Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November '11 WMA waterfowl hunt results

Bear Bay Pond at daybreak in 2008 - on Bear Island's East Unit
It can be tough for wishful waterfowlers to get psyched up when a moderate drought is in effect and the weather temperature has been at 80-degrees. Abundant water for ducks to use is always important, and some cold weather to bring the ducks down from up North is also a requirement. With those thoughts in mind a double whammy might have been in effect for the Thanksgiving season. Lots of regular wood duck holes are simply bone dry right now, which should limit their overall harvest somewhat. Consider that the Hickory Top WMA, a greentree reservoir in Rimini that is consistently one of the top public wood duck hunt areas is closed this year. On November 9 the SCDNR announced that water is not available to pump and flood Hickory Top this year as a consequence of the low lake levels in the Santee Cooper system. In Colleton County a bright spot for the DNR draw hunts was the East Unit at Bear Island WMA. Gadwall, blue-winged teal and green-winged teal were the in droves. Thirty-one hunters killed 142 ducks giving them an average of 4.6-ducks per gun! The West Unit of Bear Island saw decent action at 3.4-ducks per gun. Meanwhile in the Santee Delta (The Cape, Murphy Island, and Cedar Island) their were many American widgeon in the bag along with Northern Shovelers - in addition to gadwalls, GWT and BWT. Fifteen Northern Pintail were also harvested at The Cape hunt. The average for all three Santee hunt units was 5.1-ducks per gun. Duck hunting season resumes after the split in between seasons which includes a YOUTH hunt day on December 3. The second part of duck season runs from December 10 through January 29. Goose season kicks back in on December 3 and runs until Feb. 3.

To view past blog entries about the November waterfowl hunt report click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Upper Dorchester County Historical Society - Tour

The once a year open house for the Koger-Murray-Carroll house was held by the Upper Dorchester County Historical Society. The house was decorated by the Ivy Garden Club of Dorchester and the docents wore period clothing. The house was built in 1800 for Joseph Koger Jr. who was the Colleton County Sheriff - and in fact, Upper Dorchester County used to be a part of Colleton County! Koger went on to be a state representative and a state senator. The house had undergone some renovation in the roof area, but otherwise the original heart pine wood was still looking good. Area residents donated heirloom furniture to decorate the house and a makeshift museum of Upper Dorchester press clippings and implements occupied one room. The house is located at the corner of Wire road and I-95.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wrecking Crew places in World Duck Calling Contest

Blake Hodge competes in Arkansas
Blake Hodge and Delta hunting in the Bayou Meto
Blake Hodge, the lead caller with the Wrecking Crew in Lancaster, S.C. travelled to Stuttgart, Arkansas over the Thanksgiving holiday to compete in the Intermediate Division of the World Duck Calling Competition. Callers have to compete in their own state competitions in order to qualify to compete in the world contest - which is considered the holy grail of duck calling competitions. Mack's Prairie Wings store hosts the November 25 event that is actually held on Main Street in Stuttgart, not very far from the hallowed grounds of the Bayou Meto WMA. In fact, on the morning of the competition the Wrecking Crew hunted in the WMA and made a video with the Cuttin' Outdoors Crew headed by Taylor Sweetin. Delta the black lab fetched up five wood ducks and four mallards so that the hunting party could head into town for the competition. Hodge is wearing a cast on his arm from a football injury, but he took his Rich-N-Tone MVP duck call and really rocked that world stage - finishing in fifth place overall. CONGRATS!

To view past blog entries about the Wrecking Crew click here.

Filming with Cuttin' Outdoors in Arkansas
Intermediate Division winners are as follows:
First place went to Dan Goetz from St. Louis, Missourri.
Second place went to Will Nanney from Gleason, Tennessee.
Third place went to Tate Douglas from Harrisville, Utah.
Fourth place went to Alex Hodges from South Rockwood, Michigan.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

10-point birthday buck for fishing captain

What better day than your birthday to harvest a personal best 10-point buck on a bow hunt down deep in the swamp?! Whoever can pull off that feat would certainly earn the admiration of all the blog readers who would love to bag a buck like this on their own birthday! Cheers to Captain John Ward of Affinity Charters for harvesting the 164-pound, four-year old mature buck, that came to within 22-yards of his bow stand. The day began with Ward running late after putting a buddy into a different deer stand at daybreak, and then making a trek into the swamp to his own stand. Ward had hunted for an hour when he considered getting out of his stand at around 8:30 a.m. and then by fate he decided that he would stay a while longer to make up for the time that he had lost while running late. Not ten minutes later a 6-point buck showed up at his stand and the big 10-point was not far behind, and Ward aimed his Bear Truth 2 bow and let fly a three-blade 100-grain Muzzy broadhead at 8:40. The arrow passed through the buck's vitals and yet it still it splashed off even deeper into the swamp, but not so far that Ward could not find and retrieve his birthday trophy.

To view past blog entries about fishermen who tag nice bucks click here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Driven Deer Hunt - 2011

Deer standers happy in their work show off a big 9-point buck
Jeremy Dempsey came from Cummins to drive deer via horseback
Van Horton of Dale, and his trophy buck
The annual day after Thanksgiving man drive took place in cold weather, with clear skies and little wind. The ideal conditions helped to draw a record number of man drivers, ensuring that the woodland bushes of the Yemassee property would be thoroughly checked in order to flush any white-tailed deer to the standers. Only trophy bucks and does were on the menu, according to the huntmaster's safety talk before the hunt, with all participants required to wear hunter orange hats and vests. The drivers jumped the largest buck of the day not long into the first drive and began hooting and hollering a great deal - before a shotgun sounded off twice in the direction that the buck headed. Then I witnessed the buck coming out of a hedgerow and into an open field - quartering away from my position with his head up and under full power - making a clean escape into nearby woods. Even from my distant viewpoint, I could tell that this buck had grown a super rack of antlers. That first drive yielded a small 7-point buck and a spike buck, and then the standers were picked up and taken to a second area to hunt. A horse driver named Jeremy Dempsey was able to see a nice buck in a powerline not far from a line of standers, and he pushed the buck to them and shots rang out. Hunter Van Horton stopped the 9-point buck with a heavy-rack and really put an exclamation point on the entire holiday man drive effort. One doe was harvested on the second drive as well and then everyone gathered up back at the barn to share their stories about what they had seen in the woods.

A large crowd of hunters, all in safety orange
To view past blog entries about man drives click here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

10-point buck for lady hunter on Thanksgiving morning

Amy Whittle on a frosty Thanksgiving morning with her FIRST buck
Amy Whittle and her fiancee Geoff Williams of Lexington were in the Lowcountry to deer hunt on Thanksgiving morning in Bamberg, and Amy took her FIRST ever buck. Not just any buck, she harvested a 10-point animal that would make any fiancee super proud. The cold 32-degree weather did not cause Whittle to hesitate to get in the woods at the Southern Pines hunt club, and by 7:50 the deer was spotted moving in the direction of their shooting lane about 75-yards away. Geoff blew his grunt call and the buck came into clear view standing broadside at 8 a.m. when Amy's Marlin lever-action rifle barked one time, bringing down the 165-pound buck. While she had harvested a hog before, and a pig, she had never taken a buck and this harvest made her even more thankful for the holiday time in the woods. The Southern Pines hunt club is proud of the fact that they work towards youth hunting (Take One Make One) and getting women in the outdoors. Many of their stories can be found on

For past blog entries about lady hunters click here.
Geoff and Amy pose with the Marlin rifle and the 10-point buck

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Youth hunter bags 8-point in velvet for first buck

What a great first buck for youth hunter Jordan Singleton
Winning the Buck of the Week contest at Cordray's
A perfect shot by nine-year old youth hunter Jordan Singleton on August 27 put a big Orangeburg County 8-point in velvet on the ground for good. Alex Singleton is the MeadWestvaco Harvest Manager for the South Region, and he began taking his son Jordan hunting in 2010 on a property near Eutawville that is managed for trophy bucks. Armed with a brand new Remington .243 the father and son hunt team watched four or five does early on that August afternoon before two bucks stepped out - one small and one BIG. The big buck was facing them about 80-yards away offering no shot, but Jordan could see that this was a BIG buck and he began to nearly hyperventilate with excitement. His father coached him on how to breathe and try to be calm in case the buck stands broadside to them. Jordan's older sister had already killed her first buck and he was anxious to collect his first buck. When the buck finally turned, the rifle barked one shot at 7 p.m. and the buck went down like a sack of potatoes! After whooping out loud, Jordan asked to call his sister, and then they took the deer down to Cordrays Processing where the buck weighed in at 202-pounds. The heavy buck was good enough to win the "Buck of the Week" award from Cordray's and were awarded with a tanned deerskin. Jordan has added to his 2011 buck total by knocking down a 4-pointer as well.

To read past blog entries about bucks in velvet click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New S.C. State Record African Pompano

Courtland Babcock and his state record African Pompano
Angler Courtland Babcock III of Hilton Head Island was fishing from his 23-foot Contender on Nov. 13 when a very large pompano ate his jig. Fishing near the underwater outcrop known as the Deli, Babcock handled the 44-pound and 3-ounce pompano after a 15-minute fight in the early afternoon. The Studio Oceanmark Blue Heaven reel and the 4' 8" Jigging Master rod proved just the right combo to bring in this new state record, which beats the 2008 mark set by Bryan Powell of Mount Pleasant. For all the S.C. saltwater records click here.

To view past entries about S.C. state record fish click here.

Close-up view of the African Pompano S.C. state record

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Debut duck story for Georgia's Goin' South

Fall 2011 cover shot
The coastal area of Georgia offers some great duck hunting, AND saltwater fishing too. That's called the best of both worlds! The sporting enthusiasts living in that neck of the woods really appreciate all of their outdoor opportunities - just like the folks who appreciate the Lowcountry outdoors!

Wounded Warrior duck hunt story

Go ahead Rebecca Wolfe!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lowcountry Fishing Report - 11/21/11

The latest Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina, as published in the Charleston Mercury newspaper.

To view past fishing reports click here.

Speckled sea trout caught off the dock 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bluffton / Hilton Head DU banquet

Joe Sweigart is known as the Cigartainer, here with DU chairman Larry Muething
and Brad McDonald, publisher of DUDE magazine

Anna and Josh Boyles support conservation for DU

DUDE cigars ready to smoke in the name of conservation

Bryan Weathersbee, Don and Deborah Monroe and Kevin Sevier
The  33rd annual DU in HHI fundraising banquet was held Nov. 19 at the Honey Horn Plantation picnic shelter. The evening began with lots of fun and games including the Hi - Lo card game for a 45-quart Yeti cooler, and raffle tickets were sold for the 3-tire raffle that included guns on level one and hunting gear on levels one and two. A silent auction included DU artwork, sporting collectible plates, vintage books and lots of rounds of golf - a Hilton Head staple. Sponsors had their own drawing for prizes, and a meal of shrimp and pasta plus baked chicken kept the crowd fueled up and ready for the live auction that included a hog hunt, a lab puppy and an offshore fishing trip. Check out the chapter's Facebook page for the latest updates on events.

To view the Fall 2011 issue of DUDE e-zine click here.

To see past blog entires about DU in SC click here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Duck season opener at S.C. Waterfowl

Mac Bagnal and the Clarendon Chapter leaders hunt from the duck blind
SCWA biologist Stuart Cochran with his redhead and pintail
and Hugh McLaurin of Big Lake Ducks Calls
The 25th anniversary of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association continued with the annual Opening Day of Duck Season duck hunt at their education facilities near Rimini. SCWA volunteers from across the wetlands of the Palmetto state came to celebrate the start of another waterfowling season, and to share in the fun of following up a meal and auction on Friday night by climbing into a duck blind in the 'pole barn' the next morning in order to try and bag a limit of ducks. Cold weather came in overnight and the 29-degree temperature made it feel more like duck season weather. Mac Bagnal is the SCWA Director of Chapter Development and he addressed the crowd by thanking his volunteers for all they do during banquet season - and for a list of upcoming dates click here. SCWA staff members serve as guides on this hunt and even the SCWA auctioneer got to go hunting! A unique environmental education camp dubbed Camp Leupold is being started at the existing Camp Woodie facilities and the buzz around SCWA is how they hope to bring many youths into a fuller understanding of the outdoor world via this education program. To read all the latest SCWA news in their e-magazine Waterfowl and Wetlands click here. The SCWA hunt harvest included several species of waterfowl like wood ducks, bluebills, ringnecks, redheads, pintails, buffleheads, spoonbills, green-winged teal and mallards. A fantastic breakfast was served back at the lodge and all the hunters felt like the 2011 waterfowl season campaign was off to a fast start.
Robert and Jeremy from Atlantic Game and Tackle

My opening day bag of ducks: ringneck and mallards
To view past blog entries on SCWA click here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

His and Hers Archery in Western Colleton County

Randy Murdaugh gets bow repair service from Billy Aiken 

Six years ago in 2004 Billy Aiken and his wife Anita began to sell bowhunting equipment from their home in Western Colleton County.  Since then, they have been drawing hunters from local communities who want the best archery equipment available and friendly service to back it up after the sale.
Attorney Randy Murdaugh of Hampton has known Aiken as a friend for years. “Billy is very knowledgeable about archery and is like a hidden secret over here in the country,” said Murdaugh. “I am here for an adjustment to my peep sight and I’ll be hunting again with confidence by this evening since I don’t have to drive to Charleston or Pooler, Ga. to find archery service.”
His and Hers has everything the bowhunter needs

The three employees at His and Hers archery offer a combined 33 years of experience and they have attended workshops with nine different bow manufacturers in order to become a dealer. As an authorized dealer the local archery shop became qualified to do warranty work for the brands they carry which include Mathews, PSE, Mission, Athens, Elite, Martin, Bear and Alpine.
The full service pro shop on Miracle Road offers everything from arrows to broadheads for traditional archers. They also sell fishing bows, recurve bows made by Ben Heape of Ridgeland, camo apparel, bow cases and even 3-D targets. The proliferation of 3-D target shooting archery competitions is just one sign that this form of primitive hunting is gaining popularity. Look for His and Hers archery to sponsor a 3-D competition for Colleton County in 2012.
“When you buy a bow from me it comes with free set up, tuning and shooting lessons,” said Aiken. “My wife is always ready to help women and youths get introduced to archery equipment, which makes for good family fun in the backyard.” If a bow needs some work in the pro shop, then Aiken will use his bowpress and chronograph in order to help customers shoot straight.
Foam Skeet disc for archery enthusiasts
Archery hunting is all about the excitement of the hunt since the wild game has to be much closer that when using a firearm. “I can’t tell you how many times my customers have told me that they thought the deer was so close that it would hear their heart beating out of their chest,” said Aiken. “After some success these same folks say that they would rather harvest just one deer with a bow than to harvest ten deer using a gun.”

To view past blog entries about archery click here.

To view past blog entries about His and Hers Archery click here.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 Savannah River Site - Buck Report

Julian Clark and a classic Lowcountry 8-point basket rack buck

Jen H. with SRS displays this 11-point that ran to a lucky dog driver
Scott Greer of Charlotte with a beautiful 10-point buck that weighed 162

Shawnah Banks, 17, of Barnwell with a wide-racked 8-point in rut
Temperatures in the 70's are odd for the week before Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean that the annual deer control activities at the Savannah River Site will skip a beat. The hunt on Nov. 16 went off with out a hitch, and that includes 50 dog packs and nearly 100 standers - all organized by the dedicated SRS hunt staff. COMMUNICATION and SAFETY are the mantras that are practiced and repeated before a single gun is ever loaded at this Dept. of Energy property. Despite really dry conditions that surely hampers the dogs in terms of less scent on the ground (and in their noses), a harvest of 39 deer and four coyotes was accomplished. John Fuss of Holy City Charters had a pack of nine pigs sneak by his position and he offered one barrel at the closest porker, but could not connect - and no hogs were harvested on 11/16. However, the BIG bucks did show up and plenty of hunters made their shots count! Hunting buddy Julian Clark stopped a classic Lowcountry 8-point basket rack buck with a wrap-around main beams. The shot came about 10:45, and well after the dogs were turned loose at 8 a.m. - Clark was not on high alert when the 3.5-year old buck tried to slip by his stand. One barrel from 50-yards away put the 149-pound buck on the ground - GOOD SHOT! This buck possesses tall tines that are the sign of a mature buck, and the main beams stopped short of touching by less than one inch. They are are perfectly symmetrical to boot! His buck was  likely about the fifth best buck harvested this day, but it is the buck of a lifetime for its classic antlers!

To view past blog entries from the SRS click here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11-point buck for bowhunter Gunner Bowen

Gunner Bowen with a fine Lowcountry 11-pointer

On Friday October 21 Bowen made his first deer harvested with a bow a memorable one when he took an 11-pointer from Yemassee. Naturally, he carried the buck to work with him after dark at B & B processing.
Bowen begins skinning and cleaning deer just after dark that come from the Western Colleton County area. Girlfriend Kennedy Gibson had been hunting with Bowen that night and she also works at B & B Processing.
“We had been watching that buck for a month using a trailcam,” said Bowen. “On this Friday we checked the trailcam at 4 p.m. and saw that the big 11-point had been at our corn pile at noon that same day, and I felt like he might be back in the evening.” Kennedy has her own bow and was hunting from a different stand on the same hunting property. 
 “I went to my tree stand at 5:30 and I sat tight while a doe and a small buck came out to the corn pile,” said Bowen. “The 11-point came out about 6:45 and I had good shooting light until just after 7 p.m.,” said Bowen. “I drew my bow and held it for what seemed like twenty minutes waiting for the right shot. When he was broadside to me at 30-yards I went for a double-lung shot, and after impact the buck ran off.”
After going to get Gibson out of her deer stand after dark, the two bow hunters found where the arrow passed through the deer. Well most of it anyway! “The broadhead was in the dirt near where I shot, but the shaft of the arrow and the veins were still in the deer,” said Bowen. They followed the blood trail in the dark using Bowen’s flashlight.
“When we caught up to the buck and Gunner shined the light on his rack he began to jump up and down with excitement,” said Gibson. “Gunner has been dedicated to bow hunting this year, and now he says he’ll never shoot one with the rifle again!” Bowen also likes to hog hunt using horse and catch dogs, so he won’t give up firearms altogether.
B & B Processing is in its second year and part owner Steve Breland says they are running at least 100 deer ahead of last year’s workload. “Bowen’s buck was the first real big buck we got in this season, but we have seen some bigger ones since then,” said Breland. “All the boys here at B & B chip in to do their part and we work well as a team.” Family runs strong at B & B with Breland’s brother-in-law a part owner and his son and nephew helping to round out the staff.
The buck is being mounted at Whitetail Taxidermy in Cottageville.

To view past blog entry about a bowhunting success story click here.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 CCA Sea Island Chapter Conservation Banquet

Saltwater anglers in the Charleston area look forward to this annual gathering at Founder's Hall in West Ashley. Charles Towne Landing has become the favorite location of the Sea Island Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association's annual banquet, and CCA members know to expect great food and auction items - and a really fun night. Tuna, pork, flounder, and more from Charleston Bay Gourmet  fed the crowd with a maritime mindset. A silent auction was followed up with a spirited live auction led by an auctioneer in a cowboy hat - and some items of interest were the Red Fish Brand cotton duck jacket and the Dragonfly Boatworks paddleboard. Hunting trips for quail were popular, and a whole skin from a bovine donor was all the rage. "This is item number one of one, since this cow gave his all for CCA," said Scott Whitaker.

Mark Castlow from Dragonfly and Scot Whitaker from CCA

Heather Driggers and Morgan Helms love a good auction

A funny saying and some offshore lures on the silent auction

Red Fish Brand's cotton duck canvas jacket

Jonathan Harpe from The Charleston Angler and Laura Stephens
To view past blog entries from the Sea Island CCA chapter click here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wine on the Water at the Aquarium features SSI

Roasted swordfish with speckled butter beans from the Boathouse

Heather Fifer and Chef Sarah O'Kelley from Glass Onion work with Ashley Bradt from the Aquarium

Kelly Sloan, Even Sherer, Lindsey Graham and Keith Hanson enjoy their wine in front of the BIG fish tank
The semi-annual Wine on the Water event at the S.C. Aquarium serves to bring in chefs that partner with the Sustainable Seafood Initiative so that they can visit with the patrons of the Aquarium. The fact that wine goes so well with seafood makes this particular event a double delight, and for a complete report in The Local Palate magazine click here. Fleet Landing restaurant earns special kudos as the 2011 SSI partner for the year, and the fact that they are now a Platinum level SSI partner. The scallops served by Fleet Landing this night were large, but still tender - signaling great care in both the selection and the cooking process had been undertaken. To learn more about the SSI program click here. Thanks go to all the restaurants that participated including The Boathouse at Breach Inlet, Saffire, Pane e Vino and the Glass Onion.

To view a past blog from Wine on the Water at the Aquarium click here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Middleton Hunt Club - buck report

A group of standers after the afternoon drive

Will Martin and his 7-point buck 

Standers deploy into the woodlands at Middleton 

James Driver shot this fine 8-point
The last three years at Middleton Hunt Club, the club members have been witness to a nice run of quality bucks, and the cold weather on Nov. 12 kept the good results coming. Wool clothing and waxed cotton jackets were needed to turn back the cold that came with the first frost of the year, and with leaves dropping from trees at record pace, the arrival of fall could not be denied. The horseman driving the deer hounds brought a hail of Wooop, Heeaw and Holler to the woods and the BIG bucks jumped up and scattered, offering a sporting shot to a lucky few standers that were on alert status. The teamwork on the morning drive yielded three bucks and one doe, but also a big miss was recorded when a huge buck ran by one stander. Both the deer driver and a past huntmaster who witnessed the buck were in awe of its massive rack and offered high praise for the trophy buck that bounded out of the drive and back into the lore of the MHC woods. A Lowcountry lunch was followed by an afternoon drive that brought another doe to the cleaning station and another report of a big miss on a big buck. Another great day in the field came to a close at MHC and the sporting stories will continue for its members into the holiday hunting season.

To view past blog entries from Middleton Hunt Club click here.