In this edition:

Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving

During this season of Thanksgiving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests in many ways. Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer, or a portion of it, to Hunters for the Hungry. The potential exists to receive, process, and distribute 400,000 pounds of venison annually providing 1.6 million servings to the less fortunate across Virginia. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 4.9 million pounds of venison which equates to 19.8 million servings, have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 or more to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Hunters that donate deer are not required to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public is encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and rewarding Thanksgiving holiday.

David Coffman, Editor

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Hunting Benefits All Virginians

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

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

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

Sharing the Bounty

Helping others by putting food on their tables: Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry. Last hunting season, 391,922 pounds were processed, a slight decline from the record 407,800 pounds of venison in 2010. This decline was due to the overall slowing of the economy and more hunters depending on their own needs or those of neighbors and friends. Still the Virginia program is at the top for the number of pounds of venison distributed. Since Hunters for the Hungry (H4H) was founded in 1991, more than 4.9 million pounds, equal to 19.8 million servings of venison have been distributed in Virginia. Program Director, Laura Newell-Furniss proudly notes, "In tough times, hunters continue to generously share the wealth of their harvest. The goal for 2012 is to process 400,000 pounds that will provide 1.6 million servings. Hunters are reminded that they are not required to pay for the processing of donated deer at H4H designated processors. We need large bodied mature deer from the hunters. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing that donated meat. Read about other ways you can support H4H in the Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife section

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

Hunt safely and responsibly, and have fun!

A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think

Have you had a successful deer hunting season so far? You read over the new regs, sighted in your gun, double checked your equipment, scouted your hunting area, and reminded everyone you hunt with about basic safety precautions. So far, so good. When you went afield you were patient and didn't fall asleep (too long zzzzzz) at your stand. Then, rewarded by all your preparation, you made a great shot and harvested a deer. Well, you're still not completely successful yet! Proper preparation of that venison is now just as important for complete success as the effort leading up to that great shot. Whether you plan to butcher the deer yourself, take it to a meat processor, or share it with someone, we have listed some basic tips gleaned from a lot of experience and advice from "old timers" in the November 22, 2011 edition.

A great gift for the novice or experienced hunter is the VDGIF video, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" which gives step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. The video also features professional butcher and Hunter Education instructor Rob Bingel who demonstrates how to cape out a deer for mounting and details how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. You can order by telephone or online.

Now you've had a successful hunt. If you are fortunate to harvest more deer than you can use and really want to do a little extra, donate your deer to a local processor who handles deer for Hunters for the Hungry. A list of processors can be found on the Hunters for the Hungry website. Another option is to ask the processor to set aside several packages of any deer they process for you for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Every donation helps whether it's cash or venison and helps show that sportsmen do positive things in their communities. Now we all can be proud of a successful hunt.

Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting the Outdoor Report

Since we post the Outdoor Report on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the next edition will be, November 28, 2012. With the various holidays observed in November-December, we will be 'tweaking' our production schedule, but the posting schedule will remain the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays for November. Please send in stories, announcements, events, and photos you may want posted to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov or david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov at least 10 days prior to the listed posting dates to allow for holidays shortening our production time. Posting dates are scheduled as follows:

Looking for the Perfect Gift for the Outdoor Enthusiast?

Hunting & Fishing Licenses

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

Field Dressing, Skinning & Processing Deer DVD

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

Virginia Wildlife Magazine Subscription

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

2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

2012 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife

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

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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 bgnorris@cox.net

Next Event: December Chukar Hunt...Richmond, Virginia
December 15th & 16th, Hunters Sanctuary, Providence Forge, VA.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Primitive Bow and Flintlock Rifle Workshops

The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox is again offering a variety of popular winter workshops for unique outdoor related skills for both primitive bow making and building your own flintlock rifle! Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly and spaces are limited. For details contact Heather Benninghove, Program Director, by email: heathern@vt.edu call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749, or visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website.

Traditional Flintlock Rifle Workshop March 3-8, 2013

Learn how to build your own custom Flintlock Rifle! Rifle building experience not needed. Instruction and kits provided by rifle builder Troy Roope of Stonewall Creek Outfitters. You will pay less for this workshop than you would pay a craftsman to build this custom rifle. The custom rifle you build and some tools from the workshop are yours to keep. The class size is small with lots of instructor time - 6 to 1 student/teacher ratio. Meals and lodging provided as part of this package. The cost is $1,650. This covers all programming fees, instruction, the rifle kit, meals, and lodging. Click here for more information. Register by November 16, 2012.

Primitive Bow Workshop February 3-6, 2013

Learn to build your own Primitive Bow. Instruction and kits provided by long time bow builder Alton Hill. Bows will be made from an assorted species of wood and design choices include Native American, European or hybrid. Participants will make one bow during workshop and start a second to finish at home. The workshop also includes an introduction to arrow making and arrow shafting, shafting, shooting styles and string making. Workshop price is $575; price includes programming, instructor fee, bow kits, meals and lodging. Click here for more information. Register by January 18, 2013.

People and Partners in the News

Virginia Naturally Schools Recognized

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Virginia Naturally School Recognition Program is proud to recognize fifty two schools as a Virginia Naturally School. Schools currently receiving this recognition have demonstrated exemplary efforts to promote good stewardship of Virginia's natural resources during the 2011-2012 school year. In addition, Virginia Naturally Schools work to promote civic pride through knowledge of the community history in the area in which they reside. A list of the recognized schools can be found at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/education/van-schools/recognition.pdf .

Pictured for being recognized for a 10 year sign in their school yard is Pearson's Corner Elementary School in Hanover County. Pearson's Corner Elementary uses their outdoor classrooms on a daily basis and continues to add to their environmental stewardship efforts. Other 2011-2012 schools that have been recognized for ten years or more in the program are:

  1. John Wayland Elementary School - Rockingham County Schools – 13 years
  2. North Branch School - Independent School, Afton - 13 years
  3. Peasley Middle School – Gloucester County Schools – 13 years

All schools meeting first year requirements as a Virginia Naturally School have qualified in four areas: administrative support, staff development and curricular integration, resource conservation efforts, and school/community based projects. Additional requirements for schools qualifying beyond the first year include: documentation of efforts to secure library materials/equipment to help students learn about the environment and to enhance field studies; developing instructional settings/outdoor classrooms; and developing community partnerships with area businesses, parent teacher organizations, and area civic groups.

For more information about Virginia Naturally Schools contact suzie.gilley@dgif.virginia.gov.

Conservation Police Officer of the Year 2011 Officer James Brooks

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is proud to announce that Conservation Police Officer James Brooks has been named Conservation Police Officer of the Year for 2011. Brooks joined the VDGIF in 2003 after working as a Deputy Sheriff in Tazewell and Russell counties, and serving as a Police Officer in the Town of Richlands.

Officer Brooks is assigned to boat patrols and enforcement over a large area which includes the Clinch and Holston rivers and Witten, Lincolnshire, Laurel Bed, Hidden Valley and the South Holston lakes and Flannagan Reservoir. Officer Brooks' outstanding efforts in boating safety and enforcement have resulted in a total of 57 arrests for boating or boating-related offenses. Last season, Brooks conducted 138 boat ramp patrols at 15 boat ramps and participated in nine boating under the influence (BUI) safety checkpoints.

Officer Brooks made 106 arrests on game law violators; charges included felony possession of a firearm, hunting under the influence, spotlighting, hunting deer during closed season, exceeding the limit of deer and turkeys, illegally transporting loaded firearms, trespassing to hunt, and illegal possession and unlawful sale of wildlife.

In addition to his patrol duties, Officer Brooks has coordinated boating safety classes in Tazewell and Washington counties. He has offered boating instruction specifically for Tazewell County deputies and Virginia State Police which allowed for joint patrols on waterways in Tazewell County. He has worked closely with the fire and rescue departments in Thompson Valley, Tannersville, Cedar Bluff, and Richlands. Furthermore, he participates in boat training for the DGIF Conservation Police Officer Academy recruits. He instructs in officer safety techniques during motor boat operation for safe methods of detection and apprehension of boating under the influence violators. He also assists with instruction on Tactical Boat Boarding.

Officer Brooks' dedication, integrity, and character all make him an excellent representative of the Department. James annually coordinates the Tazewell County's Kid's Fish day at Lake Whitten. This year 370 kids participated with over 750 in total attendance. In addition to his commitment to his own local Kid's Fishing Day, James assisted with three Kid's Fishing Days in Russell and Buchanan counties.

