In this edition:

It's Hot Out There... Enjoy the Water Safely and Responsibly

This July 10th edition of the Outdoor Report posts just as many Virginians are still cleaning up from the long week of thunderstorms and flooding. Many of us are now planning summer vacations or long weekend outings with family and friends. Fortunately there's a lake, river, or stream within an hour's drive from any location in Virginia, making it easy and economical to get away for a day on the water boating, fishing, relaxing and cooling off! When you purchase a fishing license, you not only buy quality time, but you also are investing in conservation. For less than the cost of a tank of gas, a family of four can fish for a year. The funds generated by boating and fishing are crucial to keeping Virginia's waterways and lands in good condition and managing the state's fisheries.

Remember, as you head for the water with the relentless heat wave make sure you are well prepared to safely enjoy your travel and outdoor activities. Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Note the message from the Conservation Police Officers and the State Police to not drink and boat or drink and drive. These dedicated officers serve to protect responsible outdoor enthusiasts from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. They are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors - support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and ethically.

The Outdoor Report is full of fishing and boating tips and information to make your outing more productive, enjoyable, and safe. To learn more about fishing and boating in Virginia, including where to fish, how to identify fish species, guides to lakes and rivers, fishing and boating regulations and much more, read on...

David Coffman, Editor

New Virginia Migratory Duck Stamp Now on Sale -- Artist Janet Hong Wins Contest

Attention duck hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and stamp collectors, the annual Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp is available for purchase. The artwork for the stamp depicts a pair of drake hooded mergansers floating on a pond with their reflections visible in the calm waters while a hen keeps a watchful eye on them from a moss covered log. A judging panel made up of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officials and representatives from Ducks Unlimited, the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association, the LOC Chapter of VA Waterfowl USA, and the Rappahannock River Chapter of Delta Waterfowl chose the winning artwork. The winning artist, Janet Hong, resides in Chesapeake. She is the first woman to win the annual duck stamp competition. Janet also placed second in the competition with her artwork depicting a pair of wood ducks.

A Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp is required of all persons (unless license exempt) 16 years of age and older hunting or taking any migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese, brant and swans) within the Commonwealth. Funds generated from all sales of the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp are placed in the Department's Game Protection Fund and are accounted for separately, designated as the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Fund. After administrative costs, fifty percent of the monies in the fund goes into the Department's waterfowl program to use to protect, preserve, restore, enhance and develop waterfowl habitat in Virginia, while the remaining fifty percent is used to contract with appropriate nonprofit organizations for cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects in Virginia and for projects in eastern Canada that provide habitat conservation and improvement on the breeding grounds of ducks and other migratory species that winter in Virginia.

The annual Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp can be purchased for a fee of $10 (resident or non-resident) at license agents or clerks who sell Virginia hunting licenses or from the Department's website. Last year, 22,464 duck stamps were sold bringing in $224,640. For more information on waterfowl hunting in Virginia, visit the Department's Web site at

A photograph of the winning artwork is available by contacting

New 2013-14 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Digest Available on Website July 1st

The new 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Digest is on the VDGIF website as of July 1st. The digest contains information on the 2013-14 seasons and bag limits and new regulation changes passed by the Board of Game & Inland Fisheries at the June 13th Board meeting. The printed version of the digest will be available by August 1. An overall summary of the changes is found at the beginning of the digest on page eight, "What's New" and will be highlighted in more detail in the next edition of the Outdoor Report. This year's hunting seasons overall will be very similar to last year. One new change that is sure to be popular with sportsmen is hunters of any age with an Apprentice License can participate in the special youth days for deer, turkey and the newly established bear youth and apprentice hunter day. The ten-hour Hunter Education Course has been replaced with a new format with a self-study requirement for students, followed by six hours of classroom instruction. The new course should allow students more flexibility in scheduling and will focus on safety, hunting ethics and conservation. Hunters interested in applying for the early Quota hunts, such as New Kent Forestry Center dove hunt, Radford deer hunts, Hog Island deer hunt and others should print off, complete, and mail in the quota applications found on pages 67-69 so not to miss the early application deadlines.

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. In May, Kid's Fishing Day events are scheduled in the counties of Wythe, Russell, Washington, Smyth, Pr. William, Craig, Floyd, Grayson and Buchanan!! Click on link for details. 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!"

Virginia State Parks and Outdoor Nation to Host National Outdoor Summits June-August at 3 State Parks

Virginia State Parks in partnership with Outdoor Nation, the millennial-led movement championing the outdoors, will host three youth summits this summer where millennial leaders will connect with local peers to identify regional outdoor issues, develop strategies and receive leadership training. The three-day Outdoor Nation Summits will gather more than 100 attendees. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 28. "Millennials" is a term generally used to describe young people born between 1980 and the late 1990s. The summits are being held in partnership with America's State Parks Foundation's Ambassador Program and Outdoor Nation. Summits will take place at  First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach July 12-14 and Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield August 1-3. During the Pocahontas State Park event, summit participants will be invited to work with the nonprofit Virginia Museum of Radio Entertainment during a performance by Dark Star Orchestra, Saturday, August 3. There is no cost for participants to attend the Outdoor Nation Summits – food and materials will be provided. Participants are responsible for their travel to and from the event. Campsites are available for summit participants, but they will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag and personal items. Tents can be provided upon request. To register for a summit, visit For more information visit,, or

The Arthropods of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve - Overt and Covert

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Georgetown Center for the Environment for an arthropod adventure on Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to see many interesting arthropods other biota. There are over 6,000 known arthropods in Dyke Marsh. Arthropods are invertebrate animals with an external, jointed skeleton, usually known as a carapace. This phylum includes insects, crustaceans, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions and horseshoe crabs.

Dr. Edd Barrows, Insect Ecologist, Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for the Environment at Georgetown University, will lead a walk and introduce us to many of the natural wonders in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve that we often overlook. Meet at Haul Road entrance.

Dress for the weather.  The walk will take place unless there is heavy rain or thunderstorms.  Information: and

30th Annual Sportsman Show Returns to Richmond Raceway Complex August 9-11

The 30th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features a lot of new, exciting exhibits and demonstrations this year returning to the Richmond Raceway Complex! There's plenty of parking, more space for the 350 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. The show has expanded into a third building- The Green Top Pavilion which will include an archery range sponsored by Parker Bows, decoy exhibit and contest, VDGIF K9 teams and much more.  Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. At the three-day show August 9-11, Conservation Police Officers and Wildlife Biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing and wildlife information questions. DMV Direct van will be on-site so you can conveniently purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2014 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, even title a boat or other DMV business. Pick up your free copy of the new 2013-2014 Hunting Regulations & Information booklet that features descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience this season. The new Wildlife K 9 Team will be there to demonstrate their unique skills assisting officers in wildlife investigations and search and rescue.

Hunting SAFELY & RESPONSIBLY is always foremost when afield. Hunter Education Instructors will have exhibits and demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, waterfowl hunting and safety reminders for both experienced and novice hunters. This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest, organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Celebrity guests include Pat & Nicole Jones Reeve of Driven TV and Co-Hosts of Inside Outdoors TV Dave Poteat & Tim Anello! Also, Lizard Lick Towing will be on hand Saturday & Sunday only, don't miss out!

Show Manager and Founder Hugh Crittenden notes he is giving away a special door prize- a 6-day pre-rut Kansas Bow Hunt valued at $2950 with Midwest Finest Whitetails! You must come to the Show to enter. Check the Show's website for information and to view videos on numerous seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, sportsmen celebrities, and contests. Order your tickets online to avoid the line!

Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... This is the perfect event to bring a friend that is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience.

Flat Out Catfish Workshop on the James River August 6

Would you like to learn the secrets of catching Flathead Catfish on the James River? Join DGIF Angling Education and Captain Mike Ostrander for a day of instruction and fishing on the James River at Pony Pasture in Richmond. Workshop involves wading in the river and terrain can be challenging. Tackle, bait and lunch is provided. For ages 16 and older. To register or for questions, contact Chris Dunnavant by email,, or by phone, 804-283-7327. Registration Fee: $40 - register today, space is limited! Workshop date: Flat Out Catfish II, Tuesday, August 6, 8am – 4pm.

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake August 23-25

This unique program open to ages 11-90+ 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, game processing, bow fishing 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 and is held at the 4-H Center near Appomattox.  Registration is open until August 9, 2013 and the cost is $120.00 (meals and lodging included); a discounted fee is available before August 2, 2013. Completion of a Hunter Education course is preferred but not required; children under 18 must attend with a parent. For more information visit, call Holiday Lake at (434) 248-5444 or e-mail

Farmville Outdoor Festival August 24th

Are you looking for an opportunity to get outdoors and learn some exciting Outdoor Skills! Riverside Community Church is hosting their Annual Outdoor Festival in Farmville at the Five County Fairgrounds Saturday, August 24, with many fun filled activities and events planned. VDGIF will be offering shotgun training with the opportunity to try your skills at simulated hunting scenarios with clay throwers, as well as fishing skills at the kid's fish pond. Other activities include a turkey call seminar with Pro-Staff Jim Burns from Quaker Boy followed by a Turkey Calling Contest for youth and adults! The judging will be conducted by the NWTF High Bridge Strutters. Bugg's Island Archery is hosting a 3-D archery contest. This event is for all ages, so come out and bring your family and friends for a day of fun in the outdoors!

For more information, view flyer Farmville Outdoor Festival (PDF), or contact Riverside Community Church at 434-547-6770.

Family Forestland Short-course: Focusing on Land Transfer to Generation "NEXT"

You value your forest and/or farmland for multiple reasons such as wildlife, privacy, recreation, timber, hunting or the scenic qualities. Are you prepared to pass the environmental and heirloom values rooted in your forest to the next generation? Without breaking it up?

