Thursday, January 19, 2017

Field Notes and Photos - January 2017

African Land Tortoise visits the Lowcountry!
Field Notes is a column I began fourteen years ago in the Charleston Mercury newspaper, but as the amount of newsprint space in the 'salmon sheets' has diminished, so has the space for my nature photography. Now when I have a fresh batch of observations I share them via Lowcountry Outdoors. 

To view past blog Field Notes click December 2016June 2016 - February 2016December 2015 - October 2015 - September 2015 - August 2015 - July 2015 - June 2015 - February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011  

Beautiful Mushroom
Watchful Winter Hawk

Carolina Wren and white-breasted nuthatch

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pheasant Tower Shoot Comes to Colleton County

Dr. Richard Fitzgerald and I with our pheasants.
Our afternoon hunt began with a blessing and a barbecue lunch under the shade of a barn. A thorough safety talk was delivered by Blue Field’s  father and son duo, Parker Tuten and Will Tuten. Their family farm is already diversified with agricultural practices, growing livestock, timber sales and a longtime deer hunting club. Will Tuten came up with the idea to start a pheasant tower facility, and chose a piece of woodlands to log and clear, thus creating the hunt area from scratch. It’s been in the works for some time, with some hot summertime hours put in, culminating with building his custom tower in October.

Parker Tuten and Will Tuten giving the safety talk before the shoot
New Tower at Blue Field in Action.
Like the best wingshooting hunts, a pheasant tower shoot allows for lots of camaraderie before, during and after the hunt. This is a group hunt, and it takes a team of hunters coming together at one time, or else you simply won’t have enough guns. There are twelve blinds at Blue Field and each blind holds two shooters, with the blinds spaced apart by a gunshot length. It’s up to each blind to decide if they want to take turns shooting, or if they just want to shoot what comes to their side of the blind. Either way, one must stay ready because no one knows what the pheasants will do.

You can view the entire field from your blind, so it is easy to see the pheasants no matter which direction they take. We recorded some missed shots during our hunt, but we weren’t the only ones, and seeing everyone hit or miss their pheasants adds to the fun. When rotating between blinds, the dogs scurry around picking up dead and wounded pheasants. The dog handlers are not shooting, rather they are wanting to participate in order to witness the hunt, and work their canines. Robbie Hooker and his boykin spaniel did an especially good job from what I could see, and I thanked him for their help.

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

To view past blog entries about Pheasant Tower Shoots click Spring Bank Plantation (Georgia) - Meadow Wood (North Carolina) - Clinton House (South Carolina)
Our entire hunt group with pheasants after the shoot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Grand American - Bluetick Hound Sassy Allie Girl Wins

Treeing Contest ACTION
Unusually cold weather over the weekend did nothing to slow down the hundreds of coon dogs that were released during the 2017 Grand American. This is the first competition of the new calendar year for the United Kennel Club (UKC), and marks the 52nd time for the annual event based at the Orangeburg fairgrounds. American Cooner magazine from Illinois is the main sponsor of the Grand American which draws entrants from across the country, including the bluetick hound from Kentucky that became the 2017 Overall Winner.

Meredith Henderson with Treeing Walker at Bench Show
There is no shortage of things to do at the Grand American since it becomes the epicenter for both coon hounds and hunting gear for sale. Start by visiting the barns where individual kennels have their prime hunting dogs on display, usually with a litter of puppies from the same bloodline for sale. I visited the Indian Hill Blueticks booth and learned that they came from McCormick County in the upstate. Like most vendors, they were friendly and eager to answer any questions about their breeding program.
Vintage Homart headlamp and modern version
The other side of the fairgrounds has an open-air market area where hunting gear is for sale, including GPS-tracking dog collars, headlights and all sorts of footwear. Coon hunters start out after dark, and follow their coonhound into the woods, and they have to have the best snakeproof, briarproof and waterproof boots and chaps available. You can find all of this gear in one place, and special show prices makes each offering even more tempting.
To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the Grand Amercian click 20162015 - 2014 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

Cute Bluetick Hound pups for sale