A few weeks ago, I reported that the Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation had won the 2012 first-place award for the best Jakes (youth) event in the nation in the category for 76 to 150 participants.
A short time after that, the chapter won the state Turkey Hunters Care Program award the second year in a row for providing the most store-bought turkeys for the needy. The count for 2011 was 305. That jumped to 707 last year.
In doing a bit of research on these awards, I asked Richard Pauley, the chapter president, to brief me on other things the group does. He sent me nearly two pages of information, small type, single spaced.
"While we may not be moving the world, we are making a difference in our community, and we should all be proud of that," said Pauley, an accomplished turkey hunter.
Here are some chapter highlights:
- Shortly after returning from Nashville with the best Jakes' award, the chapter put on a free spring gobbler hunting seminar in Fincastle, where participants learned about calling, hunting tactics, safety, decoys and other subjects from members who represent some of the best turkey hunters in the nation.
- Members took seven young hunters afield during the recent Youth Spring Gobbler Hunt Day.
- The chapter makes available two $500 scholarships annually to graduating seniors from Botetourt County's high schools.
- The chapter assists Cully McCurdy, regional NWTF biologist, in habitat improvement projects on national forest land in Botetourt County.
- Members participate in a Wheelin' Sportsmen deer hunt for the handicapped, helping to provide meals, guides, trackers and butchers for 15 handicapped hunters who meet for a dinner at Mill Creek Baptist Church the evening before the hunt. Participants killed four deer last season.
- The club is a sponsor of the Botetourt Children's Fishing Carnival, providing financial and manpower support.
- The federation provides support for the Botetourt County 4H Shooting Education program.
- It holds an annual fund-raising banquet, this year on April 27 at Lord Botetourt High School in Daleville. Here is a chance to be part of an organization that is making a difference. Information and tickets are available from Pauley, PAULEYR@nationwide.com, 540-992-1883 (work); 540-254-2564 (home) or Ed McCoy, 540-339-0622 (cell).
Good start for gobbler season
Spring gobbler hunters reported killing 2,876 turkeys Saturday, the opening day of the season. That was a 27.4-percent increase over the previous season. The past fall season saw a 28-percent kill. Last year's spring kill was down 2 percent.
The breakdown for Saturday's first day hunt was 2,507 adults, 363 juveniles and six bearded hens.
Hunters have been reporting excellent gobbling activity.
Exchanging bass for bucks popular in Oakley tournament
A bass tournament that evens the playing field has become highly popular at Smith Mountain Lake. Called the Oakley Big Bass Tour, this year's April 20 and 21 event will award $1,000 each hour to the angler who registers the heaviest bass. There are lesser cash prizes for second through fifth place. In all, there are more than 70 chances to win or place.
This is the second year of the tournament on Smith Mountain. Last year it attracted 502 participants for half the money being offered this year. The entry fee is $100 for a day or $150 for both days. Tournament headquarters is Bridgewater Marina. Participants can register on line or at the site.
The contestant who enters the heaviest bass of the tournament wins a $30,000 Nitro Z7 bass boat. Last year's biggest bass, 7.18 pounds, was entered by Phillip Cox.
- Let your fishing license expire? Forget to renew your boat registration? If so, expect to get a postcard reminder from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The agency is mailing 72,000 reminders to fishermen and 17,500 to boaters. Will it work? Well, it did last April. Some 5,196 lapsed fishing licenses were renewed, valued at nearly $125,500.
- The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries hopes to break ground for its new headquarters building in the Richmond area sometime in late June.
- Fur prices are up 50 to 70 percent over a year ago, according to sales at the North America Fur Auction in Toronto. Western coyote pelts averaged $94. One Montana hunter reported his bobcat pelts averaged $1,200. It has been a long while since predator hunters have seen prices like these.
- A new survey quoted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation shows 79 percent of the American public approves of hunting. This marks the highest level of support since 1995, according to data compiled by Responsive Management, an independent research firm.
- Norfolk based PETA has reported that it is in the market for one or more drones that would be used to collect footage of what it calls "slob hunters."
- Two conservation police officers have received awards according to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Officer Elbert Sprinkle was named the National Wild Turkey Federation officer of the year for 2012. Officer Dallas Neel was named Virginia Boating Law Enforcement officer of 2013.
Events, seasons, dates
- 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 and event? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org