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Hunter Spotlight: Meet Christopher “C.J.” Johnson

Each month in the Hunting Notes from the Field email, we at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) highlight one of our constituents and the role hunting plays in their life.  Are you an avid hunter who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email social@dwr.virginia.gov and let us know!

Name: Christopher “C.J.” Johnson

Hometown: Lynchburg, VA

Occupation: Industrial representative/gas detection/sales for a fire and safety equipment company. I perform fit testing for local industries, fire departments, clinics, and other facilities. I work with Albemarle, Nelson, Charlottesville, Rockbridge, Bedford, and Lynchburg fire departments to ensure that they have the equipment needed to perform their duties to protect all of us and themselves. I also teach OSHA compliance classes to local industries to aid them in keeping their employees safe.

How did you get interested in hunting?

As a child I would watch my father, uncles, and grandfather get up and spend the day afield. They would come home and tell stories. To sit and listen to them would get my heart racing. As I grew older, my grandfather took me under his wing and taught me the ins and outs of gun safety, shooting, scouting, tree stand placement, and tracking. It was not long until hunting was all that I thought about and wanted to do. To this day (I’m 45 years old), I cannot wait for October to get here so that I can get out and enjoy the thrill of the chase.

What do you love about hunting?

The love of hunting has changed over the years. As a child it was about getting a shot at game, whether it was successful or a miss. Today it is about the camaraderie with my family, friends, and hunt club members. My love grew stronger as my wife and I have two sons–Christopher “Little Ray,” who is 21 and Jacob “Frosty,” who is 19–that have a love for the outdoors as I do. The two of them spend as much time in the woods as possible. They both help with the training of hounds and taking care of them from feeding to clipping nails and worming them. The three of us would rather hear the dogs run than the opportunity to take an animal. We love to hear the hounds run.

Who was your hunting mentor?

My mentor is Scotland Findlay Templeton (my grandfather). He is 92 years old and is not able to get out and hunt anymore due to his physical conditions. He still has the heart and drive for hunting. Every time we are together there are always questions: How many dogs do you have? How old are they? Do they run well? When did you go to the hunt club last? Are you getting any trail camera pictures? Are you seeing any bear?

Then there are the stories that he must tell. Grandad was one of the first in the Lynchburg area to start archery hunting. He started hunting with a recurve in the early 1950s with a group of guys that he grew up with. There are always hunting stories to be told or heard when our family is together.

What has been your most memorable day afield? 

I have several days that could be the most memorable. The first animal I had the opportunity to take was a squirrel. My grandfather and I were hunting in Rockbridge County on one of the Wildlife Management Areas. We were set up on a log watching the squirrels. One finally presented a shot. I took aim and pulled the trigger and it connected.

I jumped and yelled, “I got him, granddaddy!” Of course, Granddaddy still enjoys telling this story.

Another memorable day in the field was when I harvested my first deer. I was hunting with my grandfather, uncle, and family friends in the Appomattox/Buckingham State Forest. We were set up down an old logging road when several deer came by and I was able to take one while my grandfather was sitting there with me. He and I had a great time celebrating this together. There were hugs and high fives all the way back to the truck.

Then there is the time that my 9-year-old son Jacob was standing with me in a cut-over in Nelson County. We were standing there, and the dogs jumped just below us, and a doe crossed the cut-over. I was waiting for my son to shoot and he said that he could not get it in the scope, so I fired. I missed, as I was getting ready to fire a second round, I heard my son’s gun go off and the deer folded up. The look on his face was priceless. As we gathered at the crossroads with the other club members there were smiles and high fives from everyone. Jacob is now 19 years old. He has harvested several deer and three bears, one of which was 378 pounds.

Are you an avid hunter who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email social@dwr.virginia.gov and let us know!

Hunting During the COVID-19 Outbreak

  • If you choose to hunt during the pandemic it is essential that you follow CDC guidelines.
  • Purchase your hunting license online instead of in-person.
  • Hunt alone or with family members or others that you live with and are isolating with during the Governor’s “stay at home” order.
  • Do not hunt if you feel sick or think you might be sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based sanitizer even while afield or afloat.
  • Do not share equipment with anyone, and wash your equipment when you’re done.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other hunters you encounter and try to avoid crowded access points.
  • Try to hunt near home as much as possible and avoid traveling long distances.
  • August 6, 2020