpassed the previous record of 22 pounds 6 ounces caught in Kerr Reservoir in 2008.
For a complete list of the current State Record Freshwater Fish, visit the Department's website.
Grants Available to Localities for Public Boating Access Facilities
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announces the availability of boating access grants beginning July 1, 2012 and is currently accepting applications. Eligible to receive grants are Virginia localities (counties, cities, and towns). The purpose of the grants is to assist localities in providing public opportunities for boating through new facilities development and/or renovations and improvements to existing public boating access facilities. For more details, go online to to download the following information:
- Public Boating Access Grants to Localities Program Package
- Areas of Need (for Boating Access)
- Accessibility Guidelines for Boating Access Facilities
- DGIF Design Standards
- Cooperator Boating Access Maintenance Requirements
- Questions and Answers
Recreational boating is a popular activity and there are approximately 250,000 registered boats in Virginia. Many more boats—canoes and kayaks—that are not registered use existing facilities and are in need of additional sites. This grant program provides up to 75% of the approved project costs to construct or renovate boating access facilities for both trailered and smaller, hand-launched boats. Applications are due no later than October 1, 2012; grants will be awarded by January 1, 2013. Funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis.
For more information, contact Steve Kesler at email@example.com, office phone (804) 561-1447, or cell phone (804) 840-9493
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 Middlesex 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.
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:
- Access Permit article (now the #1 story on the homepage under legislative page link),
- Access Permit FAQs (updated March 5 and including discounted Daily Group Permit rates),
- Waiver Guidance (PDF) (many waivers will need no application/approval while others will need documented approval),
- WMA Study, and the
- Strategic Plan (PDF)
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!
Don't Forget the Texas Rig Plastic Worm
Soft plastic baits come in a variety of shapes and sizes: centipedes, beavers, creatures, craws, flukes, frogs, senkos, hulas, zippers and on and on. The means to rig soft plastics is as extensive: shaky-head, drop shot, wacky, Carolina, split shot and on and on. Whatever happened to the good-ole, simple Texas rig plastic worm? Anybody used one of those lately?
The array of soft plastics and the multitude of rigs were designed in part to give bass a different look and gain an advantage by offering weary-eyed bass something new. Actually, with the variety of offerings and rigs available, it's likely that many a bass has not even seen a simple Texas rig plastic worm. What's old is new again, so maybe it's time to revisit an old friend!
The Texas rig worm is simply a bullet sinker, hook and a plastic worm. To rig it begin by threading the bullet sinker on the line, tie on the hook and then thread the hook about 3/8" into the head of the worm and exit. Then rotate the hook until the point is facing the worm and continue to thread the hook through the worm until the eye of the hook is buried in the head of the worm. Lastly, place the point of the hook inside the worm, ensuring the worm is weedless and straight for proper swimming action.
I select my rod and reel combination and line size depending on the conditions, cover, depth of the water and size of the lure. My favorite combinations include a 6'10" medium action spinning outfit, spooled with 8#, Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. This light weight line is super tough and it can endure heavy cover well. Additionally, fishing with lighter spinning tackle is fun, the bait is presented more naturally and I am convinced you get more strikes. My next go-to worm rod is a 7' Med/Hvy to Heavy action baitcast outfit, spooled with 15# Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. This outfit is great for heavy cover or for fishing deeper water structure.
When it comes to the terminal tackle of the rig, there are many choices available today. Lead sinkers used to be the mainstay, then brass, but now the top choice is tungsten. Tungsten is denser than lead and is half the size for the same weight – a huge advantage! I slip a rubber bobber-stop on my line before threading my sinker and then tying my hook. For hooks I use a Gamakatsu worm hook or a round bend worm hook. Typically, I use a 2/0 for 4" worms, 3/0 for 6-7", 4/0 for 8-9" and 5/0 for the larger worms. The size the sinker depends on many factors including line size, water clarity, water depth, density of cover and the activity level of the bass. They key is to be able to make bottom contact with the worm. If you are having trouble feeling the bottom, go up a sinker size.
There is an endless choice of worm styles, sizes and colors, but keeping it simple is the key to sanity! I like the traditional ribbon tail or sickle tail worm the best. Straight tail worms have their place, but I find I use them predominantly with the shaky-head or drop shot rig. Only a few colors are needed: watermelon seed and green pumpkin for clear water and black and purple hues for stained to muddy conditions.
