In this edition:

The Turkeys are Gobblin' and the Fishing is Heating Up!

This April 10th edition has spring in full bloom and with warm sunny days and ample April showers, gardens and food plots are being tilled and seeded to renew the cycle of planting and harvest. This is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. We've posted the Kids Fishing Day calendar, so look for an event near you and plan for some family fun. The turkeys are gobblin' and the fishing is getting better by the day.

Spring turkey hunting is a fantastic way for families to experience the excitement and natural beauty of the forest. From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from around the state it looks like the families are having some great success pursuing thundering gobblers. This edition has some great photos and stories of success and excitement by young hunters during the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day April 6.

Read about these hunting adventures and of other successful young turkey hunters in Hunting News You Can Use section. Trout stocking has begun and the streams are beckoning. Be safe and have fun enjoying the blossoming of Spring.

David Coffman, Editor

Spring Gobbler Season Forecast Bright—Hunt Safely This Year!

The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day last Saturday April 6th was a great success as 522 gobblers were telechecked in this ninth year of the youth only turkey hunting day. This compares with 547 recorded in 2012. Read their stories in the Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us... section. Virginia's abundant population of wild turkeys entices many hunters to venture into the woods each Spring when the sound of the male turkey, or gobbler, fills the air. This year the Spring Gobbler Season in Virginia runs from April 13 to May 18, 2013. Turkey populations are projected to be good to excellent throughout most of the Commonwealth. Spring Gobbler season is the favorite time of year for many hunters. Heart-pounding action takes place as a hunter must attempt to remain completely still while using a call to bring a male bird to within shotgun range. Because turkeys have both keen hearing and sharp eyesight, camouflage is worn by hunters. It is essential for every hunter to positively identify their target and the area beyond their target, before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, read special safety precautions in the Be Safe... Have Fun section. By taking these basic precautions, hunters protect themselves and protect others. Bring home that gobbler safely, by following these guidelines. Also, remember to tag your bird by notching the appropriate tag on your license before removing it from the place of kill, and check your bird by calling 1-866-GOT-GAME (468-4263) or by using the internet www.HuntFishVA.com.

Dallas Baker, age 11 from Mineral, killed her first gobbler while hunting with her Dad, Shane Baker during the Special Youth Spring Gobbler Hunt Day April 6th.  The big Tom weighed 20.5lbs. with a 10.5 inch beard and 1inch spurs. Read her story and the success of other young hunters in the Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...section.

Lapsed Anglers... We Want You Back!

Have you not fished, or purchased your fishing license the past few years? VDGIF Outreach Manager Lee Walker announced that the VDGIF is once again participating with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) to implement an Angler Retention and Fishing License Marketing Program. This marks the 5th year of partnering with RBFF to increase fishing license sales and angling participation.

Beginning April 1, 2013, approximately 72,000 postcards will be mailed to lapsed anglers throughout the state. At the same time, we will be launching a new effort involving a direct-mail marketing campaign aimed at 17,504 boaters who have not renewed their boat registration for at least one boating season. This is a 100% RBFF-funded direct-mail program.

Virginia Program At-A-Glance

VDGIF Outreach Manager Lee Walker advised, "If you have already received a postcard, or heard from various family members or friends from this first mailing, we hope that this gentle reminder will help generate some interest on your behalf, and that of other Virginians to purchase your license and get back on the water. This simple, and inexpensive effort not only shows your support for the important work being done by VDGIF, but also instills a sense of responsibility and stewardship for our wildlife and natural resources." Licenses can be purchased online, or at hundreds of license agents throughout the Commonwealth.

Proposed Regulatory Amendments Pertaining to Hunting and Trapping, Foxhound Training Preserves, and Other Regulations of the Board READY for Public Comment April 2, 2013

Public Comment Period April 2-May 31

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries has proposed amendments to the regulations to govern hunting and trapping during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, foxhound training preserves, and other matters regulated by the Board. The regulation amendments proposed by the Board on March 20-21, 2013 will be published on the DGIF website at the start of a 60-day proposed regulation public comment period that opens on April 2 and closes on May 31, 2013. Regulatory comments received by DGIF during this period will be provided to, and considered by, the Board. In order to be submitted to the Board for their consideration during regulatory actions, comments must be in writing and accompanied by the name, address, and telephone number of the party offering the comments. Comments lacking the submitting party's identifying information may be received by staff but will not be considered by the Board.

The channels for submitting written comments during the April 2-May 31 proposed regulation public comment period are:

Please note that comments on the proposed regulation amendments received outside of the public comment period are not provided to the Board. (The exception is public comments made in person at the March "regulatory proposal" and the June "final action" Board meetings; these are considered by the Board even though given outside of the designated public comment period.)

Becoming Bear Aware!

With a healthy, growing black bear population, bear sightings are becoming common throughout much of Virginia. A highly adaptable and intelligent animal, bears can live close to people. While local residents often do not know bears are living close by, some bears may wander into residential areas due to the smell of food around homes. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food; however, outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears.

What should you do if you see a bear?

To learn more on what to do if a bear is consuming bird seed, garbage, pet food, etc., on your property, or if you encounter a bear cub, read more on the VDGIF website.

If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify your VDGIF Regional Office. Phone numbers for the regional offices can be found by visiting the Department's website.

Living with Bears in Virginia, a video produced by the VDGIF, is available on the Department's website and provides tips for peacefully coexisting with bears. Please visit www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear to view the video, print a brochure, read more about bears in Virginia, and view other useful links to bear information. Remember, if you live in Virginia, you live in bear country. Let's work together to Keep Bears Wild!

Ed's Virginia Outdoor Blog Report

Editor's note... With the increasing popularity of blogs and other social media in outdoor communications, Virginia blogger Ed Felker offered to share his blog and those of fellow bloggers with our readers in the Outdoor Report. Ed is a graphic designer, writer, photographer, artist and outdoorsman. A native Virginian, Ed can most often be found near his studio overlooking the Potomac River, usually with a camera, often with a fly rod, always with a dog. In his blog, "Dispatches from the Potomac," he writes about fly fishing, hunting, hiking, kayaking, photography and simply enjoying the outdoors. Ed serves on the Board of Directors for the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association and lives in Loudoun County with his wife and many, many animals.

Hunting for antler sheds is a fun way for you and your dog to get some great exercise outdoors, although sometimes you get more exercise than you bargained for! Join me as some friends (both two- and four-legged) find more adventure, misadventure and laughter than we do antlers. Here's an excerpt from Antler Shed Hunting Adventures:

"To us in the distance, it just played out in surreal slow motion. The other deer, five or six, were trampling through the corn in a panic, basically right where Monkey was. I thought, well if he doesn't get killed right here, he'll have to be scared enough to turn back. Nope. He now had a half dozen new targets ahead of him, and he slipped into the treeline and vanished." Read the rest of the story here from Dispatches from the Potomac.

Elsewhere in the Virginia outdoor blogosphere...

On The Wild Life with Mark Taylor, a Wytheville forester fared better than we did in the antler shed department, finding a nice matched set...

Rob Choi over at Angling Addict made the most of a slow kayak fishing day and turned it into a beautifully productive photo outing...

Tim Borkert, The Unlucky Hunter seems to be pretty lucky in the fishing department! He and his dad both carded citation catfish in one great day of fishing...

And The Will to Hunt guest blogger Scott Calvin offers some spring turkey hunting advice...

In the next edition, look for Ed's experiences working with wounded servicemen and women with Project Healing Waters at Rose River Farm in Madison County. Read more about these events in People & Partners section, 2-Fly Tournament.

Do you write about outdoor life in Virginia? Send your fishing, hunting, hiking, photography or other outdoor blog to Ed at ejfelker@verizon.net, and your blog may be featured in an upcoming Virginia Outdoor Blog Report!

Ask Your Friends if They are Still Getting Their Outdoor Report

If you are reading this – that's good news! We have just discovered we've lost a random group of subscribers back in December- January. Somehow our 'system' lost or dropped several thousand subscriber emails-- we aren't sure what happened. We have no way of knowing who got dropped. We've gotten a lot of emails from loyal readers letting us know they had not received their January or February editions. Please help us restore our subscriber list by contacting your friends and colleagues and asking if they received this March 13th edition of the Outdoor Report. If not, advise them of this subscriber address glitch and forward them this edition.

Contact your friends and colleagues to check their spam folders... David Murr, VDGIF Webmaster notes that from time to time, email providers implement changes to the way they try to detect which incoming emails are "spam" and which are legitimate messages. Sometimes, real emails—like the one you get twice a month to let you know the latest Outdoor Report has arrived—are flagged mistakenly as spam. If you don't hear from us on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month, take a moment to look in your spam or "junk mail" folder, to make sure it hasn't ended up there.

To make sure you receive the Outdoor Report every time, be sure to "whitelist" our address (OutdoorReport@dgif.virginia.gov) by adding it to your email account or client's "approved senders" list. Taking this action will ensure that your email provider never marks our messages as spam by mistake. If your friends and colleagues have also requested the Outdoor Report, and suddenly stop receiving it, please tell them to also whitelist our address, and re-subscribe if necessary.

If you ever need to subscribe again, you can do so on our subscription page.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Kids Fishing Day Events Calendar Posted on VDGIF Website

The 2013 Kids Fishing Days event table is now posted on the VDGIF website. View it from the Upcoming Events page and there is a link under Contests and Ongoing Events on the right side. There are 40 events posted currently and new ones will be added as they are submitted. VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator Chris Dunnavant notes, "More and more people are utilizing this web-table and traveling significant distances to experience a Kids Fishing Day." Send in your photos of family fun to the Outdoor Report. Share this information with family and friends and "Take a Kid Fishing!"

Orvis Offers Free Fly Fishing Clinics in April-June

The Orvis Company will once again be rolling out the successful and popular Fly Fishing 101 program beginning weekends in April and going through June of 2013. This a comprehensive and fun program consisting of fly fishing lessons designed to welcome new, novice and advancing students to the great sport of fly fishing. And the best part – it's FREE! FF 101 offers 2 hour weekend classes designed to teach students the basics of fly fishing. Fly Fishing 201 takes students to the next step by bringing them to the water to apply their skills and actually catch fish!

Once instruction is completed each group attendee will receive a $25 coupon off any purchase of $50 or more good toward full price Orvis merchandise on that day only. Additionally each group attendee will receive a certificate for a free Trout Unlimited Membership and a free membership to Federation of Fly Fishers- A $70 value. The total free package value with instruction is valued over $100.00!

FF 101 classes will meet at Orvis Woodbridge, Potomac Town Center, Woodbridge VA. FF201 classes will meet on the water at a location TBA. Call the store 703-576-7661 to secure a spot today as classes are limited and first come first serve.

Orvis Woodbridge FF 101 Dates: April /13,27,28 – May/4,5,18,19,25,26- June/8,9

Orvis Woodbridge FF 201 Dates: May/11,12- June/ 1,2,15,16

Orvis stores throughout Virginia are holding the fly fishing clinics. Visit www.orvis.com/flyfishing101 for a list of store locations or to register for classes near you!

Friends of Dyke Marsh to Host Raptor Demonstration on Earth Day, April 20

Raptor Demonstration.  On Earth Day, see raptors that have been rescued and rehabilitated by the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia and learn more about these fascinating and beautiful birds of prey.  April 20, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Belle Haven Picnic Area, near the Mount Vernon bike trail.

13th Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Celebrated in Waynesboro April 20-21

Fly anglers from across the country will celebrate the 13th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 20-21, 2013. Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Only here can you learn all the latest techniques from the experts and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. The festival features small-group casting classes with fly fishing and fly tying experts from across the Mid-Atlantic. Festival volunteers will help children catch native brook trout from an on-site Children 's Catch and Release Tout Pool and then release them into the South River (with the help of their parents). Members of the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Club, the largest FFF Club in Virginia, will also provide paid spey casting classes and offer basic fly tying tips to beginners.

The highlight of the weekend is the Festival Foundation Dinner sponsored by Dominion, at which the festival committee presents the 2013 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award. This year's festival sponsors include Temple Fork Outfitters, Dominion Resources, Subaru, Orvis, Natural Retreats, Wild River Outfitters DuPont Community Credit Union, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Flymen Fishing Company, Speckled Trout B&B, Eastern Fly Fishing, the City of Waynesboro, Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Virginia Sportsman, Mid-Valley Press, Virginia Living, Mid-Atlantic Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers, Duck Down Inn, Green Top Sporting Goods, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc.

A variety of classes will be offered which includes fly casting and fly tying for beginners. There will be raffles, live music and fun for the entire family. The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is a one-of-a-kind event: Monies received from sponsors, vendors, ticket sales, and raffles are used to cover the cost of next year's festival with the remainder going to the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation, which promotes conservation and stream restoration projects. Daily admission to the festival is $20 per person, and the festival runs from 9 AM-5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The cost of admission includes free wine tastings for those 21 and older.

The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will kick off its event with a showing of "Where the Yellowstone Flows" in coordination with Trout Headwaters Inc, and the City of Harrisonburg on Friday April 19th at Courts Theater. Admission for the movie is $10 and all proceeds raised will be donated to the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation.  For more information about the festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Plan 3 May Fishing Events - Registration Due April 20th

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen have some exciting fishing events planned for this spring.  If  you have a disability and want to join us, now's your chance. Last year we held our first West Augusta Outdoor Day near Staunton, and we'll return again this year on May 11th. If you weren't there last year, you missed out on our NWTF award-winning Best New Event of 2012, as our participants shot skeet, crossbow and reeled in big catfish all day. The Little Switzerland Chapter NWTF will re-stock their trout pond with rainbows on May 18th, so head for the beautiful mountains of Monterey... and plan to take plenty of trout home! On Saturday May 25th, the Grace family will host their 7th annual Mossy Creek Trout Rodeo near Broadway, just north of Harrisonburg. We will be fishing a mile stretch of the scenic Smith River, stocked with browns and rainbow trout. You do not want to miss out on this event! Registration Forms are available at www.vanwtf.com and the application deadline is April 20th!

We have numerous events planned throughout the year, ranging from turkey, deer, dove, and waterfowl hunts to fishing and shooting events, in all areas of Virginia. As an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, our events are open to anyone with a disability, and there is no charge to participate. If you'd like to receive news of our events, please contact Robin Clark at 434-249-6154 or via email.

Woman's Outdoor Weekend at Holiday Lake April 12-14

Woman's Outdoor Weekend (WOW) will be at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center on April 12-14. Come enjoy the weekend while learning the outdoor skills you've always wanted to master! Included are archery, rifle, shotgun, canoeing, kayaking, wilderness survival, and much, much more.  Participants must be age 8 and up. (17 and under must be accompanied by a registered adult.)   Details and registration information can be viewed at www.holidaylake4h.com or give us a call at (434) 248-5444 if you have any questions.

Fishing Camp at Holiday Lake April 26-28

Fishing Camp is back at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center! No experience necessary, beginners are welcome. Cost is $80 and covers all programming fees, instruction, meals and lodging. Workshops included are: Learning to Tie Knots, Natural Bait, Lake Shocking, Casting Techniques, Fishing Equipment and Fish ID. You can register online at www.holidaylake4h.com or print your registration form and mail it to us at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, 1267 4-H Camp Rd. Appomattox, VA 24522. Registration deadline is April 12th. Scholarships are available for Appomattox and Prince Edward Counties. Call us at (434) 248-5444 if you have any questions.

NRA Courses in Basic Pistol and Personal Home Protection at Holiday Lake April 28-30

Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center located at 1267 4-H Camp Rd. Appomattox, VA 24522 is offering the Two Courses in Two Days on April 28th-30th. NRA Pistol Basic Course teaches the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for safely owning and using a pistol. This course meets the requirements to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Virginia. Personal Protection for the Home Course follows the NRA Basic Course and teaches advanced shooting techniques. It is an excellent course in safety and how to be more prepared in the invent of a home invasion. Both courses are taught by a certified NRA instructor and are offered at $215 which will include all course instruction, materials, meals and lodging. This is a live fire class (22 cal. Pistols will be available, students must provide ammo). For more information or to register please visit us at www.holidaylake4h.com/nraclass.php or call us at 434-248-5444.

One Day NRA Shooting Camp Planned in Middlesex April 20

The Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club is sponsoring a family oriented shooting sports camp on Saturday April 20th at the club's shooting range on Route #3 (1860 Twiggs Ferry Road) in Hartfield, Virginia. The event is targeted to expose young shooters and their families to the fun of participating in the various shooting sports, while teaching about the safe handling of firearms on the range, in the home, and while hunting. According to camp director Macey White, "The camp is a really fun way to learn about firearm safety and a must for any family with firearms in the home".

Increased interest by gun owners in the fun of organized shooting sports such as Skeet, Trap, and Sporting Clays for shotgun enthusiasts, and target shooting with pistols, rifles and air rifles, is on the rise. Here on the Middle Peninsula the Middlesex Sportsman's Hunt Club operates a shooting facility for local members and the club sponsors educational activities for new shooters including 4-H Club shoots and National Rifle Association events that promote safe handling of firearms and increased participation in the various shooting sports.

The Saturday April 20th NRA Shooting Sports Camp is an all day event. Under the direct supervision of certified firearms instructors, participants will learn to safely handle and fire rifles, pistols, shotguns and muzzleloaders. It is the club's belief that "hands on" experience in a safe and educational environment promotes safety. Participants will learn skills, and practices that will help keep them safe throughout their life. Many people who have attended the camp in the past have discovered that target shooting is a safe and enjoyable hobby that they can participate in for the rest of their life.

As participants arrive on the 20th, teams of several attendees will move "round-robin" style through each of the events so that everyone will get plenty of experience in each of the types of firearms. The camp lasts about 3 hours and all firearms, safety glasses, ear protection, ammunition and targets are provided by the club.

Pre-registration is encouraged. Call or email club secretary, Macey White, at 776-9861, or maceywhite@gmail.com, to register and to receive your starting time. The cost for the event is $10 per person. Lunch will be available (Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, etc). The range is covered and the event will go forward on the 20st rain or shine.

The camp on April 20 will be a fun filled and educational event for families with hunters and shooters here on the Middle Peninsula. The Club is easy to find. There will be signs to guide you to the event on state route #3 (Twiggs Ferry Road) between the Piankatank River bridge and Route #33 in Hartfield, Virginia. All are welcome, but please leave your own guns at home.

Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival April 25-27

Celebrate spring migration at the Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival April 25-27 at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Join expert birders and guides to explore the Swamp with guided bird walks, canoe trips and bus tours. Get a close-up look at colorful songbirds with bird banding demonstrations and explore the Swamp at night with Owl Prowls. There will be photography workshops to hone your skills and a variety of exhibits and fun children activities at the Festival HQ on Saturday April 27th. DGIF is proud to help sponsor this great wildlife experience. Registration is free! Call (757) 986-3705.

Explore the Outdoors Event for Kids in Chesterfield April 28th

Come join the fun with the Community Idea Stations and Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation at the Explore the Outdoors event Sunday, April 28, 2013 from 1-5 pm, at Huguenot Park, 10901 Robious Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23235.   From nature walks to outdoor investi­gations, families, friends, and neighbors are invited to participate in hands-on experiences that encourage kids to learn about science. VDGIF staff will have furs, skulls and other hands-on wildlife identification items. The day will feature 40+ local organizations which specialize in outdoor activities for families and is free and open to the public.  Explore the Outdoors activities and parking will be held at Huguenot Park. Next to the park, the Community Idea Stations studios will be open for tours and kids will have a chance to meet Curious George plus see themselves on TV.    The Virginia529 Savings Plan is the funding Sponsor. For  more information visit the website: http://ideastations.org/exploreoutdoors

Urban Survival Course in Franklin County April 27-28

An Urban Survival Weekend course has been scheduled for April 27-28, 2013 from 8 am-5pm each day at the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center located at 1488 Franklin St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.  The course cost $25 and will cover a broad range of topics:
Water Sources: Finding them and making them potable, Waste Management and Disposal, Food: Types, Proper Storage, Methods and Preparations, Preparing Your Home, Family, and Pets, First Aid Kits and Supplies, Hyper- & Hypothermia: How to avoid it, Prevention and Treatment, Heating and Cooling Your House Without electricity, Tips and Tricks, Natural Emergencies: Power Outages, Snow -Severe Storms, Fire, Earthquakes &Flooding,  Unusual Emergencies: Nuclear, Civil Unrest, Pandemic, Biological Event and Economic Collapse,  Shelter in Place or Bug Out, Herbs and Wild Foods, Non-electric Gizmos and Gadgets, Situational Awareness and Personal Safety, Basic Human Needs for Survival: Physical and Emotional. To register E-mail: michaelpruitt@franklincountyva.org or call  540-483-3091

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake May 3-5

The Hunter Skills Weekend is a unique program open to ages 11-90+, that  offers opportunities to learn new skills or fine-tune the ones you already have.  Three 4-hour sessions in a variety of topics provide skills development for new and seasoned hunters alike and include shooting, archery, survival, game cooking, treestand safety and a variety of hunting techniques. This partnership program is presented by the Virginia Hunter Education Association, VDGIF and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center located near Appomattox. Registration is open until April 19, 2013 and the cost is $120.00 (meals and lodging included); a discounted fee is available before April 12, 2013. Completion of a Hunter Education course is preferred but not required; children under 18 must attend with a parent. For more information visit www.holidaylake4h.com or call Holiday Lake at (434) 248-5444.

4th Annual CPS Vegetation Management Workshop in Wakefield May 8

CPS Timberland will be hosting its 4th Annual Vegetation Management Workshop on May 8 at the Airfield Conference Center in Wakefield. This meeting will include representation from Forestry, Wildlife, Utility Rights of Ways and Aquatics markets and offering recertification credits, CFEs and Sharp Logger. This program is landowner friendly and will cover new pesticide laws, updates on NPDES, invasive species, forestry and wildlife management techniques, product updates, equipment demonstrations, new cost assistance programs and more. For folks wishing to come in the night before, please contact the Airfield Conference Center to secure your lodging needs. For info or to register contact:
Doug Pond (804) 241-8118 or Charlie Smyth (804) 513-7185
PRE-REGISTRATION IS MANDATORY - RSVP by May 6, 2013 via email to: charles.smyth@cpsagu.com or doug.pond@cpsagu.com

VA Herpetological Society to Hold Annual Survey at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park May 3-5

The Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) will hold its Annual Spring Meeting & Survey at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and a portion of False Cape State Park, in Virginia Beach, May 3-5.  Established in 1938, Back Bay NWR contains over 9,250 acres, that includes a thin strip of barrier island coastline typical of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Habitats include beach, dunes, woodlands, agricultural fields, and emergent freshwater marshes. The majority of the property's marshes are on islands within Back Bay.  Public vehicle access is not allowed beyond the visitor center at Back Bay NWR nor in any part of False Cape State Park.  The Park is a mile-wide barrier spit between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, consisting of 4,321 acres with 5.9 miles of beachfront, extending to North Carolina line.  Access to the Park is through the Back Bay NWR and is limited to hiking, bicycling, or boating.  VHS will rely on Park personnel to provide transport to and from several of the survey zones. VHS will have access to certain impoundment areas not open to the public.

Several species not frequently encountered have been sited within these parks, including rainbow snakes and State Threatened eastern glass lizards. VHS has agreed to observe/photograph and avoid any capturing/handling of any glass lizards. Also, eastern cottonmouths are frequently encountered within the refuge, so snake boots/knee high rubber boots are strongly recommended for all survey participants. All VHS surveys aim to find and document as many different reptile and amphibian species as possible during each event.  This data will be entered into VDGIF's databases, helping to keep these resources of data as up to date as possible. Anyone is invited to come join us and participate in survey events, as these events encourage educating as many as possible about Virginia's herpetofauna.  Please keep checking the VHS events webpage for further details about the event and lodging options as we get closer to the date.  Membership in VHS is not required to attend.  Please contact the event leaders to RSVP:  Dave Perry at vicepresident@vaherpsociety.com or Larry Mendoza at president@vaherpsociety.com.

VA Herpetological Society Assists in Belmead BioBlitz in Powhatan May 18

The Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS)  will take part in the Belmead BioBlitz, to be held on the Francis Emma/Belmead Property in Powhatan County, on May 18, 2013.  This event is being hosted by the James River Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists.  The entire event will survey for all living organisms on this property, while VHS will participate in the group(s) that surveys for reptile and amphibians species on this property.  Francis Emma, Inc. is a nonprofit organization under the auspices of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament with 2,265 acres of land entrusted to its care, with 1,000 acres of this land placed in a  conservation easement.  All VHS survey events aim to find and document as many different reptile and amphibian species as possible during each event.  This data will be entered into VDGIF's databases, helping to keep these resources of data as up to date as possible. Anyone is invited to come join us and participate in survey events, as these events encourage educating as many as possible about Virginia's herpetofauna.  Please keep checking the VHS events webpage for further details about the event and lodging options as we get closer to the date.   Membership in VHS is not required to attend.  Anyone interested in participating in this event, must complete the registration and waiver forms on the following link, and email them to the given contacts:  https://sites.google.com/site/belmeadbioblitz/forms. For questions, please contact the VHS representative for this event, Dave Van Gelder, at dfvangelder@comcast.net.

People and Partners in the News

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Recognizes Outstanding Participants and Volunteers

The Participant-of-the-Year Award winners for 2012 were announced in February by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) and The Orvis Company. The Orvis Company has made this award possible by providing each winner with an Access 5-weight rod and reel combo in recognition of their accomplishments through the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing program. Two participants from each of PHWFF's 14 regions were honored for their spirit and leadership as well as regular participation and growing masteries in fly fishing, fly tying and rod building. Congratulations to each this year's winners. To view a full listing of the 2012 Participant-of-the-Year Award winners, click here.  Winners from the two Virginia area Regions have been featured in past editions of the Outdoor Report:

National Capital Region

Valerie Takesue, Major US Army, currently serves at Fort Meade in the Warrior Transition Unit and has participated in PHWFF's Fort Meade program for two years. Her eagerness to learn and advance landed her a coveted slot in the 2012 2-Fly Tournament where she was recognized for catching the largest fish and she demonstrated her mastery of fly fishing and fly tying at the Stars and Stripers event where she was honored again for catching the largest fish on a fly. Her enthusiasm for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is contagious and she is regularly recruiting new participants for the Fort Meade, MD program.

Robert Sweeney is a US Army team leader for a bomb disposal unit currently at Fort Belvoir. He participates regularly in PHWFF activities and has recruited other soldiers to join in. Bob is an older, quiet guy who leads by example. His word is his bond. He doesn't talk about doing things, he just does them. New to fly fishing, he has learned to cast, tie flies, and build a rod and is a good ambassador/advocate for PHWFF.

The Virginias Region

Chuck Holley has been a willing participant of all things offered since the beginning of the Huntington program two years ago. Chuck is a very keen participant, asking questions and taking part in all things, more than to willing help others during the sessions. He participated in the Yellowstone Slough Creek national trip and developed a slide show of the trip to share with other participants.

John Paramore, MSG US Army (retired), has been a willing participant in all things offered at the McGuire program for two years. He is a very keen participant, asking questions and taking part in all things, more than willing to help others during the sessions. John developed a Facebook page for the McGuire program and handles the email group addresses for the participants and volunteers. John was recently appointed to the national PHWFF Veterans Advisory Council. He has fished the 2 Fly event as well as attended National trips.

The PHWFF 2012 Volunteer-of-the-Year Awards were presented by Temple Fork Outfitters as a way of recognizing the tens of thousands of volunteer hours given each year to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing by our talented and caring volunteers. The Outstanding Volunteer Award annually recognizes one volunteer from each of PHWFF's 14 regions. We extend a sincere thank you to Temple Fork Outfitters for their support of our program and for providing each award recipient with the rod of their choice. PHWFF thanks all of our volunteers and congratulates each of these deserving recipients.

National Capital Region

Kiki Galvin has been volunteering for PHWFF for more than four years now in various capacities to include guiding for the 2-Fly Tournament to being a member of the Board of Trustees. Her being named the National Capital area volunteer of the year comes from her volunteer work with the Walter Reed program in Bethesda, MD. For the past two years Kiki has helped with the weekly instruction that we provide on fly fishing and fly casting for our wounded military personnel in our program at that location. She has hardly ever missed a session and has been one of our most consistent and dependable volunteers. We thank her for her dedication and support of PHWFF!

The Virginias Region

Bob White has been the Program Lead at Huntington VAMC since PHWFF established a program at the center. The program is now two years old and growing by leaps and bounds. Bob has been very successful in setting up fly tying, casting, rod building and leader building programs. This year his vets built 10 rods in the national contest in addition to 10 others. This program is one of the top rod building programs within PHWFF. This is amazing given this is the first year the center ever built rods.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing 2-Fly Tournament In Madison April 27-28

The Seventh Annual Project Healing Waters 2-Fly Tournament will be held April 27-28 at the Rose River Farm in Madison County at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains to raise funds for this growing organization that provides recreation and restoration for disabled service members.  Individual and corporate donors will join forces to support Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) 147 programs in 46 states. While the Tournament Teams are already full, there are sponsorships available and banquet tickets for the Saturday evening dinner "under the stars". Click on this link for reservation and sponsor information. Sunday's fishing tournament pairs two PHWFF participants, either an injured service member or disabled veteran, with professional guides from across the region who are among the most notable names in the sport. Each team has a morning and an afternoon fishing session. In the end, with many large trout brought to hand, the winners will be determined by fractions of inches.

Participants in Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) programs and alumni will also be on hand to discuss the challenges facing today's service members, both physical and emotional, and the impact PHWFF has had on their recovery and transition. Look for a special feature on the 2-Fly in the May 8th edition of the Outdoor Report.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. The 2-Fly Tournament is the organization's headline event to raise awareness and funding for its 146 programs across the nation. Visit the PHWFF website for more details.

Virginia Outdoor Writers Association/Dominion 2012-13 Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest Winners Announced

Winners of the VOWA (Virginia Outdoor Writers Association)/Dominion 2012-2013 Annual Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest were announced on March 16, 2013 at the organization's Annual Meeting held in the beautiful Staunton, Augusta, Waynesboro region of the Shenandoah Valley. There, in the gracious Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center three Virginia Tech women, all studying in VT's Natural Resource Department, made an historic sweep of the 3 top contest prizes. The theme for this year's contest was a memorable outdoor experience or special interest.

First Place Winner, receiving a $250 cash prize donated by Dominion, Zoe Carroll, is a junior studying Wildlife Science hailing from Earlysville VA. Her winning essay entitled Getting the Bird Flu recounts her volunteer intern experiences working with baby birds at a wildlife rehabilitation center. "Okay," she writes, "so it wasn't actually the one that makes people ill, but rather the one that inspires people to the point of maybe even becoming ornithologists." With interests in mammals, birds, and marsupials, Zoe looks forward to graduate school after completing her BS and would ideally love to work as a researcher or a biologist for the National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, or the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The second place winner, claiming a $150 cash prize donated by Dominion, Leslie Beard is also a VT junior majoring in Natural Resources Conservation with a focus in Recreation Management. Leslie, who resides in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, credits her love of nature to her Aunt Claudia, an outdoorsy woman who provided her with a grand introduction to the outdoors through a trip to Lake Tahoe. Leslie's essay, To Life, Outside details her Tahoe adventures and is dedicated to her Aunt who died of cancer in September of 2012. Leslie's goals are "not set in stone yet, but I know that I will enjoy nature in its primal state and I aim to encourage and help others do the same throughout my lifetime."

This year a new award for the best entry relating specifically to the Virginia was initiated by Cooperative Living Magazine which is published by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC). The winner of this Cooperative Living Magazine Award, Whitney Clark received $100 and will have her entry, Knowing the Knob, published in Cooperative Living Magazine. Whitney, a senior who will graduate in May with a BS in Natural Resource Conservation and a minor in Forestry, writes about her adventures in the wind and rain to climb atop McAfee's Knob, a remote location outside Blacksburg Virginia along the Appalachian Trail. Originally from Smithsburg MD, Whitney's career goals are to work in the wildlife conservation field; her story and photographs will charm Cooperative Living readers.

Zoe, Leslie, and Whitney read their winning essays to a group of 65 members and guests gathered at a very special joint conference and annual meeting of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) with the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (M-DOWA representing 5 surrounding Mid-Atlantic States) – some of the best writers on the East Coast! A celebratory lunch was graciously provided for all by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Mark Taylor, President of the Outdoor Writers of America (OWAA), the national writers organization was among the guests and congratulated the winners and gave them an OWAA student membership. Judges for the contest were Cooperative Living Magazine editors Richard Johnstone and Bill Sherrod, and Freelance Writer Marika Byrd of Glen Allen VA.

VOWA is very proud of these young writers, future stewards of our precious outdoors, who deeply touched all present with their writing; and most grateful to our judges, to Dominion, Cooperative Living Magazine, NSSF, and the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Report in which our 1st, 2nd place and other top entries will be published for helping us to make this contest and celebration of our winners possible. Thanks also go to the Greater Augusta Regional Tourism, Staunton Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Waynesboro Department of Tourism for enabling us to have such a fabulous venue to honor these students in a magnificent part of Virginia.

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. represents a coalition of writers, photographers, and video/film producers who inform various media on the out-of-doors, its enjoyment, and conservation. Through this association, VOWA members strive to improve themselves in their craft and increase their knowledge and understanding of the outdoors.    Anyone who is interested in reading the winning entries or entering the annual contest can access that information at www.vowa.org.

Virginia Outdoor Writers Association – Bass Pro Shops 2012-13 High School Writing Contest Winners Announced

Winners of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) – Bass Pro Shops 2012-2013 Annual High School Writing Contest were recently announced at the organization's Annual Meeting, held in the beautiful Staunton, Augusta, Waynesboro region of the Shenandoah Valley. Two of the three winners of the contest attend Broadway High School. The theme for this year's contest was a memorable outdoor experience.

First place winner, receiving a $150 Bass Pro Shops gift card, Alpen Optics, and other prizes from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Mangement was Chelsea Ellington, a Senior at Broadway High School from Linville, VA. Her essay, entitled "Hunt of a Lifetime" was a about a hunting trip she took with her father in Texas. Chelsea is very active in 4-H and FFA and serves this year as FFA president as well as secretary of the Plains 4-H club. She lives on a small farm where she raises show lambs, hogs and a commercial heifer for youth exhibitors. The past two years she was a member of the VA State Livestock Judging team and competed in the national contest this past fall. She was recently accepted to Virginia Tech and plans to major in animal and poultry sciences. She hopes to be a livestock nutritionist in the future.

The second place winner was Evan Hylton, who received a $100 gift card from Bass Pro Shops, an assortment of Birchwood Casey targets, and other prizes from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. Evan is also a Senior at Broadway High School and is from Broadway. His essay, entitled "The Amber Leaves Hunting Trip", was about taking his first deer. Evan plays trumpet and is a member of the varsity soccer team. He performs in the jazz band, advanced band, and also pit orchestra for musicals. He will attend James Madison University and major in the ISAT program.

The third place winner was Sarah Casasnovas, receiving a $50 Bass Pro Shops gift card, an Alpen spotting scope, and other prizes from the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. Ms. Casasnovas is a Senior at St. Catherine's High School. Her essay, entitled "Star Guts" was about her enjoyment of the stars on the beach on a clear evening. Sarah is a Richmond native and attended William Fox Elementary before proceeding to St. Catherine's in sixth grade. Her time at St. Catherine's has been filled with numerous clubs, sports, and other activities. She was selected as Varsity Swim Captain as well as Co-Captain of the school spirit team. She is also a member of the school literary magazine and the St. Catherine's/St. Christopher's theater program. Other interests include reading, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.

"It is very unusual that we had two winners from the same High School in this contest," said Terry Lewis, VOWA Chairman of the Board and former Harrisonburg resident. "This is the 20th anniversary of this statewide contest, and this has never happened before. Folks in the Valley should be very proud of this accomplishment and their high school educators," he said.

The three contest winners were recognized by a group of more than 65 members and guests at a special joint conference and annual meeting of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) with the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (M-DOWA representing 5 surrounding Mid-Atlantic States) – some of the best writers on the East Coast! A celebratory lunch was graciously provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Mark Taylor, President of the national Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA), congratulated the winners and gave them an honorary OWAA student membership.

This year's winning essays can be seen at the VOWA website:  www.vowa.org and will be published by the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Report and in other venues. The contest will be held again next year, with the deadline for entries around the first of February.  Young writers are strongly encouraged to submit their essays.

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 these partner organizations, highlighting the groups programs and activities that support us in our Mission "working together for wildlife."

Whitestone's Decoy Contest Draws Hundreds From All Over The U.S.

The Rappahannock Decoy Carver's and Collector's Guild hosted their annual carving contest on Saturday, March 17 at the White Stone Women's Club. The contest ran in conjunction with the Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show held next door at the firehouse. Carvers from several states including the west coast competed in classes for working decoys, decorative carvings, birds of prey and shorebirds.

The carving competition had a record 304 entries, with many mailed in from all over the U.S. The Grand Champion was a widgeon decoy by Rob James of Emmett, Idaho. Other winners included James Richmond of Lanexa, VA for buoy decoys, Ronnie Young of Maryland for working decoys, Jim Brace of California for style, Scott Green of Delaware for canvas, Rob James of Idaho for foam, Gary Joe Bryan of Ohio for gunning shorebirds, Dwinton Morgan for bench class, Ray Whetzel of Maryland for contemporary antiques and Amy Green of Delaware for youth.

Thousands Enjoy Waterfowl Decoys at Whitestone Wildlife Art Show

Todd Cocker, Executive Director of the Virginia Waterfowlers Association reports that, "A more perfect weekend couldn't be had for the 37th Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show." The show brought eighty artists and carvers from eleven states to Whitestone, VA to exhibit their paintings, bird carvings, bronze sculptures, and photography. The weekend event, one of the oldest of its type on the Eastern seaboard, took place at Whitestone's Fire Department and Women Club. The Virginia Waterfowler's Association sponsored demonstrations, children activities and promoted conservation. The children's activities were held in a special tent off the display area where children painted silhouette duck decoys. Some of the participants' decoys were entered into the Rappahannock Carvers and Collectors Guild's decoy contest held next door at the Women's Club. The Virginia Waterfowler's Association's traveling exhibit 'the Traveling Duck Blind" was on display outdoors promoting conservation and the 2013 Virginia Waterfowling Workshop to be held in Appomattox, VA this fall. "It was a great weekend, attendance was good," said organizer Pat Bruce. "Saturday had the largest attendance we've had in several years and Sunday was good as well." The weekend event was listed as one of the Top 20 Events in the South for March by the Southeast Tourism Society.

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". The following is a personal story of the importance of getting hunters of any age or experience level to try new experiences to renew their interest and passion for the great outdoors and making new memories with family and friends. David Coffman

Southeast Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited Hosts Successful Fly Fishing Seminars in Tidewater

The Southeast Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited hosted Basic Fly Fishing Seminars conducted monthly, December through March, at the Northwest River Park in Chesapeake and wherever else they were asked. The seminars were staffed by volunteer members of the Bill Wills Southeast Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Two of the Chapter Members, John Kelly and Bill Campbell, are also certified as Volunteer Outdoor Education Instructors by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

Each seminar follows the same agenda with a discussion on fly fishing equipment (rods, reels, lines, terminal tackle, and flies) followed by two hands on presentations: basic fly tying and casting. Attendees learn to tie a versatile fly called a Woolly Bugger that illustrates many of the basic principles of fly tying and is a go-to fly for several different species. The other presentation teaches the basic overhead cast so attendees can leave the seminar armed with the rudimentary knowledge required to buy fly fishing equipment for the type of fishing they do, can cast that first rod they buy, and can catch a fish on a fly they tied themselves.

The TU Chapter volunteers include folks with a wide range of fly fishing experience including trout and salmon, warm water, and saltwater fishing. The Chapter's Mentor, Bill Wills, has been fishing most of his life and at age 90+ continues to be an active, almost daily, fisherman, and to pass on his legacy to many generations. He's a true treasure we all admire.

This year, because of circumstances beyond our control, we had to cancel our January and February events so were limited to seminars in December and early March at Northwest River Park (sponsored by the City of Chesapeake Parks and Recreation Department) and a late March session at the Lake Meade/Cohoon Boat Launch and Marina (sponsored by Culpepper Boats). Despite our shortened schedule, we shared our passion for fly fishing with 34 attendees at Northwest River in early March and another 23 at Lake Meade/Cohoon at the end of the month.

Click on this link    to view photographs taken by Stephen M.Katz from the Northwest River Park session that appeared in the Virginian-Pilot. TU Chapter President David Nash, posted this video taken at the Lakes Meade/Cohoon seminar.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM15D4bj6qY    Both the video and newspaper photos make it very apparent it's difficult to see who's having the best time, our staff or the attendees.  Each seminar seems to be more rewarding than the last.  Our greatest mark of success to date is the attendee who came to Northwest River Park on March 2nd, learned to cast a fly rod he'd brought, tied a Woolly Bugger, and then went out to the lake at the park and caught a 12 inch rainbow trout on the fly he'd tied.

All our sessions are supported by VDGIF and follow guidelines for instruction to ensure all attendees come away with a rewarding experience, having learned another skill to enhance their outdoor experience and how to practice it safely. Each seminar includes safety tips for attendees to be aware of when fishing so they can continue to fly fish for a lifetime and pass this experience on to others.

Missed out on these fantastic workshops...  Read about upcoming free seminars at Orvis stores and family fishing events and Kids Fishing Days throughout Virginia in the Wild Events section.

Birddog Hunters Brave Cold During Virginia Upland Classic Spring Bird Hunt - Spring Is Here, I Think?

The Spring Quail Hunt for the Virginia Upland Classic was held on March 23-24. Ben Norris provided the following account on a great hunt for all the competitors despite the Arctic cold front bearing down on the teams. We gathered in Providence Forge at the "Sanctuary" just three miles west of town and got started around 8:30 AM. We nearly froze to death on Saturday because we were all expecting Early Spring weather and it was unseasonably cold. We wore more clothes Sunday, but it was still windy and raw as a cold front and snow was on the way.

New participants (Novices) caught the "short straw" and ran in a field of about four acres that we had just cleared with a brush hog a month or so before. Saying it was "rough going" is an understatement, but it was a bird hunt and that is the kind of cover where you find quail. In the "novices" field the scorekeeper is really a "coach" and he guides the new participants safely through the search for three birds in a twenty minute hunt. The scorekeeper is there to help them learn the sport and makes sure they find some birds and learn the rules. The "Novice" field is where folks learn this sport and the emphasis is on having fun and hunting a few birds safely. Participants can run in the novice event as many times as they want until they feel comfortable competing, or until they win a Novice event... then they are moved into Amateur or Open events depending on the age of the dog. There was close to a dozen first time participants at this Hunt and Bob Jones with his dog "Jasper" from Goochland county was the first place team in the pointing Novice event with Jessica Conaway and her dog "Breez" coming in second. Kathy Gillette ran her dog "Dolly" to a third place finish. The first place flushing novice was Dudley Berthold with his dog Buddy. Tim Krawczel took second place honors.

"Amateur" dogs (flushing and pointing breeds that are less than three years old on January 1st of the year) held their hunt for both pointing and flushing dogs in the same big field of broom sage and switch grass. Flushing and Pointing events are scored differently, as the pointing dogs are expected to find the birds and wait for the hunter to arrive and flush it, whereas, the flushing breeds find the bird and immediately put them in the air. It is no problem to run flushing and pointing breeds mixed together as the scoring and score sheets are different. Gary Shellman with his Brittany "Apache" was the first place pointing amateur with Jane Norris' "Queen Elizabeth" coming in a strong second. Freda Rosso ran her snappy little setter, "Issy" to a third place finish. In flushing Phil Crockett ran a young chocolate Lab named "Jaeger" to a first place finish and Marc Illman with his black lab "Angus" was right on his heels with a second place finish. Matt Hall ran "Lilly" his young blond Lab for third place honors. There were 12 dogs in the Amateur field.

"Open" dogs are experienced teams of hunter and dog that know the sport and are usually pretty good at it. This event was VERY COMPETITIVE and depending on some good luck, and the hunter's good shooting, any one of these 22 "Open" dogs could win first place honors on any given day. These are finished dogs and are all over three years of age on January first, well trained for the handler, and are hunted in separate fields (flushing and pointing) which are typically larger and more challenging. All the singles hunting events are run as one man and one dog and timed for 20 minutes with three birds to find and harvest with a good retrieve. Each hunter gets six shells, and any leftover shells are a bonus of 10 points each for a one shot kill. These are timed hunts and each unused minute of the twenty minute allotment is an additional 3 points to the team. When the points are tallied by the scorekeeper the highest score with a fast dog and a good nose takes the Trophy. The top five dogs in each field were "called back" for a championship runoff. Both scores were added together and the winners are named. Marc Illman won open flushing singles with his Labrador retriever "Cody", and Howard Jaekle with his Golden Retriever "Atticus" came in second only one or two points shy. Ed Calendar ran third place with his Nova Scotia Duck Toling Retriever, "Boone". Jane Norris' "Rimrock Roy" made an impressive first place run in Pointing, with Marc Illman taking second place honors with "Tucker". Mike Farson and "Tex" wound up third in a field of 12 pointing dogs.

On Sunday we finished up the doubles runs just as the snow began to fly. It was windy and raw, but we got to see some outstanding bird work with teams of two hunters and two dogs per team. The rules for doubles are the same as one dog events except they are 30 minute events and there are six birds to harvest with just five shells per hunter. Extra points are given for flushing dogs that "honor" the retrieve of the second dog. That is, the dog that flushes the bird, retrieves the bird without interference from the second dog. Likewise in the pointing event the second dog is required to "Honor" or "Back" the point of the other dog and not interfere with the find, but the retrieve is open to either dog, usually the one that is fastest. Ed Calendar and his pair of Nova Scotia Duck Toling Retrievers won the flushing doubles with Ben Norris shooting as the second hunter for the team. Howard Jaekle and Bill Crowley put two Golden retrievers in the field and won second place honors. Marc Illman and Matt Hall put a team of Labrador retrievers in the field (one Blond and one Black) to take the third place trophy. Joe Owen and Ben Norris took the field with a pair of Brittany's, "Snake Eyes" & "Duchess" and managed a first place run. Joe & Ben returned to run with "Snake Eyes" and "Rimrock Roy" to take the second place trophy as well. Darden Gillette and Gary Shellman teamed up with "Diesel" and "Eli", another pair of Brittany's, to win third place honors.

All in all it was a great hunt. It was lots of fun and plenty of fellowship among bird dog owners. Virginia Upland Classic bird hunts are now finished until the fall. Here comes the long hot summer where we try to keep our dogs healthy and in good running shape for the Fall. We wait longingly for cooler weather so we can get back in the fields and start practicing and getting ourselves ready for the Virginia Upland Classic and other events that start in November. The next hunt is a "Thanksgiving Pheasant Hunt" at Liberty Corners Farms near Charlottesville on November 9-10, 2013. All Virginia bird hunters and bird dog owners are welcome at any Virginia Upland Classic event. Contact Ben Norris for information at 804-694-5118 or bgnorris@cox.net.

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.

Planning to Take a Youngster on a Spring Gobbler Hunt? Schedule a Hunter Education Class Now!

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education Class for spring gobbler season. Class schedules are available on the VDGIF website. Hunter Education is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older.

The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day last Saturday April 6th was a great success as 522 gobblers were telechecked in this ninth year of the youth only turkey hunting day. This compares with 547 recorded in 2012. Read their stories in the Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us... section. Youth hunters between the ages of 12-15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. See the Department's website or Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations and Information digest for more information on Hunter Education requirements. The youth turkey hunt is a great way for an experienced hunter to introduce a youngster to the great outdoors. If you cannot schedule a hunter education class before the season begins, there is the option of getting an Apprentice Hunting License. See article below for details.

Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous hunter training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation.

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

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

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

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

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

David Coffman, Editor

Dallas Baker Gets First Gobbler on Youth Day

Mother Nature smiled on young hunters for the 2013 special Youth Spring Gobbler Hunt Day last Saturday with a cool, calm, sunny morning: not cold, windy and snowy as in past years. Dallas Baker, an eleven year old novice hunter from Mineral, had been looking forward to getting to hunt with her Dad, Shane Baker on this special day. Just after sunrise, at 7:15 am a big gobbler came strutting in to a clearing on the edge of a power line answering Shane's Illusion game call. Dallas made a good shot with her Mossberg 20 gauge shotgun at 20 yards, just like she had practiced and scored her first gobbler. The Tom weighed 20.5lbs. with a 10.5 inch beard and 1inch spurs. The pair were hunting on their hunt club in Louisa County. Dallas exclaimed that when the gobbler answered Dad's call, my heart started beating so hard It seemed like an hour for him to come in sight. Dad whispered for me to get ready and when he stepped out of the pines in the clear, BOOM and he went down. What a thrill!

Dallas can relive the hunt as one of Shane's buddies came along to film the hunt. Shane is one of the pro hunting staff for Buck Obsession, on the hunting TV network. Shane noted, "Buck Obsession is a pro staff team organized as avid hunters based in Virginia. Having steady regular day jobs hunting is our obsession. Team member Steve Lewis joined us and got the hunt on camera for an upcoming Buck Obsession show. It will go on 24/7huntingtv.com in a few weeks."

Shane proudly noted this will be a dad-daughter memory we can share forever. The special youth hunting days are great opportunities to start family traditions to get kids hooked on the outdoors and passing on our hunting heritage and traditions. Take your kids hunting- no matter what their age or skill levels and make it FUN!

First Gobbler for Madison Jones a Trophy

Madison Jones is a 14 year old active member of the Greater Richmond Chapter of the NWTF and participates in activities with her Dad, Chris Jones. Madison is a student at Powhatan High School and sent in this story of her first spring gobbler she killed on the Special Youth Day in 2011 with her 3 month old Apprentice License.

"After looking forward all week to Youth Day of the 2011 spring gobbler season, the day had finally come. My Dad and I set out that chilly spring morning in hopes of getting the biggest turkey in Powhatan. Just as we sat against an old hickory tree, I began to yawn uncontrollably. I became hungry and anxious. My Dad poked me signaling to stop moving or else and so I did. The boredom set in just as old Tom did... I couldn't believe my eyes. My heart was beating out of my chest. Unfortunately, the turkey became suspicious and putted out so Dad suggested seeking another area. We sat in the road way as Dad hit the turkey call a few times. Another turkey appeared walking down the trail escorting three hens along his side. Thinking that this could be my first turkey on my apprenticeship license, my heart began to pound and my hands shook again. Gently, I raised the gun and shot once killing my first turkey. This trophy was 22 pounds 2 ounces with an inch and an eighth long spurs. He carried an 11 inch beard as well. Nothing could wipe the smile off my face that day. We drove all around the surround counties proving my achievement. This was a memorable moment with my Dad that would remain sacred forever.

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

Webpage Developed to Update Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation have developed a webpage to host information about the developing Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan (Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan).  Please check the webpage often for information about the planning process, as this webpage will serve as the main source of information regarding the plan.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation have developed a webpage to host information about the developing Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan (Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan). Please check the webpage often for information about the planning process, as this webpage will serve as the main source of information regarding the plan.

Update as of April 2013

The Wild Turkey Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) gathered for the second time on March 19, 2013, in Verona.  The SAC was introduced to the complex decision-making process in which the agency engages when allocating the wild turkey harvest; SAC members saw how decisions made relative to fall harvest have significant implications to both spring and fall seasons and participating stakeholders.  The SAC also continued work on identifying the values that drive identified issues and concerns related to wild turkey management.  Between the 2nd and 3rd meeting, the SAC will begin drafting preliminary goals for the management plan based on these values.  The third meeting of the SAC will be in mid-May, during which final draft goal statements will be crafted for public review.   Please continue to monitor the VDGIF website for future updates.

View the list of the members composing the Wild Turkey Stakeholder Advisory Committee on the website. The individuals serving on the committee represent a diverse group of interests; many are landowners, farmers, hunters, and are members of conservation groups. Five individuals are serving on behalf of an organization with stakes in wild turkey management in Virginia.

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook! Like us at www.facebook.com/VirginiaBobwhiteBulletin . VDGIF Farm Game and Quail Program Co-coordinator Marc Puckett noted, "On this new facebook page you'll be able to meet the Quail Team, stay up-to-date on the latest quail news in Virginia, learn about habitat management techniques and quail ecology, and much more! Help us build a network of individuals dedicated to bringing back the bobwhite in Virginia. Help us spread the word to the next generation of quail enthusiasts. Local landowner interest and leadership is the key to quail recovery in Virginia."

VDOF and VDGIF Announce New Forestry Cost-Share Partnership

The Virginia Quail Team is pleased to announce the launch of a trial program partnership between VDOF and VDGIF to offer forestry related, wildlife friendly best management practice cost-share. These practices apply in the 15 target, or focus quail counties and are aimed at improving early-succession wildlife habitat while simultaneously targeting forest stand improvement. The program will be administered by VDOF and funded primarily by VDGIF via Quail Recovery Initiative funds. Visit the website for details.

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."

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.

April 2013 Update: Allen Boynton, VDGIF Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist Manager for Region 3 – Southwest notes that, “Preparations are well under way for moving another group of elk to Virginia next month. Selected elk now in quarantine in Kentucky will receive a second round of disease testing in early May. VDGIF biologists expect to move more elk to the Buchanan County release site by the end of May.

The elk already released are all alive and within 3-miles of the release site in Buchanan County. It seems as winter will never end, but already the vegetation is starting to green up at the release site. The 5 bulls will soon shed their antlers. Hopefully the adult cows are all pregnant and we will be seeing a new group of calves in two months.

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

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

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

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

Habitat at Home© DVD Available

The Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs. VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Carol Heiser advises, "Native shrubs in particular are an excellent choice for wildlife, because they support native insects that make up a critical part of the food web. Native plants are better adapted to our growing conditions and are much easier to maintain than non-native ones. So many of our neighborhoods lack the kind of native plant diversity that wildlife really needs. You'll be surprised at the number of birds and other wildlife that use native shrubs. Visit our website to purchase your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

This edition features numerous workshop opportunities sponsored by sportsmen's groups in partnership with VDGIF, encouraging special training for youth and novice hunters to participate in the upcoming Spring Gobbler season. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends reviewing the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

Hunt safely, responsibly and ethically.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt!

Winter is Good Time to Take Required Boating Education Course

All Personal Water Craft (PWC) operators, 14 years of age and older, and all persons age 40 or younger operating a 10-hp or greater motorboat, are reminded they are required to complete a certified Boating Education Course by July 1, 2013. VDGIF Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructor David Aitken, from Louisa, advises that March-April are great times to take an approved course before the spring warm-up gets boaters anxious to get back out on the water. Instructor Aitken adds, "It's easy to locate courses being offered near you by visiting the Boating Safety website for details and a list of courses being offered throughout the state." For more information on the Boating Education Courses being held throughout the state, visit the Boating Education Section in the sidebar for more information on Boating Education classes statewide.

No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30

All outdoorsmen are reminded that the "4 PM Burn Law" is in effect from February 15 until April 30 to help prevent forest fires. The law bans all open air burning, including campfires, before 4 PM if your fire is within 300 feet of the woods, brush, or dry grass which can carry the fire to the woods. You are allowed to burn debris or have campfires between 4 PM and midnight, as long as you take proper care and precaution and attend your fire at all times. Read the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn? to learn more.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit the VDOF website.

Remember only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

On July 1, 2013, all PWC operators 14 years of age and older as well as motorboat operators age 40 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 winter 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.

Arbor Day in Virginia Celebrated, April 26th

J. Sterling Morton initiated the holiday in 1872 in Nebraska and is credited as the father of Arbor Day nationally. Virginia adopted the concept and sets the last Friday in April as the day of our state Arbor Day.  Many community values are dependent on the health of our trees. The concern for their health is everyone's responsibility. Everyone needs to take a leadership role in increasing funding and programs for parks, trees, and greenspace. It's your urban forest, learn it, grow it, maintain it, enjoy it. Plant a tree to benefit your children and theirs. Arbor Day activities can occur throughout the month; for  ideas on activities in your area visit the VA Department of Forestry website for more details.

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program check off box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day Scheduled for April 20th

The Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day 2013 is set for Saturday April 20th . This is a community effort to clean up around the Blackwater Nottoway Rivers is organized by the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRK). This 12th annual clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, parking lots, even your yard or wherever, and picking up litter, trash and other junk. According to Jeff Turner, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper, "Over 74,000 pounds of trash have been removed from our little piece of the world. CRD is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the community we live in. As always I will have litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. If you pick your own location it is very important that you let me know where that is so I will not send another team there. My advice is to go ahead and start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches etc. in your area as a place for you or your team to clean up. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals, and totals of tires etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me. More details will follow when you sign up. Email me at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 562-5173 to get signed up. This is a great community event to get involved in. Please put this date on your organizations Calendar now." For more information or to sign up contact Jeff Turner at email: blknotkpr@earthlink.net or website: www.blackwaternottoway.com, or call 757-562-5173.

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.

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!

Explore the Outdoors Event for Kids in Chesterfield April 28th

Come join the fun with the Community Idea Stations and Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation at the Explore the Outdoors event Sunday, April 28, 2013 from 1-5 pm, at Huguenot Park, 10901 Robious Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23235.   From nature walks to outdoor investi­gations, families, friends, and neighbors are invited to participate in hands-on experiences that encourage kids to learn about science. VDGIF Wildlife Education Coordinator  Suzie Gilley will have furs, skulls and other hands-on wildlife identification items. The day will feature 40+ local organizations which specialize in outdoor activities for families and is free and open to the public.  Explore the Outdoors activities and parking will be held at Huguenot Park. Next to the park, the Community Idea Stations studios will be open for tours and kids will have a chance to meet Curious George plus see themselves on TV.    The Virginia529 Savings Plan is the funding Sponsor.   For  more information visit the website: http://ideastations.org/exploreoutdoors

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 late April:

Answers to March 27th edition quiz for nature events for early April...

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 III - Southwest

Injured Hiker Rescued on Appalachian Trail... On March 24, Conservation Police (CPO) Officer Keith Hagy was notified by Wythe County Sheriff's Department dispatch of an injured hiker on the Appalachian Trial (AT) in the Poor Valley section of Bland County. Phone contact was maintained with the hiker while the Wythe County dispatch pinged his phone to give the officers an exact location. Officer Hagy notified Senior CPO Randy Hurst and Sgt. Rolland Cox to assist. Officers Hagy and Hurst met with the Bland rescue squad and coordinated the rescue effort. Sgt. Cox met Officer's Hagy and Hurst in Bland and along with the rescue squad members headed to the AT to search for the hiker. From pinging, it was determined that the hiker was located about 1.1-1.2 miles up the trail. Upon arrival, the officers and rescue squad members hiked up the trail and located the injured hiker, who had a severely broken ankle. The injured hiker was transported from the mountain using a wheeled backboard and transported to a hospital in Bluefield, West Virginia.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Two turkeys illegally killed, two turkeys charged... On March 21, Virginia Senior Conservation Police Officer Boulanger conducted an investigation into the out-of-season killing of two wild turkeys. After gathering information from confidential sources and speaking with a local Deputy Sheriff, Senior Officer Boulanger was able to develop a suspect. Upon obtaining further information on the suspect, Senior Officer Boulanger began heading in the direction of the suspect's Caroline County address when he met a vehicle on the roadway that matched the description of the suspect's vehicle. Senior Officer Boulanger turned around and located the suspect backing in behind a house a few miles away. Upon making contact with the suspect, Senior Officer Boulanger conducted an interview and obtained a full confession from the suspect who admitted to shooting the two turkeys from the vehicle while parked in the roadway. While conducting a search of the suspect vehicle, Senior Officer Boulanger recovered two bearded turkeys, a small amount of marijuana and three smoking devices. He was subsequently charged with unlawful possession of wildlife and possession of marijuana. Additional charges are to follow for the suspect's activities in an adjacent county for taking game during closed season, hunting without a license, trespass to hunt, and shooting from a roadway. In addition to the shooter who was the primary suspect, there was a passenger in the vehicle when these violations occurred. Senior Officer Boulanger was able to track down the other suspect who provided the firearm. The second suspect confessed to participating in the unlawful taking of the two wild turkeys, and after showing Senior Officer Boulanger the location where the turkeys were killed, was charged with unlawful possession of wildlife.

K9 Team Update

K9 Team Visits VA Bowhunters Association State Indoor Tournament... The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) visited the Kingsboro Bowmen in February at the Virginia Bowhunters Association (VBA) State Indoor Sectional. K9 Conservation Police Officer Megan Vick and her partner Jake, a yellow Labrador retriever came out to spread the awareness to the benefits of K9 supported missions. The team eagerly demonstrated their training and unique talents through simulating a search and detect exercise of a hidden turkey feather in a complex storage room. Unknown to Jake, Officer Vick planted the feather inside some old cardboard boxes and stacked them up at the end of an 800 square foot storage room filled with items including john boats, gun safes and old retail racks. Officer Vick asked Jake if he was ready to work, and instantly his disposition changed from a carefree companion to a focused workdog. Jake took only a few minutes to find that feather and the witnesses were amazed. Officer Vick reassured the group that the demonstration was nowhere near the level of complexity that Jake is capable of and referred to several investigations that had been featured in the Outdoor Report Archives using key words in the search box:  http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/outdoor-report/

Andy Willman, President of Kingsboro Bowmen noted, "The VDGIF is expanding the skill set of the CPOs through K9 assistance, which in turn, means greater performance in the protection of our natural resources for our future generations.  The next time you see a CPO in the field, stop and thank them for their efforts, and you might want to have a doggy treat nearby, too!"  For more information about the VBA, go to www.vbarchers.com

The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia has partnered with VDGIF on this special initiative. Your tax-deductible donation to the Wildlife K9 Team will help provide food and veterinary care for these great dogs. Make a Donation to the K9 Team at: www.vawildlife.org/k-9.html.

