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William L. Woodfin, Jr 

Each wow/^ Virginia Wildlife 
provides timely information to our 
constituents. In this space, we inform 
you of our accomplishments andhoiv 
we carry out the mission of the 
Department of Game andlnhind 
Fisheries. This month it is our 
distinct privilege to provide you this 
message fom Governor Allen. 

William L. Woodfin, J r 

Virginia's Natural Resources 

by Governor George Allen 

With hunting season 
upon us, Virginia's 
wildlife and abun- 
dant natural resources provide 
great opportunities for enjoying 
the outdoors. Sportsmen — 
hunters, fishermen and other men 
and women who are members of 
the sporting community — appre- 
ciate the value and virtue of 
healthy resources. We believe this 
out of an understanding gained 
only through experience — not be- 
cause an article, politician, or gov- 
ernment bureaucrat declared it as 

Virginias sportsmen are some 
of the most dedicated stewards of 
wildlife and wildlife habitats. We 
have a special view of the value 
and dynamic nature of Virginia's 
wildlife. Since 1 988, Virginia has 
re-opened 96 miles of stream- 
spawning habitat for shad, herring 
and striped bass. Deer and wild 
turkey are now far more abundant 
than they have been at any point 
in the last four decades. These re- 
sults are in large part due to the 
work of private associations like 
hunt clubs and nonprofit organi- 
zations, in conjunction with Vir- 
ginia's own fine Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries. 

Hunting, fishing and other 
outdoor activities have been fa- 
vorite pastimes for generations of 
Virginians. The Commonwealth 
is fortunate to have some of the 
best forests, waterways and beach- 
es in the country. It is our respon- 

sibility to ensure that fiiture genera- 
tions ol Virginians are able to share 
in the outdoor adventures our fore- 
fathers experienced even while we 
ourselves are enjoying them. 

Hunters, fishermen and others 
who enjoy the great Virginia out- 
doors must work together to ensure 
that our children can also hunt, fish, 
swim and explore. Throughout the 
history of the Commonwealth, this 
has been the case — those who utilize 
and experience the environment 
and its wildlife are the ones who take 
the initiative to preserve and en- 
hance them. Solutions to environ- 
mental challenges come when each 
of us takes an active part in our own 
communities and wildlife areas to 
guarantee that fiature generations of 
Virginians can appreciate all our 
natural resources. 

So, have a great and safe time. 
Take advantage of Virginia's fine 
hunting this season and the unique 
natural beauty and bounty of our 
great Commonwealth throughout 
the year. 



\n L D L I F E 

Cover: Photo by ©Dwight Dyke 


4 A Powerful Wetland by Pat Keyser 

Sending power to totir states, Virginia's Clover Power Station 
provides a wetliuid oasis for a variety of waterfowl. 

8 Hunting Without Dogs, A Silent Art by Bob Gooch 
You can have a quiet day in the woods and still be a successful 
deer hunter. 

1 2 The Hunt for October Smallmouths by Bruce Ingram 
Here's how to catch Virginia smalhnouth bass in the fall. 

1 6 Teal and Wood Ducks, a Colorful Beginning 

by Curtis Badger 

With duck numbers up, this year's early season may be one 

to remember. 

20 Virginia's Hottest New Deer Season by Denny Quaiff 
BlacK powder hunters now have a variety of equipment 
choices from historic to modern. 

October Journal 

25 News 31 October Afield 

29 Habitat 32 Photo Tips 

30 Boating Safety 33 Recipes 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 





by Pat Keyser 

After winding through miles 
of back roads that crisscross 
cornfields, tobacco patches 
and rolling green pastures where the 
greatest hub of human activity is a 
quiet country store, you're just not 
looking for anything too modern, 
too technological. But there, above 
oaks barely stirred by a lazy breeze, 
are two 444 foot tall towers! From 
the next ridge you see that these 
chimneys are connected to a large 
sprawling complex. 

Located just outside the quiet 
southside town of Clover (popula- 
tion 215), on a bluff overlooking the 
Staunton River, is the recently com- 
pleted Clover Power Station. Con- 
struction began on Virginia's newest 
electric power generating facility in 
1992. Four years later, the two-unit 
848 megawatt coal-fired station was 
sending electricity across four states. 

As you adjust to the sight of one 
of the largest capital investments in 
the history of Virginia, another sur- 
prise awaits you. On 419 acres of 
floodplains located inimediately 
below the plant is the Virginia De- 
partment of Game and Inland Fish- 
eries' Open Space Easement. Life in 
the easement is as different from the 
24-hour-a-day bustle of generating 
power, as the plant is from tlie sur- 
rounding countryside. 

Stretched along almost three 
miles of the Staunton River, the ease- 
ment area has been developed into a 
maze of wetlands and hardwood 
forests. In nearly 160 acres of man- 
made wetlands there are 14 different 
impoundments. And just for good 
measure, an enterprising colony of 
beavers has made their contribution 
by building about 25 acres of "natu- 
ral" wetlands. Another 50 acres has 
been planted back to bottomland 
oaks to begin restoring the native 
floodplain forests. All together these 


represent Virginia's largest complex 
of managed wetlands west of Tide- 

While deer, turkey, owls, and per- 
haps an occasional black bear may 
do well in this area, the real wiiTiiers 
could turn out to be the dozens of 
species of waterbirds native to Vir- 
ginia. Blue-winged teal, gadwaU, 
widgeon, wood ducks, black ducks, 
mallards, and ringnecks could all 
become common visitors. Also ben- 
efitting from the habitat will be great 
blue herons, green-backed herons, 
American egrets, and kingfishers. 
You might even see ospreys in the 
area or even an occasional wiiitering 
bald eagle. 

Perhaps one of the least obvious 
but most amazing visitors are the 
shorebirds, such as the greater and 
lesser yellow legs and solitary sand- 
pipers. They will visit the wetlands 
mainly during spring migration. It's 
critical for these birds to have high 
cjuality feeding areas as tliey work 

Sending power to four 
states, Virginia's Clover 
Power Station provides 
a wetland oasis for a 
variety of waterfowl 

(Left)Otily nfrw liiiiuiivd i/rtnfs bcknv the tirw f.tntc-of-tlic-nrt Clover Poztvi- Station ;s a lu<ti Wiihvid. (Small photos left to right )Egicts ( photo hi Allen Hcanic) are 
among the many regular visitors to these wetlands. Flashboard risers will be used to eoiitrol water Irvels in order to produce an abundance of waterfowl plants such as 
smartiL'ced (pink) and Spanish needle ixjellow). Precise control of water levels also enables creation of a good mix ofiypeii water ami ivetlaud -vegetation biiportant for wa- 
terbirds. The shallowest areas in the ivetlands have a great variety ofvegetation including the extremeh/ important duck food, wild millet (foreground). Ducks like the blue- 
winged teal will benefit from these areas. 

OCTOBER 1996 5 

their way back north and prepare 
for nesting. This is especially impor- 
tant when you consider their tiny 
size — about 80 grams — and their in- 
credible migration from southern 
South America to the Arctic! 

Each is laid off to ensure that no 
more than about 18" of water is in 
the impoundment at full pool. This 
in turn allows for fairly precise con- 
trol of water levels. The timing, 
depth and duration of flooding has a 

to waterfowl. This whole process, 
known as "moist-soil manage- 
ment," mimics natural wetland cy- 
cles and thus provides an abun- 
dance of native foods. 

The planting of thousands of oak 

It certainly helps these tiny birds 
that the Clover wetlands are strate- 
gically located along the Staunton 
River. This river, like many others, 
serves as a fly way for migrating wa- 
terbirds. Many ducks travelling 
from nesting areas in the Great 
Lakes and eastern Canadian prairies 
use this flyway as they wing toward 
the Atlantic coast. At Clover these 
weary travelers can find an abun- 
dance of high quality feeding and 
resting habitat. 

One of the purposes of having so 
many different wetland impound- 
ments at Clover is to ensure a high 
diversity of habitats can be created 
This diversity can include areas best 
suited to fall migrating ducks, 
spring migrating shorebirds or 
breeding herons and egrets. 

This is accomplished in part by 
the design of the impoundments. 

(Top left) The serenity of Clover's wetlands are a remarkable testament to the ability of)iature to 
thrive next door to the 24-hoiir-a-day generation of 848 megazoatts ofelectricitxj. (Above) Virginia 
Power employee, Bill Bolin (right), discusses placement ofioood duck boxes on the project area with 
Pat Kei/ser, VDGIT biologist. 

(Above left)Cooperators plan for the completion of the first of two wildlife observation towers over- 
looking the wetlands. Photos by©DzLught Dyke. 

(Opposite page) The Clover wetlands are strategically located along the banks of the Staunton 
River, a key waterfoivl flyway. Graphics by Pets. 

great deal of influence over what 
type of wetland habitat develops. 

To further ensure proper control 
of flooding, each impoundment has 
its own flashboard riser, a water- 
level control device which will en- 
able flooding and dewatering of the 
site as needed. Normally, water is 
pulled off an area slowly over a peri- 
od of several weeks in early sum- 
mer. Later, toward the end of the 
growing season, the impoundment 
is gradually reflooded Every few 
years the soil in the unit will be 
disced during the drawdown to 
help stimulate vegetation valuable 

seedlings and construction of the 
numerous levees that created the 
wetland areas was no accident. 
Rather, it was the result of several 
years of planning, designing and 
most of all cooperating. What has 
taken place at Clover is certainly im- 
pressive for wildlife. But it may be 
even more impressive when you 
consider all of the partners that came 
together to make an idea into a reali- 

In the mid '80s Old Dominion 
Electric Cooperative and Virginia 
Power began planning for a new 
power plant. As the process moved 


on, the idea of donating the flood- 
plain areas that were acquired as a 
part of the plant site took shape. 
Soon the Game Department and 
Ducks Unlimited became a part of 
the picture. Together these four part- 
ners contributed 25 percent each to 
the cost of constructing the wet- 
lands. Later, as plans for a liistorical 
park at the site were explored, the 
Department of Conservation and 
Recreation became involved. Clear- 
ances were obtained from the Corps 
of Engineers and the State Historic 
Preservation Office before construc- 
tion began in 1995. Work should be 
completed in 1996. 

An additional partner became in- 
volved this summer that should 
make what is available to the ducks 
and sandpipers available for every- 
one to enjoy. Landmark Volunteers, 
a group that gives outstanding high 
school students summer service op- 
portunities, came on site and helped 
construct a 20-foot tall observation 
tower overlooking the wetlands. 
Local citizens helped the 12 students 
out during the two weeks in Halifax 
by providing housing, leadership 
and a home away from home. 

The tower is accessed by a nature 
trail built by yet another new part- 
ner: the Virginia Army National 
Guard. As a part of the Virginian's 
for Virginia program, these soldiers 
came on site and built part of the y4- 
mile long nature trail. Plans are al- 
ready underway to build a second 
observation tower along the trail 
next summer. 

Although this project is 
just now taking shape, the 
possibilities are exciting. 
These wetlands may be 
home to hundreds perhaps 
even thousands of migrat- 
ing waterfowl and other 
waterbirds. These wetlands 
will also, be accessible to 
school groups, bird-watchers, 
duck-lovers, and anybody else who 
knows the thrill of watching a flight 
of ducks cupping their wings as they 
setfle into a autumn marsh. 

And all of this almost literally m 
the shadows of two massive steam 
turbines spinning at an astounding 
3600 rpms! If burning 314 tons of 
coal per hour, 24 hours a day to spin 
these turbines doesn't seem to fit 

with a bald eagle chasing ducks 
across a marsh, you just haven't 

been to Clover. 