The cost of not planning is "priceless" and future tax burdens may put your land's ownership in jeopardy. If you don't plan, the Government will plan for you. By researching and planning ahead of time, you can ensure your wishes are met and minimize the financial costs and emotional challenges while securing your woodland legacy! Please join us for a hands-on workshop with free legal guidance from professionals experienced in intergenerational land transfer and landowner testimonials of estate planning steps and strategies they have used. Land may be your biggest asset. Make sure your actions support the family's values. This award winning and nationally recognized program will get you started on the right path.

Speakers include legal and financial experts experienced in estate planning as well as natural resource professionals who work with landowners to conserve land and plan the future.

Location: Fredericksburg Country Club, Fredericksburg, VA

Date: August 13 and 20, 2013 from 12:30 - 7:00 p.m. Participation in both days is required.

Cost and Other Information: Buy one get one free... $60 for up to two people from the same family and $30 for each additional family member.Dinner both nights. A copy of the award winning "Ties to the Land: Your Family Forest Heritage" is included in the registration fee.

Application/Registration: deadline July 31, 2013 To Apply and Pay by mail, please complete your application and send with payment to: Virginia Cooperative Extension's Northern District and Natural Resources P.O. Box 10 Madison, VA 22727

Hunters for Hungry Play Ball With Lynchburg Hellcats August 29

The second annual event to benefit the Hunters for the Hungry feeding program will be held on THURSDAY AUGUST 29th at Lynchburg City Stadium with the Lynchburg Hillcats. Anyone wearing any camo apparel will be admitted for 1/2 price, $4 instead of the general admission price of $8. There will be a raffle conducted with some really neat prizes, guns, crossbows, Hillcats autographed items, and much more. ALL PROCEEDS from this fundraiser benefit the HFTH feeding efforts.


For a $100 tax deductible sponsorship the individual, business, or organization will receive 25 General Admission tickets ( A $200 value ) to the August 29th game. In addition, all sponsorships received before July 10th will have their name etc in the August edition of the Game Day magazine, They will also receive recognition through a handout that will be given to every attendee the night of the event and they will also be recognized through PA announcements the night of the game and on the screen in the outfield as well.

For a $200 tax deductible sponsorship the individual, business, or organization will receive 50 General Admission tickets ( A $400 value ) to the August 29th game and all the same sponsorship advertising incentives / opportunities as comes with the $100 level sponsor. What a great way to get tax deductible advertising and treat family, friends, clients, customers, employees, your baseball team or others to a night at the ballpark.

Photographer Documents Contemporary American Sporting Culture

Award-winning fine art photographer Jesse Freidin has embarked on an epic documentary project telling the story of the contemporary American hunter. The first of its kind, this series uses traditional photo techniques to create a comprehensive survey of contemporary American sporting culture. The project will receive its first public exhibition in June 5- Sept 29 2013 at the National Sporting Museum and Library in Middleburg, Virginia.

"Hunting requires humility. This is what attracted me to this series. There is a transformation that hunters undergo in which they temporarily shed their human coil, entering into a primal dialogue with animal, the environment, and the immediacy of their senses. I feel a kinship to the hunt. On the surface level it bears similarities to working in analog film. The single moment of execution that can make an hour of attentive focus worth it - or not. But there is something else. Something about what hunting tells us about our own human nature. This is what I am tracking with this series. The modern sportsman's meditations on nature. The connection they share with their dogs and their hunting com¬panions. These are moments I am seeking to document and present in this series." - Jesse Freidin. For more information on this project contact

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.

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth

If you enjoy fly fishing for trout and you go all summer just waiting for cool weather to roll around again, you are missing some serious fun with your fly rod! Check out some Potomac River smallie action in Smallmouth Fun on Dispatches from the Potomac.

Elsewhere in the Virginia outdoor blogosphere...

Here's a nice piece from Bobby Whitescarver about Harpers Ferry, not too far upstream from Dispatches from the Potomac Headquarters. His blog is one you should follow. Check out Harpers Ferry – A History Steeped in Irony.

I know there are a lot of recreational kayakers and kayak anglers out there. You should all watch this terrifying video from Rob Choi's Angling Addict blog. Rob is a very experienced kayaker who got caught in a fast moving storm over the Chesapeake Bay. Watch CBBT Storm, check the radar often this time of year, and be safe out there on the water!

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

People and Partners in the News

Dorita Adams Receives Governor's Award For Public Service

Dorita Adams, Boat Titling/Registration and Customer Service Manager for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) was honored by Governor Bob McDonnell as the 2013 recipient of the "Governor's Public Service Award for Excellence in Customer Service." Ms. Adams received the award as part of the Governor's Awards for Public Service given today at the Executive Mansion. The Governor's Awards were presented to state employees for outstanding achievements in seven areas of performance including Teamwork, Innovation, Workplace Health Wellness and Safety, Agency "Star," Career Achievement, Customer Service, and Community Service and Volunteerism.

Ms. Adams leads a 27-person team which handles 173,000 transactions and 99,000 calls each year. She leads by example and her team often receives accolades from the public for their level of helpfulness and care they deliver.

Ms. Adams ensures that all customers are treated fairly, with respect, and with a friendly manner. Her attention to providing consistent, quality customer service shows in her passion to personally assist people, whether they make a special visit to DGIF's main office in Richmond, or by phone or email. Because of her meticulous record keeping and detailed processing efforts, Ms. Adams has been instrumental in assisting with the recovery of thousands of dollars worth of abandoned and stolen boats and in many cases returning boats to their rightful owners.

Ms. Adams was also directly involved with developing an exciting new partnership between the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and DGIF that began January, 2012. Virginians are now able to purchase hunting and fishing licenses, and submit applications for boat titles and registrations, at more than 100 DMV locations across the state, giving sportsmen and women a convenient option for one-stop shopping with the state. Likewise, all boaters pulling a trailer can now register their trailers at DGIF's headquarters.

Ms. Adams is instrumental in developing long-term visions and goals for DGIF customer service programs, and has been a major force behind helping to implement numerous new licensing methods that have helped to create special hunting and fishing opportunities for Virginia's disabled citizens and veterans. She has worked diligently with Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, and many other state agencies and organizations to streamline the application and approval process. She is an advocate for removing barriers so everyone may take advantage of the therapeutic health benefits that the great outdoors has to offer.

Dorita Adams truly exemplifies the values and dedication of Virginia's talented state work force. Ms. Adams' 31 years of public service are a testament to the complete satisfaction found in a job very well done.

Monarch Decline... Alarming!

By Marie Majarov,  Majarov Photography

The magnificent orange and black monarch butterfly, such a welcome sight arriving in our gardens each spring and fluttering amongst our flowers throughout the summer months might well be one very few of us see this year. Each fall monarchs embark on a spectacular 2000+ mile journey unlike any other in the insect world to their overwintering grounds high in Mexico's Transvolcanic Mountains. This winter their decade long declining population numbers precipitously plummeted even further by an alarming 59%. Where once an average billion butterflies occupied over 50 acres of Oyamel trees, this year only 60 million of these precious insects covered but 2.74 acres.

The reasons speculated by monarch scientists, the renowned monarch researcher Dr. Lincoln Brower, and Monarch Watch's Dr. Chip Taylor, include: loss of habitat that appears directly correlated with the expanding use of GMO crops and development across the North American breeding territory, severe weather conditions, and the degradation of the overwintering forest in Mexico. In the words of Dr. Brower: "It appears that the combination of low numbers in Mexico returning to the US in March and April 2013, and the cold spring affecting most of the eastern breeding range, have resulted in few monarchs making it back into their northern breeding range. The predictions are not auspicious."

What can we in our Commonwealth do? Plant milkweed, host-plant for monarchs, along with a selection of critically important nectaring plants for foods and energy. Read about programs and resources to "Bring Back the Monarch." Otherwise, for our children and grandchildren the monarch migration may only be in history books.

Marie Majarov and her husband Milan are nature enthusiasts and members of both the Virginia and Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Associations.  Inspiring children, both young and old, about the wonders of nature and encouraging the preservation of our precious natural resources is their dream for Majarov Photography. Marie is also a Virginia Master Naturalist.  More about their work can be seen at

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 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), we are featuring VDGIF partner organizations that support our Mission in each edition of the Outdoor Report. WSFR is one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history. The WSFR is a milestone program that brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to create a successful partnership that has led to quality wildlife-related outdoor opportunities. Through fostering and maintaining these partnerships, conservation and outdoor recreation will continue to future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.

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."

30th Annual Sportsman Show Offers Many NEW Features This Year At Richmond Raceway Complex August 9-11

The 30th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features a lot of new, exciting exhibits and demonstrations this year returning to the Richmond Raceway Complex! There's plenty of parking, more space for the 350 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. The show has expanded into a third building- The Green Top Pavilion which will include an archery range sponsored by Parker Bows, decoy exhibit and contest, VDGIF K9 teams and much more. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. At the three-day show August 9-11, Conservation Police Officers and Wildlife Biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing and wildlife information questions. DMV Direct van will be on-site so you can conveniently purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2014 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, even title a boat or other DMV business. Pick up your free copy of the new 2013-2014 Hunting Regulations & Information booklet that features descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience this season. The new Wildlife K 9 Team will be there to demonstrate their unique skills assisting officers in wildlife investigations and search and rescue. Be sure to order your tickets online to avoid the line!

Expanded Virginia Sportsman Show will feature Decoy Carving Champions!