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

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

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at
1-800-237-5712.

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

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

The new 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

Kids Fishing Day Events Calendar Posted on VDGIF Website

The 2013 Kids Fishing Days event table is now posted on the VDGIF website. View it from the Upcoming Events page and there is a link under Contests and Ongoing Events on the right side. There are 40 events posted currently and new ones will be added as they are submitted. VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator Chris Dunnavant notes, "More and more people are utilizing this web-table and traveling significant distances to experience a Kids Fishing Day." Send in your photos of family fun to the Outdoor Report. Share this information with family and friends and "Take a Kid Fishing!"

Trout Stocking in Full Swing

By CWF Volunteer Allen Easterly

With the weather warming, every trout fisherman in Virginia is itching to hit their local streams and lakes to pull in a limit of nice trout. Thanks to the VDGIF Complimentary Work Force (CWF) volunteers, truck loads of nice trout are being stocked almost every week day through the month of May. Without the CWF volunteers, the VDGIF would be hard pressed to get the job done. VDGIF employees already have their hands full driving the stocking trucks and maintaining the hatcheries. One of the greatest things about being a volunteer is the satisfaction of giving something back to Commonwealth fisheries after many years of taking fish out. Plus, it's just a whole lot of fun scooping and tossing nets full of trout into their new home. Volunteers also get the added benefit of a little exercise in the great outdoors.

One of the benefits of volunteering on stocking runs is being some of the first to know what sized fish and what species are stocked and how many at each stop along a stocking route.  At the end of hard day of setting fish free, it's nice to be able to advise your fishing buddies where they are most likely to be successful in the coming days after a stocking, even though the stocking information is posted on the VDGIF website.  Another benefit of volunteering is the camaraderie of being with dedicated people and making good friends.  At the conclusion of many of my stocking trips, the volunteers, fishery staff and Conservation Police Officers enjoy their lunch at streamside as they discuss the days stocking and other outdoor news and events.  After the warm summer months have passed, stocking will resume in October.  I'm already looking forward to it!  You too can become a volunteer to stock trout or participate in a large variety of other fun jobs with the VDGIF.  All the jobs are quite educational, to boot.  Contact your Regional VDGIF office for more information and to start the process.  Come, run some trout with us.  For more information on the trout cultural program visit:

"Bigger, Better Trout: Coursey Springs Hatchery Tour", with Hatchery Manager Eric Wooding  highlighting the renovations at Coursey Springs in Bath County. It's a great time to go trout fishing in Virginia!

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock NOW OPEN to Powerboats

Mill Creek boating access site in Middlesex Co. on the Rappahannock River near the community of Wake in Gloucester County is now open to the public. Visit the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page for more details.

Hercules Landing on Nottoway River To Open Noon, April 12

The Hercules Boat Landing at Rt. 671 on the Nottoway River is scheduled to open April 12, 2013 at NOON. The closure was necessary because the ramp at Hercules sat adjacent to a VDOT bridge that is being expanded. The expansion will occupy the area where the old ramp was located. The new ramp will be much improved and will provide service far into the future. VDGIF Project Managers had hoped to have the new ramp completed before having to close the old ramp, but project delays with the new site meant the old ramp had to be demolished for bridge expansion prior to opening of the new site. In addition to better boating access, the new ramp offers improved safety to vehicles and trailers entering and exiting the facility. We apologize for any inconvenience this closure has caused and hope the new ramp serves the boaters and anglers in that area well. Updated information will be posted on the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page and the Outdoor Report as soon as new information becomes available. Look for a photo feature on the new ramp and facilities in the April 24th edition of the Outdoor Report.

Use Caution at Carters Wharf Boat Ramp - Extreme Sanding Build-Up

John Kirk, VDGIF Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for Region I Tidewater area, advises boaters to use caution at Carter's Wharf ramp on the Rappahannock River due to extreme sand build-up on the ramp and beyond. The ramp is only navigable by small jon-boats, canoes, and kayaks. This sand build-up is currently beyond the abilities of VDGIF equipment to clear. VDGIF Infrastructure staff is currently working to determine the potential for a project that would remove the sand and result in a long-term fix. We apologize for any inconvenience and suggest using Hoskin's Creek as an alternative launch in the area. Updated information will be posted on the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page and the Outdoor Report as soon as new information becomes available.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Plan 3 May-Fishing Events - Registration Due April 20th

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen have some exciting fishing events planned for this spring.  If  you have a disability and want to join us, now's your chance. Last year we held our first West Augusta Outdoor Day near Staunton, and we'll return again this year on May 11th. If you weren't there last year, you missed out on our NWTF award-winning Best New Event of 2012, as our participants shot skeet, crossbow and reeled in big catfish all day. The Little Switzerland Chapter NWTF will re-stock their trout pond with rainbows on May 18th, so head for the beautiful mountains of Monterey... and plan to take plenty of trout home! On Saturday May 25th, the Grace family will host their 7th annual Mossy Creek Trout Rodeo near Broadway, just north of Harrisonburg. We will be fishing a mile stretch of the scenic Smith River, stocked with browns and rainbow trout. You do not want to miss out on this event! Registration Forms are available at www.vanwtf.com and the application deadline is April 20th!

We have numerous events planned throughout the year, ranging from turkey, deer, dove, and waterfowl hunts to fishing and shooting events, in all areas of Virginia. As an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, our events are open to anyone with a disability, and there is no charge to participate. If you'd like to receive news of our events, please contact Robin Clark at 434-249-6154 or via email.

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!

Stephen Miklandric Begins Quest for First Citation Sauger

In the January 23, 2013 edition of the Outdoor Report "The Fishing Spot" Chris provided a profile on Virginia's "most prolific and decorated angler in the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Virginia Angler Recognition Program", Stephen Miklandric from Chesterfield. The article entitled, "The Trophy Fish Catching Machine" profiles Steven's accomplishments and what drives him in his quest for trophy fish. Read the entire article in the archives.

In the final paragraph of the article, the question was asked, What are Stephen's plans for 2013? Steven answered , "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- Freshwater Drum, Sauger and White Bass.

True to his word and passion for fishing, Steven sent us this update April 2, on his quest for the three missing species...

Hi Fishing friends,
Well now that we are well into 2013, I just wanted to drop you a line (no pun intended :-D ) and let you know what I'm up to. I've started to go full steam after the three species I have yet to get a citation in. Those are the Sauger, White Bass & Freshwater Drum. I'll still be fishing for the other species but my main focus this year will be on these three. We'll see...

I started things off with the Sauger... I took a three day trip to the Clinch River last month focusing on the Dungannon to Fort Blackmore stretch located in Scott County. However, old man winter followed me down there with cold temps and snow so in short...I still have yet to catch my first Sauger. I bought a new boat from my friends at Bass Pro Shops in Ashland to serve as my "Sauger boat"! Yeah, I named her "Jessie"! Gotta name your boats don't ya know!

The water temp on the Clinch ran right at 43 degrees which is a little too cold for Sauger...walleye will hit fine at that temp but not their cousin the Sauger. I'll be back over there as we get into the warmer months. Pictured below is me with my new Sauger boat "Jessie" at the Dungannon ramp.

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

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

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

Don't miss out on a great fishing season.
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Sarah White's Notebook

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. No report this edition.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by Park Supervisor Patti McGrath. The crappie are biting in the shallows around the standing timber in the coves on the east side of the lake and in the branch by the Ranger Station. Several people have been catching their limit daily. A few nice bass, up to 7 pounds have been caught. With the warmer weather approaching, the activity is expected to increase by the weekend. Pickerel are still available but catfish are still scarce. Beaverdam Park will host a Boy Scout Benefit tournament April 28, 2013. Sign up is now available for this tournament. For more information visit our website or call the Ranger Station at (804) 693-2107.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200.

4/4/13. Another cold day on the river. This time it was with Hans deKoning and things were really slow. We tried all the good spots trying to hook up with some shad but the bite just did not turn on for us. There were a number of boats out, but not real crowded for this time of the year. The overcast skies and cool weather held some folks back. There were a few fish being caught but no one was having steady action today. Now on the positive side we did have a bit of early excitement down by the wing dams. On the 3rd cast with a orange dart, I had a great hook up that just did not want to give up easily. It made a huge run like a rockfish and then gave a big tug of war like a big catfish. This was on an ultra light spinning rod with 8 lb. line and I did not want to break it off so the battle took about 8 minutes. Hans was betting on catfish and I was leaning towards rockfish, but it never made a sideways run to either of the river banks. It was just a series of straight runs away from the boat. After much discussion, we decided on the big net and Hans was standing by when I finally got it up to the boat. To our surprise, I had hooked up with a beautiful 13.5 pound, 28 in. carp, that was using everything he had to stay away from the boat and the net. After a quick photo session and measuring he was released unharmed to fight another day.

4/8/13. Finally an 80 degree day and off to the river with Chris Fallen with his two sons, Myles and Owen. Fishing in shorts and t-shirts felt so good compared to the recent cool days we have experienced. The parking lot at Ancarrows was crowded, but there were still parking spaces when we arrived around 3:30 p.m. Boats were scattered up and down the river with most catching some fish. The action was, by my standards, light but consistent with mostly hickory shad with one American shad being caught. All colors were working but the gold spoon seemed to catch the most. I spent the first 30 minutes or so untangling and cutting out a massive bird nest that occurred with 5 of my rods on the trip down the interstate. The wind had pulled a bunch of line off of several my reels and had made a big mess. The Fallens jumped right into fishing and hooking up with some shad. We kept a few for bait to use later. After trying 3 places for shad, we settled down in a catfish spot to see if we coax in a few of the big boys. We had several discussions about homework and such and did a little "on the water" discussions around math, science, history and biology just to satisfy the needs for higher education and past the time for the catfish bite to start. Each of the boys had a chance to crank in a catfish, then we called it an early evening right at dark and headed back to the ramp.

Virginia Beach: Contributed by local guide Skip Feller of Rudee Inlet Charters (757) 425-3400. Tautog fishing along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel continues to be good ... fishing with crab and clam. Starting to see a few croaker and flounder along the Bridge also. Puppy drum fishing is picking up in Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlet!

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that few anglers have been around lately. The fishing, however , is "going to come alive" soon. So just wait a little while, then go and grab your lunker! The water is 52 degrees and stained to clearing.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day water temperatures were in the mid to high 50s in the lower lake and the high 50s to low 60s in the major creeks on Monday (4/8/2013). The lake level was about a foot above the top of the dam. The water was brown and relatively clear in the lower lake. Blue cats were widely scattered in a variety of depths in the lower main lake and in the creeks and were hitting live minnows. A mix of sizes of crappies were accumulating on most days in the channels and on deeper flats of the major creeks and were hitting live minnows, suspending jerk baits, Kalin crappie scrubs, tubes, and Wright Baits and Southern Pro curlytail grubs. A few bass and a moderate number of pickerel were in the major creeks, but most bass were scattered on mid depth and deep flats in the main lake and were sporadically hitting live minnows, swimbaits, lipless crankbaits, and plastic worms. Some bass were coming onto relatively shallow flats on the evenings of sunny days and hitting top waters. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Capt. Bill Buck and Jack Trammell had 43 crappie, 1 citation yellow perch, 5 pickerel, and 1 blue cat. John Smith had 23 crappie, 1 citation yellow perch, 1 shad, 2 pickerel, and 1 bass. David Wu-Pong and Jack Pong had 11 crappie, 1 yellow perch, 1 pickerel, and 1 bass on fly rods. Mickey Cleveland had 22 crappie, 2 pickerel, 1 blue cat, and 1 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Contributed by Ken Testorff, local blogger. Given the little success I had had in the back of Albright's Creek, I decided to make another trip there today. I started the day with the same bait that has proved my best producer in the past, the Yo-Zuri SS Minnow in gold with black back. The fish just thumbed their nose at it today, though. My next choice was a Strike King 1XS in firetiger, which put a dink and the 2 fish that I had in the boat. The only other fish I boated was a 12 incher, which fell for a 3/8-oz. Booyah spinnerbait. I had 3 better fish on very briefly today, but didn't get any of them in the boat. Two of them went for a pink Pop-R. The other one smacked my spinnerbait. This latter one felt the best of all 3 fish. He was taking drag throughout the battle. I just had gotten him alongside the boat when he charged aft, and that was all she wrote. The hook tore out, and I didn't even get a look at him.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Jeff Parsons says that the largemouth bite is good on spinners. "Right many" crappie are biting minnows. Cats are going for chicken livers, live shad and cut bait. No word on bream. The water is clear and from 53 to 60 degrees.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 27th through the 29th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was 43 degrees and fast. Air temperatures ranged from 29 degrees to 52 supposedly. It felt a lot colder to me! I ventured downriver to the Cherry Grove eagle site to check on that nesting pair. At first I was getting worried cause I saw no sign of anything going on. So Moonpie and I ate lunch and waited and just as we were about to leave one of the parents poked its head up from the huge nest there. So we were glad to see they were home. I can't wait to get the report from William & Mary when they do the flyover and can tell me how many chicks are in there and at the Nottoway nest.

