In this edition:

Lots of "Wild Events" Scheduled for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This January 23rd edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in February and March that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are both outdoor events and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. VDGIF will have exhibits at the upcoming February – March shows and hope you will stop by and say hello. More importantly bring a youngster or a friend that you can introduce to the great outdoors. Join with your fellow sportsmen and support one of the many conservation organizations that support these events. Each edition of the Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities, supporting conservation programs and making our wild Virginia a great place to live and seek outdoor adventure.

Be aware of the legislative process...

For years VDGIF has posted bills of interest on our website for our users to see. Also for years, people have provided feedback after the legislative session concluded that they were unaware of pending bills that would affect them if passed. We are trying to improve the public's awareness regarding the legislative process by adding this article in the Outdoor Report. Please feel free to share this information with others who may be interested in our mission. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this Session on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. Be informed and engage in the process as desired. The Agency is not advocating any positions by sharing this information and we welcome your comments on the value of this channel of communication.

David Coffman, Editor

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 at:

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.

2013 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia

The new 2013 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 2013.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

January - March Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The seven regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for January - March 2013 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. A special feature added this year is the DMV Direct van will be on-site so you can conveniently purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, even title a boat or other DMV business. 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.

Huntfest Set for Roanoke Civic Center January 25-27

Huntfest is a new outdoor sports show coming to the Roanoke Civic Center January 25-27, 2013. Show Manager, Stacey Rowe, has a great line-up of experts in various fields including "Mr. Whitetail" Larry Weishuhn, and 'Pigman' Brian Quaca will be the headlining guests this weekend. Mike Puffenbarger will be sharing his delicious reciepes "From the Kill to the Grill". Also Just Kill'n Time TV (JKT) Hosts Max Rowe and Buck Buchanan, Virginia's original outdoor hunting show on the Sportsman Channel, will also be featured at the show doing seminars, and sharing their hunting tips and experiences.

Huntfest- Roanoke proudly works closely with local conservation groups each year to share the heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation. Go by and support the Hunters for the Hungry organization at their booth where they will have raffle tickets and merchandise to support their mission to feed the less fortunate with donated venison from Virginia's sportsmen. The VDGIF will have CPOs and Hunter Education Safety Volunteers on hand to answer questions and demonstrate gun handling and tree stand safety techniques. Disabled artist Bruce Dellinger from Rockingham County will be the featured artist demonstrating his unique talent drawing holding a pencil in his teeth. There are activities for every member of the family. Visit the, or call (540) 294-1482 for more details.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange February 16-17

The 9th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held February 16-17 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting predator control for improved waterfowl and wetland habitat protection. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. VDGIF volunteer Boating Education Instructors will provide boating safety information, seminars and classes for certification. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater education safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. For more information contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

1st Shenandoah Valley Fishing Expo in Staunton February 16

The first Augusta County Fishing Expo is scheduled for February 16, 2013 9 am-5 pm at the American Legion in Staunton. Tackle dealers and guide services will be on hand or if you just want to rent a table to clean out your tackle box. Tables are only $20 and can be reserved on our website for more information and print off the registration form question please call or email me or call 540-910-0078. One man's fishin' junk is another man's fishin' treasure.

26th Western Virginia Sports Show Features TV Celebs at Augusta Expoland Feb 22-24

Sportsman and outdoor TV programming are becoming more popular every season with many new shows and celebrities to inform, educate and entertain. The common theme of these programs is to responsibly go enjoy the great outdoors with friends and family. This year's 26th Western Virginia Sports Show February 22-24 at Augusta Expoland will feature more celebrity guests than ever before. Jep and Jessica Robertson of Duck Dynasty on the A&E network will be featured at this year's show all day Saturday and Sunday - HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! Have you ever seen a big grizzly bear up close? Welde's Big Bear Show grizzlies who have appeared on live TV shows, commercials, and special events throughout North America, are returning by popular demand featuring 6 different bears. This show features other hunting and fishing celebrities including Stan Potts, host of the new Mathews' Dominant Bucks on Outdoor Channel; and co-hosts North American Whitetail on Sportsman Channel; Jim Zumbo, a 40-year veteran outdoor writer and photographer; Blaine Mengel, pro fishing guide featured on The Backwoods Angler TV and National Champion Turkey Caller and home town favorite, Lance Hanger, will be on hand to demonstrate his winning techniques and give tips on hunting a big gobbler this Spring. Howard and Jason Caldwell will demonstrate Falconry featuring their "Raptors Up Close" program for conservation education of these fascinating birds of prey. Nationally acclaimed wildlife artists including Shenandoah Valley natives Ken Schuler and Lisa Geiman and Pennsylvania Duck Stamp artist Gerry Putt will exhibit their amazing artwork.

Show Founder and Manager,  Mark Hanger proudly notes, "Our show is a truly unique event. We proudly feature more outdoor celebrities, displays, and vendor categories than any event in the region. At our family friendly event, you can view the latest hunting and fishing equipment, arrange a dream hunting or fishing trip, enter contests, catch rainbow trout, participate in the latest interactive activities, enjoy dozens of game displays, shop with over 200 vendors, eat great food, and enjoy a variety of free seminars by well know celebrities and TV personalities. There will be seminars, 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. The show features activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. The VDGIF will have Conservation Police Officers and Hunter Education Safety and Complementary Work Force Volunteers on hand to answer questions and provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and Agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Visit the show's website for all the details.

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:

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

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.

Tidewater Chapter Virginia Master Naturalist Training Class Begins March 11

The Tidewater Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) is offering its annual Training Class, to begin Monday, March 11, 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:

There will be ten evening classes held on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a spring break on April 1st. The evening classes will be held in Virginia Beach at Virginia Tech's AREC (Agricultural Research and Extension Center). Five Saturday field trips will be held at various locations in the tidewater area. For more information about the Training Class, contact Marsha Miller at

Deadline to apply for the classes is February 7, 2013. The application is on the chapter's website at

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.

10th Annual Woods & Wildlife Conference in Culpeper February 23

The 10th Annual Woods and Wildlife Conference is an all day conference for landowners to meet various natural resource professionals, learn something about taking good care of your woodlands and meet other like-minded landowners. Presentations and workshops are geared to help both new and experienced owners, as well as owners of either small or large acreages become better stewards. The Conference is scheduled for February 23, 2013 from 9 am to 4:30 pm (registration opens at 8:30), Daniel Technology Center, Germanna Community College, Culpeper. Adam K. Downing, Extension Agent, Forestry & Natural Resources - Northern District, notes that space is limited and pre-registration is required. To learn more about this conference content or registration information contact Adam Downing 540/948-6881.

"Herps" topic of Friends of Dyke Marsh March 3

The world of "herps" will be the focus of March 3 meeting of the Friends of Dyke Marsh. Caroline Seitz, Director of Reptiles Alive and a member of the Virginia Herpetology Society, will survey the world of "herps," explain the basics and highlight today's challenges. She will also report on the VHS's herp survey of Dyke Marsh. The meeting is at 2 p.m. It is free and open to the public and will be held at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria 22306. About Caroline: "At five feet tall, she is more than capable of handling a giant python, capturing a crocodile or carrying a heavy tortoise," says her website. You can learn all about her online.

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: 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.

Possibles Bag Workshop - March 24-27, 2013

Learn about period bags, leather tools, and working with leather. Gain the knowledge to complete your own Possibles Bag. Historically a Possibles Bag was a leather bag that men carried items such as patches and balls for a gun, knives, pipes, and other essential items. There are many modern day uses. The cost of the workshop is $200 which includes instruction, by Jimmy Blanks and food and lodging for the whole workshop. Register and get more information online. Registration deadline is March 9, 2013.

