In this edition:

Season's Greetings!

This December edition is very special as it is the last edition of 2012 and completes the sixth year anniversary of the electronic Outdoor Report. We have grown to 35,000 subscribers and we appreciate your continued interest. I am a bit sentimental and humbled realizing all the hard work and support from colleagues, partners, contributing reporters, and readers who have made this newsletter so successful. We hope you have been informed, educated, and even inspired on occasion to do something new and different to enhance your outdoor experiences, or better yet, share with others. This edition is somewhat longer than usual due to adding some articles that would have been posted in the next edition. Due to the holidays, our next edition will be posted January 9, 2013.

This "Holiday" edition is full of ideas for gift giving whether you enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, birding, camping, or other outdoor adventures. My personal recommendation is to give someone special to you the gift of time together - an adventure shared out in the wild. You will create wonderful memories, especially for a youngster, or an adult that has not had the opportunity to discover the great heritage and traditions experienced by exploring our wild places.

Follow up with a personal commitment to be informed and get involved in working for solutions to the issues that threaten our wildlife, their habitat, and our opportunities to pursue traditional outdoor activities. Sharing activities with novice outdoorsmen is the best gift you can give back to the outdoors you respect and cherish. You don't have to do this alone, find a group that you can support that shares your views, and join. Each edition of the Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff and volunteers to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities and making our wild Virginia a great place to live and experience the bounty of our fields, streams and forests.

Encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for a free subscription to the Outdoor Report! We hope this newsletter has informed and inspired you to get involved and get outdoors. From all of us who work to bring you the Outdoor Report, we wish you and yours joy and peace this holiday season and throughout the New Year!

David Coffman, Editor

Hunting Benefits All Virginians in Many Ways

With the general firearms deer hunting season underway, and the fall turkey season re- opening next week in many counties, hunters should pause to reflect on all the benefits that their participation adds to their lives and the positive impact on fellow Virginians. The sluggish economy has 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
  6. Sharing the Experience, Creating Memories, Continuing Traditions...

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. There are several stories of the many benefits realized by both young novice hunters, disabled veterans and the many volunteers, including VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors who organize and mentor new hunters at annual deer hunts. Read the inspiring story of Amy Jones, a 19 year old student at Old Dominion University who now enjoys hunting with her Dad and continuing the family traditions they created in Been There... Done That section.

Hunt safely and responsibly, and have fun!

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.

Wildlife Center of Virginia Releases Bald Eagle at Land's End WMA

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, released a Bald Eagle on Wednesday, December 12 at 11 a.m. at the Land's End Wildlife Management Area, near Port Conway in King George County, Virginia. Participating in the release were Ed Clark, President and co-founder of the Wildlife Center. Also participating were Doug Domenech, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and Bob Duncan, Director of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

On November 11, an animal control officer in King George County picked up a mature Bald Eagle – an eagle that had reportedly been fighting with another eagle. The injured eagle was taken to a local permitted rehabilitator. The eagle was admitted to the Wildlife Center on November 13 and was assigned Patient Number 12-2554 – the 2,554th patient admitted to the Center in 2012.

Upon admission, Dr. Rich Sim and the veterinary treatment team examined the male Bald Eagle and treated it for a bruised right elbow The eagle was placed on a course of anti-inflammatories and pain medications. The bird showed steady improvement and was gradually moved to a large flight pen on Thanksgiving Day. The Center's rehabilitation staff has been exercising the eagle in the flight pen, gradually building up the bird's stamina to allow for its release back to the wild.

Bald Eagle populations declined in the mid 1900s due to the loss of habitat, hunting, and the effects of DDT and other pesticides. In 1977, there were fewer than 50 Bald Eagle nests in Virginia. Today, the Bald Eagle population in Virginia is on the rebound with more than 1,000 active Bald Eagle nests currently in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Land's End Wildlife Management Area, a 460-acre site, is situated on the Nanzatico Bay of the Rappahannock River. The Area lays claim to hosting the densest Bald Eagle breeding population in the lower 48 states. Additional information about Land's End WMA, is available online.

Since its founding in 1982, the Wildlife Center has treated scores of Bald Eagles, done extensive studies of environmental factors that affect eagles and other wildlife, and worked to reform laws and regulations to strengthen the protection afforded to Bald Eagles. Thus far in 2012, the Center has admitted 36 Bald Eagles.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine. For more information on TWC programs and service and accomplishments visit their website: www.wildlifecenter.org, or contact Randy Huwa at 540.942.9453 or at rhuwa@wildlifecenter.org

Hunters for the Hungry Needs Donations of Venison and Processing Funds

URGENT! Hunters for the Hungry has just posted an urgent plea that the need for venison is critical to meet the need of food banks! H4H reports that venison donations are DOWN 60,000 pounds from where they were at this time last year. This is critical as with the down economy the need this year is greater than ever and more venison is needed to address the requests from food banks and other feeding agencies all across the state. H4H spokesman Gary Arrington noted, "We are asking every hunter to accept the challenge to harvest a deer or more these last 3 weeks of the season and earmark them for our program, We need deer donations as the need is greater than ever. This is an opportunity for hunters to give back and to promote hunting in the most positive of ways and during this season of giving, we are asking hunters to give us as many deer as they can to help us give to those less fortunate. Spread the word to your fellow hunters."

During this season of giving, 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, equal to 19.8 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 or more to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Another valuable contribution is to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate although hunters are not required to pay the processing for donated deer at H4H designated processors. The non-hunting public is also encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition.

Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting the Outdoor Report

This is the final Outdoor Report posting for 2012 as only one edition is posted in December due to extended Christmas / New Year's Holidays. The first edition of 2013 will post on the regular schedule of Wednesday, January 9.

Looking for the Perfect Gift for the Outdoor Enthusiast?

Legacy Hunting or Fishing License - Share a Lifetime of Adventure!

Keep our hunting and fishing heritage going strong. The Legacy Hunting or Fishing License is a license purchased for and issued to an individual who is younger than two years of age. It is valid for the lifetime of the license holder, regardless of any change in that person's status as a resident or non-resident. The cost is $125.00 for resident children and $250.00 for non-resident children.

Virginia Lifetime Hunting or Fishing Licenses are also available for all other age brackets!

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.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly will convene January 9, 2013, the date of our next Outdoor Report edition. To keep you informed we have provided several links related to your legislature. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. After the Assembly is in session you can view bills related to the Department's mission that may be of interest to you. The link will be included in the January 9, 2013 edition.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, visit the Virginia General Assembly website. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804) 698-1990 in Richmond.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Shoot to Retrieve Bird Hunt in Providence Forge December 15-16

"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 Chukar Hunt on December 15th & 16th, at Hunters Sanctuary in Providence Forge, VA.

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. For a description of the hunt process read the feature article in the November 14, 2012 edition.

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. 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

VDGIF Fisheries Biologist Presents Fishing Seminar in Winchester January 12

Come out to James Wood High School Auditorium in Winchester, on Saturday January 12 for a free workshop on largemouth and smallmouth bass biology and management, trout fishing in Virginia, river and stream access, and learn about northern snakehead biology and ecology. The workshop begins at 2 PM, is free and open to the public with no advance registration or experience required and will be conducted by John Odenkirk, Fisheries Biologist with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. See the event flyer for more details. For more information, contact Jake's Bait and Tackle 540-723-4621; info@jakesbaitandtackle.com.

Christmas Bird Count - Get Involved!

January - February Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The seven regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for January - April 2012 have set their dates and some have changed locations. These annual "Break the cabin fever and beat the winter blues" events feature seminars from the experts, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests, promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors from the pros. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsman's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's website for all the details.

Fishing Expo Returning to Meadow Event Park in Caroline January 25-27

The Richmond Fishing Expo is returning to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County January 25-27, 2013. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website.

Master Naturalist Training Begins at Bear Creek Lake State Park January 30

The Central Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) is offering its annual Training Class, to begin Wednesday January 30, 2013. If you enjoy the outdoors, why not share your love of nature with others by becoming a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist? The VMN program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and stewardship service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. For information on this state-wide program go to: www.virginiamasternaturalist.org

There will be ten evening classes held on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., with a mid-point break. Most of the evening classes will be held in Farmville. Some classes, and most of the Saturday field trips, will be held at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland, or in the Cumberland Courthouse area. For more information about the Training Class, contact Tom Kneipp at Thomas.kneipp@dcr.virginia.gov.

The Virginia Master Naturalist program is supported by Virginia Cooperative Extension/VA Tech, the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation, The VA Department of Forestry, the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the VA Museum of Natural History and the VA Department of Environmental Quality. It is open to all adults regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Primitive Bow and Decoy Carving 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 Decoy Carving ! Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly and spaces are limited. The Traditional Flintlock Rifle Workshop March 3-8, 2013 announced in the last Outdoor Report is FULL. For details on upcoming workshops 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.

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.

Decoy Carving Workshop March 3-7, 2013

Learn to carve your own traditional duck decoy or sharpen your carving skills! Beginners Welcome! Carving experience not needed. First time carvers will carve and paint a Canvasback, one of the most popular of all decoys. Returning students will carve and paint a decoy of their choice. Decoys will be carved from Tupelo, a favored decoy wood. Workshop price is $275 and includes meals, lodging, materials, and instructor fees. Click here for more information. Register by February 15, 2013.

People and Partners in the News

The Wildlife Society Host Annual Meeting February 12-13 at SML

The Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society's annual Winter Conference is scheduled for February 12-13 at the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Skelton Conference Center in Wirtz. Andrew Rosenberger, Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society President-Elect has challenged the membership to invite a coworker, professional contact or friend to the meeting. He noted. "We all know individuals in our office or through our professional contacts who are not members of the VA Chapter, but would be great additions to our group. Please take the extra effort to personally invite them to our meeting to let them know that we would value their participation."

The feature presentation for the Conference is "Energy and Wildlife." This past election cast a light on the United States becoming much more energy independent. With new technologies for energy extraction come new issues for wildlife. The conference participants will discuss the future of energy development in Virginia and its potential positive and negative impacts on fish and wildlife resources and their landscape habitats. Make your reservation today to explore these and other hot topics in wildlife management and research in Virginia at the annual winter meeting of The Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society!

Early registration will close on January 17th. For registration and membership information contact: Andrew.Rosenberger@va.usda.gov or visit the Chapter website.

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.

VOWA represents professional writers, editors, photographers, videographers, agency and conservation organization communicators, and outdoor related businesses who strive to improve their craft and increase our knowledge and understanding of the outdoors and its enjoyment. Visit the VOWA website for more information and how to become a member or supporting member.