Bass fishing rigs and lure choices have become numerous and complex, but returning to the basics and keeping it simple can be fun and rewarding. The Texas rig is a timeless classic that will still catch plenty of fish; even those weary-eyed bass!
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:
- Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
- Or, if you already have an account on Flickr, join the group and submit your photos. It's easy!
No matter how you send in your pictures, please remember to include the species, date, and location of your catch. If you know the length and weight, please include it.
Rules for submitting photos to the group:
- Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
- Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
- Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
- Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.
Sarah White's Notebook
Attention Readers - If your favorite body of water is not covered in the Fishin Report, and you are a guide, tackle shop owner, marina or just a devoted angler; please drop me a line and we will see about adding your bi-weekly or periodic reports in the e-newsletter by telephone or email contacts. You can reach me, Sarah White at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Region 1 - Tidewater
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, email@example.com. The water temperature is 80 degrees and the visibility is 15 ft. The fishing was slow this weekend. All the wind, rain and cold front coming in made for some small bags of fish. We did see a fish or two hit 3 lbs. The gills were runts. So let's look ahead to this week. The water temperature will drop in to the upper to mid 70, that will lead to more fish showing up along the cover on banks. This should make them easier to catch. Texas rigged worms will produce fish, as will crankbaits. As the water temperature drops into the low 70s, the top water bite will get good, as will as the jerkbait bite. On those overcast days that bite will last all day. Crappie and other pan fish will turn on minnows as well as jigs and inline spinners. The striper bite will hold as long as the bait is available. Points and humps will be the best choices. What I am saying is if you are not fishing the creek now thru February, you will miss the best fishing of the year. Don't forget our Catfish Rodeo on September 21st to 23rd. The prizes are great, so come on over!
Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by Park Ranger Eddie Hester. Bass in the 1 to 4 lb. range are still being caught throughout the lake. Bigger bass are being reported while fishing the deep water structures and the grass beds. The chain pickerel are plentiful and can be had on minnows or lures. Some nice channel catfish are still being caught. A 10.5 inch yellow perch was landed last week and sunfish and crappie are still biting. The water is 83 degrees, fairly clear and at full pool.
Moonlight fishing is over for this year but mark your calendars for the first Friday of May through September for next year.
Beaverdam will host the next Big Bash series Bass tournament September 15, so sign-up early to assure a spot. This is the last qualifying tournament before the Big Bass Bash Classic on October 21. For more information visit our website or call the Beaverdam Ranger Station at (804) 693-9813.
Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. The Gar bite continues to be good on Cat Point Creek off of the Rappahannock River. David Craven has finally caught up with his three kids by catching his first citation gar. The fish gave a good long run and quite a fight before coming to the net. It weighed in at 16 lbs. and was 45 3/4 inches long. It was a really nice gar with a really wide back and lots of girth. Several of the fish caught this season have been real beefy in size. This makes for a much stronger run and fight as these toothy monsters put on a great show to avoid coming to the net. In David's defense, he has always let his children catch the fish on his earlier outings but on this trip he was determined to get his own citation fish. We were using live shiners from Jo Jo's on route 360 just before Central Garage if you are coming from Richmond. They are a great little bait and tackle shop and now offer a lot of hunting gear as well. Real friendly staff and seem to be adding inventory on every stop I make to get bait. Check them out and say Capt. Penn sent you. It may not help you but could help me. See you on the water.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, croaker are at the Ocean View Pier and the Lynnhaven Pier. They are taking squid and Fishbite. Speckled trout can be found at Lynnhaven Inlet and the Elizabeth River, and are going for Mirrolures and soft grubs. To land a sheepshead, go to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and use fiddler crabs and clams. Spot are in Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets and the Hampton Bar, they will bite bloodworms and Fishbite. The water is fairly clear and 74 degrees.
Back Bay: Local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that bass action is good on frogs and spinners. Crappie are taking worms and jigs. Some big gar are coming in on cut bait. Cats are going for crab and live or cut eel. Perch are biting small worms. Bluegill are responding to worms and crickets. The water is fairly clear and cooling.
Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day main lake water temperatures were in the low to mid 80s last weekend. The lake level was about 6 inches above the top of the dam. The water was brown but relatively clear in the lower lake and moderately murky in hydrilla mats in the lake and up the creeks. Most major and minor creeks were filled with hydrilla except in the channels, and hydrilla beds extended out from the shoreline of most areas of the main lake. Many hydrilla beds had fairly distinct weed walls along their outer edges.
Small to medium crappie with a few large crappie were widely scattered on shallow to mid depth flats and on the channel edges in the main lake. Mid depth wood cover occasionally held some nice crappie. Crappie were biting a little better than recently and 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 along weed walls and around shorelines in the main lake and up some of the major creeks. Most larger bluegill had moved off shorelines and were on shallow or mid depth flats or along deeper weed walls. Bluegill were hitting live worms and crickets, flies, small Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs and tubes, small swimbaits, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small spoons. Bass and bowfin were scattered along the shorelines and mid depths in the main lake. Bass were most active at sunrise and sunset and were hitting live minnows, frogs and toads, creature baits, soft plastic stick baits, crank baits, and plastic worms.
Fishing with Capt. Conway, Malcolm Turnbull had 57 bluegill, 2 crappie, and 4 shellcrackers. Tom Porter had 94 bluegill and 4 crappie.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that the bass bite is good. A recent tournament of 14 boats brought in 86 lbs. of fish. To get your lunker, try top-water early and late. During the day, try cranks and spinners. Not many crappie are being cooperative, but they may still go for minnows, jigs and night crawlers. Lots of small cats are coming in, mixed with some big ones; a channel weighing just under 28 lbs. was brought up. Cut bait is a good bet. White perch action is good with small jigs, small spinners and night crawlers. Bluegill are taking crickets and worms. The water is clear and in the low to mid 70s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that lots of bass are being fooled by top-waters early and late and soft plastics during the day. Crappie are also biting well on minnows, jigs and small spinners. Cats are attacking cut bait and eel. No word on perch. Bream action is good with crickets; small worms might also help you out. The water is clear and in the low 80s.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Hooray, fall is on the way! The water in the Blackwater and Nottoway have gotten back to fishing levels after reaching flood levels a couple of weeks ago. I'm thinking that the influx of water will really help the fishing after flushing that stagnant hot summer water out of the river. The water temperatures have dropped nicely to about 73 degrees, so the bite ought to really pick up. Largemouth should be really hitting on top-water.
Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. Above and near Lynchburg, water levels have remained considerably healthy for this time of year, and with the rainfall, have climbed back up to average levels for this time of year. Though the smallmouth fishing has remained quite active through the summer months, it has actually improved drastically the past few weeks, as water temperatures have dropped steadily. The fish are feeding very actively, but can tend to be a little more selective in what they are willing to come right out and strike. Live bait is fool proof and prevents this tendency. If you don't have live bait, lean toward natural colors and fish slowly and patiently, bounced along the bottom. For other up to date fishing info and reports check out www.confluenceoutfittersva.com or like our page on facebook! We keep our facebook page updated often!
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike told me that the bass bite is good in his section of the James, with top-waters working early and late and cranks and spinners during the day. Crappie are starting to bite; look around deep holes, creek mouths and gravel pits. Throw minnows and jigs. The cat bite is moving from night to day, try eel, live bluegill and live white perch. The water is slightly stained and 81 degrees.
Fishing the Pamunkey, Mike has found puppy, red and black drum. They are all taking peeler crabs and squid. He has also landed speckled and grey trout with clams, squid, peeler crabs and blood worms. Both spot and croaker are there and will take squid and blood worms. In a strange note, Mike landed 4 butterfish with a cast net. The cats are going for cut eel. The water is slightly stained and 80 degrees.
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.
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.
