Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Toast to 2009

This New Year's toast is to all the memories that were created in the blessing that is the Lowcountry outdoors. Nearly 300 blog entries later, covering everything from sailing to tennis plus hunting and fishing, this eventful year comes to a close. Thankful for family, supporters and of course blog followers - things are looking up for 2010 beginning with small game season, sheepshead fishing and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition on February 12-14. Please stick with for the latest trends, news and reports from our beautiful coastal plain and its associated waters.

Image by Luke Frazier; featured artist of the 2010 SE Wildlife Expo: Setters on Point

Monday, December 28, 2009

DNR Fish Watch study - final report

The SC DNR has released a final report of their Fish Watch study which consisted of a video camera at an undisclosed artificial reef that had no fishing pressure. The top secret video feeds were beamed back to researchers over eight years and the final report addresses the findings. To view one of these video samples go to:

To view the Fish Watch report go to:

PhotoByJeffDennis: Grouper were the most common species caught on video

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Squirrel Hunt at Bang's Paradise

Disabled hunter Andy Hahn traveled to Bang's Paradise Valley from Rio, Brazil in order to hunt some squirrels with owner Bang Collins. Hahn has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and is an avid hunter and angler. Hahn was joined in a pop-up tent blind overlooking a run of swamp near Broxton Bridge with childhood friend Ron Wagner and new friend - 10-year old Klay Elixson. His Marlin .17-caliber rifle was outfitted with an Alpen scope and a prism video screen. Wagner would aim the gun and when Hahn agreed with the placement of the crosshairs he would 'pull' the trigger. The 42-degree temperature made Hahn's muscles 'lock-up'  because ALS effects muscle function but he said, "I love the cold because it means its hunting season, but I'm much more comfortable in a warm climate." Hahn continued, "Every time a squirrel came out I was thinking Ron better hold the gun steady because my heart was beating with excitement." Hahn and wife Ligia travel to Bang's Paradise Valley in Ehrhardt, S.C. twice a year because they like the fact that Collins does not afford them any special treatment more than any other customer. The one exception may have been when Collins came up to Hahn, paused and said, "Has anyone told you they love you today? ... well I love you man."

PhotosByJeffDennis: Hahn and Elixson used these squirrel masks to achieve 100% camo when hunting bushytails; Ron Wagner, Klay Elixson (with squirrels) and Andy Hahn after a successful hunt; hunter's stool with bipod and Hornady Magnum Rimfire rifle


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas - dove hunt wishes all family and friends a very Merry Christmas. What a rainy and windy day it was, making it difficult on those who had sporting plans - after family time and traditional meals. Fortunate to make it into a dove field on Christmas Eve, several Lowcountry wingshooters were able to enjoy the chance at taking a legal limit of 15 doves per person. Warm and cloudy weather played a part in the fact that the doves simply did not fly that well, and no one was able to bag more than a few doves - but that is just part of hunting. Friends still had the chance to visit about recent hunting stories and future outdoors plans - all with the approach of the Christmas holiday and its outdoor traditions.

To view past blog entries on dove hunting click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Look at the resemblance between the dove hunter and his wire-haired pointer; Doves are worthy of artwork like this iron fence; this old Parker shotgun was brought to the dove field by an old-timer; fellowship while cleaning doves provides a chance for hunters to share a laugh

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cordray's Taxidermy update

Kenneth Cordray of Cordray's Taxidermy is ramping up his production now that the deer season is near completion for Cordray's Venison Processing. Kenneth is mounting ducks, geese, bass and of course has the best-priced variety of deer mounts anywhere. Cordray's Taxidermy was commissioned with making my first ever European mount for the 10-point trophy I was able to harvest back on September 28. The skull is immersed in a de-greaser before being dried and mounted with a thru-bolt onto a handsome piece of wood. The skull-mount seemed to be a good compromise decision for me because while this was my first-ever 10-point buck, I already had some full mounts on the wall that are comparable to this 2009 harvest. I am hoping to bag a goose during waterfowl season so I can ask Kenneth to 'stuff' my first goose mount.

