- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is happy with the early results of hunters using a toll-free “Got Game” telephone checking system. Hunters shoot a deer, pick up a phone and call a number to report it. End of check-in.

Otherwise, to avoid trouble you must visit an approved deer check station or, if one is not available, you would have to stop at a sheriff’s office for a check-in tag to prove you killed your deer legally. (I’ve done it a number of times in Loudoun County.)

Pennsylvania’s deer checking also has entered a new phase with a mail-in reporting system. And in Maryland, just like in neighboring states where deer populations have astonished even the most seasoned wildlife biologists, local deer check stations are so nonchalant about recording kills that they will take you at your word. Hardly anybody looks at the deer.

During this first year of Virginia’s call-in “Got Game” program, nearly 2,000 hunters used the system Oct.30, the opening day for the state’s early muzzleloader season. Imagine what will happen Saturday when the state’s general firearms deer season begins.

Some hunters are having problems using cell phones to call in. As we all know, not all cell phones are created equal; neither is the reception quality in rural areas. Virginia game officials encourage hunters who use cell phones to make sure they are in an area with strong signals before calling in a game kill. Better yet, use a landline. Of course, you also can go the traditional route by visiting a check station.

If you’re planning to phone in a deer kill, be sure you’re not driving on a highway amid traffic noise or with your radio playing, etc. Find a quiet place before dialing.

When you call you will need to have your license ready and to know how to find the 7-digit number following the VA prefix. Be prepared to answer a series of questions, such as the county where the deer was shot, the sex of the animal and the number of antler points.

Listen carefully before entering the requested data. If you make a mistake, the system will let you correct it. A pen is needed to write down a confirmation number, which consists of a letter, followed by 11 digits. The call-in system will repeat the number as often as you want.

Don’t forget to write the confirmation number on the license next to the notch that was made in the field. (Incidentally, turkeys that are shot in the fall and bears cannot be phoned in. They must be recorded at a game check station.)

The number to check in a deer is 866-468-4263. Look at the VDGIF Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov, which offers a list of check stations and information about hunting seasons, laws and regulations.

Goose hunting mini-clinics — Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in the Arundel Mills shopping center off Route 100 in Hanover, Md., invites local hunters to attend several free mini-clinics conducted by veteran hunter and goose caller Mark Hoke. You will learn goose behavior among resident and migratory populations, techniques to attract them to decoys, how to select the right call and how and where to set up decoy rigs.

The clinics will be held Nov.19 at 7 p.m., Nov.21 at 1 p.m. and Dec.19 at 1 p.m. Pre-registration is not required.

Boat ramp may be inaccessible — There’s a chance Charles County’s Friendship Road Landing boat launch approach will be paved today, so boaters who plan on fishing in the Nanjemoy Creek shouldn’t be surprised if they are told to turn around. It might be best to just forget the creek today and use other waters.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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