10th Annual Youth Essay Contest "The Hunt"

Attention National Wild Turkey Federation(NWTF) JAKES members, here's your chance to put your writing and storytelling skills to work. Simply write a 500 word, or less, essay describing a hunting experience you've had, and how it has affected your life. Entry deadline is December 15th 2012.

Send a picture (if available) with the story of "The Hunt." Include in the story what or who inspired the interest for the hunt. Has your interest been inspired by a JAKES event, 4-H shooting events, or any other type of hunting and shooting event? If so, how? Please include any information about the hunt that made it special. The story can include more than one outdoor adventure. Please limit your essay to 500 words or less. The story of "The Hunt" does not have to include the harvesting of any game. All JAKES ages 17 and under are eligible to enter the contest. Entries MUST include the Virginia State JAKES Youth Essay Contest Entry Form that is available on the Virginia Chapter NWTF website, www.vanwtf.com, or from your local NWTF Chapter.

Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 12 and under, and 13 to 17 years old.

Prizes:
1st $250.00
2nd $150.00
3rd $50.00

Entries must be received by December 15, 2012, and can be mailed or emailed to:

Richard Pauley
1554 Prease Rd
Buchanan, VA 24066
PAULEYR@nationwide.com
540-992-1883

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."

Disabled Sportsmen Treated to Thanksgiving Weekend Deer Hunt in Mecklenburg

What has become the annual Butterswood Disabled Sportsmen Hunt in Mecklenburg County, was another great success again this year. On 'Black Friday' when many were shopping for bargains, there was a small army of camo and blaze orange clad sportsmen in pursuit of whitetails in the woods on 3700 acres hunted by Butterswood Hunt Club. The group included 38 disabled veterans, including 12 using wheelchairs and 16 volunteer guides to assist the hunters on their stands and 8 volunteer dog drivers with four packs of dogs. On Friday the guest hunters came to the Arrowhead Gun Club where they could practice their shooting skills on the skeet range. They could also sight in their rifles, with some of them getting bragging rights with tight groupings and a few bulls-eyes. Several got in some valuable practice shooting their hand guns on the range that accommodated handicapped shooters.

That evening the group enjoyed a real nice supper with a meeting afterward to orient the hunters and guides on the next day's hunt and the logistics to ensure everyone was safe and successful. The hunters were given a packet with Virginia Wildlife Calendar and magazines, stickers and safety whistles from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and other goodies from the Virginia Deer Hunter Association and blaze orange hats provided by different companies.

Saturday morning a hearty breakfast was served at 6 am before the hunt, then the hunters and guides were transported to their assigned stands by 8 am. Excitement was in the air and the hunters were ready when the sweet baying began to echo throughout the woods as the dogs were turned loose and the hunt was on. Like all group hunts, there are some shots fired and deer sighted bounding through the woods and thickets. The hunters killed four deer with one nice buck, and all involved reported they had a great time.

This event could not be possible without the contributions of area businesses including Dominion Virginia Power, Mecklenburg Electric and VDHA Fredericksburg Chapter. Topside Tent Company of Petersburg donated a 30x60 tent with sides for the sportsmen to have lunch and to get warm when needed. More importantly the tent provided a comfortable gathering place for what these sportsmen come for- the friendships and time to sit and swap tales of this day and past adventures pursuing whitetails. The VDGIF provided the use of three hydraulic stands that the wheelchair hunters enjoyed very much. The organizers were inspired to host this special hunt, now in its fifth year, as a result of the success of similar disabled sportsmen hunts featured by various sportsmen groups at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond including, VA NWTF Wheelin Sportsmen, VA Deer Hunters Association, Sunrise Hunt Club in Emporia, VA Waterfowlers Association and others featured each year in the Outdoor Report.

The organizers proudly reported, "This event continues to grow each year thanks to the many partners and volunteers that team up to provide a fun and rewarding two days in the field spending time with fellow sportsmen for these honored veterans and showing appreciation for their service and sacrifice for us to enjoy the many freedoms we have, especially to hunt, fish and seek adventure and renewal of spirit in the great outdoors."

Izaak Walton League Volunteers Assist Wounded Warriors to Sight-In Muzzleloaders for Deer Hunt

Izaak Walton League member Chuck Green from Northern Virginia reported this story of the Arlington-Fairfax IWLA shooting range setting up a special muzzle loader training session for four wounded warriors who were going on a special deer hunt in early November. IWLA Chapter members worked one-on-one with the veterans giving basic muzzle loader training – loading, sighting in, cleaning, and safe handling practices. The trainers had the students shoot to sight in at 25 yards, moved to 50 yards, then to 100 yards. The coaches were very impressed with each shooter and noted they all did very well with in-lines, and caplocks, both open sights and scopes were used. The 'Ikes' serving as coaches were: A.J. Palik, Jay Forman, Chuck Green, Reece Duncan, Steve Sucher and Tony Sucher. Special appreciation is given to Wayne Lee, the morning Range Officer for his assistance as he didn’t know we were coming, but he jumped right on board to accommodate the shooting session for these very special guests. Chuck commented, "We showed them how the 'smokepoles' worked and then they did all the loading, shooting and adjustments. After two or three shots and a minor cleaning , the vets were readied to go on their hunt that afternoon. They were all excited for this unique opportunity and expressed appreciation for the 'Ikes' taking time to properly prepare them. The excitement was contagious for us all." Got a report that evening that the group had success with calls of "two deer down" amidst the smell of black powder smoke.

Officer Hamm Helps Hunters Track Deer

Frank Kostik, an Active Duty Service Member stationed in Virginia, sent us this note on valuable assistance given by Conservation Police Officer Robert Hamm while he was deer hunting...

"I was hunting today with a friend and was tracking a deer I had shot. We were near the town of Sherando, on the George Washington National Forest. As we were tracking, Officer Hamm stopped and talked to us. He helped us track for a few minutes. While doing so he answered a lot of questions about the area, the deer and habitat. This was awesome, as being in the military and just stationed in Virginia, with each new assignment I have to learn the local areas and the rules associated with the place. Officer Hamm was very informative and gave us some great tips. Unfortunately, we never did find the deer. However, it was a great day in the field and Officer Hamm's knowledge and willingness to share made for a great day.

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.

Amy Jones Patience and Persistence Gets First Buck

Robert A. Jones, Jr. from Newport News sent us this great story of the treasured family tradition of deer hunting with his daughter Amy, currently a 19 year old physical therapy student at Old Dominion University...

"I have been taking my daughter Amy Jones hunting and fishing since she could walk, she always made me bring home any game whole so she could watch me clean them. I bought her first gun and bow at the age of ten. Amy lost interest in hunting in her teenage years (boys I guess?) but showed her interest again her first year of college. I got her a Bowtech bow and she hunted a couple of times her first year. I bought her a Traditions muzzleloader for Christmas last year and a Nikon scope as an early present this year. We hosted a Wounded Warrior Black Powder hunt this year and she joined us on November 6th. Amy requested a stand she had been bow hunting earlier in the year as she had been after a certain buck. I had been saving that stand just for her. She shot a nice 6 point buck right at the end of legal shooting light and sent me a Text. It said, "Daddy I shot a deer, I did everything you taught me, but I don't know if I got him. It felt good but all I can see is smoke!" I told her to sit tight and I would be there shortly. We searched, but did not find the deer that night, but found him at first light the next morning. Her shot was about 100 yards and the deer ran straight away from her about another 60 yards. It was good and cold overnight so the meat was still good. Amy skinned and butchered the deer herself and capped it out for the taxidermist all by herself. This hunt was on private property in Surry County. Amy has a very proud Daddy.

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.

URGENT! Hunters for the Hungry has just posted an urgent plea that the need for venison is critical to meet the need of food banks! H4H reports that venison donations are DOWN 60,000 pounds from where they were at this time last year. This is critical as with the down economy the need this year is greater than ever and more venison is needed to address the requests from food banks and other feeding agencies all across the state. H4H spokesman Gary Arrington noted, "We are asking every hunter to accept the challenge to harvest a deer or more these last 3 weeks of the season and earmark them for our program, We need deer donations as the need is greater than ever. This is an opportunity for hunters to give back and to promote hunting in the most positive of ways and during this season of giving, we are asking hunters to give us as many deer as they can to help us give to those less fortunate. Spread the word to your fellow hunters."

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Fall Turkey Hunting Extended This Year

With the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall. To provide added opportunities for fall turkey hunting, the season dates have been extended in some areas. and the starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. {see Regulations for dates in your area}.

Note that hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Adult hunters supervising youth must possess a valid Virginia hunting license, and may assist with calling.

Fall turkey hunting has some unique methods and restrictions:

Be sure and check the regulations booklet for season dates, bag limits and other details.

Discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Pennsylvania to Impact Virginia Hunters

Due to the detection of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania last month, hunters may not bring whole deer carcasses killed anywhere in Pennsylvania back into Virginia. Virginia, like most states, prohibits the importation or possession of the riskier parts of deer, elk, or moose carcasses from any area designated as a carcass-restriction zone in a state or Canadian province in which CWD has been found. Only the following carcass parts are allowed to be transported into Virginia from a carcass-restriction zone:

Carcass-restriction zones are also in place in Maryland (Allegany County) and West Virginia (Hampshire, Hardy, and Morgan Counties). For more information regarding other carcass-restriction zones in the rest of the country, please visit: www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is also continuing several management actions in the northern Shenandoah Valley in response to the presence of CWD in Frederick County, Virginia. Within the containment area, these measures include mandatory sampling of deer killed on the first three Saturdays of the general firearms season (Nov. 17, 24, and Dec. 1, 2012), prohibiting the movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the containment area (with exceptions), restricting the disposal of deer wastes from the containment area, and prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer. In the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren, and in the City of Winchester, feeding of deer is prohibited year round and seasons and bag limits on private lands have been liberalized in an attempt to reduce the deer population.

CWD has been detected in 22 states (including Virginia, where four positives have been detected) and two Canadian provinces. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting VDGIF. More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

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!

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.

"Unicorn Buck" Stands Out At Big Game Show

Dean Matty sent in this story about a most unusual buck he killed during the 2011 season.

The quest for "Patches" , a.k.a. the "Unicorn Buck", began early in 2011 once he was seen on a trail camera picture with an abnormal feature on his nose. There was debate about what the protrusion was. Was it an injury, was it an abscess, what was it? After watching the TV show "Dr Deer" that was discussing antler growth it was suggested that it could actually be a third antler growing out of his nose. The debate went on as more and more pictures were seen of him with the growth out of his nose. Another reason that some thought it was some kind of abscess or other skin condition is that the buck had some sort of skin disease on his hind quarters that caused a patchy pattern in his hair. This patchy pattern went away, but the protrusion on his nose remained. Several people hunted for Patches through the archery, muzzleloader and gun season to no avail. On the last day of the gun season in the last fifteen minutes of the season Patches showed himself within the range of the lever action 30/30 held by Dean Matty of Carrollton, VA. Dean had a terrible cold that day and was about to get out of the stand after having a coughing spell. Just then is when Patches departed his sanctuary in a patch of briars and branches. He ran toward the corner of the field and all was thought to be lost, but for some reason he followed the wood line toward the tree stand and when he stopped at 85 yards the Marlin 30/30's aim was true and Patches went down in his tracks at the Ole Virginia Hunt Club near Emporia. Patches scored 163 5/16 points in the Virginia scoring system when he was entered in the East Regional Big Game Contest in Franklin sponsored by the VA Peninsula Sportsmen's Association and VDGIF in September. The unusual buck was scored as a main beam 9 pointer with the third antler growing out of his nose like a unicorn. Apparently the nose antler did not contribute to the scoring of the deer as it could not be confirmed to be a real antler due to its location on the nose. However, based on the velvet pictures and the picture at the taxidermist that shows the antler growing from his nose this is truly a rare "unicorn buck".

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.

More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website.

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.

Matthew Carter Gets First Turkey

Matthew Carter from Poquoson sent us this story of his first turkey. "I was 13 when I shot my first turkey with a brand new Benelli shotgun that I worked and saved money to buy. The turkey was a gobbler with a beard size of 10 inches and spurs 2 inches long. I have to say thank you to four people because if it wasn't for them it wouldn't have been possible. The first person I want to thank is Robert Jones for making this hunt possible by contacting the guide and his sister who let us hunt on her farm. The second person is my dad for taking me on the Youth Spring Hunting Day. The third person to thank is Gary Adams for skillfully calling this turkey in range for me, and the fourth person is Karen Barlow for letting me hunt on her farm. I wanted the Benelli shotgun mainly so I could say that, 'I shoot a Benelli' and also because I love the way the gun looks and shoots. I worked for that gun for 9 months cutting grass, collecting and selling metal, doing odd chores for my family and neighbors, and pretty much anything else I could find to do to make money. It was hard because my parents made me put some of the money I earned in the bank. I look forward to hunting for a long time with my Benelli and I hope one day to pass it down to my son or daughter. It is a great shooting gun and already on the first hunt made a great memory as I got my first gobbler while hunting with my Dad."

40 Years Hunting for THE Big Buck Worth the Wait for James Morris

James Morris from Moneta on the Franklin County side of Smith Mountain Lake is a 63 year old deer hunter that finally got his "buck of a lifetime, a trophy 13 pointer. He shot the big buck on a private farm in Franklin Co. using his trusty old Remington .308 rifle. He saw this buck during bow season when he came in behind me on a tree stand and all I could do was try and take a shot with my crossbow left-handed, unfortunately I missed. I figured I would never see him again, but on November 22, here he was coming out of the woods heading across the field just 132 yards away. I was in my stand so I had plenty of time to take aim and when I squeezed the trigger he dropped like a sack of potatoes. When I got to the buck and saw he was bigger close-up than I thought, I was prouder than a guy who was shooting his first buck. I've harvested lots of deer in my over 40 years of hunting some 8 pointers and 7 pointers, but this is the biggest deer I ever saw in the woods. To you young or novice hunters out there that haven't gotten that trophy buck yet- be patient and persistent. Even if it takes 40 years for "the big one", believe me it will be worth it!! James N. Morris

Dylan Carlton's First Buck Rare Piebald

Jared Carlton from Churchville sent in this interesting story and unusual buck for his son's first deer. "I took my son Dylan out for the special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 29th and he ended up taking a deer like I have never seen in person, right after we got to the hunting stand. On top of that, it was his first deer ever and a buck. He just turned eight years old, but absolutely lives outdoors and is always out helping me from cutting firewood to planting my food plots. After we got the odd colored buck checked in and processed up, I took my stepdaughter Livie out to hunt for the afternoon. She had already gotten her first deer last year and was happy to get the opportunity to shoot a very nice doe. We want to thank VDGIF for the special youth only hunting day. What a great day for family memories for the two young hunters and their Dad. I look forward to that day to hunt with my children more than any other day for hunting for myself."

Editor's Note: Seen a piebald deer lately? Piebald deer are colored white and brown similar to a pinto pony. A genetic defect produces the piebald condition in white-tailed deer, not parasites or diseases. Sometimes they appear almost entirely white. In addition to this coloration, many have other abnormal physical conditions such as bowing of the nose, short legs, arching spine -scoliosis and short lower jaws. This genetic condition is rare with typically less than one percent of white-tailed deer being affected.

Joe Hipes Gets First Buck With New Crossbow

Joe Hipes, Jr from Charlottesville, at age 12 killed his "first buck" - a 6 pointer, on private property in Albemarle County with a crossbow on the first day of bow season. It was his first time ever hunting with a crossbow. One of Joe's buddies had been hunting with a compound bow and Joe had seen some friends use crossbows and thought they were 'cool' and wanted to try it. He shopped around and got the one with features he liked and practiced before bow season. His persistence paid off. Joe said he can't wait to kill a bigger buck with either a crossbow, rifle or shotgun. Good luck Joe – there's still 3 weeks left in the deer season!

A Year Later - Young Hunter Still Gets Buck Fever

Editor's note... Last December 2011 I ran a great father- daughter hunting story of 26 year old Amanda Carter from Chesterfield, asking her Dad, Glenn Carter to take her deer hunting. She bagged a nice trophy 8 point buck her third day hunting!! I continued to follow Amanda's hunting adventures through spring gobbler- yep big gobbler first time out too. I was thinking of having Glenn adopt me to improve my hunting success. I met Amanda and Glen at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond in August where she entered her buck in the VA Deer Classic and was ranked #1 in the Women's Division: 7-8 Points – Typical with a score of 125 [Boone & Crockett]. I contacted the father –daughter team and asked how 2012 was shaping up. Here's a heartwarming update and a passionate call for Dads to ask you daughters to go hunting- no matter how "young" they are...

Glen Carter replied to my email inquiry last week, "Not much to report. The rut activity seems to be very weak this year so I'm not sure what is going on. Acorns are everywhere so I guess it just means deer do not have to travel very much looking for food so deer sightings naturally nose dive. Amanda and I have been every Saturday, but my 180 acres in Powhatan is not what it was last year.

There is a 400 acre pine forest to the east of me and that had the second commercial thinning over the summer. So what use to be a pretty dark and inviting location for bedding deer has turned into what resembles quail habitat on a Georgian plantation but without any vegetation on the forest floor. Another two or three years should solve that problem and when the vegetation returns I expect the deer to do likewise. Poor bedding habitat equates to a relocated deer herd and they apparently didn't relocate to my 180 acres.

We have seen some deer and had a pretty good time together which means more to me than the deer in the freezer. Prior to Saturday December the 1st we had 3 morning sessions with no deer sightings, none. Then on Saturday we had 19 deer sightings from first light to 10AM.We had just gotten settled in the stand when Amanda said "there's one" and it was a pretty decent buck alone and moving slowly. It was just too brushy and too far away and we had no opportunity for a good shot.

I think Amanda was finally mentally ready to shoot a doe, but we managed to blow two opportunities on one herd of 14 that came by us. They had obviously been bumped by somebody or something based on the way they were moving. They were very nervous and alert. I told Amanda that we would call it quits at about 10 AM since both of us had other obligations in the afternoon. Amanda then said "I wish we could see a big one". I told her that the best time to see a big one was behind us and that the first two weeks of November was the best time for that.

About the time we were to leave, I saw a deer in the distance and then another just behind the first. They were about 100 yards and coming straight at us. Using the binoculars, I could see that it was a doe and fawn so I told Amanda to get ready and try to get a shot at the lead deer. She got the gun up on the rail and was watching the approaching deer through the scope. The deer were coming at us from the west and that gentle breeze had just swung to the east. I whispered to Amanda that the wind was bad. The deer were moving slowly to us when Amanda got real excited and said, "BIG BUCK! BIG BUCK BEHIND 'em"! I thru the binoculars up and sure enough a very nice 8 point was slowly trailing along behind the doe and fawn.

I told her to go ahead and shoot if you can get a good shot. The three deer were about 80 yards away when I saw the buck jerk to a stop and throw his head in the air on full alert. I told Amanda, "He just got us... he smelt us." He didn't bolt and run, but turned and stopped broad side to us, but there were too many sticks and twigs between us. He eventually figured it all out and he showed us why they are called Whitetail Deer.

It was worth the encounter just to see Amanda trembling for the next 5 minutes with "Buck Fever". Maybe next time. We are both looking forward to it.

Amanda emailed me, "Like Dad said, no real luck this season, but there is still time! This past Saturday was definitely the most exciting as we saw 19 total...more than we have seen combined this season! Nonetheless, I really enjoy spending my Saturday mornings in the woods with my Dad....wouldn't trade that time for anything!"

We'll get an update for the January 9, 2013 edition... Merry Christmas to all.

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.

November Update: All elk released in Buchanan County last May are still alive to the best of our knowledge. Most of the released elk have remained in the acclimation corral area following the rut. Staff biologists and volunteers did not confirm the presence of any indigenous elk in the release area during the rut. However, one of the two-year old bulls that we released tended cows and hopefully we have several pregnant cows now.

Three cows and their calves have separated from the main group of elk, but remain within several miles of the release area. All elk are foraging in reclaimed mine or timber harvest areas.

VDGIF staff worked with our Kentucky and Missouri partners to repair the quarantine facility in Kentucky in October. Veterinarians from the three states are making final adjustments to quarantine procedures. Trapping for more elk to bring to Virginia will begin in 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."

Are You Interested In Funding To Plant Native Warm Season Grasses?

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal has received a grant from the National Forest Foundation to support native warm season grass restoration on private land. We will provide up to $50 an acre for seed, herbicide, technical assistance, plus use of our No-till drill.

Eligibility:

  1. Field should be at least 10 acres.
  2. Must have access to additional farm equipment needed to prepare your field.
  3. Field must be located in the Shenandoah, Frederick, Warren or Page counties and preferably within 3 miles of the George Washington National Forest Boundary.
  4. Landowners must make an agreement to manage the fields to maintain native grasses for 5 years.
  5. Must be able to complete installation in 2013.

A short application is due by January 28, 2013. Please email: SCBIecology@si.edu if you are interested. Decisions will be made early February, 2013.

The Wildlife Foundation of VA Launches Quail Restoration Effort on Albemarle Property

The November December 2012 edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine in the Afield and Afloat section features an article by Jenny West, Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia on the Foundation's efforts to improve habitat for bobwhite quail on their 2,000 acre property in southern Albemarle County. As a pilot program TWFVA has released 500 birds at Fulfilment Farms and over the next few months will provide controlled public hunting opportunities, youth hunts and bird dog hunts to help revive this waning sport. Visit the www.vawildlife.org website for more details.

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. It is extremely rare for a non-hunter (or anyone else) to be injured by a hunter shooting at game. However, why not dress defensively. 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!

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!

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. 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.

Modifications have been completed on the Nuisance and Problem Wildlife Section of VDGIF's website. Angela Weller, Executive Administrative Assistant in the VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources notes that it is much easier to access the nuisance wildlife information. Simply Click on the Wildlife Information Tab from the home page and choose the second link, which is the Nuisance/Problem Wildlife Page. From there you can choose species pages with basic information on laws and regulations right at the top of the page:

Nuisance & Problem Wildlife

How to Prevent or Resolve Conflict with Wildlife

As human populations continue to rise and move into traditional wildlife habitat, human/wildlife contact is becoming more prevalent. This section provides general information and techniques for Virginia property owners when wildlife becomes a problem.

Below are some easy techniques which will usually solve the problem and prevent it from re-occurring:

For more information and related laws regarding problems with wildlife, select a species from the list below [ not shown here]

Know the Law Regarding Feeding of Wildlife - Let's Keep Wildlife 'Wild'

Remember it is 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.

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!

Make a Special Bird Treat

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

First, in large bowl, stir together:

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

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

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

A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia Now Available

A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia is a 44 page field guide that covers all 27 species of frogs and toads that inhabit Virginia. Species accounts, descriptions, biology, behavior, habitats and conservation issues are all described and illustrated through more than 80 photographs and drawings. Included is a complimentary CD of The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads. The price is $10.00 and is available through the VDGIF website.

10th Annual Youth Essay Contest "The Hunt"

Attention National Wild Turkey Federation(NWTF) JAKES members, here's your chance to put your writing and storytelling skills to work. Simply write a 500 word, or less, essay describing a hunting experience you've had, and how it has affected your life. Entry deadline is December 15th 2012.

Send a picture (if available) with the story of "The Hunt." Include in the story what or who inspired the interest for the hunt. Has your interest been inspired by a JAKES event, 4-H shooting events, or any other type of hunting and shooting event? If so, how? Please include any information about the hunt that made it special. The story can include more than one outdoor adventure. Please limit your essay to 500 words or less. The story of "The Hunt" does not have to include the harvesting of any game. All JAKES ages 17 and under are eligible to enter the contest. Entries MUST include the Virginia State JAKES Youth Essay Contest Entry Form that is available on the Virginia Chapter NWTF website, www.vanwtf.com, or from your local NWTF Chapter.

Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 12 and under, and 13 to 17 years old.

Prizes:
1st $250.00
2nd $150.00
3rd $50.00

Entries must be received by December 15, 2012, and can be mailed or emailed to:

Richard Pauley
1554 Prease Rd
Buchanan, VA 24066
PAULEYR@nationwide.com
540-992-1883

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 December:

Answers to November 28th edition quiz for nature events for December...

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.

Critter Corner by Marlene A. Condon

I love the "Legend of the Christmas Spider" because it presents spiders—animals that people are often unnecessarily afraid of—in an endearing way.

Legend of the Christmas Spider

In Germany, a long time ago, a mother was busily cleaning her house for Christmas. The spiders in the house fled upstairs to the attic to escape her broom. When the house became quiet, the spiders slowly crept downstairs for a peek.

What a beautiful tree they saw! In their excitement they scurried up the trunk of the tree and out along each branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed amongst the glittering beauty. But alas! By the time the spiders were done climbing, their webbing completely enshrouded the Christmas tree.

When Santa Claus came with gifts for the children and saw the tree covered with spider webs, he smiled as he saw how happy the spiders were. But Santa knew how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw her wonderfully decorated Christmas tree covered with webs that collect dust. So Santa turned the webs into silver and gold.

The tree sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before. And that is the origin of the tinsel we place upon our Christmas trees.

Although spiders are not really responsible for tinsel, there is a group of these arachnids that are referred to as "cobweb spiders". Cobweb spiders, also known as "orb weavers", make most of the webs that we see in our gardens and houses.

Time of year to see them and where: An orb weaver is named for its circular and intricately built web. It is one of the few kinds of animals that build a trap to catch prey. Although active throughout the warm months, an orb weaver is most often noticed in fall when it has grown much bigger and is thus more visible to human eyes. The webs of these spiders are typically seen among tall plants.

Food: After building its web, the spider either waits at the center of the web or it hides nearby, depending upon what species it is. The spider is linked to the web by a "signal" thread by which it can detect prey (usually an insect) struggling to escape. The spider rushes to the entrapped insect, bites it, and wraps it in strands of silk so that it can't escape.

Environmental function: Orb web weavers vary in shape and size, with some spiders having a body only a fraction of an inch long while others have a body that is over an inch in length. The size of the spider determines the size of the web it builds. Small webs entrap small, flying organisms and large traps catch bigger ones, thus helping to limit the numbers of a variety of organisms.

Personal observation: Once a spider has vacated its web, the webbing seems as if it could last forever. The reason the silk doesn't degrade quickly is because it's got a chemical coating that was released by the spider as it spun the silk. The chemical coating wards off bacteria and fungi, helping to prevent decay of the organisms wrapped in silk within the web.

Nature-friendly garden tip: Keep dried plant stalks in your flower beds throughout the fall so orb weavers can continue to control insect numbers until cold weather settles in.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Naturalist Marlene A. Condon is the author/photographer of The Nature-friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People (Stackpole Books; information at www.marlenecondon.com).  If you have a question about plants or animals, or gardening in a nature-friendly manner, please send it to NTRLDY@aol.com

Interested in a nature talk for your group? Contact Marlene via email. "The Nature-friendly Garden" is a 45-minute slide presentation by Crozet, VA naturalist Marlene A. Condon, author/photographer of The Nature-Friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People (Stackpole Books).

Marlene shares images of wildlife working in her yard to keep it—and the environment—functioning properly. Learn why the loss of biodiversity should be taken seriously and how you can help to save our wildlife by gardening in a nature-friendly manner.

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.

Here's an example of CPO's providing outstanding service to sportsmen...

Carl Garland from Waynesboro, an avid hunter and fisherman, sent us this note to acknowledge the special service given by Conservation Police Officer Lisa Quesenberry. She's assigned to Alleghany County and works District 43 which comprises Alleghany, Bath and Rockbridge Counties. She began her CPO service in 2005. Carl did not know Officer Quesenberry was a CPO when he talked to her on the telephone and refers to her as 'Lisa' in his story as he was impressed with her friendly and helpful "hometown gal" manner.

On Thursday May 5, I read on the VDGIF website, that trout had been stocked in South River, in Rockbridge County on Wednesday. Wanting to try some new trout fishing waters not too far from home, I decided to try it out. As I started south on I-81, I realized I had better call the VDGIF office in Verona for directions, instead of looking for the site for half of the day. A lady at the Verona office said she was not familiar with that area, but for me to give her my name and number and she would have someone contact me with the information. About five minutes later I received a call from a lady named 'Lisa', who tried to explain to me how to get there. Little did I know that she herself was also headed that way. She said to exit off of I-81 on to Rt. 11, and head toward VMI, turn left at a florist shop. As I came down a long hill of three lanes and approached the stop light, I noticed the florist on right, so I stopped short of light and made hard left turn to get into turning lane. As it turns out later, Lisa was just a little further behind me coming down the same hill. She later told me, she wondered then could that have been me making the quick left turn. In my opinion that's great observation on her part. As I made the turn and proceeded out the road in search of South River, there were roads everywhere, not sure exactly where to turn, after about two miles, I pulled over to let several cars pass. When I did, two cars went by and one pulled in behind me, and let the road get clear and then pulled up beside me, rolled down her window and said, "Mr. Garland?", I said "yes", she said, "Hi, I'm Lisa, that spoke to you on the phone. Just follow me and I will take you to the river." Wow, I have my own personal VDGIF escort to the river. After several more turns and road changes, she pulled over, walked back to my vehicle and started explaining were the stocked sections of river, started and stopped, also said if I would like to fish Irish Creek, just continue about 1 1/2 miles down the road, turn right and watch for stocking signs. She said she was the conservation police officer from Alleghany County, on her way to Irish Creek. Due to her kind and timely assistance, I got to enjoy a great day trout fishing in a new area. The sportsmen, visitors and landowners in the Highlands are indeed fortunate to have such a courteous, friendly and professional CPO to "serve and protect" the wildlife resources and folks like me that enjoy them. I also learned from talking to other folks in the area she's been very effective in rounding up the bad guys too. I wanted to relay this story and give a personal thank you to officer Lisa for her help that day. Thank You!

Region I - Tidewater

Hunting Under the Influence... On November 10, Conservation Police Officers Adams and Wilson responded to a complaint in James City County reference hunting under the influence of alcohol. Arriving at a local hunt club, the officers located a hunter exiting the woods with a muzzleloader. The hunter appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and subsequent field sobriety tests confirmed the officers' suspicions. The suspect admitted to drinking at least 3 beers at lunch. A preliminary breath test reading of 0.093 was taken at the scene and the subject was charged with hunting under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. A charge of failing to check a deer was also placed against the suspect's companion.

Hunting Over Bait In King George... On November 9, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Josh Jackson and K9 Officer Frank Spuchesi were conducting a patrol in King George County when they encountered suspicious hunting activity. The officers made contact with a hunter who stated his father had killed a buck during archery season. K9 Officer Spuchesis' partner Comet tracked the second hunter to his stand and it was determined that he was hunting over bait. When interviewed about the buck he killed during the archery season the suspect confessed to not registering the deer. The antlers were seized and the suspect was charged with hunting over bait and failing to register his buck.

Region II - Southside

Illegal Deer Hunting and Bear Kill... Conservation Police Officer Rob Shafer was patrolling the Nellysford area of Nelson County on the second Saturday of muzzleloading season when he located a suspicious truck parked in the woods. Officer Shafer found the truck suspicious because there was a muzzleloader locked inside the vehicle. He began to track the hunter then decided to take an observation position and wait for him to return. The hunter soon returned dragging a small bear and carrying a .308 win. rifle which he had used to harvest it. After speaking with the subject about the illegal bear kill, Officer Shafer, with assistance from Senior CPO Dewayne Sprinkle, went to the location of the kill. Once there, they found beet crush in front of his game camera, which the suspect explained he had placed about 3 weeks earlier for deer. Officer Shafer placed the appropriate hunting charges and also seized the illegal bear.

Mutual Assistance... On November 6, 2012, Senior Officer Brandon Harris, received a call from a local Virginia State Trooper. The trooper informed Brandon that he had just written a subject a summons for speeding and noticed that the individual was wearing hunting clothing and had a partially concealed shotgun in the vehicle. When questioned, the subject stated that he was in a hurry to go deer hunting on his family farm. The trooper informed Officer Harris of the subject's address and a description of the vehicle. Officer Harris took this information and traveled to the area where the subject lived and discovered the vehicle parked near a wooded area. Harris noticed that the shotgun was no longer in the vehicle and he initiated a foot patrol to locate the subject. After following a path through the woods, Brandon began to hear people talking. He was able to get within sight of two subjects who were walking through a cutover. He followed their path until he came upon a freshly killed 7-point buck. Officer Harris approached the individuals and found that both were deer hunting with shotguns during muzzleloader season and one subject did not have proper licenses. One of the subjects admitted to killing the buck with his shotgun. Appropriate charges were placed.

Bedford County Youth Deer Hunt... Senior Conservation Police Officer Dewayne Sprinkle, who was instrumental in developing the ongoing annual Bedford Youth Deer Hunts, stepped up to the challenge of managing and hosting the event this past weekend. This event was a huge success with 10 youth hunters participating and 6 deer being harvested during the hunt.

Lost But Found Safe... On Saturday morning at approximately 0230 hours, Conservation Police Officer's from District 21 were completing a spotlighting saturation patrol when a call from Pittsylvania County concerning a lost hunter was received. Officers responded to a hunting camp and woke a number of campers a little earlier than they had planned for opening day. Information obtained led to another camp in Turkeycock Mountain and the "lost hunter" was found safe and asleep in a warm cabin. He advised that his cell phone " battery had died" and that he had failed to call his wife to let her know that he had arrived safely.

Region III - Southwest

Unchecked Deer Leads to Additional Charges... On November 11, 2012, Conservation Police Officer David Peake was patrolling the National Forest in Pulaski County. He observed a deer head in the back of a parked truck. Upon further investigation it was determined the registered owner had not checked in a deer, and he was suspended to drive. Officer Peake and Conservation Police Officer Troy Phillips observed the vehicle on a state maintained road. A vehicle stop was made and the subject was questioned about the deer head. At first he told the officers a friend had given it to him. After further questioning, he admitted he had killed the deer and not checked it in. He also had a concealed revolver in the front seat. A consent search was conducted and it revealed marijuana and medicine he did not have a prescription for. The subject admitted to killing the deer he had in the truck on Saturday. He also admitted to killing another deer earlier in the week. Both deer had not been checked in and he was hunting on property where he needed a license. Appropriate charges were placed.

CPO Participates in Radford University Career Invitational... On November 12, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Francis Miano participated in the Radford University Career Invitational at Heth Hall located on campus. Many Law Enforcement agencies from across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia represented their respective agencies at this event. Approximately 120 people came through the exhibit. Officer Miano fielded many questions from students who are either finishing up their Criminal Justice studies at Radford University or just beginning their college careers. While most participants were interested in the Law Enforcement field, many other students had questions about the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' other Divisions, specifically Wildlife and Fisheries Biologists positions as well as possible internship opportunities.

K9 Josie Leads CPOs to Bait... On November 13, 2012 Conservation Police Officer Keith Hagy, K9 Officer Wes Billings and K9 Josie checked a property in Wythe County for suspected hunting over bait. The Officers and Josie walked into the property and located two hunters with loaded muzzleloaders sitting in a vehicle. While officer Hagy checked the hunters, Officer Billings and Josie searched the area for bait. Josie located corn spread out across and under the leaves approximately 40 yards from the vehicle. The officers also located four bags of corn in the bed of the truck. Both hunters were charged with hunting over a baited area.

Several Charges Filed on Deer Hunter... On November 15, 2012, Conservation Police Officers T.E. Hayes and Mark VanDyke received information from an informant regarding an individual killing deer illegally in Wise County. The officers went to the suspect's residence to question him about the allegation. Upon arriving on the property they observed the suspect skinning a deer in his back yard. As the officers approached the suspect, they observed a second deer in the bed of his pick-up truck. During the interview with the suspect, he admitted to killing both deer on the same day. The suspect also admitted to killing the deer using a Winchester 30-30 rifle, outside of the firearms season. Further investigation revealed the suspect did not possess a valid Virginia hunting license and had not checked in either deer that he had killed that afternoon. The suspect was charged with exceeding the daily bag limit for deer, hunting deer with a rifle during the closed season, failing to check deer, and hunting without a license.

Several Charges Placed at Spotlighting Stop... On November 16, 2012 Conservation Police Officer George Shupe was working a spotlight patrol in Bland County. At 2030 hours a pickup truck approached the officers' location and stopped in the roadway. The vehicles driver opened the door, shined a light on a doe deer and fired one shot at it with a 22 rifle. Officer Shupe stopped the vehicle which was occupied by three males. The rifle and a baggie of marijuana were seized and charges were placed on the suspects for spotlighting. The driver was also issued summonses for shooting from the roadway and possession of marijuana.

Multiple Charges Placed... On November 17, 2012, District 31 Senior Conservation Police Officers Gene Wirt and Lee Wensel responded to a complaint that revealed 4 illegal kills. Officers had information that a bear had been killed in closed season. The officers went to the suspect's residence and confronted him with the information. The suspect then agreed to a search of the property. The officers found a 7 pt. buck hanging in an out building that was killed with a 22 rifle the day before in closed season. Further investigation revealed evidence of 2 other illegal deer, and a bear that had been taken in closed season with a 22 rifle also. The investigation indicated that 2 antlered deer and the bear were taken by one suspect and 1 antlered deer was taken by a friend. Multiple charges will be made on the suspects.

CPO Notices No Notched Tag... On November 17, 2012, Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Davis was on patrol in Smyth County. During a hunting license inspection, he noticed fresh blood and deer hair in the back of the hunter's pickup truck. Sergeant Davis asked the subject if he harvested the deer that had been hauled in his truck. The subject advised no, that his friend did yesterday and pointed toward his location as he walked out of the woods. When this subject arrived at the truck, he handed Sergeant Davis his hunting licenses. Sergeant Davis looked at the licenses and noticed there was no notched tag. He called the subject to the back of his patrol vehicle. Sergeant Davis asked the subject to tell him about the deer he harvested yesterday. The subject admitted to killing a deer, failing to notch his tag and failing to check the deer. The subject took Sergeant Davis to the location the deer was hanging. The subject was charged appropriately.

Deer Carcass Dumped... On November 26, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall received information from a landowner in Smyth County concerning the remnants of a deer carcass that was dumped. The landowner provided Officer Hall with two different license plate numbers and a description of the motor vehicle that was parked at the scene of the illegal dumping incident on November 25, 2012. With assistance from Richmond Dispatch, Officer Hall was able to track down the correct suspect vehicle and initiated a brief interview with the suspect. After advisement of his Miranda Rights, the male subject admitted to dumping the deer carcass. Officer Hall secured a summons from a magistrate and the suspect was served with a summons for Littering.

Felon with Murder Conviction Found with a Firearm... On December 1, 2012 Conservation Police Officer Keith Hagy was patrolling in Wythe County when he noticed a red pickup occupied by two persons coming toward him and driving on his side of the road. Suspecting they were road hunting he slowed down and let the vehicle keep coming. When they noticed him they straightened up and came to a stop beside his patrol vehicle. When questioned as to what they were doing the driver stated they were going back hunting with some friends. In the front seat and on the passenger's side was rifle. A second rifle was found behind the seat which was loaded with a round in the chamber. Officer Hagy determined that the passenger was a convicted felon with a murder conviction and three other felony convictions. The passenger was placed under arrest for being a felon in possession of a firearm and transported to the Wythe County Magistrates office where he was held without bond.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Salt Block for Bait Leads to More Charges... On October 31, 2012, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Eller and Sergeant Shuler were on patrol in Spotsylvania County, due to a complaint of trespassing and hunting over bait. A salt block was located approximately 10 yards from a tree stand on the property. On Nov. 3, 2012, the officers returned and located an individual in the stand. The individual was interviewed and first explained that he did not know salt blocks were considered bait. He knew that mineral blocks and corn were illegal, but put the salt block out to help with antler development. Ultimately, he eventually acknowledged that he knew the salt block was considered bait and that he has used salt blocks throughout his life while hunting. The appropriate summons was issued.

While at the above property, the officers encountered several other hunters who complained of hearing shots being fired at a nearby subdivision. The officers proceeded down a trail at the end of the subdivision and located a pickup truck. An area search was unsuccessful in locating the operator of the vehicle and the pickup was gone when the officers returned to their vehicle. The officers returned to the paved road and followed the vehicles mud tracks to a nearby residence. The operator of the vehicle was identified and interviewed as to his activity on the property. He explained that he did not want to drive to the property he had permission to hunt, so he decided to hunt the undeveloped property in his subdivision. After determining the subject did not have permission to hunt, the appropriate charge was placed.

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.

Sparse Is No Farce By Ben Norris

It's no farce! If you want the best action with saltwater flies for Stripers (Rockfish)........ select sparse, stingy, almost bedraggled looking creations when you grab a fly. You do not have to take my word for it, check out the recommendations of most other saltwater fly fishermen from Lefty Kreh on down, and you will find that they all suggest that when you are tying up a set of striper flies, or selecting them store bought, keep them sparse and stringy looking. It seems that the fresh water cousins of the striped bass, like the largemouth family, seem to favor a more bulky fly, but regardless of the basic pattern ("clousner", "deceiver", "buck-tail", or what have you) the sparse version usually gets more and quicker attention than does a bulky fly from a saltwater striped bass.

There is a good reason for this. The saltwater striper's diet, though it may be opportunistically wide scope, is really focused on the vast mass of little bait fish known in general as glass minnows. Clousners, bucktails, and deceivers do a great job of imitating 3-5 inch minnows, and with a bit of sparkle and/or flash..... and a minimum of buck's tail, they are very much "striper candy". Other patterns will catch rockfish by imitating sand worms, shrimp, or small eels, but a sparsely tied imitation of a glass minnow in white buck's tail, with some flash, a streak of red, and a white, pink, or bright green body is hard to get through a school of slot-limit stripers without snagging a fish.

Not everybody has gotten around to catching fish with hair and feathers, especially the salt water species, but if you can get by the myth that it is difficult to learn how, salt water fly fishing will double your fishing entertainment. If you measure your fishing day by the number of fish you put in a cooler, you may do better staying with a hook and sinker. Dragging lead weights around the Bay, trolling for rockfish is a Chesapeake bay tradition, but hooking a 10 pound striper on an umbrella rig and dragging it half to death, cannot compare to the thrill of casting a fly around underwater structure and having that same fish pounce on a fly. The fight is on, and a rockfish can make a good show of it against an #8 or #9 weight fly rod & reel, instead of a 25' power boat with a 200 HP motor.

Saltwater fly fishing gear does not have to be expensive. I venture to say that you can find a good rod and reel in an #8 or #9 weight for less than $150.00. Add some line (start with intermediate not floating or sinking line), a few leaders and some flies, and you should be ready to fish for less than $200.00. There are hundreds of "How to" fly fishing videos for beginners and from there on it is just a matter of practice and more experience.

I recently went out with Captain Chris Newsome from Mathews, Virginia to see what the effects were from the storm "Sandy" on the Bay & Inshore light tackle fishing. Captain Newsome and several other local area guides are featuring light tackle and salt water fly fishing. What we found was that "Sandy" definitely left her mark, but not so bad as she did to the north where she came ashore. The amount of rain and fresh water cooled the inland rivers and had started to cool the Bay so we found that the Speckled trout and Puppy Drum pretty much packed up and headed south. The rockfish had moved as well. Before the storm they were in the rivers but we had to move on down to the Bay and finally found them on structure around Gywnns Island. We found schools of various sized fish, mostly in the slot, around structure and inshore rips at what was left of "Hole in the Wall" and as far south as Wolftrap Light and Winter Harbor. Using the live well to try to keep the best fish we were catching we caught and released about 25 stripers and kept four that were 23 to 27 inches long, on the top end of the slot. Catch & Release is a fishing style that lets you expand that two fish per person into a fun afternoon of fishing, and I think the fish released do much better than the ones that are dragged and released from trolling gear. Keeping more stripers alive and well is the future of our fishery. Just remember when you go fishing for striped bass with saltwater fly gear, that sparse and stingy flies are the key to more strikes.

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:

Crappie Fishing Great in Early December "Warm Spell"

Andy Maneno, Last Call Guide Service and award winning photographer, decided to take a break from successful deer hunting and spend a day during this early December "warm spell" and see if the crappie were biting...

Well Team Grandpa(my Dad, Larry Maneno) felt a little ill the other day and I was worn out from working up deer late the night before. So, I said let's not waste a nice warm day in December, let's check out the pond and Lake 'Uncle D' to see if the fish are biting. Well the pond was slow, just one bass for Grandpa so we hit the Lake. The crappie were in a feeding frenzy, I threw back 25 crappie and then decided to keep some. Finally Grandpa got his rubber worm torn up, so I hooked him up with a storm swim jig and advised to reel sloooowww... Bam! Bam! Bam! What a great time we had, we kept our 25 fish limit a piece and threw back a 100 more. Not to bad for fishing 3 hours. I asked Grandpa if it was more fun than squirrel hunting? By far the best day I have had fishing. Feeling pumped after all that great fishin', got busy and filleted all 50 fish in an hour and a half, 100% boneless and skinless –got almost 3 gallons of fillets. They will make for a scrumpcious family fish fry soon. It was a wonderful afternoon spending time with Grandpa and he getting to unwind from 'Grandpa duty'. Now back to huntin' whitetails and turkeys!

All photos by Last Call Guide and award winning photographer, Andy Maneno.

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!

A Guide to Choosing Fishing Lines

Twenty years ago choosing fishing line was a simple proposition; Stren or Trilene. Now you need to pull out your Smartphone and conduct a complex analysis to figure out the best line for your fishing needs. With all the choices available it can be a bit overwhelming. Take heart! The Fishing Spot is to the rescue to help simplify the 100 foot wall of fishing line choices available at your tackle shop.

Monofilament typically is formulated and marketed in two ways. 1) Low stretch/Super tough – this line is great for heavy cover, big baits and baitcasting outfits. The downside is because of the low stretch characteristic; it will have greater memory (meaning it will retain the shape of the spool more readily). The upshot is that it is typically very abrasion resistant and strong. 2) Limp/Smooth/Easy casting – this line matches the billing. The soft, limp and low memory characteristic of this line makes it easy to cast. The downside is that it will not have the best abrasion resistance. Use this line with spinning tackle and where the cover is thin. Mono floats which makes it a great selection for topwater baits and a good overall line for multiple uses. My favorites: Stren or Trilene XL for light line and Trilene XT for topwater.

Fluorocarbon was formerly available exclusively as leader material, but now it has been formulated and priced affordably to spool on your reels. This line is super clear (nearly invisible to fish), super tough, abrasion resistant and low in stretch. The property that separates it from all other lines is that it sinks. This can be a huge advantage for certain fishing techniques like crankbait fishing for bass. Couple lower stretch with sinking line and the difference is noticeable on the hookset – you have a straight shot to the fish. My favorite: Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon – it's awesome! It is my go-to line; I use it 75% of the time.

Braid is made of woven fibers and pound for pound the strongest line available. Offering high strength at a low diameter, 15 lb. line may have the same diameter of 4 lb. mono. It floats, is super tough, virtually impossible to break, has zero stretch and completely limp. The downside is that it is opaque. The line typically is dyed from the factory, but most anglers color the first 4-6 feet of line with a brown or black permanent marker to camouflage it. Another popular tactic is to tie a 4-6 foot leader of fluorocarbon or mono to the end of the braid. This line excels in heavy cover and saltwater casting. My favorite: Spiderwire Stealth, but Power Pro is also very popular.

Copolymer line is made up of two different materials, capitalizing on the advantages of both. When selecting a copolymer, notice the materials used and just like mono, check out what properties the line is promoting. My favorite: P-Line CXX – wow this line is strong! – But lots of memory.

Fishing lines are tools and the variety give anglers choices to use the line that best suits their fishing situation. One important key to consider when selecting line is to compare line diameter; a line may advertise as being the strongest available, but checking the diameters reveals 10 lb. line is the same diameter as a competitor's 14 lb. Of course it's the strongest, duh! The good news is technology and advancements have fishing line performing better than ever and with a little understanding of the different properties, choosing the right line is more straightforward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another option is hiring a guide for a day on the water. I've seen so many photos of anglers with big smiles, holding up the lunker they just brought to boat with the aid of a good guide. We highly recommend you contact one of the great guides, marinas or other contributors that provide you with great fishing info each edition of the Outdoor Report.

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

We wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and peaceful New Year full of great fishing adventures! Sarah White

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.

The Outdoors Unlimited Online Magazine Video Library At Your Fingertips

Starting with the December 12 edition, ODU Magazine Editor Larry Thornhill and ODU Magazine Assit. Editor Bill Schwarz will be providing updates and links to their website on new features and seasonal information for the fishing enthusiasts. We welcome them and their vast video library and contacts as regular contributors to the Fishin' Report.

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.

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 43 degrees and the visibility is at 12 ft. Last week's Bass Open went well, although we did not have a lot of fisherman. But we caught fish. The 3 boats had 12.4 lbs. of fish. The big fish was 4.3 lbs., and the winning bag was 5.2 lbs. The big fish was caught on a deep running crankbait, the other bags were caught on worms and jerkbaits on near shore ledges. Now that tells me that the larger fish are suspended at 15 ft. or more of water. You may catch these fish on jigs, lipless cranks, or bladebaits. A couple crappie showed up, try small minnows. Yellow perch will eat the same bait.. No strippers came in, but I think you can catch them on bladebaits, spoons, and other vertical presentations, or you could try cut bunker. You will have to get it down to about 30 ft. Our next open will be on the second Saturday of January from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. We will also do fishing 101 on the first and second Sunday of January from 2:00 p.m. to 2 :45 p.m.; this is a chance to talk about what works at the CREEK. Call for topic. Shop is open only on Saturdays & Sundays. Call (757) 566- 2277 or E-Mail hhhatlcr@aol.com.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Patti McGrath (804) 693-2107. Reports of crappie have been good. A 12 incher was caught early in the week on crickets, but it was said that small minnows were also doing the trick. The perch are still plentiful. The perch are being caught off of minnows, which we sell at the Ranger Station. Annual Passes for 2013 are now available at the Ranger Station. $60 for boat/vehicle pass and $30 for canoe-kayak/vehicle pass. Beaverdam is open 364 days a year for all of your fishing fun. Remember Beaverdam Park will be closed December 25th. New Jon Boats Seats available for rent only $5 for the day. Save your back and enjoy the days fishing. Beaverdam will be hosting a benefit Bass Tournament for the Boy Scouts in April, contact Patti at pmcgrath@gloucesterva.info. For more information, visit our website or call the Ranger Station at (804) 693-2107.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. Penn will not be giving anymore reports until spring. He will probably fish the Bay for rockfish a few times. He wishes all of you a Merry Christmas.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, rockfish action is hot. Try trolling parachutes and umbrella rigs at Cape Henry. At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, try storms and soft plastic grubs, with white and chartreuse being the best colors. Speckled trout are attacking Mirrolures in the Elizabeth River. Black sea bass are at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and are going for squid; please remember to release the fish, as they are not in season. Tautogs are at the inshore wrecks and Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are biting fiddler crabs. The water is 49 degrees and clear.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that he has heard nothing about bass. Some crappie are biting minnows and jigs. Cat action is really good with some real lunkers coming in on cut bait. One lucky angler brought up a striper with a live minnow and shrimp. No word on perch or bluegill. Puppy drum are biting cut bait and small jigs. The water is clear and in the high 40s.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day main lake water temperatures were in the high 40s to low 50s on Saturday (12/08/2012). The lake level was slightly 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, although a lot of hydrilla fragments mixed with duckweed and azola were drifting in the upper lake. Most of the hydrilla mats in the major creeks had broken up and the fragments were drifting and sinking. Bowfin and blue cats were hitting live minnows and were around bait schools on mid depth and deep flats and in deeper channels in the main lake. A few small active crappie and a few white perch were along the edges of the channels or on deep flats near channels, about 12 to 16 foot depths, in the main lake and were hitting live minnows, blade baits, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, and tubes. Bass and pickerel were scattered on mid depth and deep flats in the main lake and were hitting live minnows, bladebaits, soft plastic stickbaits, crankbaits, and plastic worms. A few of the pickerel have been very nice, in the 20 to 23 inch range. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Norman Merrifield had 24 crappie, 1 white perch, and 1 bass. Johnny and Everett Hatfield had 9 crappie and 2 pickerel, one was 21 inches. Capt. Bill Buck and Hollis Pruitt had 9 crappie, 1 bluegill, 1 roach minnow, 1 pickerel, and 2 blue cats.

North Landing River and Back Bay: I am currently seeking a reporter from this area. If you are a guide, work at a tackle shop, or are just an avid angler in these waters, please email me at fishing_report@hotmail.com.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass fishing is "right fair", with plastics and jigs working well. Crappie are also biting well on minnows and jigs. Anglers going for cats have had good luck with cut bait. A few yellow perch have come in on red wigglers, but the little fish are making themselves scarce. No word on bluegill. The water is clear and 50 degrees.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. Fishing in both rivers continues to be pretty good. Water temperatures are not too bad because it has been so mild. They are staying in the high 40s which is allowing fish to stay active. Today the water temp was nearly 50 degrees on the Blackwater. Speckle and bass are being caught right along. Catfish are still good also. The bream seem to be the only species that do not want to play. Better enjoy these mild temperatures while you can. I have a feeling real winter is right around the corner.

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 smallmouths are hitting on jumbo minnows and Pig & Jigs. The crappie bite is good on the traditional minnows and jigs. Stripers can be found around Hopewell and at the mouths of the tidal creeks. They are taking rattletraps and bucktails. Cats are being fooled by cut bait, eels and big minnows. Perch, bluegill and stripers can be found at the hot water section of Dutch Gap. The water is fairly clear and in the low 50s.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Blue cat fishing on the tidal James River has been pretty good. The water temperature has been holding steady in the high 40s, which is a great water temperature for cat fishing on the river. Fish of all sizes are being caught on cut gizzard shad fished anywhere near channel ledges. Last week's big fish was 59 pounds. The water clarity, especially on an outgoing tide, can be very clear, offering anglers a bonus to their catch. You can literally watch the fish you are fighting, sometimes eight to ten feet down in the water column. Big cats below the surface can be quite impressive and fun to watch.

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. The James at Scottsville is running 2.6 feet with a CFS of 853. That is low and slow! A few fish have been boated using jigs with a chunk trailer, tube baits and stick baits. Look for the fish to be in the deeper holes and schooled up.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow Jr. told me that smallmouths are taking jerkbaits. Crappie can be found in deep brush piles, and are taking minnows and jigs. No word on perch or bluegill. Stripers are going for live shad and jumbo shiners. The water is fairly clear, low and in the mid 50s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Riesdorf says that the smallies aren't being very cooperative, but may go for a crayfish imitator. The rainbows and browns in the Jackson will take nymphs. Brookies are done spawning and will attack caddis imitators on the surface. The water is clear and cooling.

James near Lynchburg: Contributed by Jared Harker, owner of Confluence Outfitters, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. 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.

Bass: Fishing continues to be mixed. Limited precipitation, high pressure systems, low lake water levels and warmer than usual temperatures have all contributed to conditions where traditional fall patterns are less effective than in years past. Anglers who recognize and adjust to these changes are having the best success. Bass are being found both shallow and deep and those who take the time to probe productive areas in search of bass are finding them. Bass are being caught by anglers using a variety of different lures and techniques. While it is a little early for the traditional winter vertical jigging spoon patterns, when bass are located on electronics suspended off the sides of the channel or off the bottom, spoons, flukes and a variety of plastics rigged on drop shot rigs can be effective. Drop shot rigs can be very productive rigged properly. A very light tipped rod is essential as it allows you to use very light-weight leader line. While many use small drop shot hooks to nose hook their plastics, I suggest you try using a very lightweight number 4 EWG hook to rig your plastic finesse worm as it allows you to cast and slowly retrieve the lure and put it in submerged structure with far less hang ups. Try rigging a finesse worm from 4 to 15 inches above a skinny drop shot sinker on fluorocarbon leader and tie the leader to the main line using a quality swivel to reduce line twist. This is finesse fishing at its best, so watch for the very subtle pick up and then just lift your rod with the tip up and reel.

Stripers: Fishing continues to be good and as we move into the colder months it should get even better. Currently the fishing is best in the upper sections of the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers. Fishing can also be good this time of year in the backs of some of the larger creeks when shad are found balled up there. Good times to striper fish right now are very early in the morning, in the late afternoon, at night and on cloudy, overcast and rainy days. Stripers are still being found in the creeks chasing bait from an hour before to an hour or more after daybreak. They are feeding in the creeks early and then moving out near the mouth of the creek or into the deeper water found in the main lake. They are also being found nearer the surface late in the day and at night. Anglers fishing for stripers at night report success casting and retrieving diving jerkbaits and top-water lures on long points and up close to the shoreline. As we move toward the end of the month, the moon will be overhead much of the night and some of the fish will feed more aggressively then instead of at first light and will then feed again later in the morning. Live bait anglers are catching stripers early and late near creeks, points and flats while pulling bait behind planer boards on shotlines and freelines. As we move into winter we will see increasing numbers of seagulls arriving at the lake. They can be great fish locators as anytime they are seen diving and picking bait off the surface there is usually some type of feeding activity below the surface. I always keep several of my favorite top-water and subsurface lures rigged on rods and readily available in the winter as gulls will frequently help locate stripers that are chasing baitfish this time of year.

Crappie: Fishing continues to be good. Anglers are using small minnows rigged on gold hooks and split shot or small lead headed jigs rigged with minnows or plastic trailers like those by Bobby Garland to catch crappies as well as white perch. Small spoons are also good lures for both white and ringed perch in the winter. Crappie anglers are also shooting jigs under deep water docks and using the count down and retrieve technique to catch crappies. Many report catching fish, most anywhere from 3 to 18 feet below the surface. Those anglers reporting success fishing deeper are finding crappies near or in submerged trees and brush in creeks and guts off the main channel.

This is my final fishing report for the year. My best wishes to you and your family as we approach this wonderful holiday season. Tight lines and have a very Merry Christmas!

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 told me that the smallmouth bite is still very, very slow. Muskies are slow too due to the clarity and shallowness of the water. At these depths and very clear water the fish can see you and will scatter. The water is clear, low and in the low 50s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The Upper New river remains crystal clear and extremely low. Water temperatures are pretty much ranging between 36 and 40 degrees. I haven't been after the smallmouth, but I would imagine it is a very tough bite under these conditions. Walleye fishing should be good during low light hours and cloudy days but look for them in deeper waters with jig/shiner or trolling jerkbaits. Muskie fishing has been HOT and it is a good time to book a half day trip if you would like to have a shot at one of these amazing fish. New River Charter offers gift certificates if you are looking for that special Christmas present. With the water this cold please be safe on the river and wear your PFD.

Capt. Forest Pressnell sent in this photo of the Citation walleye Stephen Miklandric caught with New River Charter on his recent trip in November. Only four of his 164 Citation fish were caught on guided trips, the rest he did on his own. Quite an accomplishment! A feature on Stephen’s Citation accomplishment is planned for one of the January editions of the Outdoor Report.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that the smallmouth bite is pretty slow, but you might get lucky with rattletraps. Some muskies are going for sliders. The water is clear and 49 degrees. Shawn wants to remind all you hunters out there that Tangent also offers guided hunts for whitetails, quail and pheasants. To set up a hunt, just call Shawn at the number above.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Trout fishing in the stocked creeks that feed the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) remains very good. Water clarity is gin clear due to lack of rain and the water temperature is actually a little warmer than a couple weeks ago. Try nymphs in the deeper spots. Wade fishing in the New this past week produced some smallmouth on slowly worked crayfish flies. Spin casters may want to slowly work tubes or jigs.

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. Fly guru Harry Murray says that the warm weather has made for good fishing in the smallmouth streams. It's best to fish the slow, deep pools using streamers on a sinking tip line. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Hog Sucker, size 4; and Murray's Creek Chub Streamer, size 4. The water is clear, at a good level and 51 degrees.

The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are also giving good fishing. Fish the deep pockets below the riffles. Good flies are: Murray's Dark Stonefly Nymph, size 12; and Murray's Yellow Stonefly Nymph, size14. The water is 48 degrees, at a good level and clear.

The mountain brookie streams are too cold to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. The bass fishing slowed down a bit this past week. Pretty normal phenomenon when chasing these critters as we love to do. The fish are still pretty much holding at the 18 to 20 ft. level (this is not to say that they can't be caught shallower but most of the schools are at this depth) as seen on your electronics. They still can be duped with drop shot worms, shakey head, jig and pig, tail spinners and spoons. A few guys are using umbrella rigs to catch some larger fish but the strikes are few and far between and the bites are in shallow water. A few yellow perch are being caught. Not the numbers we used see, but none the less some are being caught. Hopefully there will be a strong spawn this year and they can reestablish to previous levels. Water temps are in the 47 to 50 degree range. Lake level is 23 ft. below normal pool so again, be careful and don't cut short that point and run the risk of damage. One lane of the Fortney Branch ramp is open but be careful as the end of the ramp is visible now.

A side note; there has been a hatch of bald eagles this year on the lake. There are two, maybe three juveniles patrolling the mid-lake area (near the old Andy Huffman house). They are not intimidated by the boats. They have flown directly over me several times and are awesome to see up close! They are becoming very proficient at catching their meals also.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff is busy fishing and hunting in the Highlands. Check his website for the latest news on fishing conditions and what's biting. Also check his site if interested in a great deer or fall turkey hunting experience. Consider a gift certificate for a fishing trip to the Highlands or booking a spring gobbler hunt makes for a great gift for any outdoor enthusiasts. Planning a date far in advance gives your party plenty of time to get your gear and group together.

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.

Potomac River Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. With water temperatures in the river at 43 and in the lake at 44, fishing for me has been slow with only one or two fish per trip.

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: 'Tis the season to catch stripers and Lake Anna is the place to do it. December is a transition month for stripers. The striper's metabolism is slowing down. They are converting from feeding on larger gizzards to eating threadfin and herring and migrating from out of the rivers and backs of the creeks to the main lake areas. Fish are schooling and gulls are advertising where the stripers are feeding. The fish are feeding better as the sun warms the water up so fishing in the afternoons can be more productive. Here are a few techniques that can work on stripers this month and in January as well. Probably the easiest way to catch stripers is jump fishing watching the gulls. Once you locate gulls working fish, quietly motor close to the area and shut down your big motor at least 100 yards away if not further. Use your trolling motor to ease your way toward the school but constantly watch your depth finder looking for fish as you approach the area you think the fish are feeding in. Most of the time the punks are chasing the bait to the surface where the birds are diving and the nicer fish are out on the perimeter of the area. Most jump fisherman will run into an area spooking the nicer fish, cast to where the birds are diving, catch only small fish and wonder why they only catch small fish. Then they see birds working 600 yards away, fire their big motor up and run into another school repeating the same scenario. There are dozens of schools to fish, locate one, don't let the fish know you are there and catch nicer fish. Smaller baits work well now. Small swimbaits like Sea Shads, ¼ oz. Road Runners, ½ to ¾ oz. spoons and smaller top-water baits cast on light line will catch plenty of stripers this month. Remember to respect other anglers and do not encroach on the area they are fishing. Avoid running your big motor nearby other anglers. Live bait fisherman will enjoy catching the larger stripers this month using herring, small shad or even jumbo minnows. We are pulling planner boards over any depth in addition to running down lines putting the baits right in the stripers face to catch nicer fish this month. Split shot placed just above the swivel about 30 feet behind a planner board will help you cover more water especially in depths over 20 feet. Once a school of fish is located watch your depth finder and put your down lines at the exact depth the fish are. Set back and watch the jump fisherman run all over the lake while you catch 10 to 20 pound stripers this month. Want to give a great gift to a loved one this season? Get them a gift certificate for a guided striper trip!

Bass: Bass are in their winter patterns now. Concentrate your efforts in the main lake regions, working primary points, humps, edges of flats and riprap. We catch citation size bass this month pulling planner boards over 20 to 40 feet of water catching bass that are suspended. The best bait to use is a suspending jerkbait. Black back-foil with an orange belly is a great color to use. The suspending Roage by Smithwick is a great producer on the lake but there are many imitators that will catch the big bass as well. Small swimbaits and spoons will catch bass this month, but usually small fish. If a bass fisherman wants to catch a huge fish this month and can get over the issue of using live bait a jumbo minnow pulled behind your boat 10 feet below a bobber fished over main lake points especially with black rock on them can catch you a bass of a lifetime. The bass are in the lake, why travel to Florida and use big shiners when we have the fish here?

Crappie: The fish have moved deep and will stay there for the next few months. They will be using breaklines in depths of 10 to 20 feet up lake and 20 to 30 feet mid lake. Breaks with rock on them hold schools of crappie as well as most bridges. Combine breaks, rocks and a primary point and you have the recipe for a cooler of slabs. Small jigs and spoons fished vertically over the fish will get the best results.

Note from Sarah: Captain Pressnell had a great idea. Please be sure to wear some blaze orange while fishing near wooded areas during firearms deer, bear and turkey seasons, in some areas through the first week of January. No one wants the tragedy of a hunting accident, especially one so easily preventable.

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.

Good News for the New Year!

I am happy to tell you that the fishing report will be providing updates and links to ODU Magazine.  By joining with them, we will be able to give you all kinds of info about fishing across the state, as well as hunting and conservation.

ODU Magazine™ launched its website in December 2011 and followed immediately with our first digital fishing magazine. From the beginning, ODU Magazine™ has aspired to provide our growing readership with a quality, entertaining and educational digital fishing magazine, balanced with daily news from our hunting and fishing journals. In our ODU Fishing News and ODU Hunting News, we cover daily fishing and hunting tips, new product introductions, conservation announcements, legislative issues that outdoorsmen should be alerted to and great catches and hunts from around the world.

Over the past year ODU Magazine™ has had many accomplishments, and here are a few we would like to share with you:

ODU Magazine™ is not your typical outdoor website. We don't just provide a link and logo for our advertisers; we provide an advertising campaign on our network of fishing sites. Advertisers get ads in our digital magazines, their products and news in our news journals (fishing or hunting), videos provided are added to our Video Library and all company provided news is released into our extensive social network.

2013 will prove to be an exciting year for ODU Magazine™! Come along for the ride and email us with your ideas and requests to webmaster@odumagazine.com.

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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

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

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Nicholas Lenderking-Brill , from Boston, Massachusetts is a Fourth Year (Senior) at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. His inspiring story of his quest to hike the Appalachian Trail after high school graduation earned Second Place in the 2011-12 VOWA Collegiate Writing Competition. Nicholas notes, "My father took me for my first backpacking trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire when I was nine years old, and ever since then, I have been in love with nature. I am now twenty-two years old, and we have gone backpacking every summer since. Growing up in a northern city, I knew I wanted to experience something different for college. I chose UVa because of its proximity to the mountains, especially the Appalachian Trail, which has a special place in my heart. When I graduated high school, I took a year off so I could hike a section of the AT. I worked hard all fall and winter, saved some money, and in the spring, a good friend of mine and I flew to Atlanta to start hiking at the trail's southern terminus, Mt. Springer. We had five weeks to get as far as possible before we had a commitment working at a wilderness-based summer camp in Southwestern Virginia—A.R.E Camp. We made it to Erwin, Tennessee: a total of about 350 miles.

That trip changed my life, and I write about an experience of it below. I began to get to know myself in the woods; I began to form an identity. I feel that that trip was necessary for my maturation process, preparing me for college and the world beyond. It is my life dream to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one summer, and I plan on doing it in 2013. I also plan on starting an "adventure tours" business that takes people on backpacking trips throughout the world. I study English because I want to write—novels, stories, poems, journalism—about my passion for nature and experiences in the wilderness.

High, Low, and In Between

By Nicholas Lenderking-Brill

We awoke to a soft fog encircling our tarp. The morning after a day in town was always a bit hazy, but there was nothing like the silence of dawn to readjust us to the wilderness. We had been walking north for eight days, the two of us, Bootless and Gold Bond, from Mt. Springer, Georgia along the Appalachian Trail. We had spent the previous day in Hiawassee, Georgia resupplying our packs for the hundreds of miles ahead. On this morning in the lowlands of Bly Gap, just over the North Carolina border, we joked and hollered, excited to have crossed our first state line. Our yelping broke the silence, and as the sun lifted the fog, birds began to chime in with our chorus. North Carolina was wetter than Georgia; we had entered a rainforest of rhododendrons. After filling up our Nalgenes at the nearby trickling stream, we strapped on our packs and continued north up the steep hillsides of the Sitting Indian Wilderness.

As we climbed, the day grew sticky. Clouds filled the sky, but that golden June sun persisted behind the cottony veil and wet our bodies. The trek upward turned grueling. We knew that once we hit the ridge, our steps would sail us smoothly across the mountaintops with views of Tennessee ahead, but as the southern heat thickened, we began to gripe about our climb and bicker. The serenity of the morning had slipped away—no, we had left it behind in Bly Gap—and the mood turned tense and frustrated. We were used to climbs like this after a week of negotiating the unrelenting foothills of northern Georgia, but approaching the state line, we had created idealistic views of the cool blue ridges of North Carolina. The state's motto "To be, rather than to seem" fit quite nicely on this heated but present ascent upwards.

Inches away from collapsing under the humidity and our frustration with each other, we glimpsed an abnormal object thirty paces ahead. After living in the woods for nine days, anything besides flora or fauna tends to throw a dagger into one's expected field of vision. We continued to approach the object and deciphered a pink plastic box, a thermos, and a journal sitting on a table. The nature of this arrangement did not quite register at first—what was it doing in the woods? Oh—oh! Ain't nothing like a dose of good ol' fashioned North Carolina trail magic! We opened the box, thermos, and journal and were welcomed with homemade fresh cookies, hot coffee, and a note reading:

Good morning hikers! Rough climb, eh? Take a break, enjoy a snack, and re-fuel for the beautiful day ahead of you. And if you will, sign your name and where you are from in the journal. Happy trails!

Thousands of miles away from home, in the middle of the wilderness, alone but for the birds, we felt extremely loved. We bounced onwards with a renewed passion for the trail.

Yet again, the trail sloped gradually upwards, the coffee and cookies and love had all worn off, and we had slipped back into grunting complaints. Why do we do this to ourselves, Gold Bond? Bootless...I have no idea brother. We refused to rest, for resting would only make the climb longer. We were locked into reaching that ridge before noon, and that goal consumed our minds. We grew silent as we trudged, fooled into perceiving the wilderness as one monotonous step after another, blind to each unique bark pattern, bird chirp, and flower scent. Yet the forest seems to save you in moments of frustration. The trail does not need coffee and cookies to be magical. The trail knows you, it breathes, and it breaks you only so that it can lift you up, higher, higher, into mountaintop bliss.

Through the laurel, we saw a small opening of misty blue, white, and gray. We suddenly felt weightless—despite the burden of our lives on our backs and our souls in our boots, we ran, skipped, like children at the carnival, towards that fresh opening in the foliage. For the first time that morning, we breathed—a deep breath of blue air, a cool fresh taste of wind and clouds circulating through our mouths and nostrils.

We stood speechless for over an hour, on the top of North Carolina, watching the mid-morning fog roll over the mountains. Struck by the power of nature, we were humbled. We felt silly to have griped about our climb—Bootless, THIS is why we do this to ourselves. The wilderness does not isolate you. It connects you to the infinite whole. It aggravates...and then calms in a soothing release, freeing you to be present to the world. Letting the damp air coddle us, we dipped back into the rhododendrons, ready to make our next ascent into the blue.

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) annually sponsors High School and Collegiate Writing Competitions with the theme of "a memorable outdoor experience or special interest." We encourage students to consider their experiences in the outdoors with wildlife, hunting, fishing, and natural history and enter these contests. The goal of the competition is to reward high school and college students for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors.

Bass Pro Shops will again cosponsor the High School contest, and is providing gift cards of $150, $100, and $50 for purchasing merchandise at Bass Pro Shops to the top three winners. Prizes will also include gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA.

The Collegiate winners will receive cash prizes from VOWA. This year a special new cash award that includes publication will be provided by the Cooperative Living Magazine staff for the best Collegiate entry about the Virginia outdoors.

Winners will be announced and awards presented at the joint Mason Dixon & Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Annual Meeting on March 15 -17 in Staunton, VA. Submissions can be made between now and the February 7th, 2013, deadline. Full competition guidelines/rules for 2012-13 on the VOWA Collegiate Undergraduate and High School Youth Writing Competitions are available on the VOWA website: www.vowa.org.

10th Annual Youth Essay Contest "The Hunt"

Attention National Wild Turkey Federation(NWTF) JAKES members, here's your chance to put your writing and storytelling skills to work. Simply write a 500 word, or less, essay describing a hunting experience you've had, and how it has affected your life. Entry deadline is December 15th 2012.

Send a picture (if available) with the story of "The Hunt." Include in the story what or who inspired the interest for the hunt. Has your interest been inspired by a JAKES event, 4-H shooting events, or any other type of hunting and shooting event? If so, how? Please include any information about the hunt that made it special. The story can include more than one outdoor adventure. Please limit your essay to 500 words or less. The story of "The Hunt" does not have to include the harvesting of any game. All JAKES ages 17 and under are eligible to enter the contest. Entries MUST include the Virginia State JAKES Youth Essay Contest Entry Form that is available on the Virginia Chapter NWTF website, www.vanwtf.com, or from your local NWTF Chapter.

Prizes will be awarded in two categories, 12 and under, and 13 to 17 years old.

Prizes:
1st $250.00
2nd $150.00
3rd $50.00

Entries must be received by December 15, 2012, and can be mailed or emailed to:

Richard Pauley
1554 Prease Rd
Buchanan, VA 24066
PAULEYR@nationwide.com
540-992-1883

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: