In this edition:

Sportsmen Share the Bounty at Thanksgiving

During this season of Thanksgiving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests in many ways. Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer, or a portion of it, to Hunters for the Hungry. The potential exists to receive, process, and distribute 400,000 pounds of venison annually providing 1.6 million servings to the less fortunate across Virginia. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 20.9 million  servings of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 or more to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Hunters that donate deer are not required to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public is encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and rewarding Thanksgiving holiday.

David Coffman, Editor

Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife 2013 Commemorative Knife

This year's individually numbered knife has been handcrafted by Buck Knifes exclusively for DGIF. Production is limited to just 600, order today! Your purchase provides funding to support Virginia's wildlife resources for the benefit of anglers, boaters, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts.

Hunting Benefits All Virginians

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

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

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

Read the full story on the Department's website »

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

Read the story in Share your photos section about Cullen Campbell and the record gobbler he got this spring using the same double barrel shotgun his dad had killed his first turkey with more than 40 years earlier...

Hunt safely and responsibly, and have fun!

A Successful Hunt is More Than You Think

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

A great gift for the novice or experienced hunter is the VDGIF video, "A Professional Guide to Field Dressing, Skinning and Butchering White-Tailed Deer" which gives step by step instructions on how to field dress a deer as demonstrated by VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Ron Hughes. The video also features professional butcher and Hunter Education instructor Rob Bingel who demonstrates how to cape out a deer for mounting and details how to de-bone and professionally butcher a deer using only a knife and a hacksaw. You can order online.   Read more tips  in the November 14, 2012 edition of The Outdoor Report...

New Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is pleased to announce a new Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline, a resource for resolving human-wildlife conflicts. The helpline is a collaborative effort between the VDGIF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services (WS) to address human-wildlife interactions by sharing science-based wildlife information. The helpline is available toll-free at (855) 571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday. Techniques recommended to the public are environmentally sound, safe, and selective and meet wildlife professionals' standards. Individuals are helped with "do-it-yourself" instructions and are provided with the necessary information and literature, referred to websites when appropriate, or directed to other sources of assistance. In those instances where more specific technical assistance is needed, callers are linked up with subject matter experts. Read the entire release on our website.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Learn How To Build Your Own Custom Flintlock Rifle  at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center 1267 4-H Camp Rd. Appomattox, VA 24522. The Workshop is scheduled March 2-7, 2014 and has a registration deadline of Nov. 15, 2013.  Instruction and kits are provided by Rifle Builder Troy Roope of Stonewall Creek Outfitters. This workshop offers lots of instructor time with a small class size of 6 to 1 student/teacher ratio. Rifle building experience is not needed to participate in this workshop. Basic, beginner level flintlock rifle building skills are offered. Cost for instruction, kits, meals and lodging is $1685.00. To learn more about the rifle you will build, visit or call Heather at 434-248-5444.

Learn the basics of fly fishing the first Saturday of each month beginning December 7th through March at the Northwest River Park in Chesapeake. The sessions begin at 10 AM in the Activities Building. These educational workshops are FREE and open to the public. NO advanced registration or prior experience required. At the workshops you will learn Equipment Basics, Casting instruction and Fly tying from very knowledgeable and friendly instructors who are passionate about fly fishing! These instructors will teach you to tie your first fly, teach you to cast a fly rod and you will learn how to pick equipment for an awesome fly-fishing experience! This event is in partnership with the Chesapeake Parks and Recreation Department and Bill Willis Southeast Virginia Chapter of Trout Unlimited. For more information, contact Northwest River Park at 757-421-7151 or

Future Upland Classic Bird Dog Hunt event December 14 &15 at the Sanctuary at Providence Forge, near Richmond, for a Quail Hunt. The January hunt is a quail event at FFF Kennels & Shooting Preserve in Keysville, The National Upland Classic Series is a division of the National Kennel Club. To participate or just for information simply contact Ben Norris, email: or phone 804-694-5118.

Join Us For A Grown Up Game Of "HIDE And SEEK" December 13-15, 2013 at the Holiday Lake 4H Education Center near Appomattox and learn how to become more aware of your surroundings. This event should be of particular interest to Law Enforcement and SAR personnel. We believe that having the ability to hide well improves your ability to find the hidden. Cost of event is $130 and includes lodging Fri. & Sat. night, all meals Sat. breakfast -Sun. lunch and all instructional materials. Pre-registration required. Contact us at: 877-614-5289 or

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." The goal of the competition is to encourage and reward high school and college students for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The 2013-14 competition deadline will be February 3, 2014.

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 winner will receive a cash prize provided by Collegiate Contest co-sponsor Dominion. A special cash award and publication will also be given by the Cooperative Living Magazine staff for the best collegiate essay about the Virginia outdoors, and this year a new category, "Best Outdoor Photo," will be sponsored by Hunt's Photo & Video. All collegiate entrants will receive a student membership in VOWA.

Full details, guidelines/rules for 2013-14 VOWA/Dominion Collegiate Undergraduate and VOWA Bass Pro High School Youth Writing Competitions will be posted in October on the VOWA website:

People and Partners in the News

Ruth Boettcher Named VDGIF 2013 Terrestrial Biologist of the Year

Ruth Boettcher was named the VDGIF 2013 Terrestrial Biologist of the Year. Ruth works primarily on the Eastern Shore, which has some of the greatest diversity of wildlife in the Commonwealth. Her efforts in the conservation of shorebirds, wading birds, and other wildlife in that area are vital to understanding how many of these species, and the fragile habitats on which they rely, are doing, both in Virginia and across their ranges. Her work has oftentimes been groundbreaking as she's experimented with new and innovative ways to monitor these populations. She is known as a subject matter expert up and down the Eastern seaboard. Ruth came to VDGIF in 2001; prior to that, she was the Sea Turtle Project Coordinator in North Carolina.