Region 2 - Southside
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. The smallmouth fishing on the James is heating up. The fish have started their fall feeding frenzy. The 10 to 15 inch fish are being more aggressive in striking and not giving the bigger fish a chance to get the offering. The baits of choice the past couple weeks have been jigs with a trailer, super flukes and grubs. Fly anglers using CK Baitfish, Clawdads and poppers have seen some nice fish brought to the net.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow Jr. says that the bass bite is "fair" with crankbaits and plastics in green pumpkin. Try fishing 2 to 18 feet of water. Crappie are hanging out at brush piles and humps, are 5 to 20 ft. down, and are taking minnows and jigs. Cats are fairly shallow, around 4 to 8 ft. Live bream is a good bet for the cats. No word on perch. The water is clear and 80 degrees.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that smallmouth are responding well to minnow and crayfish imitators. The rainbows and browns in the Jackson are "quite active" and taking ants and hoppers. The water in the brookie streams is too low to fish. The water is clear and cooling.
James near Lynchburg: Contributed by Jared Harker, owner of Confluence Outfitters, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski told me that bass action is "fair to middlin'", with top-waters working early and late. During the day the bass are going for black lures or plastics. Crappie are biting really well on minnows. Not a lot of cats are coming in, but some have been big, try cut bait. Bream are taking minnows and make good cut bait for the cats. The water is clear and 80 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.
Stripers: Fishing can be tough this time of year. In the warm months of summer, most alewives and many of the targeted species that key on baitfish can be found deep. Cool temperatures affect the location of the baitfish and the patterns of the many species that key on them, including bass and stripers. Currently, striped bass continue to school near the mouths of most major creeks in the middle and lower sections of the lake, but they are starting to move up both arms of the Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers. Schooling stripers can still be found using good electronics and can then be caught by anglers presenting live bait on downlines, vertically jigging with spoons and flukes (rigged on ½ to ¾ ounce custom jigheads) or trolling with their gas motors. Anglers continue to report good results while trolling crankbaits, Sutton spoon three-way rigs, Alabama rigs and umbrella rigs in the channels near the middle and lower sections of the lake, especially near the mouths of the major creeks. Anglers fishing with live alewives and shad on downlines and shotlines report having success catching stripers in these same areas. The keys to success when fishing with live bait at any time of year is to use the appropriate size and species of bait, size the terminal tackle for the bait being used and insure the bait is healthy and very active.
Bass: Fishing continues to be mixed. While the night bite has slowed over the past month or so, anglers are still catching bass at night using Texas rigged plastic worms and crankbaits. Bass continue to be found under deep water docks where anglers are catching them both in the day and at night. In the day, anglers also report having success around docks, steep ledges and shaded laydowns using whacky rigged worms and lightweight shakey head jigs rigged with finesse worm and craw trailers. Bass can also be found on electronics suspending off ledges, deep water shelves and the edges of old river channels. Once located, the drop shot rig with a floating finesse worm, small lightweight Texas rigged plastics or jig are reportedly working. Bass are also being caught in the upper sections of the lake by anglers using small plastic worms rigged on very lightweight terminal tackle and downsized line.
Panfish: Fish continue to be caught in the shade under docks, walkways and in the rip-rap on shorelines using worms rigged on either small hooks or hair jigs.
Catfish: Channel cats are being caught with prepared stink bait, dead shad and night crawlers on bottom rigs. Flathead catfish are hitting live shad and shiners on bottom rigs as well.
Enjoy the great fall weather and stay safe while in the woods or on the water.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. No report this edition.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. According to John Zienius, some big smallmouth are coming in on flukes, pig & jigs and frogs. Muskie are very active, and will take anything you would use for bass. The water is clear and cooling.
Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. All the rains seem to keep missing us here, so the river has been staying low and clear. Forecasted cool weather this upcoming week should improve what has all ready been a very good bite. Smallmouth have been great on top- water as well as plastics and even the walleye have been hitting plastics. The river has been too low for the striper and hybrid bass to come up out of Claytor Lake. Muskie are getting ready to put the feed bag on as the water continues to cool and should be hitting any muskie lure, but stay toward the top of the water column when targeting them with appropriate muskie gear. Water temperature is 76 degrees but should fall considerably this week.
New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that smallmouth fishing is "excellent" with cranks and jigs. The muskie bite is improving with top-waters and big inline spinners. The water is clearing and 74 degrees.
Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. A couple weeks ago the Top New (mouth of Wilson to Fries) got to the lowest level it has been in 3 to 4 years, but recent showers have brought it up to about normal levels. The smallies were very willing on a trip we did last Friday as the water was clearing up from the showers. A strong cool front has come through and morning temperatures are in the 40's.Fishing should be great this weekend as the water temperature stabilize, or even rise a bit. Water clarity should be at least 5 feet by this weekend.