Well, I don't know why as cold as it was, but the snakes are out. I got a good photo of a water moccasin that was so cold that it could hardly swim. Editor David Coffman noted he plans to use it in a future edition with a feature on snakes. For more information on the Eastern Cottonmouth, or aka water moccasin, read the feature in the July 22, 2009 Outdoor Report, The Eastern Cottonmouth: Separating Fact from Fiction. Like any other animal, cottonmouths have their place in nature and will leave you alone if you leave them alone. As a true outdoors person, learn to respect them by not provoking or harming them and admiring them from a safe distance.

I got to fish a little bit in between picking up all that trash, but did not have much luck. Water temperatures had dropped and I think that really put a damper on the shad bite. I did not catch a single one. I saw a North Carolina fisheries friend of mine and his friend catch nearly 20 on grub twister tail lures. I changed to those lures and even fishing in that same spot did not yield a single shad for me. I did catch one striped bass, but again, it was just less than 18 inches and I had to throw it back. I guess I'm just a crappie shad fisherman on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day Scheduled for April 20th

The Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day 2013 is set for Saturday April 20th . This is a community effort to clean up around the Blackwater Nottoway Rivers is organized by the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRK). This 12th annual clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, parking lots, even your yard or wherever, and picking up litter, trash and other junk. According to Jeff Turner, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper, "Over 74,000 pounds of trash have been removed from our little piece of the world. CRD is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the community we live in. As always I will have litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. If you pick your own location it is very important that you let me know where that is so I will not send another team there. My advice is to go ahead and start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches etc. in your area as a place for you or your team to clean up. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals, and totals of tires etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me. More details will follow when you sign up. Email me at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 562-5173 to get signed up. This is a great community event to get involved in. Please put this date on your organizations Calendar now." For more information or to sign up contact Jeff Turner at email: blknotkpr@earthlink.net or website: www.blackwaternottoway.com, or call 757-562-5173.

Editors Note...

Jeff Turner reports that the VDGIF boat ramp on the Nottoway at Rt. 671 known as the 'Hercules Landing' that has been closed for several months is scheduled to open the weekend of April 12th after final inspection on Friday morning. A new ramp is being constructed across the street, but due to weather delays the projected February 25th completion date was not possible. The closure of the old ramp was done earlier than expected due to the DOT bridge expansion project. VDGIF Facilities Project Manager Allester Watts noted, "The recent rain and snowstorm delayed the final grading and wet ground conditions prevented paving in March as had been scheduled. With the sunny forecast we plan to complete paving of the site and be ready to open the new ramp by noon Friday April 12th." Updated information will be posted on the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page and the Outdoor Report as soon as new information becomes available. Look for a photo feature on the new ramp and facilities in the April 24th edition of the Outdoor Report

Chris Anderson, from Rockville, caught this fish in mid March around 5:30 pm on a G Loomis light weight rod with 8 lb test and a Shimano Spinning reel. Used a #1 circle hook, Texas rig. 5 inch purple worm. Chris notes, "I have lots of fishing experience both fresh and salt. This was on a private lake that I happen to have lived on for the past 12 years. Lucky! Have caught several large, over 8lbs and others have unofficially caught larger. This fish was 25 and 3/4 inches and very fat. Took about 7 minutes to land, kept stripping line every time I got it close. By that time my wife came down , luckily, with her phone and snapped the pic. I did not want to risk killing the fish by taking to the house for a weight so we released her back for another day, as we always do. Well over 10 for sure!

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. You cannot beat the pure awesomeness of being on the river this time of year! The weather and the big fish! The smallmouth are beginning to make their move from their deeper, slower moving wintering holes and into the moving water. Keep targeting both areas! The largest fish, as always, are making their move first, and we are catching fish in both areas. The extremely long winter has delayed the typical patterns of these fish and because of this, the spawn is still some time off. With some warm days over the next couple of weeks, expect the smallmouth to switch over to crankbaits and spinners even more.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike says that the bass bite is good. The shad bite is really good, they are attacking gold or silver spoons or shad darts. Catfishing is okay, but should pick up soon. Best baits are live or cut shad and white perch. Speaking of white perch, they are there taking small worms and small jigs. Some big stripers have been landed on rattletraps, bucktails and cut bait. The water is stained but clearing and 53 degrees.

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

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

Region 2 - Southside

Stephen Miklandric in his quest for a citation White Bass, has been focusing on the Hyco River near South Boston in Halifax County. Fishing in early April for a couple of days he reports , "It has been really good to me! I'd like to add that I have never ever heard so many frogs singing love songs in my life! Good Lord the Hyco River frogs are the loudest I've ever heard in my life! " During this trip I caught the seven largest White Bass of my life! The largest I've boated was right at 2 pounds which I caught 4/2/13... just 8 ounces away from citation weight. A White Bass must weigh 2 pounds 8 ounces or more to be a citation... I'll be working on them hard through April as they run up the rivers that feed Buggs Island. I'll keep ya'll posted! Photo is me with my 2 pounder.

Fishing Buddies Have 'A Day You Only Dream About' at Sandy River Reservoir

On January 6th, 2013, Greg Heath and Vernon Cross fished Sandy River Reservoir in Prince Edward County and had "one day of bass fishing that we all dream about." Vernon started off the day with the first bass, an 8 lb. 2 oz. 22.5 inches. Ten minutes later he caught a 7 lb. 4 oz. 22 inches one on the same bait. Another 10 minutes, a nice 6 lb. bass. Then I get lucky with an 8 lb. 6 oz. 23.5 inch bass. About 15 minutes later Vernon catches the big one, a 10 lb. 3 oz fat monster, 23 inches long. By the end of the day we had a 10, 2- eights, 7, 6, 4 and 2 pounder. All caught on artificial bait, spinner bait, crank baits and swim bait. All fish were released unharmed. They were in deep water, feeding on huge schools of baitfish, we could see the bait and the bass on the fish finder. We have been back several times and caught some more big fish but not as many as we caught that one day. After catching two more over 22 inches in late February, that makes 9 citation bass between three of us since January 6th. We're looking forward to the spring warm-up!

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. No report this edition.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow told me that the bass are biting well. Try slow rolling spinners, Alabama rigs and cranks. Crappie fishing is about to get "wide open". Some real monsters have been coming in lately, with one weighing 4 lbs. 4 oz. Minnows and jigs are getting the best results. Big cats are going for cut bait, live and cut shad and crappie fillets. Striper fishing has been good in the backs of the major creeks. Live shiners are really working well here. The water is clear and in the 50s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. No report this edition.

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

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski says that largemouth action is good with cranks fished slow and deep. Crappie fishing is very good on minnows and jigs, with some citation sized slabs coming in. Bream are biting on small red worms. Striper action is "not real great", with the fish being few and small. The water is 54 degrees and clear.

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

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

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me fishing has picked up. Smallies are going for tubes and jigs. Muskie action is improving; try big jerks. The water is in the high 40s and has a green tint.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. We are finally getting our first warming trend of the year which should get the smallmouth moving around and heading to warmer water spots putting on the feed bag before they spawn. Target them slowly. The walleye spawn is over but the fish that spawned first are feeding aggressively so it is a good time to catch a mixed bag of smallies and eyes. The muskie are in full blown spawn and should be back to hitting well in a couple of weeks. Water levels are normal with a nice green color, good visibility, 50 degrees and warming. It should be a great smallmouth season coming up! Remember to wear those PFD's and practice CPR (Catch, Photo, Release).

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that smallmouth fishing is quite good, with a 5 lb., 22 in. "monster" being brought to boat. Spinners seem to be working well here. Muskie action is "off and on". The water is 47 degrees and stained.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Trout fishing remains excellent in the Top New tributaries. Spring has arrived for good and some huge smallmouth are going to be caught in the next few weeks. Water temperatures are in the upper 40s and climbing. Water clarity is a nice olive green in the New. Get out and fish!

New River: Contributed by Britt Stoudenmire, 540-921-7438, owner of New River Outdoor Co. and host of The Life Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh. The New River smallmouth bite slowed some last week due to the nearly 6 in. of snow we received unexpectedly Thursday afternoon into Thursday evening. The snow runoff dropped water temperatures to 44 degrees as river levels rose quickly from the runoff. Over the last 4 days, however, river levels have dropped quickly, water temperatures have risen to nearly 50 degrees, clarity is excellent, and it looks as though spring is FINALLY here as air temperatures are hitting nearly 70 degrees!! And the big fish are responding!! Just yesterday, 4/8, the crew at New River Outdoor Co hit six chunky and fat smallies 18 to nearly 20 in. on the New River. And they were chasing!! This is one of our favorite times of the year to be on the river. For more from the New River, please visit and "Like" the New River Outdoor Co. Facebook Page for the latest pics and reports or give us a shout at 540-921-7438 to hit the river.

Use common courtesy on the river and at landings... Blackwater and Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner advises if you're boating or fishing on the river this spring please remember that a lot of people fish anchored in the middle of the river this time of year. So, please slow down around those blind curves and don't wake people hard when they are fishing. At the boat ramps please don't prepare your boat to put in on the ramp or prepare your rig for going home on the ramp. There is usually lots of room in the parking lot. If you're in your boat waiting for the boat ahead of you to get out of the way, remember, don't make it harder on them by cruising back and forth in front of the landing at ¼ throttle and throwing a 3 ft. wake. You're only going to make him mad and take longer to get their boat on the trailer, plus it's against the law! Be courteous and respectful of others, after all we all want a safe and enjoyable trip to and from the river.

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

Upper James: Contributed by Andrew Fenstermaker, 540-921-7438, Lead Guide for James River Outdoor Co. The weather was crazy last week as air temperatures dropped nearly 15 degrees while we were on the river Thursday and dumped 3 inches of snow in the Roanoke Valley. The runoff caused the river to rise to over 6 feet, but the smallies didn't seem to care as they have been consistently biting all spring. Presenting low and slow baits is still the main game. Water temperatures are pushing 50 degrees and clarity is three to four feet. With great fishing and great weather, this is an awesome time to be on the James River!!! Please visit and "Like" our James River Outdoor Co Facebook Page for more pics, videos, and reports or give us a shout if you'd like to hit the river, 540-921-7438.

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. According to Harry the smallmouth fishing is good. Some big ones have been brought up. It is best to fish below the riffles or in the deep pools. Best flies are: Murray's Black Heavy Hellgrammite, size 4; and Shenk's White Streamer, size 4. The water is 50 degrees, at a good level, and clear. The large streams in the Valley are giving up some good rainbows. Fish deeply for best action. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph, size 12; and Murray's Silver Ghost Streamer, size 10. The water is clear, at a good level and 50 degrees The brookies in the mountain streams are being cooperative, especially at the upper reaches of the streams. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry, size 14 and the Mr. Rapidan Delta Olive Caddis, size 14. The water is clear, at a full level, and clear.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. The bite is on! Water temperatures have finally reached the 45 to 48 degree mark and the fish have responded. Bass are starting to show up, albeit smaller ones as of yet, and can be caught using a variety of techniques. the strongest pattern for most is a suspending jerkbait. Lucky Craft Pointers and Staysees, Smithwick Rogues etc.... Take your time, as many of the strikes occur when the lure is not moving. Watch your line for that little tick! Crankbaits are also taking some nice fish in the 6 to 10 ft. deep range. Tail spinners and silver buddies are also very productive at this time. The trout are also active. Many are being taken trolling crankbaits or fishing with live shiners or shad. There are some being caught with jerkbaits also around the rocky bluffs. I personally was fortunate to land a 12 lb. 12 oz. brown trout last week. According to current DGIF citation records this is the largest certified brown trout to be taken from Moomaw. Bill Brads from Lexington, VA held it previously with a fish last year that weighed 12 lbs 8 oz. Water levels are full pool and relatively clear throughout the lake. Spring has sprung!