New for this year, the expanded Virginia Sportsman Show will feature a Decoy Carvers' Gallery. The gallery will include over twenty booths including National and International championship carvers from North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia selling decoys and collectibles. From North Carolina, championship carver Greg Sorrells of Grimsland, NC and internationally recognized world champion Ben Heinmann of Durham, NC will appear.

From Maryland, a Havre de Grace Decoy museum contribu.tor and well known carver, Jim Pierce and son will be on hand. Nationally known hunting style decoy carver, Joey Jobes of Havre de Grace, MD will offer his famous gunny decoys.

Carvers from Virginia Beach, VA, Walter Williams and the director of the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, Clark Mandigo of the Back Bay Wildfowl Guild have committed to the show. Fredecksburg's Tim Kuca and Chesterfield's Scott Peach will offer a variety of decoys and collectibles as well.

Nationally known championship carvers, William Bruce of WhiteStone and Heck Rice of Hanover will be on hand at the Rappahannock Decoy Carvers Guild's booth. Other featured champions will be Lenexa's Gordon Martin, Hanover's Robert Crigler and Chuck Robinson of Richmond.

The Richmond Carvers Society's membership will also have a booth.

Unique display For Waterfowlers Organization This Year!

This year at Virginia Sportsman Show the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association will display a full size duck blind at its booth. The org will be promoting the annual 2013 Virginia Waterfowling Workshop and conservation. The workshop is a educational weekend event that benefits the Holiday Lake 4H and its youth shooting sports program. The duck blind is one of many educational tools that will be used at the workshop this year.

The organization will also have a membership drive as well raffles. Two of the raffles items will be for a shotgun and the full size duck blind on display.

The Hunters for the Hungry program asks everyone to stop by their booth to learn more about the program's feeding efforts all across the State, and also how they can get plugged in to support their feeding efforts, whether they hunt or not. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions as to where deer can be donated, how people can make both deer and financial donations, or how they can volunteer to help with a fundraising event or a speaking engagement or with an exhibit at a variety of special events. They will as always feature their unique HFTH merchandise including embroidered caps, sport towels, and new HFTH t-shirts! They will also be conducting some of their annual Fund Raising Raffles which will highlight a LANDMASTER 650 UTV and 5' x 10' Big Tex trailer which will be given away at the end of the show on Sunday August 11th. Come by and join our efforts to feed those in need and promote our hunting heritage! Visit their website.

VDGIF Treestand Safety Team Provides Demos and Tips

What is your life worth? VDGIF Hunter Education Volunteers will be on hand to explain the proper techniques to use all types of tree stands, the importance of and correct way to wear and attach a full-body fall arrest system, and explain the new lifeline products that are on the market. Shop "safety smart" for your new tree stand at the Show.

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

Editor's note... The future of our hunting and fishing heritage and traditions is in the hands of the sportsmen that take the time to mentor new outdoor enthusiasts- 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. The following is an example of sportsmen organizations, businesses and VDGIF staff and volunteers parting to provide exciting, educational and fun opportunities for getting anglers and 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

VA NWTF Wheelin Sportsmen Host Mossy Creek Trout Rodeo

On Saturday May 25th, 18 Wheelin' Sportsmen anglers enjoyed a rewarding day reeling in big rainbow trout at the 7th Annual Mossy Creek Trout Rodeo, near Broadway, VA. This mile stretch of the Smith River on the Grace Family farm is perfect for our wheelchair anglers, offering level ground and easy access to the river's edge. We make our events family-friendly and our disabled participants bring a friend or family members to join in on the fun. The Grace's provided a delicious lunch of homemade BBQ and fresh-caught fried trout.

VAWS is partnering with Bass Pro Shops Hanover for a Youth Day Deer Hunt on September 28th for youngsters with disabilities. If you know a youth with a disability, 15 or under, that would like to join us for an awesome hunt in Caroline County, please have them contact State Coordinator Robin Clark at 434-249-6154 or via email. For information on our upcoming events, please visit our website or our VAWS Facebook page.

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.

National Dove Hunter Survey Announced

Virginia dove hunters will be asked to participate in a nationwide survey this summer. The National Dove Hunter Survey will ask dove hunters to share their experiences and opinions about dove hunting. The survey is a cooperative effort by the many state fish and wildlife agencies, all four flyway councils, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Objectives of the survey include learning about dove hunter characteristics: time spent hunting, perceived constraints to hunting, and thoughts about potential effects of spent lead from hunting ammunition on mourning doves and other wildlife.

The National Dove Hunter Survey is scheduled to be mailed out in late June, and will be compiled by the end of 2013. The survey is being undertaken because many issues and concerns of dove hunters are largely unknown. The survey will help state and federal agencies make more informed decisions on issues important to hunters.

"Nationally, there are more than one million dove hunters in the United States. This survey will encompass all regions of the country and will give us an excellent picture of hunter opinions and needs," says Dr. Ken Richkus of the Service's Population and Habitat Assessment Branch. "The Service and the states want to make sure we use the best science-based information for the management and conservation of our migratory bird resources and take hunter opinions and preferences into account whenever possible."

More information about the survey, including a "Frequently Asked Questions" page can be found on our website.

New 2013-14 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Digest Available on Website July 1st

The new 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Digest is on the VDGIF website as of July 1st. The digest contains information on the 2013-14 seasons and bag limits and new regulation changes passed by the Board of Game & Inland Fisheries at the June 13th Board meeting. The printed version of the digest will be available by August 1. An overall summary of the changes is found at the beginning of the digest on page eight, "What's New" and will be highlighted in more detail in the next edition of the Outdoor Report. This year's hunting seasons overall will be very similar to last year. One new change that is sure to be popular with sportsmen is hunters of any age with an Apprentice License can participate in the special youth days for deer, turkey and the newly established bear youth and apprentice hunter day. The ten-hour Hunter Education Course has been replaced with a new format with a self-study requirement for students, followed by six hours of classroom instruction. The new course should allow students more flexibility in scheduling and will focus on safety, hunting ethics and conservation. Hunters interested in applying for the early Quota hunts, such as New Kent Forestry Center dove hunt, Radford deer hunts, Hog Island deer hunt and others should print off, complete, and mail in the quota applications found on pages 67-69 so not to miss the early application deadlines.

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

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

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

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

David Coffman, Editor

Visit With Successful Young Hunters at VA Outdoor Sportsman Show August 9-11 at Richmond Raceway Complex

Editor's note... Several of the young hunters who have shared their stories in the Outdoor Report will be on hand at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show August 9-11 at Richmond Raceway Complex with various exhibitors like Parker Bows to demonstrate how young hunters can be successful with quality, reliable and safe equipment. One particular OR feature hunter is Erin Grabeel. While working the VDGIF exhibit at the 9th Annual OCHS Fishing Expo last March a dad and daughter came by the booth and I commented to the smiling young girl, "Where did you get that cool shark hat?!" She was sporting a toboggan style gray knit cap that had a big row of white shark teeth and menacing black eyes right on the forehead- sort of matched her big smile. Being at a fishing show, I curiously asked if the dad-daughter duo also hunted. I was a little surprised when the girl smiled even bigger and proudly exclaimed, "We sure do!" "Did you have any luck this season?", I asked. Beaming with pride she exclaimed, "I got a big 6 pointer with my new 'camo-pink' Parker crossbow !" Now there was a story to be told...

I congratulated the young huntress and asked her dad if they would please email her story and a photo for the next Outdoor Report. The dad Stephen Grabeel, introduced himself and his eight year old daughter Erin, noting they were from Orange. I gave them my contact information and asked they email me the story and photo. Stephen said they had sent information to Parker Bows concerning her first bow hunt last November. Here is the story they sent...

TO: "Parker Photo Gallery"
FROM: Stephen & Tricia Grabeel

Hello Parker Crossbows,
We are writing this story with the help of our eight year old daughter who shot her first deer with her new pink camo Parker Challenger crossbow. Erin Grabeel shot this big bodied 6 pointer in Gordonsville, Virginia with her pink Challenger. We purchased this crossbow on 10/20/2012 at Greentop in Ashland, Virginia.

Erin practiced that Sunday and was able to hit the target at 40 yards consistently. On Monday she went hunting with her dad after school. They were sitting on the ground in the woods with a small blind set-up so the deer wouldn't get spooked by her moving around some...hard to keep an 8 year old still. Her buck made its way down the hillside and she waited until she could get a good shot. With dad holding the tripod and telling her to use the 40 yard bead...she took dead aim and with the arrow going clean through. The buck ran 20 yards and well as Erin's jaw dropping. Very excited she wanted to trail after it but they waited 15 minutes and approached the dead deer after finding her Parker arrow covered in blood. She told her dad that she kinda went between the 30 and 40 yard bead...which was probably a good thing as she could have missed high. After getting it loaded into the truck her reply to her dad was..."All I can say is...thank you Dad!"

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

Public Invited to Comment on Draft Wild Turkey Management Plan

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) invites public input on the Draft Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan, which will be available on or about July 12th, 2013. The Draft Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan is the result of the joint work of VDGIF, a 12-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee (citizen volunteers who represented a cross-section of public interests), and Virginia Tech. The Draft Wild Turkey Management Plan includes goals that address hunting traditions, population levels of wild turkeys, allocation of harvest and turkey-related recreational activity, safety, ethics and compliance with law, and human-wild turkey conflicts. The plan also includes specific objectives designed to attain each goal, as well as potential, general strategies for attaining objectives. The Draft Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan will provide broad guidance for the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, VDGIF staff, and the public in addressing management of wild turkeys through 2022.

