Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bill Cochran's Mailbag: Retelling an old Virginia elk story

Bill Cochran Bill Cochran is a Roanoke Times outdoors columnist.


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I enjoyed your elk article. I graduated from Tech in 1971 in Forestry and Wildlife Management. I remember the story that Dr. Henry Mosby told in class one day about elk in Virginia.

He said at the beginning of World War II there was a compound near Roanoke that had 10 elk in a pen. The army needed the property, so they took the 10 animals way up in the mountains and released them. He said that conservation officers spend the next nine months hunting them down. He went on to talk about how they wouldn’t stay up in the mountains and came down into the valleys and made themselves all kinds of nuisance.

I’ve often wondered if that experience had anything to do with Virginia’s attitude toward elk. I know Dr. Mosby never spoke fondly of them.

By the way, Dr. Mosby told me he was the grandson of John Singleton Mosby, the Gray Ghost.

I have put in my name on the Kentucky elk drawing a couple of times, but have never been drawn. I haven’t been too disappointed. I spent 36 days last fall chasing whitetails, but at 63, with failing knees and back, I’m getting a bit old to go where you need to go and do what’s necessary to chase elk.

Shelbyville, Ky.

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Dr. Ken Neill, III, a skillful angler from Tidewater Virginia, filed this report on a recent tautog fishing trip to a wreck off Virginia Beach. Last year, Neill caught a state record tautog that weighed 23 pounds, 3 ounces. Here is the account of his recent trip:

“We ran out after tautog this morning. The ride out was fine, but by the time we reached the wreck it was not pleasant out there. We started out anchoring off the stern, but by the time the second wave broke over the back of the boat, none of us could feel our fingers, much less a tog bite.

“We transferred the anchor to the bow, making it at least fishable. We were no longer over the right spot, but there was no way we were going to try and re-anchor. We had some clams and shrimp for boat. The tautog seemed to like both. We caught 23 up to 13 pounds before we ran out of bait. We also caught numerous small sea bass, some cunner and a number of dogfish. Two of the togs we caught had tags in them.

“It started out miserable, but it turned out to be a productive trip.”

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