Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Toast to 2010

This New Year's toast is to all the memories that were created in the blessing that is the Lowcountry outdoors. Please stick with for the latest trends, news and reports from our beautiful coastal plain and its associated waters. Thanks to those who have chosen to be blog followers, as your support means an awful lot. My message of conservation, sustainable natural resources and continuation of hunting and fishing as honorable traditions is steadfast. 
Cheers to 2010!

PhotoByJeffDennis: This English setter portrait bears a likeness to my own dog Chester

To view past New Years' Toasts click here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday decorations for the Sportsman

There are plenty of traditional holiday decorations witnessed throughout the end of the year but these images are to my liking as much as any of them.

PhotosByJeffDennis: A wreath made of spent shotgun shells is perfection to a wingshooter even though is does not carry the fragrance of freshly burned gunpowder; a common palm frond from a dwarf palmetto with just enough red ribbon not to upstage the grand live oak; how about an armadillo bowl with an antler-handle filled with pecans and perched alongside a scene of white-tailed deer; pheasants in a flower arrangement complete with gamebird feathers is a grand way to say Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Van Liew sailing in Southern Ocean with tenuous lead

Stay up to date on the Velux 5 Oceans Race through the blog of Charleston's Brad Van Liew. He is perhaps navigating the roughest ocean on the globe presently and deserves respect for his navigational abilities and a salute for being in the lead, even though it may be tenuous. Sailing between Cape Town, South Africa and Wellington, New Zealand for the second leg of the race, Van Liews' blog is at this link.

PhotoProvided: Bran Van Liew on the bow of Le Pingouin , the flagship of Lazarus Racing

For prior Velux 5 Oceans blog entries click here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Driven Deer Hunt - 2010

Cold and windy conditions greeted the drivers and standers that decided to make a man drive after lunch in Northern Beaufort County. One doe was harvested by a driver, and one youth on the hunt who had never killed a deer before, will have to wait perhaps one day longer. The most remarkable story of the day came when I was standing on a property boundary looking towards the woods where the man-drivers were shouting, when from out of nowhere - SEVEN does ran into the drive coming from behind me. I gave the running pack a 'flock shot' even though they were a good 100-yards away, and didn't touch a thing. I later found out that a four-wheeler on the adjacent property had been in the woods and likely spooked those does. Amazingly, those does ran through the drive we were hunting and no one got a shot on them after me. But that's hunting...

To view past entries about man drives click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The deer drivers take a break on a deadfall tree after traversing a briar thicket next to a swamp; the drivers used a Ranger to and from different hunt locations; Julian and Spencer Clark are looking for the right deer to come along; You had better believe that outdoor activity on this day was more comfortable with Grabber brand foot warmers, hand warmers and the like!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday oyster roast in the snow

The cold weather had the game birds feeding heartily and those that began the day in the duck blind reported bagging their limits in quick fashion. Dove fields that had been shot on Christmas Eve were once again full of doves due to the climactic conditions dictating that they must feed. A lucky bunch of outdoors-folk were gathering together to eat oysters that were freshly gathered from the May River in Bluffton, a shellfish ground that is rumored to be the best that there is. The oysters did not seem to be quite as salty as other local oysters, but they were very full and ate well. The real snow flurries did not come until late in the day, but it was a dank cold feeling all day long, and reminded the outdoorsmen to dress for the weather in order to stay comfortable.

For past blog entries about weather click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Oysters are cooked old-school on a sheet of metal and under a wet burlap sack over a wood-burning fire that provides warmth for onlookers and a pleasant smell for those downwind; the bird feeder showed the dusting of snow well; the old John Deere tractor has seen few snows in the Lowcountry; Jeff and Chester are excited about the snow

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas - cold weather

For some the Christmas morning is dawning with a special appreciation for the Lord, and the cycles of nature. With 27-degrees or so for most of the Lowcountry on Christmas morning, we are truly having a winter season and despite the clear skies a forecast for a chance of snow remains.

Particularly thankful for those who undergo sporting trips into the fields or cast fishing lines into water, Lowcountry Outdoors wishes them all a Merry Christmas. May this be a time to count blessings, visit with family, and the beginning to a holiday season full of the outdoors.

To view some warm wishes from Safari Club International via e-card click here and here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Marriott's 'Future Fish' a nod towards SSI

According to USA Today's Dec. 23 edition Marriott International has launched 'Future Fish' in an effort to source at least 50% of their seafood from certified sustainable fisheries. The Sustainable Seafood Initiative is catching on due to customer demand, and one such offering on hotel menus is wreckfish, under the term Carolina stone bass. The Lowcountry has a strong SSI presence thanks to mindful restauranteurs and the work of the Aquarium, and the fact that the wreckfish from just off our coast are part of a sustainable species is thanks to careful regulation. "The guest is asking what the fish is and where it is coming from," said Brad Nelson, Marriott's culinary vice president. To view past blog entries about SSI follow the links.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Triggerfish can be found on SSI menus

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nov. / Dec. birding observations

One observation from the field for November and December of 2010 has to be the lack of transition weather from Fall to Winter. It was relatively warm until around late November or Thanksgiving and then a harsh cold winter settled in to the Lowcountry. As far as the species of birds sighted this served to concentrate the birds as they gathered at the separate feeding stations of peanuts, suet, black sunflowers and birdseed. Of course the biggest attractant of all is bird baths, and I try to keep three in use. The challenge during prolonged cold weather is that the birdbaths freeze up and the songbirds tiptoe across the surface of the ice pecking at it with curiosity. My solution is to keep one birdbath underneath a spigot in the yard that is set to drip continuously, thus keeping it free of ice.

Birds observed included red-bellied woodpecker, cardinal, tufted titmouse, hairy woodpecker, carolina chickadee, yellow-belied sapsucker, chipping sparrow, pileated woodpecker, robin, white-breasted nuthatch, catbird, cooper's hawk, carolina wren, white-throated sparrow, mockingbird, towhee and yellow-rumped warbler.

Migratory waterfowl sightings include gadwall, wood duck, black duck, ringneck, hooded merganser, shoveler and Canada geese.

For the Sept.-Oct. '10 birding blog entry click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: With the exception of the evening grosbeak, the Birds of the Garden poster accurately depicts what is most common amongst my observations

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Buck limits proposed by SCDNR board

On Dec. 17, 2010 the SCDNR Board recommended a statewide four-buck season limit be instigated. The SCDNR Board makes recommendations on game management, but then those plans have to go forward to the General Assembly. A modest fee would accompany the program to pay for the tags, but also it would generate funds to implement deer studies, such as the coyote study already underway at the Savannah River Site.

PhotoByJeffDennis: A fine Lowcountry buck

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Charleston Chew redfish video

Blair Wiggins of Addictive Fishing and Capt. Champ Smith of the Lowcountry are after reds on the flats using the new Flats Blue rods, and they catch an over-the-slot red in this four-minute video clip.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Capt. Champ Smith and his Flats Blue rod looking for a strike

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hunting Geese in S.C.

The reports of migratory waterfowl are going strong this year, including two fabulous goose harvests over the weekend. First off the Wrecking Crew guide service in Rock Hill got in a good 'whack and stack' hunt when 100 Canadian geese worked their deadly decoy spread. Then a couple of experienced duck callers in Elloree saw these snow geese working an ag field and use throat vocalizations to draw them near enough to harvest! Keep LowcountryOutdoors in mind for waterfowl harvest reports.

PhotosSubmitted: Canada geese stacked like cord wood in the foothills, a pair of snow geese in the midlands

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chas. Co. driven deer hunt report - 2010

The end of the season deer drive at a Charleston County property was held over the weekend and cold and windy conditions likely affected the outcome of the hunt. With the deer bedded down tightly, and the howling wind obscuring the volume of the horse drivers' voices, only two bucks were harvested. No coyotes or hogs were spotted and both buck were of the cowhorn variety. Nonetheless, the hunt held in honor of a Lowcountry horseman renewed the bonds of fellowship for those that promote the driven hunt as an honorable tradition, and several youths were present to experience the driven hunt. A mustard fried venison lunch followed a cold day in the field and the nourishment from the wild game served to warm the hearts and bodies of the hunters. The two harvested deer were cleaned and parceled out to those hunters that wanted a piece of venison meat to take home to their family.

To view a past blog entry and recap from last year's hunt click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Henry Lowndes hollers for the deer to GET UP; several youths got in on the hunt and one had a BIG miss on the drive; Valerie is a rose between two thorns (Rawlins and Ed Lowndes); Butler Derrick managed to slay the cowhorn buck that presented him with a shot

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frogg Toggs hip boots and waders

With the end of 2010 will be putting the finishing touches on two years of the blog that seeks to portray a positive picture of our sporting traditions for the blog followers that are with us. I will touch on fishing reports and catches of note, and will highlight hunting seasons and the outdoor gear that is required when in the field or on the water.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Frogg Toggs is known for their raingear but now they have crossed over into waders, and both their hip boots and chest waders fall into the categories of reliable and affordable.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shimano Exec recognized by Congressional Sportsmen Foundation

Phil Morlock is the Director of Environmental Affairs for Shimano, and he received the Brad Rowse leadership award last week for promoting the sportsmen's agenda in the halls of state government. The Congressional Sportsman Foundation (CSF) oversees the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC) for each state, and state legislators are often where game and fish regulations get crafted. Morlock has served on the board of the CSF and attended the recent NASC meeting in Point Clear, Alabama. "Phil Morlock has served with distinction on the CSF Board for many years and is a trusted advisor and friend," said CSF President Jeff Crane. The Brad Rowse Leadership Award is not given annually and is named after a former staff member at the NASC. "To be awarded this very special honor by my colleagues at CSF is very humbling," said Morlock. South Carolina state representative Ted Vick also attended the NASC conference in Alabama and serves as the Chief of the Wildlife Committee in the House.

To view past blog entries about the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation click here.

PhotosByCSF: Phil Morlock of Shimano with fish

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Big Pig shot on deer drive

A estimated 300-pound sow was brought down on a recent dog drive, by Busit Rivers of

PhotoByBuistRivers: The big one that did not get away!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rimini duck hunt in 18-degree weather

The state democratic caucus annual duck hunt was held a the South Carolina Waterfowl Association facilities in Rimini. The state legislators shared the camaraderie of the duck blind the morning after their planning meetings for the 2011 General Assembly. With unusually cold December weather already in S.C., some unusually good duck hunting has been on tap this year. Waterfowlers always yearn for cold weather up north to bring some migratory ducks down to South Carolina, and temperatures in the teens may be even more than most folks wish for, since it freezes up a lot of the duck hunting ponds in the area. How cold was it? Hunter Tony Wielicki coined a new phrase yesterday - a 'bloodsickle' is when you pick up your harvested duck and the blood coming out freezes in an icicle formation. Strange but true!

To view my blog from the 2009 Dem. Caucus duck hunt click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: SC House Minority Leader Rep. Harry Ott, Phil Bailey, Rep. Ted Vick (Chief of the SC House Wildlife committee), Sen. Vincent Sheheen and Matt Nichols; SCWA's wetland wildlife center sign welcomes hunters; Rep. Ted Vick and Jeff (in True Timber camo) are dressed for the extreme cold weather and managed to take their limits in wood ducks; Tony Wielicki and his dog Moon with his black duck and woodies

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

QDMA founder wins Bud Conservation award

Did you know that the Quality Deer Management Association was formed right here in South Carolina? Joe Hamilton of Walterboro started the very first QDMA chapter in the Lowcountry Outdoors, and it has now become an international entity. He was voted the 2011 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

November '10 WMA duck harvest report

It looks like the waterfowl hunting in S.C. during November of 2010 was far better than say the last four or five years. With drought conditions nearing, it's hard to predict why this year the ducks think our habitat is looking good. Possibly it's because nature revolves in cycles and the replenishing rains of last winter have made a difference in the quality of our forage this year - just a thought for readers to consider.

To view past waterfowl hunt blog entries from Bear Island WMA click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Scenes from past Bear Island WMA draw hunts

Friday, December 3, 2010

Savannah River Site 12/1 Hunt Report

The "Deer Control Activity" draw hunt at the SRS near Aiken, S.C. is likely the largest driven deer hunt in the Southeast. With roughly the same amount of acreage as the Francis Marion National Forest, the Department of Energy has consistently held about 10 hunts a year for the past few decades in order to control the deer population. Safety is the hallmark of the SRS hunt with more than 50 standers and 50 dog drivers in the woods, each hunt begins with a thorough safety meeting that drives home what is expected from everyone. Lowcountry Outdoors first visited the SRS for this hunt in 1998 and found it to be well attended by like-minded hunters from other states like Georgia, North Carolina - and even Alabama, Louisiana and beyond. While not for everyone, the SRS draw hunt has stood the test of time as a worthy endeavor and a well-run program.

Cole Scroggs and his huge 8-point SRS buck 
PhotosByJeffDennis: William McClure of Mooresville, N.C. with his 237-pound hog; Kym Gainey with one of the fine bucks harvested at the SRS; A hunter admires his harvest; Two S.C. men drag their buck to their truck