The draft plan will be available online for review and for public comments at:

Interested individuals may request paper copies of the plan (no bulk requests, please) by contacting:
Holly Morris
Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Conservation (MC 0321)
Virginia Tech, 310 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Comments may be submitted online or mailed to:
Wild Turkey Plan c/o Holly Morris
Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Conservation (MC 0321)
Virginia Tech, 310 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Public comments also are invited at six public meetings that will be held across Virginia. The meetings will be held on the following dates:

July 16th: Carroll 118 at Wytheville Community College, 1000 East Main Street, Wytheville, Virginia 24382 from 7:00-9:00 PM

July 17th: The Community Room at the Bedford Center for Business - Central Virginia Community College, 1633 Venture Blvd., Bedford, VA 24523 from 7:00-9:00 PM

July 18th: South Board room at the Augusta County Government Center, 18 Government Center Lane, Verona, VA 24482 from 7:00-9:00 PM

July 29th: Salem Church Branch Library, 2607 Salem Church Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407 from 6:30-8:30 PM

July 30th: Bass Pro Shops, 1972 Power Plant Parkway, Hampton, VA 23666 from 6:30-8:30 PM

July 31st: Board room at VDGIF Headquarters, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230 from 7:00-9:00 PM

Please continue to monitor the VDGIF Turkey Plan webpage for future updates, including dates and locations of public meetings. The goal is to have a finished 10-year Wild Turkey Management Plan available for consideration by the DGIF Board of Directors sometime during the fall, 2013.

Elk Restoration Update

ONE YEAR AGO... Elk Release in Buchanan County Made History when 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 placing them near Vansant in Buchanan County. Once in Virginia, the elk were placed in an acclimation corral before being soft released into their new habitat. 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, Kentucky Department and Fish and Wildlife Resources, and Buchanan County.

June 2013 Update: Allen Boynton, VDGIF Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist Manager for Region 3 – Southwest notes that, "The transport and release of ten elk – 8 yearling bulls and two pregnant cows was successful with the elk being released from the acclimation corral June 6th. The elk already released in May of 2012 are all alive and within 3-miles of the release site in Buchanan County.

The 5 resident bulls from last years group shed their antlers in April and have begun growing them back (see photos). Most of the adult cows separated from the herd and gone into seclusion to calve. We will report on the number of calves in the next Outdoor Report.

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

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook! Like us at . 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."

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

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

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

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

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

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

Habitat at Home© DVD Available

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

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Planning and Preparation Needed for Safe Summer Adventures

Skeeters, ticks, and snakes, oh my! If you stop to think about all the critters and conditions that can possibly make your summer outdoor activities miserable, you may make a big mistake and stay home. With a little planning, preparation, and the proper gear, you can minimize the discomforts that come with any outdoor adventure. The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," relates directly to you and your outdoor plans. There are some basic safety precautions directly related to summer heat and critter activity that warrant your attention. This article is based on my experiences, including mistakes, the past 30 years camping, canoeing, fishing, and exploring our wonderful wild places.

David Coffman, Editor

Clothing: dress for the conditions you plan to encounter, then take additional items in case conditions change. Consider wearing pants that have the zip-off legs to give some protection in case you encounter brush, poison ivy (leaflets three, let it be!), or ticks. Same advice for shirts - take a long sleeve - it may get cooler if out after sunset. Wear light colors, they are cooler and do not attract mosquitoes like dark shades. Carry a small folding poncho for sudden downpours. Wear a hat to provide shade. Use sunscreen, even if you already have your tan.

Water: have plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration. As an Eagle Scout, the motto "Be Prepared" has helped me and my companions out of unforeseen circumstances on many occasions. I offer a personal tip for long drives. Always take a cooler with ice and a variety of liquid refreshments in your vehicle on any trip 5 miles or 500. With heavy traffic just about anywhere you go these days, a traffic stopping incident, or breakdown may strand you for hours, miles away from any refreshment. Keep a couple of bottles of water, or sports drink, and some packaged snacks in your vehicle just in case. You may just make someone's day, including your own. Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion - these conditions can kill. Keep hydrated and do not over do it. Know your physical limits. Rest or get in shade to prevent heat stress.

Critters: wear insect repellant. There are many kinds on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. If you happen to encounter a snake, it's best to leave it alone. Many species of snakes, including venomous ones, are very beneficial to humans. Snakes are not aggressive and only bite in self defense, or if provoked. If bitten by a venomous snake, stay calm and seek medical attention immediately. Most venomous snake bites in Virginia only result in some swelling and discomfort. Bee, wasp, and hornet stings pose a greater risk, especially if you are allergic to them. If you are allergic, keep the proper medications with you, and tell your companions in case you need medical assistance. Rabies gets a lot of attention in the summer. If during the daytime, you see a fox, raccoon, or other mammal that is normally nocturnal and elusive acting aggressively or strangely, keep away. Contact local animal control authorities or the police immediately with the location of the animal.

Finally, always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. These days with cell phones, SUVs, and GPS, we have gotten somewhat complacent on this basic safety rule. Murphy's Law is lurking out there - no cellular signal, dead batteries, twisted an ankle - insert your own excuse here. No wildland adventure is without some risk - it's why we call it "wild" and part of the appeal of venturing outdoors! If you take simple steps to be prepared, have the proper gear for the conditions and take basic safety precautions, you optimize your chances for a great wildland experience. Now go out there and have fun, seek adventure, respect and enjoy our great wild places.

Some Common Sense Comfort & Safety Tips To Make Your Outing More Enjoyable...

Blackwater and Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner provided some good, common sense safety tips in his Fishin' Report to use while canoeing and wading to make you outing more comfortable. Jeff advises, "Be sure to take plenty of bug spray and suntan lotion, you don't want to end up like me with melanoma popping up every now and then. That's a by-product of me running up and down the river in my youth with nothing on but cut-offs. Make sure everybody wears flip-flops or old tennis shoes or something. There are so many things out there on the bottom that can ruin your trip it just makes sense to sacrifice the Nikes. You can go to Wal-Mart and get a pair of slip on water shoes for $10, that is unless you have 5-E wide feet like I do. It's why I swim a lot better than I walk! A small first aid kit is also a good idea. All you need is a zip-lock. Toss some band-aids and Neosporin in there along with your cell phone and fishing license and you are done. And last but not least, especially if you're leaving a vehicle at one ramp and putting in upriver of that, be sure someone knows where you're going and when you're expecting to be back. By taking a few precautions and following these tips you can expect a wonderful family adventure on the river."

Paddling Class Available Online

VDGIF Boating Safety Education Coordinator Stacey Brown notes that one of Virginia's boating education partners is offering a free online paddling class for people who kayak, canoe, or enjoy stand up paddleboard. Whether you are new to paddle sports or are a veteran, this course provides important skills for being safe on Virginia's waters!

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

Remember spring is the time to be aware of ticks and the potential for Lyme disease. Especially for turkey hunters walking through grass fields and woods. Information about Lyme disease and what people should do if they are bitten by a tick can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website. Virginia Wildlife Magazine featured an article about Lyme disease prevention that can be read on our agency website.

The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Use insect repellant to prevent ticks from getting on you. There are many kinds of effective insect repellants on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Some may be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be applied to clothing. Read the label! Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. Should you notice the target type ring around a tick bite or any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, as early detection and treatment will speed recovery in most cases. Be sure and check yourself, your children and your pets frequently whenever outdoors and after you return home for a few days.

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!

Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?

How do you know if a life jacket really fits you? First, check the label to make sure the life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable. Life jackets (or PFDs) come in a couple of basic sizes: infant, child, and adult. Within those basic sizes, there will be a range (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). The label will indicate the basic size and the size range, which will include a weight range and usually also a chest size range. After you check the label, make sure you move on to the second step, try it on!

Before every boating season, try on your life jacket. Make sure that it fits correctly. What does a correct fit mean? It should be snug, but not tight. Lift your arms over your head, can you turn your head left, right, and over your shoulder or has the life jacket ridden up and in the way of moving your head? For a child, have them stand with their arms to their sides. Lift the life jacket up by the shoulders. The life jacket should not move more than 3 inches, no higher that the child's ears. If the life jacket does move up more than 3 inches, it is too big and the child can slip right out - get a smaller life jacket! A younger child's life jacket should also include a crotch strap - this will help insure the life jacket stays on. Finally, practice using the life jacket in shallow water. Make sure it is snug enough to stay put and not ride up over the chin and ears when in shallow water. Have children practice in shallow water with their life jacket so they don't panic in case of emergency. Check out this informational video about properly fitting a child's life jacket.

For more information about life jackets, check out the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety website.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

"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.

Critter Corner by Marlene A. Condon

Mosquitoes May Have Insured American Victory in the War for Independence!

According to a 2007 paper published in the Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, "microbes may have done more than American patriots to insure an American victory" in the War for Independence.

Such diseases as malaria and yellow fever were rampant during warm weather in the southern portions of this country in the 1700s. They were transmitted by the mosquitoes that carry illness-causing viruses. It's easy to believe that many British military campaigns were adversely affected when officers and/or their military units were incapacitated or killed by disease.

What's interesting is that the mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and other species) carrying the viruses are not native to this country, having been unintentionally imported as a result of the slave trade with Africa.

Thus this may be one time in our history when the unintended importation of alien insects resulted in a particularly positive outcome. Who would have thought that we should perhaps be grateful to mosquitoes as we celebrate the birth of our country on July 4th?!

Time of year to see them and where: The word "mosquito" is from the Spanish or Portuguese, meaning "little fly" and these insects are classified scientifically as members of the Fly Family. With the arrival of warm weather in the spring, mosquitoes become active and can be found just about anywhere there is standing water. You don't need to look for them; the adult females will find you!

Food: Adult male and female mosquitoes feed upon nectar, but the females of most species require the protein found in vertebrate blood to produce fertilized eggs. Some species obtain blood from mammals, while others feed exclusively upon birds, reptiles, or amphibians.

Environmental function: Mosquitoes provide an abundant food supply for numerous other kinds of animals. In the egg stage, they feed organisms living within ponds when eggs are laid at the water surface. Terrestrial critters take eggs that are laid at or above the water line. As larvae and pupae, mosquitoes feed many, many species of aquatic animals, such as fish, dragonfly and damselfly larvae, and newts. And as adults, nocturnal mosquitoes are devoured by bats and night-flying birds (such as Whip-poor-wills) while those active by day can be taken by diurnal birds (such as Purple Martins) and dragonfly and damselfly adults.

Personal observation: One year a bucket of water got left in my carport for several days. When I needed it to water some plants, I was surprised to find mosquito larvae swimming up and down in the water as I've never experienced a problem with mosquitoes around my home. As someone who doesn't take a life lightly, I felt rather bad about pouring the water with the young mosquitoes around my plants, but I did see a positive aspect to this situation. If people want to limit mosquito populations around their homes, they could simply leave a bucket of water out to attract egg-laying females, which would provide a pesticide-free approach. You just need to remember to use the water before the adult mosquito stage is reached!

Nature-friendly garden tip: Landscaping for wildlife alleviates many of the problems that people have in their yards because it provides the natural system of checks and balances that keep animal numbers in check. However, even if your yard is wildlife friendly, you still need to consciously avoid the inadvertent creation of mosquito habitat on your property. Do not leave anything lying about that can collect water, such as children's toys and toddler swimming pools, flower-pot saucers, and empty buckets and tires. If you have tarps over lawn equipment or outdoor furniture, be sure to shake the water off after every rain. And don't forget the areas that are out of sight and therefore out of mind, such as roof gutters that should be checked periodically to keep them clear of debris so they can drain. Empty bird baths every day and refill them with clean water. There's absolutely no need to spend money on mosquito dunks.

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

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. If you do encounter a snake in the woods, simply leave it alone, it'll get out of your way or you can walk around it. SNAKES DO NOT CHASE PEOPLE. Here are a few tips to avoid the possibility of being bitten when hiking in the woods"

  1. Stay on the trail.
  2. Watch where you place your hands and feet, and where you sit down.
  3. Do not attempt to capture snakes.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun: plus provide the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. The Virginia Wildlife calendar lists natural events that can serve as a "lesson plan" to get students outdoors exploring, observing, and having fun while learning about the woods, fields, and streams and the fascinating plants and animals that share these habitats with us. Each edition we will bring you ideas on topics, natural occurrences, and events to spark your interests in exploring nature. Make it a family adventure!

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

Visit the Virginia Naturally website now for ideas on nature learning activities. Teachers, there are also ideas for workshops and training available for your continuing education and getting a start on environmental lesson plans for the next semester.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for late July:

Answers to June 26th edition quiz for nature events for early July...

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region I - Tidewater

Free Lodging With BUI... On June 16, Senior Conservation Police Officer Ken Williams and Officer Joe Rollings were conducting a boating safety inspection detail in the Little Wicomico River in Northumberland County. At approximately 1844 hours the officers stopped a boat for inspection and determined that the operator had recently consumed alcohol. Field sobriety tests were conducted by Senior Officer Williams and the operator was placed under arrest. The operator's final blood alcohol content at the Sheriff's Office was .12 and he was charged with operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and lodged in the Northern Neck Region Jail.

Rappahannock BUI... On June 21, Conservation Police Officer Cameron Dobyns was on a boat patrol on the Rappahannock River. He observed a power-driven vessel underway after sunset that was not displaying an all-round white light. After stopping the vessel for not displaying the all-around white light he determined the operator had recently consumed alcohol. Officer Dobyns conducted field sobriety tests, and after the operator finished the tests he was placed under arrest. The operator's blood alcohol content was .09 at the Sheriff's Office. The operator was charged with operating a motorboat under the influence of alcohol. The boat operator was transported to the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center.

Region III - Southwest

Conservation Police Officers Offer Presentation to "Boy's State"... On June 21, Conservation Police Sergeant Charlie Mullins, Senior Conservation Police Officer Troy Phillips, and Conservation Police Officer Mark Brewer delivered a presentation to 700 high school seniors as part of the American Legion Boys State program. As the program's website states, "American Legion Boys State is among the most respected educational programs of government instruction for high school students. Each participant becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government." Officers Brewer and Phillips developed the presentation and delivered an outstanding talk. They explained the history and mission of the Law Enforcement Division, covered training and outreach programs, and discussed what a typical day for a Conservation Police Officer entails. In the limited time allotted, they gave their audience a good understanding of the Department's mission and operations to help these highly-talented young men better understand how the Conservation Police Officer and the Department as a whole fit into state government. The students asked pointed questions, which all three officers answered skillfully. The American Legion representative who attended the presentations was very pleased and invited the officers back to present in 2014.

Conservation Police Officers Patrol Along New River... On June 29, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Jim Anders and Keith Hagy were on patrol along the New River when they encountered numerous individuals fishing in a restricted area near Buck Dam in Carroll County. Officers Anders and Hagy were joined by Sergeant Cox and after making contact with the 15 individuals it was determined that four of the fishermen were in possession of slot limit Smallmouth Bass. Appropriate charges were placed against the individuals for the illegal bass and warnings were given for fishing in the restricted area near the dam.

Operation Drywater Reporters Ride-Along... During Operation Dry Water June 28-30, District 33 Senior Conservation Police Officers Dennis Austin, Dan Hall and Sergeant Jamie Davis conducted interviews and a ride-along with reporters from the Bristol Herald Courier. Sergeant Davis discussed how the water and sun intensifies impairment while operating under the influence. He also discussed the emphasis officers put forth during Operation Dry Water, holidays and on normal patrols to apprehend boaters under the influence.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Unlawfully Killed Bear... On May 18, Conservation Police Officers Ostlund and Solomon initiated an investigation concerning a very large black bear that was suspected of being killed illegally in Page County. The subject, who admittedly shot the bear during nighttime hours, claimed that he did so in defense of his dog. However, physical evidence at the scene of the incident and additional information obtained through interviews of other involved subjects did not support his statements. Magistrate summonses for Unlawfully Killing Bear and Illegal Transportation are being sought.

Conservation Police Officers Assist in James River Bateau Festival... On June 19, Conservation Police Officers Inge, Heberling and Senior Officer Green worked a special assignment at the VDGIF boat landing in Scottsville for the 28th Annual James River Bateau Festival. District 44 Officers had fielded concerns from local citizens and police concerning the large number of people, alcohol consumption and noise levels at the boat landing during past events. Just after arrival in the area, officers received a call from Albemarle Dispatch to respond to assist with some distressed boaters and bateaus on the James River. After completing the assist, officers preformed high visibility patrols at the boat landing. The effort produced 11 alcohol warnings, two trespass on a railroad warnings and two traffic violation warnings. The area remained a family-friendly event throughout the night and officers received many compliments from participants and local citizens for helping to keep the event from getting out of control.

K9 Team

K9 Team Tracks Murder Suspect... On Sunday June 16, Senior Officer Billhimer was requested by the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office to assist in a crime scene involving the murder of an elderly lady in her home. Officer Billhimer responded to the scene with his K9 partner "Justice" only to learn this murder may have occurred several days earlier. "Justice" picked up on a track that left the rear of the victim's residence and went south along some railroad tracks. As the K9 team concentrated on their task of tracking, Conservation Police Officer Owen Heine and two deputies provided security. "Justice" tracked for over an hour on an apparently several days old track to a suspect's house. With this and other corroborating evidence, the Sheriff's Office was able to obtain a search warrant and arrested a suspect for murder.

K9 Teams Featured at VA Outdoor Sportsman Show August 9-11... Come meet the VDGIF K9 Teams at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show at Richmond RIR Complex. For information on the K9 teams and their exceptional abilities read the feature article (PDF) by outdoor writer Mark Fike in the latest issue of Whitetail Times, official magazine of the VA Deer Hunters Association. We thank Mark Fike and the VDHA for permission to link to the magazine article in Whitetail Times magazine.

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

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

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

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

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

Fishin' Report

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

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

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

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

The new 2013 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2013

Grants to Localities for Public Boating Access Facilities

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announces the availability of grants for fiscal year 2014 and requests applications.  Eligible to receive grants are Virginia localities (counties, cities, and towns).    The purpose of the grants is to assist localities in providing public opportunities for boating access facilities for new development or the renovation or improvements to existing public boating access facilities.  For more details, visit to download the following information:

Recreational boating is a popular activity and there are approximately 250,000 registered boats in Virginia. Many more watercraft (canoes/kayaks) that are not registered use existing facilities or are in need of additional sites. This grant program provides up to 75% of the approved project costs to construct or renovate boating access facilities for trailer or non-trailer hand-launch facilities. Applications are due by October 1, 2013 and award is anticipated by January 1, 2014. Upon notice of award, the local jurisdiction will have until April 1, 2014 to sign a Cooperative Grant Agreement. Funds are provided on a reimbursement basis.

This is the second year the Department has funded this grant program.  Last year the Department awarded $390,900 to 10 localities for the development or renovation of 14 sites on 7 different river systems. To learn more about hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor opportunities in Virginia, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' website:

Flat Out Catfish Workshop on the James River

Would you like to learn the secrets of catching Flathead Catfish on the James River? Join DGIF Angling Education and Captain Mike Ostrander for a day of instruction and fishing on the James River at Pony Pasture in Richmond. Workshop involves wading in the river and terrain can be challenging. Tackle, bait and lunch is provided. For ages 16 and older. To register or for questions, contact Chris Dunnavant by email,, or by phone, 804-283-7327. Registration Fee: $40 - register today, space is limited! Workshop date: Flat Out Catfish II, Tuesday, August 6, 8am – 4pm.

Attention Boaters! Your Help Is Needed For the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Recreational Boater Survey!

As a part of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program's efforts to document important areas for boating and the value of Virginia's recreational boating industry, your assistance is needed to ensure collection of accurate information about recreational use of Virginia's coast. From May to October, a select number of recreational boaters will receive a survey in the mail to document the location, duration, time, activities, and money spent on recent boating trips. The information gathered in this survey will provide a better understanding of how and where recreational boaters use the ocean so that those uses are included in future planning efforts. It also ensures that recreational boating areas are accounted for during evaluations and review processes of other ocean projects. For more information about the survey, go to:

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!"

Hercules Landing on Nottoway River NOW Open

The Hercules Boat Landing at Rt. 671 on the Nottoway River is NOW OPEN. The closure was necessary because the ramp at Hercules sat adjacent to a VDOT bridge that is being expanded and will occupy the area where the old ramp was located. The new ramp is much improved and will provide service far into the future. In addition to better boating access, the new ramp offers improved safety to vehicles and trailers entering and exiting the facility.

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.

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!

Top Artificial Baits for Sunfish

Sunfish are plentiful in Virginia's lakes, ponds, rivers and streams and they are a lot of fun to catch – especially with artificials. The most common sunfish in our waters include bluegill, redear, redbreast, pumpkinseed and warmouth. For other species such as bass, there are thousands of lures and techniques to choose from, but the lure selection is much simpler with sunfish and they are typically easier to catch.

The following are my top lures for sunfish. I will fish all of them on 2-4 lb. monofilament line. I fish with larger rods and reels than the common ultra-light and micro outfits. A larger reel gives me a bigger spool for increased casting distance, smoother drag and higher gear ratio. A longer rod assists in longer, more accurate casts and allows for greater control of my lure and the fish once hooked. I often use a 5' to 5 1/2' light action rod with 2 lb. test and 6' to 7' medium-light to medium action rod when using 4 lb. test.

Curley Tail Grub – The grub is the mainstay for sunfish and if I could fish with only one bait; this would be it. In clear water or for finicky fish use a 1" grub on a 1/32 oz. jighead with 2 lb. line. For aggressive or larger fish, use a 1.5"-2" grub on a 1/16 oz. head. For deeper water, heavy current or wind; scale up to a 3/32 or 1/8 oz head. I prefer jigheads without a collar. Plastic grubs will last a lot longer and stay on well. The bulky collar often tears up the grub after catching a few fish. Retrieve with a steady swimming action and adjust your rod angle and speed to control the depth of your bait.

Trout Magnet – It may be designed for trout, but it will flat out catch the sunfish. Use the smallest swivel you can buy, #10 or #12, above about 12-18" of 4-6 lb. test mono leader to prevent line twist and to add a little weight. Cast out and let it fall naturally through the water column; this is when most strikes will occur. Hop it a couple times after the initial fall and let it fall again, then reel it in and try another cast.

Slider Grub – This grub has a small paddle type tail that is more subtle than a curly tail grub. I use this for larger sunfish, when fish are nipping at a curly tail or in cold water when I want less action. I often shorten the bait by clipping off the tip of the grub at the first or second rib.

Garland Baby Shad – A shad shape grub that has a straight tail and is perfect for vertical presentations, deep water or fishing on the bottom. The erratic fall and natural minnow shape is irresistible.

Beetle Spin – A classic! Use the smallest 2 sizes, 1/32 and 1/16 oz. These baits typically come with a straight body grub, but any grub can be used in its place. They are very weedless which makes them great for beginners. Fish with a steady retrieve to keep the blade spinning.

Thill Night 'N Day Float, ¾" Oval – This is not a lure, but a must-have tool for sunfish. Works perfect for presentations along deeper weed-lines, around boat docks or when fish are not in a chase mood. Any float will work, but the Thill float is tops!

Fishing for sunfish with artificials opens up a new and fun dimension in fishing that is often overlooked. Not only is it sporting to catch these feisty fish on light tackle, but catching a variety of species such as bass, crappie, pickerel and catfish is common. Give it a try and you will be hooked!

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

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

If you have already purchased your 2013 fishing license, we would like to thank you for helping to support Virginia's wildlife and natural resources.

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

Sarah White's Notebook

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, The water temperature is jumping from 84 to 86 degrees with a visibility of 14 ft. mid lake. That temperature should hold as long as the storms and cloud cover holds. Now that is good, the bass are active now but still holding in 12 to 15 ft. of water. Drop shot and Carolina rigs are working, but I saw some pictures of bass over 4 lbs. taken on deep running crankbaits. You may also try trolling along the outside grass line with 16 to18 ft. with crankbaits. Crappie have started to show activity on irregular features along the outside grass line. You will also find fish in the grass where columns of grass are growing above the grass, fish are using these columns as cover. Working jigs or live bait around these columns produced some keepers last week. Yellow perch were with these fish, and eating the same bait. Gills were eating red worms more than inline spinners, and are still in 10 to 12 ft. of water. Eyes and cats are still showing up along the dam. Striper fishermen found bait in the fish bowl but it was small, and a couple of fish were there also. The fishing will remain good to fair as long as the temperature of the water stays below 89 degrees. Our next open is Saturday. To reduce our lost fish rate we will open at 4:30 a.m. and launch at 5:00 a.m. and fish until 12:30 p.m. That will also give you the early bite you always want. Make a friend, take someone fishing!!!

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Park ranger Michelle Hostinsky says that the bass bite is slow, but some fly anglers got lucky with popping bugs and minnow imitators. Crappie are sizzling, with some citation slabs coming up. One angler came in with a real biggie. Baby catfish are all over the place, but no fishable adults. No word on perch. Lots of pickerel have been landed on the park pier, with night crawlers and minnows. The water is clear and 85.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Virginia Beach: Contributed by local guide Skip Feller of Rudee Inlet Charters (757) 425-3400. Fishing has been pretty good at the mouth of the of the Bay! Spadefish and sheepshead are starting to make a good showing; try fiddler crabs for the sheepshead and clam for the spadefish. Red and black drum are attacking crabs and clams. Flounder will take gulps and cut bait.

Back Bay: Local angler Tom Deans. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Citation Largemouth "Best Birthday Present Ever!"

Nevin Bunnell from VA Beach sent in this great story to Jimmy Mootz, VDGIF Virginia Angler Recognition Program about the "best birthday present ever," and the written account of the catch!

"Cloudy skies most of the day had me a little worried that I would not get to take my son Ethan fishing on his 13th birthday, but he insisted! So, we went. A secluded private pond in a Chesapeake neighborhood is definitely home to some lunkers! After a walk through the woods, about two hours "oaring" around in a 10 foot john boat, casting worms in all the "good spots," I had 4 takes but landed none! Ethan was upset because he didn't even have a bite and said he "was over it." We moved to a spot where there was a fallen tree at the water's edge. He casted for the final time before we had to go, and sure enough he had a good take. The rod bent hard and I knew it was a good fish. The look on his face was priceless. The fish fought hard, broke water once, and dove under the branches of the fallen tree, tangling the line. "There's no way I'm letting him get away Daddy...can I get in the water?" He took off his shirt and shoes and socks and dove in the water! Following the line down, He broke branches with his hands, over his knees freeing the line so we could land his fish. I was laughing so hard I nearly fell in the water! He surfaced with his thumb in the fish's mouth, tossed it in the boat and climbed back in hooting and yelling "YES!!" So happy for Ethan!! 22.5 inch largemouth bass on his Birthday on his Birthday rod...the best Birthday present he got this year!!"

Chesapeake Bay: Contributed by Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA Representative, Virginia Beach.

Cobia: Most anglers are still chasing the "man in the brown suit". Cobia action is still on the upswing, with decent numbers of fish responding to a variety of techniques this week. Sight casters are content with quantity, although the much larger fish continue to elude the hunt. Both live bait and lures are working for most fish, and conditions should be good for visibility this weekend. Chummers are also having good luck with nice fish hitting in between critter bites, which is common for this time of year. Using live bait on a float can help reduce this nuisance, but the chum slick always attracts uninvited dinner guests. The inner middle grounds and Latimer Shoal are providing good results with some larger fish on live croakers, eels, and cut bait. Big red drum continue to school around the eastern side of the Bay, where a few reds are taking bait intended for cobia. Black drum continue to hit around the artificial islands of the CBBT, where anglers are hooking an occasional fish while casting grubs and shads.

Flounder: Action is more solid this week, with limits of keeper flounder becoming more common. The folks at Ocean's East 2 report that drifters are scoring with nice flatties along the lower Bay channels and off Ocean View using strip baits and gudgeons. Those jigging along the Bay Bridge Tunnel and other lower Bay structures are finding larger flatfish on average, with many ranging over 5 pounds this week. Live spot is working well near structure, while 2 ounce jig heads adorned with plastics are a good choice for jigging around the piling bases and along the tubes. Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets are also giving up some good catches of keeper flatfish this recently.

Spanish mackerel: Fishing is on a roll lately, with plenty of big fish available for boats trolling the lower Bay, the CBBT, and the ocean front shorelines. Limits of big fish ranging up to 24 inches are delighting inshore trollers, with plenty of Taylor bluefish mixed in. The largest fish are coming from off Cape Henry this week.

Sheephead: The CBBT structure is offering some decent catches of big sheepshead, where clams and fiddlers are working well, especially near the 3rd and 4th islands this week. Big triggerfish are also biting in the same areas. Spadefish are pretty much everywhere right now. The Chesapeake Light Tower and the CBBT are giving up good numbers of fish, with most spades averaging around 4 to 5-pounds lately.