Banjo & Mandolin Building Workshop - March 24-29, 2013

Build your very own custom banjo or mandolin. This workshop is for beginners, so no prior knowledge or experience is required. The cost of the workshop is $920, this prices includes your choice of instrument kit, expert instruction, meals and lodging for the entire workshop. For more details about the instruments and the instructor, Don Kawalek, and to register click here. Registration deadline is March 4, 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: or visit the Chapter website.

Outdoor Writers Youth Writing Competition Deadline February 7

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 16, 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, 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 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.

Outdoor Writer Associations Plan Joint Annual Conference in Staunton March 15-17

The VA Outdoor Writers Association 2013 Annual Meeting will be held March 15-17 as a joint conference with the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association in the Staunton, the "Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley."

In a format similar to the outstanding and inspiring meeting we all enjoyed in Hampton, VA, 2009, the meeting will include a break-out Friday of special tours and activities including the Frontier Culture Museum, story opportunities, photography, and an opening dinner all graciously sponsored by the Greater Augusta Regional Tourism Board. Saturday will be a full day of informative workshops highlighted by nationally acclaimed photographers/writers Rob & Ann Simpson, Youth Contest Winners, Annual Meetings for each organization, topped off with our joint Awards Banquet and silent auction. Sunday morning will feature a breakfast and speaker before departure. For early birds who want to arrive Thursday afternoon there will be fly-fishing opportunities. Come meet and get to know MDOWA writers and photographers from PA, MD, NY, NJ, DE, and WVA, and experience wonderful networking opportunities.

This is planned to be a generously sponsored conference with your cost being only your sleeping room and small registration fee. The hotel venue is the beautifully refurbished Stonewall Jackson, where we have secured reduced conference room rates. Get your reservations in as soon as possible. Deadline for reserving rooms at the special conference rate is February 22, 2013. You must mention VOWA/MDOWA when you reserve your room. This conference will be exceptional, don't miss it. Visit for more details.

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."

Wheelin' Sportsmen Swan Hunt Provides Memories For Sight Impaired Hunter

Editor's note... Joe Harris sent in this amazing story of a swan hunt he organized through the VA NWTF Wheelin' Sportsman program for a sight disabled hunter. This story is a great example of what hunting means to those dedicated sportsmen who share their time and experience with others to carry on our treasured hunting heritage traditions.

This hunt was put together last spring while calling turkeys at one of the Wheelin' Sportsmen turkey hunts. I had suggested to Robin Clark, the President of the Virginia Chapter of the Wheelin' Sportsmen, that we put together a swan hunt for any member that was lucky enough to be drawn for a swan tag. We agreed and the seed was planted. As fall rolled around and the drawings were completed and the lucky hunters notified, Robin contacted me with the news that he and a fellow member had entered the drawing and won a tag. He also broke the news to me that the other lucky member, Charlie Tucker, was legally blind. Robin asked about the task at hand and questioned if I felt a hunt with that handicap could possibly be successful. We both agreed that simply going swan hunting would be a great morning afield-- win, lose, or draw. After a few conversations with Robin, who himself hunts from a fancy wheelchair, we agreed it would certainly be a hunt to remember.

As we discussed the planning and times for a possible hunt, I soon realized that the Wheelin' Sportsmen stay busy most of the season. Many different organizations plan to take the guys out on various hunts. We agreed a late season hunt would be best, meaning more time for them and more swan available. I told Robin at that point that I'd call him if we had a good push of birds but not to plan on a hunt before Christmas. I called Robin and Charlie between Christmas and New Year's to inform them the birds had arrived. Having a flexible schedule, I told them both to work it out between themselves as to the best time to hunt. I did discuss with Charlie that the most productive hunts were cloudy, rainy days. With that in mind, January 11th was the chosen day.

As the day grew closer, I received a call from a lady from VDGIF that Charlie had just called very worried that he'd lost his swan tag, and she was doing everything possible to make sure Charlie would receive another tag in time to hunt Friday. After several phone calls, she called back and said everything was in order after she had called New York and had received another tag. I have followed up to learn that the lady was Chris Butor, a Senior Program Support Specialist in the Region One- Tidewater office. Chris noted, "I had the great pleasure of getting to know Charlie Tucker while getting him a replacement tag for his special hunting opportunity. Anyone who spends just a few minutes talking with him will be truly blessed, he becomes an instant friend, and who wouldn't assist a friend." What great customer service by the VDGIF people, without her kind and extra efforts this once in a lifetime opportunity may have been lost.

On the day of our hunt at a pre-determined 5:30 AM meeting place, Robin, Charlie, Bobby (Charlie's spotter), and I headed out to the Old Timer's Club property. The property is a large farm in Essex County. This property seems to draw a decent population of Canada geese and Tundra swan. As we greeted one another and shook hands, it quickly became apparent that Bobby and Charlie had a special friendship. Bobby told me he'd been hunting with Charlie approximately three years and through communication helped Charlie to sight down the gun barrel. As Bobby kidded around with Charlie in his usual manner, it loosed all of us up and as we prepared the gear to head out to the blind, we were cutting up like old friends. As I set out the decoys and got the blind ready with Bobby's help, we discussed a few safety concerns, and I urged them to make sure and pick ONE bird and stay on that one bird as their limit was only a single bird per person. As the geese started to move around a bit, I explained that swan can come out of nowhere at any time. As we sat in the blind, like four old friends, we talked of past hunts, this hunting season and those past. Charlie spoke up and said he'd killed a spike buck with his black powder gun and also two does with his slug gun. He'd also killed two squirrels and a coyote. He bragged about the fact that he'd killed four squirrels, two with one shot. We all agreed none of us had ever done that! Around mid morning, I'm not sure who spotted the swan first, but I think it was Robin. There were three swans that had spotted our decoys and were heading our way! With a little calling, we had them passing over our blind. With each pass, they flew a little lower. On their third pass, they were so low that you could hear their wing beats. Because they were passing over the blind from the rear, we could not get off the perfect shot. Once the birds moved on, without a shot being fired, Bobby and Charlie talked of the unusual sounds the Tundra's made and how they enjoyed hearing the wing beats. Later in the morning, three more swan approached the field, but having another hunting party using the property, the swan turned their way. I honored the other hunters' swan spread with the hopes of one of them killing one of the birds. As we watched from our blind, expecting to hear shots, I was surprised to see one of the swans veer off and come our way. When he started our way, I started calling again and as the bird passed directly in front of our blind, at the distance of about 35 yards, Robin shot once, but was not able to connect. We did not see or hear any more swans until we were packing up to head home. As Bobby and I were standing in the decoys, five more swans flew directly over the blind. As most water fowlers know, that happens every time! As we were standing at the car in the parking lot saying goodbye, I asked Charlie why he wanted to kill a swan. He said it was simply because it was something different. I also asked since we were unsuccessful if he'd do it again and he said, "You bet ya!"

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.

Southside Virginia Quail Hunt

70 degrees on January 11th ?!?  You have to be kidding!  Virginia Upland Classic's annual bird hunt in January of each year down in Keysville, is always colder than an Alaskan well digger's fanny, and we wear all the long johns, and extra clothes we can get into, but this year the weather was really warm and the fog was as thick as pea soup.