To read my blog entry about Cordray's beef sales click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Kenneth Cordray holds the European mount that he crafted for; just look at the oddball buck that one customer had Cordray's Taxidermy mount; Kenneth is now doing fish mounts, like this walleye!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chas. Co. driven hunt - Bang Bang Bang Bang - 2009

Hunters gathered for the annual driven deer hunt at the Charleston-county plantation knowing that after four inches of rain the day before, the deer would most certainly be 'on the hill.' Streaming water coursed through the uplands and duck boots, rubber boots and even hip boots were in order this day. Cold and windy conditions greeted the first drive of the morning, and the results were typical - two does jumped but no deer harvested. The second drive of the morning found in the sweet spot as two does tried to make it past my stand, and both were harvested. The horseman were glad to hear some shooting and came to see what had transpired and offer congratulations, then they headed out to push 'the other side of the drive.' Reveling in the newfound warmth of a double-header doe harvest I was surprised to hear the dogs give chase again and then a 5-point buck tried to make it past my stand. One shot and he did a mighty flip into the road and at the same time let out a wild 'UUUUUUGH' (grunt noise) and expired - allowing me to claim the improbable feat of culling three deer on one drive. With one last drive to conduct I hoped that others would also find the luck to harvest a deer, but fate intended for me to cull one more doe as she tried to sneak past my stand. The 5-point went with me to Cordray's for venison processing while the three does were donated to my fellow hunters.

PhotosByJeff Dennis: A perfect four for four on the dog drive had my spirits soaring - and what good timing with South Carolina Wildlife magazine photographer Phillip Jones on hand; the horseman (including Rawlins and Ed Lowndes) share a laugh in between drives; hunter fellowship is a key part of the driven hunt shown here is David Lucas, editor of SC Wildlife magazine and Comer Morrison

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beaufort River Trout Trip

The fishing with Captain Danny Rourk of Tailwind Charters was excellent in sunny and windy conditions on 12/16. Live mud minnows and a healthy mix of soft plastic baits all fished under popping corks was the winning combination. A GATOR trout was landed measuring 21.5 inches and weighing just over 4 pounds. The fish story of the day (and it's true) came when the big redfish parted the braided line when he surged under the boat - but he carried the cork with him - and after an hour of searching for the cork he was relocated. After a LUCKY cast to snag the tackle he was dragging we landed the fish, retrieved the cork and released him to fight another day!!!

PhotosByJeffDennis Capt. Rourk and I display some of the trout caught; was able to land the largest fish of the day in the form of a 25-inch redfish after an improbable fish tale

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Willow Oaks duck hunt

A legislative delegation consisting of S.C. democratic state senators and their friends and family gathered together for a duck hunt at the S.C. Waterfowl Association in Rimini. Mild temperatures and heavy fog are not ideal duck hunting conditions but several hunters were able to make a good showing despite the continued evidence that few migratory ducks have made it to South Carolina thus far. Senator Vincent Sheheen stumped for his gubernatorial campaign and the SCWA staff provided hospitality in the form of an oyster roast and fried chicken supper the night before the hunt. Some of the youth involved in this hunt ended up in duck blind that was besieged by ring necks and other ducks and their exuberance for waterfowling was self-evident after the quality hunt at Willow Oaks duck club.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Austin Sheheen and Dwight Cauthen are two lucky sons who accompanied their father's into the duck blind and the ducks found them to be able shooters; heavy fog was draped across the blinds and the water at Willow Oaks, S.C. state senator John Land and SCWA director David Wielecki greet the hunters with a report on Camp Woodie - located in Clarendon County

Monday, December 14, 2009

SCI Trial Membership now FREE

Safari Club International is offering a FREE trial membership to hunters in order to continue to grow its ranks. SCI is First For Hunters when standing up to protect the freedom to hunt while promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. This membership drive is designed to reach out to new members who are interested in joining the fight to defend our hunting heritage - which of course is a frequent message here on Join now to start receiving the 'In The Crosshairs' e-newsletter from SCI!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yemassee Revitalization Tour and Lunch

The newly formed Yemassee Revitalization Corporation conducted its first annual Yemassee Town and Country Holiday Home Tour on Saturday 12/12. Three local churches, four local family homes and two plantations were on the tour schedule for a moderate fee, with the proceeds going towards the goals of keeping downtown Yemassee beautiful (specifically the train station) while educating its citizens regarding the history of the area. Richfield Plantation, located in the nearby village of McPhersonville served as headquarters for the tour and part-owner Melvin Lane doubled as the caterer (brother Gregorie Lane is also part-owner), serving up a delicious shrimp and grits (with venison sausage) for lunch. The Sloman House downtown was transformed in 2007 into a rental cottage and offers a 'vintage' feel with its hand-crank phonograph that is in good working order. The Mays House downtown was the former home of Dr. Mays, who served as the town physician and pharmacist for 35 years. The Zahler House downtown, home of noted sportsman Mickey Zahler, is constructed of wood from Cotton Hall Plantation. All three homes held sporting collectibles in plain view which demonstrate the inherent good that came from the culture of the outdoors that is part of Yemassee. Finally, a trip down River Road led to Old Combahee Plantation, which has been protected in perpetuity with a conservation easement by the family that has held it for five generations.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Richfield Plantation was built in 1875; Perhaps the recipe for the shrimp and grits came from this old cookbook, the view of Izard's Creek from the 25-foot bank at Old Combahee Plantation, granddaughter Anna Nell Welsh O'Quinn and daughter Linda Nell Mays O'Quinn share the stories of Dr. Mays with tour patrons

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bear Island WMA Waterfowl Draw Hunt

Would the Opening Day of duck season, cold weather and a draw hunt at Bear Island WMA be the Perfect Storm of waterfowling ingredients? Not so, as hunters found it difficult to fill their six-bird daily bag limit, but it did provide for an enjoyable dose of anticipation. Manager Ross Catterton told the hunters at the safety meeting to shoot early and often for the best chance to harvest a duck, and he was right about that as the shooting opportunities quickly dwindled after the pass shooting opportunities that came in the early-minutes. Of course their are other blessings that accompany a draw hunt such as fellowship with other hunters and the continuous stream of wildlife activity: like the bald eagles, white pelicans or even the deer that ran across the impoundment in front of the blind. Blue geese and Canada geese flew over but alas were too high for steel shot and thus no volley was offered - but my Foiles Migrators goose call 'honked' at every one of them.

To view a past blog entry from Bear Island click here.

Photos By Jeff Dennis: Julian Clark & his dog Jen sit beside Jamye & Jamie Hurteau before the hunt; Two hunters show off the ducks they were able to harvest including a handsome redhead drake; a brace of widgeon and a double gun - just a taste of the sporting heritage found in our Lowcountry Outdoors

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stud Wahoo Pic from Eren's Addiction

Check out this 65-pound wahoo caught recently out of Charleston - NICE!

PhotoProvided: Eren and Jack Bracewell are normally after Kingfish - but 'settle' for a BIG wahoo

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Savannah River Preserve - Charleston Mercury link

Take this link to The Charleston Mercury website and my story about the conservation efforts on the Savannah River Preserve.

Map courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Homewaters shirts - new colors!

Just in time for Christmas, Homewaters Clothing has introduced three new colors to their 'fisherman's polo' collection. The three earth-tone colors are dubbed Tan, Weedline and Olive - and a new size has been introduced as well the XXL! As a member of the family (arguably the family member holding the largest redfish!), a new olive shirt with a redfish logo was ordered. The online process was easy and the shipping charges were minimal, and the new shirt arrived in just a few days, along with a thank you note from Ross and Jason. A product tag boasts that the shirt is made of 100% hand-spun Peruvian cotton and has a cool-pique construction. A portion of the proceeds from my redfish shirt purchase goes to the SCDNR Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton - the one that helps to raise red drum and cobia so that anglers may find success while fishing in our 'homewaters' this year and in the future.

PhotosByJeffDennis: A new olive Homewaters Clothing shirt with a redfish logo and the enclosed info tags

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fishizzle Tackle lights up King tourney

The new Fishizzle Flash tackle system helped the top two teams to victory during the 4th annual P.M. Avin Tournament held out of the Belle Isle Marina. The Susanna Jules came in first place with a 37.9-pound king, caught on a Fishizzle 'King Bling.' The crew consisted of Capt. Eric Heiden, Derek Heiden, Bobby Earl, Brad Prescott and David Martin. How Sweet It Is came in second place with a 29.5-pound king, caught at the Belkie Bear Hole using a Fishizzle Pink & White 'King Bling' skirt and a 'Plan B' head on the downrigger. The Fishizzle Flash system is based on the concept that baitfish flash when they are distressed, as a type of defense system to throw off the predator. Fishizzle Flash attempts to mimic this natural flash, drawing a reaction strike from nearby predatory fish like King Mackerel.

PhotosByMichaelBroach: The first place team of Susanna Jules (in daylight); the second place team of How Sweet It Is (at night)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

SCDNR Take One Make One hunt

The first annual Daniel Douglas Jr. Memorial Youth Hunt was held in Newberry County on Dec. 4 and 5. The SCDNR's Take One Make One (TOMO) hunt coordinator Lynwood Kearse partnered with the Mid Carolina Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) to conduct the hunt on private lands owned by Eddie Wilson and Bobby McBride. Eleven youth hunters, including three females, were provided a guided deer hunting opportunity during the hunt. Daniel Douglas Jr. was just 19-years old when he lost his life in a tragic car accident on 11/25/08, but he was already an accomplished outdoorsman. Kyle Cannon is President of the QDMA branch and said, "I knew Daniel and we got along great because we both liked the same things - hunting and fishing." Plenty of Daniel's friends volunteered their time to make sure that the youth hunters were well looked after with a hotdog lunch and a barbecue chicken supper and bond fire.

To read my feature article in S.C. Wildlife Magazine click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Youth hunters pose for the camera before the hunt, a female hunter from Summerville tells her story of shooting a hog earlier this year

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oyster Roast for Birds of Prey

Join the Center for Birds of Prey at their Avian Conservation Center in Awendaw this Sunday Dec. 7 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. for their third annual Oyster Roast. Tickets are for sale at $65 apiece and are available at (843)971-7474 and don't forget that children under the age of 12 get in for free. Ben Moise will be catering the oysters (complete with hot dogs and chili), and a beer and wine bar will be open. Walking tours of the conservation center will be conducted from 2 to 4 p.m. and a very special flight demonstration will take place from 3:45 to 4:15. Shuck some oysters 'For the Birds' out in Awendaw on Sunday - and enjoy the Lowcountry outdoors!

To view past blog entries about the Center for Birds of Prey click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Stephen Schabel imitates a Peregrine falcon during one of his patented flight demonstrations; Two Harris Hawks perform together at the 2009 SE Wildlife Expo

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Private Waters fishing at Hobcaw Barony

Thanks to Capt. Steve Thomas for the guided fishing at Hobcaw Barony Plantation in Georgetown.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Let Capt. Steve Thomas show you where to cast your fly

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bushnell gear for holiday season

Bushnell Outdoor products and optics is ringing in the yuletide season with some bonus offers for holiday shoppers. Purchase a Bushnell binocular, riflescope, spotting scope or laser rangefinder and receive a free fleece pullover jacket in RealTree AP camo. Or purchase a pair of Bushnell Excursion EX binoculars and get a Bushnell backpack for free - the one with all the right pockets for other hunting gear. There are cashback offers available for 'Chuck Adams' edition Bushnell products too, so check the Internet for all the latest Bushnell holiday deals.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Haddrells' Gator Trout Winner

Angler Craig Bradford won the first week of the Haddrell's Point Gator Trout Tournament with a 5.50-pound speck, and then won the Final Fish-off on 11/28 with two specks weighing 6.40-pounds together. interviewed Bradford at Haddrell's Point duing the winner's presentation on the morning of 11/30. Bradford said, "I entered every week of the Gator Trout tourney but I did not get to fish as much as I wanted because of work. Lonnie East had a nice Gator Trout during week 4 of the tourney and I was fortunate to beat him in the fish-off with a couple of 3-pounders." Bradford did not celebrate long as he was getting on an airplane to start a new job in San Diego. Congrats to Bradford for winning the tourney and best wishes to him while fishing (in between work days) on the West Coast!

PhotosByHaddrellsPoint: Angler Craig Bradford with his Week One Gator Trout; Tourney Winner Bradford with his Fish-Off specks - good for oodles of free tackle from Haddrell's Point and bragging rights for one year