Friday, January 30, 2015

Pine Top Plantation Yields Top Notch Quail Hunt

Puppy 'WeGo' and Sandy Stuhr
When Pine Top Plantation owner Sandy Stuhr told me that his new Brittany Spaniel puppy named WeGo was pointing and backing his other quail dogs I had to see it with my own eyes. We traveled to the property on the edge of the Dorchester and Orangeburg County line, also known as the Dorange area. As a lifetime Lowcountry aficionado, I was previously unaware of this geographic nomenclature, and an keen to learn more about the area.

Sandy Stuhr is well known in Charleston as the man in charge of a funeral home that is a trusted Lowcountry institution. What may not be known is this 79-year old gentleman is an accomplished outdoorsman, and he showed me that he is still nimble enough to take on the quail woods every week. Not only that, Sandy is a crack shot with a 28-gauge shotgun when the bobwhites flush. And when one hard-charging quail flew past our shots and went to the back of the property, Sandy was right there when we trekked towards that bird.

Sandy and his pointers at work in the pines
Great Logo!
This was not my first time hunting with Sandy, but with a few years in between, he impressed me with his Can Do attitude. I was glad to do all the legwork involved in the set up for a release quail hunt, but it was Stuhr who loaded the dogs from the kennel and into the quail wagon without issue. Stuhr directed the pointers to hunt while keeping 6-month old puppy WeGo on a 30-foot string that helped to corral the pup when necessary. I was amazed to see the puppy truly backing other dogs on point and WeGo has a chance to grow up into a fine quail hunting dog.

Humble outdoor writer and Hunt Boss Sandy Stuhr
After the hunt, we enjoyed a meal together and Stuhr told me stories from past days around Charleston and the Lowcountry and he named names and told stories like they had happened yesterday. I don't know if I have command over all the names from my outdoor ramblings, but I want to be like Stuhr in that regard. Furthermore, he proves that quail hunting traditions perhaps can be extended later in life than other pursuits, and anyone could only hope to be striding through the uplands when enjoying their silver-haired years.

To view past blog entries about quail hunting click Edisto Island - Red Fish Brand - FeatherHorn Farm - DeerField Plantation - Buchanan Shoals 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation expands into Lowcounty

Historic range for elk used to cover most of the Lower 48 states

With the exception of Charles Towne Landing there are no elk present in the Lowcountry. However, those who value the conservation of elk and their wildlife habitat are present, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is reaching out to them. An organizational meeting for the Elk Foundation is scheduled for February 2 in Charleston in order to set up a local chapter for big game enthusiasts who rely on public hunting grounds in other states.
Elk make a distinctive call in the wild known as a bugle. This high-pitched and sustained sound is synonymous with the call of the wild, the kind of noise that inspires outdoorsmen to pursue trophy game. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is fairly new to South Carolina but they have been a mainstay out West for 30 years, and they are 200,000-members strong. All conservation groups have come to understand that there is strength in numbers when it comes to natural resources management decisions.
With 550 existing chapters, the RMEF raises funds that are used to protect hunting grounds in a variety of ways. Some off-limits land has been opened to public elk hunting, while other habitat has been conserved through conservation easements. “We appreciate these conservation-minded landowners and our conservation partners who worked with the RMEF to protect and maintain this crucial habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, V.P. of Lands and Conservation at RMEF.
The organizational meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Charleston Marriott located at 170 Lockwood Boulevard, which is across from Brittlebank Park. This hotel recently renovated its meeting facilities and the RMEF will utilize the Opal I ballroom. Those who wish to attend can contact Chris Croy, the regional director for the Carolinas, at his office in Charlotte by calling 704-301-1374. Chapter members will receive a subscription to the RMEF magazine named Bugle.
“We already have some RMEF members in the area,” said Crory. “Our mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat and we helped restore elk herds in 28 states, mostly recently in Virginia,” said Crory. “By becoming an RMEF volunteer at the local level you can share the fun and excitement of putting on a Big Game Banquet.” The RMEF has been an exhibitor at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo since 2010 and has been slowly building a network of supporters who will lead the new chapter.

To view this entire feature article in the newspaper click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 1/27/2015

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Offshore boat with Fun Fish Wrap from 2010
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West points out that Fish Don't Know How To Read The Calendar! Don't give up on the fish just because it's almost February, the month that is traditionally the heart of winter weather for the Lowcountry. A few warm weather days recently saw good catches of redfish, a few large trout and even a flounder or two?! Larger schools of channel bass are being found on shallow tide flats during sunny conditions, and they are taking live mud minnows and Zman Slim Swimz readily. Sheepshead continue to eat oysters and fiddlers along deep water bridge   pilings and at nearshore artificial reefs. Most impressively is the number of flounder caught in January both in the harbor and at some of the coastal impoundments. Live minnows is Scott's can't fail bait for the flatfish but he won't hesitate to cast a pearl white jerkshad rigged on the new Trout Eye jigheads. Trout are hit and miss but the best best to find some specks is in 8 to 12-feet of water along structure and creek mouths. To learn the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrells' Point.

Offshore Report: Scott shares that bottom fishing reports still continue to comprise the bulk of offshore trips now. Sea bass and triggerfish are being caught in 65 to 90-feet of water using squid and vertical jigs. The trolling report is that wahoo and amberjack are holding tight right along the ledge in 140 to 250-feet of water.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

SEWE awards 2015 S.C. Jr. Duck Stamp Winner

Samantha Castiller, age 13, painted the image judged to be the
2015 Best of Show, and she attends Thomas Cairo Middle School
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the federal duck stamp program and the Junior duck stamp program each year to choose the conservation image that will help define each waterfowling season. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) and marketing director Mary Roberts are now heading up the South Carolina portion of the national Junior Duck Stamp competition! SCDNR remains a partner in this program, but the Charleston-based SEWE will now administer the contest and provide for all the winners to be displayed in in a special exhibit during February at the Wildlife Expo. Students from grades K - 12 can submit entries into four different age class categories. The S.C. 'Best of Show' will then be entered into the federal Junior Duck Stamp final competition. Art teachers at schools are an important part of this type program and Lowcountry Outdoors applauds the Junior Duck Stamp competition as a way to educate youths about our natural resources, and to better prepare them for the inspiration that one naturally derives from interacting with nature. For ALL of the contest winners on the SEWE website click here

To view past blog entries from the S.C. Jr. Duck Stamp Competition click 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Guy Harvey Magazine - Get On The Fish (Marine Electronics)

NICE Marine Electronics header - page 74!

Whether shopping for a big boat like a 57-foot sportfisher or a smaller run and gun 31-footer, it’s likely that one marine electronic device can handle your needs. The only limitations when it comes to purchasing electronics seem to be your imagination and the budget. A GPS and Fishfinder combo is a good starting point and other pieces can be added over time as needs arise for a more complete electronic array.
Diving in to the world of marine electronics reveals that while the units may offer a wide range from portable handheld devices to large touch screen consoles, buyers can reduce some clutter by first choosing a price range. This decision serves to cluster the name brand units together, keeping you fishing in the right school size for your needs, and not being tempted by what else is swimming around at the time.
Capt. Pete Loy checks his electronics to Get On The Fish!
Did you know that the world of marine electronics is changing all the time? It’s not too far fetched to say that console layouts and boat design are being driven by innovation, like wireless transducers. Older units are discontinued all the time, and newer designs are popping up just as fast as you can say software update, especially during boat show season. In general, most anglers prefer to chose one brand name and stick to it.
Capt Dale Lackey of Charleston, S.C. prefers Garmin electronics and shares that he has installed a lot of their units over time, and they have proven to be very reliable. 

While you can get a touchscreen unit at a fairly affordable price these days, the scuttlebutt is to test drive one before purchasing. Touch screens have their pluses but some can be heat sensitive, which is a detractor for smaller open boats. Some anglers just need to stay with traditional components that have switches and dials so that their fingertip dexterity can give them more feel when at the helm. 

To view past blog entries from Guy Harvey Magazine click on 2014 Boone Hall Oyster Roast - Kite Fishing - Dolphin Tagging.

To view past blog entries about Guy Harvey click S.C. Lottery - 2012 Memorial Day Visit - World Headquarters Visit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

ACE Basin: 2015 Duck Season Finale

Buck Howell and Bramblett Bradham with a limit of gadwall ducks

The January 25 ending for duck season is drawing very near so hunters will fire their final volleys this weekend at these migratory waterfowl. A small band of veteran hunters gathered recently for a late January hunt in the ACE Basin, and these wingshooters made their aim count. While the season may end soon, and similar hunt conditions with good numbers of waterfowl may not occur again until next January, the memories from this hunt and from similar efforts by other waterfowlers will endure.
Gadwall duck, also called a grey duck
It’s not really a secret that ducks are looking for something to eat when they migrate South for the winter, and they have instincts that evolve over time about where to find food. Coastal South Carolina and the Lowcountry in particular has always been a part of that equation with a nice mix of saltwater, brackish and freshwater habitat. But in order to concentrate the ducks for the sake of hunting, managers know that planting a crop in an impoundment that can be flooded is usually a recipe for success.

Duck Hunting Success = Right Place, Right Time!
Back in January of 2014 I attended a late January lottery hunt on Bear Island WMA where the ice and cold conditions had the pintails right where we wanted, making for a great hunt memory. This January’s hunt was on a private pond in the ACE Basin and lots of gadwall ducks were in the area. It wasn’t particulary cold, but it had been a very dreary few days with no sunshine and some rain, drizzle and fog along the way. In other words, it was quite ducky weather!
Old School waterfowler

Everyone finishes up duck season with some sort of finale, and these hunts create something intangible to be savored until next January when waterfowlers get another chance to hunt late season ducks.

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

Edisto Island Quail Hunt - January 2015

Two quail hunters share camaraderie in the field

When sportsmen go afield with bird dogs they honor both the tradition of quail hunting and those that went hunting before them. January is always the middle section of quail season each year, bringing a time to embrace each and every day when the weather allows an upland hunt. A recent return to rural parts of Edisto Island brought three hunters together on an afternoon where one newbie, the hunt host and I walked behind a brace of bird dogs.

Mark Steedley approaches his two pointers with confidence
Mark Steedley keeps his bird dogs ready during winter for quail season, and he enjoys time spent working them for quail, the same as many of us. I joined Steedley in an effort to share a quail hunting experience with Julie Gyselinck from Explore Edisto. This newbie lady hunter was armed with a borrowed 20-gauge double-barrel shotgun for the day, and while her shots never did connect with a flushing quail, they did serve to connect her with an in-depth appreciation for seeing the dog’s work.  

Seborn Rogers served as Gamekeeper on this hunt
At the beginning of the hunt, guide Seborn Rogers demonstrated to Gyselinck how to load and handle the firearm. Firing off some test shots into the air, she quickly learned to brace against the moderate kick from the shotgun, and to insert some earplugs too. The first point of the day came from a setter named Cha-Cha and the bird flew to my side of the hunt formation. Despite Cha-cha banging into my leg when she bounded after the flushing quail, I was able to steady my base and connect on a shot at a fleeing target.

Explore Edisto magazine was on assignment
The day ended with a pointer named Trap standing over some birds, and as I approached I recalled that I had hunted over Trap three years prior and I admired that he was still working hard in the field. Going over the same ground with a good friend and his trusty canine only brings a more resolute appreciation for the sport. Three birds flushed and two of them came to my side of the hunt formation. The first shot from my twenty-gauge double barrel went through an improved cylinder choke and was on the mark, causing the bird to fall to the earth. The second shot went through a modified choke designed for longer shots, and while striking the quail, it fell a good ways away. When Trap charged over and to find that quail and then retrieve it I was grateful for his assistance to complete a rare double that ended our day on a high note.

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

To view past blog entries from Edisto quail hunting click here.