We rolled into Keysville at the FFF Hunting Preserve and Lodge on Friday afternoon and settled into a pleasant evening at the Lodge in front of a nice fire where we were fed a great Italian Spaghetti dinner, watched a ball game, and sacked out in comfortable bunks for the night.  We rolled out Saturday morning and you could hardly see the end of your nose.  Other hunters arrived slowly through the fog, but we tried to get started at 8:00 AM with pointing dog and flushing dog events in three separate fields of really thick and somewhat wet cover. ( Actually if you stood still it was wet because the fog was so thick.)  We needed to get going on time as we had 18 Open pointing dogs(over three years old), 12 Open Flushers, and 16 Amateur pointing and flushing dogs (Under 36 months on January 1st) to get finished on Saturday before it got dark at 5:30PM.

First time participants (novices) got going, and Freda Rosso with her classy setter "Izzy Bee" set the bar pretty high with fancy pointing, great bird work, and good shooting, to take first place in the novice event(photo).  Chris Mc Cotter and his son Mitchel followed a brittany,"Katie", into the field and managed a good score to secure second place.  Bill Cox, a true first time competitor ran his Visla "Mira" and managed a third place finish in his first time to try the event.  First time participants (novices) are hosted in the field by the event scorekeeper who helps novice's to learn the game and handle the dogs to find the birds.  This is how folks get experience with the Virginia Upland Classic Hunts and learn how to have fun and win.  (Once they win we graduate them into Amateur or Open events to keep the novice event a true learners' event)

Flushing dogs pulled the short straw and worked the back six acre field which was grown up chest high  and head tall in broom sage.  To prepare the field we cut chris-cross patterns throughout the field, but it was still tough to keep track of the fast moving dogs and marking downed birds was an adventure for the labs, golden's, and little Boykins that turned up to compete.  One could imagine you were hunting in the Utah "Toolies" full of Cat-Tails in this cover.  "June Bug" a black lab, topped the scores in Amateur flushing with Tom Farrington doing the shooting.  Marlene Sipes followed just seven points behind with her youngster "Drew" and Marc Illman managed a third place win with "Angus" his young Black Lab.

Finding three birds in twenty minutes in the flushing field was tough to say the least.  All ten of the Open Flushers were national caliber competitors and the low scores were an indication of the poor scenting conditions that developed later on in the morning, and the difficulty of the course.  Just the tiniest bit of bad luck and you were at the bottom of the pile.  Of the seven dogs that were called back to run for the finals there was a total of less than 25 points difference from first to seventh.  It was a tight competition. Richard Sipes and his national champion black lab, "Dixie", won the event. His wife, Marlene was only three points behind with her dog "Dashiell" for a second place finish, and to complete the "family affair" Marlene and "Penny" finished in Third place.  One has to wonder about the domestic tranquility in a family of competitors like the Sipes' of Liberty Corners Farms.

There were a total of 27 Pointing dogs; seventeen Open Pointers (over 36 months and experienced hunters) and ten Amateurs (less than 36 months on January 1st and experienced hunters)  Amateur pointing took place in about eight acres of mixed cover that included switch grass, fox tail, and some Milo stubble.  "Dano" a handsome, wild eyed, German short hair that stood tall and hunted hard, took first place honors handled by Richard Sipes.  Seminole Apache ("Patch") came in a close second for Gary Shellman, followed by Seminole Queen "Elizabeth" handled by yours truly.  I made some mention of the scenting conditions and the lower than usual scores and this factor seemed to have more effect in the two Pointing dog fields.  As the sun burned off the fog and the heat pushed up toward 70 degrees quickly after 9:30-10:00 AM the dogs simply could not scent the birds as well, and it was a matter of some "luck" getting close enough to  mark the weak sent and locate the birds. But that is the "luck of the draw" in the running order and although disappointing, it does not change the circumstances for the hunters.  Needless to say, that all eleven of the Amateur pointing dogs in this field were potential winners on any given day.

The same situation was true for the Open pointing field, only even a bit worst, because the field was somewhat bigger.  Oddly enough, the finals runs on Sunday were slightly better scores, but not enough to excuse Mother Nature for the weird weather in January.  It was tough and the field of national caliber hunting dogs would have seen much higher scores if it had been a typically cold January weekend in Keysville.  Tom Farrington's little black & White pointer "Fancy"  put two good runs back to back and won the event with a good margin of victory.  Richard Sipes ran a good looking German Short Hair, "Hunter" for a second place finish, and Rich Achor placed third with his Wire Haired pointer "Zeph".

We ran dogs right up to dark on Saturday night and just barely got finished. A hot shower in the lodge before a fantastic meal of smoked briskett, fresh made yeast rolls and lots of "special" mashed potatoes and string beans, put the whole gang in the bunks early, but Sunday is always a great day for fun at the Virginia Upland Classic events because that is when we run Open "finals" and then "doubles".  In Keysville we added about 4 acres to an already 7-8 acre field and ran both Flushing and Pointing doubles in the same field.  We ran a total of 18 dogs in 9 different teams.  We started with flushing doubles and Howard Jaekle teamed his Golden Retriever "Atticus" with a blonde Lab called "Sugar" handled by Don Stroud to win first place in the Flushing Doubles.  Atticus then teamed with "Hall of Fame" Golden retriever "Mookie" and her owner Bill Crowley to earn second place status. Bill Crowley and Don Stroud pooled resources with "Mookie" & "Sugar" to take third place honors.

Pointing doubles was a larger group of dogs.  It follows the same rules as flushing doubles using six birds and 30 Minutes in a big field of cover.  Flushers find the birds and flush them for the handler to shoot.  Extra points are given for an "Honor Retrieve" which means that the dog that flushes the bird retrieves the bird to the handler without interference from the second dog.  Pointing dog doubles have a similar situation in as much as the dogs get extra points for "backing" the dog on point (standing on point behind the dog on point and not interfering with the point.)  The fun really starts when both dogs find two different birds in separate parts of the field at the same time.  The handlers have to call one dog off point to go honor the other dog without disturbing the second bird; harvest the first bird and then return to the second bird and get a good point and back and then harvest that bird.  If you have ever tried to coax a hard hunting bird dog off of a solid point with his nose full of bird-scent, to go assist a second dog who has a bird pinned, you will understand how much fun "doubles" can be.

My own Brittany male, "Snake Eyes", teamed up with Rich Achor and his wirehair " Zeph" to win the pointing doubles.  Snakes' oldest puppy (five years) Rim Rock "Roy" then teamed with Tom Farrington and his sweet little pointer "Kitty" to take second place. "Roy" ran a second time with his old dad "Snake Eyes" and came in third.  Lot's of great dogs and great bird work to make the 2013 Southside Quail Hunt another successful bird hunting event.

The National Championships for Upland Classic Series and the Bird Dog Circuit take place in February and March out in the Midwest, so we will not have another Virginia Upland Classic Hunt until early Spring. (March 23-24, 2013).  That Hunt will be back in the Richmond, Virginia area at the Hunter's Sanctuary in Providence Forge.  Any Bird hunter is welcome at our Virginia Upland Classic events, and it is a great way to keep your dog in shape for hunting.  You have to harvest birds over a dog to keep him ready for the field, and the Virginia Upland Classic events are held exactly for that reason.  We are "Bird Hunters" and we invite you to learn about us and come participate.  Hunts are designed for all levels of experience, and participation is fun.  Consider yourself invited and simply contact Ben Norris for more information. 804-694-5118 Box 430 Dutton, Va. 23050 (

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.

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.

There is a Second Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day February 2, 2013

Youth days are no longer required to be consecutive hunting days, so Virginia is able to provide two Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days this season. The second day has been set for February 2, 2013 after the close of the regular duck season. See Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days. To get prepared and learn the skills necessary to be a successful waterfowler, the VA Waterfowlers Association in partnership with the VDGIF hosts several workshops throughout the season. Visit the VAWFA website for more information.

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 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.