Various Species: Puppy Drum are becoming more active within Lynnhaven Inlet, with reports of some fish measuring up to 28 inches lately. The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reports that spot showed up inside Rudee Inlet and speckled trout are also still a good possibility. Croaker are an easy target throughout the lower Bay, with some fish pushing to over a pound near the Bay Bridge Tunnel, the Cell, and the Concrete Ships. Smaller hardheads have shown in Oyster, but the larger fish should debut any day. Tarpon are making a stealthy showing in the backwaters of Oyster, where sightings have been verified, but no word of any hook ups yet. Nice sea mullet are hitting in the southern small boat channel at the CBBT, and within the inlet to Magothy Bay. Amberjack are a good bet at the southern towers and some offshore wrecks such as the Triangles, Ricks and Hanks. Deep droppers are still finding nice blue line and golden tilefish, wreckfish, and blackbellied rosefish. Some nice seabass are available on the near shore wrecks as well as structures to around 30 miles out. Sea bass are also scattered among the schools of blueline tilefish in deeper water. Offshore patterns are still scattered lately, but can be awesome once the bite is pinned. Some decent water appears to be heading this way, which could change things up a bit. Some huge scattered yellow fin tuna are still rewarding boats putting in their time, with some of these fish weighing over 90-pounds lately. Some bailer mahi are around, along with an occasional shot at a billfish. The action out of Carolina is still very good, and should be heading this way! For more information, go to

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Contributed by Ken Testorff, local blogger. Know How to Have a Great Birthday? That question can be answered in two words: Go fishin'. And that's exactly what Donald did on his birthday last Wednesday. He started his day in Godfrey Creek just before 7 a.m. and, in the next hour, boated three bass in the pound to pound and a half range. All of them were caught on a purple Senko and released back to fight another day. He also tried an SS Minnow, a white spinnerbait, and a Zara Puppy Spook all to no avail. Donald then ran down to Albright's. Taking the cut through at Marker No. 32, he motored toward the tree line in the back, where he hoped to find some protection from the wind. "There were lots of baitfish in the water," he reported, "but nothing was interested in my baits." That being the case, he started working his way toward the mouth of the creek and eventually ended up in the oxbow. The southern bank of the oxbow near the bridge afforded some protection from the wind, so he fished this area for a spell. Again, the baitfish were plentiful, and he saw a lot of fish moving in the water, but he suspected (and probably rightfully so) that these fish were gar. Finally, while fishing the spinnerbait along the marsh edge, Donald got a strike and a hookup. "It didn't seem too big at first," he said, "and I had it coming steadily toward the boat. Then suddenly it turned and made a run, putting my drag to the test," he continued. "Man! I love the sound of line peeling off a reel, especially on an ultra light rod with 6 pound test line," he lamented. Donald first thought the fish might be a bowfin because it didn't surface, but then he caught a glimpse of a black spot on the tail, which made him think it might be a gar. When he finally got a good look, he realized the fish was a red drum .He netted the fish after a great fight. It measured out at 22 inches, but he only could estimate the weight at about 4 lbs. because he didn't have any scales in the boat. (For more info about red drum, click here.) Since this was Donald's first-ever red drum in the North Landing River, he checked the VDGIF website and was surprised to see it listed on the length and creel-limit chart for the North Landing River and Back Bay (one per day between 18 and 27 inches). He decided to put this one in the cooler for table fare, then worked the same area for another hour with no luck. To end his day, Donald motored back up to Godfrey, where there was considerable fish movement in the flat between the channel and the mouth of the creek. Having had past success catching some small stripers in this area, he trolled an SS Minnow and a Crystal Minnow just for grins and hooked up with a couple of small stripers. He was making his last pass before heading back to the marina when he hooked and landed an 18.5 inch striper . He decided to keep this one for table fare, as well. In summing up his special day, Donald characterized it this way: "Great day on the water and a great birthday dinner."

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me the bass are, "biting pretty well." Cranks and soft plastics are the lures of choice. Crappie are frisky, attacking minnows and small jigs. Cats are going for cut bait. No word on perch. Bluegill are hot and will take crickets and worms and small spinners. The water is clear in the mid 80s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner Well folks it's hot! The rivers are in good shape for this time of the summer though due to lots of rain. This keeps the stagnant water from building up so bad and keeps the dissolved oxygen levels from falling so low. So the fishing has remained pretty good for 'bout any species you want to pursue. Afternoon thunderstorms and hear make it kinda bad for afternoon fishing, so get your buns up early and go catch a fish. Just remember your sunscreen, drinking water and hat.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. . This report is good for the Upper James River and for the Maury River.Fishing has certainly presented its challenges this spring and summer. With river levels consistently well above 30 year averages, it has been hard on the spawn, and into the summer has made fishing tough. During this time we have focused our efforts on the headwaters and tributaries to the main river, which tend to settle down more quickly from the rain. On these trips we have had great success and are catching some nice fish up into the 17 to 20 inch range, usually one or two fish over 16 inches each trip. That being said, now that things are settling down and river levels are tapering back to floatable and fishable levels, the results are a blast. Fish are hungry. Continue to fish current seams and riffles. We continue to see the best results from soft plastics, especially on the days where the water is still up some. On hot days where the water has had a chance to stabilize you can make the shift to top-water and cranks. Look for some excellent fishing over the next month and be ready for top-water action both spin fishing and on the fly. For more information on fishing conditions or Confluence Outfitters, give us a call or look us up on facebook and send us and email.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. The high water has kept me off the non tidal James, in my late spring and summer areas so far. I do not have a report. Hopefully sometime late next week the river will be fishable. Hoping by July 8 or 9.

Swift Creek Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Archie Spencer. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. The James has been blown out and is currently unfishable.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that bass fishing is fair, but rain will change this. Best lures are top-water, Carolina rigging, and cranks. The crappie bite is real good around bridge pilings and deep brush and the slabs will take minnows and jigs. Cats action is steady on cut bait. Stripers are biting at night with flutter spoons and bucktails. No word on perch. Some bluegill can be found around docks; try small spinners and crickets. The water is stained and 80s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. James near Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Riesdorf says that most fishing on the James has been curtailed by high waters lately, though water levels are now receding and smallmouth fishing should continue late this week if rains hold off. Expect smallmouth to take CK baitfish, zonkers, and crayfish imitations such as "clawdads".

James River Basin Trout Fishing: Contributed by Doug Lane, Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. The same rainfall factors making fishing in the James difficult have extended the trout season in Virginia for prudent anglers willing to adjust with the flow. Although the state ceases its stocking program on June 1, catch and release anglers can find plenty of great water to fish. Native brookies are still active in Mountain Streams, and are biting purple haze, green monsters, elk hair caddis, yellow stone flies and sulfurs. Destinations should include North Creek, Jennings, Tye, Piney, and No Fork Buffalo River. The water remains at spring-time levels and temperatures still cool in the high 50s to low 60s. The special regulation section of Buffalo Creek in Rockbridge County is worth fishing; anglers need a special permit which one can obtain here online, must adhere to special regulations and are encouraged to release fish to extend the season on these waters.

James near Lynchburg: Contributed by Jared Harker, owner of Confluence Outfitters, (434) 941-9550. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski told me that the bass bite is very good early and late. In mornings, try frogs or jitterbugs; at nigh,t black buzzbaits Crappie under docks will take minnows and jigs. For cats during the day, try chicken livers , shad, shrimp and stinkbait. For perch, try small worms and jigs. Both bluegill and perch will take popping bugs. Water temperature 80 degrees, fairly clear and a normal level.

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, For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

New River: Contributed by Britt Stoudenmire, 540-921-7438, owner of New River Outdoor Co and host of The Life. Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh web show. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that his part of the New River will be unfishable for the next week.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. New River Charter hopes everyone had a great and safe 4th Holiday! So on to the fishing report which consists of mud! June left us with over 8 in. of rain and July has started with 5.75 in. in the first week. The river remains high and muddy and sadly we haven't been able to run any fishing trips for quite a while. At this point without additional rains it looks like 7 to 10 days for the river to clear up enough to get back on it but when that time comes the fishing should be on fire for the smallmouth and walleye.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says his area is at flood stage. So no fishing. Be sensible, is it worth your life to go fishing?

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Fishing on the "Top New" (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) was great a week and a half ago, then we started to get more rain. Best bet for fishing now is some tailwater river or drive west to the Rockie Mountains.

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. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 According to Harry both north and south streams are giving good fishing. Best flies are the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Murray's Floating Dace size 4. The water is clear, at a good level and 78 degrees.

The stocked streams in the Valley are warming up, so fish the shaded areas. Best flies are Mr. Rapidan Deltawing Olive Caddis; and Shenk's Letart Popper, size 12. The water is clear, 77 degrees and at a low level.

Mountain streams are low, which makes for wary trout. Best flies are Mr. Rapidan Ant, size 16; and Murray's Flying Beetle, also size16. The water is clear and 58 degrees. Don't forget to check Harry's website before you leave, it will the most up to date reports on stream conditions.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. Despite the heavy rainfall in this area of the state Lake Moomaw was spared and is in great shape with fishing remaining stable. Bass are feeding heavily on shad. Use lures that best imitate this forage and you will increase your chances of success. Crankbaits in light colors, white/splatterback, Tennessee shad, Sexy Shad. etc, fished near channel breaks have been productive. Drop shots have also been productive utilizing both 4 and 6 inch finesse worms. Top-water action is on the increase with chuggers (Pop R's) and walkers (Zara Spook) popular choices.

The lake is at full pool with water temps in the mid 80s. Night fishing is always productive this time of the year. Popular lures include jigs, plastic craws, and spinnerbaits. Anglers report good channel catfish catches utilizing some type of cut bait after dark.

Another reminder that lakes have a lot of traffic so please exercise safe boating procedures and wear a life jacket. Be especially cautious after dark and make sure your lights are working before sunset.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Upper James: Contributed by Andrew Fenstermaker, 540-921-7438, owner for James River Outdoor Co. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

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.

Potomac River Area: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. My buddies and I spent our fishing days on various areas of the Potomac River the past two weeks, having visited both Chopawamsic Creek and Quantico Creek by Quantico Marine Corps Base, as well as Aquia Creek. In all cases we tried to fish the high or outgoing tides, as the waters were shallow, weedy (hydrilla and spatterdock), and warm with high over 80 degree stained waters the norm. We fished hard in the mornings for bass and snakehead in and around the spatterdock, using top-water Pop'R plugs and mouse lures, plus shallow running crank baits above the hydrilla, and then Senkos fished either weightless or Texas rigged style. We caught at least one snakehead per outing in the 3 to 6 pound range (on top-water lures), and a few bass in the 2 to 3 pound range (on all of the above lures)...but overall we found the fishing pretty slow. Guess the heat is slowing the fish down just as much as it is slowing us down! Still, as usual, any day on the water is a good day!

Potomac and small ponds around Ashburn: Contributed by local angler Tyler Folts. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is stained with 3 to 4 ft. of visibility with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. The largemouth bass and crappie have positioned themselves in their summer patterns. They can be found in 10 to 5 ft. depths during the day with the fish moving shallow during the low light periods of the day. Largemouth bass are taking soft plastics, with some fish being caught on top water baits early and late in the day. Crappie fishing remains strong although the warmer temperatures seem to have them moving to deeper brush piles and fish structure. Small minnows are the bait of choice to entice the crappie to bite. Catfishing is awesome all over the lake on chicken liver & night crawlers.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

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

Stripers: The water temperatures are hot! 86 degrees! The weather is hot, too, but the striper fishing is on fire! Striper fishing in June was the best that we have experienced in the last 30 years. We have been putting our clients on schools of stripers all month catching 50 to 100 fish a morning. (To view our catches go to our blog.) Fishing for stripers in July will only get better as we settle down into our summer patterns. Here are a few techniques that catch stripers in July. By far the best catches are coming from using live bait. My guides and I are using blueback herring rigged on downlines after we locate schools of stripers. Recently we have been taking over 200 hits a morning using this method. The action is fast and furious often having 10 fish hooked up at once! We have been concentrating our efforts 3 miles either side of the 208 Bridge. Traditionally in July the fishing gets better and the schools migrate down the lake to deeper water. We will continue to work deeper and deeper flats as the summer progresses. For anglers that prefer to troll, using umbrella rigs, drop rigs and deep diving Redfins will catch stripers also. Work depths from 30 to 40 feet of water for best results.

Bass: Fishing for bass in June has also been excellent. Bass are in their summer patterns as well and the main lake has been producing good catches. Although most anglers look for structure in 10 to 20 foot depths, we have been catching numerous bass in much deeper water. Our guide D.P. Seay took his wife, Toni, and son, Anthony, fishing on June 25th and hooked up with 2 citation bass at the same time over 25 feet of water. Bass can be caught on top-water baits in the low light times of the day but once the sun gets bright they retreat to the depths usually on break lines nearby the channel where bait is present. The herring are huge this summer, try using larger baits to imitate what they are feeding on.

Crappie: Slabs are on every bridge on the lake. They are holding in the shade anywhere from 15 to 35 feet deep. We see schools on our Lowrance side scans usually near the pilings nearest the channel.

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

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

The Outdoor Report is proud to partner with the on-line ODUMagazine™  to give our readers direct access to a great variety of info about fishing around the region, as well as links to hunting and conservation news. ODU Magazine Editor Larry Thornhill and Assistant Editor Bill Schwarz will be providing updates and links to their website on new features and seasonal information for the fishing enthusiasts. We welcome them and their vast video library and contacts as regular contributors to Sarah White's Notebook in the Fishin' Report.

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.

ODU Magazine (OutDoors Unlimited Magazine) has made a change to its website. The internet is full of websites that talk about fishing, boating, hunting and a few hit on a multiple topics. Regionally there are many good sites that give local news and direction. ODU Magazine went a different direction to respond to all anglers and hunters.

When ODU Magazine was first created we wanted to provide a website that gave anglers and hunters a website that addressed the need to know what was new and interesting in our industry's on an easy to navigate website.  We chose three types of media to give our growing readership (June was 27,000 unique readers) the maximum experience as well. We have North America's largest 100% digital fishing magazine, a 24/7 hunting and fishing news source with ODU News and the ODU Video Library which hosts the best videos found on YouTube for fishing and hunting.

With the ICAST show starting this week, ODU has launched an upgraded website to give our readers an even better experience. Without scrolling fishermen and hunters can easily choose our newest ODU Magazine, the latest on ODU News or see what videos we have been chosen to share in the ODU Video Library. Here is a link to the newest ODU Magazine internet experience for anglers and hunter:

Our team will be at ICAST this week and we look forward to seeing what is new and exciting in the sport fishing industry.

Larry Thornhill, Editor and Chief,
Bill Schwarz, Assistant Editor,

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

As summer 'officially" begins outdoor enthuisiasts head to the mountains, rivers, lakes or ocean beaches for adventure. For Dani McGuire, a student at Dabney S. Lancaster Community Collage her experience learning to parachute was a very moving experience. Dani's story placed in the top 15 in the 2011-12 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest.

My Most Beautiful Day

By Dani McGuire

It was nine in the morning on Sunday, August seventh of last year when I boarded the flight that would forever change my perspective on life. The one thing that scares me to death is the thought of getting to the end of my existence here on earth only to realize that I didn't live it to the fullest. I realized that often I would talk about things that I wanted to do "one day". When was "one day"? When would I actually take the time and put forth the effort to make these pipe dreams a reality? After losing a number of friends too soon, I started to become aware of the fact that no one is promised tomorrow. It was time for me to start living my life each day as if it were my last.

As soon as I stepped out of my car that Sunday, I was instantly dampened by the humidity in the air. I could feel my hair start to frizz and I knew that this was not going to be one of my most beautiful days. I wandered through the airport alone, admiring everything that was taking place around me. I had never been to an airport like this one; I was in awe of my surroundings. It was small, but not cramped. The walls were painted all the colors of the rainbow with graffiti, quotes, and sayings written all over. When I made my way to the end of the building, I took a seat on an old, dusty couch. There, I waited.

I hadn't slept very well the night before and it was beginning to take a toll on me. My mind began to drift, and soon enough my daydreams turned into actual dreams. I had fallen asleep on the questionably sanitary, but insanely comfortable sofa. I slept for what seemed like hours, but turned out only to be a few minutes when I was awakened by the startling sound of a man's voice. He was walking toward me holding a video camera. Puzzled, I stood up and tried to gather my thoughts. He asked me a multitude of questions, including the reason why I decided to come to that particular airport, if I had ever been there before, and he wanted to know if I had come alone or not. I answered his questions, and satisfied, he walked away.

The time had come for me to board the DeHavilland Super Twin Otter, high wing plane. Myself, along with twenty-one other passengers made our way down the hillside and onto the tarmac where we formed a single file line to enter the aircraft. Inside, there were two benches that ran the length of the plane. We were told to straddle the benches so that the person who sat in front of us could fit between our legs, thus making it easier to fit more people in the craft at one time. We sat facing the rear of the plane, with our backs to the cockpit. It was about that time when I decided to say a little prayer for the rest of the passengers and myself that day.

The Twin Otter took flight, and everyone began to talk amongst themselves. The man in front of me pointed out where his house was located as we flew over. The fellow behind me talked about his job in Washington DC as a lawyer and the stresses that come along with such a profession. I was surprisingly comfortable with these two complete strangers after only fifteen minutes of being in flight; I had one hundred percent faith that I could trust these men with my life, comfort and faith that would be necessary in the coming moments.

The plane went from crowded to nearly vacant within minutes. One passenger right after the other would make their way to the door, and then leap into the open abyss. My heart was racing as I stepped into the doorway. With the cameraman in front of me, and the DC lawyer attached firmly behind me by a harness, we dove out into the bluest of blue skies. We were free falling at two hundred feet per second, yet the ground didn't seem to be getting any closer. It was a feeling of freedom I had never imagined possible. I felt completely at peace; I felt one with the sky.

After a little over thirty seconds of freefalling, we deployed our parachute at an altitude of six thousand seven hundred and fifty feet. When the chute was deployed, it felt as if we got jerked even further up into the sky, however that was not the case. Once the canopy opened, and we were coasting slowly down toward the ground, I tried to soak up all of the beauty and wonder of God's creation that we were encompassed by. I was in absolute admiration of the landscape beneath us, the mountains surrounding us, and the clear sky that we were swimming in. They were things that I take for granted every day, and being able to witness them from such a new perspective made me realize how apathetic I had become with nature in general. That realization disheartened me a bit, but in the same instant I felt enlightened. I had gained a new respect for the outdoors that day.

I was smiling from cheek to cheek as we landed safely in a field, and was overwhelmed with a feeling of accomplishment. I had completed one of the many items I had placed on my Bucket List of Things To Do "One Day". Although physically, my hair was disheveled and I was flushed from the heat, mentally and emotionally I had been cleansed. I had a brand new outlook on life and the environment that I live in. Looking back, I would insist that it was, in fact, my most beautiful day.

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:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: