Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jan./Feb. Birding Journal observations

January and February can be a slow time at bird feeders it seems but I managed to record a few significant sightings. The first goldfinch did not arrive until February 1, which was a good bit later than their 1/10/2009 arrival - the goldfinches have not left yet, which also differs from their 2009 departure date of 2/26. Unusually cold weather saw many nights dip into the 20's during January and February. Birds sighted include red-bellied woodpecker, white-throated sparrow, tufted titmouse, chipping sparrow, pileated woodpecker, blue jay, yellow-bellied sapsucker, bluebird, cardinal, chipping sparrow, dove, brown-headed cowbird, tufted titmouse, mockingbird, carolina chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, and cedar waxwings.

To view the Nov.-Dec. '09 birding blog entry click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Flocks of cedar waxwings are known as the harbingers of spring; mother nature knows that attrition via premature death is always a constant for cedar waxwings; a chipping sparrow was momentarily confined in this bird feeder that it had infiltrated

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 Lowcountry Redfish Cup - Beaufort

The first leg of the Lowcountry Redfish Cup was fished on February 27 in Beaufort out of Dockside Restaurant. Cold and WINDY conditions greeted the two-man teams that were aiming to catch two slot-limit redfish, with the goal of keeping them alive for the weigh-in and then to release back into the estuary. The Sea Island Fishing Team of Graham Somerall and Carey Furman came up with the winning combination of legal to keep redfish that gave them first place, good for $2300, with a combined weight of 8.7-pounds. (Their first fish weighed 4.25-pounds and the second weighed 4.45-pounds) The second place team of anglers was called '2 Reds' and Shane Lather and Chuck Lather weighed two fish for a combined weight of 8.65-pounds. Coming in third place was team Reel Habit, with anglers Ricky Maldonado and Bruce Draper weighing in two fish with a combined weight of 8.4-pounds. Over forty teams competed in the first leg of the Lowcountry Redfish Cup and accumulated 'Team Points' towards the overall winner category. First place finished with 60 points, while second finished with 58 points and third finished with 56 points, and so forth. Three more Lowcountry Redfish Cup events will be held in Savannah, Hilton Head and Charleston - with a 11/12/10 Championship location to be announced later.

PhotoByTuckerBlythe: Joe Pollock caught this 11-pound redfish on a rootbeer jerkshad while fishing with Grey Ghost Charters; notice the belly tag from the SCDNR tagging program. Team Grey Ghost caught several fish, but none in the 'slot' and were just one of many teams that did not get to weigh a fish at the end of the day

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boyt Weathermaxx Baselayer review

Whether taking to the field behind a pair of pointing dogs, or getting on the water to chase some redfish, with the temperature dipping below freezing again it might be time for outdoorsmen to think about the proper base layer of clothing. purchased this Boyt product online after being introduced to it at a writer's conference. Made of a superfine merino wool, the weathermaxx top and bottoms will keep one comfortable and they have no 'itchy' wool feeling. The merino wool is in fact as smoothe as silk on your skin and it serves to wick away moisture to avoid ever feeling wet or clammy. The Boyt 'long johns' are washable, odor resistant, hypo-allergenic and are billed to give years of use, which given Boyt's reputation for products that get better with age, makes them something dependable to ward off the cold in the future. The Weathermaxx top has a pull-top zipper on it and comes in the colors loden or black, and you can order a lightweight or medium weight wool at

PhotoByJeffDennis: The Boyt base layer merino wool shirt and pants in loden

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fish Stamp Charters Sheepshead Report

Captain Todd Stamps left out from the IOP marina on 2/20 and headed to Capers Reef with Jason Watkins of Goat Island and Davis Hallman of the Lexington Chapter of CCA. Traveling through Dewees Inlet it was a calm ride through the nine miles of ocean to the reef which is 'right out in front' of Wild Dunes. Using a Penn Sargus 2000 reel spooled with 17-pound Fins braided line on a 7-foot Total Backcountry Slam rod, Stamps and company caught over fifty sheepshead (returning most to the ocean), some black sea bass and even a 22.5-inch redfish. They used fiddler crabs on a #1 Mustad hook that was attached via a snell knot to the six inches of 20-pound flourocarbon leader. Since the tide fluctuation was moderate, and 3/4-ounce weight was ample to get the fiddlers to the reef. They returned at 11 a.m. with some fish to clean before heading over to the S.C. CCA state convention.

For past blog entries about Capt. Todd Stamps click here.

PhotoByToddStamps: Davis Hallman with a February sheepshead

Monday, February 22, 2010

S.C. Turkey Density Map

Charles Ruth is the Deer and Wild Turkey Project supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Ruth said, "Wildlife Section biologists attempt to update density distribution maps for deer, wild hogs, and turkeys on a periodic basis. It has been about 10 years since the wild turkey density distribution map was updated, and turkey numbers have moderated due to poor reproduction in recent years. The new map represents biologists' best estimate of the current turkey distribution across the state based on harvest and population trends."

PhotoProvided: A father and son turkey hunt always provides special memories for

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CCA SC State Convention - Awards

PhotosByJeffDennis: Sharon and Danny Rourk accept the 2009 Committee of the year award for the Lowcountry Chapter which is based in Beaufort; The PeeDee Chapter won the chapter cook-off on Friday night, while the Columbia Chapter took home the People's Choice Award; Jay Sims of the Waccamaw Chapter is Vice-Chair of the State CCA chapter and he stands with S.C. Executive Director Scott Whittaker who received an award in appreciation for ten years of service from state chairman emeritus Tombo Milliken and current Chairman of the state chapter Michael Smith; the members of the CCA S.C. state committee gathered on stage for a round of applause

For more photos from the 2nd Annual CCA State Convention click here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2nd CCA SC State Convention

PhotosByJeffDennis: Tammy, Ryan, Tommy and Reagan Herndon of the ACE Basin Chapter; Patrick and Stacey Stamps with Buddy and Beth Hook of the Lexington Chapter; Cantey Smith from the East Cooper Chapter welcomes Susan and Allen Bell of the ACE Basin chapter; Liz and Pete Loy support conservation and Pete (a past President of the East Cooper Chapter) had just returned from a fishing trip where he caught a 30-pound wahoo in 1200 feet of water with a water temperature of 60 degrees - Loy also donated a trip on 'Lil Bit to the CCA state convention live auction

To view my blog entry promo for the 2nd CCA State Convention click here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

CCA 2nd Annual S.C. Convention BEGINS

PhotosByJeffDennis: The Lexington Chapter of CCA dresses up as 'Pedro de fisherman' and their cooking team served up tortillas stuffed with fried flounder filets and fried shrimp combined with a mango chutney sauce; The ACE Basin Chapter from Walterboro brought in some fresh coot from the marshes of the Ashepoo River for the refined diners of CCA to sample; the Cook-Off judges dined at the Columbia Chapter's 'Gator Table' while judging their roast duck and bacon wrapped dove breasts; Sands Williamson joins Chris Hawley (President of the Waccammaw Chapter of CCA) who is holding onto my English Setter named Chester and is next to Chandler Street; Micahael Smith, Tombo Millikena and Scott Whittaker represent the vanguard of the S.C. Chapter of CCA

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Affinity Charters redfish report

Captain John Ward of Affinity Charters knows where the redfish are, and smart anglers should make plans to charter a spot on the bow of his Maverick Boat and cast to them. was very fortunate to be in that position on a cold day (temps in the lower 50's) that saw winds gusting from 10 to 20 miles per hour. Ward didn't think that the cold would hold back the redfish, because they have provided lots of action during January and February, so he ventured to the redfish spot despite the weather conditions. Fingers were cold early on as the casting seemed fruitless with the fish developing lockjaw - but as the sun warmed the water small bumps could be felt on the line, and then before you know it - whump - the bite was on. Only an ebbing tide could have made us call it a day... which we did after 'wearing them out.'

For past blog entries on Capt. John Ward click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Captain John Ward shows off a nice redfish; Captain John Ward shows off TWO nice redfish; Captain John Ward puts a bend in the rod
PhotoByJohnWard: A slow start was forgotten after I reeled in the redfish of the day, a 29-inch spot-tail that weighed 8.5-pounds

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) visited the Lowcountry during the 2010 SEWE and had a booth in the conservation tent in Marion Square Park. The RMEF state chairman Dave Merry was in town from the Piedmont of S.C. in order to raise awareness about the RMEF in South Carolina. Did you know that there are chapters of the RMEF already established in Greenville and Columbia? Dave is looking for a few conservation minded individuals to form a steering committee for a Lowcountry Chapter of RMEF and he can be reached at 1-800-650-3555.

MapProvidedByRMEF: Did you know that the only Elk in S.C. presently is at Charles Towne Landing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Myrtle Beach State Park

Located in Horry County and encompassing only 312 acres, Myrtle Beach State Park is very much an oasis of conservation among the massive development of Myrtle Beach. With one mile of unspoiled front beach complete with a 729-foot fishing pier, and a 137-acre Heritage Trust Preserve of maritime forest, what makes this state park special is how it preserves Horry County’s natural ocean-side heritage.

Programs director Ann Malys Wilson told me, “Looking South and North back towards land from the end of the pier, you can clearly see the borders of the park because it is in stark contrast with the surrounding build-up.” Wilson also told me that this park serves 1.2 million visitors a year, and offers 300 RV hook-ups, which is the most for an individual park in the SC Park System. Wilson adds, “When you come here you’ll have a different Myrtle Beach experience than anywhere else along the Grand Strand.”

Myrtle Beach State Park offers some fine fishing on its full-service pier that sells bait, rents fishing tackle and allows children eleven years of age or younger to fish for free. The Park outreach program also uses the pier to showcase the bounty of saltwater inhabitants found there such as shrimp, crabs, fish and even sea urchins. Another front beach program for Myrtle Beach State Park allows equestrian usage of the property from the third Saturday in November until the end of February.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Looking north from the pier the scenic maritime forest ends where the hotels of the Grand Strand start up; the fishing pier at the state park is capable of being a very productive spot; a sign directs horse traffic to the beach

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beach Erosion at Pawley's Island

On a recent visit to the beach at Pawley's Island it appeared that a major nor'easter had scoured off the 'face' of the dunes, leaving a three to five foot steep wall where a gradual dune used to be. Many roots from sea oats were left exposed and some dunes fencing was washed away, plus an unusual amount of shells and sea life seemed to be washed up on the beach. Beach erosion during winter storms is quite normal, although this event seemed to be quite serious, with many beach paths not usable due to the steep dune facing the ocean.

PhotosByJeffDennis: A starfish is a rare find on a South Carolina beach - testment to the ocean currents that recently scoured Pawley's Island; a sand dune with damage to its fence; another dune fence washed up on a groin or partially swept out to sea; beach vitex is a new tool in the fight to protect sand dunes with vegetation

Sunday, February 14, 2010

SEWE rocks! at Charleston Cooks!

Charleston Cooks! is the kitchen store owned by the Maverick group of local restaurants, and is located on East Bay Street. They conducted three wild game cooking classes during SEWE to help outdoorsmen learn secrets on how to utilize and prepare game such as shrimp, venison, quail, duck and flounder. Chef Instructor Season Stepp taught the class of 15 participants while store manager and culinary director Danielle Wecksler lent a helping hand. Some tips that were learned included how to remove the pin bones from flounder filets without cutting off any extra flesh, how to devein and shell a shrimp in record time using a special tool, and how to tell when hash potatoes and venison medallions are done when cooking in a pan. The two-hour class saw everyone prepping food at five different stations, with the final result being a food tasting accompanied with a glass of Maverick label wine. The kitchen is set up like a classroom with seating for 30 and a complete audio visual system with a flat screen monitor serving as the 'chalkboard.' Charleston Cooks! offers a wide range of cooking classes all year long and have a staff of four chef instructors that use state of the art cooking utensils that can also be purchased in the kitchen store,
To view more blog entries from the 2010 SEWE click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: John Rama and son William are big outdoorsmen and they stand with Danielle Wecksler; the duck hash with spicy potatoes looks oh so good in the skillet; Season Stepp demonstrates the proper way to break an egg; the game sampler included cornbread stuffed quail, pecan encrusted flounder, venison medallions and duck hash; Justin and Catherine Ray celebrated Valentine's Day at the cooking class and said "You gotta get your Cooks!"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

SEWE Saturday photos and SNOW VIDEO

PhotosByJeffDennis: The wild life even came to the normally tame jump castle when the USS 'Gone Fishing' was bitten in two by the huge shark motif; Lowcountry fishing guides Danny Rourk of Beaufort and his brother Fred Rourk of Georgetown manned a booth at SEWE trying to 'catch' some new clientele; Jim Westerhold is a professor of environmental education at Horry County Technical College and his skunk skin attracts a lot of attention from inquisitive youths; Margaret Blackmer form the Lowcountry Open Land Trust joins Jim Elliott for the The Birds of Prey Center after the flight demonstrations in Marion Square Park.
For more blog entries from the 2010 SEWE click here:

VideoByJeffDennis: Snow fell in the Holy City during the 2010 Wildlife Expo!

More DU Oyster Roast photos

PhotosByJeffDennis(SC DU State Media Chair): Regina Cates, Clare Cutrufello and Vicki are the DU raffle girls and are key to fundraising efforts; Nate Schnetzler is a SC DU regional director and is joined by Steve Geldard; Henry Kerr, Kelley Wirth and Paul McLintock are visiting from Atlanta; Laice Lane and Ann Bell are new to DU; Jane and David Rawl are diamond life sponsors from Columbia; Representing the College of Charleston chapter of DU is Tyler Hilburn, Taylor Bell, Harry Tomlinson and Joe Adair