Friend Calls in First Goose

Justin Wimmer from Stafford sent this account of his first goose kill. I was using a Benelli 12 gauge on a leased farm in Spotsylvania County. We were hunting over a pond and decoys. Skip, my friend age 18 and aka "The Caller", was calling and the flock of geese circled back around, set their wings and then Skip said "take em!" We flew out the lay down blinds and put 3 shots off. I was out there with 3 of my friends, Dylan , Justin, and Skip. Hunting with friends makes for some great times, I'll remember forever.

Editor's note... I received this nice note following up on a "first deer story" from a proud Dad, Steve Grainer from Kilmarnock. Thanks Steve for the updated story on your sons success and continuing the hunting tradition and heritage to the next generation:

Dear David:

About four years ago you took a photo and my story concerning my older son Brad's first deer harvest in James City County with Diascund Hunt Club and made a wonderful little article about bringing youth into hunting. I was able to take the piece and the photo and make a nice framed piece, copies of which still hang in Brad's Room and at the hunt club bulletin board.

I am pleased and proud to tell you that his younger brother, Christopher has joined the ranks of successful youth hunters too. Although a couple years later than Brad's first success at age 9, Christopher, now 11, did succeed in dropping a buck as opposed to a doe as his brother had done for his first harvest. Needless to say Chris is as proud as his Dad.

Very similar to Brad, Chris was first indoctrinated into the hunting tradition by carrying his Daisy Red Rider with me on hunting outings beginning after his eighth Christmas to learn weapon handling safety and the basics. (Both boys received a Daisy BB gun for their 8th Christmas.) Due to school and sports activities Chris did not spend as many days in the woods as his brother during his first two years, but this year he had more time and was with me almost every Saturday and holiday from school—as did Brad. As this season wore on Chris was beginning to doubt his "luck" as he had not had an opportunity to take aim until the last morning of this year's season. But that morning, things changed immensely. A nice 5-point buck ran up and stopped squarely about 30 yards from the stand, giving Chris time to apply the basic shooting routine I've tried teach both boys—BRASS (Breathe, Relax, Aim, Sight, Squeeze). He carefully took aim and squeezed the trigger as I watched. Amazingly, the deer didn't flinch or jump. He pumped another round into the gun and as the deer started to run, he fired a second time. The deer ran about 100 yards through a creek bed and up a small incline into a second-year cutover patch disappearing from sight. I was stunned and disappointed--But only for a short time. I told Chris, we would wait for the dogs that were chasing the deer to follow through and see what they did, knowing that if the deer continued on very far, other hunters on their stands would be able to "finish" the deal if necessary. But it wasn't necessary. A short time later as the dogs trailed past us on the deer track, they "cut off" about 100 years away in the brush. With that, Chris and I began tracing the deer and dogs' path. Sure enough about 100 yards away in a small clearing in the weeds, we found his first deer—a buck. (I believe the photo accompanying this will show his reaction.)

I should note that Chris "graduated" from the Red Rider to the same .410 single-shot gun that Brad had carried in his first couple years, the one Brad got his first deer with. In 2010, Brad "earned" a .20 gauge Remington 870 Youth Model. But this year, Brad felt confident (and showed good skill) in handling a full .12 gauge shotgun (Remington 870-adult model). So with that, Chris set aside the .410 and moved up to the .20 gauge Remington 870 youth model himself. After a number of "rounds" at the hunt club target range and developing confidence as well as showing proper weapon respect and handling, he was allowed to move up without ever using the .410 for a harvest.

Final note—this year was also successful for Brad. In the early Dove season he bagged his first two dove, one of which was in full flight. (Dad was skunked). Brad also harvested a big doe on the first morning of general firearms season this year, so his year was a success as well, although I must admit, I'm already hearing the "discussion" between them about doe versus buck. But it's all in good-natured "competition." As a Dad, I cannot adequately express my excitement, happiness, and pride in having two sons that are now successful and avid hunting partners. There is clearly a growing rivalry between them that I hope to have years to enjoy.

Thanks for indulging me in this recollection and story. I hope your season was as rewarding as mine and wish many more for you too.

Sincerely, Steve Grainer

Wildlife Conservation Projects Update

Editor's note... 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. These news items are featured in this section. 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.

January 2013 Update: Allen Boynton , VDGIF Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist Manager for Region 3 notes that, "The elk released in Buchanan County last May are doing well. All the elk that we have observed appear to be in very good condition. Most have remained in the release area and are foraging together. One cow and her calf are several miles from the release site. The bulls have on several occasions wandered off singly or in small groups for several days. However, the bulls continue to return to the area frequented by the cows and calves. Preparations are underway in Kentucky to trap and quarantine elk. VDGIF plans to bring another small group of elk to Buchanan County this spring."

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.


  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: 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 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!

Are You Prepared for Winter Weather?

The Winter Season is upon us, and that means holidays and more time with friends and family-- but it also brings the possibility of winter hazards such as ice, snow and power outages. Here are a few winter preparedness tips from VDEM:

Boating Safety Precautions For Waterfowl Hunters...

There has been a surge in interest in waterfowl hunting this January as reported by an increase in calls and visits to our information desk at the Richmond Headquarters. Waterfowl hunting has a number of unique safety precautions that involve attention to water and boating safety measures, cold weather awareness and gun safety. VDGIF Boating Education Coordinator, Stacey Brown cautions, "While planning a waterfowl hunt, don't forget to check to be sure the boat is in good working condition, with enough gas for the trip and equipped with proper personal flotation devices and other safety gear." Here are some additional steps to reduce the chances of drowning.

With the increase in latter season interest in waterfowl hunting, there has been an increase in reported accidents. Don't let a late season accident ruin your hunt or take your life or the life of a fellow hunter. Safety and courtesy are free... use them generously!

See the Hunting News You Can Use Section for a reminder of the Waterfowl seasons open through February.

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to low temperatures, wind or moisture—whether it be on a ski slope or in a stranded car—can result in cold-related illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia. The National Safety Council offers this information to help you spot and put a halt to these winter hazards.

Frostbite is the most common injury resulting from exposure to severe cold. Superficial frostbite is characterized by white, waxy, or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas. The skin feels cold and numb. The skin surface feels stiff but underlying tissue feels soft and pliable when depressed. Treat superficial frostbite by taking the victim inside immediately. Remove any constrictive clothing items that could impair circulation. If you notice signs of frostbite, immediately seek medical attention. Re-warming usually takes 20 to 40 minutes or until tissues soften.

Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of this condition include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature. Severe hypothermia may produce rigid muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and respiratory rates, and unconsciousness.

Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and calling for immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim's head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position. Give artificial respiration or CPR (if you are trained) as necessary.

How to prevent cold-related illnesses

Avoid frostbite and hypothermia when you are exposed to cold temperatures by wearing layered clothing, eating a well-balanced diet, and drinking warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids to maintain fluid levels. Avoid becoming wet, as wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value.

Permission to reprint granted by the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.

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.

Nuisance & Problem Wildlife

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.

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!

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 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for early February:

Answers to January 9th edition quiz for nature events for early January...

2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar Now Available

It's time to purchase the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar! For more than 23 years the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been publishing one of the most visually stunning and informative wildlife calendars in the country. The 2013 edition highlights many of the most sought after game and fish species in the state. Virginia hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the rich colors and composition of the 12 monthly photo spreads. Each page is full of useful tidbits for the outdoors lover -- including wildlife behavior, preferred fishing and hunting times, hunting seasons, state fish records, and much more! Life history information is provided for each species featured. Virginia Wildlife Calendars make great holiday gifts and are being offered at the bargain price of only $10 each. Quantities are limited, so order yours now!

