Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New oyster shell recycling program

A press conference in the city of Charleston today revealed a new initiative to recycle oyster shell for the benefit of our marine resources. The oyster shell will be placed back into coastal waters and will serve as the birthplace for new oysters. Several oyster shell recycling programs already exist in the Lowcountry but this one enlists the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association. The new program brings together new partners The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Fisher Recycling and the College of Charleston's Students in Free Enterprise club. Local caterer's such as Jimmy Hagood's Tidewater catering have been recycling oysters with SCDNR for years, but now special Fisher recycling oyster bins will be placed at participating restaurants (like Pearlz oyster house) with scheduled regular pickups. Of course all of this costs money and the funds will come in the form of a grant from the Coastal Program of the USFWS.

Photos by Jeff Dennis: The panel of partner agencies at the 9/30 press conference, the green oyster recycle bins that will be placed at restaurants

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10-point buck for happy blogger

It had been a slow start to the deer season after still hunting twice in two different stands I had seen no deer. The cool front that pushed in today had me thinking it was time to give it another try, from a different stand location. After waiting for an hour with no sign of any deer, out stepped a nice ten point buck who did not hesitate to take a drink of water from the puddle created by a one inch rain on Sunday. This looked to be a long deer from hind quarter on past the shoulder and down the outstretched neck to the lips that were lapping up a cool drink right before dark. A brief staring contest ensued as I raised my binoculars to study the buck's rack. Looking right at me I could see that his outside spread was beyond his ears, and when he reached down for another drink I could see he met my quality deer management criteria of 8-points or better. With my heart racing I put down the glasses and raised the gun, eased off the safety and whump... he went down in a heap right into the puddle. Having never harvested a 10-point buck before the feeling of accomplishment was genuine. I was using a 12-foot Stongbuilt treestand that I won at Cordray's in 2004 in their monthly heavy deer competition, and I was wearing True Timber mixed pine camo. This 10-point went to Cordray's for processing and I donated the meat from the 150-pound deer to the Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. Kenneth Cordray of Cordray's Taxidermy is going to make a European mount of the trophy buck. Michael and Claudia Cordray told me that big bucks had been coming in to Cordray's all day because the cool snap really makes the deer walk.

To view past blog entries about fisherman tagging nice bucks click here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 Alligator Season - Lizard Fever grips S.C.

Just look at the image and you will see how Lizard Fever has taken hold - can you actually imagine inviting a 12-foot alligator into your john boat?
This crew from Rock Hill did just that back on opening day of gator season, and they have just one of the many gator reports that has received. Forget fishing, forget hunting doves and deer - angler/ hunters are after the Lizards. IN just the second season of legalized gator hunting, SCDNR has tapped an unknown market that generates plenty of income for local economies. Taxidermists and processors have likely received the biggest shot in the arm from the 'Leezard' stimulus, but the gator season is great for S.C. on so many levels. Most importantly it demonstrates to the general public that hunters can play a positive role that aids society, and it provides more opportunities to expose youth to the great outdoors.

To view past blog entries about S.C. alligators click here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SCWF and National Public Lands Day

Today marks the 16th Annual National Public Lands day, designated by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Across the nation, people will join together in a single day of volunteer efforts to clean up and make improvements to some of our National Wildlife Refuge sanctuaries. In the Palmetto State the S.C. Wildlife Federation is hosting an Outdoor Family Adventure day at the Cohen Campbell Fish Hatchery in Columbia. Some of the scheduled activities of the day include archery, kayaking, birdwatching, fly tying and a fish cleaning and cooking demo. Along the coast, the new Waccamaw NWR is now open (although the grand opening celebration has yet to occur) and has it on good authority that the wood carvings in the new visitor center, created by Capt. Steve Thomas, makes the visit to the refuge well worth the trip.

Friday, September 25, 2009

SEWE 2009 Fall Party

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition's 2009 Fall Party was held downtown at the Visitor's Center Bus Shed at 7 p.m. Savory oysters and barbecue were prepared by Buck Ridge Plantation, and cool beverages were enjoyed while listening to the live music of Triple Lindy. The unveiling of the 2010 SEWE poster by featured artist Luke Frazier was a highlight of the event. Ducks Unlimited conducted a silent auction and a who's who of conservation minded members of the public attended the affair.