Since 2004, James's commitment to public service has gone beyond his daily duties as a Conservation Police Officer. He has taken on the added responsibility of becoming an adjunct professor at the Southwest Virginia Community College where he teaches game and wildlife laws in the Criminal Justice Program. He is a defensive tactics instructor, a senior hunter education instructor, and a certified boating safety instructor. James regularly leads his district in educational programs conducted.

Officer James Brooks' work in 2011 has set the highest of standards for a Virginia Conservation Police Officer. His dedication, work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude shine through as he performs his work enforcing wildlife, fishing and boating laws, and promoting safety and education. Both the Department and citizens of the Commonwealth have benefitted greatly from his commitment to duty and outstanding efforts.

Photograph and additional information available upon request. Please email lee.walker@dgif.virginia.gov.

Casting for Recovery Hosts "To Fish Is To Hope" Fly Fishing Event

On Sunday October 28th on a cool, breezy day volunteers and fly fisherman gathered to participate in the 4th Annual Casting for Recovery (CFR) 2FLY4HOPE event at the Rose River Farm in Madison County near the village of Syria. One of the organizers and fishing guides for the event Kiki Galvin, with "Ms Guided Fly Fishing www.msguidedflyfishing.net proudly reported, "With an impending hurricane bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic we carried on.... fly rods in hand, the river monitors at the ready to measure the fish and despite the "low and slow" river conditions we had a very successful tournament. All teams caught fish with their "pink" flies and as our main fundraiser for the CFR Mid-Atlantic region we can proudly offer to 28 more brave women who are on their journey recovering from breast cancer a chance to attend a healing retreat. "To Fish Is To Hope" is our motto. The retreats are free of charge for the participants and are an amazing experience for the women who attend not only because they learn how to fly fish, but are united in their empowerment to overcome and to rise above a indiscriminant disease where 500 women are diagnosed every day. Casting For Recovery makes a real difference in the lives of breast cancer survivors...one women at a time!" For more information please go to www.castinforrecovery.org.

A special thank you to James Grogan for sharing his photos of this event. Check out facebook to view more photos!

Outdoor Writers Sponsor Annual Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Competition

Marie and Milan Majarov, Board Members, Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. and Chairpersons for the Annual Collegiate Writing Contest announce the 2012-13 Annual Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Competition is now open with a deadline of February 7, 2013. This year brings exciting news of a wonderful new prize opportunity for students. In additional to the regular cash prizes of $250 and $150 awarded to the 1st and 2nd place winners respectively, a special new award for the best entry relating specifically to the Virginia outdoors (a story set in Virginia and written about a traditional Virginia outdoor activity such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping or similar pursuit) will be offered by Cooperative Living Magazine which is published by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC). The winner of this award will receive $100 and have their entry published in Cooperative Living Magazine. This award could be won by the first or second place entry or by another entry. A wonderful publishing credit opportunity for a young writer's resume, we are very grateful to Editors of Cooperative Living Magazine for making this possible. Judging will be done by a panel of three professional writers/editors.

Our objective, as always, is to encourage young adults to write about their experiences/interests in the outdoors, wildlife, and/ or natural history. The contest is open to any undergraduate student enrolled at a Virginia college or university, including two-year community colleges, public, and private post-secondary institutions, or to students who are Virginia residents attending similar out of state schools.

Information on this and the High School Outdoor Writing Competitions are available on the VOWA website. The winners of both competitions will be introduced at the VOWA annual meeting, to be held in Staunton Virginia March 2013. This year's annual meeting will be held jointly with the Mason Dixon Outdoor Writers Association and in attendance we expect to have the President of the national organization, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Mark Taylor, from Roanoke. Winners and 2 guests each will be invited to the awards presentation at VOWA's expense; additional guests will also be welcome. This is a very special opportunity for students to showcase their writing talents before many of the best outdoor writers from Virginia and surrounding states.

In addition to the publication of the special award winning essay in Cooperative Living Magazine, winning entries will be placed on the VOWA website, and selected quality entries published in the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries e-newsletter The Outdoor Report. Attempts will be made to get as many entries as possible published in a number of weekly and daily publications throughout Virginia. Rewarding excellence is our goal. Supporting Photos are not required, but will most certainly be welcomed.

The 2011-12 competition was a big success. We were very impressed by these young people and the excellence of all the entries we received. You can read the winning essays at http://www.vowa.org/collegewinners.html, and many of the best entries are presently in the publication process in the VDGIF e-newsletter The Outdoor Report.

If you have any questions about the competition you may contact, Marie or Milan Majarov at marie.milan@majarov.com or call us at (540) 336-8728 and we will be glad to help you.

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:

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."

A Friendly Hunters Challenge to Help Hunters for the Hungry

The buddies in my hunt club came up with an interesting challenge 3 years ago... As we make drives on Saturday hunts during the 10 week season to get venison for all the club members, we agreed to donate any extra deer to Hunters for the Hungry. In addition, several of us admittedly will miss good shots, so rather than do the traditional "cut off the shirt tail" custom, we have enacted a challenge for our fellow hunters to donate $5 for every missed shot towards the cost of processing a deer for Hunters for the Hungry. With all the shooting we hear during some of our hunts [ and the clubs adjacent to us] we should easily collect the $40 needed to pay for processing a deer donated to Hunters for the Hungry several times over!

This year with the added drain on food banks from hard economic times, Hunters for the Hungry can use every donation whether it's cash or venison from sportsmen to show that they do positive actions to support their neighbors and communities. If you have a successful hunting season and were fortunate to have harvested more deer than what you need, and you use a 2012 Hunters for the Hungry participating processor, consider setting aside several packages of venison for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Share and enjoy your harvest with those in need! If you don't have a deer to donate, how about $5 bucks for every one you missed! Last year Friends & Family Hunt Club in Louisa donated $80 to Hunters for the Hungry. And we also built a sighting in bench for our target practice range to use before this season began.

David Coffman

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. 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. The following article has been updated to reflect current information as the original posting date was in August. DC

Hunters for the Hungry has been asking sportsmen to remember to donate venison to its program this fall and winter since the "kick-off" of hunting season at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond in August.

"Help us get back on track" was the theme of mailings 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 its 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:

VA Deer Hunters Association Key Partner in Success of Deer Herd Management

Editor's note... The Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA) is a major sponsor of Hunters for the Hungry and offers a variety of benefits and services for all deer hunters and the management and conservation of both public and private lands available for hunting. If you are not a member, I personally recommend you consider the many benefits of membership and participation as a volunteer in the many programs and activities to improve our sport and preserve our hunting heritage traditions. I just received my copy of Whitetail Times, the official magazine of VDHA and it is full of interesting and informative articles on topics of concern to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. To find out where to get your copy visit the VDHA website at: www.virginiadeerhunters.org

The Virginia Deer Hunters Association, (VDHA), is a volunteer, statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to responsible management of Whitetail deer as a valuable resource. VDHA serves as "the voice" of deer hunters while protecting the rights and traditions of deer hunting. Founded in March of 1985 by a few dedicated hunters who became concerned with the increasing threats to deer hunting, they recognized that it was critical for deer hunters to unite in a statewide organization in order to protect deer hunting from these threats. These few dedicated deer hunters used their own money to launch the organization. As the membership grew, VDHA actively spoke out on all hunting legislation at the state and local government levels and officers of VDHA lobbied at the Virginia General Assembly and worked with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries whenever there was a threat to hunting or when an issue arose which would affect hunting. By 1990, VDHA had recruited over 2,500 members and their newsletter had grown to become the Whitetail Times magazine, published four times a year. Executive Director Denny Quaiff also serves as Editor for the Magazine.

As a partner organization for the annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show and the celebrated Virginia Deer Classic, this major event provides an opportunity for all members to volunteer their time to promote the sport for the public to appreciate. Over 20,000 sportsmen families enjoy this great show now in its 29th year. Other projects include "Youth Day Hunts" and the annual handicapped Veteran hunts. VDHA members were instrumental in getting the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day established the third Saturday in September. VDHA is also a primary supporter of Hunters for the Hungry which annually provides thousands of pounds of venison donated by hunters to feed our less fortunate neighbors.

VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan noted during the recent VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond that, "The VDHA is an exceptional partner with the Agency supporting initiatives and programs to benefit all hunters, landowners and non-hunters . Their support for legislation, new regulations to improve opportunities for hunters and efforts for habitat improvement and protection and hunter safety and ethics are invaluable to preserving our rich hunting heritage and traditions."