John Odenkirk Named VDGIF 2013 Fisheries Biologist of the Year

VDGIF Northern Virginia Fisheries biologist John Odenkirk was selected as the 2013 Aquatic Biologist of the Year. John started his fisheries career working as a technician in Shenandoah National Park working with brook trout. After getting his Masters Degree at TN Tech, he moved to Florida and worked with the USFWS on sturgeon and Gulf Coast Striped bass. His 24 year career with VDGIF began in 1989, working as an assistant biologist out of the Fredericksburg office. He eventually led a statewide study of channel catfish in Virginia, the results of which streamlined management of this important sportfish and in coordination with other biologists was responsible for developing a predictive model for riverine smallmouth bass year class strength. In 2004, Odenkirk documented the introduction of Northern Snakehead Fish into the Potomac River system and went to a leadership role to determine interactions of this fish with local populations. His efforts have produced many peer-reviewed papers that outline distribution, growth and impact of snakeheads in Virginia. He has been a career-long leader with the American Fisheries Society at the state and regional levels. He has mentored many college students, teaches ecology classes at the primary schools and is a sought-after reviewer of scientific publications. His enthusiasm for fisheries management in NOVA can be heard on the radio, seen on television and You Tube and in countless interviews with the press. He is a favorite speaker among bass clubs and Virginia Master Naturalists.

Hunters - Remember to donate to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your hunting licenses this season. The traditional $2 donation check-off option has been changed to allow you to donate any amount. Many sportsmen and hunt clubs are recommending at least $5. With all the news about the poor economy many of our neighbors are experiencing hard times. Show that hunters are supportive of those in need in our local communities. Not only share your deer harvest, but provide some much needed funds to pay for the cost of the processing of this abundant resource by donating $5 when you purchase your licenses. To learn more on how Hunters for the Hungry is helping neighbors in need feed their families with nutritious, high protein venison, visit their website. Also learn how you can help by donating deer, raising funds and the location of meat processors to donate your deer harvest. More than 4 million pounds of venison have been distributed since 1991. Help them raise the funds to process their goal of 500,000 pounds this year.

Cadet Bat Research to Support Preservation

By John Robertson IV

Three Virginia Military Institute cadets worked last summer to preserve one of the smallest mammals in the world, the eastern small-footed bat. The work took them out into the field at Sherando Lake and other sites, where they crossed the paths of black bears, flying squirrels, and rattlesnakes. The cadets, Molly Western '14, Zackary Hann '13, and Micah Hosler '14, each had a separate research focus, but they worked as a team to gather data and collect samples. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying the bats in response to a petition for classifying them as endangered. If that happens, a series of habitat protections and conservation efforts will be implemented.

All this information will be built into the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' dataset on the species, which will contribute to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision on whether or not to list the bats as endangered. "We're spread fairly thin, so it's really a good fit for us to work with people like Paul and his students," said Rick Reynolds, VDGIF wildlife biologist. "It always ends up being a personnel numbers game to get enough people out there to study these populations." This line of research is likely to provide exciting opportunities for years to come, since many more local samples must to be collected in order to draw definite conclusions.

Read the story, first published in the Institute Report, VMI's internal newsletter, here.

In the October edition of the VMI Institute Report newsletter, continuing research to save species of bats by Professor Maj. Paul Moosman '98, assistant professor of biology was featured. Moosman's research is working to understand and protect a species of bat about which little is known: the eastern small-footed bat, Myotis leibii and is being funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which has supported the research with $33,000 over the past two years. Read the full story here.

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. 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. The VDGIF is proud 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 citizens and that support us in our Mission "working together for wildlife."

Hunter Education Students Chosen to Participate in Special Bird Hunt

Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Board Member Ben Davenport and his wife Betty hosted the First Annual Youth Bird Hunt and Cookout on their farm on the Bannister River October 19 in Pittsylvania County. The youngsters were chosen by VDGIF Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors from recent hunter education classes taught in the county. Volunteer Instructors and Conservation Police Officers assisted with a refresher firearms safety meeting prior to the hunt. All in attendance enjoyed a "wet" start but successful day as all the young hunters harvested at least one quail or pheasant. More than 30 volunteers Hunting Education Instructors, guides and their bird dogs participated to give these young students a memorable day afield putting into practice the valuable lessons learned in the classroom.

VA Wheelin Sportsmen and Bass Pro Team up to Provide Special Youth Hunting and Fishing Days

The Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen/Bass Pro Youth Day Deer Hunt was a partnership with Bass Pro Ashland, the VA Police Benevolent Association(VPBA), VA Wheelin' Sportsmen (VWS) and numerous individual volunteers. Robin Clark Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen volunteer State Coordinator noted that this event was a culmination of three separate events over a month leading up to the September 28th special Youth Deer Hunting Day. On August 28th participants and volunteers gathered with Bass Pro General Manager Greg Bulkley for Fitting Night, where the children were outfitted from head to toe with new camo gear. We next met at the private shooting range of Tony Labrador in Beaverdam on Sunday, Sept. 22nd for our Firearms Safety Day to familiarize our participants with the shotguns they would be using for the hunt. This was an important aspect of our project as some of the kids had never shot before. Our Certified Firearms Instructor worked hands-on with each participant to ensure they could safely handle the firearm and hit their target. Wheelin' Sportsmen provided adaptive gear to those participants in wheelchairs.

On Saturday September 28th we traveled to Mike Kelly's property in Hanover for a morning of fishing on two pontoon boats. The youngsters caught numerous bass, crappie and perch, then gathered for lunch provided by Bass Pro Shops. After a demonstration on proper shot placement by VDGIF CPO Rich Goszka, volunteers, family members and our hunters traveled to a private property in Caroline for their afternoon hunt. Blinds had been set up 10 days prior to the hunt and hunters were zipped up in the blinds ready for the afternoon hunt by 3:30. We all considered the event a huge success as everyone had a fun and rewarding time, although no deer were harvested. We are so appreciative of the generosity of our friends at Bass Pro Shops, especially General Manager Greg Bulkley, Asst Manager Ed Culbertson, the new partnership we have developed with Sgt. Wayne Weller, CPO Rich Goszka, Seam McGowan and the other officers of the PBA, and our go-to-guy Craig Suro.

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

Reinhart Family Annual Fishing Trip Not Deterred by Rain...

