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Courtesy of Katherine Cochran
Betty Hall, 87, lines up with winners of the recent Lower Chesapeake Bay Black Drum Classic. In 1973, she landed the world-record 111-pound black drum off Cape Charles. Tournament winner Robert Drumheller is at Hall's right.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
You might expect the National Bobwhite Technical Committee to hold its annual meeting in an area thick with coveys of native birds, but that won't be the case for the organization's 2013 gathering. It will be held July 22-26 at Hotel Roanoke, with a field trip to Craig County, where the likelihood of the summer breeze carrying the call of a cock bird is slim.
But this conference isn't about counting calls and coveys; rather, it is about bringing back this gentleman bird to areas it once inhabited, and no place is that needed more than in Virginia.
The meeting will involve technicians from 25 states, said Marc Puckett, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries quail biologist. He sees the committee/conference as part of the "massive national effort to help do for quail what the federal government and Ducks Unlimited did for ducks."
Puckett is the chairman of the technical committee and coordinator of the Roanoke conference. He emphasized: "This is a meeting of professionals, not a public meeting." It is an example of wildlife officials pooling their resources for a common goal.
The theme of the conference is "Appalachian Overlap," where quail, grouse, turkey, woodcock and golden-winged warblers share an ecosystem. The field trip will include visiting a prescribed burn site in the Fenwick Mines section of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and a stop at the property of Wysor Smith in Craig County.
Wow! What a year for spring gobbler hunting
Hunters got the feeling from day one that the 2013 spring gobbler season was going to be special, and it didn't disappoint. Preliminary figures this week revealed a reported kill of 19,247. That is 922 above the record of 18,325 set in 2002, and 26 percent above last year's take. It topped the 10-year average of 15,571 by 24 percent. Add to that, the fall kill was up 28 percent.
Hunters could say, "It's about time." Until now, neither the spring nor the fall kills have been making significant gains in recent years.
Is the record spring kill the result of a good hatch or two, or favorable hunting conditions or both? Is it an indication that the turkey population is taking off after languishing on a plateau for way too long? Let's hope so.
Biologists will be pondering the results the next several weeks; meanwhile, hunters are basking in a lot of good memories.
Not much drum beating at tournament
There wasn't much drum beating at the annual Lower Chesapeake Bay Black Drum Classic headquartered at Cape Charles the past weekend.
First off, black drum fishing on both the sea and bay sides of the Eastern Shore has been iffy, with many anglers blaming that on cool temperatures this spring.
During the Friday through Sunday tournament, the best times to catch a drum often came with the wrong tides. Also there was a small craft warning that didn't materialize, and heavy rain showers that did.
Worst of all, only 13 boats signed up for the tournament that was counting on a minimum of 40 to pay cash awards of $3,000 for the biggest drum; $2,000 for the second largest and $1,000 for third. The payoffs had to be slashed.
The tournament was won by Capt. Robert Drumheller of Charlottesville who entered a 58.3-pound drum. Drumheller said he started fishing the sea side of the Shore, but high waves and poor results sent him to the Chesapeake Bay side. He and his crew landed nearly a dozen drum. First place was $1,150.
Second was Capt. Brandon Gordon, 54.7 pounds; third, Capt Ronald Reardon, 28.6-pounds. Drumheller also won the Captain's Award for the heaviest two-fish total for a single boat.
The highlight of a tough tournament was when the winners lined up for pictures with 87-year old Betty Drummond Hall, a Cape Charles resident who in 1973 landed the world record 111-pound black drum off Cape Charles.
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