Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Toast to 2012

Hunting quail with my English Setter in the bird woods
Cheers to 2012 - such a good year! This final blog entry for 2012 closes the books on four years of stories on!! I am thankful for the additional 52 blog followers that chose to join up in 2012, keeping up with my writings, photography and field notes. As the mission statement on my home page states, I hope to show that hunting and fishing are honorable traditions by providing positive examples to the general public. Of course, I could not execute that mission without the help of my friends and fellow outdoor enthusiasts who seek me out to share their accomplishments. Building relationships that are forged in a common love for the outdoors makes me hopeful that these partnerships will continue for many years to come! Honor, integrity and loyalty are important to me!! I receive lots of queries from those that are new to the Lowcountry, wishing to draw on my lifetime of experience about how best to proceed with their outdoor endeavors, and I am glad to help them. One Lowcountry 'newbie' harvested a BIG buck in 2012, to click through and review the big buck history on my blog click here. As a lifelong saltwater angler, the lure of the spartina marsh and its tributaries will always be a component of my character, so look for my Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports to continue, along with tournament coverage and catches of note. A special salute goes out to those at SCDNR who do their best to serve the general public where it concerns biology, management and rules and regulations. SCDNR understands that recruitment of new hunters and anglers is important for the future, and I am glad to share their link about the upcoming special hunt days on January 4 and 5. I am looking forward to working hard in 2013, with each new outdoor foray an opportunity to experience a bit more of the wonders of the Lowcountry Outdoors.

To view past blog entries with my New Year's Toast click here.

Friday, December 28, 2012

QDMA National Board taps ACE Basin Branch leader

Joe Holt and Nicole Garris with a guest workshop speaker

Late season success for Nicole Garris
The hunting conservation group that was born in Colleton County, is adding a Colletonian to their national board. The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) was founded by Hendersonville resident Joe Hamilton nearly 25 years ago. Current Walterboro QDMA Branch President Nicole Garris has been selected to join the National Board of QDMA. Garris will be the first female national board member for QDMA, giving them greater diversity moving forward into their 25th anniversary year in 2013. The ACE Basin Branch of QDMA was selected as the 2012 Branch of the Year at their National Convention this past summer. “QDMA has some of the finest and most dedicated volunteers anywhere,” said Garris. “With my background in Branch leadership and my experience in helping Fortune 500 companies, I am excited about helping the organization to grow its membership, volunteers and outreach. QDMA recognizes that women are increasingly involved in hunting and wildlife habitat management,” said Garris. “I want to make sure we take actions to encourage women to get involved in QDMA, both as members and in Branch leadership roles.” Under her leadership, the ACE Basin Branch of QDMA has sponsored various disabled hunter and wounded warrior deer hunts, held annual workshops for their members, and been instrumental in executing the Venison for the Hungry program. Garris has also worked to establish a QDMA in South Carolina license plate program. She resides in Williams with her husband, Joe Holt.

To view past blog entries about the ACE Basin branch of QDMA click here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Warrior Tribute feature article

Patriot Hunts staffer with teal and woodie

'Bear' and his trophy green-winged teal
When the Georgetown Chapter of Ducks Unlimited pooled their resources to provide a 2011 duck hunting opportunity for wounded warriors, the outpouring of support was resolute. With help in place from an organization called Patriot Hunts to bring in servicemen from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the challenge became how to grow the event. Hospitality in the form of duck hunting, lodging and catered meals serve to demonstrate to the visiting servicemen that many in the Lowcountry desire to honor the sacrifices they made to protect the nation’s freedom.

To view my feature article on the 2012 Warrior Tribute hunt click Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about the 2012 Warrior Tribute Hunt click here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Lowcountry Redfish Cup - Finals Report

Chris Butler of Butler Marine, Wes Hudson with Shallowsport boats,
and Team Flats Broke on their Grand Prize Boat!!

Team Flats Broke with some nice Day One redfish

Team Too Sweet finishes in Second Place
The 2012 Lowcountry Redfish Cup held four 'regular season' tournaments and one 'Finals' to determine their 2012 winners. Anglers compete in two-man teams to catch slot-limit redfish that are to be weighed-in and then released to swim free again. The formula for success is producing strong competition at each event, and the cash and prizes continue to be worthy of their best efforts. The 2012 Finals winner also won an 18-foot Shallowsport boat, Wesco Trailer and a Yamaha motor as part of their bragging rights package. Two great days of finals fishing saw some of the largest fish weighed-in in the course of the tournament history. Team Flats Broke, Tim Cole and Chris Chappell of Charleston, took home the first place position with a two-day redfish weight of 19.80-pounds. Finishing in second was Team Too Sweet, Ron Davis and Caleb Davis from Edisto Island. Third place went to Team Butler Marine, Chris Rosengarten and Rob Malphrus. Fourth place went to Teams Slots and Shoulders, Todd Fusco and Craig Bradford. Fifth place went to Team Mercury Marine, Brian Rose and Neal Kendrick.

To view past blog entries about the 2012 Lowcountry Redfish Cup click here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Waterfowl Hunt

Drake redhead and a Canada Goose on Christmas Eve
A cold snap over the weekend had many waterfowl enthusiasts looking for 'new' ducks to swoop in from up North. A few reports of geese showing up on Friday had me checking the local goose ponds over the weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised when 23 fresh geese flew in on Sunday evening. Christmas Eve weather included warming temps into the 60's and a solid cloud deck. The clouds would make for a good afternoon hunting opportunity, since the geese would be pond hopping well before twilight. With a rain front also passing in the late afternoon, it was my guess that going to hunt early could pay dividends. Well imagine my surprise when a big group of 11 honkers showed up with a lone special guest in tow. Was this Santa Claus?! Nope, but it was a drake redhead duck that joined in the flock with these migratory geese! The redhead looked very small next to the geese, and was easy to pick out, and my trusty Remington Wingmaster barked three times. One shot folded the redhead, but he appeared lively when he hit the water, so another shot was issued to put him 'legs up.' The Canada geese had approached low enough that I was able to pick out a BIG honker and put a nice head shot on him! The goose fell to the earth and made that loud thump that signals that a 20-pounder has rapidly lost altitude. No second shot was required on the honker. Christmas came early!! A migratory redhead mixed up in my goose flock is almost too good to be true!!

To view past Christmas Eve hunt stories click here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Late season dove field preparation

A bucket truck is needed to install the wire
Robbie Hooker and I in the dove field
With the third and final season season for migratory doves running from December 12 until January 15 it's time to get after these hard-charging grey birds. With an attitude that says it's never too late to get ready, I enlisted the services of H & H electrical and friend Robbie Hooker to install a faux powerline in my dove field in hopes of attracting more birds. I used a backhoe to install my poles, but then needed a bucket truck to install the wire. It seems that resting and staging on the wire is an important asset for doves to utilize. Thanks to the tremendous windstorm on December 21, there are now plenty of corn stalks on the ground in the field, which can be great for attracting doves to feed after bush hogging those stalks. Of course, COLD weather will always play a role in bringing migratory doves to the area, and it remains unseen if the recent cold snap will be sustained or if the Lowcountry will return to our Indian Summer with temps in the 70's. Dove fields can be fickle however, and a recent report from Edisto said that there were very few doves on the island, yet I was near to a dove field in rural Colleton County and it sounded like the guns of Navarona had opened fire. The best thing to do is to stick with your plans to attract doves, and then keep a sharp eye out because migratory doves can fly in one day and then can fly out without warning on another day. Good timing and good luck are two ingredients in the equation that can yield a sporting test for wingshooters looking to pick up a 15-dove limit.

Dem Ain't Decoys !!

Hunters with a limit of birds is the goal
To view past blog entires about dove hunting click here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chas. Co. Driven Deer Hunt - 2012

Owen Elliott congratulates Cantzon Foster on his 8-point

Ed Lowndes said that the big one went thataway!

Gathered at the huntmaster's safety talk

Buist Rivers pays up two years running!
With the approach of the end deer season, time is short for those looking to gather either venison or antlers. One local club that practices QDMA is also eager to use a driven hunt each year to cull a few extra does. Of course, this also offers a sporting chance to harvest a trophy buck, or perhaps to pass up a younger buck that needs some more time to reach his potential. The first drive of the morning saw three horsemen and their pack of dogs hit the woods next to the big house. An 8-point buck came barreling out of the drive, and a visitor from Columbia placed his buckshot so perfectly as to make the buck cut a flip and come to a rest. Another stander made a quick shot on a running buck and came up with a 4-pointer. With high hopes the drivers moved to the second block of woods, and the temperatures began to warm up. The drivers pushed a brendle coyote past one driver up in the woods and he gave it a three shot salute - and though he was unable to recover the carcass, it's a safe bet that the buzzards would get their chance on that vermin. No hogs were sighted but they were indeed on the menu this day. On the third and final drive along a backwater swamp, one lucky stander had a doe come splashing towards him, giving him plenty of notice that his venison was on the way. All three deer were cleaned and the hunters drew for portions of the meat. The outdoor lunch began with a blessing that thanked the Lord for another great deer season, and for keeping everyone safe during the drive. We honored those that had gone before us over this same ground, and vowed to return again next year.

To view past blog entries from the Chas. Co driven deer hunt click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scott Leysath visits Lowcountry

Leysath's NEW cookbook, his third
Leysath shoots a squirrel for Dead Meat
Scott Leysath was in town promoting his new cookbook - The Sporting Chef's Better Venison cookbook. He also brought two cameramen with him from California to film an episode of his new TV show entitled Dead Meat. We harvested two squirrels, two raccoons and one rabbit for the pot of Lowcountry stew. His new cookbook is 176 pages of recipes and photos that covers everything from salads to stovetop to smoked dishes. After a special cooking session to photograph dishes for an upcoming article in the Charleston Mercury, I can attest to how tasty Leysath's culinary creations can be. One tasty recipe involves meat from a venison neck roast, which is shredded and with olive oil, ricotta cheese, marinara and more to make Venison Manicotti. Just don't ask him to cook crow for you - because then you have to EAT crow!

 To view a video clip about new show Dead Meat click here.

Gator bites were served up for friends

Leysath and Jamey Copeland during filming
To view past blog entries about Scott Leysath click here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dead Meat TV films in Lowcountry

Scott Leysath with rabbit and raccoon
Filming 'Dead Meat' TV in Walterboro
Hunting and Fishing television shows have become more and more mainstream with the advent of reality shows like Duck Dynasty. However, Chef Scott Leysath has been doing the Hunt, Fish, Cook television show for ten years already. With a new show, titled Dead Meat, set to debut on the Sportsman Channel, Leysath and his camera crew chose Walterboro as an appropriate setting to represent South Carolina’s hospitality and ample supply of game for hunting and cooking. I first met Scott Leysath when traveling to Little Rock, Arkansas in 2007 for a meeting of the SouthEastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA). He was cooking elk for a large group of outdoor media, but he was not too busy to speak with me about the duck hunting he enjoys back in his home state of California. As the Cooking Editor for Ducks Unlimited magazine, Leysath is well known to many waterfowl enthusiasts. With SEOPA meeting in Tennessee in 2012, Leysath asked me to advise him about possible scenarios for his Dead Meat show to film in South Carolina. The mission of his new show is to hunt, fish, trap and harvest animals that one normally might not think of eating. Hopefully after he applies his professional cooking talents to the meat, it is transformed into delicious table fare.

Jimmy, Scott and Jesse just before the rabbit hunt

I shot this squirrel when he was having breakfast!
To read the rest of my feature article about the filming of the rabbit hunt and then the cooking segment click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entires about Scott Leysath click here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Warrior Tribute Duck Hunt in Santee Delta

David Ingle and Rico C. at 5 a.m. before hunting

Warriors and guides at a productive duck blind

United in purpose, the hunters warm up by the fire

The 2nd ever duck hunt in the Santee Delta to honor U.S. servicemen was held December 15 at private impoundments in the area. After a welcome oyster roast the night before, the duck hunters were up at 5 a.m. to get ready to head to their duck blinds. Each visiting warrior would be paired with a hunting guide to make sure that they have the benefit of experience along with them during their hunt. Wounded Warrior Rico C. from North Carolina was paired with Charleston's David Ingle for his hunting guide. Ingle volunteers to help out on this hunt, on top of his other demands as President of his duck hunting club, because he believes strongly in thanking these visitors with his best efforts. The same formula played out in twenty-five duck blinds across the Santee Delta, and most hunters found success in the form of a legal limit of six ducks. The mixed bag of ducks included green-winged teal, wood ducks and northern shovelers. It takes a broad effort to lodge, feed and hunt these visitors and the Georgetown Chapter of Ducks Unlimited serves as the leader, working with the Wounded Warrior Project and the Patriot Hunts organization.

Ken Barnard and David Hubbard of Patriot Hunts,
with caterer Ben Moise and organizer Dan Ray
To view past blog entries from the 2012 Warrior Tribute event click here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Warrior Tribute in Santee Delta

A happy guest, an active service member, and a retired SEAL
These Wounded Warriors share stories in front of the fireplace
There are never enough opportunities to thank U.S. servicemen for the years of their lives that they give so that others may enjoy the taste of freedom. The 2011 Inaugural Warrior Tribute event and duck hunt was a landmark success, and the Georgetown Chapter of Ducks Unlimited made it a priority to once again offer hospitality in the form of a duck hunt on private plantations. About twenty servicemen from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, with six to ten support personnel, came to Estherville Plantation on December 14 for an oyster roast, and a chance to have fellowship in a relaxed civilian environment. Each visiting Warrior was given a duck blind bag, a duck call, a duck stamp, a camo shirt and hat and whatever else they might need to have success the following morning in the duck blinds of the Santee Delta. Enjoy these photos and look for my feature article in the next edition of the Charleston Mercury newspaper.

Ken Barnard thanks host Dan Ray

Four servicemen enjoy the oyster roast 
To view blog entries from the 2011 Warrior Tribute event click here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

S.C. Tarpon Tagging Update in All At Sea

December cover
Photo By Capt. Steve Roff
The conversation about S.C. tarpon continues into December with researchers at the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust accumulating tracking data from tag and release tarpon. Look for more tarpon talk coming up later this month.

To view my tarpon article click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about tarpon in S.C. click here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Man Drives for end of deer season

The man drivers who pushed this doe towards my stand in 2009
Deer hunters of the Lowcountry will be trying to squeeze in an extra day in the field during the last two weeks of the year. Work schedules may bend to fit in a half-day in the office of the outdoors or what Sunday a.m. sportsmen call the "cathedral of nature." Gathering friends together for a man drive can produce memorable action, and may also serve as the only way to hunt thickets known to hold deer. Family time and church attendance during Christmas are imperative for spiritual nourishment of course, but the pull of a deer hunt in open woodlands will provide a healthy option for sport.
Those hoping to conduct a man drive should remember to wear blaze orange, and to do enough hollering so that everyone knows your position. The deer do not get up and run because of noise most of the time, rather it is more a matter of proximity, so always use your full voice for the benefit of safety. Man drivers are often happy in their work of walking the woodlands, and the memories they create validate outdoor traditions as a worthy part of the holidays.

Three woods walkers ready to push through dwarf palmettos

Regrouping while deep in the woods, to draw up the next plan
To read my feature article on man driving for deer during the holidays click Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about man drives for deer click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TIDE magazine - Wahoo article

Nov. / Dec. issue of TIDE
The November / December 2012 issue of TIDE magazine features a camouflaged flounder on the cover. The issue holds several fine feature stories, making it a pleasure to read from cover to cover. Tales of the Traveling Tripletail by Georgia's Spud Woodward involves data that will help manage the "3T"in the future as recreational pressure continues to ramp up. Georgia was also recognized for the good work they are doing with oyster restoration. My interview with Capt. Dale Lackey focused on the Need For Speed off the coast of South Carolina  - that is, high-speed trolling for wahoo during November, December and beyond. Find a copy of TIDE so that you can read about how going too fast is never a problem for tangling with monster wahoo. They love to chase down a hot lure on a cold day!
The Nov. /Dec. recipe from CCA is Flounder Au Gratin.

Big 'HOO on the Carmaba

Wahoo lures rigged by Capt. Lackey

For past blog entries about TIDE magazine click here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 12/11/12

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Nice tailing redfish depiction by artist Heather Jones
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West just returned from his HONEYMOON! That's right, Scott reeled in a keeper, and his customers could not be happier for him and his new wife Ann. CONGRATS!! Besides being greeted by a stack of emails upon returning to work, Scott was inundated with reports that the trout bite is still WIDE OPEN. Water temps have actually been rising a few degrees, but the trout have not missed a beat. Shell rakes and creek mouths in 4 to 7-feet of water are still holding quality fish that are more than willing to inhale a live minnow or shrimp. On the artificial side try a four-inch paddle tail grub or a hard bait like the 17MR mirrolure. Reds are schooling in tight numbers on the shallow mud flats, and while some are reporting the fish to be a little finicky, the best reports were coming from those throwing Gulp shrimp and Zman Paddlerz. Scott relays that of course some good ole cut mullet is hard to beat, just remember to clean up the smell before heading home to the WIFE! Sheepshead are still biting on live fiddlers fished around bridge pilings and rock piles. Smaller sheepies seem to be prevalent right now, with only a few of the big fellas getting hooked up. Remember to catch and release for the future of sport fishing! For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Hilton Head Report: Josh Boyles at Southern Drawl Outfitters reports that the redfishing is like a broken record. The reds are schooled in shallow water, and are beating up on the artificial lures like a street gang. Speckled trout are biting DOA shrimp, Bass assassins and Gulp baits. For all the latest store info visit the Internet at Southern Drawl.

Offshore Report: Scott begins by saying that wind has kept many boats on the hill, but those who made the trip onto the ocean reported good numbers of triggerfish in 70 to 110-feet of water. Some quality grouper are coming from live bottom areas in 85 to 140-feet of water. There are no fresh trolling reports at this time, but water temps indicate that there should be some wahoo and blackfin tuna patrolling along the ledge. High speed trolling for wahoo at dawn is always a good option.

Josh reports that the gulf stream is holding wahoo, blackfin tuna and late season sailfish. Grouper have pushed into water as shallow as 80-feet deep and are chewing well. Try some blue water candy lures to see what color grouper you can bring up from the bottom.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 SCWA Charleston Chapter at Alhambra Hall

Reid and Chris MacEachern head up t-shirt sales
Brodie Warren and Jessica Youngblood support waterfowling
The Charleston Chapter of SCWA experienced a growth spurt in 2012, and chapter advisor Mac Bagnal told me that a younger steering committee played a role. Will Freeman served as leader and and family and friends followed, but there were also long time supporters there too. One veteran hunter told me that in the early days of SCWA, thats 26 years ago, the top sales producers went to Canada to hunt waterfowl with Mr. Wielicki. Fast forward to 2012 and chapter leaders are invited to hunt at Camp Woodie during opening day, as a thanks for their volunteer efforts. Raising funds on December 5 began with t-shirt sales and continued with raffle tickets, silent auction, a 10-gun raffle and a brisk live auction. Specialty trips included a youth duck hunt with duck mount by Cordray's Taxidermy, an offshore trip on the Splitbill, a father and son/daughter turkey hunt, and an inshore trip with Graham Hegameyer. Books, cornhole boards, Big Lake duck calls, Duck Commander gear and plenty of other items were toted home by the large crowd that turned out for a night that included Beaufort stew and baked chicken served up by Jamie Westerndorff.

Decoy book on silent auction

Mallie Woodfin, Thomas Anderson and Boykin Foxworth
To view past blog entries from the Chalreston SCWA banquet click here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Middleton Hunt Club visit with Bill Green

Horse driver on his 'paint' heading through the woods
Awesome buck rub at my stand location **
Despite a balmy 75 December degrees, about three pick-up loads of members and guests hit the woods at Middleton Hunt Club for a special Wednesday afternoon deer drive. As one might expect due to the weather that calls for snake boots and a Thermacell, not much wildlife was encountered. Despite nothing being harvested, the horse drivers and the deer standers enjoyed their time in the Lowcountry outdoors and are richer for the experience. Past huntmaster Henry Lowndes was in the saddle this day, as was Bill Green, his sone Jamie and two others. The deer standers wait with anticipation, with the understanding that it is the horse drivers that are the 'engine-room' for the driven hunt, and that they deserve many THANKS! Speaking for a minute with Bill Green, I find that we are both native to James Island. When I asked him if he could join me for a rabbit hunt and then show me how to cook one, he indicated that he is busy conducting drag hunts for the Middleton Place Hounds for the near future, a role that he has played for 40 years! Bill Green is more than a veteran horseman, huntsman and dog trainer though, he is also a gifted gullah cook. The members at MHC have enjoyed his tasty lunch offerings many times, and are his most devoted culinary fans. Green can also tell a story while cooking and here in this video he is compelling to watch - getting downright excited (about the six-minute mark in the video) when the shrimp gravy is being coaxed out of the Lowcountry shrimp before joining forces with Lowcountry grits. To view the video click here.
Bill Green tells me all about his Gullah Grub !
** On the second drive of the afternoon my stand location was along a hardwood drain that was clearly marked with buck sign. After all five horse drivers passed by me, I hadn't seen any deer. Five minutes later a small doe came galloping right down the trail. Seeing her clearly I judged her not to meet the minimum weight requirements and did not raise my shotgun. Getting back on the truck with my fellow hunters I relayed my close encounter story and one knowledgable member replied - "That will always get your pulse up, and it will keep you coming back for more." Indeed, the hunt is not always about the harvest!

Deer standers happy in their work!

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