Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday dove shoot

One of the oldest Thanksgiving Day traditions in the Lowcountry is an afternoon dove hunt. Cold weather had the birds congregating well in the prepared dove field in western Colleton County. A barbecue supper preceded the hunt which began at 2 p.m. when nearly 100 doves were flushed from the field as the hunters took their positions. When the doves started returning to feed, the shooting started and continued in waves as the birds paused and then resumed their attempts to get into the corn and millet over and over again. One of the best hunts of the year ended with many wingshooters taking their legal limit of 15 doves.

For past blog entries on dove hunting click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: A youth hunter who attended looks at a pile of birds after the hunt; Tom Polk with his limit of 15 doves held by a WinnTuck game strap

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving driven deer hunt - 2009

Sportsmen spent plenty of time in the outdoors over the Thanksgiving holiday celebrating open season on migratory birds and renewing time spent hunting deer with family and friends. One such deer hunt occurred in Yemassee on the day after Thanksgiving with a good old-fashioned man drive. The organizers of the hunt utilized about 20 man drivers and roughly 30 'standers' to push the deer around on the 33-degree morning. Safety was foremost in the minds of the hunters and while there were some reports of errant shots - a total of three bucks and two does were harvested - helping the landowners achieve some of their deer management goals while providing a dose of hunting heritage for hunt participants.

To see past entries about man drives click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: A truckload of hunters with their harvest - ready to deploy for the next drive; a happy hunter with his 185-pound BIG 8-point buck that was destined for a taxidermist

Monday, November 23, 2009

ACE Basin celebrates 20th anniversary

A rainy and cold day could not dampen the spirits of 200 conservationists who gathered at Willtown Bluff on the Edisto River to mark the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking vanguard of protection that Lowcountry outdoorsmen have enacted. After opening remarks by Charles Lane (ACE Basin Task Force chairman) and SCDNR Director John Frampton the patrons enjoyed a buffet lunch of shrimp and grits, hushpuppies and pulled pork. The keynote speaker was Matthew Connolly, retired Executive Director of Ducks Unlimited, who spoke about how the people of the Lowcountry have made the ACE Basin project a successful collaboration that is unique, and is now the blueprint that other regions of the U.S are trying to follow. The ACE Basin is a 400,000 acre ecosystem that is comprised of three rivers and their associated watersheds and uplands - of which almost 200,000 acres has been protected by conservation easement.

To view a video clip about the Beauty on the ACE click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Charles and Susan Waring joined the conservation spirits assembled at Willtown Bluff; Jocelyn Clark from Spring Hill Plantation and Lilla Lane visit during the 20th anniversary of the ACE Basin project; A map of the ACE Basin shows Walterboro (black mark) in the center of the Focus Area

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Palachucola WMA deer draw hunt

Thirty-five lucky hunters were drawn via lottery to hunt on a Wildlife Management Area for the weekend of November 19-21. With mild weather conditions making hunters vigilant for snakes and assorted stinging critters, hunter Julian Clark crept into the wilderness that is the Savannah River swamp. Hunting in a hardwood flat, three does came into view at looking to eat some acorns. Clark took aim at the largest doe and fired, knocking her to the ground momentarily before she jumped up and ran towards the river swamp that was now fully flooded. He lost track of the blood trail when she crossed a gulley filled with water, and darkness quickly descended. Clark and I decided to retrieve the doe at dawn, electing not to take a chance of getting lost at night in the swamp. When dawn arrived tracking was resumed and a two-man grid search was enacted and we located the doe, but to our surprise only a carcass remained as a pack of coyotes must have found the doe overnight and completely consumed all the flesh. The only parts we found were entrails, fur and legs! Lowcountryoutdoors can only imagine the teeth-gnashing flesh-tearing feast of the coyotes.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The 2009 deer harvest tallies for three WMA's; Hunters Shawn Wolters and Julian Clark at the draw hunt; Quality Deer Management is practiced on most SCDNR properties

Thursday, November 19, 2009

'Dog Pen' Buck story

Greg Lawrimore beat the odds when he took down a fine Lowcountry buck that had a wide 22-inch outside spread. Lawrimore lives in Ridgeville and owns a few acres that backs up to the Edisto River on what he calls some beautiful swamp bottomland. He is a longtime dog driver at Eureka Hunt Club who occasionally goes still hunting, and he keeps a pack of 18 dogs in a pen right behind the house. Amazingly, he harvested the Dorchester County trophy buck about 175 yards behind those same dog pens. Using a BuckShot II climbing stand when hunting behind the house, Lawrimore likes to go about 20 feet up an oak tree when still hunting. He does keep a corn pile near the stand location, and while some does were eating at the time he shot the big buck – about 6:15 p.m. on 10/13 – the wide racked 9-point buck that weighed 158-pounds was rubbing a tree next to some Buck Stop 200 doe in heat lure that Lawrimore had put on some leaves of the tree. Just before the buck appeared the woodland critters became very vocal with squirrels barking and crows calling. Larimore was wearing jeans, a camo t-shirt and a turkey facemask when he shot the buck about a minute after he first saw him. Lawrimore had seen a pretty good scrape line that this deer had made about a week before the fateful hunt. Greg knew the scrape was active because twice he pushed some leaves in the scrape and each time he checked back the buck had cleaned it out again. Lawrimore was taught by his father not to leave any human scent near a deer scrape, and that lesson seemed to have paid off. Lawrimore said, “I use a stick to push the leaves into the scrape, careful not to touch anything, and then I actually take the stick out of the woods with me.” Lawrimore said, “I had seen a hoof track that made me think a good buck was in the area, but I had no idea he was this nice. You see I don’t use a scouting camera, and I never will because for me it spoils the excitement of the hunt. I give thanks for the heartfelt adrenaline rush I get when I see a buck like this, and I don’t really want to have any knowledge about what buck I am looking for.” Even though the location could be used as a ‘shotgun stand’ because of the tight location in the woods, Lawrimore used his trusty Remington Model 700 7mm with a Leupold VXIII scope. Lawrimore said, “When I saw this buck I could tell he was an acorn buck or swamp buck because he was very dark in coloration, and his neck was swollen up too. The north wind that was blowing worked perfect for the hunt.” An avid hunter for 25 years, Lawrimore last took a big buck on Thanksgiving day of 1997 – proving that trophy bucks don’t come along just every day. The big buck was taken Cordray’s Venison processing in Ravenel, and taxidermist Kenneth Cordray rough scored the antlers at 143 and 6/8. Lawrimore said, “They always do a great job with the meat for me at Cordray’s and now I’m going to let Cordray’s taxidermy mount my big buck.”  

To view past blog entries about quality buck harvests click here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Atlantic Game & Tackle - Open for Business

Atlantic Game and Tackle opened its doors for business very recently in Mount Pleasant. Owner Jeremy Burnham offers a complete hunting department including an indoor archery range, and will carry all the tackle associated with offshore fishing. Be sure to shop in the gun department the weekend after Thanksgiving for the 'no sales tax' specials at Atlantic G & T. Store hours are from 9 until 7 everyday - giving Lowcountry outdoorsmen plenty of opportunity to go Christmas shopping when not in the field.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Give Jeremy a call or stop by their location next to Time Out boat center 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Awesome Bull's Island Buck - Story Link

On Monday morning November the 9th a group of bowhunters were conducting a deer population control hunt on Bull Island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. David Shull is President of the South Carolina Bowhunters and he reports that at 7:45 a.m. this 'old' buck that was still in velvet stepped out. After the a spine shot from a bowhunter that dropped the buck in his tracks, the deer was weighed at 150-pounds - which is quite large for a barrier island buck which might suggest that he carried some age. Great work in the Lowcountry outdoors by the S.C. Bowhunters - members in the S.C. Camo Coalition.

To view more blog entries on harvesting bucks in velvet click here.

PhotoByDavidShull: A 15-point buck harvested on a bow hunt on Bull's Island

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Events at The Clinton House

The Collegiate Challenge Shoot complete with oyster roast and canned food drive will be held on November 19. This is to be just one in a series of events in which participants wear their school colors to celebrate the fall football season. A holiday spirit of giving will also be asked of participants who may donate canned goods and toys for distribution to the Laurens County School District, as the Clinton House strives to give something back to its rural community. Cost for the Nov. 19 event is $35 and includes 50 rounds of sporting clays and dinner, or for the non-shooter dinner will be available for $20. November 21 will be a 'Registered Shoot' at $40 for the 100 bird main event. Don't forget that duck season is just around the corner and for great 'Arkansas style' waterfowl hunting you need to book a date soon. For more information call the clubhouse at 864-833-0274.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Duck hunting at the Clinton House is a rewarding experience; a pheasant tower shoot on a crisp autumn 2008 afternoon produced a memorable photo; How about this fine non-typical buck that was harvested at the Clinton House in 2008 - who will be the lucky hunter to cross this dominant buck's offspring!? 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Conference at Clinton House w/VIDEO

Mike Johnson of The Clinton House
A conference at the Clinton House in Laurens County brought more hunting opportunities and some special milestones. Thanks to Cary Chamblee of the S.C. Wildlife Federation for coming to speak about the Camo Coalition and to Charles Ruth of SCDNR for coming to speak about deer and turkey management.
To view past blog entries from this conference click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Mr. & Mrs. Dean Elsey from the Lowcountry Chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, An English Pointer named Maggie pointing a quail for

VideoByJeffDennis: Willaim Terry of Legacy Game Calls performs part of his turkey calling repertoire

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Clinton House

 The Clinton House Plantation welcomed special guests like William Terry of Legacy turkey calls and Bill Davis of Pure Gold shotgun choke tubes. A talk by Hunters and Farmers Feeding the Hungry and the Clemson Fishing Team enlightened others before going into the hillside quail fields which are part of the 2000 acres surrounding Duncan Creek. Lowcountryoutdoors hunted with manager Mike Johnson over a pair of English pointers named Maggie and Sugar and enjoyed some beautiful dog work and was reminded how 'hillside' terrain can provide a handsome setting for bird hunting.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Case McNeill of the Clinton House eyeballs the new PSE Archery crossbow that he plans to harvest a trophy buck with, Bill Biggerstaff with Academy Sporting Goods, Larry Chesney decided to harvest this 'scrub' buck and showed it off to Clinton House owner Chris Grant, son Chip Grant and plantation manager Mike Johnson

Friday, November 13, 2009

2009 Sea Island CCA banquet

The Sea Island Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association held its annual banquet 11/12 at the new Founder's Hall facility at Charles Towne Landing. The new first-class facility welcomed the hungry CCA members who began eating the food catered by Charleston Bay Gourmet right at 6 p.m. when the doors opened. A cocktail hour was followed by a silent auction countdown by CCA SC Director Scott Whittaker, and then a live auction was conducted by Roy Smith. Fishing trips, fish prints and fish sculptures dominated the bidding  - and a 'mystery cooler' filled with all sorts of fishing gear was the final item auctioned. A raffle for coolers, cookers, camo and more raised money that will stay in South Carolina for CCA's conservation programs. Anyone interested in becoming a steering committee member of the Sea Island team (downtown Charleston, West Ashley and John's Island) can contact chapter president John Barham.

Photos by Jeff Dennis: CCA members that came straight from the deer stand were Addison Rupert, Grant Hawes and Richey Almes; Michael Appel joins Captain Mike Able of Able-minded Charters and Ross Appel - President of Homewaters Clothing; Ken Hoover and Roy Smith make up CCA's 'one-two' punch at the auction microphone

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bull's Island bald eagle surf fishing report

If you stayed indoors early this week saying 'Ida' rather not go out fishing with a tropical storm bearing down, you missed out on some great wildlife activity. The fishing in the surf at Bull's Island had been going good for a couple of weeks, but that activity increased to 'going berserk' with a low pressure system approaching. Perhaps it is similar to deer movement before a storm front, fish go on the prowl and especially the fish that are looking to mix things up a bit with baitfish in the surf zone. Angler Bob Geiger reports a 'boffo' day of fishing on 11/9 catching 13 redfish, 4 black drum, mixed in with whiting and blues. On a different day of fishing Matthew Montgomery witnessed an opportunistic bald eagle when the raptor paid the surf fishermen a visit when one of their 'keeper' red drum he had tied off became exposed on the beach, swooping in for an easy meal. Bald eagles can catch fish on their own but they are also well known as scavengers and it is this natural trait that led to an unforgettable experience for the fishermen.

To view past blog entries about surf fishing click here.

PhotobyBobbyRodgers: A bald eagle (with leg band) grabs a red drum that was caught in the surf
PhotoByBobGeiger: A beautiful black drum from the Bull's Island surf

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CCA Oyster Recycling Nov. 14

The Coastal Conservation Association's TOPWATER ACTION campaign is calling for volunteers to help recycle the shell at the Sullivan's Island Fire Department Nov. 14 from 5 to 8. This annual event is always fun and is sure to draw a crowd, and CCA members and other volunteers are invited to help gather this leftover shell - which is the very first step in the recycling process. The shell will be returned to the estuary at a later date where a new oyster bed will be started in an effort to keep oysters as a renewable natural resource. Go ahead and call Gary Keisler for more information about how to help out - 843-696-6274.

To view past blog entries on the CCA Topwater Action Campaign click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: A local resident employs a five-gallon bucket for his 'pick and choose' method of oyster harvest

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Haddrell's Point Gator Trout Tourney

The dates for the Haddrell's Point Gator Trout Tourney run from October 12 through November 22 and is is NOT too late to get entered to fish - or WIN - the entire event. Fishing is completed on a weekly basis consisting of a $20 entrance fee, with a 100% payout each week to the top two fish. After all six weeks the top two anglers (with the two heaviest fish) will have a competition to decide who takes home first place - to be awarded in prizes. Angler Lonnie East leads the tourney with a 5.95-pound trout caught during week four on November 7. Angler Craig Bradford is currently in second place with his 5.50-pound speck caught during week one of the tourney on October 13. Trout must be 15-inches to qualify and can be weighed at either Haddrell's Point location.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Angler Ken Perrotte with a nice speckled trout

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kingfisher strikes window

Not really outdoor news, but a local Kingfisher flew into a window last week and accidentally killed himself. Kingfisher's are normally found near water with open terrain surroundings. Perhaps something was 'after' this bird to make him leave the normal flight path and head towards a home. Even though the window glass was adorned with stickers designed to reveal the glass panel to oncoming birds, sometimes they hit with such authority that mortality is assured. The kingfisher is a graceful fisherman that Lowcountryoutdoors encounters just about everywhere that the outdoor tradition of fishing leads, and is one of the members of our rich community of avian friends that is worthy of high praise.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Dr. Patrick Dennis Sr. studies the corpse of a kingfisher after its untimely collision with a glass panel  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vermillion Snapper Season CLOSED

No need to measure those vermillion snapper for a while, because the NOAA has closed the recreational fishery from November 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration implemented these pro-active measures to 'end the over-fishing' of vermillion snapper and the closure is in effect both in state and federal waters from North Carolina down to the Florida Keys. Oh you can still go fishing, but with possession of vermillion snapper now prohibited during the closure, some fear there may be less reason for recreational fisherman to pursue the tradition of fishing. will make an educated guess by saying that this is not the only fishery closure that will be instituted by the federal government in the name of 'over-fishing.'

PhotoByJeffDennis: A vermillion snapper is measured by Captain Mark Brown during a 12/08 bottom-fishing trip out of Shem Creek on the Teaser II

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Charleston Angler Spot-tail Tournament

It's safe to say that this event will be a little 'spotty' when it comes to the final results. For the entire month of November and continuing through Decmber 15, The Charleston Angler (TCA) is sponsoring a fishing tournament that counts the number of spots on any redfish caught by participating anglers. Anglers must register for $25 before fishing (free t-shirt) and then they must use a digital camera with date stamp to document the number of spots revealed on their redfish. The most spots wins and since no fish are being kept size does not matter - and only one side of a fish can be 'entered.' Weekly prizes of $25 TCA gift cards will be awarded, with a grand prize of cash to be determined on the number of tournament entries.

Photo By Jeff Dennis: This four-spot redfish was caught prior to the TCA tourney at Hobcaw Barony's private water fishing with Captain Steve Thomas (on left)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sept./Oct. Birding Observations

One sign of the fall migration came on Oct. 13 when noticed that the hummingbirds were now gone. The feeders were not being tended as they had every day since arriving on April 7, and the hummers are no doubt heading south. Lots of woodpeckers to report like the pileated, red-headed, red-bellied, hairy woodpeckers and even a northern flicker - all found dining on black gum tree fruit or red berries on magnolias and dogwood trees. Also spotted: brown thrasher, cardinal, dove, yellow-billed cuckoo, bluebird, canadian geese, tufted titmouse, mockingbird, chuck will's widow, blue jay, red-tailed hawk, barn swallows and carolina wrens. Looking forward to neotropical migrants that visit each November, and of course the arrival of waterfowl.

To view the July-August '09 birding blog entry click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Too bad the 'Lord God' bird cannot be counted in my bird observations since the Ivory-billed woodpecker is supposedly extinct

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sailfish Slam goes to Houdini

On a magical Halloween night under a festive tent erected in front of Salty Mike's, Houdini owner Jim Shannon appeared and collected first place in the 2009 Sailfish Slam. Houdini's Week Three lead held up against tough competition from Miss Annie, Micabe and Artemis - finishing in second, third and fourth places respectively. Houdini Captain Wayne Skinner and mate Daniel Davis released 18 sailfish and accumulated 3613 Slam points to win each category of the competition. Houdini also won first place in heaviest wahoo category for their 19.1-pound fish. The twenty boat fleet released 85 sailfish and one blue marlin during the month-long tournament.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Tournament Director McKenzie Estes and Captain Wayne Skinner of Houdini with the award for largest wahoo