At the recent 30th edition of the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond, talk wasn't just about the big deer on display from the past season, but also what is being seen on trail cameras in the way of trophy bucks for the upcoming season.
I asked the following questions of Denny Quaiff, executive director of the Virginia Deer Hunters Association, the sponsor of the event:
Q. How many deer did you have entered in your contest?
Q. How does that compare to contests in the past?
A. We usually have 325 to 350.
Q. What was behind the decline?
A. With the widespread outbreak of HD (Hemorrhagic Disease) along with harvest numbers down, it was not surprising that contest entries were down.
Q. How would you describe the overall quality of the deer?
A. The overall quality of whitetails that were entered in the contest was outstanding.
Q. What was the top-scoring buck?
A. It was a buck killed by Jimmy Sturgill of Pound that scored 209 points Boone and Crockett in the non-typical, 12- points or more historical category. Top scoring deer in other classes (all non-typical 12 points or more) were: General Firearms, Reagan Cruey, 189; Muzzleloading, Steven Lann, 181.125; Archery, Ed Muse, 180.5; Crossbow, Travis Trimmer, 173.625.
Q. How many people attended the show/contest?
A. There were over 20,000 in attendance.
Q. What was the biggest difference in this year's contest and show and the first one 30-years ago?
A. The first show had less than 5,000 attending and less than 100 deer heads.
Q. What kind of hunting season can be expected this year based on what you heard from hunters attending the show?
A. From what I was told, the bucks being spotted on trail cameras are outstanding.
- When northern snakehead fish first showed up in the Potomac River drainage in the early 2000s, Virginia fish officials were concerned the invasive species from Asia would be harmful to native species, namely bass. That would occur through competition for food and habitat. Now there is a new concern. According to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the snakehead carries a virus that can kill largemouth bass.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed a new labeling requirement on life jackets (PFDs) that it says would help boaters select the best equipment for their needs, rather than to be confused by the current code classification. PFDs currently approved by the Coast Guard would not be made obsolete should the proposal be approved.
- Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commandeer, is being urged by some Louisiana Republicans to run for that state's open seat in Congress. What's next? The bearded bunch in the White House? Ducks on the Potomac beware.
- A new leader in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament is a 107-pound wahoo taken by Jesse Coleman of Mount Sidney, who was trolling off Wachapreague. The fish easily beat the previous leader, which weighed 78 pounds, but it was a long way off the state record, a 122-pound, 1-ounce trophy taken last season by Susan Nelson of Whiteford, Md.
- Bob Hutchinson, the former outdoor editor of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot who camps out on the Eastern Shore each summer, said he is aware of seven tarpon catches and releases in Virginia this season. So far, four have been entered in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Hutchinson, an expert on this species, said there have been perhaps 350 tarpon caught off Virginia since the first was documented in 1955. Virginia is the northern end of the migration route for these acrobatic fish often called the "Silver King."
- For many years, R.E.B. Seward was one of the most active sportsmen in Virginia. He was a force behind the early years of the Float Fishermen of Virginia, an advocate of opening the Jackson River below Gathright Dam to public fishing and supporter of Sunday hunting. Then he moved to Florida and I lost contact with him. So it was a pleasant surprise when I spotted his name in the September issue of Outdoor Life Magazine in a story about making bluegill poppers from a pair of cheap flip-flops.
- Strum, Ruger & Company, one of the nation's leading manufacturers of firearms, plans to establish a new manufacturing facility in Rockingham County, N.C. Word is that the new site will create 450 jobs. The company currently employs more than 2,000 people at facilities in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Arizona.
Events, seasons, dates
- Meeting of Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to establish waterfowl hunting regulations, 9 p.m., Thursday, department headquarters 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond.
- Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend, Aug. Friday-Sunday, Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center, Appomattox, ages 11 up, subjects include hunting skills, firearms' handling, bowhunting and wild game cooking, $120 includes meals, lodging and instruction, register through www.holidaylake4h.com?upcoming or 434-248-5444.
- Friends of NRA Banquet, Saturday, Salem Civic Center, doors open 5:30 p.m., 25 firearms up for grabs, tickets $45 for a single, $80 for a couple, $35 for youth, information and ticket available from Mike Kessler, 540-529-7304, and Al Milton, 540-797-7777.
- 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 or Sportsman's Warehouse in Roanoke.
- Western Region Big Game Show, Sept. 14 and 15, Rockingham County Fairgrounds, Harrisonburg, this is the show that measures for the Virginia record book deer, bear and turkey killed the past season. Awards ceremony 3 p.m. Sept. 15. Information from Jon Ritenour, 540-434-8028 or check www.VPSA,org. State Championship Sept. 28 & 29 (see below).
- Jakes event sponsored by Botetourt County Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Sept. 21, registration at noon, activities 1 to 6 p.m., seven rotating stations set up to teach youngsters about turkey hunting, no charge, but for $10 you can become a member of the NWTF Jakes program, door prizes, information from Richard Pauley, 540-992-1883 or Pauleyr@nationwide.com. Earlier this year, the Botetourt chapter won the NWTF's top award for its Jakes program.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, Sept. 22, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Youth deer hunting day, Sept. 28.
- Eastern Regional Championship and State Championship Virginia Big Game Show, Sept. 28 & 29, Southampton County Fairground, Franklin, information from www.VPSA.org or Kenneth Pickin, 804-633-0275.
- Meeting of the Roanoke Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m., Hollins Branch of the Roanoke County Library.
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