Pat Kei/ser is a wildlife biologist with the De- 
partment's Wildlife Division. He works out of 
the Fannville Field Office. 


-.%** - 




On a wall in the drawing 
roon^ of Ashlawn, the 
Albemarle County home 
of James Monroe the fifth President 
of the United States, is a mural of a 
red deer being chased by hounds. 

That says several things to the 
modern deer hunter. It points out, 
for example, that the rich eastern 
Virginia tradition of hunting deer 
with hounds goes back a long time; 
not just to the early days of this 
country, but even to the Old World 
where chasing red deer with hounds 
was very popular with the landed 
gentry. It also says that when the 
early president wrote his famous 
Monroe Doctrine declaring Ameri- 
can independence of European in- 
fluence he made an exception for 
hunting deer with hounds. 

Obviously hunting deer with 
hounds predates the discovery of 
America. Talk about a rich tradition! 

Even so the practice is being 
threatened today by a mushroom- 
ing population that is eating up 
hunting land at an alarming rate. 
Just finding a place to hunt is becom- 
ing a problem for many hunters. 
The desire to hunt with hounds 
compounds that problem. A pair of 
stand or still-hunters can enjoy good 
deer hunting on a 10-acre plot of 
land, but turn loose a pack of 
hounds on that same 10 acres and 
the community erupts. In today's 
hunting environment it just won't 
work, or as the politicians like to say 
"that dog won't hunt." 

Today most deer hunting with 
hounds is done in clubs where the 
members pool their resources to 
lease large tracts of land, often the 
land of eastern timber companies. 
Given sufficient acreage away from 
human populations, they can hunt 
successfully without disttirbing the 
nonhunting public. 

Smaller clubs or groups of 
hunters may use only a few small 
beagle hounds — or even bird dogs 
to drive deer. Man drives are anoth- 
er possibility. 

But hounds or dogs of other 
breeds are not essential to successful 

deer hunting. Just look at the vast 
west of the Blue Ridge country 
where the use of dogs to huiit deer 
has been illegal for years. Or 
throughout most of the United 
States for that matter. Hunting deer 
with hounds is an exception instead 
of the rule. So let's rule out dogs for 
the purposes of this discussion. 

With modern archery tackle and 
muzzleloading firearnis comple- 
menting conventional firearms, 
today's deer hunter enjoys a lot of 
options. The compound bow has 

^till be A ^ucct^^{u[ 
Attr ku^ttr. 

confused, the term still-hunting is 
often applied incorrectly to stand- 
hunting — I suppose because the 
hunter doesn't move about or walk. 
Even hound hunters use stands, but 
tliey do not still-hunt. 

Nope, the stand-hunter doesn't 
move. In fact when a deer is ap- 
proaching Ms stand he doesn't even 
breathe! In most hunting clubs 
where hounds are used, the hunter 
is placed on a stand with orders not 
to move from it until the hunt mas- 
ter returns. 

Stand-hunting is also popular 
among those who hunt without 
dogs. The stand may be on the 
ground or an elevated one. The ele- 
vated stand takes many forms. It 
may be a folding elevated stand 
such as is often used in the brush 
country of Texas. Such a stand is 
portable. It is easily erected or taken 
down for moving to another more 

made the archer a highly effective 
hunter, and the modern muz- 
zleloading rifles are a tremendous 
improvement over those used dur- 
ing the period of history they repre- 
sent. Dogs cannot be used during 
the special archery and blackpow- 
der seasons — even in eastern Vir- 
ginia where deer dogs are otherwise 

Throughout the vast range of the 
white-tailed deer, hunters employ a 
pair of generally accepted hunting 
methods, stand-hunting or still- 
hunting. Most other methods are 
variations of these. The two are often 

Still-luintin^^ is challeiigiiig but pwbablif not as 
productive ns hitntiug from a well-placed tree 

promising point. In Virginia, how- 
ever, this stand is rarely used. One 
reason is the abundance of forest- 
lands and the ready-made stands in 
the way of trees. Portable tree stands 
are very popular. There are many 
different styles on the market and all 
can be moved easily and quickly. 
The other approach is a perma- 
nent stand. These also take many 
forms. Often it is no more than a lad- 
der to a platform in the crotch of a 


tree, a sturdy and comfortable seat 
on which the hunter sits quietly. 
Once in place, it becomes pretty 
much a fixture. I like to add a strong 
line with which I can pull up or 
lower my bow or firearm. Ideally the 
permanent stand should be en- 
closed with netting, canvas, or some 
other material that conceals the 
hunter. For years I've heard that 
deer don't look up, but I'm not so 
sure anymore. At the minimum they 
seem to be able to sense a hunter's 
presence even when there is no 
wind to carry his scent to them. 
Some tree stands even have roofs for 
protection from the weather. A real 
joy on a rainy day. 

The location of a stand, particu- 
larly a permanent one, is critical. 
The archer whose range is very lim- 
ited has to place his stand with that 
in mind. The ideal place is just off of 
a well-used trail. Another good spot 
is a white oak ridge, but it may not 
be productive during years when 
the mast crop is low. Just keep in 
mind that your stand should give 
you a shot at 30 yards or less. And 
make sure there are good shooting 
lanes. Having a deer well within 
range, but completely blocked by 
heavy foliage can be very frustrat- 

Firearms hunters have more op- 
tions in the location of stands. A key 
requirement here is good visibility 
for a reasonable distance. For muz- 
zleloaders a shot of 100 yards is a safe 
one, and the rifleman has consider- 
ably more range. Long range shots 
from elevated stands are possible if 
the visibility is good. This usually 
means a stand overlooking a large 
field or other open space. Being care- 
ful about the background is a cardi- 
nal rule of safety in hunting with a 
rifle, but it is less of a problem for the 
hunter shooting from an elevated 
stand. If he misses, the angle of his 
shot will most likely put his bullet in 
the ground in the vicinity of the spot 
where stood the deer that escaped 

The successful deer hunter sees 
the deer before the deer sees him. 
This is the advantage of an elevated 
stand. It gives the hunter the jump 
on his quarry. While the elevated 

stand puts the hunter above the nor- 
mal vision of the deer, that doesn't 
mean that he can throw caution to 
the wind. He still needs to sit as qui- 
etly and inconspicuously as possi- 

And while his human scent is less 
of a problem on an elevated stand, it 
can still reach an approaching deer. 
Masking scents are a good idea, par- 
ticularly for the bowhunter, and to a 
less extent for the muzzleloading 
hunter or the conventional rifleman. 

I always enjoy a session on an ele- 
vated stand even if I don't get a deer. 
The opportunity to watch wildlife is 
enhanced by the elevation. Just this 
past season I had a dozen squirrels 
play around my stand for hours. 
Songbirds flit about close by, and 
honking geese pass overhead. 
Stand hunters often bag turkeys as 
well as deer. They generally pass up 
shots at squirrels or other small 
game, feeling the critters are not 
worth the disturbance shooting 
them creates. 

Still-hunring is an entirely differ- 
ent game, one difficult for the 
bowhunter to use because of his lim- 
ited range. The still-hunter moves, 
hoping that by doing so he can get 
within range of a deer before the 
deer detects him. It's a look and lis- 
ten, move, and look and listen again 
approach. Most deer are taken dur- 
ing the looking and listening stops. 
A deer is less likely to see the hunter 
then than when he is on the move. 
Still-hunting is a very challenging 
way to hunt, but probably a little less 
effective than hunting from a well- 
placed stand. 

Still-hunting is a good choice 
when hunting new territory that the 
hunter hasn't had a chance to scout. 
This does not, however, mean that 
scouting prior to the hunt is umiec- 
essary. Scouting will tell the hunter 
when and where to expect deer, and 
he can concentrate his efforts in 
those areas. 

The still-hunting technique is 
somewhat simple, but it calls for 
good woodsmanship. The hunter 
selects the area he wants to hunt, 
checks the wind, and moves into it if 
possible. This blows his scent away 
from deer he might be approaching. 

(Above) Location of your tree stand is critical 
for success. 

(Beloiu) Deer are wary and almost any move 
by a hunter on the ground -will he noticed. 






Never, never should he hunt with 
the wind to his back, even with a soft 
breeze to waft his scent to the deer. 
He will never see anything except 
whitetails bouncing off out of range. 
Though scent or human odor is the 
major concern, the wind can also 
carry foreign sounds. 

Still-hunting is a slow process 
that demands the utmost in pa- 
tience. The hunter enters his territo- 
ry and immediately stops to look 
and listen. He should do this for 15 
minutes at the least. If he sees or 
hears nothing he moves on. Before 
moving, however, he should look 
ahead for his next stopping point, 
and move carefully toward it select- 
ing his route carefully so as not to 
snap twigs, rustle leaves, or create 
any other foreign noises. Tliat next 
stopping point should offer some 
kind of concealment if nothing more 
than a tree trunk to break up the 
hunter's outline. Also, I personally 
like to chose one that offers a rest for 
my rifle — a tree limb, for example. 

Using a rest to steady the aim is 
much better than shooting off hand. 

The still-hunter's clothing should 
be of soft finish so it will not be noisy 
when brushing against briers or 
other ground cover. He should also 
wear boots with reasonably soft 
soles to muffle his steps. Strange 
sounds as jingling loose coin in a 
pocket is definitely not natural to the 

Deer supposedly are color blind 
so blaze orange doesn't frighten 
them if it is not moving. I believe, 
however, that a deer can pick up 
moving blaze orange better than it 
can moving dull colors. For that rea- 
son it is probably best to limit blaze 
orange to the torso which does not 
move as much as the arms, legs, and 

The hunted deer is in its natural 
environment and tuned in to all of 
the normal sights and sounds. Vio- 
late those and a hunter's chances 
drop considerably. Deer quickly 
pick up strange objects in their home 




\ ^ ^ 






[ Jl 


\ \ 




territory. And a hunter standing out 
there in the open is something out of 
place, something that wasn't there 
yesterday. For that reason, just back- 
ing up against the trunk of a tree can 

Frightened birds, squirrels, and 
other critters serve to warn deer. Try 
to move so that such wildlife activity 
is kept to a minimum. 

Over the years I've probably 
taken more deer from stands than 
while still-huntiiig, but I still enjoy 
this challenging kind of hunting. 
Looking back over the most recent 
season, I find that I took two deer 
from elevated stands, one in South 
Carolina anci one in Virginia. Anoth- 
er Virginia deer was taken from a 
stand on the ground, and my largest 
deer, a Wyoming mulie, was taken 
by still-hunting. 

Hound hunters don't have to do a 
lot of scouting. They instead rely 
upon their crack dogs to route the 
deer out and get them moving. 
Hunters switching from hounds to 
stand or srill-hunting are often slow 
to make this adjustment. The more 
scouting the stand or still-hunter can 
do, however, the better are his 
chances. This can be an all year ac- 
tivity. Many hunters are back in the 
woods soon after the season closes 
looking for sign that will help them 
the next season. A fresh snowfall can 
be alive with sign, particularly 
tracks. Some seem to wander and 
tell the hunter little, but sooner or 
later, tracks will mark a well-used 

The phases of the moon are also 
important to the still-hunter. On a 
full moon, for example, the deer 
may feed most of the night, bed 
down at ciawn, and begin moving 
again around noon. 

I've hunted ahead of hounds, but 
in recent years I've taken most of my 
venison by stand or still-hunting. 
Outwitting a wily old buck can be a 
real challenge, but over the years 
I've learned that that old buck is 
more likely to outwit me. D 

Bob GoocJi is an outdoor colunniist and 
has authored main/ books on hunting and 
fisliing. He lives in Troy, near Char- 


■r, v.->. 





