Friday, January 23, 2015

Taylor Snow

Snowy Owl
The reports started filtering in yesterday (1/22/15) morning; a Snowy Owl was spotted on US 50 West of Grafton. The first thing I looked at was if it was from a credible source; it was! I had never seen a Snowy Owl and headed out as soon as I was able. The first half of the trip was excruciating; following a dump truck full of gravel which was following a DOH truck flinging salt; in the freezing rain. Can you say slow?

I finally got clear sailing in the middle of  Philippi and cringed at the thought of the pre-bypass days. The rest of the trip was uneventful and I was west of Grafton looking at road signs; hunting the right intersection. As soon as I got to the Berry Run/Meadland intersection there was a pair of crows harassing a Red-tailed Hawk. I started searching, back and forth on the two mentioned roads. Bluebirds and a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks was all I could find.

I headed west on 50, hoping for better results and there it was; near the first house. Two white objects and only one was a Wal-Mart bag!! Treacherous is the only way to describe this location; as far as getting off the road or even slowing down. I took several photos from a fence post at the edge of the house'driveway; as traffic flew by. I noticed a lady in the back yard and decided to make contact with her. I was just hoping to not get run-off or dog bit. I soon realized that the dog or the lady wasn't going to be the problem. The watch goose was the real threat. I asked the lady if she new what was in her yard; she said öh that thing is back again". The Snowy Owl has been there for about a week; according to her. I was able to get some really good photos from her fence-line. It was more than I had hoped for or expected. I hope geese don't carry rabies.
Snowy Owl (c) 2015

The owl caught something while I was there. I thought it was a chicken house rat at first. But, after staring at the photos I think it is either a young muskrat or a small mink. There was a weedy ditch running through the location; so it could be either. Anyway. it was a pretty good day for January.

(c) 2015 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) High Virginia Images ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Virginia Police Notebook

Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region I - Tidewater  

Felon Apprehended - On December 23, Conservation Police Officer Kopelove was contacted by a hunter who has exclusive permission to hunt an expansive property in Henrico County. The caller stated that he observed two males with shotguns step over the gated and posted fence that gives access to the property. After asking the individuals what they were doing, they stated that they were going duck hunting. The caller told them that it was posted property and they left. The caller was able to get the license plate of the vehicle and provide it to Officer Kopelove. Kopelove made contact with the subjects that afternoon and obtained confessions from both individuals to duck hunting the day before and attempting to deer and duck hunt that morning. One individual is a two time convicted felon and under an active protection order and was lacking required duck stamps. The other individual was a juvenile who provided the firearm to the felon. Both firearms involved were retrieved and seized as evidence. Applicable charges will be made after consultation with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.
Stay Tuned for Continuing Investigation - On December 26, Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Honaker received a complaint of trespassing in the Mannville section of Scott County. The complainant advised others saw hunters on his property earlier in the week and he had not given anyone permission to hunt. The complainant lives in Tennessee and had not been to his property in about 2 months. Officer Honaker met the subject at his property that afternoon. The subject told the officer that he has a small hunting lodge on the far side of the property. Officer Honaker and the landowner walked the property and found that the lock on his hunting cabin had been broken and remains of some items were found outside. Officer Honaker contacted the Scott County Sheriff's Office. A deputy arrived on scene a short time later. As Officer Honaker waited for the deputy to arrive he noticed a game camera nearby. The landowner said that it was his hunting partner's camera. Officer Honaker retrieved pictures from the camera that showed subjects entered the cabin on December 25 at approximately 19:25. When the deputy arrived they entered the cabin and found that it had been vandalized. Several items were missing according to the landowner. A list of missing items was made and photographs were taken by the deputy. A portable heater had been set against a wall and turned on in an apparent attempt to set the cabin on fire. The propane was soon used up and the only damage was the wall had been scorched. Officer Honaker began tracking at least one person that led him through one property to a church parking lot about one-quarter of a mile away from the cabin. The officer gave the deputy the evidence that he collected for an investigator with the Sheriff's Office to pursue. The Scott County Sheriff's Office is continuing the investigation.

Region II – Southside

Planned Decoy Operation Nets Repeat Offender - During a planned decoy deer operation in December, Sergeant Karl Martin and Conservation Police Officer Travis Ferguson prepared to set a decoy deer in a rural area of Franklin County where they had received numerous complaints of road hunting. As the officers left the roadway to place the decoy, they observed a pick-up truck where a man and a younger male (who turned out to be a juvenile), were attempting to load a deer into the bed of the truck. The 18 year old man had just killed a doe in the exact spot that the officers had planned to set the decoy. However, that's not the end of the story. The man asked if he was in trouble again? This same individual had been in Franklin County General District Court the week before for multiple game law violations for illegally killing two deer in October. For this offense, he was charged with trespassing and other related wildlife offenses; his second series of offenses for the season.
Fatality Not a hunting accident - On December 31, Conservation Police Sergeant Karl Martin and Conservation Police Officer Dale Owens were traveling to a meeting with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Officers when they were notified that there had been a hunting incident in Patrick County. The initial call was that a rabbit hunter had been injured when shot by a companion hunter. As the officers were responding to the call, it quickly escalated when they were notified that the victim had died. Upon arrival, it was determined that the shot fired by the other hunter was intentional and that the 19 year old shooter had intentionally killed the 63 year old companion hunter. Both officers assisted the Patrick County Sheriff's Office and the Virginia State Police with the investigation. Charges of first degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony were placed by the Patrick County Sheriff's Office.
Spotlighting Patrol - District 21 personnel participated in spotlighting saturation patrols on January 2-3. Conservation Police Officer Eric Dotterer observed an SUV slow and cast lights into an area frequented by deer and sped off. The operator fled the scene and was pursued through Pittsylvania County into Henry County. Three Henry County men were arrested and charged with killing deer with the aid of lights, eluding police and other game law violations. Three firearms, a vehicle and suspected drugs were seized. After the initial arrest, officers found six freshly killed deer in the general area. The investigation is continuing with the possibility of additional arrests being made.

Region III - Southwest

Illegal Deer Kill - On December 17, Senior Conservation Police Officer Gene Wirt investigated a complaint of a female suspect killing a deer with a .25-06 rifle during muzzle loading deer season in Floyd County. During the investigation, Officer Wirt asked her to describe how to load, cock and fire a muzzle loading rifle. When she was unable to do so, she just kept saying "You know, it's a standard one". She had no idea that the inline that she borrowed required a disk and shotgun primers to fire it. A confession was obtained for her shooting the deer with her .25-06 rifle.
Elk Kill - On December 27, Virginia Conservation Police Sergeant Jamie Davis was notified of an elk kill in Russell County. Upon arriving at the residence of the hunter, Sergeant Davis noticed the cow elk had tags in her ears indicating she had been stocked in the spring of 2014 and should have had a tracking collar around her neck. Sergeant Davis had the hunter take him to the location of the kill and notified Biologist Johnny Wills and Senior Officer James Hale. Officer Hale and Wills went to the location of the kill on December 30, and found the missing collar within 150 yards of the kill site. It appeared to have been subjected to tampering and was damaged. The collar is being sent to the DFS Lab to test for touch DNA per the Commonwealth Attorney. Officer Hale soon discovered that the hunter was trespassing to hunt where the elk was taken. On January 2, Senior Officers James Hale, James Brooks, Dan Hall and Sergeant Jamie Davis executed a search warrant at the hunter's residence to retrieve the elk and its parts. During the search, officers found multiple game law violations including illegal possession of deer, turkey, and bobcats. This investigation is continuing and appropriate charges will be placed against the subject.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Convicted Felon - On January 3, Senior Conservation Police Officer Boulanger was proceeding east on Rt. 522 in Orange County when he observed multiple hunters dressed in camouflage clothing and wearing blaze orange, running across the highway and hop a farm gate. He pulled off the road to make contact with the hunters and observed one of the hunters immediately head back towards his direction. A second hunter, who was carrying a 12 gauge shotgun, appeared to ignore the fact Officer Boulanger had pulled off the road and slowly continued to make his way through a field heading away from the officer. Once Officer Boulanger was able to make contact with the hunter, the hunter made his way back toward Officer Boulanger's patrol vehicle. Once all hunters were back at the gate, Officer Boulanger was able to determine that the hunter that had attempted to walk away from him was a violent sex offender and a convicted felon. The hunter also did not have a hunting license or a bear, deer, turkey license. Subsequently, the hunter was placed under arrest and transported to the Central Virginia Regional Jail where he was held without bond.
Illegal Deer Kill - On January 2, information was received that several hunters were killing deer illegally on private property belonging to a rock quarry in Rockingham County. Senior Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Wayne Billhimer and Senior CPO William Herndon walked the property and located several areas baited with corn. The officers also located numerous freshly killed deer carcasses in black plastic bags. On January 3, Senior CPOs Billhimer and Herndon conducted a foot patrol of the property while Senior CPO Rob Ham remained stationed at the entrance/exit to the property. The first suspect was located and while CPO Herndon interviewed the hunter CPO K- 9 Officer Billhimer and CPO "Justice" back tracked the hunter, locating a dead button buck near an area baited with corn. The suspect admitted to killing the deer and to putting the corn out. During the interview he admitted to the illegal killing of several other deer. A second adult was located hunting in a ground blind with corn all around him. This hunter advised that he did not know the corn was there; but with his floorless blind, it was hard to deny the corn that was under his feet. He also admitted to the illegal killing of deer. The third individual located was a juvenile that was not charged, but was sternly warned about his illegal activity. The investigation continued to a fourth individual that had been hunting this property during the season, but was not hunting this day. During the interview he confessed to killing a 4pt., 8 pt., 5 pt., and 3 antlerless deer. The total deer killed by the group was 11 deer with 7 deer taken illegally. The following charges will be placed; hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, hunting without a muzzleloader license, failed to wear blaze orange(x2), exceed yearly limit, failed to tag(x4), failed to check(x4), kill deer during the closed season(x5). The investigation is still active.
Kids Shop With Cops - On Wednesday, December 17, 2014, officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) partnered with the Virginia State Police to take Franklin County children Christmas shopping at the Rocky Mount Walmart and then to brunch at Bojangles. The second annual "Shop with a Cop" event was made possible through contributions from Walmart, Bojangles, other local businesses and individuals. Rocky Mount and Franklin County police officers also assisted children with purchasing family gifts, clothes and school supplies. Read the full story courtesy The Franklin News Post.
These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at

It would be nice if WV would do something like this. I have been reading this from Virginia for several years. They publish it once or twice per month. Yep, Virginia lets you know what is going on out there; instead of leaving one to wonder if Anything is happening.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Good Things From Virginia

Mountain Fork and Little Stony Creek Trout Streams Restored to Fishable Populations... VDGIF Regional Aquatic Resources Manager, Bill Kittrell, reports that there are two new special regulation trout fisheries in far southwest Virginia available for anglers this year. Mountain Fork and Little Stony Creek, both within the boundaries of the Jefferson National Forest in parts of Wise and Scott Counties, support newly established trout fisheries maintained through fingerling stocking. Beginning in 2010, Department biologists partnered with members of the Little Stony Chapter of Trout Unlimited and began a brook trout fingerling stocking program on Mountain Fork and a brown trout fingerling stocking program on Little Stony with the goal of establishing natural reproducing, fishable populations. Results have been successful with the establishment of multiple trout year classes. It is hoped that natural reproduction will eventually sustain the populations. Both streams are accessible by foot trail and are regulated as catch and release trout streams. They should provide excellent recreational opportunities for anglers. A Virginia resident (or non-resident) fishing license and a National Forest Stamp are required to fish in these streams. Read more about this restoration program in a feature article by Katie Dunn, Staff Writer in the December 2, 2014 edition of the Coalfield Progress newspaper, "Trout restocking shows promise ."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Here we are once again New Year and same old crap. Yep, I’m going to do this and that this year. Yeah, right. That stuff might last a couple of weeks; before reality sets in. Not the phony reality from those silly TV shows; the real stuff. We seem to be pre-wired to settle into the same old safe and familiar things and at some period in one’s life that comfort factor takes control. Don’t lie to yourself. It happens.
This country was made by explorers. Settlers followed and settled. Settlers needed to establish forts so they could feel safe and secure from natives. Settlers created cities because they had to rely upon others to meet their needs. Settlers needed money to survive and satisfy their wants and needs. Explorers needed food and shelter. They learned to meet their needs without help from others. Some survived; some died but they did so on their own terms. They learned new skills by necessity. They taught themselves to live. They never got rich or flourished. They just lived. They made their living by staying alive.
The older I get; the more I lean towards the explorer side. I get sick of the same old routine. Wheel spinning isn’t good enough anymore. I have tried and tried but haven’t been able to excel or flourish within the normal expectations. I did the same job for about ten years. It was tolerable and allowed a certain freedom, but I had to stay where phones worked. We all know that phones do not tend to be very useful in many of the good places Not in West Virginia. I like the good places and couldn’t afford to run a couple of thousand miles a week on 4 dollar gas. I wasn’t afraid to try something new. I’m still searching for the right something new, though. I’m just going to give you a few words of wisdom to those who are looking for something new as far as employment goes. There is a reason that some places seem to have perpetual help wanted signs. Enough said. Use your own judgment to draw conclusions.
This is about the time that I should be thinking about going fishing at least once per week; until November or so when thoughts turn to filling the freezer with venison. This to me now seems to lean toward the settler side. The reality side; which seems to lean toward the explorer side goes more like this. I’m going to feed wood to the stove, eat ramps, asparagus, venison, mushrooms and blackberry cobbler while I’m waiting on April to get here.  The arrival of spring means that it is time to start getting ready for the upcoming winter.

I’ve seen Blackwater Falls and Seneca Rocks That just isn’t good enough for me. I need to see what is upstream, downstream or on the other side of the hill. Yes, status quo isn’t good enough anymore. I need new and if you are honest with yourself; you do too. Happy New Year and lets do something new this year.

This is my January 2015 article for Two-lane Livin
(c) 2014 High Virginia Outdoors Photos (c) High Virginia Images ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Rough-legged Hawk
I think I will go hunting in Canaan Valley tomorrow. I am going to go in search of a Rough-legged Hawk. I definitely need to upgrade my hawk photos. This one from 2012 is the best RLHA that I have. We only have a short window of opportunity to find these visitors from the tundra of the north. A few hardy individuals come here to winter on our West Virginia Tundra.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Everyone knows that our Eastern Chipmunk disappears when the cold winter winds blow. Did you ever wonder how a chipmunk’s life could be compared to those of the human race? The chipmunk hibernates during the winter months but it is not a period of continuous inactivity. Things are happening down there; below the frost line.
Our little furry friend builds a burrow system that contains food storage chambers, a bathroom chamber and a sleeping chamber. The entrance to the burrow is plugged with leaves for insulation and camouflage from passing weasels. Life goes on down there in that tiny little apartment throughout the winter. The chipmunk’s body temperature lowers to that of the air temperature in the burrow. Usually this temperature is around 40 degrees and the little mammal begins to take long naps. Unlike the bear which stores body fat for the winter; the chipmunk awakens from time to time to consume calories from its pantry.
The chipmunk has a unique ability to raise its body temperature. Every few days it raises its body temperature to around 94 degrees; gets up, visits the bathroom chamber, snacks and goes back to sleep. If it happens to feel a warm breeze coming through the burrow; it may pop its head out of the burrow entrance and soak up a few rays from the sun. This cycle is repeated over and over throughout the winter months.
By now you are wondering how this applies to humans. I myself have no love of the winter season. I’ve had enough of it by the time the New Year rolls in. There are always those who proclaim their love of winter. They always get me wondering; do they love the frigid temperatures, the icy roads, winds blowing the stinging icy snow pellets sideways, zero visibility, frozen fingers or seeing the antennae on their vehicle grow to the size of a shovel handle; maybe they love the thrill of sliding down the road uncontrollably, just hoping to stop.
No, they love winter; two days after the storm has passed. They love to clear blue skies that follow and the fluffy white snow. They love traveling on the clear dry roads on which over the previous two days workers have risked life and limb to clear for them. They love going to the grocery store and talking about that last storm they endured; while they watched through their picture window.

Yes, they love winter just as the chipmunk loves winter. It isn't too bad if you’re not out there in it. The little chipmunk doesn't have to worry about hawks, foxes or house cats or anything else; while locked in the safety of its burrow. Myself; I’m waiting on spring green and am not in any way afflicted with the chipmunk syndrome. Thinking of Spring!
(C) High Virginia Outdoors ALL RIGHTS RESERVED