Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ACE Basin QDMA branch - coyote seminar

The ACE Basin branch of the Quality Deer Management Association held a How To Trap Coyotes seminar in Walterboro on August 29 that was attended by members from several different local QDMA branches. Branch President Nicole Garris and QDMA founder Joe Hamilton introduced Todd Menke, the trapper from N.C. that came to share his experiences for those interested in trapping coyotes in the Lowcountry outdoors. The evening started with a fried fish dinner sponsored by Jonathan Barnes of AgSouth services, which also donated door prizes. The QDMA offered a raffle for their 2011 Fall Gun of the Year which is a Remington .308 rifle, which was won by a local man attending the seminar. Menke was a speaker at the recent QDMA National Convention and was kind enough to visit the ACE Basin branch and share what has worked for him over the last 18 years of trapping in North Carolina. Coyotes are of great interest to deer herd managers since studies have shown that 80-percent of fawn mortality can be attributed to predation by coyotes. Trap sizes, trapping techniques, trade secrets and how NOT to educate coyotes with poor traps were all part of the discussion.

To view past blog entries abut QDMA click here.

VideoByJeffDennis: Joe Hamilton, founder of QDMA, introduces the guest speaker

PhotosByJeffDennis: ACE Basin QDMA's Joe Holt and Nicole Garris with speaker Todd Menke; Here is a steel leg-hold trap that is effective on coyotes; The QDMA gun of the year and a couple of volunteers; the large crowd in attendance came to listen about deer management via predator control

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lowcountry Fishing Report 8/29/11

Here's the most recent Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina as published in The Charleston Mercury - click here.

To view past blog entries with fishing reports click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: A great king mackerel from the 35th Allison Oswald tournament

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Velvet bucks and buddies / 2011 Opening Day Success Story

Which is better, hunting with your good buddy on opening day of deer season or taking a trophy white-tailed buck in velvet? Apparently both! John Stillwell and Ben Craddock of Greenville are members at a hunt club in the Lowcountry and as the picture shows, they had some great luck during the deer season opener. Deer herd management and good nutrition are two of the keys for taking quality bucks like these guys were fortunate to make their picture with.
Hunting on a 2,000-acre farm in southern Orangeburg County these buddies were part of a group of six that hit the woods. The other four hunters were unable to harvest a deer on opening day. (much like the result of my own opening day hunt.) Stillwell was the first to shoot and he was sitting on the edge of a peanut field along a ditch bank that the club had maintained recently to provide good shooting lanes.
“Almost immediately after getting in my stand at 7 p.m. a young spike buck came into the field and stood there,” said Stilwell. “Fifteen minutes later a grey ghost of a buck came out and it didn’t take me long to take my shot.” Stillwell’s aim was on target and his .270 WSM dropped the symmetrical 8-point at 150-yards. The buck weighed 184-pounds and had a 17.5-inch spread.
Meanwhile Ben Cradock was trying to salvage his evening hunt after his Yamaha Rhino blew its engine on the way to the stand. He called hunt club member Brian Casey to come get him and take him to his stand that overlooked a small soybean patch. Two does emerged from the woods and each of them had two fawns with them, and they provided Craddock with something to look at as the sun went down.
The does exited the field and Craddock thought his hunt was surely over when a bachelor group of five bucks stepped out broadside to him at a distance of 60-yards, giving him a great look at what he thought was a ten-pointer. “That big buck got tangled up in the rest of them for a minute and I thought it might get too late to shoot, but then he took the lead position in the group and that’s when I shot,” said Craddock.
His Ruger .270 is trustworthy but Craddock had such a case of buck fever he immediately began to think that he somehow missed the trophy buck. Casey texted him if he needed assistance and Craddock replied, I don’t know! When Craddock got down after dark to look for the deer he found the buck laying in the beanfield, a gorgeous 11-pointer with a 19.5-inch spread. The buck weighed 170-pounds.
Craddock’s deer was a younger age class than Stillwell’s buck and though it weighed less, it still had a superior rack. Herd management and good nutrition are two of the keys for Quality Deer Management but the third key will always be genetics. The younger buck likely possessed superior genetics, which allowed him to become ‘full-grown’ and a great addition to Craddock’s trophy room.
The two bucks were loaded up and taken to Great Outdoors Taxidermy in Bowman to see John Mellis, who serves double-duty as the deer processor too. Mellis has been creating trophy mounts for Lowcountry outdoorsmen since 1981 and he does excellent work whether the species is turkey, deer, duck or fish. Mellis told me that the Craddock buck was above average and one of the nicest bucks brought in during the early season.
PhotoByJohnMellis: Ben Craddock and John Stillwell arrive at Great Outdoors Processing after a very successful 2011 Opening Day hunt!!
For past blog entries about harvesting bucks in velvet click here.
PhotoByBrianCasey: Ben Craddock shows off his 11-pointer in the field where it was harvested, and even two weeks later he reports that the reality of his trophy buck harvest is still setting in