Get your copy of the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region I - Tidewater

Trespassing to Hunt Leads to Outstanding Warrant... On December 29, Senior Conservation Police Officer Ken Williams received a call from a Northumberland County landowner in reference to a hunter that parked on their property and walked across the front yard carrying a shotgun. Senior Officer Williams conducted an investigation and identified the suspect, who also had an outstanding arrest warrant. The suspect was arrested on the outstanding warrant and charged with trespassing to hunt.

Convicted Felon Hunting Over Bait... On Saturday morning January 5, Conservation Police Officer Skinner and Sergeant Worrell entered a wooded area in Southampton County to attempt to locate people hunting over bait. Officer Skinner had located this area with bait tubes filled with corn attached to trees, a 50 lb salt block, and numerous piles of corn. Two subjects were found hunting the baited area in separate stands. A criminal history revealed that one of the subjects (from North Carolina), was an 8 time convicted felon, who also admitted to placing the bait. Charges were placed for hunting over bait, no blaze orange, and possession of a firearm after being convicted of a violent felony. The felon is being held without bond in Southampton County Jail.

Convicted Felon in Possession of Firearm... On Saturday January 5, Conservation Police Officer Woodruff and Officer Popek set up surveillance on a suspected felon hunting with a firearm in Surry County. Officer Woodruff observed the individual hunting from a tree stand with a 12 gauge shotgun. A records check revealed that he was a two time convicted felon on drug related charges. The subject was arrested without incident and charged with possessing a firearm by a convicted felon.

Special Operation Focuses on Illegal Spotlighters... On January 01, during a special operation in King & Queen County, Conservation Police Officer Greg Hall observed a pickup truck casting a handheld spotlight into a field he was watching. The vehicle turned around and came back to the field and cast a spotlight upon it again. Upon stopping the vehicle, Hall found a loaded shotgun and a concealed .22 caliber pistol without a permit. Appropriate charges were made.

Region II - Southside

Trespassing to Hunt and Shooting from the Highway Confirmed with Spent Shells... On January 1, at approximately 1030 hours, Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Ryan Gibson and Sergeant James Slaughter received notification from VDGIF dispatch in reference to a hunter shooting from the road in Prince Edward County. While en route to the call, CPO Daniel Ross contacted them and told them that he had just gotten information related to the same area, but also with a trespassing complaint. They rerouted and went to investigate the trespassing complaint. Upon arrival, the suspects were gone, however they recovered two spent shotgun shells. CPO Gibson interviewed subjects from a local hunt club and later identified two individuals that admitted to being at the location where the incident occurred. One of the suspects also admitted to firing his shotgun twice at a single deer that crossed the road. The spent shell casings were matched and confirmed to be those of the shooter. Appropriate charges will be placed.

Landowner Assists in Spotlighting Operation... After receiving numerous calls of spotlighting in an area of Buckingham County, Senior Officer Gavin Fariss investigated the area and discovered a deer that had been killed. Fariss contacted the landowner and obtained written permission to utilize a decoy. On January 3, Conservation Police Officers Fariss, Whirley, Roy Morris, Gibson and Sgt. Slaughter worked a special assignment saturation/decoy operation at that location. During the operation two spotlighting stops were made. Officer Gibson made multiple charges for the appropriate hunting violations.

Second Consecutive Long Night Nets Multiple Arrests... On January 4, Master Conservation Police Officer Saunders, Senior Officer Fariss, Officer Whirley and Sergeant Slaughter worked another saturation/decoy operation. Again this was in response to multiple spotlighting complaints in this area of Buckingham County. Early in the evening, Officer Fariss and Sergeant Slaughter made a spotlighting arrest. Then near midnight, Officers Saunders, Whirley and Sergeant Slaughter made a second spotlighting arrest. This was the fourth spotlighting arrest in two nights in the same general area. As the operation was wrapping up, Whirley made a traffic stop on a vehicle that was carrying a deer on the dog box. Fariss and Slaughter identified the vehicle as one that passed them at approximately 2000 hours carrying the same deer on the back. After a brief conversation with the subjects, Whirley determined that the deer had not been checked in. The suspect also admitted to killing a turkey earlier in the season which had not been checked. The appropriate charges were placed.

Mutual Assistance Leads to Arrest... January 5, Master Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Brett Saunders was called to assist the Blackstone Police Department in an investigation of a vehicle that had been shot by hunters while within the Blackstone town limits. Using the same skill set and investigatory techniques as if this were a hunting incident, Officer Saunders was able to determine the location where the shooter had been standing, assist with evidence collection and documentation and suggested the appropriate charges. After the hunter was confronted by the evidence, he confessed to illegally hunting on posted property and shooting across the road. The investigating agency, with the assistance of Master CPO Saunders, made the appropriate charges for the hunting violations.

Region III - Southwest

Youth Deer Hunt... Recently, Region III Hunter Education Specialist Jeff Pease along with Pulaski County Conservation Police Officers Troy Phillips and David Peake assisted with a Youth Deer Hunt at Claytor Lake State Park in Pulaski County. The Youth Deer Hunt, sponsored by VDGIF and DCR, was a part of a Deer Hunting Workshop that included a seminar on deer biology, hunting ethics, shot placement, and safety. Montgomery County Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor Tracy Howard assisted with the coordination of the event for the 21 youth hunters. Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors from Montgomery, Pulaski, Smyth, Wythe, Bland, and Roanoke Counties accompanied each youth hunter to their designated hunting site and assisted with safe muzzle control, zone of fire considerations, shot placement advisement, and game recovery. At the end of the hunt, 11 deer were harvested.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Baited Waterfowl Hunting... On December 29, Conservation Police Officers DiLuigi, Grauer, and Landers conducted surveillance on a known baited waterfowl hunting site in Loudoun County. The waterfowl blind was occupied by four adult males, each hunting with a 12 gauge shotgun. The officers used a high-powered spotting scope and binoculars and could clearly observe the details of the hunt. After obtaining their limit the hunters continued to hunt, at which time the officers decided to confront the violators. During the interview, the officers observed a large amount of whole kernel corn and barley spread all around the field that was being hunted. Numerous state and federal charges are pending. While confronting the violators, one hunter provided false identifying information about his identity. DiLuigi later determined who that hunter was and arrested him on January 1.

Storybook Ending... On the evening of Friday, January 11, Conservation Police Officer Ostlund and K9 Officer Billhimer responded to a call concerning a missing hiker in the National Forest in Page County. The missing hiker's father had reported to VSP and EMS that he and his son had been hiking in the area of Storybook Trail and had become separated. When the son never arrived at the designated meeting place the father quickly alerted VSP. Accessing a fire road and utilizing their 4x4 patrol vehicles, Officers Ostlund and Billhimer were able to quickly make their way to the top of the mountain despite the very sloppy road conditions. Officer Billhimer utilized his siren to signal their location on the mountain. Much to everyone's relief, within minutes of reaching the top of the mountain. the missing hiker appeared out of the woods. He and his father were both transported back down off the mountain to their vehicle; just in time too, as the sun was rapidly setting and heavy fog rolling in.

K9 Team Update

Night Time Decoy Operation Nabs Spotlighter... On January 1, the last day of the firearms deer season, Conservation Police Officers Kopelove, Mecadon, and Patrillo established a night time decoy deer operation in Hanover County. Starting at 2100 hours, a vehicle passed the decoys, and spotlighted the deer. The vehicle was stopped, and three charges were placed. Within a short time period, another vehicle came by with a roof mounted spotlight and shined the deer. He too was stopped and charged. After barely getting settled back in, another vehicle came by, shined the decoys, and this time fired a .223 round at the deer. Officer Mecadon, got in behind the vehicle, and activated his emergency equipment. The vehicle stopped, and the passenger fled from the vehicle with a rifle in his possession. Assistance was requested from Senior Officer Spuchesi and his partner "Comet". During the ensuing investigation, the juvenile subject who had fled the scene, surrendered to his parents who had been dispatched to the incident scene. In short order, "Comet" was able to locate the weapon that the suspect had hidden in the woods. This matter is still under investigation, with several additional charges to follow.

K9 "Scout" Finds Evidence to Prove Shooting From the Road... Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Gibson and Sergeant Slaughter worked a shooting from the road complaint. The subject that was seen shooting into a block of hardwoods while standing in the roadway, denied doing so and stuck to his story. Sergeant Slaughter coordinated with K9 Officer Richard Howald to bring his partner Scout to search the scene. K9 Scout found the wadding from the spent shotgun shell, then located the spent shell laying several feet past it. Upon further questioning and being presented with this new evidence, the suspect admitted to picking his shell up after he shot and throwing it into the woods. Sergeant Slaughter and K9 Officer Howald marked the shot path through the block of woods while CPO Gibson took photographs of the scene. The shot path, along with the wadding proved the individual was standing in the center of the roadway as he fired the shotgun. Hunting charges are being obtained for all involved suspects.

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:

For more information visit the Law Enforcement section on our website. There is also a feature article in the June 2012 edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine, "Canines On A Mission", by Clarke C. Jones. Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K9 Team and see demonstrations of their remarkable skills used in enforcement of wildlife laws and search and rescue. Their activities are featured in the K9 Team Update in the Virginia Conservation Police Notebook section of each Outdoor Report.

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

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at

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

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 2013 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 2013

Fishing Expo At Meadow Event Park January 25-27

The Richmond Fishing Expo will again be held at Meadow Event Park in Caroline County for the January 25-27 return to the Richmond area. 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. A special feature added this year is the DMV Direct van will be on-site so you can conveniently purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, even title a boat or other DMV business. 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 l 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.

Hours: Fri 10-8, Sat. 9-7, Sun. 10-5. Admission: adults $8, Seniors $7, Age (6-12) $5, 5 and under free – admission is valid all three days. Seminars are available on a wide variety of topics including bass fishing, saltwater and electronics. Speakers include: Elite Series Tour Champions Ish Monroe and John Crews and Virginia guides Dr. Julie Ball and Capt. Steve Chaconas. The Virginia Bass Federation will be hosting the Kids Casting Competition and the trout and catfish pond will be available as well. For information visit the Show website.

Fishing Show Season 2013

It's show season again and time to head out to the nearest expo hall and check out the latest in boats, gear and tackle. Although internet ordering has opened up many opportunities, nothing beats being able to put your hands on that new rod and reel, getting in a boat and opening up the storage lockers or talking to industry experts and pros. They are a great deal too; for much less than the cost of a movie, you and your friends or family can enjoy hours of fun. Be sure to check out a show near you this season!

January 25-27, The Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo, Meadow Event Park, Doswell, VA. For more information visit The Fishing Expo website.

February 16, Augusta County Fishin' Expo & Flea Market, American Legion, Staunton, VA. Hours: 9-5, booths with fishing tackle, fishing info, guides and pros, activities for the kids and door prizes available. For more information visit the Augusta County Bass-Jons website.

February 16-17, 9th Annual Orange County Sportsman Expo, Orange County High School in Orange, VA. Hours: Sat. 9-5, Sun. 9-4. Admission $5/day or $8 for both days, kids 10 and under are free. Featuring fishing seminars, boating safety class and a fundraising raffle (6 person charter on the Bay). Visit for more info.

February 22-24, 26th Western Virginia Sports Show, Augusta Expoland, Fishersville Hours: Fri. Noon-9 pm, Sat. 9-5, Sun. Noon -4. Admission $5/day or $8 for both days, kids 10 and under are free. Hours Friday, Noon - 9:00 PM, Saturday, 10 AM - 9:00 PM, Sunday, 12 PM - 5:30 PM . Daily tickets are 12 yrs and older - $9.00 , 5 yrs to 11 yrs - $4.00. There is an increasing number of fishing related vendors and guide services including Blaine Mengel, pro fishing guide featured on The Backwoods Angler TV.

March 2, Rapidan Trout Unlimited Chapter Fishing Show at Fauquier County Fairgrounds, Warrenton Show hours are 9 am-4:30 pm, $5 admission, children under 12 free, and plenty of parking. This is the annual fundraiser for TU Chapter activities: Tristate TU Youth Conservation & Fishing Camp; Heritage Day(Kids Fishing day); Trout in Classroom(11 schools); Rapidan River Cleanup/Picnic/Fishing; Camp Special Love/Cancer Kids; Project Healing Waters/wounded veterans; Casting for Recovery/women's cancer; and conservation projects(i.e. Spout Run). There are 50 tables, 8 seminars, fly-tying demo, with hot food & beverages. Vendors are from PA, MD, DC, VA, & WV. The keynote speaker is Jeff Murray of Murrays Fly Shop/Edinburg on "Mountain Trout Fishing". For details visit:

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.

The Fishing Spot

by Chris Dunnavant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator

Welcome to The Fishing Spot! Through my role as Angling Education coordinator for the VDGIF, I am able to connect with a variety of anglers across the Commonwealth and this is an opportunity for me to share those experiences and fishing related topics with you. My sincere hope is that you can always come to The Fishing Spot for interesting and educational fishing articles, intriguing interviews with anglers and the latest on fishing in Virginia. Please enjoy!

The Trophy Fish Catching Machine

In every sport an individual rises above the rest and performs at a level unmatched by their peers. Fishing is no exception; whether it be tournaments, state and world records or citations, if there is a platform for goals and achievements, someone is going to separate themselves as the best. Chesterfield resident, Stephen Miklandric is such an angler. He is the most prolific and decorated angler in the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Virginia Angler Recognition Program (VARP) since its inception in 1963.

Consider Stephen's convincing VARP stats:

After looking at an impressive resume like this, once the shock and awe wear off, you have to ask, "How does he do it? Certainly he is retired or independently wealthy and fishes 250 days a year!" The answer is no, Stephen, 46, works full time as a business systems analyst and fishes only on weekends. However, he occasionally uses some vacation time to make a 3 or 4 day weekend for fishing destinations a distance away. "One day is for me and the other for my wife, but occasionally I can fish both weekend days if I take the kids! I have a 15 year old son and a daughter, 12, and I really enjoy watching them catch trophy fish," he says.

Exceptional anglers seem to have an instinct and a natural gift to find and catch fish, but to excel to top levels requires additional traits and effort. Perseverance is a key to the success Stephen has experienced. He reports that fishing is a hard teacher, with many tough days leading to the successful ones. In fact, he says he has lost more trophy fish over the years than he has caught!

Perseverance leads to attention to detail. Miklandric says it takes at least 5 or 6 years of experience on a body of water for a particular species to consistently catch citation fish. He pays attention to every detail of the day and the circumstance of each trophy fish caught and keeps a record of it. After several years of fishing he can look through his records and discern what works and what doesn't and build on that success.

Stephen's passion for fishing is also what motivates him to pursue trophy fish the way he does. "The great thing about fishing is you can never know it all and you can always learn. If I could fish for 200 years I would still be learning," Stephen jokes! It is clear that Stephen is still learning and getting better every year. Of the 15 different species he registered for citations in 2012, 11 were his personal best.

What are Stephen's plans for 2013? He says he is not going after the citation record he set this past year (he's tired!), but he is going for another record. He is on a quest to be the first angler to catch all 25 species offered in VDGIF's trophy fish program. He currently has only 3 to go to accomplish his goal. Watch out Freshwater Drum, Saugar and White Bass! The Trophy Fish Catching Machine is coming after you.

