Sunday, September 28, 2014

Freezing Chicken of the Woods

Keeping Chicken of the woods for future use is very simple. You just have to clean them thoroughly and saute them. They are then ready to freeze, This was my 4th batch today, All were about the same size. I think I have enough to make it through the winter, now. These were heated and stirred into olive oil and chopped garlic. You can use your imagination for what you want to use. Butter or chicken broth work well, too.

Things Change

The first week of September was coming to a close and I was accepting the fact that I wasn't going to get any Chicken of the Woods this year. I always have found most of them during the first week of July and the first week of September. Not this year. the only little skillet full that I had was in late May. I didn't have any trouble finding these mushrooms on just about every trip; my problem was that they were all way too old when I found them.

I have found a lot during the last 7 days or so and now have close to twenty pounds of frozen Chicken of the Woods. They will sure make our seven month winter a little more tolerable. I have yet to find ANY oyster mushrooms this year. You would think that with all of the rotting stumps in this country they should be everywhere. I an hoping that our fall rains will result in a good bloom before everything freezes up. Shaggy Manes should be popping up soon, too. Yep, things can quickly change; if you don't give up.

Note: To freeze Chicken of the Woods you must first saute them in olive oil or butter and then freeze them Chicken broth is another simmering option. Try whatever you want, but they must be heated before freezing.

 (c) 2014 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pet Peeve

OK, sometimes I just see stuff and can't imagine why it was done. Here is one that probably irritates me more than anything else. Why do people insist on throwing organic matter over the hill in plastic bags? Hint: Haul it, dump it out and take the dammed bag back home and use it for something else. I don't care what it is; corn stalks, leaves, deer bones..It doesn't make any difference: Take Your Bag With You !!!

The first photo is corn stalks dumped at one of my favorite bird spots. The second one is a bag full of corn stalks dumped at the same spot, about 15 feet away. which do you prefer? Leaves are another thing that will soon be dumped. That will then be followed by deer remains. I have no problem with either if you take your plastic back home. Everything else will soon decompose or be consumed; not PLASTIC BAGS !!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Walk Between the Parks

Bigtooth Aspen (c) High Virginia Images

Final Walk Between the Parks event Oct. 4 at Canaan Valley Resort and Blackwater Falls state parks

DAVIS, West Virginia– The final Walk Between the Parks event of 2014 is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 4. The walk between Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park is an 8-mile / 4-hour scenic hike and is considered moderately strenuous.
"In the fall, the Walk Between the Parks allows hikers to enjoy exceptional fall foliage up-close-and-personal," said David Vance, walk leader and guide.
The season finale hike includes a cookout lunch at the halfway point along the trail. The menu consists of hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, fresh fruit, cookies and cold/hot drinks. Supplies for lunch are brought in for the cookout, but hikers should carry their own water and snacks. Hikers will encounter wet and rocky terrain and are encouraged to wear hiking boots or cross-country walking shoes and carry their own water and snacks.
"I've been leading these hikes since 2006 and I can honestly say that each hike offers something new," said Vance. "But it's the fellowship you experience on these hikes that keep people coming back year after year."
Shuttle service will leave the Main Lodge of Canaan Valley Resort State Park at 9 a.m. and take hikers to the starting point at Blackwater State Park; or hikers can meet at the Blackwater Falls State Park Farm Discovery Center at 10 a.m. The shuttle will return to Blackwater Falls State Park between 2 and 5 p.m. to return hikers who started from Canaan Valley Resort.
Registration fee is $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-12. The fee includes an event memento, cookout and shuttle service from Canaan Valley Resort State Park. Register online at or in-person Saturday morning from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Because of its popularity, early registration is recommended for this event.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park, located in Tucker County, is a four-season mountain destination and the highest mountain valley east of the Rocky Mountains, with a base elevation of 3,100 feet. Nestled among 6,000+ acres on a plateau overlooking the valley, the resort offers sweeping views of the surrounding peaks.
The newly renovated Main Lodge boasts 160 new guestrooms and has recently been awarded a three-star rating by AAA. In addition to the lodge rooms, the resort offers 23 cabins and cottages, 34 campground sites and more than 25,000 square feet of conference space consisting of 10 meeting rooms, an exhibit hall and an outdoor pavilion. Visit the resort website at or call 800-622-4121 for more information.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

West Virginia 2014 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook

Northern Red Oak

SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia – The 2014 "Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook" is available on the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources website and printed copies will soon be available at DNR offices across the state, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section.  Since 1971, the Wildlife Resources Section, in cooperation with volunteers from numerous other agencies, has conducted a fall mast survey to determine the abundance of mast produced by 18 species of trees and shrubs.
"The availability of fall foods has significant impact on wildlife populations and harvests," said Taylor. "Our biologists have used the mast survey data to demonstrate the strong correlation between mast conditions and deer, bear and turkey harvests. In addition to the impacts on harvests, the amount of food available each year can affect the reproductive success of numerous species which will affect population sizes in following years."
Production of acorns is much improved over 2013 and will have noticeable effects on the 2014-2015 hunting seasons. However, hickory and beech produced mast well below the 43-year average. Considering all 18 species of trees and shrubs surveyed, food conditions are at the long-term average.
"It is very important for hunters to scout and consider the type and amount of food available in the areas that they hunt," added Taylor. "One of the primary traits of this year's mast crop is its consistency across the landscape. Hunters can find a wealth of facts in the 'Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook' and it should provide them valuable information before heading into the field."
Copies of the 2014 "Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook" may be downloaded from the DNR website at under "Hunting." Information analyzing mast conditions and wildlife harvests also is available on the website.

Seems to me that they should also include a commodity index for the price of corn.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Virginia Creeper
Changes and frost are in the air. Gnats and mosquitoes are in despair. The Summer was almost tolerable; if you weren't a tomato fan. But it is done. Reality is now setting in.I'm just hoping that autumn will last more than a week. Acorns, acorns everywhere.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

West Virginia Invasive Species Strategic

Japanese Knotweed

West Virginia Invasive Species Strategic Plan out for public comment

SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia – The draft "West Virginia Invasive Species Strategic Plan" is now available for public comment.
"Non-native invasive species cost West Virginia millions of dollars every year," said Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section. "These plants, animals and pathogens reproduce rapidly and have no native predators, so they have become a leading cause of biodiversity loss worldwide. They reduce timber regeneration, lower mast production, degrade wildlife habitat and decrease stream quality."
Annual losses and control costs for invasive species in the U.S. are estimated to exceed $127 billion.
The strategic plan is intended to enable West Virginia and all entities operating within its borders to address the threats posed by terrestrial and aquatic invasive species, including pathogens, which occur or may occur, in the state. Modeled after similar plans nationwide, the plan describes the status of invasive species in West Virginia and proposes a comprehensive set of goals and strategies to address their impacts. This voluntary plan is designed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of all stages of invasive species management efforts that occur wholly or partially within the state of West Virginia.
Recommended management goals include:
  • Coordination
  • Prevention
  • Early Detection
  • Rapid Response
  • Control and Management
  • Research and Risk Assessment, and
  • Education and Outreach
The document is available for download at under "Top News Stories." Please submit comments to Whitney Bailey, either by email at whitney.bailey@mail.wvu or by postal mail to the WVDNR Elkins Operations Center, P.O. Box 67, Elkins, WV 26241. Comments are due by Oct. 22, 2014.
The West Virginia Invasive Species Working Group first proposed the plan several years ago. It has been developed with the expertise of dozens of professionals from various agencies and organizations across the state.
Major contributors include The Nature Conservancy, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, The West Virginia Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area. Development of the plan was funded in part by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force through the Maryland Sea Grant.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Jackpot !!

I have had the worst mushroom season that I have ever experienced. Yes, 2014 has been epic in futility. I haven't had trouble actually finding any mushrooms. My problem has been that everything I have found should have been found during the previous week. I haven't found much of anything that was fit to eat. I had a grand total of 3 chanterelles. Things have gotten so bad between me and the Chicken of the Woods that I just look at them from the truck with binoculars. I usually haven't had to take a better look to see that they weren't any-good.

Today (9/19/14) started out the same. I decided to check out a Barbour County road where I saw some too old chickens last year. I hadn't gone very far up the road and there was an oak log that was totally covered with Chicken of the Woods; way too old ones. I barely had to slow down to make that determination. Yep, same old same old should have been there last week. I continued onward and after a short distance there was an old, very nasty yellow and orange looking Lion's Mane growing on a beech tree.

I guess mushroom hunting is about like turkey hunting; you sure aren't going to get anything if you are not out there. I was thinking that at least I'm headed towards a spot where the dogs like to walk. Then I saw it; a small clump of fresh chickens on a stump. Not many, but enough for a meal. It was the little clump on the right side of the photo. Well, at least it wasn't another couple of gallons wasted on a foraging trip. I gathered them and headed on.

I was nearing the end of productive mushroom woods and happened to look up on the hill and there they were; a nice bunch growing in the top of a Sandy snapped tree. I could barely reach them but i managed to get them all and only fall over the hill, once. I now have enough to eat this weekend and enough to freeze for Thanksgiving. This is the latest in the season that I have ever found any good Chicken of the Woods. I figured we are about into the period of nothing except for Oysters and Shaggy Manes. Things look up when you don't give up.

(c)2014 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) 2014 High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ginseng Bust

Striped Maple

WVDNR Law Enforcement officers seize illegally harvested ginseng in southern West Virginia

BECKLEY, West Virginia – A year-long investigation by Natural Resources Police Officers in southern West Virginia has resulted in 11 arrests and the seizure of 190 pounds of dry ginseng that was illegally harvested before the ginseng digging season began Sept. 1. The estimated market value of the ginseng is $180,000.
In addition to the ginseng, officers also seized multiple stolen guns, illegal drugs and pills, and $30,000 in cash, according to Lt. Woodrow Brogan of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement District 4 office in Beckley. District 4 includes the counties of Fayette, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Wyoming, McDowell, Mercer, Summers and Monroe.
"The legal digging and selling of ginseng root has been a part of the culture of southern Appalachia for more than a hundred years," Lt. Brogan said. "Many people in this area have supplemented their income by digging ginseng, almost all of which is exported to Asia. In the past, they took care to preserve the resource, but we've noticed in recent years an increase in people wanting to make a 'fast buck' by digging and selling as much ginseng as possible, both in season and out. Much of that increased activity includes unlicensed dealers trading illegal pills for ginseng root."
Working with officials with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, which regulates the ginseng digging season and licenses dealers, DNR police officers investigated and conducted two weeks of multiple raids on illegal diggers and dealers, confiscating the dry ginseng and other items.
Eleven arrests have been made to date and several more arrest warrants are expected in the near future as this is an ongoing investigation, according to Lt. Brogan.
About West Virginia's Ginseng Season
West Virginia's 2014 ginseng digging season began Sept. 1 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 30. The native herb grows in all of the state's 55 counties and is ready to harvest when its berries turn red. West Virginia state law requires "sengers," those who dig the root, to only harvest plants with three or more prongs. The number of prongs indicates the age of the plant. Only plants 5 years old and older can legally be harvested. In addition, sengers are required to replant the berries/seeds from the parent plant in the spot where they harvested it to help continue the species.
The following laws also apply to the harvesting of ginseng:
  • No permit is needed to dig wild ginseng, but anyone digging ginseng on someone else's property must carry written permission from the landowner allowing him or her to harvest ginseng on the property.
  • Digging ginseng on public lands, including state forests, wildlife management areas or state parks, is prohibited.
  • Diggers have until March 31 of each year to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the Division of Forestry weigh stations.
  • Possession of ginseng roots is prohibited from April 1 through Aug. 31 without a weight-receipt from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
A list of registered ginseng dealers for 2014-2015 is available in the ginseng section of

Monday, September 8, 2014

Look Familiar ?

Female Familiar Bluet
This damsel fly is common statewide and has the longest flight period of any of our other bluets. The Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) may be found well into October at most any wet-spot near you. Females are usually hard to find in the wetlands; until they are ready to breed. These photos were taken near the Blackwater River in Tucker County, WV on September 4, 2014.

Male Familiar Bluet

(2014) High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) 2014 High Virginia Images..All Rights Reserved

Wild Food Weekend

Find, prepare and eat wild foods during Nature Wonder Weekend Sept. 19-21, 2014, at North Bend State Park

CAIRO, West Virginia – Forty-seven years and still wildly popular is Nature Wonder Weekend at North Bend State Park. This year's event is set for Sept. 19-21. The late nature author Euell Gibbons initiated an interest in wild food, turning dandelions and paw paws into gourmet delicacies. The event, North America's premier and longest-running wild foods event, begins Friday evening and concludes Sunday afternoon. It includes speakers, presentations, nature walks, and collection and preparation of wild foods.
"This year's event has a focus on mushrooms," said organizer Emily Fleming. "Gary Lincoff of New York City is the featured speaker with the assistance of members of the West Virginia Mushroom Club."
Lincoff has led mushroom study trips and forays worldwide and is a featured "Myco-visionary" in the award-winning documentary "Know Your Mushrooms." Lincoff is also the author of the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.
The weekend activities include a park tour, dinner, presentations, the Hazel Wood National Wild Food Cooking Contest and the Bill Faust Wild Cake Contest. The Wild Drink Contest winner is awarded the honorary Maxine Scarbro Friendship Cup.
"Many guests return year after year for Nature Wonder Weekend, Fleming said. "Individuals attending for the first time are always amazed at the types of wild foods often overlooked as well as the presentations and the afternoon wild food social hour. Mushrooms and other edibles are always fascinating to learn about and to learn how to prepare."
The weekend offers overnight packages as well as day-only attendance options. The individual cost is $169 when two people share a room. This rate includes five meals, all activities and programs. Other rates are available for single occupancy room, cabins, and fees for only the activities. To register, please contact Wendy Greene at the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources at 304-558-2754 or email Reservation forms and additional information also are available online at the Event Calendar listings at Overnight options include lodge rooms, cabins or camping sites. Please specify your preference during registration.
Although wild foods are featured throughout the weekend, five conventional meals will be provided by the North Bend Lodge Restaurant.
Nature Wonder Weekend Schedule
Registration begins at the North Bend State Park Lodge Friday, Sept. 19, from 2 to 8 p.m. A park tour is scheduled at 3 p.m. and a buffet dinner is at 6:30 p.m. A Wild Foods Cooking Contest will be held that evening, including prizes for best wild food cooks, best wild cake and best wild drink.
After Saturday breakfast, small groups will take guided hikes in search of edible wild foods. Following lunch, the groups will prepare wild foods for the social hour that evening. A buffet dinner is available in the lodge restaurant Saturday evening.
Sunday will include a morning worship service and a wild foods workshop.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Nope, we are not going to discuss fishing from or in trees; although I have seen a few people spend a good portion of their time casting into said trees. I do believe that the majority of fish will be caught in some type of water. Terrestrials to the fishing world are land based insects that sometimes end up falling in the water and therefore become fish food. The cooler nights of September change fish back into a daytime feeding pattern. The combined effects of heat and less available oxygen during the peak of summer make most of our fish species predominately nocturnal predators.
Low water levels make river and stream fishing difficult at this time of the year, The fish are there and are feeling the lean times of winter approaching. They want to eat and will feed on whatever is most abundant. The mayfly and caddis fly hatches are over; with a few exceptions. Minnow and crayfish populations have thinned out over the summer. What does that leave out there for forage? Things that haplessly fall in or are blown into the water become the most reliable food source.
Waters that are bordered by grassy areas tend to have an abundant population of grasshoppers. Where do some of the grasshoppers end up anytime something walks by? Fish know that, too. I love fishing high mountain streams when the leaves are beginning to show some color. Careful wading is a must to prevent spooking the fish. Fine tippets are not needed and often a less than perfect cast which makes your grasshopper pattern land with a plop; often works best. You probably will not notice any rising fish. Casts should be made to ambush spots such as points sticking out into the water or overhanging vegetation. You never know what may be laying there and waiting for a meal. Rises are not dainty little sips, either. You should use a much heavier tippet than you would when normally dry fly fishing. This one tip will save some heartache when you see red spots the size of your thumbnail.
Now I know some of you are thinking: I don’t have any grassy meadows or sods nearby. Don’t worry. There is another option. Actually there are two other options. Overhanging trees and rock ledges tend to be hotspots. Just think of the menu underneath a tree: Ants, Beetles, Caterpillars, Leaf-hoppers and Spiders; just to mention a few. Sounds like a good place for fish dinner and the food supply is replenished with every breeze. Try sitting and staring alongside a rock ledge that meets the water sometime. Spend fifteen minutes and you will be enlightened. It is unbelievable how many creatures fall into the water. There is always something rolling in. Fish know that; you should too.

Those of you that are looking for something peaceful to do between now and when the snow starts flying should get an empty fly box and prepare it for your autumn trips. Yes, trips. I know that after you go once during this un-traditional time you will keep going back. Fill up your box with grasshopper, beetle and ant patterns. Throw in a few small Slate Drakes and Blue-winged Olives and you will be set for anything that happens. Enjoy.

This is my article in the September 2014 print issue of Two-Lane Livin
(c) 2014 High Virginia Outdoors

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bat Money !!

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources receives grant to address White-nose Syndrome in bats

SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced grant awards totaling $1,276,088 to 30 states for white-nose syndrome (WNS) projects, including a $45,700 grant to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section (WRS).  These funds will be used to monitor the state's bat populations and assist with research efforts focusing on White-Nose Syndrome, a disease which affects cave-dwelling bats. 
First discovered in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, the disease has spread through the eastern U.S. and parts of Canada, and continues to move westward. To date, the disease has been found in 25 states and five Canadian provinces.  WNS was first documented in West Virginia in February 2009.  White-Nose Syndrome is caused by a cold-loving fungus which affects bats while they are in hibernation. 
Mortality from the disease can be extremely high, and the impact of WNS varies with bat species.  The bat which appears to be hit the hardest is the little brown bat. Prior to the appearance of WNS, this species was one of the most common bats in the state.  Winter surveys conducted by WRS biologists to monitor hibernating bats indicate that in West Virginia this species has declined by more than 96 percent since the winter of 2008-2009.
The WRS surveys also show an 87 percent decline in tricolored bat populations and an 80 percent decline in Indiana bats, a species which was considered endangered even before WNS appeared. Because all bats in West Virginia feed solely on insects, the loss of these bats results in a loss of a source of natural insect control. 
The federal funds the WRS is receiving will fund biologists to monitor populations of bats in winter and summer, assist with ongoing research looking for ways to control WNS, and to participate in regional and national workshops addressing this disease.           
Additional information about WNS is available at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September Shoveler

There is a Northern Shoveler at the Davis WTP in Tucker County, WV today (9/3/14). The age and sex of this bird is open for discussion. It sure isn't something we tend to see around here at this time of the year.

Discovering Dragonflies

Male Common Whitetail
I was recently blessed with my discovery of Dragonflies and Damsels. I don't know why it took so long but I guess I just really never paid much attention to them. Yeah, there were big ones and little ones; bright ones and dull ones. But, I really never took time to look. During a short 30 minute time frame in August; I took photos of 8 different species and never moved more than 20 feet. Wow!

Got you thinking now, don't I? There are around 130-140 different species that may be possibly found in West Virginia. I am going to start out with one of our most common Odonata. The Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia) is a thick, stocky dragonfly that may be found statewide near any muddy bottomed pond, river or stream.It prefers to perch on a horizontal position on logs or rocks. The photo of the male was taken at Mill Creek Reservoir in Barbour County, WV. The female photo was taken at Condon Run in the Otter Creek Wilderness Area of Randolph County, WV.

Female Common Whitetail
 (c) 2014 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c)2014 High Virginia Images All Rights Reserved