Friday, August 26, 2011

2011 Lowcountry Longbeards at Alhambra Hall

The third annual banquet for the Lowcountry Longbeards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation was held August 25 at Alhambra Hall in Mount Pleasant. Despite Hurricane Irene churning in the Atlantic Ocean and Friday night football games moved up to the 25th, the Lowcountry Longbeards group of outdoor enthusiasts mustered up a great crowd and had a fine event, including a seafood dinner from Park Lane catering of Columbia. One member of the crowd told me that he was planning to be out of town in New York, but due to weather concerns elected to stay home, and then to attend the NWTF banquet at the last minute. The silent auction and cocktail hour was followed by a live auction filled with sporting collectibles, turkey hunts, an inshore fishing trip with Backwaters Charters, artwork, a cooking grill, guns, and plenty of NWTF items! The Lowcountry Longbeards Chapter uses its funds to promote hunting opportunities for youths in the Francis Marion area, and the NWTF uses a portion of the funds for uplands conservation projects inside South Carolina. Look for great things in the future from this group of turkey hunters as they grow their chapter, and those willing to join or volunteer can email Chairman Robert Aitken at

To view a past blog entry about the Lowcountry Longbeards click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Wiley Marshall and Bethea Long pal around - a couple of jakes in the Longbeard crowd; The NWTF braintrust is Mike Hoffstatter, Bobby Marshall and Gary Peters; This pottery cask was one of the handsome items that went home with a lucky silent auction bidder; My friends the Hurteau's took a moment for this photo in front of the NWTF sign and they are (from left to right) James, Jamye, Taylor and Jamie

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Youth hunter excels at Red Bluff Lodge

Eight-year old youth hunter Latham Boone has gone back to school like all his classmates, but he has distinguished himself during the 2011 hunting season after the school day is done. Latham lives at Red Bluff Lodge, run by his Dad Jim Boone, which is located near Allendale along the Savannah River. Just three days into the hunting season Latham climbed into a deer stand and used his new rifle to make a 190-yard shot on a fine 8-point buck in velvet - way to go young man!! On the next day, August 18th Latham was able to put down a 125-pound boar with one shot that provided a clean kill. Going ahead and making the trifecta of photos, those that makes grown outdoorsman swoon for the Red Bluff Lodge and its bounty of critters, Latham happened upon a grown canebreak rattlesnake that had been killed in the road, and under the supervision of his father was able to display the fine specimen. Father and son outings are a part of our hunting heritage and Lowcountry Outdoors salutes the entire Boone family for their love of the outdoors. Furthermore, I have stayed at the Red Bluff Lodge and can report that their Lodge is both comfortable and spacious. Hunting along their Savannah River Swamp acreage is awe-inspiring and they have LOTS of uplands where the deer herd numbers are downright scary. Red Bluff Lodge also specializes in guiding your alligator hunts!!

For a past blog entry on Red Bluff Lodge and an awesome alligator photo click here.

PhotosByJimBoone: Latham with his special 8-point buck in full velvet; Latham takes down a fine boar hog too; Look what else is crawling in Latham's Land of outdoor adventure; To see another photo of Latham with a nice crappie he caught and displayed on my Savannah River Classic blog entry click here

Monday, August 22, 2011

SCDNR's Kearse honored as QDMA officer of the year

Staff Sergeant Lynwood Kearse of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was recognized on August 12th at the National Convention of the Quality Deer Management Association. Kearse heads up the SCDNR's Take One Make One (TOMO) program which provides hunting opportunities for interested youths who would not otherwise have that opportunity. Kearse is also involved with mobility impaired hunting opportunities to assist wheelchair bound hunters experience the thrill of the hunt in the great outdoors. After 25 years with SCDNR, this is likely not the only award that Kearse has earned, nor will it be the last. As an outdoor writer who has worked with Kearse over the years, I can share with readers that he is the first one to give credit to the other officers and volunteers that also help to promote hunting at these events. This Wildlife Officer of the Year Award is well deserved, and here's hoping that the TOMO program continues to evolve! To view past blog entries about QDMA click here.

PhotoByQDMA: QDMA Joe Hamilton presents award to Staff Sgt. Lynwood Kearse

PhotosByJeffDennis: Elizabeth Anderson of Charleston and Lynwood after a spring turkey hunt on a private property in Dorchester County in 2008. I was on assignment for The Charleston Mercury newspaper, and the photo was made prior to the Lowcountry Outdoors blog.

Pat Autore of the Lowcountry Chapter of Safari Club International presents a check to Lynwood during the annual wounded warrior hunt in the Lowcountry outdoors. It takes plenty of monetary and equipment donations to keep the TOMO program running and this photo shows that Kearse has to handle many duites. To view past blog entries about the SCI hunt click here.

Look at this great group of youths gathering for a TOMO hunt in Newberry County in December of 2009. This hunt is in memory of Daniel Douglas Jr. and is a partnership with the Mid-Carolina branch of QDMA. I was on assignment for South Carolina Wildlife Magazine and to view my blog entry click here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 and FINAL Allison Oswald Sr. Tournament photos

The tidal wave of support for the FINAL inshore tournament hosted by the Saltwater Sports Club continued through the entire weigh-in on Saturday. There was a throng of happy anglers present with a bevy of sport fish to weigh in, and the clouds provided some shade for everyone. The results on the scoreboard are unofficial and preliminary results.

To view a salute to this 35th annual and FINAL inshore tourney click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Team Can't Be Killed shows that reports of wahoo in close are being caught slow-trolling is very much correct and both the king and the 'Hoo went 25-pounds

Saturday, August 20, 2011

35th and FINAL Saltwater Sports Club inshore tourney / video

Lowcountry Outdoors would like to offer a special salute to the Saltwater Sports Club, a group of men who share a passion for saltwater fishing. They have promoted the sport of recreational angling by putting on an inshore fishing tournament out of the James Island Yacht Club for the past 35 years. They have decided to call it quits after this FINAL 35th inshore tourney fished today, Saturday August 20. There are many inshore tournaments in the Charleston area these days but none with the longevity of the Allison Oswald Sr. Memorial Tournament, and countless anglers have competed in their events for first place fishing rods and other prizes like coolers and fishing gear. The final Captain's Meeting was held on Wednesday and it was a joyous gathering of saltwater anglers who shared fellowship and fishing stories one last time under the telltale lighthouse design t-shirt. Again, a 35-year run for the Saltwater Sports Club deserves a mighty salute and the weigh -in will be from 4 to 5:30 today at the JIYC.

VideoByJeffDennis: Look at all the t-shirt colors from over the past 35 years

PhotosByJeffDennis: The 35th anniversary hat from the inshore tourney; commemorative t-shirts from past years; the distinguished members of the Saltwater Sports Club; a huge crowd gathered under the live oaks at the James Island Yacht Club for the Captain's meeting

Friday, August 19, 2011

2011 Plantation Managers meet at Brosnan Forest

The plantation managers are a group that pursue excellence in land management and they consult with experts and colleagues all the time to stay sharp. The Norfolk Southern Brosnan Forest in Dorchester County was the setting for these managers to get together in 2011 - with managers coming from Williamsburg, Horry, Georgetown, Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Colleton, Jasper and Hampton counties! Topics of discussion included trapping of coyotes and the results being achieved by several ongoing coyote studies. Feral hogs are also a great concern to land managers since they degrade the habitat so fast that recreational hunting does not seem to be able to head off their invasive habits. SCDNR was present to provide updates on alligator season, with a record 6395 applications received in 2011, and noting that 473 gators were harvested in 2010 and they had an average length of 9-feet 3-inches. Land fragmentation concerns, the spread of invasive species, mottled duck banding, bobwhite quail stocking and much more was digested by the plantation managers who are united in the fact that they love their jobs in the Lowcountry outdoors where they get to work.

To view the blog entry from the 2010 Plantation Managers meeting click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The sign on Hwy. 78 in Dorchester that marks the Brosnan Forest

This stand of woods on Brosnan Forest is typical of the sustained management practices that are ongoing there in order to bring about a climax of aesthetics and wildlife habitat. Plantation managers can only shape our forests over the passing of years and decades, so there is no quick fix. Often it takes a trained eye to recognize proper land management, and the planation managers are doing 'what's right' on thousands of acres everyday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Benton's Peanut Farm boils them right

Debbie and Wendell Benton on 8/10/2011

A great part of the Lowcountry Outdoors includes our rural and agricultural heritage. In Western Colleton County, Benton's Peanut Farm is now harvesting the fat, white-skinned gregory peanuts that outdoorsmen and their families love to shell and eat. Fortunate to have an invitation to go behind the scenes at the Peanut Shed at Snider's Crossroads (Hwy. 63 & Hwy. 21), I was able to continue a lifelong mission of tasting and sampling a few boiled peanuts!

Farmer Wendell Benton and wife Debbie Benton head up the operation that is based out of the peanut shed, with son Trent and granddaughter Breezie Jones helping out too. Their business is open for six months out of the year from May through October when peanut harvest season occurs. This year they planted 100-acres of peanuts and the main crop harvest of Gregory peanuts began July 25th.

I found out just how fortunate we are to have Benton’s locally since they only distribute peanuts in a 60-mile radius to towns like Orangeburg, Harleyville, Tillman, Ridgeland, Bluffton, Walterboro, Cottageville and Estill. Colletonians can drive to the peanut shed to purchase larger quantities of cooked peanuts in a half-peck, peck or bushel sizes.
The Benton’s peanut business started with eight small cooking pots back in ’94 and today the peanut shed runs 30 large pots that cook batches of boiled peanuts twice daily to keep up with demand. Does it get hot in the peanut shed with 30-pots of boiling water every day? You bet it does! Thanks to all the folks at Benton's Peanut Farm for making and bringing to market this local product that is an annual country tradition that everyone can enjoy!

Video By Jeff Benton Dennis: Wendell Benton personally devised the order of all the machines in his conveyor belt system that cleans and grades the peanuts before they are cooked and offered to the public

Photos By Jeff Benton Dennis: This familiar logo is on the packages of Benton's Peanuts found for sale throughout parts of the Lowcountry; Debbie and Wendell Benton founded and continue to run Benton's Peanuts; Two rows of pots are boiled at one time and then they are strained and cooled before being packaged; Just look at all those boiled peanuts inside just one pot - Mmmm Mmmm !!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lowcountry Fishing Report for August '11

Here is my latest Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina in the Charleston Mercury.

To view past fishing reports blog entries click here.

PhotoByBryanEastman: Daniel Atwill of Charleston with a nice 31-inch black drum caught at the Grillage in August '11

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hot weather deer gear and story link

Check out my latest article in the Charleston Mercury about early season deer hunting.

To view a past blog on deer hunting with Eddie Salter click here

PhotosByJeffDennis: You're going to need a Thermacell with a holster for plenty of extra cartridges; Scent free dryer sheets for washing sweaty clothes; a base layer system from H.S. Strut that wicks away scent; snake boots by Danner are comfortable and sharp

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Deer season OPEN; Halloween Buck story from 2010

Jerry Mixon of Islandton had never hunted white-tailed deer until last year, when he decided to bush hog a field behind his house and put out some deer corn. Using a homemade deer stand, he saw only small does throughout the season and never raised his gun. Then on Halloween, his luck got scary good, and the buck of a lifetime showed up.

“I remember it was October 31 and I was in the stand and it was getting late,” said Mixon. “I unloaded my .243 and actually moved to go down the ladder when I saw the buck’s head raise up out in the field. His head went up and down several times and I thought it was a robot deer or something. I looked with my binoculars and saw that it was a real buck.”

Mixon loaded his gun back up and put his crosshairs on the buck which was standing still, but still continuously lifting his head. “When I shot I saw the buck jump up and run off for 10 yards and then he went down in a heap,” said Mixon. “When I got down and walked over to the buck I was surprised to see what a huge rack it had. I called my wife Kathleen to bring the truck and we loaded it up.”

Driving over to see friend Everett Polk for a second opinion, Polk declared that this was a monster buck and one of the biggest around. After driving over to Risher’s Deer Processing, Mixon was greeted by a throng of hunters who clamored to see his beautiful buck. Risher’s weighed the buck at 182-pounds, it had 11 points including an 18-inch spread.

Unbelievably, this was Mixon’s first ever buck, and a dream come true! He has since had the trophy buck mounted. I stumbled upon this photo when it was posted in Buddy’s Stop and Shop on Sniders Crossroads.

To view past blog entries about deer hunting please use the search bar above.
To view blog entry #2 on Lowcountry Outdoors, about deer season click here. It would seem the original intentions for this blog are still intact and on mission heading into the fall of 2011.

PhotoByKathleenMixon: Jerry on the tailgate with his 2010 Dream Buck

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Camp Woodie update, video / SCWA celebrates 25th Anniversary

The South Carolina Waterfowl Association is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011 and it's Camp Woodie in Rimini just completed their 16th season of educating youths about the outdoors. Lowcountry Outdoors accepted an invitation to visit Camp Woodie for a day recently under the direction of Camp Director Ed Paul. Campers from all across the state attend the week-long sessions at Camp Woodie that are divided into Level One for ages 8 - 11 and Level Two for ages 12 - 16. Great daily activities for future outdoor enthusiasts include duck blind brushing, john boat camoflauge painting, waterfowl identification and duck calling techniques. Shooting shotguns is a facet of Camp Woodie that gets these youths ready for future hunts, and each week concludes with a Top Gun shooting contest for bragging rights. All shooting is done under the supervision of a shooting instructor and I was inside the duck blind with instructor Matt Baxley and camper Lawson Griffith from Cottageville during shooting practice. Griffith was attending Camp Woodie on a Craig Crosby scholarship created by the Walterboro SCWA chapter to honor their deceased chapter chairman. Charleston's Bethea Long was also in attendance as a camper along with counselor Kyra Schaeffer of Charleston. SCWA Executive Director David Wielicki estimates that 5000 youths have attended Camp Woodie over the years.

To read my feature article in the Charleston Mercury click here.

To view past blog entries on SCWA / Camp Woodie click here.

VideoByJeffDennis: Lawson Griffith takes on a few clay targets at Camp Woodie

PhotosByJeffDennis: SCWA Camp Woodie hat; Lawson Griffith takes dead aim at a clay target with the instructor close by; Counselors hold the boat that the campers spray-painted in preparation for duck season; the Lodge at Camp Woodie in Rimini

Saturday, August 13, 2011

2011 FFM Winner is Team Sperry / Net Profit

The angler that caught the leading fish on Day One was back up to his old tricks on Day Two. That's when Trey Groves reeled in a 26.66-pound king mackerel for Team Sperry / Net profit. The real story was that the 40.61-pounder that Groves brought to the scales on Friday held on to win the 2011 Fishing For Miracles Tournament. Captain and owner Bryan Baxter said that his team was very pleased with their performance over the weekend, and that now they had to go and clean the boat - talk about being grounded! The second and third place fish from Day One also held onto their places, but a Day Two king did slide into fourth place. Lady angler champ Jackie Sgambati reeled in a 36.67-pound king caught aboard the 36-foot Yellowfin called Keepin' It Reel which is run by Capt. Jared Floyd. Sgambati said her king ate a pogie at 8:30 a.m. and that it fought her for about 25-minutes. Youth angler champ Les Smith was back at the docks on Day Two to weigh-in a 21.51-pound king, though it was his Day One fish in third place overall for FFM. The Day Two weigh-in was followed by an awards ceremony at the Ripley Light Yacht Club, and the tourney proceeds goto MUSC and CCA.

To read more blog coverage from the 2011 FFM click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: FFM Lady Angler Jackie Sgambati caught this 36.67-king on Day Two that is held by Capt. Jared Floyd and backed up by Joe Winslow

FFM Youth Angler Les Smith of Team Winner's World with his Day Two 21.51-pounder

Team Sperry / Net Profit has a classy boat wrap

Team Bottom Line getting funky with two kings at the Day Two weigh-in

Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 Fishing For Miracles - Friday Fishing Results

The 2011 Fishing For Miracles King Mackerel Tourney got off to a BANG BANG start when the Friday weigh-in commenced at 2 p.m. That's when Team Sperry/Net Profit hauled in a 40.61-pound king to take the lead after Day One. The very next boat to the docks, Team Salt Shaker, dropped a 40.51-pound king on the scales and moved into second place - missing first place by one-tenth!! There is a reason these boats bring their fish in as soon as possible, each minute the fish are expired and out of the water they are losing weight. Out of the 182 registered boats about 60 of them weighed in a King mackerel on Friday. Bryan Baxter is the owner of the Team Sperry/Net Profit 27-foot Onslow Bay fishing boat and reports that the leading King was caught at noon in 69-feet of water. Trey Groves was the angler and told me that the king was not hooked all that well and he could not horse him to the boat. The king circled about ten times before coming into gaff shot length for Baxter who made a perfect stab. Groves added that this was the biggest King that Team Sperry/Net Profit had caught fishing out of Charleston, and it elated the entire crew once they had it onboard. The second place Salt Shaker is a 22-foot Key West boat and reported overcast and calm fishing conditions on Friday. Captain Kevin Cone was also the angler on the big king which he said ate a small menhaden and then put up a 30-minute fight, giving him his personal best King mackerel. The third place King mackerel after Friday fishing is the 38.23-pound fish brought in by 12-year old youth angler Les Smith, who was fishing on the 28-foot Triton Team Winner's World with father Michael Smith (CCA State Chapter Chairman) and Ralph Turner.

For more blog entries on the 2011 FFM click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Bryan Baxter, angler Trey Groves, Thomas Hutto and Matt DeAntonio show off the leading 40.61-pound King mackerel

Carl Carson, Griffin Cone and Captain/angler Kevin Cone with the second place 40.51-pound King mackerel caught from Salt Shaker

Michael Wolf and father Matt Wolf (Sea Island CCA) show off their 14.42-pound king caught from their 19-foot Sea Pro boat

Lady angler Carol Powell is holding her dog Juke and Capt. Rock Powell holds the 19.72-pound King that she caught aboard the 23 ProLine called Hard Rock III

Team Almost Ready fished from a 19-foot Sportfish when they reeled up this Barracuda!!