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

Editor's note... The future of our hunting heritage and traditions is in the hands of the sportsmen that take the time to mentor new hunters- especially children, creating memories and a passion for the sport to continue to a new generation. Family members and friends, hunt clubs, and numerous sportsmen organizations all have a part in this important mission, "It takes a hunter, to make a hunter". Here is a collection of success stories we have received recently from young hunters that have gotten the passion for hunting due to the time spent with a fellow hunter who took the time to mentor them and instill the passion for our treasured hunting traditions.

Snake Charmers

By John McMann

VDGIF Complimentary Work Force Volunteer

Almost 4 years ago I decided after fishing and hunting in Virginia for close to 50 years, to give some of my retirement time to the VDGIF. Virginia had provided me with immeasurable hours of outdoor enjoyment and I wanted to pass on some of that excitement and enjoyment to other Virginians. I joined the Complimentary Work Force program.

Since joining, I have helped stock trout, taught fishing classes, helped at youth fishing events, worked at the Phelps range, aided with prescribed burning, judged at the National Archery in Schools program, plus many more activities.

One of my very rewarding and enjoyable events occurred just last week when I volunteered to help the DGIF at the Virginia State Fair. At this event the DGIF chose to have some special guests from the reptile family to help greet and act as ambassadors to our station. We had five greeters, a Black Rat Snake, an Eastern King Snake, 2 Corn Snakes, and one Mole Snake.

All the "guys" behaved perfectly with young and old. It was a great experience introducing our reptile conscripts to young and old especially the youngest of our guest.

Seeing the toddlers, seniors, and in-betweens step up and overcome the usual phobias and outright fears of touching and then holding a snake is, as a volunteer, very rewarding. Snakes are a vital and important part of that wildlife and are great teachers and ambassadors when given such opportunity.

Thanks to Sue Gilley for the continuance of this reptilian ambassadorial program. She and corny (the larger corn snake) celebrated their 21st State Fair as a pair this year.

One memorable experience I had was with a middle aged woman who stood back and watched me for a long time. She finally came forward and told me she had never touched or held a snake and asked if she could try. With great trepidation she held out her hands. I gave her the Mole snake and the face of dread gave way to a beautiful smile. She handed me her camera and asked if I would take her picture which she proudly and immediately sent to her mom. She had a new friend a real charming snake.

By the way, if you want to learn more about, Reptilians, Squamata, scaled reptiles, (snakes), DGIF has a publication, A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia. The cost is $5 and can be ordered through on line via www:\\HuntFishVA.com. It is an invaluable help to identifying non venomous and venomous snakes. It is publication number 2.1.1.

I wholeheartedly recommend it.

John McMann, Complimentary Work Force Volunteer

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.

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.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

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

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

What licenses are required for youths?

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

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

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

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

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

David Coffman, Editor

Editor's note... The future of our hunting heritage and traditions is in the hands of the sportsmen that take the time to mentor new hunters- especially children, creating memories and a passion for the sport to continue to a new generation. Family members and friends, hunt clubs, and numerous sportsmen organizations all have a part in this important mission, "It takes a hunter, to make a hunter". Here is a collection of success stories we have received recently from young hunters that have gotten the passion for hunting due to the time spent with a fellow hunter who took the time to mentor them and instill the passion for our treasured hunting traditions.

Teen Couple Find Hunting Together a Great Date

Kaylee Page, age 17 from Troy in Fluvanna County in her second year of deer hunting got her first deer with a muzzleloader, a doe, on the second Saturday of the black powder season with a muzzleloader she borrowed from her boyfriend and hunting companion, Coleman Harris. On the following Monday she killed her first buck, a 6 pointer, at 90 yards while hunting on the same private farm in Louisa County where she shot the doe. Kaylee and Coleman both hunt from the same double tree stand in pine woods overlooking a field where they also share using the one muzzleloader. They both admit that hunting together makes for a great "date". Kaylee is a Junior at Fluvanna County High School and for Christmas wants her own muzzleloader dipped in pink camo pattern. Kaylee is really liking the black powder season, but is anxious for the upcoming firearms season to use her own shotgun that she killed her first deer last year.

Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning

Editors note... You just shot your first trophy buck- do you know what to do next to field dress the trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in choosing a taxidermist. Talking with taxidermists at the fall big game shows, I learned a lot from consulting with them. Todd and Vickie Rapalee from Goochland shared this advice for the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist to handle all of your taxidermy needs! Now is a great time to visit taxidermist's showrooms and web sites to decide on who will handle the preservation of your trophy, be it whitetail, bear, gobbler, bobcat, coyote, or waterfowl. Remember that you will take the trophy of a lifetime one day. Choose your taxidermist before the hunt. The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted."

Review taxidermy tips for Deer in the November 9, 2011 edition, waterfowl in the November 22, 2011 edition and for bear in the November 10, 2009 edition. For additional information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association or contact Rapalee Taxidermy, Inc. website.

Hunters: Check the Regulations Before Taking Your Deer Carcass Out of Virginia

Since Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a progressive neurological disease of deer, has been detected from four deer harvested in Frederick County, Virginia, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia (see the following website: http://www.cwd-info.org/).

Hunters anywhere in Virginia transporting a deer carcass into an adjoining state must meet the following restrictions:

Kentucky Hunters anywhere in Virginia must bone-out or quarter their deer carcass so the brain and spinal cord are removed.
Maryland Will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia's CWD Containment Area.
North Carolina Hunters anywhere in Virginia must bone-out or quarter their deer carcass so the brain and spinal cord are removed.
Pennsylvania Will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia's CWD Containment Area.
Tennessee Whole deer carcasses are allowed except those originating from anywhere in Frederick County and Shenandoah County, where carcasses must be boned-out or quartered so the brain and spinal cord is removed.
West Virginia Will accept whole deer carcasses from Virginia except those originating from Virginia's CWD Containment Area.

For Virginia deer hunters hunting in neighboring states where CWD has been detected, whole deer carcasses from select counties are prohibited from entering Virginia. These counties include Hampshire, Hardy, and Morgan in West Virginia, and Allegany in Maryland. For more information regarding other carcass-restriction zones in the rest of the country and deer parts allowed to be brought into Virginia from these zones, please visit the VDGIF website.

VDGIF is continuing several management strategies in the northern Shenandoah Valley (Frederick County and the City of Winchester west of I-81 and the portion of Shenandoah County west of I-81 and north of Route 675) in response to the detection of CWD. These strategies include the following:

All deer killed by hunters within the CWD Containment Area on November 17 and 24 and December 1, 2012, must be brought to a designated sampling station for CWD testing. CWD sampling stations include Cather's Market, Crossroads Grocery, Gore Grocery, Shawnee Springs Market, and T&R Processing in Frederick County and Larkin's Store and Graden's Supermarket in Shenandoah County. Hunters can still check their deer via telephone or internet but must bring the deer to a designated CWD sampling station on the dates above.

Special hunting season regulations will continue to apply on private lands in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties and the City of Winchester, including: daily bag limit of two deer per day, full season and either-sex early and late muzzleloading seasons on private lands in Shenandoah County, and Earn-A-Buck. No changes have been made for public lands in any of these counties. Additionally, feeding of deer is prohibited year-round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties, and the City of Winchester, and rehabilitation is prohibited for any deer that originates from within the CWD Containment Area.

Special hunting season regulations will continue to apply on private lands in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties and the City of Winchester, including: daily bag limit of two deer per day, full season and either-sex early and late muzzleloading seasons on private lands in Shenandoah County, and Earn-A-Buck. No changes have been made for public lands in any of these counties. Additionally, feeding of deer is prohibited year-round in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties, and the City of Winchester, and rehabilitation is prohibited for any deer that originates from within the CWD Containment Area:

CWD has been detected in 21 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF. More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website.

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!

Preseason Practice Has Gone to the Dogs

Bright colors in the woods, cooler temperatures through the day, Fall is definitely here! Those of us that hunt with bird dogs have waited all summer for these cooler days to start getting our dogs out in the fields and ready to hunt. That time of the year has arrived, and some of the guys & gals at the Virginia Upland Classic are getting together with our dogs, especially the pups and younger, less experienced bird dogs, to polish up their bird hunting skills and be ready to take our dogs to the fields hunting this November when the season opens. folks with young dogs mix in with old timers with finished bird dogs to learn about getting the most out or our hunting companions, and how to safely enjoy this sport with a well behaved, top performing dog.

So far this Fall there have been two "practice/training" sessions. The first was northeast of Richmond off of Route #30 near Central Garage, and 12-15 bird dog owners got together on a Saturday (October 6th) at a Private shooting preserve to introduce several pups to live birds and start the basic training necessary to make good bird dogs out of youngsters. Several owners with finished dogs that had spent the summer waiting for cooler weather turned up as well to polish up their hunting companions regarding the "how to" of bird hunting and exchange information with the newcomers to the sport. Camaraderie among bird dog owners and bird hunters is pretty strong, and sharing hunting stories and tall tales about bird dogs is inevitable. On Saturday 10/20 a mostly different group of guys got together at Liberty Corners Farm near Charlottesville for the same purpose and again there were several new pups to introduce to live birds and shotguns along with started dogs simply working for more experience with live birds and retrieving. Each of the participants have a dog breed preference, but if a dog hunts for birds and retrieves them when we shoot, we like'em!

Virginia Upland Classic events are scored as a team sport and both the hunter and the bird dog need to be on their game to win, but everyone seems to have a great time shooting a few birds over their dogs. At NUCS events each participant (whether with a pointing dog or a flushing breed) takes the field looking for three birds and are given 20 minutes and six shells to find and harvest the birds they find. Scoring is a matter of finds, flushes, shooting, and retrieving with extra points for using less time and fewer shells to harvest three birds. It is a bird hunt, and the event mimics an actual safe hunting situation.

On November 17th & 18th the Virginia Upland Classic has scheduled a "Thanksgiving Pheasant Hunt" in the Charlottesville area at Liberty Corners Farm, west of Scottsville at Esmont, Virginia. Any and all interested persons are invited to participate and bring their own choice of bird dog. The variety is an experience in its self. We get Pointers & Setters, Brittanys & Short hairs, Wirehairs & Vislas, Musterlanders & Spinones and the whole gambit of the pointing breeds. Flushing breed hunters are dominated by Labs, but Boykins, Poodles and Springers show up along with Chesapeake Bay retrievers, English Cockers, and even a couple of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retrievers have shown up to join in the fun of some of the hunts.

Actually, there are several organizations of bird dog enthusiast here in Virginia that participate in what is known as "Shoot and Retrieve" Bird hunts. The National Upland Classic (NUCS), a division of the National Kennel club, is the sanctioning organization for our Virginia Upland Classic events, but the National Bird Dog Circuit (NBDCA) and the United Field Trialer's Association(UFTA) also hold competitive events for bird hunters. In fact many of these events are sanctioned by more than one national organization with similar rules and guidelines for these gundog competitions. For more information about Virginia Upland Classic events here in Virginia you can contact Virginia representative for NUCS, Ben Norris at 804-694-5118 or bgnorris@cox.net.

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.

September Update: VDGIF staff continues to monitor elk activity in the release area. Most elk remained in the acclimation corral area through the third week in July. However in early August, most of the released elk moved about a mile north to a new foraging area. One of the yearling bulls lost a collar, which was retrieved from a brier thicket in a logging area. One of the two year-old bulls lost its plastic ear tags.

The elk rut has begun. The released elk have separated into several smaller groups. One of the two-year old bulls is tending a group of six cows with their calves. Other cows have left that main group and moved 1 to 2-miles away. We have had not yet confirmed any other elk associating with those that we released in May, although anecdotal reports suggest there may be some in the area.

DGIF staff has begun working with our Kentucky and Missouri partners on the capture and quarantine of elk in 2013. We will send staff to Kentucky in October to make repairs to the quarantine facility. Veterinarians from the three states are evaluating and revising quarantine procedures. Trapping will begin this coming January.

Look for exclusive updates in this section of future editions of the Outdoor Report.

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

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

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

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

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

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, and activities and accomplishments of the Quail Recovery Team read the latest edition of The Bobwhite Bulletin (PDF). Also view the video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative."

Habitat at Home© DVD 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!

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

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

Remember: Safe Hunting is NO Accident!

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

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

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

Tree Stand and 'After Dark' Safety Tips

With the end of Daylight Savings Time, more and more time is being spent by hunters in the woods before daylight and after sunset, getting to their favorite stand. Here are some special safety tips for the firearms deer season gathered from experience and conversations with fellow sportsmen around the campfire, tailgate, and skinnin' shed...

  1. Let other hunters in your party know where your stand is located. Leave a map on the dashboard indicating the time you will return.
  2. Pack emergency items including a whistle, horn, strobe, lighter/matches, 2-way radio, or cell phone in your pack. Make sure cell phone is properly charged or have fresh replacement batteries.
  3. Carry an extra flashlight, one of them being the headlight or cap bill type that allows hands-free operation.
  4. Wear full-body safety harness at all times maintaining three points of contact at all times.
  5. Practice using your tree stand during limited daylight and wet weather conditions, to be familiar with the particular safe procedures for getting up, in, and out of the stand safely and quietly.
  6. Always use a hauling rope for your gear. Tie hauling rope to belt or stand when climbing to keep hands free.
  7. Unload gun or bow before climbing or descending stand.
  8. Wear blaze orange in stand. Let other hunters in area know where you are.
  9. Have a clear travel and "staging" area around the base of your treestand, remove rocks, logs, and trimmed branches so you don't snag or trip over obstructions. Use reflective tacks or yellow flagging on trees that will give you a 'lighted' path to your stand.
  10. In case of a fall - carry an extra piece of rope / strap with you to use as a pressure relief device using self-recovery techniques.
  11. Know the dangers of harness suspension trauma and how to lessen the effects while suspended.
  12. Review these links on the VDGIF website for tips on how to stay safe and use tree stands effectively:

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

Deer Ticks Do Not Affect Quality of Venison

Outdoor Report reader Vicky Mongold emailed us: "My husband was hunting with some friends yesterday and one of the hunters killed a deer that was loaded with ticks. I searched your website, but could not find any articles relating to if the venison is safe for human consumption and or handling. Could you let us know if it is safe and could you write about this in the next Outdoor Report." Thanks Vicky for your question, as I am sure many more of our readers are wondering as well... we have had several hunters at our hunt club in Louisa also report many ticks on deer this fall. We suspected it was the warm weather since we have only had 2-3 days below freezing so far... chiggers are still out too! We forwarded the question to VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator, Nelson Lafon who provided this reply. After checking several reliable sources, and personal experience, there are no references to tick infestation making venison unsafe to eat. The public health implications from deer-associated ticks are not from eating venison; rather, the risks of getting Lyme, Erlichiosis, or other tick-borne diseases that result from being bitten by a tick that has fed on a wildlife host. In the case of Lyme disease, that would mean being bitten from a black-legged tick that fed on an infected mouse; deer are not a competent reservoir for the Lyme disease but they do serve as a place for adult ticks to breed and take a ride to another area. In the case of Erlichiosis, it is generally the bite of a lone star tick that fed on an infected mammal that's the cause; deer are the primary reservoir but other species such as foxes, raccoons, and dogs are also hosts.

For more information on whitetail deer visit our website and watch the new VDGIF video "The White-Tailed Deer"

Drivers, Use Caution to Avoid Hitting Deer

With the ending of Daylight Saving Time November 4th and shorter days, many motorists will be commuting in the dark, increasing the likelihood of their vehicle colliding with a deer. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is encouraging Virginia's drivers to be more cautious as they travel the Commonwealth's highways this season. Deer are more active during the fall breeding season than any other time of the year, and a majority of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November and December. While less than 2 percent of vehicle fatalities and injuries involve deer collisions in Virginia, hitting a deer can cause considerable damage to both people and property.

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

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

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

Watch the new The White-Tailed Deer video »

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

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

On July 1, 2012, all PWC operators, and motorboat operators age 30 and younger who operate boats with motors of 10 horsepower and greater must 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 fall boating season VDGIF reminds fisherman and duck hunters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

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.

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 the Department's website 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 late November:

Answers to October 24 edition quiz for nature events for late October...

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...

Support Your Local CPO...

Don't let the actions of a few outlaws or unethical outdoorsmen tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen! Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Your Conservation Police Officers took an oath to serve and protect you and the resources we all use and enjoy from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. These highly trained and dedicated men and women have a daunting task to serve in multiple counties and communities. Some officers can use your assistance to get oriented to their new assignments. Remember these officers are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors — support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and ethically. If there is a new CPO in your county, get to know them and offer your assistance and knowledge on local contacts and conditions. They are your best partner in preserving and protecting our rich hunting and fishing traditions. Help make all our jobs safer and more successful - support your area conservation police officers in any way you can. They are there to benefit you.

Region I - Tidewater

Officers Meet with Hunters and Landowners... On October 9, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Joshua Jackson attended the King George hunter landowner meeting. Officer Jackson met with concern citizens, hunt club members and the King George County Sheriff. There were approximately 15 people attended the meeting. Topics discussed were use of dogs, illegal hunting methods and complaints from the previous year season.

VDGIF Dive Team Recover Drowning Victim from Prince George Quarry... On October 17, 2012, the Virginia Emergency Operations Center contacted Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for mutual aid for Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Dive Team. Chesterfield was requesting a side scan sonar to assist in finding a 12 year old boy which had drowned in a large quarry pond in Prince George County. The VDGIF Eastern Area dive team was activated and responded to the location. VDGIF divers Mitch Booden, Jeremy Hood, Rob Ham, Beth Harold and Ivan Kopelove launched a medium size jon boat and scanned the area of the last known location. After approximately 2 ½ hours of scanning the bottom, the body of the 12 year old boy was located and recovered by VDGIF divers Jeremy Hood and Beth Harold. VDGIF staff were pleased that they were close enough to respond quickly and that the successful use of their equipment was able to help the family to bring closure to a long and lengthy wait for a lost loved one.

Young Farmers Association Meets with Officer... On October 18, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer Ken Williams attended a meeting of the Northumberland County Young Farmers Association and discussed issues relating to hunters and landowners in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. The presentation and question and answer period lasted for two hours and was attended by 25 farmers, hunters and landowners. All attendees joined in the discussion and were very appreciative for the opportunity to address their concerns.

Spotlight Patrol... On October 19, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Krista Adams was working spotlighting patrol in a field in New Kent County. At 11 pm she observed a vehicle traveling at a slow rate of speed with a spotlight shining out the passenger window into the field. Officer Adams conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle was occupied by two males in their twenties. A crossbow was located with the two occupants of the vehicle along with two spotlights. The subjects stated that they were just "looking" at deer. Summonses were issued for spotlighting deer with a crossbow in possession. The crossbow, bolts and spotlights were seized.

CPO Gives Presentation to Lancaster Explorer Program... On October 25, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Josh Thomas gave a presentation to the Lancaster Explorer Program. Approximately 10 members, ages 14-21, attended. Officer Thomas explained the duties and benefits of a career as a Virginia Conservation Police Officer. The program is sponsored by the Lancaster Sheriff's Office and its goal is assisting young men and women who are interested in a law enforcement career. Several members expressed interest in a wildlife law enforcement career.

Bored at the Firehouse... On Thursday, October 25 2012, Sergeant Worrell and Officer Popek were operating decoys in Isle of Wight County. At 0200 hours a pickup came by and cast a hand-held light on the decoy deer. The truck proceeded down the road about a mile, turned around, and returned to the officers' location. The deer were illuminated with a handheld spotlight and two shots were fired at the decoy. Sergeant Worrell stopped the vehicle and found two male occupants, one spotlight, and a Remington 870 shotgun. It was learned that both men were volunteer firefighters with a local fire department, and when questioned about what they were doing, they stated "we were bored sitting at the fire department and just decided to go out and try to shoot a deer". The weapon and light were confiscated and the shooter was charged with attempting to take deer at night and shooting within a state highway. The vehicle operator was charged with attempting to take deer at night.

Region II - Southside

Investigative Effort Nets an Illegal Deer Kill... On Friday, October 12, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer Gavin Fariss followed up on a call in Amelia County that had reported shots fired the previous night. The complainant was an elderly woman who had heard shooting but had waited until the next morning to report it. Gavin spoke with her and checked the area surrounding her property. He didn't see anything related to spotlighting however, he did discover a climbing tree stand with blood on the ground which would have been consistent with an archery kill. He also found vehicle tracks leading off the property to the state highway. CPO Fariss interviewed some of the neighbors to see if they heard shots the previous evening or if they were aware of anyone who might have been hunting the area. One neighbor was able to provide some information and did recall observing a white Dodge pick-up parked on the road the previous day. Fariss expanded his search and attempted to locate a vehicle matching that description. He soon observed a white Dodge pick-up parked at a residence and stopped to talk with the owner. Looking into the vehicle, he saw what looked to be dried blood in the bed. After speaking with the landowner, he determined the vehicle belonged to an employee of his chicken farm. CPO Fariss questioned the suspect and obtained a confession to killing a deer the previous day illegally. The suspect was charged with hunting without a valid big game license, crossbow license, and failing to properly check the deer.

Hit and Run Boating Accident Update... On October 13, 2012, there was a hit-and-run boat accident at approximately 0330 hours on Smith Mountain Lake. Conservation Police Officers from District 21 and 22 and DGIF Scuba Divers recovered evidence at the scene. On October 17, 2012, a news release was made from the Region Two office seeking information in this case. That same night, four concerned citizens called the crime line in Richmond with information concerning the boat crash. The boat operator, a 54 year old Roanoke man, was soon identified and arrested on October 19, 2012. He was charged with Reckless Operation of a Motorboat and Failing to Report a Boating Accident by CPO Edgar Huffman. The operator and a passenger did not seek medical attention but were badly bruised when their boat struck a 6 inch steel piling that supported a boat house and dock . The 17' aluminum bass boat was a total loss and the dock sustained an estimated $15,000.00 in damage. Both the operator and the passenger were wearing life jackets, at the time of the collision, which probably attributed to saving their lives.

Boating Under the Influence... On Saturday, October 20, 2012, at approximately 2100 hours, Conservation Police Officer Nathan Bowling and Senior Officer John Koloda responded to the report of a boat crash on the Roanoke River arm of Smith Mountain Lake in Bedford County. When they arrived, they determined that the male and female occupants were traveling upstream when they traveled out of the channel and struck several rocks near the shoreline. The motorboat's outboard motor sustained substantial damage and the boat began to take on water. The motorboat eventually sank near the shoreline. Officer Bowling interviewed the operator and detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. The operator appeared to have difficulty with his faculties and was eventually offered field sobriety tests which he performed poorly. He was subsequently arrested and charged with boating under the influence. The motorboat was recovered the following day.

Region III - Southwest

K9 Josie Helps Lead Officers to Baiting Arrest... On October 20, 2012, K9 Officer Wes Billings, K9 Josie, and Conservation Police Officer George Shupe were checking an area on Wolf Creek in Bland County. Officer Shupe learned the day before that the hunters could be baiting in the area due to the large number of bears being seen on the property. Upon entering the property the officers located a ground blind in a field. Josie quickly picked up on the bait nearby, which was corn. The officers heard ATV's heading in their direction and hid in the thick brush behind the blind. The archery hunters were observed scattering buckets of corn in the field. Both hunters were charged with hunting over bait.

Driver Under the Influence... On October 22, 2012 Conservation Police Officer Keith Hagy was working stationary spotlighting patrol in Wythe County. Around 8PM a vehicle came from behind Officer Hagy's location and ran off the road into the field where he was sitting. The driver corrected his vehicle and proceeded past officer Hagy, traveling west. Officer Hagy left his location and followed the subject for approximately a quarter of a mile further and performed a vehicle stop. The driver was questioned and admitted he was under the influence of alcohol and Hydrocodone. Sobriety tests were performed and the driver was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. It was found that this was his 4th DUI in 9 years.

Black Bear Killed Over Bait... On October 25, 2012, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris received information concerning a black bear that had been killed in Carroll County the previous day. Information indicated that the subjects were skinning the bear during the time that information was received. Officer Harris made contact with Lt. Rex Hill who was first to arrive on scene. Fresh blood was located on a vehicle, ATV, and on the ground at the residence. After interviewing one subject and talking to another on the phone plans were made to follow up with the subject from the phone conversation. Officer Harris was able to determine the place of kill near the residence and located an active bait site with blood in it. The bear was shot with a rifle as it ate from the bait site. Charges were placed for hunting over bait and killing a black bear during the closed season.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Illegal Deer Kill Leads to Illegal Drugs... On 10/08/12, Senior Conservation Police Officer Tony McFaddin responded to a complaint of a neighbor shooting a deer with a rifle. Senior Officer McFaddin immediately responded from home to the area and positioned himself in a wooded area to observe. Approximately an hour after the shot was fired, Senior Officer McFaddin observed the suspect's father walking across a cow pasture and enter the woods where the deer and son were located. After another hour of observation and darkness beginning to fall, Senior Officer McFaddin observed the family's Jeep Liberty head down the road and across the pasture to pick up the father and son. The Jeep then returned to the family residence. Senior Officer McFaddin was standing behind the Jeep when it stopped. The father, son and their girlfriends exited the vehicle. A search of the vehicle revealed tenderloin and the head of an eight point buck. A search of the residence resulted in the seizure of two rifles and numerous marijuana smoking devices. Charges are pending...