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 fishing in the smallmouth streams in both the North and South forks of the river is "excellent". Good flies are: Shenandoah Sunfish Slider, size 4; Mr. Rapidan Skater, size 8; and Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4. The water is 72 degrees, with a very good color and at an optimal level.
Fishing in the Valley is also very good, with the stocked streams producing lots of rainbows. It's best to fish in the shaded section of the streams or below the springs. Good flies are: Murray's Betsy Streamer, size 12; Murray's Olive Caddis Pupa, size 14; and Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph, size 14. The water is low, clear and 69 degrees.
The brookie streams in the mountains are too low to fish.
Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. No report this edition.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Visit Puff's website for latest news on fishing conditions.
Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.
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.
Occoquan River, Potomac River, Quantico Bay: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. Still waiting for my favorite spot, Lunga Reservoir, to be cleared for use again but it doesn't look like that will happen before next year. Until then I continue to pursue my weekend adventures on my other favorite haunts...which include both the Occoquan River and the Potomac River (at Quantico Bay) over the last couple of weekends. Since both locations are impacted by the tide, I'm working to learn more about the changing tides and their impact on the fish. To date I've decided outgoing tides are more productive...at least for me since I also much prefer fishing early in the morning as well. The water temperatures in both locations are starting to drop consistently into the upper 70s, while the water clarity is pretty consistent on the Occoquan River and varies most significantly with the channels across the flats on Quantico Bay. On the Occoquan I've been happy to find a few striped bass moving in and hitting silver colored Rapalas and Rat'L Traps being trolled slowly at 8 to 12 feet in depth. Nothing big (yet) with all of the stripers I've caught in the 12 to16 in. size range, but still fun to find and catch. Interestingly enough, I've also picked off several very nice blue catfish in the 3 to 10 pound range while trolling the silver lures as well...and trust me the bigger cats will definitely get your attention while slow trolling! As far as the Potomac and Quantico Bay, I've found that things are slowing down some, at least with the presentations I'm most familiar with – that being top-water Pop'R style plugs in shad colors and wacky-rigged Yamasenko worms in silver/pearl with black flake. I'm still catching some small and mid-sized bass along the weed lines on my top-water, but I'm finding very little success with other spinnerbaits, top-waters, and frogs. Guess I'm going to need to continue to experiment and find some other successful techniques...hopefully as the water temperatures start to drop as fall moves in. Hope you're fishing days are enjoyable and safe!
Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. We're getting geared up for our 13th Annual Youth Fishing Day this Saturday, September 15th from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. This is a FREE event open to the public. Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. Every child will receive a prize and recognition for being a part of this great event. The water is clear with temperatures in the upper 70s to 80 degrees. With the cooler nights and shorter days the fish are quickly moving into their fall feeding patterns with better daytime feeding by all species in the lake. Largemouth bass are targeting bait fish in the upper end of the lake more aggressively than other areas of the lake. The key to the bass bite is to match your lure to the size of the bait fish. When bass are aggressively schooling top-water lures produce the best. Soft plastics and crankbaits draw in the bass in depths up to 8 ft. when they are not schooling. Catfishing remains strong throughout the lake on chicken liver and live bait. Again, the upper end seems to be producing the best catfish bite. Crappie fishing has picked up in the last week or so using small minnows as bait. Target the fish attractors in 10 ft. of water and standing timber in the lower end of the lake use your electronics to locate schools of fish.
Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. Bass have been running on the small side the last couple of weeks on the Occoquan Reservoir. The best bite is still in the morning. As the day goes forward fish in the shade. Sunny banks are as barren as deserts. Soft plastics and crankbaits are doing best. The catfish bite on the river and the reservoir continues to be fantastic with many fish in the 5 to10 pound range.
Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144.
Largemouth Bass: Good fishing from top to bottom now. You can pitch a shakey head worm in the up lake region or twitch a soft plastic jerkbait in the lower lake region and catch our largemouths. Fish main lake structure up lake and schooling fish on humps and points down lake. The threadfin shad are in the back 1/3 of mid and up lake creeks so the largemouths will be there very soon, too. When this occurs use a small, lipless crankbait or ¼ oz. Tiger Shad spinnerbait in the afternoons and enjoy catching fish and looking for the start of fall color. In the down lake region, there are many bass schooled up in the Dike III region. Top-waters, spoons and grubs are good here. Remember, most bass are feeding on 2 to 3 in. threadfin shad now; however, if you find fish feeding on herring, the bass will be bigger. Most herring are found in the mid lake region now. Seek herring fed bass out in creeks like Sturgeon, Contrary, Mitchell, Pigeon and Marshall.
Striper: Excellent lure fishing began with the start of September with plenty of fish schooled and breaking each morning in the mid lake region down to Dike III. It's not uncommon to fish three or four schools in a morning trip using top-waters and Toothache spoons. You can even fly fish using sinking line and Clouser minnow imitators. We anticipate the striper to continue to follow the baitfish, which is in turn, following the current that flows from Dike III UP to the power plant intake. Striper are also found above this loop in the mid lake region from the 208 marinas on up to the first two bridges. There will be some movement into the areas above Stubbs and around the Holiday Mill Bridge this month, so be on the lookout, especially in the evenings. Birds are already here in the form of a few seagulls and terns. They are also helpful. Trolling and live bait fishing are options with trolling even better than live bait now on some days.
Crappie: We had a 1¼ lb. recently in the upper end of the Pamunkey Branch. You can begin to find crappie on docks in the upper portion of the lake this month and deep on bridge pilings. Use one and 1.5 in. straight tailed offerings on 1/16 oz. jig heads or small minnows on slip bobbers. Please consider releasing fish under 10 in. so we can continue to have plenty of slabs available for everyone.
Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.
Stripers: Schools of stripers are busting throughout the lake this month, chasing primarily threadfin shad. In "low light" times of the day it has not been uncommon to see hundreds of stripers blowing shad out of the water advertising where the schools are working. Poppers (Pencil Popper, PopR's, etc), spooks and walking the dog style baits have been very successful in catching some of the nicer fish. Spoons retrieved extremely fast, as well as swim baits are catching fish not only when the fish are breaking but once they sound as well. Fish are breaking just about everywhere on the lake but some of the most popular locations are the first and third dike, across from the power plant, the mouths of the major creeks and all around the splits region. Sometimes the breaking fish are non-keepers with the nicer fish holding below the more aggressive smaller fish. We are catching our better fish running gizzards on boards and herring on down lines in and nearby the schools of stripers while my clients cast to the breaking fish. Fish are also in the back of the creeks and moving up into the river systems. We are also catching nice stripers up against clay banks.
Bass: The bass are schooling as well with schools hanging on or around the mouths of Contrary and Marshall Creeks, the railroad trestle at the splits, over old roadbeds and around the bridge in Contrary. Very nice fish are being caught in the backs of the creeks and up lake in the rivers just about as far as you dare to go on the small channel breaks and stumps in 2 to 5 feet of water on small crank baits and spinner baits. There are plenty of bass still in the main lake but with all the rain we have had lately the bait is headed to the backs of the creeks with the bass following it.
Crappie: Very nice slabs have been caught on all the bridges up lake as well as any well lit docks at night. Shallow brush in 3 to 10 feet of water are holding schools and docks with drop-offs nearby are producing well. Crappie are also scattered everywhere up lake over 2 to 5 foot flats. The fish are very fat and have been feeding very well.
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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 email@example.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.
