The spring gobbler youth day hunt has been good to 15-year old Hunter Sandidge. Saturday, the Jefferson Forest High School student killed a 21-pound gobbler in Amherst County, one of 522 reported killed on 2013 youth day. The event occurs a week before the general season opens. Last year's kill of 547 was slightly higher.
For Sandidge, it was the third consecutive youth day that he has killed a tom. Hunting with this father and grandfather on land they own, Sandidge did his own calling and pulled the trigger on his trophy at 6:50 a.m. The turkey had a 10-inch beard and one-inch spurs. It was one of three toms that responded to Sandidge's calling.
In 2012, Sandidge killed a 20-pounder; in 2011, an 18-pounder.
How about four in a row? Well, that won't happen. Next spring Sandidge will be too old to participate in a youth day hunt, which is open to participants 15 and under. He will have to hunt during the regular season with the big boys; namely, his dad and granddad.
That's not expected to slow him down, said friend John Wright of Amherst.
"Both Hunter's dad and his granddad are excellent hunters and it sure looks like young Hunter intends to keep up the family tradition."
The regular 2013 season opens Saturday. The decline in the youth day kill Saturday was a bit puzzling. The day was beautiful, the interest was high and the turkey population is reported to be in good shape.
Early look at saltwater fishing tournament
The 571 citations in the 2013 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament is less than half of the 1,319 for the same time period a year ago. The big drop is in the number of striped bass. The count for that species this year is 169 compared to 728 for the previous year.
The leading striped bass is a 57-pounder taken by Trent Horne of Belmont. N.C. Last year at this time anglers were crowing over a state-record 74-pounder landed by Cary Wolfe of Bristow.
The schools of big striped bass this winter appeared to stay well off the coast during their southern migration.
Here are other leaders in the tournament:
- FLOUNDER: 7 pounds, 8 ounces, Scott Aldridge, Alexandria, caught at Norfolk Canyon.
- SEA BASS: 7 pounds, 4 ounces, Keith Blackburn, Hampton, Norfolk Canyon
- SPECKLED TROUT: 12 pounds, 4 ounces, Michael Whittaker, Chesapeake, Elizabeth River
- TAUTOG: 18 pounds, 7 ounces, Chelsea Capers, Virginia Beach, wreck.
- TUNA (Bluefin) 358 pounds, Robert Wiggins, Virginia Beach, inshore off Virginia Beach
Bay should benefit from oyster replenishment
If you fish the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from May through August, expect to see increased activities on public oyster grounds. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will be carrying out the largest state-funded oyster replenishment effort in the history of Virginia. The recent General Assembly and governor's budget allocated a record $2 million for the effort.
Oysters aren't just for oyster lovers, but they provide food and habitat for game fish. A single adult can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.
Assisting in the project, which involves spreading empty oyster shells on public land, is Omega Protein in Reedville. The company, best known for its fleets of menhaden boats, will be storing oyster shells and the equipment needed for the operation.
The focus of the project will be the James, York and Rappahannock rivers and portions of the Chesapeake Bay
- More people favored than opposed Sunday hunting in a poll by the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College which requested input on 66 questions covering a variety of subjects. When asked, "Do you favor or oppose allowing hunters to hunt on Sunday," 48 percent were in favor; 39 percent opposed; 7 percent unsure and 6 percent no answer.
- A bill that would ease restrictions on Sunday hunting in North Carolina is being opposed by the North Carolina Sporting Dog Association. Lobbyists for the association said the opposition is based on Biblical convictions and the concern that if problems occur as the result of Sunday hunting, hound hunters will get the blame.
- Members of the Skyline Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the VMI Fishing Club and others joined forces Saturday to pick up litter along a one-mile stretch of Back Run on national forest property near Cave Mountain Lake in Rockbridge County.
- Hunter Wolfe and Colin Anderson of the Botetourt 4-H Shooting Club have earned two of the four spots on the Virginia 4-H Shotgun Team. They are scheduled to compete in the National 4-H Shotgun Championship June 23-28 in Grand Island, Nebraska. The Botetourt team is holding a fund-raiser June 1 to help defray costs which are estimated to be $8,000 per team member.
- Tom Sadler, a former Navy reserve officer and avid angler and hunter who lives in Verona, has been named executive director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Sadler owns a consulting firm, writes an outdoor column for the New Virginia in Waynesboro and serves as a fly fishing guide on Mossy Creek. He has taken a lead role in a number of conservation organizations. "I believe he will guide our group to new heights," said Mark Taylor, OWAA president and outdoor writer for the Roanoke Times.
- The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries new HuntFishVA mobile application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android platforms has been popular, exceeding 25,000 downloads in a short time. The app was designed to provide outdoor sportsmen a wide variety of hunting and fishing related information. To get the app, go to www.dgif.virginia.gov/app/.
Events, seasons, dates
- An update: The New River Trout Unlimited Chapter Spring Thawout, today, 7 p.m., Montgomery County Government Center. Program on muskie, bass and trout fishing in the New River Valley. Speakers Joe Williams, fisheries biologist of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, along with Shawn Hash and Steve Pflieger of Tangent Outfitters. Guests welcomed. Information from Jason Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Spring gobbler season, April 13-May 18.
- Sportsmen and the (Chesapeake) Bay Clean Water Series, for anglers and hunters of the Eastern Shore, April 23, 6:30 p.m., new VIMS facility, 40 Atlantic Ave., Wachapreague, Va., details from Tatum Ford, email@example.com, RSVP requested.
- 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, tickets $25 for a single; $40 for a couple, tickets and information from Ralph and Lois Graybill, 540-427-5125, and John and Wanda Reed, 540-427-4788.
Have an event? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org