Fraternity Party Crashed on WMA... On 10/19/2012, Conservation Police Officers Heberling and Inge received a call in reference to a large, loud party on Hardware River WMA in Fluvanna Co. The initial call stated that there were large amounts of alcohol and perhaps firearms. Officers Heberling and Inge, along with several VSP units, responded to the WMA and after surveillance, noticed various alcoholic beverages being consumed, including a keg of beer, as well as several vehicles driving in prohibited areas. All these actions were in violation of posted rules. Upon contact, it turned out that the entire group was a member of one college fraternity and several individuals were under the age of 21. Statements were made that the party was an annual occurrence but had become "too big" this year. Officers issued a total of 35 summons for violations of posted rules and confiscated four kegs of beer, 10 bottles of various liquors and multiple other cases of alcoholic beverages. Voluntary PBTs were offered to those individuals that wished to leave the WMA to be sure that is was safe for them to drive.

K9 Team Update

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
1-800-237-5712.

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

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

The new 2012 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2012.

The Outdoors Unlimited Online Magazine Video Library At Your Fingertips

Anglers now can go to the ODUMagazine™ website click on the "Video Library" tab choose a species of fish, choose a fishing technique and watch an ODUMagazine™ recommended video, on how to improve your time and success on the water. Larry Thornhill, Editor and Chief of the on-line magazine notes, "The " Video Library " is an easy way for anglers to find the video(s) that will hopefully impact their knowledge and fishing abilities. We have streamlined the process for you. You no longer have to search through hundreds if not thousands of videos that may or may not apply to the topic you are looking for. Wasting all your time and effort just to find out that it wasn't even close to what you were looking for. We have spent countless hours viewing and categorizing each video in an effort to make your search easier, by creating this easy to use library. For example; click on the "Video Library" tab, select Bass Fishing, a drop-down screen appears, select, " Carolina Rigs " click on the link and a list of per-selected videos will appear covering "Carolina Rigs". Then all you have to do is click on the video that you want to watch. It's just that simple."

Various manufacturer videos will be included in the library, so anglers can dive directly into how a specific bait is to be presented and fished. Our "Video Library" will be growing weekly with newly recommended videos.

Check back often to see what has been added. We will also be making announcements on ODU Fishing News when new sections are added. We are working in the library as we speak, finding the videos (see below) that help anglers improve their time on the water.

For further information, sponsoring a section, or possibly have your video added, contact Bill Schwarz, Assistant Editor at schwarzw@odumagazine.com.

Here's some links for bass and crappie...

Bass Fishing: Jigs, Carolina Rigs, Texas Rigs and Alabama Rigs.

Crappie Fishing: Bobber and Float Fishing, Crappie Rigs, Minnow Rigging, Cranking Crappie and Trolling For Crappie.

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:

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!

Try a Drop Shot Rig

It was 1998 at the Bassmaster Western Invitational in New Mexico where a rig was introduced that would take the bass fishing world by storm. Seiji Kato of Japan was paired with tournament leader Dennis Hoy and was catching fish out of the back of the boat faster than Hoy. The event was televised and the U.S. bass fishing community was introduced to a new technique that has become one of the most effective rigs for catching bass and many other species as well.

To rig a drop shot simply tie on a hook using extra line to create a longer than normal tag end. Next position the hook with the point up and thread the tag end of the line down through the eye of the hook. This will keep the hook in the upright position for better hooking and reduce snagging. Next, attach a weight to the end of the tag end, 8-14 inches of line from the hook to the weight is a common length. Finally attach a plastic worm or bait to the hook and you are ready to fish.

The big advantage to this technique is that the weight rests on the bottom and the worm is suspended above which gives it a lot of action since the weight is not directly attached to the lure. Simply allow the rig to go to the bottom and shake the worm on a semi-slack line, drag the rig and repeat, maintaining bottom contact throughout the retrieve.

The drop shot was designed as a finesse presentation for use with spinning tackle, light line and small plastic worms and baits. A good place to start is with a 6'6" medium action spinning rod and reel spooled with 6-8 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Finesse baits such as 4-5" straight tail plastic worms, 4" grubs, small plastic flukes and mini creature baits are the most effective lures for the rig.

Many hooks and weights have been created specifically for drop shotting with 2 basic hook options. First, a small #6 - #1 hook designed to nose hook a plastic bait. Simply thread the hook into the head of the worm about a ¼" before bringing the hook out. With very little of the hook in the bait it allows the worm to wiggle and undulate wildly. Secondly, if you are fishing around cover and snags, use a light wire #1-1/0 work hook and Texas rig the plastic bait. There have also been weights designed with clips especially for drop shotting, 3/16 and ¼ oz, are the most popular sizes. Split shot can also be crimped on the line – just tie an overhand knot at the end of the line to prevent them from sliding off.

Drop shotting is not just for bass, it can be effective with a number of species and used with live bait also. For Crappie, Sunfish and Perch; forego the jig head and plastic grub combo and thread the grub on a drop shot hook instead. This will give the fish a new look, allow you to fish deeper, keep the bait near the bottom and hang up less. It is also great for live bait; use a #6 Eagle Claw 449W, barbed weedless baitholder hook for panfish and thread on a night crawler and you're in business! The hook can also be tipped with a minnow; in fact, the only limitation to the rig is your creativity.

The drop shot is a popular rig of the pros, but it is very effective for beginners. It is easy to keep on the bottom and feel the bait and because of the small hook, when a fish bites and pulls, it is already hooked and all the angler has to do is reel the fish in. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

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

If you have already purchased your 2012 fishing license, we would like to thank you for helping to support Virginia's wildlife and natural resources.

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

Sarah White's Notebook

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

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

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The water temperature is 56 degrees and the visibility is 13 ft. Last week came in cold. Saturday and Sunday were sunny and nice but fishing was fair. Monday was the third day of sunny warm weather and the fishing was hot. That is the pattern to watch for all winter long. Look for 2 or 3 days of warm temperatures. Water temperatures can rise 6 to 8 degrees and that is enough to make a good day's fishing. We saw bass 4 lbs. and over this week. Crank baits, and worms are the baits of choice but spinner baits are also good. A couple small stripers were caught trolling long lipped crank baits over the north end of the lake. Some nice crappie also showed up in 12 to 14 ft. of water. That is where the inside grass line is now. Fish are still holding along that line and will bite minnows of any size, worms (live or plastic), crank baits, or try your favorite bait, it will probably work. In my opinion this is the best time to fish the CREEK!!! But it doesn't last long.

A Lot of Things are Happening at the CREEK This Winter.

Seasons Passes are on sale now. Buy any pass and we will sell you a trolling motor at my cost, plus $8.00 shipping. Talk to the staff for info at (757) 655- 2277.

Workshops Scheduled on Fishing Techniques That Work On Little Creek

Workshops are scheduled for the 1st and 2nd Sunday of each month November through March at Little Creek Park from 2 - 3 PM. Phone 757 566 2277 or 757 566 1702 for details and topics to include: [may not be in order listed...]

  1. Most common mistakes made on the creek.
  2. Knots and what knots not to use.
  3. Drop shot how to.
  4. Cranking and spinner going deep.
  5. Worm fishing 101.
  6. Live bait fishing.
  7. Cat fish how to and bait hat works.
  8. Stripers its not that complicated.
  9. For me & the kids; floats, bobber stops, hooks & hook sizes

YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO KNOW I WILL FIND INFORMATION FOR YOU!

LITTLE CREEK PARK Is Sponsoring 2012 -2013 Winter Open Tournaments

Dates & Time
Sunday November 18 (8 AM.- 3 PM.)
Sunday December 8 (8 AM. - 3 PM.)
Saturday January 12 (8 AM.-3 PM.)
Saturday February 9 (8 AM.- 3PM.)
Saturday March 9 (8AM.-3PM.)

Tournament Information  
100% pay out
50% First place 30% second place 20% Third place
100% payout for big fish
Tournaments are subject to change or cancellation due to severe weather or inadequate participation.  An adult must accompany any one under 18. Tournament director reserve the right to refuse entry without question.  For Tournament Rules or questions contact Andy Priestley 757 566 2277 andyp817@aol.com

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by Park Ranger Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. Fishing this week has been challenging to say the least. The bass are in no set pattern. I do think we will have some good bass fishing ahead before the weather gets real cold. Crappies are not schooling up yet, but we have seen some caught. The chain pickerel seem to be the fish biting the best this week. The bigger bass will most likely be in the deeper water hangouts. If I were fishing for large bass, I think that I would try something like a silver buddy (jig) or deep running crank baits. The water is clear, 55 degrees and at full pool.

Beaverdam will be open all winter except Christmas Day. So come out rent a boat, walk our trails or just bring the kids to the playground. Thanks for the support our visitors give Beaverdam Park. For more information, visit our website or call the Beaverdam Ranger Station at (804) 693-2107.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. Gar fishing has slowed way down with the onset of cooler water. The current water temperature in the middle Rappahannock River and Cat Point creek is 50 degrees. The cat fishing has been excellent for the last couple of weeks with plenty of pan sized, 1 to 3 pounds, catfish being taken on every outing. 29 today in just 2 hours of fishing! I hear reports that the school sized stripers are in the river, action this weekend was either early in the day or just before dark. See you on the water!

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, flounder are taking cut bait and live spot at the channel edges of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Tautogs are at the in-shore wrecks and are going for fiddler crabs and clams. Puppy drum are in the Elizabeth River and are attacking cut bait and squid. Speckled trout are hanging around Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. They will bite Mirrolures and jigs. The water is 52 degrees and clear.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams had little to report as visitors in his area have been scarce. Some puppy drum are coming in on live or dead shad, with the live ones being your best bet. The water is clear and 52 to 54 degrees.

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 had risen back into the low to mid 50s by Monday (11/12/2012). The lake level was approximately 6 inches above the top of the dam. The water was light brown and very slightly cloudy in the lower lake. Most of the floating hydrilla mats in the main lake were gone, and many of the hydrilla mats in the major creeks had broken loose and were drifting. Blue cats were hitting live minnows and were around bait schools in channels in the main lake. Active crappie were along the edges of the channels or on deep flats near channels, about 10 to12 feet down, in the main lake and were hitting live minnows, blade baits, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs and tubes. Bass, pickerel, and bowfin were scattered in mid-depths in the main lake. Bass were hitting live minnows, soft plastic stick baits, crank baits, and plastic worms.

Fishing with Capt. Conway, Mickey Cleveland had 11 crappie, 1 bowfin, and 1 bass. Tom Porter and Malcolm Turnbull had 25 crappie and 1 shad. Capt. Bill Buck had 16 crappie, 5 white perch, and 1 blue cat.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. No report this edition.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that the bass bite is still good; try plastics and cranks. Crappie action is "very good" on the traditional minnows and jigs. Many cats are coming in on cut bait. The perch fishing is slowing down due to cooling water, but you might land one with a red wiggler or night crawler. Bluegill have slowed for the same reason, but may take a cricket. The water is clear and cooling.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 9th through the 11th on the Nottoway below the Bronco Club. The water was clear and 49 degrees. Air temperatures ranged from 34 to 70 degrees. It was just gorgeous out there except for the trash. I don't usually have much problem on that part of the river but this time I picked up about a half a bag. The fishing on this trip was great, for catfish that is. I could hardly scrounge up enough bait to set lines. I could not catch a bream (and that's bad) so I started bass fishing and finally caught about a two pounder. That was big enough so I could use the guts and belly for bait. Now I don't know if bass is the ticket or not, but I might have to start using bass as my primary bait. That first night I caught 10 catfish on the nine limb-lines I had set. Now I know you think I screwed that up, how could I catch 10 fish on nine lines? Well the next morning I was gathering up the fish off the jug-lines and I took 9 off. On the way back to camp I saw a jug dancing again that I had already took a catfish off of and went to investigate. Darn if I didn't catch another catfish on that jug and it didn't even have any bait on it! I guess the hook smelled enough like fish that it did the trick. Moonpie suggested that from now on maybe we should pack a bottle of fish oil with us to coat the hooks with in case we have problems catching bait again. I imagine you could soak cotton or something like that in fish oil and put it on a hook and catch a catfish. Good idea, Moonpie! I only caught three the next night using catfish belly, but one of those went 16 pounds. Maybe blue cats just aren't very cannibalistic.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.

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 fishing is good. Try Pig & Jig or tubes in blue and black or motor oil. Crappie are to be had at the creeks in 8 to 10 ft. of water, with chartreuse or white jigs and minnows. Cat fishing is good about 15 to 35 down, using cut shad or bream. Some perch can be had at Dutch Gap on red wigglers. The water is in the mid 50s and clear.

Non 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

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

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Ouch!! The James is at 2.7 feet with a CFS of 880. The water temperature is 49 degrees and gin clear. These are tough conditions for smallmouth fishing. The fish have migrated to their winter homes and have become sluggish. Now is the time of year to go slow and deep. Jigs are always a good bet; either a buck tail or calf tail heavy enough to get down and bounce the bottom. Tubes dragged on the bottom are also good at this time. Mid day and early afternoon will be best as the water temperatures warm up and get the baitfish active, which will have the smallmouth searching for a meal.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that the bass bite is "fair". Try spinners, cranks and top-waters. Seek crappie in the brush and around structures and throw a minnow or jig. Flathead cats are going for live bream. No word on perch or bluegills. the water is clear and in the upper 50s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Riesdorf told me that the smallmouth bite is slow, but a crayfish imitator might do it. Rainbows and browns in the Jackson are going for nymphs. The water is clear and 55 degrees.

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. Holly Grove Marina is closing for the winter and will reopen in February.

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

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com. No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the smallmouth are just not cooperating; still, tubes in dark colors like green pumpkin might work. Largemouths are going for Pig & Jigs. Clear water is making muskie fishing difficult, and not many are coming in. The ones that have come in have been landed by live bait, like suckers and big chubs. The water is clear and in the low 60s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Still no rain here on the Upper New River. Crystal clear and low water conditions can make for a challenging bite, but the walleye fishing continues to be great during the twilight times. Muskie are hitting but are very shy in these water conditions, try slow glide baits or plastics. Smallmouth are in or near deeper holes and in eddies. Water temperature is 45 degrees and we do have some rain in the forecast but it doesn't look like enough to help out the river conditions. Be safe on the river!

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that smallie action is slow, with jigs and cranks being the most effective lures. Muskie fishing is good and should get even better; try big inline spinners. The water is clear and in the mid 40s.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. All the trout streams in the vicinity of the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) have been stocked. The water is extremely clear due to little rain in the last few weeks. Fishing for trout is very good. Nymphs and streamers are producing. Smallmouth can still be had in the New if you work a tube or crawfish fly slowly. Crankbaits and jerkbaits may also work. Water clarity in the Top New is approaching ten feet and cooling.

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 Murray says that the smallie fishing is "fairly good". Try fishing the deep pools and streams. Good flies are Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Murray's Heavy Black Hellgrammite, size 4. The water is clear, at normal levels and 44 to 49 degrees.

Fishing for rainbows and browns in the special regulation streams is "excellent" Baitus and midge hatchings are going on now; so if you see a fish rise, it's time to throw your fly. Best flies are: Mr. Rapidan Midge, size 18; and Mr. Rapidan Parachute, size 18. The water is at a good level, clear and 48 degrees.

Brookies in the mountain streams are spawning and should be left alone.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. The bass fishing on Lake Moomaw has been strong the past three weeks! The smallmouth and largemouth bass have been actively feeding on the shad schools and can be caught with a variety of techniques. Early morning can provide some exceptional top-water action with spooks and chuggers being the most productive. You will find that the schools of bass are usually mixed in with one of the other species. Later in the day the fish will move to deeper depths (5 to 18 ft.) but are still actively feeding. The deeper fish can be caught with crankbaits, drop-shot worms, tail spinners, spoons- generally anything that simulates the shad forage. Color doesn't seem to be a big factor either. Throw what you have confidence in.

The local tournaments have been producing 5 fish limits that average around 14 lbs, with one bag over 18 lbs two weeks ago. The water level is about 20 in. below normal pool, so be careful. I have witnessed a couple of boats run aground so adjust and stay in the channel. Water temps are in the low 50s and generally clear. As you go up lake the water has some color to it but not murky. As a footnote; the pickerel seem to be active as many are being caught. So if you like to chase pickerel, get to Moomaw.

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

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.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: CatchGuide.com): Slow, slow, slow.... not much cooking on the Upper Potomac right now. The smallies have retreated to the deep holes and are looking for slow moving lures. Time for patience! The smallie action on the Rappahannock and Rapidan is pretty much over for the year – not worth the hike to the access points since where you can wade, the water is not deep enough to be interesting to the fish. While the Blue Ridge trout streams are running full, most anglers do not fish during this time of the year to give the brookies a break as they spawn. My perspective is that the fish need every opportunity to do that. My unscientific, personal assessment is that the population is way, way down as a result of the last two summers of low water. Hopefully, we have a good year class and these streams experience a rebound. In the meantime, enjoy the stocked trout water!

Occoquan River: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.