Theodore Reinhart age 75 sent us this great story about his family's annual October camping and fishing trip... proving that family and fishing traditions are no match for rainy weather. "Every fall my two sons and I have a camping weekend. All the grandkids are invited. The wives gladly stay home. Only the two oldest of my grandsons were not with us this year. The oldest is in college, and the high school senior was away for the weekend. The youngest grandson, a four-year-old named Talan, made the camping trip with us. This year it rained all weekend -on and off, light and sometimes heavy, but once we plan a weekend the grandkids are very disappointed if it's cancelled, so we held to it. We use tents and cook most of our meals at the campsite. Our favorite camping site is Logt Mountain, but that was closed this year. Nevertheless, the Chickahominy Riverfront Park in James City County was a good substitute. Because of the rain, we had it mostly to ourselves, except for a Bass Tournament during the day Saturday, but few of them camped. The photos show that even with bad weather, the adventure of camping and fishing in the great outdoors with family makes for wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

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.

Hot Topic at Info Desk...

Vance Shearin, who staffs the Info Desk at VDGIF Richmond Headquarters, reports getting a bunch of calls the past two weeks from hunters asking if they can use their bow, crossbow, or muzzleloader during the general firearms season. We are somewhat puzzled by the questions as there has been no regulation change on this usage in recent years. So to clarify, here is the regulation as listed on page 42 of the Hunting & Trapping Digest:

Hunters are allowed to use archery tackle or muzzleloading firearms to deer hunt during the firearms deer season with the following conditions:

Hunters Called to Share the Bounty

Hunters are helping others by putting food on their tables... Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer or a portion of it to Hunters for the Hungry.  Last hunting season, donations of venison were down 112,000  from the record 407,800 pounds of venison in 2010. This decline was due to the overall slowing of the economy and more hunters depending on their own needs or those of neighbors and friends. Still the Virginia program is at the top for the number of pounds of venison distributed. Since Hunters for the Hungry (H4H) was founded in 1991, more than 5.2 million pounds, equal to 20.9 million servings of venison have been distributed in Virginia. Program Director, Laura Newell-Furniss proudly notes, "In tough times, hunters continue to generously share the wealth of their harvest. The goal for 2013 is to process 370,000 pounds that will provide 1.4 million servings. Hunters are reminded that they are not required to pay for the processing of donated deer at H4H designated processors. We need large bodied mature deer from the hunters. The non-hunting public can donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing that donated meat. Read about other ways you can support H4H in the Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife section.

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

One of the most frequently asked questions during the early youth seasons or any hunting season is how do deer and turkey hunters that do not have to purchase a license and therefore do not have deer or turkey tags check in their game? See the October 9 edition for details.

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

Click here to find out how you can help new hunters get prepared. Start by getting them excited by sighting in or patterning firearms, selecting equipment, planning hunts, and fine tuning their hunting skills. Read more tips here...

VDGIF Launches Full-Online Hunter Education Course for Adults

Getting ready to hunt in Virginia is now only a few clicks away. Beginning October 1, 2013, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) launched "full-online" hunter education courses for Virginia residents who are 18 years of age or older. The new full-online courses for adults is modular-based, featuring the best hunting safety videos available. In addition, the interactive learning exercises and comprehensive hunter education curriculum will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become safe and responsible hunters. While there is a nominal cost associated with the new full-online courses, VDGIF's basic classroom course will remain the primary delivery method and free to the public.

The two companies offering the new full-online option for adult hunters are Kalkomey and Fresh Air  Both are nationally recognized as major providers of online hunter education and boating safety education courses."

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

Since Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a progressive neurological disease of deer, has been detected in five deer harvested in Frederick County, Virginia, over the last four years, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Virginia. See the following website:

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

Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning

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

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

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.

Cullen Campbell Takes State Award for Youth Gobbler

Cullen Campbell was all smiles at the State and East Regional Big Game Contest as he took First Place Youth for his Spring Gobbler scoring 69 7/16. Cullen's dad Scott sent us the story of his son's first turkey. On 4-13-13, opening day of Virginia Spring Gobbler Season, was only Cullen's third time hunting turkeys. The first time was when he was eight years of age during which several Jakes came into the blind and one presented himself for a shot. Cullen at that time was so excited he started to hyperventilate to the point he couldn't breath or have the strength to pull back the trigger. The following year we were unsuccessful. On this morning we heard several birds out in front of us and two birds behind us. We were in a Double Bull Blind and set up on the corner of a field, with two hen decoys in front of the blind. After initial calling, a hen flew out into the field and gave us an education on the proper technique in calling. Shortly thereafter the hen left the field and seemed frustrated that she couldn't find the other hen out there.

The two gobblers behind continued to gobble off and on and at approximately 0645 I stopped calling to them, as they sounded close. Shortly thereafter a Jake came into the right side of the blind at approximately 10 yards in full strut. Cullen was out of position and I instructed him to maintain focus on the front. At that point the Jake went out of strut and started walking away. Subsequently, I heard the spitting and drumming of the other bird, to the back left of the blind. I instructed Cullen to be ready, the gobbler walked out of the woods at 8 yards right in front of the left side of the blind in full strut and was facing the decoys in the field. I instructed Cullen to wait for the bird to get out of strut, at which point he did and Cullen nailed him with a 20 Gauge Ithaca SxS Double Barrel, shooting 3 inch No. 6's. The neat thing about this shotgun was this was the same shotgun I killed my first turkey with as a 13 year old in PA hunting with my dad almost 40 years ago, needless to say we were both very excited.

Wildlife Conservation Projects Update

Editor's note... In the past two years VDGIF has established restoration programs for bobwhite quail, mussels, elk and other species. Our readers have noted great interest in updates on these programs in particular and other species that are "in the news" and subject to special management considerations by VDGIF staff and partner agencies and organizations. These news items are featured in this section. DC

Elk Hunting CLOSED in Three County Restoration Area in Southwest...

Since the VDGIF has released a small number of elk in Buchanan County as part of a three-county elk restoration area comprised of Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise counties, Elk hunting is not permitted in the elk restoration area. The Department will release up to 75 elk in Buchanan County with the goal of growing the herd to 400. Elk hunting within the restoration area will be permitted upon sufficient herd growth.

For Elk hunting regulations in Counties outside the three county restoration area see page 42 of the Regulations Digest or visit the VDGIF website.

Thanks to Leon Boyd, Vice President of Operations, Noah Horn Well Drilling in Buchanan County who uses his knowledge and experience with heavy equipment and mine land reclamation to improve the habitat on portions of the lands where the restored elk herd is living and thriving. In addition to Leon's land management expertise, his commitment to conservation and stewardship of wildlife in Southwest Virginia has helped make the elk restoration project a success now in its second year. Leon also serves as President of the Coalfields Chapter of the RMEF and actively assists the VDGIF biologists and other partners in enhancing the restoration effort in many ways. This video link shows a bull elk and cows using one of the many man-made water holes created along with lush pasture-like clearings to enhance the reclaimed habitat on the sites surfaced mined over 8 years ago. This habitat enhancement work is partially funded and completed through contributions and volunteer memberships with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Elk Restoration Update

In May 2012 the 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.

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

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

Wild Turkey Management Plan Update - September 2013

Since the last update, the public was provided an opportunity to review and comment on the draft Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan. The public comment period extended from July 12 to August 9, 2013. Forty-two individuals attended 1 of the 6 public meetings held across Virginia in July. During the comment period, 36 comments were received on DGIF's web page, 75 comments were captured on flip charts at public meetings, and 12 comments were received via e-mail, comment cards, and written letters. See the October 9 edition for details. Please continue to visit the Turkey Plan webpage regularly for additional details on the final plan.

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

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. 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."

The VA Quail Recovery Team recommends a recent article, "Bringing Back the Bobwhite" in the Izaak Walton League of America magazine, "Outdoor America", by Virginia outdoor writer Bruce Ingram from Botetourt on quail recovery efforts.  Thanks to Dawn M. Merritt, IWLA Director of Communications for permission to link this story for our readers. Read on the IWLA website.

Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative is on Facebook! Be sure to "like" our page to stay up-to-date on quail news and outreach events, get more information on beneficial (and harmful) plants for quail, see photos of quail habitat, get habitat management tips, and more! Provide us with feedback on some of your own experiences or let us know where you're hearing and seeing quail. Feel free to comment on our photos and ask us questions. Contact information for your local Private Lands Biologist is also available on the page. Check us out at

Be Safe... Have Fun!

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), through its Project ChildSafe program, is launching a new campaign to remind hunters that "The Hunt Isn't Over Until You Are S.A.F.E." wherein S.A.F.E. is an acronym for Secure your firearms when not in use; Be Aware of those around you who should not have unauthorized access to firearms; Focus on your responsibility as a firearm owner and Educate yourself and others about safe firearm handling and storage. This is a time of year when a lot of firearms are in use and being transported.  Our goal is to help prevent firearm accidents by reminding gun owners of their responsibilities concerning firearm safety, and provide them with materials and resources to do that.  The hunting community is both the largest audience for these messages, and the best ambassadors to others within that community.   Check out the NSSF website for details on how you can keep your firearms secure and safe while storing and transporting during the active hunting season.

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

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

Dress for Success - Fall Turkey Hunts Require Different Tactics and Safety Precautions

The best hunt is a SAFE hunt! Both novice and experienced sportsmen should continuously review basic safety practices. The fall turkey season requires different tactics and safety precautions from the spring gobbler season. Dressing right is the key to both safe and successful turkey hunting.    Hunt defensively- keep in mind, when you hear a turkey call or see movement, it could very well be another hunter. Assume you are not alone in the woods and act accordingly. Your firearm, clothing, and turkey calls are all-important equipment, but thinking safety is the best tool a hunter can use.  Read the National Wild Turkey Federation and VDGIF Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors e rules to dress for success and safety in the October 9, 2013 edition.

Tree Stand and 'After Dark' Safety Tips

With the end of Daylight Savings Time, more and more time is being spent by hunters in the woods before daylight and after sunset, getting to their favorite stand. Here are some special safety tips for the firearms deer season gathered from experience and conversations with fellow sportsmen around the campfire, tailgate, and skinnin' shed... read more in November 14, 2012 Be Safe section of The Outdoor Report...

Safety First - Time To Take Your Hunter Education Class... Fall hunting seasons are here - Are you ready?!?! For new hunters, NOW is the time to take the required Hunter Education Course to qualify for your license. Our team of 900 volunteer instructors have over 160 classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website. This year, the Virginia Hunter Education Course is more convenient, combining the flexibility of self-study with less classroom time. Go to for more details.

Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!

Drivers - Use Caution to Avoid Hitting Deer

With shorter winter days upon us, many motorists are commuting in the dark, increasing the likelihood of their vehicle colliding with a deer.  Fall is the breeding season for deer, and consequently, deer are more active now than at any other time of the year. One-half to two-thirds of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November and December. While less than 2 percent of vehicle fatalities and injuries involve deer collisions in Virginia, hitting a deer can cause considerable damage to both people and property. For tips to avoid hitting a deer while driving, click here.

Watch the The White-Tailed Deer video »

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!

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

CPOs Assist in Mass Casualty Incident Drill - On Sunday, October 6, Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) Sarah Druy, Dwayne Dunlevy, Cameron Dobyns and Sgt. Rich Goszka assisted Lancaster County EMS with a Mass Casualty Incident Drill. The drill involved the mock accident of a yacht in the Rappahannock River with 13 persons on board. CPOs Dobyns and Dunlevy assisted with a patrol boat as the role of the responding VDGIF patrol boat. CPOs Druy and Sgt. Goszka arrived by land as their role as responding VDGIF units. At the conclusion of the exercise CPO Druy and Sgt. Goszka provided a debriefing to all involved. CPO Druy covered VDGIF dive team operations, interoperability and her observations pertaining to the exercise. The exercise was so well received that VDGIF was offered the opportunity to make a presentation at an EMS Symposium to be held in the Spring of 2014.

Fishing Patrol Nets Violators - During the afternoon of October 10, Senior Officer Ken Williams was conducting a fishing patrol in an area popular for striped bass in Northumberland County. During the patrol, Senior Officer Williams observed a boat that had been fishing earlier in the day. The boat immediately left the area after the two occupants caught their daily limit of striped bass. Senior Officer Williams met them at the dock to conduct an inspection. Senior Officer Williams determined that the fishermen had exceeded their daily creel limit of striped bass by two fish each and both were charged with this violation.

MADD Award Presented to CPO Baker - Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Peninsula Alcohol Safety Action Program recently recognized and honored Conservation Police Officer Phillip (Flip) Baker along with 27 other law enforcement officers from various agencies from the Peninsula area of Region 1. The officers were given an award and dinner for their outstanding work in Boating/Driving Under the Influence enforcement efforts and reducing impaired boating and driving within their work areas. The ceremony took place at the City of Hampton Council Chambers.

Hunters In The Dark, See The Light - During the early waterfowl season on October 11, Conservation Police Officers Bell and Baker worked a complaint of late shooting in the Poquoson marsh near Plum Tree Island NWR on the Chesapeake Bay. The officers set up surveillance in the area and observed hunters in a blind shooting until 7:07 pm. It was so dark that only the muzzle flashes from their shotguns could be observed. The officers made contact with the hunters as they left the area in their jon boat. Two hunters were issued summons for hunting after sunset and operating a motorboat without navigation lights.

Spotlighter Arrowed With Summons - On October 25, Conservation Police Officer Tyler Blanks was working spotlighting patrol in Isle of Wight County. At 6:05 a.m. he observed a vehicle drive by while the driver illuminated the fields with a handheld spotlight. This was 50 minutes prior to legal shooting time. A traffic stop was done and a search of the vehicle revealed a crossbow. The suspect was charged with spotlighting while possessing a crossbow and released on a summons.

Region III - Southwest

Renegade Violators Rack Up Long List of Violations - On October 12, Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Mark Van Dyke was notified by VDGIF Dispatch that a deer had been shot from the road in Dickenson County. The complainant was on the roof of his house working when he observed a red Chevrolet pick-up truck stop in the road. The complainant stated that the truck stopped near a deer that was at the end of his yard eating chestnuts. He then heard a gunshot come from the passenger side of the truck. The complainant was able to follow the vehicle a short distance and obtain the tag number of the truck before calling 911. Dickenson County Sheriff's Department deputies located the suspect vehicle and stopped it prior to CPO Van Dyke's arrival. The deputies had three suspects from Buchanan County detained when CPO Van Dyke arrived. Upon approaching the vehicle, the deputies had noticed marijuana and a scoped .22 caliber rifle inside the vehicle. In the bed of the truck, CPO Van Dyke observed a considerable amount of deer blood and hair. He also observed a turkey beard and feathers. A search of the truck revealed three small bags of meat. The driver of the vehicle admitted that the small bags contained turkey breast that he had illegally killed with the .22 caliber rifle earlier that morning. When questioned about the deer blood and hair, both the driver and the second suspect admitted that on the night of October 9, they observed a deer in their head lights in Buchanan County and shot the deer from the vehicle while stopped in the road. According to driver's statement, he used the same .22 caliber rifle to shoot the deer that had been used to kill the turkey. After collecting the evidence, Officer Van Dyke interviewed the third suspect. He stated that on October 12, he was riding in the passenger side of the truck while the marijuana was being smoked. The third suspect stated that they had noticed a deer beside the road and stopped. The third suspect stated that the second suspect had handed him the rifle and that he had shot the deer from the passenger seat of the truck. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, warrants were served on the three suspects for charges in both Buchanan and Dickenson Counties. Those charges included killing turkey during the closed season, illegal possession of wildlife, shooting from a vehicle, killing deer by use of lights, taking game during a closed season, conspiring to take game during the closed season and reckless handling of a firearm. Dickenson County deputies also placed charges for possession of marijuana.

Felons With Guns A No-No - On October 19, Sgt. Charlie Mullins, Conservation Police Officers (CPO) Gene Wirt and Che Che Miano were able to arrest a felon and bring an end to a year long investigation. CPOs received a tip that a deer had been shot with a rifle on a horse farm near Blacksburg. Upon arrival and interviewing several witnesses, the officers seized a .22 cal rifle and statements were made that the known felon had possessed and transported the rifle earlier in the day. CPOs Mullins, Wirt and Miano drove to the back side of the property and found the suspect. Upon interview, he admitted to transporting the rifle and was arrested without incident. Later in the day, the officers assisted the Montgomery County sheriff's office with the execution of a search warrant on the same felon's cabin for evidence for a separate violation of possessing a firearm after having been a felon.

How Stupid Can They Get?? Spotlighting on Sunday Near State Police !? - On October 20, Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Dan Hall received a call from Richmond Dispatch. An off duty Virginia State Police (VSP) Officer was in need of assistance near his residence in reference to subjects spotlighting and shooting deer in Smyth County. On arrival at the scene, CPO Hall located the VSP Officer with two subjects and a deer lying in the bed of a pickup truck. After a brief interview with the suspects, CPO Hall charged both suspects with taking deer with the aid of lights and hunting wildlife on Sunday.

Baiter Busted - On October 24, Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer James Hale received a complaint that a subject in the Laurel Branch section of Buchanan County was hunting over bait and had killed three antlered bucks in 2012 without properly checking them. Shortly after arriving at the complainant's residence, Hale observed a man operating an ATV on the highway. The complainant told Hale the operator is the person hunting over bait. Hale followed the ATV up a hollow and initiated a traffic stop. Hale interviewed the subject. The suspect took Hale to four stands that were baited with minerals and a feeder filled with corn. During the interview, Hale questioned the suspect about deer that had been killed in November, 2012. The suspect stated that he had killed three antlered bucks and had only checked in one of them. Hale escorted the suspect home and the suspect provided photos of the three bucks. Hale obtained Magistrate summons' for one count of hunting over bait, two counts of failing to notch license, two counts of failing to check deer and one charge for exceeding the yearly limit for deer.

US Forest Service LEO and CPO team up to nab National Forest Violator - On October 25, Senior Conservation Police Officer (CPO) George Shupe and National Forest Law Enforcement Officer Teddy Mullins conducted an interview with a subject in reference to baiting and violations on National Forest. CPO Shupe located a baited site a few days before and observed a permanent tree stand, cut trees, and a maintained ATV trail on National Forest. The officer followed the trail back to a residence just down the mountain. During the interview the subject stated that he had put bait out and hunted the area. The subject confessed to building the permanent stand, maintaining the ATV trail and cutting trees on National Forest. CPO Shupe charged the subject for the baiting violation and NFLEO Mullins placed charges for the other violations.

Violators Lose Weapons - On Friday, October 25, at 2330 hrs, Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Francis Miano was traveling on Rte 621 (Craig's Creek Rd.) in Montgomery Co. CPO Miano saw a vehicle stopped in the roadway ahead of him. He proceeded toward the vehicle and it continued on its way. The vehicle was observed for approximately a half-mile when the passenger leaned out of his window and shined a flashlight back at the officer's vehicle. CPO Miano initiated a traffic stop and noticed frantic, furtive movements by the passenger as he was trying to conceal something under the seat. The passenger had a compound bow and a spotlight between his legs, as well as an arrow on the dashboard. Behind the driver-side front seat was a loaded Marlin .22 cal. rifle. CPO Jay Dowdy arrived at this time to render assistance. A records check determined that the passenger had an active protective order against him and was prohibited from possessing firearms. The subject admitted to shining a flashlight out of his window several times to look at deer. He shined his light at CPO Miano's vehicle because he mistakenly thought the officer's headlights were on high beam. He was charged with spotlighting with a weapon. The compound bow and rifle were seized as evidence along with seven .22 magnum rounds. A consultation with the Montgomery Co. Commonwealth's Attorney will determine if additional charges will be placed for the protective order violation.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

Not Quite Slick Enough - A few days prior to the opening day of deer archery season, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Hatmaker and Eller received information about a baited site in Stafford County. On opening day, the officers located an individual hunting from a stand over the baited site. The bait had been removed a few days prior to opening day with remnants left on the ground. The individual was interviewed and he stated that he placed the bait to attract deer. He advised that he had removed the bait a few days prior to opening day and knew better than to use bait while deer hunting. The appropriate charge was placed.

Sunday Hunting Call Results in Baiting Charges - On October 13, Virginia Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Eller received a call regarding Sunday hunting. The subjects in question allegedly killed a deer and then loaded it up for transport to a nearby residence. The Orange County Sheriff's Office was notified and a deputy arrived at the residence prior to CPO Eller. Once CPO Eller arrived on scene, the subjects were interviewed and explained that they were looking for a deer that was shot the prior evening. No evidence of a freshly killed deer was present at the residence and the subject's explanations corroborated. CPO Eller interviewed the hunter about his location when he shot the deer the previous evening. After the interview, CPO Eller proceeded to the described location and immediately located two mineral blocks approximately 10 yards from the stand described by the subject. CPO Eller proceeded back to the residence to speak with the individual, who admitted that the bait was placed out by him a few months prior to deer archery season. The appropriate charge will be placed.

Anonymous Complaint Leads to Suspect Caught Hunting over Bait - On October 19, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Hatmaker and Eller were following up on an anonymous complaint in Stafford County of illegal hunting activity. The officers proceeded to the residence of the individual in question and, coincidently, observed the individual exiting the woods from an early morning hunt. The individual explained that he had just shot at a deer and was about to start tracking it. At this point the officers offered to assist the individual with blood tracking the deer and asked if the subject would escort them to the stand where the shot was made from. The officers proceeded to the location where the individual was hunting and located a pile of feed that had been placed in front of the stand the individual was hunting from. At this point an interview was conducted and the appropriate charges placed.

Baiter Impresses Girlfriend with Cheating - On October 22, Virginia Conservation Police Officers (CPO) Hatmaker and Eller received a trespassing call in progress, in Stafford County. The caller advised he heard a four wheeler not far from his tree stand, which is located on private property. He went on to advise he heard gun shots on the property a few days prior. Both CPOs arrived on scene and proceeded to the location. They both observed an ATV and a ground blind. When they approached the ground blind they made contact with a hunter who was bow hunting with his girlfriend. CPO Hatmaker checked the hunter for his appropriate licenses and noticed he had already killed four deer since the season opened. CPO Eller and Hatmaker checked the area and found freshly cut apples, along with corn that had been placed not far from the ground blind. The hunter admitted to placing the apples out to attract the deer so he would have a better chance to kill a deer in front of his girlfriend. Appropriate charges were placed.

Dedication Ceremony for New Aquia Harbor Police Station Demonstrates LEO Cooperation - October 25, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Hatmaker and Eller attended the dedication ceremony for the new Aquia Harbor Police Station in Stafford County. Both officers answered questions from both the public and other law enforcement members while attending the ceremony. The Aquia Harbor Police Chief extended an open invitation to Conservation Police Officers (CPO) and VDGIF personnel. She advised she is looking forward to having CPOs present in her community and having both departments work together when their respective missions overlap.

K9 Team

Violators Can't 'Duck' Summons - On October 10, the opening of the early duck season, Sgt. Rich Goszka responded to a trespassing complaint in Richmond County. Sgt. Goszka located four subjects leaving a beaver pond and conducted and inspection of their bag limits and licenses. During the inspection one subject was acting very nervous, but no obvious violations were detected. Senior K9 Officer Frank Spuchesi arrived on scene with "Comet" and a search of the beaver pond was conducted. Comet detected numerous locations the subjects were hunting along the beaver pond as well as a dead hen wood duck. Upon closer inspection of these areas a single kernel of corn was spotted and retrieved. Senior Officer Williams arrived on scene with a bait dredge and the results of dredging showed that the beaver pond was baited. Further evidence was the fact that large flocks of wood ducks were either landing or attempting to land in the beaver pond despite the presence of three officers in plain view. Sgt. Goszka contacted the landowner about the bait and the landowner had the nervous subject during the initial inspection call Sgt. Goszka. After a short phone interview the subject confessed to placing 50 lbs. of corn several weeks before the season. The subject returned to the scene and a summons was issued for the baiting violation.

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

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

The Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest for 2013 has announced the winners of first through third place in the 1-5 and 6-10 age categories.  The Contest is sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Green Top Sporting Goods, and Shakespeare Tackle Company.  The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing."

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!

Now is the Time to Fish!

In regards to the title of this article, you may be asking, "Chris, when is it not time to fish?" That's fair, but I must confess that I love this time of year for fishing and I am biased. However, my bias is not without good reason and there is a solid case why this is such a great time of year to fish.

Summer is a busy time on public water. Pleasure boaters and jet skis dominate the waterways. Once summer ends and the weather cools they magically disappear. I love the peace and tranquility that less traffic on the water brings. Less traffic also helps the fishing; the fish are not as spooky and the banks are not muddied by repeated wakes.

Cooler weather is a huge relief from the summer heat. I welcome the cool days and cold nights fall brings. I can always add an extra layer while fishing, but when it is hot there is no escape. There is a wide range of weather across the Commonwealth during fall and winter, but typically good fishing is available even in the coldest months. From streams and lakes stocked with trout, to tidal rivers for catfish, bass and crappie and stripers in the bay; fish are still biting when it is cold outside.

Hunting and fishing are Virginia traditions and many do both. For those who hunt; the urge to be in the woods cannot be resisted, which leaves more room on the water and less pressure on the fish. It is amazing the impact fishing pressure has on the fish and mentally on an angler. Fish become weary of seeing lure after lure and finding other anglers on your favorite spots can be frustrating.

We are fortunate to live in a beautiful state and Virginia shines in the fall and winter. The changing leaves reflecting off the water, the rolling hills, fields or rocky outcroppings that meet the waters' edge; it's as if we have the privilege of fishing in front of a masterpiece. Additionally; the sunrise and sunsets of fall and winter are majestic and there is no better view than from the water.

Lastly, and maybe the best reason of all, the fishing is great this time of year. Fish are active, feeding and fattening up in case the winter is hard and cold. They also tend to school up or congregate in key areas as it grows colder. For instance, I might find bass scattered in all stretches of a river as fall begins, but once water temperatures drop into the low 50's, the majority of fish will be located in the deep channel bends. I can just fish the bends and bypass the straight-aways, making for a more efficient day.

Sarah White's Notebook

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 30 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 avid angler, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the weekend prior to publication of The Outdoor Report on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. The rivers and lakes featured in her "Notebook" are listed by the four VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can more easily locate the geographic area in which you are most interested—Tidewater - Southside - Southwest- Mountains & Shenandoah Valley / Northern Piedmont.

Region 1: Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestly, (757) 566- 2277, The water temperature is at 61 degrees and the visibility is 12 ft. There is a slight discoloration from the dead grass. Bass are using a wall of dying grass in about 10 to 12 ft of water to ambush bait . The best way to fish this is to position your boat as close as possible to shore and cast onto the wall of grass, working your bait down and back to your boat. Try large minnows, Texas rigged worms, or crankbaits, jerkbaits, or spinner baits ran parallel to the wall. Live bait floated 4 to 6 ft. under a float should work also. Be for warned these presentations will also produce lots of pickerel. Some crappie, gills, and perch are holding in mouths of coves along the outside grass line. Live bait, and jigs will work but you will not fill the boat. So try numerous spots and fish slow. We are still seeing cats off the pier Crawlers, and minnows are your best choice of baits.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Patti McGrath, (804) 693-2107,  The bass are biting at Beaverdam!  Annual Boat and Kayak Passes are now available for the 2014 season.  $60 for Boat and $30 for Kayak/Canoe. They make great Holiday Gifts. Remember we are open every day except Christmas.  The water is 60 degrees, at full pull and slight strained.

Virginia Beach: Contributed by local guide Skip Feller of Rudee Inlet Charters (757) 425-3400, www.rudeeinlet No report this edition.

Chesapeake: Contributed by Dr. Julie Ball. With cold, blustery weather tracking through the area once again, at least part of the Veteran's Day weekend fishing could prove to be a challenge. But true to form, most folks will again look to protected waters to find the action. For more great detailed information, look at Dr. Julie's site at

Chickahominy River: River's Rest, (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports few anglers and bad luck. Things are too quiet to have a report.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day water temperatures were in the mid to high 50s in the main lake on Friday (11/08/2013). The lake level was about even with the top of the dam. Mixed sizes of crappie were scattered on some main lake deeper wood cover and on many main lake channels and channel edges and were hitting live minnows, blade baits, tubes, Trout Magnets, and Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail grubs. A few bass, pickerel, bowfins, and blue cats were on some channels and channel edges and were hitting live minnows and bladebaits.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by Captain Penn Burke. Fishing is still good for Gar and Cat Fish in Cat Point Creek. The action is slowing a bit with the drop in water temperature and cooler weather but the Gar are still taking live baits and the Catfish are hitting well if you fish for them on the flats near the shoreline.

North Landing River and Back Bay Area: Someday my source will come.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room, (757) 539-7854. Lee Dixon reports that crappie are going for minnows. Stripers can be had in local creeks by using small bucktails, Mirrolures and small bucktails. Bass are taking worms. The water is muddy and in the high 50s to low 60s.

Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers: Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 25th through the 27th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was a little low, clear and 59 degrees. 58 is the average, so I'd say we are right on target so far this fall. Air temperatures ranged from 33 to 68 degrees. The fishing was great on this trip, at least the first day was. That day I went downriver, the mission again was to get a mess of chain pickerel or "jacks" as we call 'em. I caught a bunch of those on a number 3 Mepps Minnow and a number 3 Mepps red and white Aglia with a white squirrel tail. I also caught around 15 bass on those same lures while trying to catch the jacks. One of the bass weighed 3.13 pounds. The second day I went upriver nearly halfway to Joyners Bridge. The fishing was terrible up there for some reason.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker, 434-941-9550, No report this edition.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518, Captain Mike has been stalking a big buck, so no report about fishing. The buck has proved elusive, but we wish him luck (Mike not the deer).

Region 2: Southside

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366, (434) 996-5506, The James is running 1210 CFS with a water temperature of 53 mid day. Smallmouth fishing has slowed but the musky are starting to turn on. Keep a eye on the weather and hit the river during a warming spell. Go with crayfish patterns along with tube flies. Conventional anglers throwing Pig/Jigs should connect with a quality smallmouth. Go BIG for muskie! Articulated bait fish patterns should do it for fly anglers. Jointed jerk baits are the choice for conventional anglers.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobcats Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381, For a detailed report, see Bobby Whitlow's website.

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

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Holly Grove Marina is closed until February. The gas pumps are still working.

Region 3: Southwest

Lower New River: Big Z's, (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the river is as low as he has seen it in 2 years. The water is so clear that the fish can see you and won't bite. Wait for a little rain to stain the water. The water is clear, low and cooling.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, Small mouth fishing is winding down with the water temperatures falling into the low 50s but it is still a good time for a shot at a big fat one bulking up for winter. The walleye should be biting much better now as well and as usual cloudy days are best for these light sensitive fish. While deer hunting is on a lot of minds right now muskie fishing is hot and will continue to be great through the winter so if you have always wanted to get on a muskie take a day off from deer hunting and give us a call. The Upper New River is at normal pool with clear, green water and in the low 50s.

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

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC., Some smallies can still be had on the Top New if you patiently fish jigs, tubes or crawfish fries. Jerkbaits and cranks may also be productive. Walleye and muskie are also a possibility. We have had little rain in the past couple months, so the water is very clear. All the usual trout streams that flow into the Top New have been stocked and are fishing well. After some light snow predicted midweek things should warm up a bit.

New River: Contributed by Britt Stoudenmire, 540-921-7438, owner of New River Outdoor Co and co-host of The Life. Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh web show. No report this edition.

Region 4: Mountain and Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Mark Anderson sent in this photo of a "striper" he caught on October 13 in Claytor Lake around 4 PM on a swimbait—he wasn't sure if it's a hybrid or a striper and released it in the same spot it was caught. The VDGIF Regional Aquatic Resources Manager for southwest Virginia , Bill Kittrell reviewed the photo and responded to Mark that the fish was a hybrid striped bass which are stocked into Claytor Lake each year. For more information on the hybrid striped bass visit our website. On September 9th, a New State Record Hybrid Striped Bass Certified.

Upper James River: Contributed by Andrew Fenstermaker, 540-921-7438, of James River Outdoor Co. No report this edition.

North and South Forks Shenandoah River: Harry Murray, (540) 984-4212, According to Harry the smallmouth streams of the Shenandoah are cold and slow, so fish deep pools. Good flies are Murray's Mad Tom, size 4; and Murray's Hellgrammite, size 4 The water is low, clear and 52 degrees.

In the Valley, stocked and delayed harvest streams are giving good fishing. Good flies are Betsy Streamer, size 12; and Casual Dress Nymph, size 12. The water is low, clear and 53 degrees.

The mountain brookies are spawning, and should be left alone.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenberger, (540) 468-2682, No report this edition.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. No report this edition.

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

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

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

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Angler's Landing will be closing for the season in October.

Lake Anna: C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service 540.894.9144, No report this edition.

Lake Anna: Contributed by local guide Jim Hemby, (540) 967-3313, No report this edition

Correspondent Needed:
Hey everybody! I need a contact for the North Landing River and Back Bay area. You could contribute by phone or email. It's really easy, and is good for business if you are a guide or tackle shop owner. You don't have to be in the fishing business though, local anglers make great correspondents. Please email me if you are interested:

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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

email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

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 "Dispatches from the Potomac," and those of fellow bloggers with our readers in The Outdoor Report. Ed is a graphic designer, writer, photographer, artist and outdoorsman who 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.

Fall Foliage, Brook Trout and the Company of Dogs

The sun was just peaking over the mountains, flooding Rose River Farm with golden morning light when Team Orange and I passed by on our way to the Shenandoah National Park, so I stopped to take some photos there. Fall in Madison County, Virginia is special, and I was looking forward to immersing myself in [...]

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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!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Outdoor enthusiasts can usually pinpoint a moment or experience in nature that inspired them to appreciate and want to be a part of the conservation of these wild places and the creatures that inhabit them. Sarah Casasnovas, a Senior at St. Catherine's High School was the 2012-13 High School Writing Competition third place winner. Her essay, entitled "Star Guts" was about her enjoyment of the stars on the beach on a clear evening. Sarah is a Richmond native and participates in numerous clubs, sports, and other activities. She was selected as Varsity Swim Captain as well as Co-Captain of the school spirit team. She is also a member of the school literary magazine and the St. Catherine's/St. Christopher's theater program. Other interests include reading, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family. Read her story on the VOWA website.

Star Guts

By Sarah Casasnovas

I kept groping at the black nothingness in front of me. You could hear the wind hissing around the outside of the bamboo forest, but inside was like being in a vacuum. I walked blindly through the forest, relying on only a string and the person in front of me to guide me out. Once we finally broke through the dense thicket of bamboo, my eyes adjusted to take in the moonlight which had spilled across dunes of sand. The icy wind whipped through my hair and across my nose, instantly making my eyes water. Our two guides continued to walk us forward, taking us closer and closer to the beach. Once there, we were told to spread out from each other along the beach, lay down, and look up. I paced down the beach several meters before finally surrendering to the whipping sand and wind, and laying down.

The sand felt like a rock as I tried to get comfortable, refusing to give even the slightest inch. As I put my head back and lifted my eyes towards the sky, my line of vision was flooded with a sea of stars: the Milky Way. It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. I watched in awe as shooting stars exploded across the atmosphere. It was as if millions of planets had exploded, and the galaxy was enriched with their guts. One star after another seemed to fall out of the sky.

The Chesapeake Bay is one of the greatest places to go stargazing. Our guides allowed us to stay on the beach watching for about fifteen minutes, but it felt like hours. To this day I have still never seen anything like it. There is not one place in the city where you can come even remotely close to seeing such incredible disarray in the sky. Instead, all you can see is an eerie, orange glow that seems to reflect off of the city smog from the streetlamps. There are traffic lights, Christmas lights, house lights, car lights... Endless city lights, but no stars are harbored in our halogen dome.

As I gazed up at the burning gaseous spheres, I felt like I was completely at peace with myself and my surroundings. It was one of those moments where there is just so much going on in front of you that your mind is wiped completely blank as it tries to absorb whatever it is that you are focused on. It was one of those moments where you know just how small you are, and that in one split second the entire universe could swallow you whole. Looking up at that sky made me feel like I was in sync with everything around me. It was as if the atoms throughout my body, the sand, the trees, the wind, the moon, the stars... Had all become alive and aligned. I was back in the world of pre-electricity, where the brightest things in the universe were molten orbs of fire and gas, exploding, spinning, and fading trillions of miles away.

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. Full competition guidelines/rules for 2013-14 VOWA/Dominion Collegiate Undergraduate and VOWA Bass Pro High School Youth Writing Competitions are posted on the VOWA website:

Revised Holiday Schedule for Posting The Outdoor Report

With the various holidays observed in November-December, we will be 'tweaking' our production schedule, but the posting schedule will remain the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays for November. Please send in stories, announcements, events, and photos you may want posted to or at least 10 days prior to the listed posting dates to allow for holidays shortening our production time. Posting dates are scheduled as follows: