Thursday, September 22, 2005
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Bad news for bear hunters
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
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- Column archive
Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
Bear hunters who have been working hard to clean up their bad-boy image were dealt a harmful blow Friday when the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announced that a sting operation into bear poaching had resulted in 115 charges in Virginia and 80 in North Carolina.
Legitimate hunters have been lobbying for a longer chase season, and the DGIF has proposed giving them an additional two weeks, which was half what they had requested. Word of the poaching sting could cause officials to take a second look at the longer season. The proposal is scheduled to receive a final vote Oct. 27.
The recent charges in Virginia, brought against 20 people following a two-year undercover investigation, were for baiting bears, hunting bears over bait, hunting bears out of season, possession of illegally taken bears, trespassing and possession and sale of untaxed alcohol. The violations took place in Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin, Hanover, Montgomery and Patrick.
The case was initiated by a citizen who reported illegal activities to the DGIF, officials said. The charges were placed on residents of Alleghany, Bedford, Botetourt, Franklin and Montgomery counties and the Cities of Roanoke and Lynchburg.
In an effort to accommodate and please the working man and the school kid, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has proposed opening small game hunting seasons on Saturdays rather than traditional Mondays. Deer season openings were moved to Saturday a couple years ago.
The Saturday openings are an effort to accommodate hunters, and are not expected to impact wildlife population levels, DGIF officials say.
Species proposed to get a Saturday opening include grouse, quail, rabbit, squirrel and fall turkey.
The proposals are subject to a final vote by the DGIF board October 27. Sportsmen can register their opinion on the Saturday openings and other proposals by accessing the DGIF website: www.dgif.virginia.gov.
HUNT SQUIRRELS IN JUNE?
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries would like to see the sportsmen of Virginia take more interest in squirrel hunting.
“Squirrels are arguably the most under-harvested game species in Virginia,” said Bob Duncan, chief of the DGIF wildlife division.
Time was when kids were recruited into the ranks of hunting through the pursuit of squirrels. Now they start at the top, with deer and turkey.
So how do you stimulate more squirrel hunting?
The DGIF has come up with the proposal of having a June season for squirrel hunting. It is a novel idea for the Old Dominion, but there is such a season in place in seven states, including nearby Kentucky and Tennessee.
The proposal calls for having the season from the first Saturday to the third Saturday in June, but only on selected wildlife management areas owned by DGIF. The idea is to go easy before instituting a statewide season.
Officials say the season would provide additional recreational opportunity, especially for youth who will have time to hunt as the school year ends. Squirrel hunting opportunity would be expanded by nearly 1.2 million potential man-days, official say.
“We think we might see some youngster have the opportunity to get out there and hunt squirrels,” said Duncan.
The June season isn’t expected to have much impact on squirrel populations, officials say. There is a brief time between spring and summer litters that squirrels can be hunted without significant loss of pregnant squirrels or nestlings dependent upon lactating females.
Squirrel hunters may occasionally encounter nesting turkeys or grouse broods, but the impact on these animals likely would be minimal, officials predict.
The June season is up for a final vote Oct. 27. You can voice your opinion by accessing the DGIF Web site.
DON’T WAIT TO BE ASKED
“Would you like to donate $2 for Hunters for the Hungry?” That’s the question you should hear when you buy your hunting licenses. But many license buyers aren’t hearing it. The $2 check-off system is suffering as a result.
During its first year, 2003, the total check-off was disappointing. Hunters for the Hungry officials figured people just didn’t know about it and weren’t being reminded by license agents. It would improve in time, they thought.
But it hasn’t. Last year’s check-off fell by nearly one-half from the previous year. Maybe all the blame can’t be placed on license agents. Sportsmen need to say that they want to make the important donation. No need to wait to be asked.
On the positive side, Hunters for the Hungry continues to set records in the amount of venison it process and donates to the needy. Just think what they could do with even more funding.
>It is a well known fact that the NRA has endorsed Jerry Kilgore for governor, but just in case you missed that, the NRA has scheduled a press conference October 6th in Roanoke when Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, will announce the endorsement with Kilgore in attendance. The event is scheduled 11:45 a.m. at Piedmont Aviation.
>The Virginia Shooting Sports Association's (VSSA) has endorsed Jerry Kilgore for Governor. The organization’s endorsement letter can be found on myvssa.org/vssakilgoreendorsement.pdf. VSSA is the state NRA affiliate association.
>Ducks Unlimited is pledging $15 million to help restore coastal wetlands in Louisiana that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. If you want to keep up with Ducks Unlimited in Virginia check the organization’s Web site.
>The Virginia Deer Hunters Association has donated more than $120,000 to Virginia Tech to fund wildlife research.
>Wildlife artist Sherrie Russell Meline, 55, from Mt. Shasta, Calif. won the 2005 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest in Memphis, Tenn. She is the second woman to win the prestigious contest. Her painting of a Ross goose bested 233 other entries, including six from former winners. Persistence paid off for Meline who said she had entered the competition 15 times over the past 25 years.
Nine months into the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament no one has weighed a qualifying bluefish or swordfish. Here are the standings:
BLACK DRUM: 93 pounds, 9 ounces, Willie McWhite, Jr., Richmond, lower eastern Chesapeake Bay.
COBIA: 93 pounds, Tilford Smith, Newport News, lower western Chesapeake Bay.
CROAKER: 4-pounds, 8 ounces, Elliott Souldourian, Virginia Beach, lower western Chesapeake Bay.
DOLPHIN: 52 pounds, Willi Fenske, Hopewell, ocean off Virginia Beach.
FLOUNDER: 17 pounds, 2 ounces, Hopie Firth, Poquoson, lower western Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TRIGGERFISH: 4 pounds, 12 ounces, James Daughtrey III, Suffolk, lower eastern Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TROUT: 12 pounds, 14 ounces, William Flipin, Hayes, upper eastern Chesapeake Bay.
KING MACKEREL, 47 pounds, Frank Riganto, Virginia Beach off Virginia Beach.
KINGFISH: 1 pound, 15 ounces, Pete Ballo, Stamford, Conn., off Virginia Beach.
POMPANO: 3 pounds, 2 ounces, Mark Ottarson, North, Mobjack Bay.
SEA BASS: 6 pounds, 14 ounces, Chad Stoker, Chesapeake, off Virginia Beach.
SHEEPSHEAD: 16 pounds, 8 ounces, Steven Hord, Williamsburg, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
SPADEFISH: 12 pounds, 8 ounces, Jerry Carnell, Jr. Oxford, N.C. upper eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPANISH MACKEREL: 8 pounds, Charles Lewis III, Pasadena, Md., ocean off Eastern Shore.
SPECKLED TROUT: 11 pounds, 3 ounces, Brain Pomije, Chesapeake, Elizabeth River.
SPOT: 1 pound, 4 ounces, Robert Richardson, Richmond, Elizabeth River.
STRIPED BASS: 63 pounds, 8 ounces, state record, Paul Leckner, Greenbackville, Bradford Bay.
TAUTOG: 18 pounds, 4 ounces, Larry Larue, Virginia Beach, ocean off Virginia Beach.
TUNA (BLUEFIN) 158 pounds, Eric Holum, Silver Springs, Md., ocean off Eastern Shore.
TUNA: 90 pounds, 8 ounces, John Mackey, Virginia Beach, ocean off Virginia Beach.
WAHOO: 83 pounds, 3 ounces, John Hamilton, Norfolk, ocean off Eastern Shore. BILL
Early Canada goose season ends Sept. 24, 5 per day limit.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public hearing on hunting, fishing and wildlife proposals, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 8, Izaak Walton League Building, Centerville
Western Division of Virginia Big Game Contest, Sept. 10 and 11, Rockingham County Fairgrounds near Harrisonburg, see vpsa.org for details.
Urban archery season, Sept. 17-30 and Jan. 9-25.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public hearing on hunting, fishing and wildlife proposals, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 19, Madison Fire Department Fire Hall, Madison.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public hearing on hunting, fishing and wildlife proposals, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 20, DGIF Headquarters, Richmond
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public hearing on hunting, fishing and wildlife proposals, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 21, Halifax County High School, South Boston
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public hearing on hunting, fishing and wildlife proposals, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 22, Holiday Inn, Suffolk
Eastern Division and state finals of Virginia Big Game Contest, Sept. 24 and 25, Southampton County Fairgrounds, Franklin, see vpsa.org for details.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public hearing on hunting, fishing and wildlife proposals, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 26, Rappahannock Community College, Warsaw
Bowhunting/crossbow season, Oct. 1-Nov. 18 and Dec. 5-Jan. 7.
Virginia Shooting Sports Association annual meeting and NRA Shooting Sports Clinic, 11 a.m., Oct. 1, Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center, Appomatttox, open to everyone interested in shooting sports, no fee, lunch included. For information and registration call (540) 672-5848 or go to myvssa.org/am.htm
Roanoke Valley Friends of NRA banquet, Oct. 15, Salem Civic Center, $30 single, $50 couple, 27 firearms and other items to give away, proceeds go to grants and programs for youth and sports shooting programs, information from Chris Kessler, 884-3259.
Final action on proposed hunting, fishing, trapping, boating and non-game proposals by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. DGIF headquarters, 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond.
H.C. Edwards Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society banquet, Oct. 28, Augusta Expoland, Fisherville, $55 individuals, $75 individual and guest, information from Matt Smith, 540-432-7732 (W) or 540-459-3559 (H).
Fall turkey hunting season, Oct. 31-Nov. 12; Nov. 24 and Dec. 12-Jan. 7.
Muzzleloading season east of Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 5-18.
Wilderness First Aid class, Nov. 5 and 6, Blacksburg, 18-hour, two-day study, cost is $160, registration and information from http://wfa.net.
Muzzleloading season west of Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 12-18
Deer hunting season west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 19-Dec. 3
Deer hunting season east of Blue Ridge Mountains, Nov. 19-Jan. 7
Board meeting of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Nov. 29, 9 a.m., DGIF headquarters, 4000 W. Broad Street, Richmond.
Board meeting of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Dec. 16, 9 a.m., DGIF headquarters, 4000 W. Broad Street, Richmond.
Late muzzleloading season, Dec. 17-Jan. 7.
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