Here s now to 

eaten Virginia 


nass in tne 


One of the greatest myths 
perpetrated by outdoor 
writers goes something 
like this. . ."with the dipping air and 
water temperatures of autumn, 
river smallmouths go on 'feeding 
binges' as they attempt to put on 
weight for the winter, resulting in 
the best bass fishing of the year." Ac- 
ti-ially, this premise is misleading on 
several accounts. 

Bass experience feeding binges 
throughout the year, they always try 
to "put on weight," anci the autumn 
period, in reality, sees bronzebacks 
going through intense mooti swings 
resulting in some of the best bass 
fishing of the year... and unfortu- 
nately many times some of the worst 
and most frustrating. 

To help Old Dominion river an- 
glers smooth out the liighs and lows 
of the auttmin period, here is a game 
plan for dealing with three major 
problems state fishermen will face at 
this time. 

Promem One: 

Ar)normally Low, 

Clear Water 

After the long hot months of sum- 
mer conclude, October often arrives 
with rivers such as the James, New, 
Rappahannock, and South Fork of 
the Shenandoah experiencing low 
water of a crystalline equality. Barry 
Loupe, a Saltville resident who is a 
part-time guide on the North Fork of 
the Holston, offers strategies that 
can help anglers cope with this con- 

"The most important tiling I do in 
the fall is always use light, clear 


line," he says. "I'll start out with 
eight-pound test, but if the fish on 
the Holston aren't biting 1 don't hesi- 
tate to drop down to six or even 
four-pound test. I also recommend 
that fishermen do not use fluores- 
cent line which can spook fish in 
clear, low water. 

"Second, I make extremely long 
casts, something that lighter line will 
enable you to do. As you float 
downstream, look for likely spots 
well downstream and to your right 
or left. A cautious approach is more 
important in the fall than at any 
other time." 

Loupe adds that another good 
tactic is to seek out shady spots 
where mossybacks may hold in the 
transparent liquid. These could in- 
clude crevices between ledges. 

dropoffs behind boulders, and tree 
laden shorelines. Sycamores are es- 
pecially common trees on Virginia's 
upland rivers and offer extensive 
root networks along partially erod- 
ed banks for bass to hide within as 

Finally, Loupe suggests that earth 
tones such as pumpkinseed, black, 
brown, and orange do better in clear 
water. Two of his favorite lures are a 
Zoom pumpkinseed crawfish and a 
brown spider jig. 

ProDiem Two: 

October Cola 


After the relatively stable weath- 
er patterns of summer, October 

Bruce Ingram 

often brings a series of cold fronts 
which can play havoc with small- 
mouth feeding patterns. Tim Freese, 
a part-time guide on the upper Po- 
tomac and the Shenandoah system, 
relates that he combats tliis problem 
in several ways. 

"For fall cold fronts, I follow two 
rules," says Freese, who hails from 
Arlington. "Rule number one is that 
1 finesse fish, which means I fish 
slowly on the bottom and 1 use natu- 
ral colors — no fire tiger or hot pink, 
for example. 

"Rule number two is that what- 
ever lure I use, I strive for absolute 
realism in presentation. That means 
that I really attempt to fool the bass 
into hitting something that looks 
very natural to them." 

Freese, who guides for Reel Bass 
Adventures, emphasizes 
that the way he modifies 
and works a grub is a perfect 
example of his two rules. 
The Arlington angler selects 
a grub in natural colors that 
imitate shad, sunfish, or 
crawfish and above it slides 
a brass weight and then a 
red bead onto the Une. 

Freeze explains that the 
brass weight, and the exact 
size of it depends on how 
fast the current is flowing, 
simulates a baitfish eye and 
the red bead mimics the 
gills. He then rigs the grub 
weedless on a 1/0 or 2/0 
hook and tosses it into 
crevices within ledges. 

Smallmouth bass that 
have become lethargic be- 
cause of the high blue skies 
and cool winds associat- 
ed with cold fronts often 
descend into ledges. A 
grub crawled slowly 
through this type of 
structure very much cre- 

Crnnkbnits (above) work well 
ill the sunniicr, but fall anglers 
xvill have more success ivith 
earth tone plastic baits (left). 
(Right) Fall angling, with its cool water 
and clear skies, requires its own set of 




ates the illusion of a pathetically 
dying creature that is often too 
tempting for even an inactive bass to 
pass up. 

Freese adds that another superla- 
tive cold front bait is a deer hair jig 
tipped with a soft plastic pork frog. 
Again, natural colors such as brown, 
orange, and black should be the 
choice for both the hair jig and the 
trailer — let the fish tell you which 
combination of hues they prefer. 

Protlem Tnree: 




The third major problem that 
often confronts Old Dominion an- 
glers come fall is a rapid change in 
water temperature. Dave Roland, 
who operates a media production 
business in Reston, says that he 

often encounters this condition 
on the upper Potomac and the 
South Fork of the Shenandoah. 

"In October, Virginia often 
has really nice warm days, but 
the state also often experiences 
cold nights when the tempera- 
ture dips below freezing," says 
Roland. "So the way I deal with 
this condition is to have a sepa- 
rate morning and afternoon 
fisliing plan. 

"For example, on mornings 
after a cold night I have found 
that fish on rivers such as the 
Potomac and Shenandoah con- 
gregate on the bottom along 
banks that have fairly deep 
water. So 1 bounce weedless 
grubs and weighted plastic jerk- 
baits along the bottom with my 
spinning outfit or weighted 
woolly buggers and muddler 
minnows with my fly rod." 

As the sun comes up and the 
water warms, Roland explains 
that the fish often move off the 
bottom and into the main chan- 
nel of a river to forage. They also 
become much more active and 
will rise to the surface to engulf 
mimiows or various other for- 

Then, the Reston angler will 
turn to surface baits such as the 
Heddon Tiny Torpecio and 
Rebel Pop'R or fly rod poppers 
such as the Sneaky Pete. Roland 
recalls some early fall days on 
the Potomac and Shenandoah 
system when numerous good- 
sized bronzebacks fell to this 
"hit 'em low early and hit 'em 
high late" gambit. 

Virginia's river smallmouth 
anglers know that those sup- 
posedly classic fall days when 
the fish ravage every lure in 
sight are typically rare. But a 
game plan that takes into ac- 
count the common problems 
we face in early fall can still 
make this time on the water pro- 
ductive, n 

Bruce Ingram is an outdoor colum- 
nist on the staff of Southern Out- 



Teal and Wood Dacks, 
a Colorf al Beginning 

by Curtis Badger 

From a dis- 
tance, a flock of 
green-winged teal sounds 
like spring peepers. We heard 
them long before we saw them, a 
soft musical "cheeping" coming 
from the head of the creek be- 
yond the pine woods. 

They could have been spring 
peepers, but it was far too cold for 
any frog to be welcoming warm 
weather. Ice lay in thin glassy 
shards along the edges of pud- 
dles, and it formed a crystal fringe 
along the creek shore at the 
freshet, where the teal had con- 

We crept through the pine 
woods as quietly as we could, 
eased ourselves down an em- 
bankment to the level of the salt 


Bill Lea 

With duck numbers 

upy this years early 

season may be one 

to remember. 

marsh, and then hid behind a thicket 
of marsh elder and began counting 
teal. I counted on the up-creek side, 
and my son Tom counted from the 
opposite direction. When we 
reached midpoint, we'd have a good 

I scanned the flock with the 
binoculars, and when the sun 
caught a bird just right, it would 

light up the florescent 
green ear patch of the drakes, 
the cinnamon head, and the green 
speculum. And then I realized 
once again what beautiful little 
birds these are, sprightly, diminu- 
tive waterfowl that trade around 
this creekhead in small, fast flocks 
like shorebirds. 

Our imprecise count stopped at 
250 teal, yet we knew there were 
more. The creek wandered for an- 
other quarter-mile, meandering 
around tumps of cordgrass, form- 
ing shallow pools where freshwa- 
ter streams came down from the 
upland. The teal would be gath- 
ered in those pools, invisible to us, 
dining on grasses and seeds. There 
could have been 500. 

We had with us the binoculars, a 


fanny pack containing a notepad, 
pocket knife, two oranges, and a 
compact camera. Any birds we 
bagged this day would be on film, 
with the poiiit-and-shoot. After all, 
it was late February, and the season 
had long ago ended. But these win- 
tering teal held great promise for the 
season to come. 

For waterfowl hunters, the early 
season this fall could be one to re- 
member. After a succession of dis- 
mal years in the 1980s, green- 
winged and blue-winged teal are 
making a substantial comeback, 
thanks to improved nesting condi- 
tions in the prairie pothole country. 
Add to the equation a stable popula- 
tion of wood ducks and a three- 

week resident Canada goose season 
in September, and waterfowl 
hunters have ample reason to be op- 

The 1996 aerial mid- winter wa- 
terfowl survey showed an increas- 
ing number of ducks in Virginia, 
surpassing the five-year average. 
The standardized survey, conducted 
along the major waterways east of 
Interstate 95, does not represent an 
exact bird census, but rather a pat- 
tern of population upswing or 
downswing, says Gary R. Costanzo, 
waterfowl research biologist with 
the Department of Game and Inland 
Fisheries. The trend for most species 
is an increase in population. 

This is good news for those of us 

who at the first cool days of late 
summer feel the urge to put aside 
the fishiiig rod in favor of the shot- 
gim. After all, duck hunting in Octo- 
ber can be a most pleasurable sport, 
a chance to put wild duck on the 
table without risking frostbite and 

For most Virginians, the early wa- 
terfowl season centers around 
green-winged and blue-winged 
teal, wood ducks, a smattering of 
other dabbling ducks, and, of 
course, resident Canada geese. (The 
general duck season is October 9-12, 
November 26-30 and December 9- 
January 18. The early goose season 
ran from from early to late Septem- 



Productive hunting is expected 
across the state, with perhaps an em- 
phasis on the Tidewater and Pied- 
mont regions. Gary Costaiizo, who 
has spent the summer months cen- 
susing and tagging waterfowl 
around the state, recommends the 
Back Bay area in southeastern Vir- 
ginia, the Chickahominy Wildlife 
Management Area (WMA) on Mor- 
ris Creek and the Chickahominy 
River, and Hog Island WMA on 
the James River for the resident 
goose season. All have exten- 
sive public access areas. 
Here's a look at some of 
Virginia's best bets for the 
early waterfowl season 

Princess Anne 

The Game Depart- 
ment manages four 
major tracts in the 
Back Bay area near 
False Cape State 
Park and Back Bay 
National Wildlife 
Refuge south of Vir- 
ginia Beach. The four 
tracts — Trojan, Poca- 
hontas, Whitehurst, 
and Barbours Hill — 
are collectively known 
as Princess Anne 
WMA, and they include 
more than 1,500 acres of 
waterfowl habitat. Trojan, 
Pocahontas, and White- 
hurst are on the western side 
of Back Bay, while Barbours 
Hill is on the east, in False Cape 
State Park. 

"For the past 10 or 15 years, the 
Back Bay area has not been as pro- 
ductive a waterfowling area as it 
used to be, primarily because of the 
loss of aquatic grasses," says 
Costanzo. "But the grasses are com- 
ing back, and the waterfowl are re- 

Waterfowl hunting is managed 
by the Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries, and in the past has 
been based on a lottery system. That 
may change this year as negotia- 
tions continue between the state and 

the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
over public access to the state park, 
which is either by beach, by boat, or 
along the gravel roadways that 
make up the freshwater impound- 
ments at Back Bay NWR. 

Enrly season waterfowl hunting is a chance to put 
duck on the table -without risking frostbite and 
hypotiiermia. Photo bu Soc CIni/. 

In recent years, the refuge roads 
have been closed to the public dur- 
ing winter months to avoid disturb- 
ing waterfowl. A possibility under 
the new agreement is that Fish and 
Wildlife could take over manage- 
ment of state land in the northern 

part of False Cape, so duck hunters 
will have to stay tuned regarding 
opportunities in the Barbours Hill 

On the other side of the bay, at 
Trojan and Pocahontas, 40 blind 
stakes are available to the public by 
daily drawing. The stakes are 
spaced at appropriate intervals, and 
hunters tie up to them with their 
own grassed boats. 

In the early season, 80 per- 
cent of the birds taken at 
Princess Anne WMA will 
be teal, says Costanzo. 
Blue-winged teal move 
through the area first, 
sometimes as early as 
late August, but 
with late Septem- 
ber and early Octo- 
ber constituting 
the peak of the fall 
flight. The blue- 
wings will hasten 
on to winter 
homes in Florida 
or Central and 
South America. 
will pass through 
a little later, and 
do so at a more 
leisurely pace; 
some will spend 
the winter in the 
area if the weather is 
Both species of teal 
have done well in re- 
cent years, thanks to fa- 
vorable conditions in 
their nesting areas in the 
Canadian provinces. The 
blue-winged teal is also ex- 
panding its nesting habitat to in- 
clude the northeastern United 
States, Costaiizo said, as changes in 
land use have created more open 
land and less forest. 

Chickahominy WMA 

The Chickahominy Wildlife 
Management Area is on the eastern 
edge of Charles City County, about 
12 miles southeast of Providence 
Forge and the same distance north- 



west of Williamsburg. The eastern 
boundary is formed by the Chicka- 
hominy River, and Morris Creek 
meanders through the center of the 

The area offers a wide variety of 
habitat for waterfowl hunters, from 
the open waters of the Chicka- 
hominy River to the more modest 
Morris Creek, as well as smaller 
streams, beaver ponds, and marsh- 
es. Floating blinds are allowed in the 
open water on a first-come-first- 
served basis, and the Chickahominy 
offers a good chance for teal or 
woodies during the early season. 
But, warns Costanzo, the WMA gets 
a lot of public attention because 
there are few public hunting lands in 
the area. 

Hog Island 

Hog Island WMA, on the James 
River, is a good bet for the resident 
Canada goose season in September, 
Costanzo says, and will be open for 
duck hunting during the later sea- 
sons. Five permanent blinds are on 
the property, with more expected to 
be acided in the near future. Blinds 
are assigned to hunters by a draw- 

Hog Island is on a peninsula in 
the James in Surry and Isle of Wight 
counties and is across the river from 
Busch Gardens. It offers a mixture of 
open farmland, timber, and tidal 
marshlands and ponds. Crops of 
milo and winter wheat are planted 
for wintering waterfowl, and there 
are 600 acres of controlled-water- 
level ponds desigi"ied for waterfowl 
and shorebird use. 

Contact the VDGIF office in 
Williamsburg for applications for 
the blind drawing. 

Game farrn Marsh 

This wildlife management area 
on Upper Chickahominy Lake near 
Providence Forge is one of Virginia's 
smaller WMAs, but its 400 plus 
acres offers lots of flooded timber, 
which makes it a magnet for early 
season birds such as teal and wood 
ducks. It could be one of the 1996 hot 


Not to mention... 

The public salt marshes on the 
Eastern Shore — Saxis in upper Ac- 
comack County and Mockhorn Is- 
land in Northampton — are better 
known for late season action, and, in 
the case of Mockhorn, for extraordi- 
nary rail shooting. But both could 
yield some early season teal shoot- 
ing, depending upon the weather 
and how it drives the fall migration. 
A few other dabbling duck species, 
principally black ducks, mallards, 
and widgeon, could be found at 
both WMAs iri the early season. 

Saxis is on the Chesapeake Bay 
side of the peninsula, just south of 
the Maryland line, while Mockliorn 
is on the seaside, an inner island in 
the barrier island chain. 

The Piedmont may be the most 
overlooked early season area in the 
state, says Costanzo. "Streams, wet- 
lands, and beaver pond habitat pro- 
vide lots of good early season duck 
hunting in the Piedmont. Many of 
Virginia's 33 wildlife management 
areas have such habitats. It's some- 
thing hunters may have overlooked 
in the past." 


Migratory waterfowl hunting is 
governed by federal and state regu- 
lations. A state hunting license and a 
federal duck stamp are rec^uired. Be 
sure you are aware of limits, sea- 
sons, legal hunting times, emd other 
regulations such as the use of steel 
shot. The state regulates hunting at 
wildlife management areas, and the 
rules can differ from one area to an- 
other. In some, hunting is allowed 
on a lottery basis. In others, it's first- 
come-first served. Contact the 
WMA you want to hunt for details, 
or call one of the regional offices of 
the Department of Game and Inland 

Maps and regulations governing 
specific wildlife management areas 
are available at regional offices or 
from the VDGIF in Richmond, PO. 
Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230 

A "Guide to Virginia's Wildlife 
Management Areas" has just been 

published and is available free of 
charge at district and regional of- 
fices. Tills 68-page atlas includes 29 
maps featuring all of Virginia's 33 
wildlife management areas, a state 
map, aiid a description of each area, 
with a summary of appropriate 
rules Mid regulations. 

If you plan on hunting public 
laitds in Virginia this fall, this new 
publication will be invaluable in 
plarming your trips. D 

Regional Offices 

Region 1 


5806 Mooretown Rd. 

Williamsburg, Va 23188 


Region 2 


Rt. 6, Box 410 

Forest, VA 24551 


Region 3 


Rt. 1, Box 107 

Marion, VA 24354 


Region 4 
PO. Box 996 
Verona, VA 24482 

Region 5 
Fredericksburg, VA 22401 

Curtis Badger is a writer and photogra- 
pher who lives along the Chesapeake Bay 
on the Eastern Shore. 

Green-winged teal: 
photo by Gary Carter 

Black powder hunters 

now have a variety 

of equipment choices 

from historic 

to modem. 


ew Deer 

by Denny QuaifF 

My heart was pounding so 
hard that' I almost 
couldn't catch my breath. 
For the previous 25 minutes of this 
rainy morning I had watched the 
buck slowly work his way in my di- 
rection. Without any doubt this was 
the most outstanding animal that 

had ever presented himself in front 
of my stand. His wide, tall 
and massive set of 
antlers were some- 
thing to behold. The 
.50 caliber black 
powder rifle was 

e f - 

f e c t i V e 

range. This was 

my first season 

muzzleloader hunting and 

only another deer hunter could 
imagine the thoughts racing 
through my mind. 

The tall pine tree that supported 
my portable tree stand on the edge 
of the clearcut pine plantation aided 
the opportunity while this domi- 
nant buck marked his territory. 
Within a matter of seconds his atten- 
tion zeroed in on an estrus doe that 
had walked out between us. The 
buck jerked his head and started 
trotting in her direction. With the 
hammer cocked I squeezed the trig- 
ger as the buck passed my post at 
some 45 paces. 

When the smoke finally cleared I 
was reminded of the past week of 
hunting and the off-season months 
of preparation. Much of my success 
had come from a commitment to 
this new challenge. 

Hunting whitetails with a single- 
shot muzzleloading rifle offers a 
narrow window of opportunity. It 
requires dedication on the part of 
the hunter to be ready for the mo- 
ment of truth. 

The best way to determine 
what equipment is right for 
you is to research as many 
manufacturers as possible. If you 
are interested in deer hunting with a 
muzzleloading rifle, or have already 
taken up the sport read on to learn 
what products and equipment may 
best serve your needs. I have provid- 
ed a list of resources at the end of tliis 

Muzzleloading Rifles 

Muzzleloading rifles come in a 
variety of calibers and barrel 
lengths. Virginia state game laws for 
deer hunting rec^uire that hunters 
use .45 caliber or larger and fire a sin- 
gle lead projectile. A muzzleloading 
rifle must load from the muzzle of 
the firearm and propel the projectile 
with at least 50 grains of black pow- 
der (or black powder equivalent). 

There are three basic types of 
muzzleloading rifles, two of which 
use percussion caps to ignite the 
powder charge. The caplock rifles 
are the most practical and widely 
used among hunters today. Then 
there are the flintlocks that our fore- 
fathers carried during the early days 

of our country. This front loader has 
a piece of flint in the cocking ham- 
mer. When the trigger is pulled the 
flint strikes a piece of steel that cre- 
ates a spark in the fizzen pan to ig- 
nite the powder charge. 

Flintlock rifles are the most chal- 
lenging and difficult equipment to 
use when muzzleloader hunting. 
The hang-time from when the ham- 
mer falls until the main powder 
charge ignites and sends the bullet 
out the end of the barrel creates a 
much greater demand on the shoot- 
er for accuracy. 

It is a known fact that any black- 
powcier rifle can give trouble in wet 
weather. Even the more modern 
percussion cap models can be diffi- 
cult to keep dry in the rain, but flint- 
locks are more likely to misfire 
under these conditions. However, 
some deer hunters feel more a part 
of history while still enjoying suc- 
cess and the satisfaction of using the 
more primitive weapon. 

With the limited space available, 
the information that follows will pri- 

marily pertain to percussion cap 
models of muzzleloading rifles. 

Our modern day black powder 
nimrod has a wide range of rifles to 
choose from. It has become evident 
that manufacturers have continued 
to improve the quality and accuracy 
in their smokepoles each year. 

The two -types of percussion 
models commonly used in the field 
today are side hammers and in-line 
styles. I personally own five of these 
rifles. Two are side hammers and 
three are in- lines. 

For those blackpowder hunters 
that prefer a more traditional rifle 
Thompson /Center Arms makes 
some great front-stuffers. My rifles 
of choice are the White Mountain 
Carbine and Renegade Models. 

The little White Mountain Car- 
bine has a 21" barrel that is light- 
weight and handles well in tight 
places. This rifle would appeal to a 
backwoods deer hunter who is on 
the move and demands a rifle for 
c^uick shots in thick cover. It is avail- 
able in .50 and .54 calibers. 

The Renegade rifle is a plain old 
work horse. It comes in right or left 
handed models, and offers either the 
.50 or .54 caliber bores with its 26" 
octagon barrel and the 1 in 48" twist 
shoots with amazing accuracy. At an 
overall length of 42 1/2" and a weight 
of 8 pounds, this rifle is better suited 
for the stand hunter. 

I have found both of these muz- 
zleloaders to be very capable hunt- 
ing rifles. Thompson / Center Arms 
is a household name in the muz- 
zleloading industry and offers a sat- 
isfaction guarantee on all of its hunt- 
ing equipment. 

The other type of percussion rifle 
that has gained the most attention in 
recent years is the in-line ignition 
system. My first introduction to one 
of these styles was in the spring of 
1991. Gonic Arms of New Hamp- 
shire sent me one of their GA87 
Models for testing. 

After talking with the experts at 
their factory and reading the in- 
struction manual, out to the range I 
went. After several more trips to the 



range and a little work with different 
powder charges, this rifle was pro- 
ducing outstanding target groups. It 
was obvious that a new age of muz- 
zleloading hunting had begun. 

In the fall of that year on a suc- 
cessful Montana antelope hunt the 
Gonic GA87 was my hunting rifle. 
The GA87 has also been my effective 
rifle on a number of whitetail hunts 
and proven worthy to all I have 
asked of it. 

My second experience with an- 
other in-line rifle came in the spring 
of 1993. This time the rifle was the 
world renowned MK85. This offer- 
ing from Modern Muzzleloading 
was their Knight Hawk model. 

For the test I received a .50 caliber, 
but the rifle also comes in .54 caliber 
and a thumb-hole stock can be or- 
dered for left or right handed shoot- 
ers. This smokepole weighs 7.3 lbs. 
and measures 43" long. Its black 
composite stock comes set up with 
sling swivel studs. The MK85 
Knight Hawk comes in a blued or 
stainless steel barrel. 

Modern in-line muzzle loaders, like this 
Remington 700ML, (left) increase range and 
accuracy. (Above) a "modern" poioder measure. 
(Right) Horns such as this have been used for 
centuries as power containers 

The Knight Hawk has been my 
hunting partner during Virginia's 
1994 and '95 special muzzleloading 
seasons. This rifle has gained my ut- 
most respect for its noted field per- 
formance and would be a great 
choice for the muzzleloading hunter 
who demands the most of Ms equip- 

Just about the time I thought I had 
it all. Remington Arms, one of the in- 
dustry leaciers, came out with a new 
twist that is definitely getting a sec- 
ond look. The company is making a 
bold move that reaches back to its 

As America's oldest continuing 
firearms manufacturer, their first 
gvms were naturally loaded from tiie 
muzzle. In an all-out effort the com- 
pany will introduce two modern in- 
line muzzleloaders Kiilt on the de- 
sign of their famous Model 700 cen- 
ter fire rifle. 

I had a chance to talk with Rem- 
ington President and Chief Operat- 
ing Officer Tommy Millner during a 
January trip to the Shot Show in Dal- 
las. Mr. Millner said, "All of us at 
Remington are excited about the 
new Model 700ML and MLS Black 
Powder Rifle. We are confident that 
this rifle will be a leader with muz- 
zleloading hunters." 

Remington sent me their ML700 
model that comes in the .50 caliber to 
test. The rifle has a fiberglass stock 
fitted with a magnum-type nibber 
recoil pad. A solid aluminum ram 
rod is recessed into the fore-end and 
when looking from a distance, this is 
the only way you can recognize that 
it is not a center fire rifle. 

Hunters will also have the option 
of the MLS700 model. The only dif- 
ference that I have found in this 
model is it can be purchased in .50 or 
.54 caliber and comes with a stain- 
less steel barrel. 

On a recent tiip to the range I was 
very pleased to find the new Rem- 
ington muzzleloading rifle to have 
exceptional accuracy with the same 
feel and balance of my M700 Moun- 
tain Rifle. After 15 years of hunting 
with my 30-06 it was a pleasure to 
find the same bolt and cocking mo- 
tion with the new muzzleloading 

This new black powder version 
of the notorious M700 Remington 
has my attention. Its breech is sealed 
by a stainless steel plug and nipple. 
The modified bolt has a large diame- 
ter cylindrical pin that is cocked 
much the same as a centerfire firing 
pin that is released by a smooth trig- 
ger pull to strike a No. 11 percussion 
cap. The company publishes the 
lock time of their rifle at 3.0 millisec- 
onds wMch is the fastest ever avail- 
able for a muzzleloading rifle. 

My plans are to give this rifle a 
fair chance when the season opens 
this fall. From a company with histo- 
ry that dates back to 1816 there is no 
doubt in my mind that the new 
Remington muzzleloading rifles 
will be an industry leader in tliis in- 
creasingly popular sport. 

Powder, Caps, 
and Bullets 

when getting ready for your next 
muzzleloader hunt making sure 
that you have the right powder, 
caps, and bullets could play a critical 
role in the outcome. Let's take a look 
at some of the old and new products 
that just might fit in your possibles 
bag this fall. 

Black powder comes in different 
granulations, FG, FFG, and FFFG 
being the most common. With FG 
being the coarsest and FFG most 
widely used in muzzleloading rifles 
for deer hunting. 

Goex Black Powder is an old 
standby for hunters preferring the 
real thing. This company has been 
around for over 80 years and offers 
both the quality and consistency 
that hunters demand. 



Another option for powder that is 
very popular with today's black 
powder hunters is Pyrodex manu- 
factured by Hodgon Powder Com- 
pany. There has been much discus- 
sion around the campfire regarding 
this modern-day development. 
However, I have found it to be much 
less corrosive than pure black pow- 
der. This product never let me down 
under the worst weather conditions 
the Rocky Mountains had to offer 
and I find it to be a very dependable 
alternative to black powder. 

Both of these products come 
highly recommended from the 
muzzleloading industry. Always 
remember, never use smokeless 
powder in a muzzleloader. The 
muzzleloading rifle is not designed 
to handle the extreme pressures 
created when smokeless powder is 

In my travels and discussions 
with other hunters I have found 
very few concerns regarding the No. 
11 percussion cap. This could be the 
title to your next hard luck story and 
should not go overlooked. 

After firing thousands of rounds, 
I've decided CCI and the Dynamid 
Nobel RWS to be my preference. 
These caps have stood up to the test 
and get my stamp of approval. 

When discussing bullets for muz- 
zleloading rifles most fall into three 
basic categories; round ball, conical 
bullet and sabot. 

The round ball is most often used 
in barrels with a slow twist and per- 
forms with a exceptional accuracy in 
these rifles. Today, buckskinners 
looking for the more primitive ap- 
proach prefer the round ball and ac- 
cept its limits for foot pounds of en- 
ergy down range. 

Conical bullets are the most wide- 
ly used type of projectile in muz- 
zleloading rifles today. It has been 
my experience that the conical bullet 
performs better in more different ri- 
fles than any other bullet design. 

There are an assortment of out- 
standing conical bullets available for 
muzzleloading rifles on the market 
today. Two years ago 1 discovered a 
bullet called "Black Belt" made by 
Big Bore Express c^f Boise, Idaho. 
This bullet comes in a wide range of 

sizes. It loads with ease and has been 
tested with exceptional results. This 
one is high on my list and I recom- 
mend it to those shooters looking for 
the very best in muzzleloading accu- 

Most of the bullet choices now 
available to the black powder 
hunter are Very recent develop- 
ments. The sabot with modern pistol 
bullets opened a new world to the 
muzzleloading enthusiasts. 

Again, the hunter must see what 
works best in his or her rifle. Many 
muzzleloading rifles perform more 
accuratelywith sabots and provide 
the hunter the right combination for 
a successful hunt. 

In 1990, the Virginia General As- 
sembly established the special muz- 
zleloading license and the statewide 
early special season was set by the 
Department of Game and Inland 
Fisheries. This one-week season for 
bucks only allowed 33,000 hunters 
to harvest 8,000 whitetails. 

The early season that was extend- 
ed to two weeks in 1993 now offers 
most of the state some either sex 
hunting days. During 1995, growing 
interest in muzzleloading hunting 
was strongly indicated by the fact 
that 88,000 deer hunters took to the 
woods with their black powder ri- 
fles. Hunting success was measured 
by 39,809 total deer taken. 

Be sure to review your game law 
booklet before opening day and 
check with your local game warden 
or district biologist for any questions 
you may have. Make sure that you 
are very comfortable with your 
muzzleloading rifle and always 
practice good hunting safety. 

Forty-eight states now offer 
hunters the challenge of hunting 
with a single-shot black powder rifle 
through special muzzleloading sea- 
sons. This additional hunting op- 
portunity is here for all Virginians 
who are up to the test. I think John 
Wayne, one of America's greatest 
folk heroes said it best, "Always 
check your windage and elevation 
and make your first shot count." D 

Deuinj Quaiff is executive director of the Vir- 
ginia Deer Hunters Association and senior ed- 
itor of their publication, Whitetail Times. 

Author after a successful black 
powder hunt 


Gonic Arms, Inc. 
134 Flagg Road 
Gonic, NH 03839 

Modem Muzzleloading, Inc. 
P. O. Box 130 
Centerville, lA 52544 

Remington Arms Company, Inc. 

P.O. Box 700 

Madison, NC 27025-0700 


Thompson / Center Arms Co. 
P.O. Box 5002 
Rochester, NH 03867 

Goex, Inc. 

1002 Springbrook Ave. 

Moosic, PA 18507 


Hodgdon Powder Company 

6231 Robinson 

Shawnee Mission, KS 66202 


Blount, Inc. /CCI 
P.O. Box 856 
Lewiston,ID 83501 

Dynamit Nobel RWS, Inc. 
81 Ruckman Road 
Closter, NJ 07624 

Big Bore Express, Ltd. 
7154 W. State St. #200 
Boise, ID 83703 




Handicapped Hunters 

Get a Hand from the 


by David Hart 

Finding a good place to hunt has 
always been difficult, especially for 
disabled hunters. Now, thanks to a 
cooperative effort between private 
organizations, citizens, local and 
county governments, and the Vir- 
ginia Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries, handicapped 
hunters have another place to pur- 
sue one of the state's most popular 

One hundred and thirteen acres 
of the C. F. Phelps Wildlife Manage- 
ment Area, located in Fauquier 
County, is being set aside and im- 
proved for the exclusive use of 
hunters who are wheelchair-bound 
or otherwise disabled. This acreage, 
known as the Hogue tract after the 
family that donated the land, is sep- 
arated from the rest of the 4,000 acre 
wildlife management area by the 
Rappahannock River. 

Becky Norton Dunlop, State Sec- 
retary of Natural Resources, said the 
goal of this project is to increase 
recreational opportunities for all of 
Virginia's citizens. 

Improvements will include a bar- 
rier-free paved trail that will be wide 
enough for trucks and maintenance 
vehicles. The trail, which will wind 
for about one mile through the hard- 
wood forest and along the banks of 
the Rappahannock River, will have 
several spurs and cutbacks so 
hunters can cover all of the tract, 
said Rick Busch, wildlife biologist 
manager for that region. Busch also 
said eight to 10 elevated hunting 
platforms will be built to accommo- 
date a wheelchair-bound hunter 
and an aid. 

ITowever, hunters aren't the only 
ones who will benefit from this new 
project. Two or three level platforms 
will be erected along the banks of the 
river for anglers, Busch said. These 
wooden structures will be placed 
close to the water at areas fisheries 
biologists have determined to offer 
good angling opportunities. 

Gently sloping wooden ramps 
will allow disabled anglers easy ac- 
cess to these ramps. 

Handicappeci hunters and an- 
glers aren't the only ones who were 
considered when this project was 
undertaken. Interpretive signs, 
which will teach visitors about the 




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history of the area as well as the flora 
and fauna, will be erected along the 

Although there are special deer 
hunts available to disabled hunters 
throughout Virginia, none take 
place on Department-owned lands 
and none are managed solely by the 
VDGIR Also, most of the handi- 
capped-only hunts are on a permit- 
type or lottery-type basis and almost 
all are solely for deer. Busch said the 
area set aside at Phelps will be 
unique because disabled hunters 
will be able to come and go at will. 
There will be no need to make any 
prior arrangements and hunting 
will be allowed for all species in sea- 
son. Disabled hunters are allowed to 

bring an assistant, but the assistant 
may not carr}' a gun. 

This project, which will cost a 
total of $75,000, is being spearhead- 
ed by the Float Fishermen of Vir- 
ginia. This statewide angUng orga- 
nization will provide one-third of 
the funds needed to complete the 
project; the rest will come from fed- 
eral Pittman-Robertson funds set 
aside by the Department. No money 
from Virginia's general fund will be 
used to finance these improve- 

Although contractors will be 
hired to do some of the work, Dun- 
lop said she expects volunteers from 
the local community and various or- 
ganizations to participate in much of 
the labor. 

"The more people that are in- 
volved in this project means the 
more people that feel like they have 
a part ownership in it," said Dunlop. 

Busch said construction should 
be completed by the 1996 hunting 

Since this is a first-of-its-kind pro- 
ject for the VDGIF, Busch said he ex- 
pects a few minor bugs that will 
have to be worked out as the season 
progresses. The Phelps WMA is 
witliin reasonable driving distance 
to Northern Virginia, the most pop- 
ulated part of the state, as well as 
Fredericksburg, Culpeper and War- 
renton. If crowding does become a 
problem, he said the area may have 
to go to some sort of lottery or reser- 
vation system to ease hunting pres- 

Also, he was concerned about the 
fishing platforms along the banks of 
the river. The Rappahannock, like 
any free-flowing river in Virginia, is 
subject to periodic flooding. The 
wooden fishing platforms could get 
wiped out by high water and debris. 

"But," Busch said, "we'll cross 
that bridge when we get to it." D 



Before The Hunt 
Sight-in Your Rifle 

by Kermit Reel 
Photos by Dwight Dyke 

Sighting-in (zeroing) your rifle is 
perhaps the most important, but 
least emphasized, thing you can do 
in preparing for the big game sea- 
son. Failure to determine if your rifle 
will shoot to the desired point of im- 
pact may mean you do not bag a tro- 
phy, or that your freezer will not be 
stocked with a winter's supply of 
top quality meat. But much worse is 
the possibility that you will hit an 
animal in a non-vital area; the 
wounded animal will trot off to die a 
painful, lingering death — and you 
don't even realize that you hit it. 

In 20 years of conducting, or par- 
ticipating in, Sighting-In Days spon- 
sored by shooting clubs, I have 
found that many hunters do not ap- 



predate the importance of sight ad- 
justment; in other words, they do 
not understand the critical relation- 
sliip between the line of sight (what 
you see through the sights) and the 
trajectory of the bullet (the bullet's 
path), and what must be done to 
cause the line of sight and the bullet 
to converge (or, more simply, to 
allow the bullet to hit the target). 

I offer the following suggestions 
for sighting in your rifle before the 
season opens. 

€ Tighten your screws 

^ Clean barrel and chamber 

Have a good rest 
t A scope is necessary 

The author and his wife Marie (right) make 
sighting-in a family activity. 

Suggestions for 
Sighting-In Hunting Rifles 

Courtesy of the Rivanna Rifle 
and Pistol Club 

Before Going to theRafige 

Tighten Screws. Check guard or stock 
screws for tightness. If these are 
loose, consistent shooting is highly 
unlikely. Likewise be sure that rear 
sight screws — telescope or iron 
sights — are tight. If you have a tele- 

'r£5 1 

scope, check both the mount and 
ring screws. 

Clean Barrel and Chamber. Remove all 
oil and grease from the bore and 
chamber. If this is not done shooting 
may be erratic, and in some cases ex- 
cessive pressure may result. 

Obtain Sufficient Hunting Ammuni- 
tion. There is always the temptation 
to use odd lots or leftover amnio for 
sighting-in. Don't cio it! Different 
bullet shapes and weights, and dif- 
ferent loads, will group differently. 
Always sight-in your rifle with the 
ammunition you will use hunting. 

On the Range 

Use a Rest. To sight- in a rifle properly, 
you should eliminate as many caus- 
es of unsteadiness as possible. This 
means using a rest of some sort. If a 
bench rest is available, use it; if not, 
shoot from the prone position. In ei- 
ther case support your hand and the 
forearm of the rifle with a sandbag 
or some other reasonably soft object. 
Never lay the barrel on or against 
anything hard as the rifle will jump 
away from a hard surface when 
fired, causing the bullet to strike 
some distance from the normal 
point of impact. 

Start Zeroing at Short Enough Distance 
to Hit Paper If you think your rifle is 
reasonably well sighted-in, start at 
100 yards. If you have a new rifle or 
scope, or if for any reason you don't 
know where the rifle will shoot, start 
zeroing at 25 yards. When you are 
fairly close at that range, you can 
move to 100 yards and be fairly cer- 
tain that you will be on the paper. 

Basic Sight Adjustment Ride. Move 
the rear sight in the direction that 
you want the strike of the bullet to 
move. (If your shot is low, you want 
to move the next one up — so you 
move the rear sight up.) 



Changing to Meet the 

One of the Department's first fish 
hatcheries is ever-changing to meet 
the challenges of providing re- 
sources for the sportfisherman. One 
of the recent changes at the Buller 
Hatchery, in Smyth County, near 
Marion, is an addition to the hatch- 
ery so muskies, northern pike and 
other species can be reared more ef- 

CD. Stickley, hatchery superin- 
tendent, along with liis staff of Steve 
Morris, Buddy Alexander, Terry 
Call and Jonathan Howard, built, 
plumbed, and wired the block 
building addition that holds six new 
rearing tanks. Construction began in 
1994, anci was completed in 1996. 
The tanks are fitted with automatic 
feeders as well as an ultra-violet 
(UV) filter on the water supply, 
which has remedied some of the ag- 
gravating disease problems. The 
new addition and tanks replace an 
aging, makeshift structure built 
some distance away over one of the 
old, concrete hatchery ponds. 

Mainly muskies and northern 
pike are reared here. Stickley and his 
staff converted some stock (cattle) 
tank heaters to enable them to ele- 
vate water temperatures to at least 
60 degrees or more. Water taken 
from the South Fork Holston River is 
50 to 55 degrees which is a little cold 
for muskies and pike. The warmer 
temperature helps the musky and 
pike fry and fingerlings grow better 
and faster. The stock tanks are work- 
ing well but can still be improved, 
Stickley said. 

Conceniing musky propagation, 
Stickley said, "It's been a trial and 
error year on muskies. We 'raised- 
out' 10,000 2-inch fingerlings this 
year." Musky fry are raised in the in- 
side tanks, then are stocked out in 
the large outside rearing ponds at 
Buller. "The benefit to having these 
inside rearing tanks is that we can 
hold them longer inside, feeding 
them dry food, which has been very 
successful in Pennsylvania. 

Landing the nutoiiuitic feeder. 

This allows the fathead minnows 
in the outside ponds to get a head 
start on spawning, hatching, and 
growing naturally. They then pro- 
vide plenty of natural forage for the 
growing muskies when they need it 
most. About mid-July, the large, 
grown-up fingerlings of about four 
to eight inches in size are removed 
by seining, then stocked out in suit- 
able waters around the state. 

Some 6,000 northern pike finger- 
lings from about 5 to 7 inches in 
length were in the tank during mid- 
July. About the latter part of August 
and early September, they too were 
stocked in suitable Virginia lakes. D 

New Handicapped- 
Accessible Fishing 
Facility on South 
Fork Holston 

The Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries recently completed 
construction of a handicapped-ac- 
cessible fishing pier or platform, and 
a paved parking area adjacent to the 
South Fork Holston River at the 
Buller Hatchery in Smyth County. 
The access area was developed and 
built by the Fisheries Division in 
conjunction with maintenance oper- 
ations performed at the hatchery's 
water intake. According to fisheries 
biologists, the pier was designed 
with disabled anglers in mind and 
will provide a unique opportunity 
for these anglers to fish for trout in a 
coldwater stream. 

"This is the Department's first 
handicapped-accessible pier located 
on a trout stream, in the state," said 
Bill Kittrell, biologist in the Marion 
Regional office. This particular sec- 
tion of the South Fork Holston is 
managed as a "put and take" trout 
stream from October 1 through June 
15 each year, but also contains a 
healthy wild trout population. For 
more information on this, contact 
the Marion Regional Office at (540) 
783-4860. D 




by Nancy Hugo 

Witch Hazel 

\Y / itch hazel is a native shrub or 
small tree that proves the 
most interesting plants in the woods 
aren't always the most spectacular. 
Although witch hazel's leaves often 
turn a nice yellow in tlie fall aiid its 
unusual flowers bloom when little 
else does, it's not for these leaves or 
flowers that this plant is most well 
known; it's for the oil distilled from 
its twigs, branches, and bark. The 
species that grows in the understory 
of Virginia woods, Hmnamclis vir- 
giniana, is the species from which 
witch hazel, the astringent, is made, 
but more on that later 

Witch hazel can be found in moist 
woodlands and along stream mar- 
gins in almost every Virginia county, 
but it's easily overlooked until fall. 
Late fall is when its yellow flowers 
usually bloom in clusters along the 
stem. They have Vi inch, strap-like 
petals that hang like twisted ribbons 
from cup-shaped calyxes. The 
plant's odd-shaped seed pods are 
unusual, too. These 1/2 inch woody 
capsules which Thoreau described 
as looking like they were clothed in 
close-fitting buckskin, snap open in 
the fall, projecting the plant's shiny 
seeds as far as 20 to 30 feet. The 
sound of their snapping explains 
one of witch hazel's other common 
names "snapping hazel," and the 
sound of their falling, so many feet 
away from the parent tree, explains 
to some why this plant is associated 
with witches. (Dozens of other ex- 
planations have been offered to de- 
scribe the origin of the name witch 
hazel. Some authorities say settlers 
confused this native tree with the 
European hazel, a tree associated 
with witches. Others say the 
"witch" part of the name may be re- 
lated to our modern word sivitch or 
to the Old English word wick, mean- 
ing living.) 

Whatever the name's origin, this 
tree seems to have long been associ- 

ated with magical powers. Ameri- 
can Indians reportedly first suspect- 
ed its medicinal powers, concluding 
that any tree that bloomed after its 
leaves were gone must have some 
special magic, and early settlers 
used forked branches of witch hazel 
as divining rods, believing a down- 
ward tug on the branch indicated 
the presence of underground water 
More prosaic uses of the tree include 

Top: Witch hazii ii\irr- ,/,' 
Above: Witch hazel fruit. 

the use of its hard, close-grained 
wood to make bows and the use of 
the tree's seeds, buds, or twigs as 
wildlife food. Ruffed grouse, wild 
turkey, pheasant, bobwhite, deer, 
beaver, rabbit, squirrels, and other 
small mammals reportedly use 
witch hazel to a limited extent in 
their diets. 

Another notable aspect of this 
tree is the presence of small, pointy, 
upright galls on its leaves. These 
conical galls, formed by insects, are 
so outlandish looking they can al- 
most be used as field marks to help 
identify the tree when it's in leaf but 
not in flower Naturalists Gupton 
and Swope describe them as looking 
like witches' hats — a good associa- 

tion to help anchor tliis tree's name 
in the mind of a cl"iild. 

It's the "aftershave connection" 
that interests most people in witch 
hazel, however. If you've ever 
slapped your face with witch hazel 
aftershave or treated a bug bite with 
witch hazel lotion (both are uses for 
the same watery liquid you can buy 
in pint bottles for about 89(t), you've 
been applying a distillate of this tree. 
I tracked down the distributor and 
then the manufacturer of the witch 
hazel sold in my grocery store and 
found out most witch hazel is har- 
vested in New England by farmers 
who have turned its harvest into a 
"iiice little industry." According to 
Tom Johnson, a chemist who works 
for the company m Essex, Conriecti- 
cut, where Witch Hazel (Hamamelis 
Water) is manufacttired, the tree's 
twigs, branches, and bark are loaded 
into a "still," steam is applied, and 
the vaporized oils are then con- 
densed on the other side of the distil- 
lation apparatus. (The tree's leaves 
aren't used commercially, although 
lots of advocates of home remedies 
suggest the tree's oils could be dis- 
tilled from these, too.) According to 
Johnson, witch hazel really does 
work as an astringent, tightening 
skin and closing pores. The label on 
a bottle of Witch Hazel lotion also 
suggests it can be used "For the re- 
lief of minor skiri irritations due to 
insect bites, minor cuts, or minor 
scrapes," but I was skeptical about 
this until I used it to treat an arm 
abraded by that awful bur cucum- 
ber (Sicyos angulatus) that grows 
along riverbanks. If you've ever 
pulled a canoe out of the water and 
into bur cucumber, a vine with big 
maple-like leaves, you know the 
vine I mean. It tears your skin like 
sandpaper and leaves a mean rash 
behind. Witch hazel, I am pleased to 
report, works like magic to remove 
the rash and take the sting out. D 



by Col, William Antozzi, Boating Safety Officer 

How To Enjoy Safe Boating 
More Than Ever 

T n a recent article I discussed inter- 
esting new and sometimes differ- 
ent items which boaters might be 
able to use in order to make boating 
more fun. I have found a few more 
to tell you about. 

Boaters often find that they do not 
have a tide table when they need 
one. The answer to their problem is 
the tide watch. Now they can have a 
graphic display of tides right on 
their wrists at all times. They will 
know what the tides are doing every 
day of the year. Not only that, but a 
tide watch usually has a graphic dis- 
play of the height and direction of 
tides, a countdown timer and a con- 
ventional calendar... reference to a 
tide chart is advised when setting 
the tide watch. Most tide watches 
are waterproof to 100 feet and cost 
about $65.00 Tide clocks are also 

Automatic focus binoculars are 
easier to use than the common vari- 
ety. There are a couple of buttons on 
top which, when depressed, cause 
the binoculars to constantly change 
focus as required. The result is that 
objects being viewed are always in 
sharp focus. That feature is particu- 
larly important when looking at fast 
moving objects. 

Some inflatables now come with 
aluminum decks. Roll-up boats 
make a lot of sense because they 
combine the performance of a sport- 
boat with the portability of a dingy. 
The problem has been to design a 
boat with a deck that is stiff enough 
on the water, yet, light and flexible 
when stored. Some new roll-up 
boats use hinged marine-aluminum 
which locks-in place to form rigid 
lightweight decks that can be rolled 
in or out of the boats. The secret is 
the interlocking extrusions which 

hinge down to roll up. They are 
rock- solid when flat. 

Some boaters pull more than one 
type of trailer with the same vehicle. 
One might be a boat-trailer, another 
could be a utility trailer or a PWC 
trailer. The problem could be that 
the boat trailer mates to a 2" ball and 
the other trailers need a 1 ^s" ball. 
The solution is to mount both size 
balls on the same receiver hitch. 

Balls come in male and female 
forms. The former is mounted on a 
male stud, the latter in a threaded 
hole. One of each can be purchased 
and screwed together on the hitch. 
Some balls have coarse threads and 
some fine so their compatibility 
must be checked before purchase. 

New on the market is an L- 
shaped seat for inflatable dingies 
which pamper the derriere. Much 
more comfortable than a hard seat, 
this one is 41 inches long and 34 
inches wide. Molded-in eyelets per- 
mit lashing in place. The cost is 
about $30.00. 

Towing ftm can be doubled with 
the "tube for two" which is actually 
two large tubes fastened together 
like Siamese twins. They usually 
feature heavy-duty, 3-gauge PVC 
with electronically welded seams 
and tough 840 denier coated nylon 
cover. The combined tubes make 
quite a large item, about 56 X 91 
inches total. The cost is about 

High quality, better than ever, fil- 
ters are available for both gasoline 
and diesel engines. The latest model 
fuel filters are fascinating in their op- 
eration. As the dirty fuel mixture 
travels down the center of the filter, 
it reaches a cone-shaped passage 
where the pressure of the fuel drops 
dramatically. That pressure drop 

causes the water and dirt to fall out 
of solution and settle in the bowl at 
the bottom of the filter Additional 
surfaces attract the remaining water 
which beads and falls to the bottom. 
Finally, the fuel passes through the 
filter element and the remaining 
particulate matter and water is re- 
moved. By using the depressurizing 
cone, prior to the filter element, a 
finer filter (2 microns) can be used 
because the fuel is cleaner when it 
reaches the filter element. There are 
few things more satisfying in life 
than draining a cup of gritty water, 
from a high quality fuel filter, before 
it had a chance to get into the engine. 
1 was surprised to learn, when 
winterizing my boats, that I could 
no longer use the regular antifreeze 
that I use in my cars; Now I use a 
potable antifreeze, environmentally 
safe, which is a low-toxicity replace- 
ment for conventional antifreeze. It 
makes sense because, when the en- 
gines are started in the spring the an- 
tifreeze is usually discharged into 
the water. Conventional antifreeze is 
usually a deadly poison. Propylene 
glycol antifreeze is just as effective as 
the conventional, deadly ethylene 
glycol and it is non-toxic, tasteless, 
and orderless. D 



by Jack Randolph 

ctober, the month of the har- 
vest moon, usually brings us 
the first real relief from the heat and 
humidity of summer. It is the month 
when goldenrod continues to guard 
the roadsides, its yellows mingling 
with the scarlet of sumac against the 
tapestry of autumn hues as the 
green leaves change to the distinc- 
tive autumn uniform of their 
species. This year the harvest moon 
will shine its brightest on the last 
days of this golden month. 

October is the traditional month 
of harvest. It is the time when acorns 
and nuts fall and wildlife has an op- 
portvmity to find lots to eat before 
the thin months come and food is 

Fishermen, their ranks thinned 
by the lure of the hunting season, 
look to October as one of the best 
months of all to fish in Virginia. The 
hatchery trucks are rolling again and 
the trout fisherman can bring along 
his .22 rifle to collect a few squirrels 
to build the mountain man's answer 
to surf and turf. 

For the salt water angler, this is a 
great month. Spot, croakers, floun- 
der, and other species form up and 
start the long swim down the bay as 
they participate in the annual fall ex- 
odus. Smart fishermen set up an am- 
bush in the lower bay. The Small 
Boat Channel, inside the first island 
of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tun- 
nel, is a good place. Here they collect 
enough big croakers and spot to fill 
their freezers or to salt down to be- 
come the main attraction at a future 
deer camp breakfast. 

Offshore, schools of big, chopper 
bluefish will appear later in the 
month as the blues head to warmer 
waters for winter. Closer inshore, 
generally off the Eastern Shore, look 
for schools of gray trout, often 
mixed with croakers. These trout are 
usually on the small side with an oc- 
casional "tide-runner" showing up, 
but the scant, four trout daily limit 

removes much of the incentive to 
fish for them. Fishing for other 
species can be more productive. 
This, for example, is also the time of 
year when tautog and sea bass fish- 
ing picks up. 

In good years this is the time to 
catch speckled trout, but this hasn't 
been a good year for the species. 
However, in mid-month the tidal 
water striped bass season reopens 
and hardly anyone will be missing 
the trout. Yet, even the striper fishing 
needs time to get going. The October 
part of the season is usually a bit on 
the slow side and the stripers run 
small. They really don't get rolling 
until the water temperatures drop. 

On the Eastern Shore in the surf of 
the Barrier Islands the red drimi will 
be on the prowl again, providing 
some of the best surf fishing for this 
species along the East Coast. 

This is the time of year when 
freshwater landlocked stripers com- 
mence to stir in such waters as Smith 
Mountain Lake, Buggs Island Lake, 
and Lake Gaston. At first they will 
be lean from the hot summer's fast- 
ing, but they will soon fatten up. As 
the leaves take on color, crappie and 
pickerel will begin to hit and bass 
start to feed more heavily to prepare 
for the coming winter. October is the 
month when smallmouth bass fish- 
ing puts on its grand finale. As the 
water temperatures start to fall the 
smallmouth action drops right 
along with it. By the end of the 
month most of the canoe liveries on 
the smallmouth rivers are closed — 
but fishing is only half of the story. 

October is also a month for the 
hunter starting with doves and rails. 
The early duck season which, while 
only a few days long, accounts for 
about 25 percent of the total Virginia 
harvest of ducks and is very popular 
throughout the Commonwealth. It 
is during this brief period that the 
vast majority of Virginia wood 
ducks are accounted for. This is the 

time when the services of a good re- 
triever are appreciated as the willing 
pooches root out the wood ducks 
from the dense grasses where they 
often drop when shot. 

The squirrel season opens in the 
northern half of the state this month, 
which means it is now open 
statewide. The big excitement is the 
opening of the bowhunting season 
for deer and turkeys and, a week 
later, the opening of the archery sea- 
son for bear. 

Hound music will enrich the 
night air about mid-month when the 
seasons for hunting raccoons and 
opossums open, while late in the 
month the mountains will echo 
shotguns as hunters celebrate the 
opening of the grouse, turkey, and 
woodcock seasons. 

When the bowhunting season 
opens many hunters take to the trees 
where they hunt from tree stands. It 
is a time that calls for caution. 
Hunters hunting from trees are 
wary of squirrel hunters with whom 
they are sharing the woods, but the 
greatest danger comes from the tree 
stands themselves. They are as 
deadly as firearms and account for 
nearly as many serious accidents. 

Homemade or abandoned home- 
made tree stands are frequent causes 
of these dangerous accidents. Some 
are also due to hunter negligence, 
generally the hunters failure to learn 
how to use his stand. Other tree 
stand accidents are the result of 
some weird gun handling. 

This reminds me of a fellow who 
was deer hunting with a bow and 
arrow out West quite a few years 
ago. To keep his broadheads sharp 
he placed his arrows in small holes 
in his truck bed. He had them in 
there point up. It might have been a 
good idea had he not forgotten and 
sat on an arrow as he changed his 
boots! D 





"A Remote Possibility" 

By Lynda Richardson 

t was really hot. Melting in my 

truck on a steamy Virginia day, I 
pulled another cold, wet sponge 
from a bag of ice and pressed it 
against my forehead. Binoculars 
rested precariously on the hot steer- 
ing wheel and my hand clenched 
the trigger. 

Three hundred feet of telephone 
wire snaked leisurely along the 
ground in front of me, crossing a 
road, climbing a fire wall and reclin- 
ing along its top to disappear on the 
opposite side. With 10 X 50 binocu- 
lars I could see its path continue up a 
10 foot ladder to a mass of metal, 
plastic, and duct tape; my remote 

I was trying to photograph a pair 
of kestrels, also known as sparrow 
hawks, which had chosen a well 
placed nest box designed for their 
use. Inside the box, three fiesty 
yoimgsters waited for a breakfast in 
bed of grasshoppers and dragon- 

Using remote cameras can be one 
of the most frustrating, challenging, 
and exciting ways to take pictures of 
wildlife. With proper planning, a lot 
of creativity and patience, one can 
captvire images of animals during 
their daily activities using lenses 
which require close proximity, not 
something wild animals normally 
allow you. In these situations, re- 
mote cameras are the only way to 
capttire such moments. 

Remote cameras are set up based 
on whether the photographer or the 
animal itself is triggering the cam- 
era. Radio waves and hard wire re- 
motes are usually triggered by the 
photographer. Infrared, pressure 
contacts and light switches are usu- 
ally triggered by the subject. Some 
set ups, such as those used to photo- 
graph the NASA shuttle launches, 
take advantage of sound to fire a 
camera. In the case of the kestrels, I 

used a hard wire remote which I 
triggered by hand. 

Now, let's talk about the critters 
we're photographing. Animals are 
very aware of their environment 
and any changes that may take place 
in it. In remote photography, you 
will be placing an unfamiliar object 
in your subject's territory which in 
turn creates stress for the animal 
particularly if the camera is placed 
near a nest or den site. For this rea- 
son, you must acclimate the animal 
to your set up or you might scare the 
animal from the site causing it to 
move or abandon its young. 

In every case, I observe my sub- 
ject first. I try to learn a pattern of 
habits that can help me place the 
camera (and sometimes a blind) in 
an inconspicuous location but at the 
same time still get the photograph I 
desire. To do this, I first create a faux 
camera. By nailing together left ovei- 
pieces of 2X4 into a camera /lens 
shape and painting them black, I 
have a "dummy" camera. The 
dummy is then placed in a location 
some distance from the chosen site 
and over a period of anywhere from 
a day to a week to a month, it is 
moved closer and closer to it's final 
resting place. It is very important 
that each time you move the camera 
position that you step back and 
watch from a distance to make sure 
that the animal accepts the new po- 
sitioning before you leave the area. 
Otherwise you may come back to 
find your subject has departed or 
died. If a new position stresses your 
subject, move the dummy back to 
the previous spot and try again later. 
You will not be able to get relaxed 
wildlife photographs if the subject is 
uncomfortable and worried. 

Once you have moved your cam- 
era into position it's time to set up 
for the photographs you've so pa- 
tiently prepared for. Choose an ex- 
posure that will work for the time 
the animal will most likely visit the 



i^HH ^ 


J^y ' 




t ^ 





77)(> /s the hard ivirc iviiiotc set up I used for pho- 
togrnpluiig kestrels feeding tlieir i/ouiig at a nesting 
box at Amoco Oil's Yorktoum, Virginia refiuen/. 

site. Add fill flash if you think it's 
needed. If you are hand triggering 
the remote, place your blind as far 
away as possible and use binoculars 
to watch your subject. Try to remain 
patient and calm at all times antici- 
pating the "decisive moment" and 
shooting a second or two before it 
occurs. Be aware that the sound of 
your camera firing may surprise 
your subject. Take a shot or two but 
then let the animal return without 
firing the camera. (This is really hard 
to do! ) It will take a lot of practice but 
once you get your film back it's a 
treasure hunt. Each image provides 
insight into what you might do next 
time to get a better shot. 

Remote camera work is an art. 
You have to go through many steps 
and procedures and consider a lot of 
variables to finally come up with a 
photograph that is great. D 

By Joan Cone 

Wood Ducks Are Always A Treat 


Mushroom Barley Soup 

Apple Glazed Wood Duck 

Almost No-Fat Refried Beans 

Broccoli And Avocado Salad 

Banana Pump>ki)i Pie 

Mushroom Barley Soup 

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 

1/2 cup chopped onion 

Yi cup margarine or butter 

Ys cup flour 

3 cups chicken broth or bouillon 

2 cups milk 

1/2 cup quick pearled barley 

1 tablespoon cream sherry 

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 

1 teaspoon salt (optional) 

3 tablespoons chopped parsley 
Vs teaspoon pepper 

In a large saucepan, saute mush- 
rooms and onion in margarine. With 
slotted spoon, remove mushrooms 
and onion; reserve. Stir flour into 
drippings; continue cooking over 
medium heat until flour is browned, 
stirring constantly. Gradually add 
water and milk. Add remaining in- 
gredients. Bring to a boil and reduce 
heat. Cover and simmer 10 to 12 
minutes or until barley is tender, 
stirring occasionally. Additional 
water or milk may be added if soup 
becomes too thick upon standing. 
Makes six 1 cup servings. 

Apple Glazed Wood Duck 

2 wood ducks, skin on, split down 

1 large red cooking apple, cored and 
cut into quarters 

2 tablespoons flour 

1 cup chicken broth or bouillon 
Apple Glaze 

1/2 cup apple jelly 

2 tablespoons apple juice 

Preheat oven to 375°. Place 2 
quarters of apple in each duck. Tie 
ducks together with string to keep 
apple in carcass. With a sharp fork 
prick the ducks' skin. Shake flour in 

a Reynolds Oven Bag, 10 x 16-inch- 
es, and place in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch bak- 
ing pan. Add chicken broth to bag 
and blend with flour using a wooci- 
en spoon. Place ducks in bag, skin 
side up. Close bag with nylon tie 
and make 6 half-inch slits in top. 
Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Mean- 
while, in a 1 -quart saucepan, com- 
bine glaze ingredients and heat until 
jelly is melted. Remove ducks from 
oven and split bag down middle. 
Bmsh ducks with glaze and bake 10 
to 15 minutes at 425°, basting fre- 
quently with remaining glaze until 
meat is desired doneness. 

Note: For a sweeter gravy, add 
some of the glaze to the gravy after 
removing it from the bag. Cut ducks 
in half for serving. Allow 1 small or 
1/2 duck per person. 

* Almost No-Fat Refried Beans 

(For pressure cooker) 
1 1/2 cup pinto beans, soaked 

2 garlic cloves, peeled 

1 small onion, halved 
4 cups water 

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

2 tablespoons sour cream or light 

sour cream, if desired 
1 teaspoon chili powder, or more to 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
Salt and cayenne 

Put the drained beans, garlic and 
onion in the pressure cooker and 
add 4 cups water. Cover and bring 
up to high pressure. Reduce heat to 
stabilize pressure and cook 10 min- 
utes. Release pressure by running 
cold water over the cover. Drain 
well. Mash contents of cooker with a 
potato masher. Add the vinegar, 
sour cream, chili powder and cumin 
and blend well. Season with salt and 
cayeruie to taste. Makes 6 to 8 serv- 

Broccoli and Avocado Salad 

1 1/2 pounds young tender broccoli 

1 avocado 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped 
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustarci 
Y-i cup extra- virgin olive oil 
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley 

Cut the broccoli florets from the 
large stems, reserving the stems for 
another use. Fill a saucepan with 
salted water and bring to a boil. Add 
the florets and boil until barely ten- 
der, about 3 minutes. Drain, cool 
uncier cold, running water and 
drain again. Set aside. Peel and pit 
the avocado and cut it into cubes. 
Place in a small bowl and toss with 1 
tablespoon of the lemon juice to pre- 
vent darkeiiing. Place the avocado 
and broccoli in a salad bowl and add 
the nuts. In a small bowl, stir togeth- 
er the remaining lemon juice, mus- 
tard and salt to taste until well 
mixed. Add the oil and parsley, stir- 
ring vigorously until blended. Pour 
the dressing over the salad, toss gen- 
fly and serve. Makes 4 servings. 

Banana Pumpkin Pie 

1 (9 ounce) ready-made greiham 
cracker pie crust 

2 medium, ripe bananas, mashed 
1 cup canned pumpkin 

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated 

skimmed milk 

1 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 

Preheat oven to 400°. Place pie 
crust on center of baking sheet; set 
aside. Combtrie bananas, pumpkin, 
milk, egg, sugar and spice in large 
bowl, stir until well blended. Pour 
into pie crust. Bake at 400° for 15 
minutes. Redvice heat to 350°, and 
bake 40 to 45 minutes more or until 
knife inserted in center comes out 
clean. Cool completely on wire rack. 
Serve at room temperature or 
chilled. Makes 8 servings. D 

*This recipe is from Tlie Best Pressure Cook- 
er Cookbook Ever, by Pat Dailey, published 
by HarperCollins, 1994. 

To enjoy Joan Cone's game cooking course 
on the Internet, use the following code, 
http: / / / mindstore/ cook 


r f 

^ X ^ 



Common Fish ••^^!^^ 
of Virginia (3 ^^ 

Just $8 eacti. Specify: 
fresliwater game fish 
(2 1 "X 36"), wood duck, barred 
owl, white-tailed deer (all 
1 9 1/2 "X 27 1/2"), saltwater 
fish (21 3/4" X 34"). 
Make check payable to: Treasur- 
er ot Virginia and send to: Vir- 
ginia Wildlife Poster Off^er, 
VDGIF, P.O. Box 11104, 
Richmond, VA 23230- 1104. 




> What other calendar can 

tell you when your favorite 
songbird returns or when a 
shadbush blooms, when you 
can hunt deer or when you 
should go fishing. . .all in one 
It's all there, in die 1996- 1997 
Virginia Wildlife calendar! But 
wait! This calendar comes with 1 3 
super wildlife photos, a great new picture for your wall each month. 

Make check (for $6.50) payable to "Freasurer of Virginia and send 
your order to Calendar, VDGIF, P.O. Box 1 II 04, Richmond. VA 23230- 
1 104. (Calendars run from Sept. 96-August 97.) Supplies are limited so 

order yours today. 

"Winter Comfort" by Bob Henley, a 
signed and numbered limited edition 
(950) print 13"X 19 1/2". $45.00 

Make check payable to Treasurer 
of Virginia and send to "Winter 
Comfbrt" VDGIF, P.O. Box-^ 
1 1104, Richmond, VA 23230- 

[e Gife 



— ' VIRGINIA ' -=■ 



" ^ VIRGINIA ^ -^ 



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The Reptiles of Virginia 

by Joseph C. Mitchell. $40 plus $2.25 each postage and han- 
dling. This is the first complete catalogue of Virginias snakes, 
lizards, and turdes. Featuring 63 full-color illustrauons, distri- 
nirion maps and easy-to-use identification keys in 384 pages 
Order from: Smithsonian Institution Press, Blue Ridge Simi- 
mit, PA 17294-0900. Call toll-free 1-800-782-4612. 

Freshwater Fishes of Virginia 

by Robert E. Jenkins and Noel M. Burkhead. $85. This 
authority on the Virginias fishes takes an in-depth look at 
2 1 fish species. Over 1 ,000 pages with 40 color plates. 
Order from: Virginia Chapter, American Fisheries Soci- 
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checks payable to VA Chapter, AFS. 





Now you can proudly display your 
support of the Virginia Department 
of Game and Inland Fisheries with 
our white-tailed deer , largemouth 
bass, mallard or brook trout Wildlife 
Conservationist license plates. Avail- 
able from the Deprtment of Motor 
Vehicles (see gray card in this maga- 
zine). .Sales proceeds will benefit 
VDGIF^ efforts to conserve and 
manage fish and wildli^^pepulationj 
toda}^«^and tomorro^ 

Virginia Wildlife 1995, $ 1 5.00. 
In one handsomely bound volume, you can have 
all 12 issuesofV/V^wM W/Mi^ at your fingertips. 
A ready source of information and reference mate 
rial for young and old. 
Order from: 
Virginia WiUlife, P.O. 
Box 11 104, Richmond, 
VA 23230-1 104. M;ike 
checks payable to: 
Treasurer of Virginia. 

lationj - 


Virgima C "OW-l 
Water Resource 

, Beginning Angler or Bass n Basics. 

, $ 1 S each. The perfect gift for the 

J promising young iingler, ^f^ww/'w^ 

' /4«^Zfr includes a 30 minute video, 

an 1 8-page color identification 
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a pocket field guide to fishing lakes 
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bass. Includes a 2-hour video, tips 
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11 104, Richmond, VA 23230- 
1 1 04. Make checks payable to 
Treasurer of Virginia. 









.-••"■•« .Ik.- 1.. • ... •*•■•-•-...•.