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, 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

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, Yes, it's mid January and tomorrow's high is 32. But I am seeing pics of bass over 3 lbs. With snow on the banks of the Creek, man it's great!!! Well, the water temperature is 45 degrees and by tomorrow it may drop to ICE!!!! We have heard of eyes, stories of stripers, not very big, and lots of crappie, some at 13 in. How they were caught doesn't much matter. This week will change everything on the Creek. The fish will drop down into 25 ft. or more, making them harder to catch. Therein lies the challenge, try blade baits, jigs, jerks, jigs, or maybe a medium minnow on a drop shot and just wait. Bass and crappie will be holding on the outside grass line. Live bait would be my choice, weight on bottom bait at 20 ft. and SLOW DOWN!!! You can't go too slow. This cold front may not affect the eyes at all, they are stacking up on the dam and riprap at the pump house. Try crawlers, minnows, small crankbaits ,or small spinnerbaits. Make long casts working slow and cover all depths of water. Yes, it`s cold, so dress warm, be careful, get out and catch a fish. Some things to look forward to in the Spring on the Creek!

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Chris Smith says that the lake has no ice on it yet. The grasses are dying down and have been blown away from the boat ramps. Anglers have been having luck using crankbaits to land bass. One 12 in. crappie was brought up off the pier. The water is clear, at full pool and cooling.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. I am wishing everyone a Happy New Year and let's hope that this year brings in trophy catches for everyone that gets out on the water. I have not fished recently but I have a great "catch" to report. Hugh and Sarah Seymour were fishing on the James River near Jordan Point on January 11, 2013, for catfish. They had set up a nice spread using gizzard shad as the "Bait of the Day" and one of Sarah's rods loaded up with a nice fish. After a great battle with a number of rod bending runs she managed to get her catch to the boat. She and husband Hugh were quite surprised to be landing a 49 in. longnose gar. I have heard of gar being caught this time of year, but it is quite unusual and always refreshing to see one this pretty being landing during the winter months. The fish measured 49 in. length and Hugh estimated the weight to be about 18 lbs. The fish was released and swam quickly away to fight again someday. In addition to this citation gar, Sarah also caught and landed citation blue cats so it was a great day on the water.

As for me, I am anxiously awaiting the start of the spring migration of shad up the Virginia rivers and will be ready for "Shad Time in Downtown Richmond" or the fishing version of "March Madness". Watching our VCU basketball team this season looks like we may have more than just fishing "March Madness" again this year. Go Rams! Okay now that I have that plug in for VCU, let me remind folks that my new email address is and phone contact remains the same (804) 354-3200. See you on the water.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, rockfish can be found at Cape Henry and will bite parachutes and umbrella rigs. At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and inshore wrecks, you will find tautogs taking fiddler crabs. Speckled trout are in the Elizabeth River and are going for Mirrolures and soft tail grubs. The water is clear and 45 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that he has had no anglers come in, only duck hunters and even they are not getting all that lucky. The water is slightly stained and cooling.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day main lake water temperatures were in the low 40s on Monday (1/21/2013). The lake level was almost 2 feet above the top of the dam. The water was brown and slightly cloudy in the lower lake. Bowfin and blue cats were hitting live minnows and bladebaits and were around bait schools on mid depth and deep flats and in deeper channels in the main lake. Small crappie, a few scattered larger crappie, and a few white and yellow perch were along the edges of the channels or on deep flats near channels (about 14 to 25 foot depths) in the lower and middle main lake, but were not biting aggressively. Prior to the snow last Thursday, small to mid-sized crappies in the channels and on deeper flats (7 to 12 foot depths) in the extreme upper end of the lake were quite active. After the snow Thursday, these crappies had relocated to deep eddies out of the heavy current and were gradually starting to bite again. When active, crappies were hitting live minnows, small bladebaits, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, tubes, and small Gulp baits. Bass and pickerel were scattered on mid depth and deep flats and channels in the main lake and were hitting live minnows, blade baits, and lipless crankbaits. Fishing with Capt. Conway before the snow, Capt. Bill Buck had 29 crappie, 3 blue cats, and 1 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Contributed by Ken Testorff, local blogger. Muddy water... anglers had it yesterday on the Northwest, and it was the same story today on the North Landing. I was at West Neck Marina a little earlier checking conditions, and it didn't take but a quick look around the ramp area to tell me that those fishermen who had gone out today likely weren't catching a lot of fish. Four trailers were in the parking lot when I arrived, and one more showed up while I was there. Three boats came in while I was standing around, and I managed to talk to the anglers in two of them. Two fellas in a Nitro told me they hadn't even had a bump today. I learned, however, that one of these two had been out during one of those real foggy days we had recently and had boated a lot of nice fish. Another fella in a blue Tracker today had found three fish: 1 bass and 2 pickerel. He said they all had hit a rattlin' crankbait. (If you're the retired Marine I'm talking about here, will you please email me at with your name? I'm sorry, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what you said it is--one of those "senior moment" things.) The fish he caught came from 47 degree water, which was a couple degrees warmer than most he had found in the creek.

And my kayaker buddy, Charlie, went to Oakum Creek today, picking up 2 bass and 2 pickerel. His biggest bass weighed up to 9 lbs.(as best he remembers, before checking his video footage). He, too, had muddy water, but the temperature range was a tad better than what the anglers found in West Neck. Charlie said his gauge showed a range from 48 to 51 degrees. Incidentally, just want to remind you that Charlie always posts video of his fishing trips on his website, usually in the late afternoon or evening of the next day. Here's the link to his blog:

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. No report this edition.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. The Blackwater and Nottoway are at or near flood stage as I write this 1/19/2013. Nottoway expected to crest Tuesday at 17.6 ft, the Blackwater expected to crest Monday at 11.7. So do not go to these rivers right now, it is dangerous.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. Fishing the Upper James River has provided some challenges this fall and winter. With recent rainfalls and snow, the James has gotten its heartbeat back! Locating where the fish have piled up is the only "slow" part of fishing this time of year. Once you have found them your efforts will be worth it. Fish pockets of protected water below large structure like boulders or rootballs. The fish this time of year will be hanging in these protected areas in at least 6 to 15 feet of water. Live minnows will be hard to beat and drop shot rigs work great once you have located the school. While you're searching, bump jigs and tubes along the bottom slowly. For other up to date fishing info and reports check out and give us a like on facebook! We keep our facebook page updated often! Tightlines!

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

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

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

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

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

Region 2 - Southside

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. The James is currently running at 10.5 feet. It had gotten up to 12 feet on Friday. The current temperature is 45 degrees. I expect the temp to drop as we have has a cold rain and snow event. Needless to say the fishing has been very slow. Prior to the rain and rising conditions the musky fishing had been good on the upper James. Musky up to 45 inches have been boated on BIG flies.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow Jr. told me that not many anglers have ventured out his way. Once the water has settled down a bit, fishing should be good. The water is muddy and cooling.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane says that brookie fishing is good with caddis imitators. The water is too high on the other trout streams in the area; but Doug said that the fishing should be good next week.

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, No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that his part of the New River is in near flood stage. Please don't try to fish there, it's extremely dangerous. The water is muddy, dangerously high and cooling. John also said that both muskies and stripers are hitting Alabama rigs in Claytor Lake.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Sorry to report no fishing. River has been flooded for over a week and best guess is that by next weekend it may be getting back in shape to fish. We still have a lot of snow to melt off and the river is way up and brown right now. On the bright side the good walleye fishing is right around the corner so book your trip now! You can get more frequent river condition/fishing reports on our facebook page.

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

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Early last week, before the 6 inches of rain followed by 9 inches of snow, trout fishing in the tributaries flowing into the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) was good. The water levels are still fairly high. This week is predicted to have some of the coldest temps in 2 years, so we'll do little, if any, fishing this week. Good time to tie flies and inspect your equipment for the spring season.

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 Harry says that the smallmouth streams are just too cold to fish.

In the Valley the delayed harvest streams are good places to fish just now. Back Creek and the delayed harvest section of Passage Creek are particularly good. Good flies are: Murray's Betsy Streamer, size 10; and Casual Dress, size 10.

The brookie streams in the mountain are too cold to try for one.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. Higher water levels and colder temperatures have put the slow down on the fishing activity. The bass seemed to have scattered and were hard to come by this past week. This pattern will probably continue as the coldest weather of the year is poised to arrive this week. One silver lining is that it seems the trout are a bit more active. Several good browns were reported caught last week. Water temperatures are in the upper 30s. Water level is now starting to increase with the soaking rain experienced last week. Time to attend the outdoor shows the next few weeks.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, 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: 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!

Quantico Bay: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. No report this edition.

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.No report this edition.

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

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

The Outdoor Report is proud to partner with the on-line ODUMagazine™  to give our readers direct access to a great variety of info about fishing around the region, as well as links to hunting and conservation news. ODU Magazine Editor Larry Thornhill and  Assistant 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 Sarah White's Notebook in the Fishin' Report.

Editor Larry Thornhill notes, "Since we launched in December 2011, we 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 the  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.  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.  Look for "what's new' in each edition of the Outdoor Report...

Check out the video library...   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.

This week from Bill Schwarz:

The New Year's celebrations are over and all our New Year's resolutions logged.  We hope and encourage all outdoor sportsmen to take a child fishing, help mentor a teenager or volunteer at a youth organization as part of your resolutions.  ODU Magazine receives an enormous about of information about fishing tips, new outdoor products for both fishing and hunting, conservation challenges etc.  We find the most heartfelt stories are ones that remind us of our youth and how important it is to share our outdoor knowledge with them.  For example this video we shared last December raps the whole need to share this knowledge into one tidy package, name "My First Fish".   Thank you for considering this challenge and enjoy more great youth fishing stories on ODU Fishing News here: link or youth hunting stories on ODU Hunting News here: link.

In December ODU Magazine released its winter fishing edition, so if you have not seen it..enjoy: Winter Fishing 2013.

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
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the Richmond Fishing Expo this weekend January 25-27 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, fishing enthusiasts from all over will be coming to this show to meet the pros, and see the latest in gear and tactics to land the big ones! This fishing story from David Stevens, a sophomore at Rappahannock Community College, Warsaw Campus tells a great story about how fishing and fond memories can have a profound impact on our lives. David's unusual circumstances and passion for fishing only adds to the impact of this story. The story was one of the top 15 entries in the 2011-12 VOWA Collegiate Writing Contest. David notes, "I am not your typical college sophomore. I am forty-five years old and attending college via a grant provided by the Sunshine Lady Foundation, sponsored by Warren Buffet's sister, Doris Buffet. I am also an inmate in the Virginia Department of Corrections as a result of a horrible decision made almost ten years ago. I am originally from Northern Virginia, but also spent some of my childhood in south Florida. I have loved the outdoors my entire life, and my biggest passion is fishing. I look forward to the day when I can be on the water again. I have worked as a tutor in the GED program here for six years and have found that I enjoy helping others. My plan is to pursue a bachelor's degree in either substance abuse counseling or adult education."

Pond Memories

By David Stevens

Anglers are without a doubt the most diverse group of sportsmen on the planet. Fishing is enjoyed by men, women, and children and takes place in nearly every country on Earth. We fish in streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans and the techniques we use are as varied as we are. Some of us fish to feed our families and others just for the pure joy and challenge it brings. Differences aside, though, there is one common trait almost all anglers share – we relish any opportunity to talk about fishing and share our stories.

My love of fishing goes back to my early childhood trips with my father. He had been fishing his entire life, and he passed his knowledge and passion for the sport down to me. My young mind soaked it all in and hungered for more. Over the years, my enthusiasm grew by leaps and bounds. I watched every fishing show on TV, subscribed to multiple magazines, and spent as much time on the water as I could. By my early teens, I was a warehouse of information and thought I could handle any fish that came my way; I would soon learn just how wrong I was.

By fourteen, I had fished just about every body of water near my home except one. White's Pont was only about three miles away, but nobody I knew had ever fished there. Old Man White had owned the property as far back as anyone could remember and local lore was that he didn't want anyone on his land – especially kids. I dreamed about casting my line into that virgin water until I couldn't stand it anymore. I got on my bike one morning and set off to meet Old Man White. As I peddled down the long dirt road to his house, my heart was beating out of my chest – partly out of fear and partly out of anticipation. When he came to the door, I could hardly find my voice. Finally, I introduced myself and asked for permission to fish in his pond. He gave me a wry smile then asked me to sit out on the porch with him. He explained, "Over the many years I have been fishing, every trip I would bring home a few fish to release into the pond." He went on to say he had stocked bass, crappie, pike, sunfish, and catfish. He said that he appreciated that I had shown him the respect to ask permission, and added "You can fish as much as you want as long as you release your catch and don't leave any trash behind." He also asked me to stop by every now and then to tell him what I caught. With a huge grin on my face, I thanked the old man and headed for my bike. As I reached it, he uttered the sentence that would haunt my next two years: "Good luck with Buckethead!" I stopped dead in my tracks, turned, and walked back to the porch. No real fisherman could walk away after a line like that.

We sat back down and he told me his tale. About ten years earlier, he was fishing the Potomac River when he hooked a huge fish. After an hour long fight, he finally landed the thirty-pound blue catfish. "I couldn't bring myself to release such a beautiful catch, so I brought it home to reign as king of the pond," he said. The name came from the fact that the fish had a head the size of a five gallon bucket. I starting hatching plans to try and catch the monster.

White's Pond was fairly large, about five acres, and it was months before I made my first contact with Buckethead. Our first meeting was very brief. I felt the bite and set my hook into what felt like a log until it moved. Buckethead proceeded to pull line from my reel like a slow moving tugboat and then, at his leisure, headed into a submerged rock pile and broke my line. I don't think I even turned his head.

Over that year, I probably fished White's Pond over a hundred times. I hooked Buckethead once more, but the result was the same – a broken line. When I stopped to chat with Old Man White and told him what happened, he just laughed. I think he felt a kinship with the old catfish.

After a cold winter, I returned in the spring with renewed confidence. I had received a new saltwater rod for Christmas and planned to unleash my secret weapon on Buckethead. Through April and May, I had no contact with the giant cat. Finally, in the last week of June, we hooked up again. This time the battle was different. I was a year older and stronger and had a rod that could tame the beast. I battled him for over an hour before I finally got my first glimpse of the monster. His head was easily two feet across and he was at least four and a half feet long. I couldn't believe my eyes. This fish had to be almost fifty pounds.

After coming to the surface and giving me a fishy smirk, he dove and headed for the rock pile again. Even with my new rod, I couldn't stop him. To this day, I swear the big cat was just taunting me. I think he enjoyed the battle as much as I did, and when he got a little tired, he just turned and went home.

Old Man White passed away that winter, I got my driver's license, my fishing horizons expanded, and I never made it back to White's Pond. I like to think the king is still there, ruling his watery domain. One thing is certain. Old Man White and Buckethead gave me an angler's most treasured possession, a memory to keep and a story to share.

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:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: