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Wild Life


Recent Articles

Thursday 02/04/2016
Posted: February 04, 2016 - 12:04 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Urban archery season need more exposure

Things were looking promising for the William Rose family during the recent urban archery season.

Tuesday 02/02/2016
Posted: February 02, 2016 - 7:00 pm
Bill Cochran: Cold-weather outing produces trophy trout

The temperature in Southwest Virginia was 16 degrees the January day Clyde Hurst hooked and landed a rainbow trout of a lifetime on a hand-tied No. 16 Pheasant Tail Nymph. Yes, you can catch trout ...

Thursday 01/28/2016
Posted: January 28, 2016 - 12:07 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Crowd turns out to discuss hunting dog issue

The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, a group dedicated to preserving the deeply rooted tradition of hunting with dogs, claims to have 60,000 members and growing. Last week, it appeared that every one...

Tuesday 01/26/2016
Posted: January 26, 2016 - 6:00 pm
Bill Cochran: Angler meets goal of catching a fish in all 50 states

David Howard has been an avid fisherman most of his life, but for a long time never pursued his passion beyond the borders of his native Virginia.

Thursday 01/21/2016
Posted: January 21, 2016 - 10:35 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: New Pioneer Airbow deemed illegal for hunting in Virginia

Crosman, the 90-year old company that built your granddads Red Ryder BB gun, has introduced a new shooting product through its Benjamin brand called the Pioneer Airbow.

Posted: January 21, 2016 - 9:45 am
Cold water big fish

This wild rainbow trout was caught and released on Jan. 18, 2016, in a Mount Rogers Recreation Area stream by Clyde Hurst IV of Draper. Clyde, who reported the fish as a 10-pounder, was using a 3wt...

Tuesday 01/19/2016
Posted: January 19, 2016 - 7:00 pm
Bill Cochran: Study addresses conflicts between hound hunters and landowners

The sound of hounds hot on the trail of a deer is music to the ears of some hunters and a curse to landowners who claim that the dogs and their owners hunt off public roads and trespass on private ...

Thursday 01/14/2016
Posted: January 14, 2016 - 5:28 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Contest judged deer by appearance, not a tape measure

Jeff Phillips, host of Star City Whitetails, a website for deer hunters, asked me to be one of five judges in his deer contest. The assignment was to take a careful look at 19 pictures of trophy bu...

Tuesday 01/12/2016
Posted: January 12, 2016 - 3:00 pm
Bill Cochran: Pen-raised quail keep bird hunters active

The last time you could count on flushing a covey of wild quail on Jack Leffel’s land in Botetourt County was in the 1980s. That’s what Leffel’s friend, Ed McCoy, recollects.

Wednesday 01/06/2016
Posted: January 06, 2016 - 6:30 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Deer kill up 12 percent

With the bulk of Virginia’s 2015-16 deer season over, it doesn’t appear the kill is going to be as high as some hunters had expected.

Tuesday 01/05/2016
Posted: January 05, 2016 - 5:30 pm
Bill Cochran: Trail cameras are extra eyes for conservation police officers

Someone in a four-wheel drive was purposely tearing up the gravel road that runs through the Haven Wildlife Management area.

Wednesday 12/30/2015
Posted: December 30, 2015 - 5:45 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Warm fall means plenty of food for deer

Elly Robinson has spent 22 years on his Piedmont Virginia farm, but can’t recall a fall like this one when warm and damp weather has provided an abundance of late season food for deer.

Tuesday 12/29/2015
Posted: December 29, 2015 - 3:00 pm
Bill Cochran: Top outdoors stories of 2015

The new $21 license required of bear hunters in Virginia is my pick for the top angling/hunting story of 2015. What’s more, it is destined to create even more headlines in the coming year.

Wednesday 12/23/2015
Posted: December 23, 2015 - 5:00 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Hunters for the Hungry ahead of last year

Venison processed by Hunters for the Hungry to feed the needy is running 12,000 pounds more this year than at the same time period last year.

Tuesday 12/22/2015
Posted: December 22, 2015 - 5:00 pm
Bill Cochran: Big striped bass brighten holidays for Chesapeake Bay anglers

Now is the time to catch the biggest striped bass of your life, maybe join the elusive 50-Pound Club, or even knock off the Virginia saltwater record of 74 pounds, landed off Virginia Beach by Cary...

Wednesday 12/16/2015
Posted: December 16, 2015 - 6:00 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Rex Smith was 'Mr. Striper' at Smith Mountain Lake

Rex Smith, who fostered a positive relationship between fishermen and fish officials as long-time president of the Smith Mountain Striper Club, died Monday.

Friday 12/11/2015
Posted: December 11, 2015 - 3:00 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Private landowners can help restore grouse

While much of the blame for the decline of grouse is placed on national forest officials for their failure to providing more new forest habitat (see Bill Cochran Column), private landowners also ha...

Wednesday 12/02/2015
Posted: December 02, 2015 - 7:00 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Thanksgiving Day turkey hunt sees 44-percent increase


Tuesday 12/01/2015
Posted: December 01, 2015 - 6:00 pm
Bill Cochran: 15-point Henry County buck is contest material

Gary Gilbert believes the 15-point buck he killed in Henry County during the recent western firearm’s deer season will be the one to beat come contest time next year.

Wednesday 11/25/2015
Posted: November 25, 2015 - 8:45 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Key to deer hunting success is persistence

Veteran hunter Elly Robinson has the following advice for deer hunters:

Friday 11/20/2015
Posted: November 20, 2015 - 10:00 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Deer kill neck-and-neck with last year’s poor showing

Many hunters expected Virginia’s 2015 deer kill to bounce back from last year’s crash of 21 percent.

Wednesday 11/11/2015
Posted: November 11, 2015 - 2:00 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: How to take advantage of Smith Mountain Lake’s improving fishing

Rain and cooler temperatures have added oxygen to the water of Smith Mountain Lake, and this has scattered the fish.

Tuesday 11/10/2015
Posted: November 10, 2015 - 5:30 pm
Bill Cochran: Hunters believe coyotes putting the bite on deer population

It wasn’t a pretty sight, a dead deer in the middle of a field, one of its sides ripped out and most of its organs gone.

Sunday 11/08/2015
Posted: November 08, 2015 - 4:06 pm
Bill Cochran Field reports: Deer kill up a modest 6 percent

Virginia’s deer kill, including the early bow season, youth weekend and the opening weekend of the muzzleloading season, has reached 27,000, a modest 6-percent increase over last year’s major decli...

Friday 10/30/2015
Posted: October 30, 2015 - 9:16 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Below average acorn crop impacting wildlife and hunting

I recall years ago Kit Shaffer giving me a turkey hunting tip:

Wednesday 10/21/2015
Posted: October 21, 2015 - 11:46 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Deer management plan not just a hunting document

The board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has endorsed a 136-page deer management plan that is designed to guide the state’s deer program through 2024. This is the third rev...

Tuesday 10/20/2015
Posted: October 20, 2015 - 5:15 pm
Bill Cochran: Trout fishery on lower Smith River enticing, but a pain to reach

One of fly-fishing’s best kept secrets in Virginia is the developing brown trout population in a 10-mile section of the Smith River below Martinsville Dam.

Friday 10/16/2015
Posted: October 16, 2015 - 1:00 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Big bear taken by 11-year old on youth hunt

Eleven-year old Emily Crouch, who attends Bedford Middle School, killed a 465-pound bear during youth bear hunting weekend. She has been hunting since age 9 and has two deer and a gobbler to her cr...

Tuesday 10/13/2015
Posted: October 13, 2015 - 12:34 pm
Bill Cochran: Some days you just can’t catch a fish

This isn’t about the big catch, or the big fish that got away. It is about the fish that didn’t bother to show up.

Thursday 10/08/2015
Posted: October 08, 2015 - 2:42 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Tough weekend of bowhunting yields trophy buck

For many sportsmen, opening weekend of the 2015 bowhunting season will be remembered for its gobs of rain and wind that made life miserable and is credited with lowering the kill by 40 percent. The...

Thursday 10/01/2015
Posted: October 01, 2015 - 10:30 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Western hunters score well in State Big Game Show

The State Big Game Show in Hampton Saturday and Sunday had competition from the rain and the youth/apprentice hunting weekend, thus the attendance and the number of trophies entered were down.

Tuesday 09/29/2015
Posted: September 29, 2015 - 4:48 pm
Bill Cochran: Deer season should be better, but not a return to “the good old days”

“What’s happened to the deer?”

Friday 09/25/2015
Posted: September 25, 2015 - 11:26 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: West Virginia preparing for elk release

West Virginia has taken a cautious approach to reintroducing elk, but now is moving forward, having lease 9,000 acres to be a major part of its new “elk zone.” The combination of mined mountaintops...

Tuesday 09/22/2015
Posted: September 22, 2015 - 3:44 pm
Bill Cochran: Small game offer big rewards

Small game hunting arrives when the first tinges of autumn color appear on the ridge tops; the sky turns a deep blue and the air is crisp. It is a prime time to be outdoors.

Thursday 09/17/2015
Posted: September 17, 2015 - 11:27 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: A 116-pound catfish catch said to be third largest in Virginia

Tim Richardson and Steve Dudzinski, neighbors who live near Kerr Lake, were trolling for striped bass on the north end of the 50,000-acre impoundment when they landed what Richardson has documented...

Tuesday 09/15/2015
Posted: September 15, 2015 - 4:39 pm
Bill Cochran: Angler wants trout plan to foil hatchery truck followers

About 10 years ago, Hugh Elliott began sending letters to top officials of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, telling them that their trout stocking program needed revamping.

Wednesday 09/09/2015
Posted: September 09, 2015 - 7:30 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Smith Mountain Striper Club sets Oct. 3 open fishing tournament

Come early October, the striped bass in Smith Mountain Lake are likely to be found most anywhere. Many will be moving up both arms of the lake and others will continue to hold to the deep water in ...

Wednesday 09/02/2015
Posted: September 02, 2015 - 10:19 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Big game show sponsors looking to next year

The Western Regional Big Game Contest last weekend at the Salem Civic Center wasn’t just a display of trophy deer heads, it was an effort to save a competition that dates back 76 years and is belie...

Thursday 08/27/2015
Posted: August 27, 2015 - 8:29 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Dates set for duck hunting

Duck hunters in Virginia will be a operating under a familiar three-way split season that provides the following benefits:

Sunday 08/23/2015
Posted: August 23, 2015 - 2:30 pm
Fishing report: Terrestrial patterns key component to stream angling

There are those anglers who tell you that fly-fishing with one or the other terrestrial patterns is as automatic as fishing gets.

Thursday 08/20/2015
Posted: August 20, 2015 - 3:56 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: New hunting-law digest slick and informative

Sportsmen picking up a copy of the new 2015-2016 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia digest are in for a pleasant surprise.

Saturday 08/15/2015
Posted: August 15, 2015 - 6:50 pm
Fishing report: Lily pads increase challenge for anglers

For even the most gentle-minded gardener, there is nothing they loathe and despise more than weeds.

Thursday 08/13/2015
Posted: August 13, 2015 - 11:41 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Fish officials say “No Bite” is nonsense

Anglers call it “No Bite.” Some say officials of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries put it into hatchery truck tanks when trout are being stocked in order to retard their hunger s...

Wednesday 08/05/2015
Posted: August 05, 2015 - 12:14 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Hunters opposed to ban on urine-based scent

The National Deer Alliance surveyed its member and found strong support for the use of deer urine scent to attract deer and mask human scent. Some 76-percent of the participants said they opposed e...

Thursday 07/30/2015
Posted: July 30, 2015 - 8:00 pm
Bill Cochran Field Reports: All about bears, benefits and a big game show

Sportsmen sign petition to rescind bear license

Tuesday 07/28/2015
Posted: July 28, 2015 - 3:43 pm
Bill Cochran: Trout plan aims at making anglers happier

A trout stocking plan aimed at improving angler satisfaction and reversing the decline in trout license sales has been drafted by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia Tech and i...

Wednesday 07/22/2015
Posted: July 22, 2015 - 10:30 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: New group advocates more young forest habitat

A new group, called the Virginia Wildlife Habitat Coalition, is being organized to make certain wildlife gets a fair shake in the management of national forests and state wildlife management areas.

Tuesday 07/21/2015
Posted: July 21, 2015 - 3:38 pm
Bill Cochran: Cobia offer fight, food and fun, all within sight of shore

Every angler needs to hook a fish, now and then, that is so big all you can do is hold on as it peels line from your reel.

Thursday 07/16/2015
Posted: July 16, 2015 - 11:57 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Effort to rescind new bear license fails

Leon Turner thought, just maybe, he had enough votes to rescind Virginia’s new controversial bear hunting license, which will be required of bear hunters beginning this fall.

Thursday 07/09/2015
Posted: July 09, 2015 - 11:45 am
Bill Cochran Field Reports: Fall duck flights look promising

It is a good time to be a duck hunter. A July 2 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that the breeding population of ducks is 49.5 million, according to its 2015 survey. That is...

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