To view past blog entries from 2009 SEWE click here.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Lydia Aydelette assists with the DU gun auction, SEWE patrons dance to the music of Triple Lindy, The 2010 SEWE poster was revealed and the bar was decorated to mimic the artwork 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Conservation For Clunkers

Homewaters Clothing has partnered with the federal government's Department of Good Times to assist anglers into modern polo shirts that raise funds for fisheries management. Simply bring in a gently used polo shirt - which will go to the Salvation Army - and Haddrell's Point tackle shop will give 25% off of a brand new Homewaters polo shirt - the shirt that generates funds for fishery managers like the Dolphin Tagging program, the Billfish Foundation, and the Waddell Maraculture Center. Choose your shirt color, and choose your logo - redfish, dolphin or marlin. Wear the logo that proudly states that you are an angler who cares about our natural resources.

Photo: Ross Appel - President of Homewaters Clothing

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009 Governor's Cup Awards reception

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Graham Eubanks accepts special thanks from SCDNR Exec. Director John Frampton and SCDNR Board Chairman Mike McShane for his service as Chair of the S.C. Governor's Cup Advisory Board, Captain Chris Jennings and Mike Larrow (owner of Micabe) hoist the 2009 Best Billfish Boat trophy in the foyer of the Governor's mansion - CONGRATS, The Bluewater Conservation Award went to Capt. Lee Arnett (Black Sheep) John Murdaugh and Bubba Helton, SCDNR staff Elizabeth Miller received special thanks from Amy Dukes for her service to the Gov. Cup Series

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Surf Fishing Bull Island

Andy Eaddy and friends braved on again and off again rain all day to fish in the surf on Bull's Island, yielding about a dozen redfish. The same trip last year yielded a monster tarpon. The 2009 version saw Andy catch a giant 44-inch redfish that put up quite a fight. The latest fishing reports tell me that the big bull reds are biting on the coast from North Island to Edisto Island and on down to Saint Simon's Island in Georgia - so wet a line and good luck fishing!

To view a past blog entry on surf fishing click here.

PhotosProvided: A 2009 monster red drum. A 2008 monster tarpon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fly fishing at Hobcaw Barony

Captain Steve Thomas is an Orvis-Pro guide who specializes in fly fishing and runs the release-only fishing program for Hobcaw Barony plantation in Georgetown. He took his fishing buddy Joe Bibbo of Florence into the flooded marsh at dawn and was right there for every heart-pounding encounter with the thirteen redfish that were located. Captain Thomas has exclusive rights to guide anglers on the pristine tidal flats on the plantation, which is just south of DeBordeau. Wade fishing is the most popular trip but Thomas also offers kayak fishing with fly or spinning tackle for the backcountry slam species of trout, flounder and spot-tailed bass. Thomas can be reached at 843-997-6981 and said, "The redfish will gorge on fiddler crabs between now and the end of October." 

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Joe Bibbo shows off his slot limit redfish caught on fly rod, The Lippa tool system allows the angler to release the redfish without handling it, Capt. Steve Thomas ties into a Big red drum

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

SAFMC meeting in Charleston

The South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council is meeting all this week in Charleston. The federal government is moving towards ecosystem management for the oceans, and some hotly debated topics include catch-shares and ocean closures to fisherman. The Wednesday afternoon Public Comment hearing was conducted in a courteous manner although many fisherman spoke passionately about why they did not want to se ocean closures enacted. SAFMC is under strict orders via the Magnusen Act to 'stop overfishing' and they have a limited timeframe to do so. The future health of the oceans may well be on the line, so this matter is rightly scheduled for more debate and research over the coming months.

Photo By Jeff Dennis: An avid angler listens carefully during the SAFMC public comment meeting

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2009 Teal season and Doe deer season - Opening Day

September 15 is the traditional start date for doe harvest season, and it just so happens that this year there is a double-header start date with teal season. salutes those who shoot teal in the morning and climb into a treestand in the evening! The Quality Deer Management Association stresses the earliest possible harvest of does in order to reduce the number of does to be bred by bucks during the rut - thus leaving the bucks in better shape for the remainder of the season and for winter. Conservation minded hunters harvest does early and often!

T view past blog entries about opening day for shrimp and alligators click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Colleton Leads S.C. in 2007 Timber Dollars

The timber harvested in Colleton County in 2007 had a value of just over $41 million dollars according to the Timber Products Output (TPO) report, which is produced jointly by the S.C. Forestry Commission and the U.S. Forest Service. Colleton County has 502,887 acres of forestland or roughly 74% of the county, with only Berkeley County listed as having more forestland with 529,484-acres. Georgetown County was second on the TPO list with 419,907 acres generating $40 million in timber revenue. Rounding out the top ten category were Fairfield County, Newberry County, Hampton County, Horry County, Williamsburg County, Jasper County, Orangeburg County and Edgefield County. With so many of our Lowcountry counties making a prominent showing in the timber dollars category, I am wondering if this is a derivative from the conservation movement that preserves our natural resources. Certainly Colleton County has a chance to remain atop the TPO standings in the future given the thousands of acres preserved in the ACE Basin. Agribusiness is the combination of forestry and agriculture, and together they generate $30 billion in yearly revenue for the state and provide over 200,000 jobs.  S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers is developing a strategic plan designed to grow the industry to $50 billion by 2020

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Surf Fishing South Island

Andy Eaddy of Hartsville and fishing buddy Bob Geiger enjoyed a productive two days in the surf zone at South Island in Georgetown County. Over 20 large red drum were landed and a very NICE mixed bag of fish came when Bob landed a 48-inch tarpon, and some trout and whiting were also caught. The wind was up but the bite was on and Andy reports an ample supply of live bait in the area. You may recall that Andy caught a monster tarpon in the surf during September of 2008!

Photos by Andy Eaddy: Bob Geiger with his South Island tarpon from 9/10/09, Andy poses with a nice red drum caught in the surf

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Edisto King Mackerel Tournament

The first ever Edisto King Mackerel Tournament was fished on 9/12 and was sponsored by Buck's Pizza. A fleet of 40 boats braved rough seas in search of smoker kings. Finishing in first place was Whip Lash and Captain Raymond Stivender with a king weighing 35.6-pounds. Finishing in second place was Cool Cat with Captain Chris Prince with a king weighing 30.2-pounds. Rounding out the top money fish was seventh-place Eren's Addiction Too with Captain Jack Bracewell and their 17.8-pound king.

Photos by : The largest king came from Whiplash, and the largest Spanish was reeled in on Owe's Me Money

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009 Shrimp season and Gator season - Opening Day

Those who bait our Lowcountry waters for shrimp may do so legally again at noon today (9/11) and they enjoy a shrimp-baiting season that is two months long. Boat ramps will be jammed today with shrimpers going out to enjoy one of the tasty shellfish that is found in our Lowcountry estuary. Deer season is already in, shrimp season too - so what's next? Gator season begins on 9/12/09 and Lowcountry hunters will sharpen their harpoons and detonate their bang sticks in hopes of slaying a large gator. This is the second year for gator hunting in S.C. and it's a great example of how our natural resources provide a stimulus for the local economy - taxidermy and processors get a real shot in the arm from gator season. Excitement abounds - but please remember to send reports of LARGE gators harvested to share with

Photo By Jeff Dennis: a 10-foot alligator that may be on someone's short list

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sheepshead Slam with Gul'R'Boy Charters

Captain Mike McDonald took Clinch Heyward, chairman of the S.C. Wildlife Federation fishing out of the South Island Landing and tagged along. Leaving out of South Island Boat Landing and fishing in Winyah Bay, the target of the inshore fishing trip was  spotted seatrout. Upon arriving at Gul'R'Boy's trout hole the anglers proceeded to catch just about anything but a trout! A spot-tailed bass was followed by a flounder, croaker, dogfish, rock bass, ladyfish, sheepshead, black drum, and THEN a trout decided to bite the hook. Everything fell for a shrimp fished under a float and it was good to partake in the mixed bag of fish that is just part of the blessing that is Lowcountry saltwater sporting adventure. For more info about Capt. McDonald click on Gul-R-Boy Charters.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Clinch and Mike wet a line in Winyah Bay, two fisherman wearing buffs or masked men?, Finally - what I am calling the Sheepshead Slam - defined by when you catch a trout, spot-tail and a sheepshead at the SAME location

Monday, September 7, 2009

July / August Birding Observations admits that the birding during the dog days of summer is a little slow, but remains committed to birding reports. Some observations included Indigo bunting, bluebird, cardinal, kingbird, loggerhead shrike, blue grosbeak, Mississippi kite, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, brown thrasher, pileated woodpecker, tufted titmouse, mockingbird, wild turkey, red-tailed hawk and of course, doves - lots of 'em. The birds of summer tend to enjoy suet (when its not melting in the sun) and black sunflower seeds more than the smaller grains. As always, clean and cool water in the bird baths is the number one songbird attractant during summer.

To view the May-June '09 birding blog entry click here.

Photo by Jeff Dennis: a potrait of Warblers and Bluebirds that recently acquired

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Opening Day of dove season at Longbeard Farms

Way down in a hollow right next to the Wateree River lies Longbeard Farms, near Eastover. This Richland County setting was just one of the dove fields across South Carolina where the annual rite of passage known as opening day of dove season was observed. (Some members of the public also call this the first saturday of college football season) A host of family and friends gathered at a dove field prepared in corn and sunflower, and after a brief safety meeting, the shoot began at 3 p.m. Captain Todd Stamps put me in a corner of the field where the birds like to cut across. A bird appeared, my 12-gauge pump shotgun bellowed once and the bird fell, and we held a meeting to decide that this was not a bad thing - unlike the superstition of say catching a fish on your first cast during a fishing trip. The weather was warm and a gentle breeze guided the doves into the field so that all the gunners, which included about 10 youths, were able to have a fun shoot until 6 p.m. A Boston butt supper was served with green beans and some cold BEvERages. Thanks to huntmaster Patrick Stamps for coordinating all of the days activities.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Dove season is a great way to get youths involved in the outdoors and the hunters show off their doves, Todd Stamps with two birds on the way to his limit, Erin of Mt. Pleasant guards the sunflowers from those invading doves

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sailfish featured in CCA's Tide magazine

Ever wonder about the Sailfishing out of Charleston and of the S.C. Coast? In my article titled Easy Sailing in the Sept./Oct. edition - you can read about how one boat targets sailfish with a mix of dredge rigs and dink baits that can challenge your knowledge of fishing tackle and how to keep track of your bait spread. Sailfishing off the S.C. coast is ramping up to a 'peak' of activity later this fall, so there is no time like the present to knock the rust off your game plan and go offshore for sailfish.

For past articles by Jeff in CCA's TIDE magazine click here.

Photo by Jeff Dennis: Richard Coen reaches for the bill of a sailfish
Photo by Capt. Bobby Kriv: Lauren Dumas with her first ever sailfish caught in Aug. '09

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wildlife Themed License Plates for S.C.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources conducted a survey for the public to pick which wildlife theme they would like on their license plate. Over 5000 people responded and they chose the plate with a deer and a dusk background and the plate with a painted bunting songbird. SCDNR funding from the sale of these license plates goes to conserve and improve wildlife habitat.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Good buck reports - Velvet Antlers

Some of the early season buck harvests are starting to come in to and the velvet antlers make each good buck harvested a trophy. There has been much talk about the 16-point buck arrowed in Kingstree.

To view a past blog entry about harvesting bucks in velvet click here.

Photo provided by Palmetto Pride Processing: a 10-point buck weighing 205-pounds came in from T and M Farms in Ulmer.

Photo by Randy Lane: Mary K. Lane with her first ever ten-point buck - it weighed 180-pounds

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Goose Season Begins: DU Skeet Shoot

September 1 marks the beginning of the early season for canada geese which runs all month long and is designed to engage and limit the population numbers of resident Canada geese. Resident geese can clog neighborhood ponds and golf courses, and find relative safety in these same areas because they are often no hunting zones. Goose hunters have to first seek out geese that are in an area that is legal to hunt in, and then access the permission to hunt there. Any readers wanting some help controlling resident geese this season can send me an e-mail so that I can put them in touch with hunters from Ducks Unlimited. The volunteers of SC DU are gearing up for fall fundraisers, and are always keeping an eye out for nuisance geese.The South Carolina chapter of DU held their annual Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Indigo Club shooting facility in Columbia. The high temperatures did not hamper the fellowship that was evident when the volunteers held a little skeet competition. Congratulations go to Team Two: William Clyburn, Steve Johnson, and Cliff Edler (all from the East Cooper Chapter) and Team Three: Bob Murphy, Doug Saunders and Mitchell Preger for winning the competition.

To view a past blog entry about duck hunting click here.

Photos by Jeff Dennis: The entire DU volunteer crew at the Indigo Club, Cliff Edler shoots at the doghouse station in front of a beautiful oak tree, Ty Tyler takes a crack at the wobble trap (look closely for the spent shell hull that whacked the photographer)