Occoquan River: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. Local waters are still running very muddy after Hurricane Sandy. I have talked to a few people who have tried fishing but they are not doing much.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Angler's Landing will be closed for the winter and will reopen on St. Patrick's Day.

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

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

Stripers: This is one of the best months of the year to fish for stripers on Lake Anna and thanks to Hurricane Sandy the lake has been replenished with water, oxygen, and enough cooler water to turn the lake over. Within two days after the hurricane, the lake had completely transformed into a striper fisherman's dream. Our guides are catching limits easily with the fish looking very healthy. Here are a few techniques to try this month for some incredible action. By far the best way to catch limits and the larger fish is pulling Water Bugz planner boards rigged with big gizzard shad over shallow flats. A 10 inch gizzard pulled behind a board could result in an explosion literally anywhere on the lake as long as the water depth is 10 feet or less. The key is to locate areas with bait and no boat traffic. If your heart can't take that much action Stripers are schooling over 20 to 30 foot flats where you can run down lines with either gizzards or herring at depths around 20 feet. Locate the schools first on your depth finder or by watching the birds work the bait the stripers are chasing. When you find the fish work that area thoroughly, just because the gulls move a couple hundred yards away does not mean your school has left, the birds are simply feeding over another school. The gulls on this lake are like a poor man's Lowrance, most fisherman rely on the birds to find fish rather than their depth finder. Jump fisherman, when they run their motors into the schools, spook all of the fish under the birds except the punks which we are not targeting anyway. If you enjoy fishing for stripers with artificial bait, working the gulls can be a fun and productive way to fish if you shut your big motor down at least 100 yards away from the action and use your trolling motor to approach the fish. In November, there are schools of stripers working all over the lake, respect the fisherman who are already working a school by not encroaching on them. Good baits to throw when the fish are near the surface are Pencil Poppers, Spook type baits and soft twitch baits. Big baits will work best until the water temperature falls below 45 degrees, then the Sea Shad rigged on a jig head will prevail. Sassy Shads, Sea Shads and Super Flukes rigged on light jig heads can also be cast to the clay banks and grass beds up lake to catch Stripers.

Bass: This is a " No Brainer". The bait is in the backs of the creeks and up the rivers and that is where bass are feeding, fattening up before winter hits. In feeding periods the bass are up on the shallow flats relating to nothing but baitfish and when the conditions deteriorate they pull back to the nearest drop off, usually right on the creek channel ledge with nicer fish holding on stumps or rock piles. Later in the month, if the water temperatures crash, the bait may start to move back to the main lake regions and the bass will follow them. With so many new baits out there now for bass fisherman, you may want to use baits that you have confidence in working relatively fast till you locate the bass then maybe try your new baits in your tackle box.

Crappie: This has been a great fall for crappie fishing, the fish have been shallow for over a month on traditional structures like boat docks, brush and rock piles and simply scattered over 3 to 8 foot flats. The bridges are still holding good schools of crappie, I catch numerous crappie over a pound in my throw net daily while throwing for bait.

Don't forget to send me your tips, tricks and recipes for our next edition! Just send them to fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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email your material to
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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

This November 14 "Thanksgiving" edition of the Outdoor Report is featuring one of the top 15 entries in the 2011-12 VOWA Collegiate Writing Competition by Travis Hart, a student at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. Entitled " At One with Mother: Nature" Travis describes his feelings when coming to peace with "Mother Nature" during a time of self-discovery. We hope you will get the opportunity and blessing to spend some time with family and friends this season of "giving thanks" for all the good people and special places where we can share our experiences, time and bounty.

At One with Mother: Nature

By Travis Hart

One of the most humbling lessons taught to me by my beautiful Mother, Earth, is one of self-discovery. One day this past fall, I had hiked two miles to reach a magical glade nestled within the woods. I had found this spot when I was many years younger, and this was the first time in several years that I had been back. This journey took me over several steep, formidable mountains; barren fields full of deer, turkeys, and raccoons. It took me across a gently flowing stream, glinting silver from swimming minnows and the sun's reflection; and even across a busy, and oh so noisy highway.

Once I had reached my destination, I laid down my Seater-Heater and sat down cross-legged upon it. Taking a moment to regulate my breathing, I gazed around the clearing to see how much it had changed. Some boulders had seemingly been dislodged from the mountain to my right were lying haphazardly along the base of the knoll. They quite possibly could have been shook loose during the earthquakes that rattled us last year. What were once young saplings with scrawny trunks and weak branches; were now strong, mature white oaks, elders, locusts and evergreens. I felt a certain kinship with them as if these children of the forest and I had come into our maturity together, growing and strengthening in tandem. They weathered the trials of their lives, as had I.

As I got my breathing in check, I started lowly singing a Walela Cherokee Spirit song that has been a great help to me. "We n' de ya ho, We n' de ya ho/We n' de ya, We n' de ya/ Ho ho ho ho/ He ya ho, He ya ho/ Ya ya ya." This song has aided me in the task of focusing on the here and now, successfully providing me with a means to end the noisy and useless chatter of thoughts constantly plaguing my mind. I sang the song four or five times, feeling the vibrations created by the song resonating throughout my entire body. Combined with the solitude and serenity of the forest, I slowly began to be at peace, my being had been quieted. I existed within that moment and no other; no apprehension for a non-existent future, and no worries for an already faded past, I was in the Now.

This was a life-changing lesson Mother taught to me; with a divided mind constantly running over old outdated memories and creating future expectations that may or may not happen, I can never truly be at peace or live in the moment. Once I realized this, I started paying attention to my thoughts. I caught myself hundreds of times a day anticipating encounters or conversations with other people, or thinking about all that had to be done within that day. I would see myself performing those tasks, or even fantasizing about outcomes I would like to see happen for myself and others. All of which is having expectations of a future not yet made manifest. I was allowing my mind to have free reign, and in so doing, preventing myself from living a joyful and complete life.

I realized the process I go through daily of creating scenarios for the future and changing memories of the past to outcomes that are more desirable was akin to making movies for the Big Screen, so I now call them Mind Movies. I amazed myself at how frequently I made these movies, and trying to reign in my mind from having its own control is one of the most challenging tasks I have accomplished. The more I became aware of this activity, the easier it became to regain control of my mind, thus making it easier to attain true peace.

The trees, animals and all other life within Creation, with the exception of humans, are unaffected by the furious forces of Mother Nature. They may be broken, destroyed or driven to extinction, but, as a whole, they continue to be at peace and go with the flow of life. As is evident, life will carry on. I asked myself why humans could not be like the rest of Creation. Why must I choose to fight the constant course of change, the natural flow of life? If I break my leg, sure, it is going to hurt, but I cannot change the fact, it is what it is. I do not want to be like the rest of humanity and cause more pain and suffering for others, our planet and myself. I want to choose to be at peace with my surroundings and all of Creation.

How can I be at peace with Nature when I do not even understand how to be at peace with my fellow man? This is something I am still learning, and Mother Nature is yet again the one teaching me. I see now that to be honestly peaceful in all situations of my life, I have to learn to be accepting. I must accept that life is ever changing; I could perceive the death of a loved one as "bad or good," but my opinion of these changes matters not in the slightest. The changes are going to occur without needing one iota of my approval. I have been under the impression, like so many others, that my life revolves around me, but how sadly mistaken I have been. The Sun does not rise because I want illumination upon my day, nor does the wind blow for the sake of cooling me off in the heat of summer. Once I learned this, I was one step closer to attaining lasting peace.

True, unshakable peace, is unaffected by any external situation. If you fall and hurt yourself, or another human decides to inflict harm upon you, if you have true peace, you can withstand any torment or pain that may come upon you. Just as the tree in which I carved my name in as a teenager withstood my torture and healed over time, growing into a magnificent red oak; I too, have healed and continued to grow. Learning how to be at peace and at one with Nature has been the greatest journey of my life.

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) and Bass Pro Shops annually sponsor a High School and Collegiate Writing Competition with the theme of "a memorable outdoor experience." We encourage you to write your most memorable hunting, fishing or other outdoor adventure story and enter the contest. The goal of the competition is to reward high school and college students for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors.

Submissions can be submitted in a Microsoft Word or text file, since the three top winners will be published on the VOWA Web site, and may be in other publications or on web sites. E-mail submissions are encouraged. The article should be written in WORD format and attached to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between now and the February 7th, 2013, deadline.

Bass Pro Shops has agreed to again cosponsor the contest, and is providing gift cards of $150, $100, and $50 for purchasing any merchandise at Bass Pro Shops. There will also be gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the joint Mason Dixon â€" Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Annual Meeting on March 14 -17 in Staunton, VA.

For information and General Competition Guidelines for 2012-13 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: