Friday, March 22, 2019

Look For Shed Antlers During Turkey Season

A buried shed antler pulled from a firebreak in 2018
Male white-tailed deer shed their antlers during the start of each year, and the exact time they drop off is unique to each individual buck. After years of experience, this Lowcountry outdoorsman knows to scour the landscape for shed antlers during turkey season, Many shed antlers are simply revealed to the rambling woodsman through dumb luck, but those encounters with fate can serve to educate where to look in the future. Turkey hunting requires a good deal of scouting, and any time during turkey season is prime time to pick up a shed antler.

Where do turkey hunters look for turkey sign when scouting? They look for turkey scratching sign in pine straw around the base of pine trees, or in the leaves of a hardwood bottomland. They look at every inch of agricultural field edges, and they look at the banks along rivers, streams and bays. Depending on if conditions on a given year are dry, then looking at each and every water hole is warranted. Wildlife tends to use the same travel corridors and hot spots, so the keen turkey hunter can sometimes spot shed deer antlers where they are already looking.

Just last year during turkey season I found what I am calling the most impossible shed antler find yet. Using a firebreak as a way to access and scout a property, I was looking for sign like turkey tracks or turkey droppings. On the edge of the recently plowed firebreak, somehow I spied a hint of white sticking up that seemed just a bit out of place. Bending down to check on what could have been a twig from a tree, I found a shed antler that had been buried by the tractor, and it was preserved in the dirt just waiting for a curious naturalist to discover.

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

To view past blog entries from turkey season opening click on  20162015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2010 - 2009 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

35th Palmetto Sportsman Classic Unveils Hampton Wildlife Ball

This March 21 event benefits SCDNR 
The Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund is taking a tried and true statewide event focused on the outdoors, and adding a premiere evening event to it. The 35th annual Palmetto Sportsman Classic is in Columbia on
March 22 – 24, which is run by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The Hampton Wildlife Fund is the non-profit organization that partners with SCDNR to promote our natural resources. The Hampton Fund is holding their Inaugural Wildlife Ball on Thursday night, March 21 to kick start the weekend of events at the state fairgrounds.
The Wildlife Ball will be held from 6 – 10 at Seawell’s event facility on Rosewood Drive and tickets are $75 per person. This event raises funds for good causes that SCDNR supports such as the youth sporting clays and archery programs that are very popular today. The Hampton Fund is the entity that awards scholarship money given away at SCDNR events and competitions each year.  Jim Goller is the longtime Director of the Hampton Wildlife Fund, and he is bringing the best food and auction items together at the Wildlife Ball for a night of excellence.

35th Anniversary in 2019 
“I have been to all 35 of these Palmetto Sportsman Classic weekends, and adding the Wildlife Ball to the calendar this year is like a dream come true,” said Goller. “So many vendor come to Columbia on Thursday to get set up for the show to begin on Friday, and those who support wildlife are always looking for a way to show their support. The Wildlife Ball will tap into that support, and the price of admission includes a wild game feast, bluegrass band, silent and live auctions and a premium gun raffle.”

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Miss Walterboro 1952 - Archive Photo Found

Miss Walterboro 1952, Myrtle Ann Benton,
prior to the Miss South Carolina pageant
A local social media campaign to raise awareness about the accomplishments of women recently revealed an unidentified photo. On March 1 the Colleton Museum and Farmers Market changed their Facebook profile picture to show a distinguished young lady. A local Facebook user recognized that woman and notified her privately. She contacted the Colleton Museum and is now identified as Myrtle Ann Benton Dennis, Miss Walterboro 1952, on the eve of the Miss South Carolina pageant.
The Colletonian newspaper reached out to Matt Mardell, the Director of the Colleton Museum, to confirm the information. “We are glad to share historical photos from our archive with the online community, and thrilled that this one has been identified,” said Mardell. “This photo was posted on March 1 to kick off our salute to Women’s History Month, but it had no caption. We have now added their names, with Myrtle Ann Benton standing in front of car and Marjorie Warko sitting in the backseat.”
A phone interview with Myrtle Ann reveals much broader details around this interesting photo from Walterboro’s past. “The Miss Walterboro pageant was held in the spring, just before my graduation from Walterboro High School in 1952, and the Miss South Carolina pageant was held that summer in Myrtle Beach,” said Dennis. “Since I was still young, my first cousin Marjorie Warko went to Myrtle Beach with me as chaperone and roommate, and it didn’t hurt that she was also a hairdresser.”
Miss Walterboro 1952 in Myrtle Beach Parade by Old Pavilion
“The photo was taken in Walterboro, but the next day we rode in that same convertible in the Sun Fun Festival in Myrtle Beach,” said Dennis. The Miss South Carolina pageant was held that evening, and I can remember Miss America being there, which added significance to the pageant. I didn’t place in the competition, but that evening everyone attended a big dance at the Ocean Forest Hotel, which was a swanky place in that day.”
“The Miss South Carolina pageant had three components including swimsuit, talent and evening dress,” said Dennis. “For my talent I played the piano and I played the Black Hawk Waltz. I had taken piano lessons in high school and I played piano at our church, Pine Grove Baptist Church, Number One. I was proud to represent Walterboro in the pageant and wasn’t too disappointed when returning home, because I got to ride in the Hampton Watermelon Festival as the reigning Miss Walterboro.”

Myrtle Ann Benton went straight into MUSC nursing school in Charleston, and graduated in 1955. While working as an operating room nurse, she met Dr. Patrick H. Dennis Sr. and they were married in 1956. They lived in Abilene, Texas for a few years while Dr. Dennis Sr. served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon, before returning to Charleston where she worked in his private ophthalmology practice. They went on to have three children, one of whom is a writer for the Colletonian, and they have been happily married for 62 years. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Union Forces Fortify at Battle of Broxton Bridge

Danny Gregory as Col Robert Thompson reviewing the troops
Firing Cannons create realism 
The reenactment of the Civil War Battle of Broxton Bridge takes place the first weekend in March. A little light rain on Friday gave way to good weather Saturday and Sunday, with heavy rain arriving Sunday evening after the event was over. It was 154 years ago when the northern army was moving between Savannah and Columbia and had to cross the Salkehatchie River Swamp. The defensive fortifications the Confederate army held are still visible today at Broxton Bridge Plantation.
Students visit the blacksmith during Living History Day
This reenactment is sponsored by the Salt-Ketchers Chapter, and is hosted by the 32nd Georgia artillery and the 2nd Georgia Regiment of Col. Burke Sharpshooters. The reenactors camp on the edge of the Salkehatchie Swamp and it still looks very formidable today with deep channels and steep embankments. The sharpshooters could climb up a hardwood tree and look down on the opposing forces, while cannons could pepper their approach. History records that the Union forces were too many, and their march to Columbia was unabated.

Encampment on the edge of the Salkehatchie Swamp
Broxton Bridge owner Jerry Varn told me that he is welcoming about 250 first time union forces reenactors in 2019. “Units like the New York Highlanders are coming to the Battle of Broxton Bridge this year for the third time this year,” said Varn. “There seems to be a lack of reenactments up North these days, and the word has spread that we have plenty of room here at Broxton Bridge. A total of 700 reenactors will be taking part, and the Union and Confederate forces will be almost equal.”

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

To view past blog entries from the Battle of Broxton Bridge click on 2016 - 2015 Preview2015 Living History Day2015 Reenactment Photos - 2009

To view past blog entries about the Civil War click on Sesquicentennial in Charleston