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Check Puff's website for updates on Lake Moomaw fishing action and opportunities for guided boat trips on his steady pontoon craft. Puff invites you to contact him asap as he still has a few spots available for his highly prized "spring turkey-trout combo trips" where you can come on up to the scenic mountains for Spring and enjoy the thrill of listening for gobblers in the mornings, then casting for some whoppers in the warm afternoons. He reports the Lake is full with all the rain and the snow melt runoff has kept the water temps cooler than normal for early April. With this weeks warm sunny days the trout bite should pick up along with yellow perch. The bass are "bending the rods doubled over"! Watch in the next editions for grillin' tips from Puff for fish, fowl and other wild game.

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.

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

Potomac and small ponds around Ashburn: Contributed by local angler Tyler Folts. No report this edition.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. Shad fishing in the Occoquan River is on fire. Yesterday I caught and released 69. So far males outnumber females 5 to 1.I have not caught any American shad so far.

Occoquan River: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. Warmer weather is bringing warmer water temperatures...finally. I went out on the Occoquan River Sunday to check on the shad run. The good news is there were shad in the river, but with the water temps still only in the high 40s it didn't seem like they were running at peak yet. My buddy and I tried various colored shad darts with very little success, though a father and son on the shoreline near the walk over bridge were catching shad (and unfortunately not tossing back the bigger ones). We switched to gold colored Silver Buddy's and silver colored Hopkin's spoons and were finally able start catching some of these fun, fighting fish. Looking forward to even better shad fishing days in the next couple of weeks...then on to the crappie, bass and maybe even a few catfish later on. Good luck everyone!

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.

Largemouth Bass: Anna's largemouths are moving to shallow wood in the mid and down lake region to spawn. You can try for them using soft plastic jerkbaits, shakey worms and wacky-rigged stickbaits. The bigger females will be nearby and will often hit the shaky worms or jigs fished slightly deeper. The hottest zone is from the 208 Bridge down to the power plant. Don't fish "chocolate pudding" bottoms, but instead target the first third or middle third of coves with harder bottom substrate. You can also try buzzbaits and top-water poppers (really!) when you have some good shallow cover present. The fish in the up lake region won't spawn until early May, but you can still catch them using Tiger Shad spinnerbaits, Bandit crankbaits and jigs. The water is still stained up lake, so the soft plastic jerkbait bite is not on like it often is this time of year. Down lake bass are spawning on docks and stumps in coves like Valentines, Duke's and Fisherman's Cove. You might also check out the coves between Dike 1 and Dike 2.

Striper: Good live bait fishing is occurring in the region above Harris Bridge. The Sandbar region has fish feeding every morning now. Watch the remaining birds to show you the fish. Pull jumbo shiners or gizzard shad on side planers and free lines and you'll catch 'em. It's pretty easy. The same goes for the flats above Stubbs Bridge, the mouth of Terry's Run and the region above Henry's Point in the Pamunkey Branch. Lure fishing has been tricky. Large swimbaits and some suspending jerkbaits are your best bets fished right on the banks or in shallow water over humps and points. This bite will continue until the full moon in May when the fish begin to spawn, but we're in for a good run of fish!

Crappie: Some of the best fishing of the season is underway. Fish shallow wood, rocks and grass lines if you want the biggest slabs. This first spawn will go fast with fish already on grass lines and beaver huts. Use 1 to 2 in. jigs on 1/32-oz. heads on six-pound test line if you like to cast. Slip bobbers and minnows in 2 to 4ft. are good, too. Hot zones are the top of the North Anna, the upper Pamunkey Branch and the upper portion of Terry's Run. Mid lake crappie are fewer but bigger if you can find them.

Best of luck and we'll see you on the water!

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 fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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

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.

ODU Magazine™ launched its website in December 2011 and followed immediately with our first digital fishing magazine. From the beginning, ODU Magazine™ has aspired to provide our growing readership with a quality, entertaining and educational digital fishing magazine, balanced with daily news from our hunting and fishing journals. In our ODU Fishing News and ODU Hunting News, we cover daily fishing and hunting tips, new product introductions, conservation announcements, legislative issues that outdoorsmen should be alerted to and great catches and hunts from around the world. The ODU™ March 2013 Boat House edition is one of the most comprehensive boat buyer's issues that we have ever done. Inside you will find a mixture of boats, from Bass to V-Hull boats and a little in-between. ODU has been hard at work reviewing a variety of new boats for this year issue and hopefully we have picked out the top boat for your "Boat House".

Also included in this issue is a variety of articles from Lawrence Gunther on "Using Sound to Catch Fish", Bill Vanderford article on "A New Fishing Season Fills My Heart With Wonderful Memories Of The Best Man I Ever Knew", to "Deep insights: "To Cast or Not to Cast" on how Ott DeFoe uses side imaging to decide whether to fish or move on.

  1. Using Sound to Catch Fish, By Lawrence Gunther, Pg 8
  2. A New Fishing Season Fills My Heart With Wonderful Memories Of The Best Man I Ever Knew, By Bill Vanderford, Pg 13
  3. Northeast River Walleye, By D&B Ice Adventures, Pg 15
  4. Live Bait The Key To Consistent Catches, By Capt. Bill Miller, Pg 19
  5. Winter Strategies For Spring Success, By Garett Svir, Pg 21
  6. Get Ready For Open Water Fishing, By Bob Jensen, Pg 25
  7. 26 Angels Foundation, Pg 27
  8. Discovered By Accident, Proven Fish Catcher Now...A Look at the Swim Jig, By Glenn Walker, Pg 29
  9. Early Season Time Cranking, By Captain Mike Gerry, Pg 37
  10. Small Lakes Can Offer Big Incentives, By Bob Wattendorf, Drew Dutterer and Bill Pouder, Pg 38
  11. Accessorizing Your Boat, By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson, Pg 43
  12. ODU Boat House, Pg 47
  13. Flying Fisherman, The Clear Advantage, By Chris Jenkins, Pg 67
  14. Floodwaters Point to Spring Crappies, By Noel Vick with Brian "Bro" Brosdahl, Pg 69
  15. Jack Of Many Trades, Pg 73
  16. Skinny Water Walleyes, By Jason Mitchell, Pg 76
  17. Breaking Down the A-Rig, By Captain Mike Gerry, Pg 80
  18. Just Go Fishing, By Bob Jensen, Pg 82
  19. Deep Insights: To Cast or Not to Cast, Pg 84

Click here to read this edition of ODU Magazine, or click on any of the above titles to go directly to the story.

And please, enjoy the outdoors!

Larry Thornhill, Editor and Chief, larry@odumagazine.com
Bill Schwarz, Assistant Editor, bill@odumagazine.com

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

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Editor's note... For John Chilton McAuliff, a second year student at the University of Richmond , a trip to the Montana Rockies and encounter with a moose on his birthday provided the inspiration for his entry in the 2011-12 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest. John relates in his biography, "Born in New York City, the Chilton's have lived in Warrenton, VA since hopping off the second boat to Jamestown. We still do, actually. My grandmother owns a property in the Old Town, where I spent most of my summers to escape the noise of the city back home. Evidently unable to spend a moment more north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I came to the University of Richmond for my undergraduate studies. 'A Birthday Surprise', is one of many adventures I had this summer while traveling the United States (42, to be exact) and Peru. I took a long and extensive solo road trip that gave me the opportunity to meet many, many different types of people and explore many different landscapes. Along the way I met plenty of interesting wildlife, from Grey Whales to Grizzly Bears. Since returning from Peru, I've been involved in founding Populus, a non-profit, unaffiliated political social networking project aimed at bringing down the financial barriers to entering politics. I am also a writer for USA Today, among other outlets. My work can be found at www.johnmcauliff.com/portfolio."

A Birthday Surprise

By John Chilton McAuliff

June 30th, 2011—Eureka, Montana

A birthday spent lakeside at the foot of the Montana Rockies is the birthday well spent. After leaving my lover and her brother and wishing them luck on their 3,000 bike trip, I headed to the hardware store. A frying pan, nylon rope, and lighter later, I stopped by Eureka's organic food store to get ingredients for my famous onion-apple stirfry, consisting of onions, apples, cheese, and little bits of smoked ham. Loaded up, I drove the 20 minute dirt road drive to Lake Frank, bottoming out only twice with my Camry, a city slicker if there ever was one. I dream of owning a 4×4.

Arriving at the lake, I find it deserted. The family whom I had seen earlier with an RV that seemed to be in it for the weekend has gone, leaving a still burning fire. I built a smaller one nearby to cook dinner, set up camp, and started cutting vegetables.

After accidently adding the final ingredient—fire ash—my stirfry was done. Not too shabby for camp cookin', and it only cost me $7.11 to make. I built up the main fire, let the smaller one die out, and put my feet up on the hot rocks to watch the sunset. It was about 9 p.m. when I finished eating, so I had an hour of daylight left to read Even Cowgirls get the Blues, a recommendation from the girl I'd left that morning.

At around 10, the sun finally started to set and the deep blue of the Montana big sky sank deeper into darkness. "Muhhhh-uhhhhhh" I hear a sound like a Star Wars wookie coming from across the lake. It is close, but the deep growl only reminds me I should be cautious. I should have taken the disappearance of other lakegoers as a sign.

Figuring the sound to be a moose, I log on to the internet to check. I have no cell service, but the internet has three bars even 20 miles into the woods. The moose sound is not a moose sound. It is the growl of a grizzly. More pleased than scared, and happy at having something to write about the next day, I close the computer, store it in my tent, and pick up where I left off reading.

The air is filled with bugs. Hundreds of thousands of little green bugs. They seem to be headed upwards, though I never witness any progress. The silence is interrupted only by their dim buzzing. A deer wanders out on the peninsula nearby. I watch her for a while, alternating with Tom Robbin's page-and-a-half long chapters. I get engrossed in the novel, and do not even notice when the bugs disappear. The silence is absolute, the fire my only light, save a dimming sky.

"Eeeeeuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" I hear from far across the lake. From my recent search of Youtube animal sounds, I know this is the shrill call of the bull moose. It is calling females to come and mate. I am again happy to have heard the rare noise, and keep on reading.

"Snap!" It comes from across the lake. I squint through the darkness.

"Snap!" It comes again a few moments later. A black shape hulks out of the pine forest across the lake. Two more follow. I can barely see them, but recall hearing that moose and elk are just as dangerous as bears. If they charge, you are as good as crippled. Curious, I walk to the closest strip of mud and squint again. I can't tell how many shapes I see now, or what they look like. Accepting that neither I nor my camera will be able to perceive, I return to my chair and keep reading.

Not a minute later I grow unnerved. I look across the lake, and see dark shapes cresting the water. The shapes themselves are nearly invisible, but the ripples give them away. I step again toward the water, then rush back to my chair. Calmly but quickly, I pick up my bag. Not sure how much time I have before the shapes reach my shore, I walk to my car.

My curiosity brings me back toward the tent, eyes darting. I am stopped halfway by a sight I may never witness again. Out of the water just a few feet from my tent, rises a female moose. My height and 10 times my size 32 waist width, the water clings to her fur and gives her the beard of an ancient. She is my only birthday guest, and her dripping moonlit mass is the spitting image of Hayao Miyazaki's deer god in Princess Mononoke, minus antlers.

My feet freeze, my hand reaches to the camera in my pocket. She walks toward my tent and my sputtering fire. I slowly step back and try to catch her on film. It is too dark, so I back away toward the car. The moose steps within an inch of my tent. I wonder if my computer will become a casualty of moose love.

Returning to the car, I snuggle up in the cramped backseat, deciding not to risk stepping in the way of the flirtation and the possibility of becoming a casualty of moose love myself.

The next morning, I realize I have made it into the wild. Sure enough, birthday moose tracks dot the muddy campsite. In the water, the path of another moose is clearly frozen by crystal clear waters and moldable mud. It was not a dream after all. A turtle surfaces nearby. Little freshwater eels shimmy across the silt lakebed. Shrimp dart back and forth. Sticklike bugs crawl along, stopping when I look at them to camouflage. A fish jumps in the center of Lake Frank. Life is everywhere in northwestern Montana.

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.

This year's competition deadline was February 7, 2013. Judging has been completed and the Winners were recognized at the joint Mason Dixon & Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Joint Annual Conference on March 16 in Staunton.

Bass Pro Shops cosponsors the High School contest, and provides 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 received cash prizes provided by Collegiate Contest co-sponsor Dominion. This year a special new cash award was initiated that includes publication by the Cooperative Living Magazine staff for the best Collegiate entry about the Virginia outdoors. A complete feature on the 2012-13 Competition winners will be posted in the April 10, 2013 edition of the OR.

Full competition guidelines/rules for 2012-13 VOWA/Dominion Collegiate Undergraduate and VOWA Bass Pro High School Youth Writing Competitions are available on the VOWA website: www.vowa.org.

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: