Thursday, November 15, 2018

2018 S.C. Duck Season Opens on Nov. 17

Canada geese and redheads together in the Lowcountry
The warm temperatures this Fall allowed the beginning of duck and goose season to sneak up on hunters. The first part of duck season runs from Nov. 17 – 25 and coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday. Early rising is required for most duck hunts with the legal shooting time listed as one-half hour before sunrise. The recent daylight savings time change means that waterfowlers are still adjusting to the time when ducks will buzz their decoys, renewing this great Lowcountry tradition.

Waterfowl Species Poster
For those hunting along the coastal plain the likelihood of encountering some local ducks is pretty good. Wood ducks and mottled ducks can reside in the Lowcountry all year long, and black-bellied whistling ducks are joining this flock. Duck season comes with many special restrictions and regulations especially concerning the harvest of waterfowl. No more than six ducks can be taken per day per hunter, but that includes no more than three wood ducks, no more than one black-bellied whistling duck and no more than one mottled duck.

Cold weather up north triggers duck migration and at least some ducks arrived in the Lowcountry by October. A lack of precipitation this Fall means that some duck ponds might not be flooded yet, while those able to use wells to flood impoundments are pumping water 24 hours a day right now. Any lack of surface water in local swamps is sure to hinder many in pursuit of wood ducks, but any wet weather from now through January could quickly remedy that situation. Cold weather causes ducks to feed, and scouting can reveal where they are concentrating and utilizing any natural forage.

To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view blog entries from 2018 Waterfowl Workshops click Catfish Farm - Nemours

Thursday, November 8, 2018

2018 ACE Basin Waterfowl Workshop at Nemours

Dr. Ernie Wiggers and Dr.Rick Kaminski
The Nemours Wildlife Foundation is located at the corner of Highway 17 and the Combahee River. The Ashepoo River, Combahee River and Edisto River and their associated tidal marshlands are known as the ACE Basin and are a hub for waterfowl migration. The top scientific minds regarding waterfowl biology and those that are laboring on the land to prepare duck habitat came together on October 30 at Nemours to listen and to learn. Everything from Carolina Gold rice to Chiwapa millet is being planted to welcome this year’s waterfowl migration, and long term studies are underway to record their needs in winter and beyond.

Dr. Rick Kaminski is the head of the Kennedy Waterfowl and Wetlands Centers out of Clemson University.  “Ducks need a mix of agricultural seeds and natural forage also,” said Kaminski. “Don’t go with all of one type or the other, since agricultural seeds decompose over time, and other natural food sources can be just as valuable. I think ducks would like to see a hemi-marsh where a combination of management practices are employed to open up access. Mowing in Fall or burning off blocks of your impoundment are proven methods to achieve the look of a hemi-marsh.”

Lowcountry duck pond ready for hunting season
Attendees at the ACE Basin Waterfowl Workshop
Dr. Ernie Wiggers is the Director of Nemours Wildlife Foundation and he shared a report from the Southeastern Region Applied Waterfowl Research stating that a new focus on wood ducks is underway. “For almost all the Southeastern states the wood duck is pretty much our most abundant duck and our best chance at having a successful hunt,” said Wiggers. “We have a daily limit of three wood ducks per hunter, but we don’t have a lot of information about their sustainability.”

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past Waterfowl Workshop stories click 2018 at The Catfish Farm

To view past blog entries about duck hunting with Drake Field Experts click on 2018 ArkansasFilming 2016 Migration Nation TV show September Geese - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2014 S.C. State Duck Calling Champion

To view past blog entries about hunting ducks in the Midwest click on  Filming Ducks Unlimited TV show 

To view past blog entries for late January duck hunts click 201820172016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

 To view past blog entries about hunting wood ducks click 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

2018 Birding Journal Observations - September / October

Male American redstart seen on October 6
Above average temps and below average precipitation was the story in the Lowcountry during September and October. The powerful hurricanes that came to the Carolinas steered away from the Lowcountry for the most part. But the weather systems still affect the birds and parts of fall migration, and my ruby-throated hummingbirds decided to leave by October 6, slightly ahead of their normal departure schedule.

Other observations included cardinal, dove, female American redstart, red-bellied woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, Carolina chickadee, ruby-throated hummingbird, Carolina wren, pileated woodpecker, summer tanager, yellow-billed cuckoo, blue jay, blue grosbeak, tufted titmouse, mockingbird, Parula warbler, downy woodpecker, blue-gray gnatcatcher, white-eyed vireo, towhee, great white egret, snowy egret, white-breasted nuthatch, gray catbird, brown thrasher, black and white warbler, red-headed woodpecker, red-eyed vireo, yellow warbler, flycatcher, dove, brown-headed cowbird, yellow-shafted flicker and yellow-bellied sapsucker.

To view the most recent Birding Journal Observations click July / August 2018

To view past Birding Journal Observations for September / October click 20172016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2018 Jasper County Rut - Teens Take Big Bucks

As seen in the October 31 newspaper
Seasoned deer hunters understand that the best hunting of each deer season is likely connected to the rut. Bigger bucks may break cover to chase does, causing all other deer to be moving in response to the hierarchy of dominance in nature. It is no coincidence that two veteran deer hunters had their respective children in a deer stand during that first cool down in mid-October. Megan Clark patiently picked out the biggest buck she saw and harvested a 9-pointer, while Walker Smith stopped a quality 11-point buck that will be entered in the S.C. record book.

The Jasper County monster buck weighed 190-pounds and carried an 11-point rack with a 23-inch outside spread. Smith relays that this is also the biggest buck ever seen on the private property they hunt, and that they have practiced passing up smaller bucks over the years. Seeing a mature buck is often cause for an excuse called Buck Fever that causes an errant shot, but this Father is proud that his son made a precise shot. They plan to share the hunt memory in the future after getting a taxidermy mount of the trophy buck.

Megan’s father is rightfully proud of the 150-pound buck she harvested, but so is her grandfather who lives and hunts in Jasper County. The tradition of hunting runs deep in the Clark family and Megan also enjoys target shooting sports with school friends too. She certainly has earned bragging rights within her family for the 2018 deer season thus far, and better understands why her grandfather and father pursue white-tailed deer in the Lowcountry.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.