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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
With the celebration of National Hunting & Fishing Day September 22 and deer archery season less than a month away, young hunters are already scouting and sighting-in their favorite, bow, muzzleloader, rifle or shotgun. For the youngsters under age 16, they eagerly anticipate participating in the special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 29th. There are lots of youngsters who hopefully got, or will get a shot at their first deer on this "opening day". Whether it is a buck or doe doesn't really matter. For most young hunters, their first deer is a memorable experience where a lesson of patience and scouting pays off. Small game hunting also provides skill building and hunting adventure. For Dillon Frazier, a Junior at Stonewall Jackson High School in Shenandoah County a rabbit hunt with several friends made for a memorable outdoor experience with the mentoring of one of the experienced hunters in the group. Dillon passionately describes how meaningful and insightful the mentoring was during this hunt. The experience inspired him to seek more opportunities to hunt and pass this new found passion on to others. Not only does Dillon's story keep you interested in what will happen next, but as you read about his first missed shot, note that he uses good safety practices both in handling his firearm, being sure of his target before firing, and staying in contact with his fellow rabbit hunters. The tradition of hunting is in good hands with responsible and respectful young sportsmen like Dillon. Good luck this season and thanks to your mentors for teaching you safety and the values of our hunting traditions. Dillon's entry placed in the top twelve in the 2010-11 Annual Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) High School Writing Competition. Read "It Takes A Hunter, To Make A Hunter" feature in Hunting News You Can Use section to get ideas on how you can get involved in this great American tradition, or visit the National Hunting & Fishing Day website.
By Dillon Frazier
As someone who spends as much time as possible outdoors, I can tell you that amazing and beautiful things happen every day. There is so much to learn. My most memorable experience happened while rabbit hunting one chilly January morning on a large cattle farm in the northern Shenandoah Valley with some of the most gentlemanly of men. After we made sure everyone had plenty of blaze orange and their guns and ammunition were ready, the leaders of our hunt party let the pack of fifteen energetic beagles loose. This wasn't just any pack of beagles. These dogs' noses were zeroed in on one smell and one smell only... rabbit!
We had just started into a small grove of young oaks with a thick covering of honeysuckle when one of the dogs jumped a rabbit. Like a swarm of bees, the dogs rushed to the scent trail and across the pasture, each barking its own unique song of excitement. With the dogs hot on its trail, the rabbit continued to make slight turns in the same direction in a desperate attempt to lose the dogs, inevitable bringing itself right back to where it started- just like rabbits always do. Rabbits are so much faster than dogs that when a fellow hunter successfully took his shot, the dogs were several hundred yards behind. We gathered where the rabbit's trail ended to congratulate the hunter and the dogs like runners at the end of a marathon. This was going to be a great day of hunting.
We spread out in a marching line again, kicking bushes and grass in hopes of jumping another rabbit. We had gone about 300 yards or so through thick briars and underbrush when the next one emerged. This one was a real runner and the dogs ran so far we could no longer hear their barks. The rabbit eventually came back around to us then raced down the edge of the woods.
I threw the single shot 4-10 shot gun to my shoulder, flicked the safety off and drew a fine bead on the rabbit. I followed him with my gun sights as he disappeared and reappeared from behind trees. Within seconds I could tell the rabbit was as close as he was going to come. I aimed what I thought was a good distance ahead and squeezed the trigger. Dirt flew up from the ground three feet behind him, and the rabbit continued to run. I dropped my head. This was bad. I needed to learn to lead game correctly with my gun. I went over to the best rabbit hunter I knew- the leader of our group, Charles Riley- and explained my problem. He said he understood, and that I should stick around him when the next rabbit came by. He would be happy to teach me.
On the other side of the pasture someone soon jumped a rabbit and just as fast as the dogs ran to the scent trial, I scurried to Charles. The first thing this experienced hunter told me was to never look in the direction of the dogs because the rabbit is a lot faster than dogs and it could be as much as a half mile ahead of the them. He was just starting to explain where to aim when the rabbit appeared. I pulled the gun to my shoulder, ready to take a shot. Charles put his hand on my other shoulder and simply said, "Just wait". I kept the sights right in front of the rabbit and followed it with my gun as it headed to my left. The whole time, Charles was quietly saying, "Wait. Wait for it."
The rabbit stopped behind a small brush pile. Charles said when the dogs got closer the rabbit would race out from its resting spot. Then, he said, was when I should place the sights six inches in front of it and squeeze the trigger. As the dogs got closer, the rabbit broke from his hidden refuge. I will never forget the calmness and confidence in Charles' voice when he finally said, "Take the shot." It was like this man knew I was going to drop the rabbit in its tracks. And he was right. It's times like those and people like Charles that teach me so much and give me great memories.
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:
- Tree Stand Safety and set up tips
- Regional Big Game Contests Showcase Srate Record Bear, Deer Turkey
- New Recurring Feature-- Update on Elk Restoration- Where Are they Now?!?