The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has under consideration 90-plus pages of adjustments to hunting and trapping regulations. The proposals are scheduled to be presented at the agency's board meeting, 9 a.m. March 21 in Richmond.
There is nothing really earthshaking in the proposals, most of them address adjustments to season lengths and bag limits. If you are looking for controversy, come a day early, 1 p.m. March 20, for a hearing on proposed changes to foxhound training preserve regulations. This issue is so hot that the DGIF wisely has separated it from action on other hunting regulations, awarding it single-issue status.
Proposals for fox enclosure regulations and general hunting regulations can be found at www.HuntFishVA.com. Both hearings will be held at the DGIF headquarters in Richmond. Regulations that receive the approval of the DGIF board will be subject to a public comment period between April 2 and May 31. Comments can be made by email, mail or at a series of public meetings across the state. Final action will be taken June 13.
Items scheduled to be discussed at the general hunting regulations session include:
- A reduction of doe days in 19 counties
- Antler point restrictions for Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Highland and Rockbridge counties, similar to those enacted in Shenandoah County in 2006.
- A two-week extension of the bear hound training season in a number of counties east of the Blue Ridge.
- Year-round training of squirrel dogs on private land
- The right of apprentice license holders to hunt on youth deer and turkey days regardless of age.
- A one-day nonresident trip fishing license at a $7 fee, as recommended by the General Assembly.
As for fox hound training enclosures, animal-rights groups would like to see them prohibited, calling their use a blood sport. But in coming up with proposed new regulations to manage them, DGIF said these facilities can provide opportunities for quality dog training while maintaining fair chase standards.
The recommended regulations include qualifications that operators must meet along with standards on fencing, escape cover, hound density, stocking, handling of foxes, inspections and record keeping.
What?! Kerr Lake isn't one of the top 50 crappie lakes
For decades, 50,000-acre Kerr Reservoir, known as Buggs Island Lake, has been Virginia's best crappie fishing hotspot, coming alive this time of year with impressive numbers of slab-size fish. It holds the International Game Fish Association world record for black crappie in the 6-pound line class. That mark was set by L. Carl Herring Jr. of Virginia Beach for a 4-pound, 8-ounce fish he landed March 1, 1981.
You can count on Kerr to turn out 40 to 50 crappie citations most every year. Only private ponds top that mark.
Yet Kerr didn't make Fishhound's recent list of the 50 best crappie lakes in the country. www.fishhound.com/best-crappie-fishing-lakes.
I'm thinking it deserves to be on anybody's top 50 list.
Let's look at the competition. The top 5 lakes in the Fishhound list are 1. Grenada Lake, Miss.; 2. Sardis Lake, Miss.; 3. Kentucky Lake, Tenn.; 4, Reelfoot Lake, Tenn. and 5. Arkabutla Lake, Miss.
Grenada is called "The home of the 3-pounder" by the tourism people in that area.
Fifteen different states made the list, with Mississippi boating seven - the most - followed by Arkansas with six and Tennessee, five.
- Virginia Marine Police have cracked down on what is being described as oyster poaching of near epidemic proportions. Some 500 citations have been issued to commercial watermen the past two years. "We have worked long and hard to rebuild the oyster stocks and we will not see them pillaged by unscrupulous thieves and watermen who are willing to cut corners," said Jack Travelstead of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
- A group of outdoor organizations, including Trout Unlimited, B.A.S.S., Ducks Unlimited, Izaak Walton League and Quail Unlimited, asked the Obama administration this week to develop climate change strategies that support fish and game populations. The groups pointed out that trout streams in Montana and Colorado were closed last summer because of high water temperatures; drought dried up duck marshes and wildfires burned 9 million acres of wildlife habitat.
- The University of West Virginia earned its 15th NCAA Rifle Championship title the past weekend at Ohio State University when senior Petra Zublasing won individual titles in both smallbore and air rifle events.
Events, seasons, dates
- Spring gobbler hunting seminar, presented by Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, 6:30 p.m., March 20, Community Center (behind old jail) in Fincastle. No charge, youth welcome, topes cover all aspects of spring hunting. Additional information, Richard Pauley, 540-992-1883 (work) or 540-254-2564 email@example.com and Ed McCoy, 540-339-0622 firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Cross Roads Outdoorsman Show, March 30, Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex, Chatham, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $3, National Wild Turkey Federation sanctioned turkey calling contest, 3-D archery competition, guns show, big bucks/big bass competition, more information from Joyce Estabrook, email@example.com.
- The New River Trout Unlimited Chapter has rescheduled its Spring Thawout to April 3rd due to inclement weather. Speakers will be Joe Williams, fisheries biologist of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, along with Shawn Hash and Steve Pflieger of Tangent Outfitters. Muskie, bass and trout fishing in the New River Valley will be discussed. The meeting site is the Montgomery County Government Center. Guests welcomed. Information from Jason Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Youth spring gobbler hunting day, April 6, for youngsters age 15 and under, must be supervised by an adult information from www.HuntFishVa.com/youth.
- Banquet sponsored by Bland County Many Beards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, April 6, Rocky Gap High School, 123 Eagles Road, Bland, contact Lawrence Scott, 540-240-2424, email@example.com.
- Fly fishing basics by Josh Williams, April 8, Tri-County Forestry and Wildlife Association, Roanoke Moose Lodge 248, 3233 Catawba Valley Driver (Virginia 311), Roanoke County, social time 6 p.m., dinner 6:45, meal $10, RSVP required, call Marian McConnell, 540-309-4747.
- Spring gobbler season, April 13-May 18.
- Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, April 27, social 5:30 p.m., meal 7 p.m., Lord Botetourt High School, Daleville, singles $55, couples $75, additional information and tickets from Richard Pauley, 540-992-1883 (work) or 540-254-2564 firstname.lastname@example.org and Ed McCoy, 540-339-0622 email@example.com .
- Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend, May 3-5, Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, ages 11 up, $110 includes instruction, food and lodging, classes cover everything from a variety of hunting skills to cooking game, www.holidaylake4h.com/vahunterweekend.php.
- Hunters for the Hungry banquet, Sept. 14, Moose Lodge on Virginia 311 in Roanoke County.