Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ducks Unlimited magazine - Mixed Bag story

The latest edition of Ducks Unlimited magazine recognizes the efforts by the Georgetown chapter of  DU and local plantations to honor our wounded warrior veterans. The article I wrote and this photo appears on page 13 of the Mixed Bag section of the March / April 2012 Ducks Unlimited magazine, and is titled "DU Hosts Special Forces in South Carolina's Santee Delta."

For past blog entries about the Wounded Warrior / Patriot Hunts event click here.

Veterans and volunteers gather at the duck barn at Annandale - photo appears in DU magazine

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Edisto Quail Club hunt

Mark Steedley and I after the quail hunt on Edisto

Bobwhite Quail are making a comeback in the SouthEast

Joe, Mark and Scott meet under the shade of an Edisto live oak

Twenty quail harvested for the dinner table
WIth quail season winding down there was time for just one last hunt, so I traveled to the southernmost point of Colleton County for a meeting of the Edisto Quail Club. Riding down the National Scenic Highway and crossing the Dawhoo River leads you to a beautiful barrier island well known for its pristine beach. But Edisto is actually a large acreage rural island that has much to offer for those who enjoy the scenic vistas associated with saltwater environs. Edisto realtor Mark Steedley is outspoken of his love for all of Edisto and he has an affinity for going afield in search of wingshooting opportunities. He brought us to an ag field full of hedgerows that offer perfect cover for the bobwhites that we would search for using his two English Pointers. Hunting guide Joe Fragier and Steedley ran the dogs while guest Scott Crosby watched the left side of the pointers, while I guarded against any birds flushing to the right. It was another warm day of the 'too warm' winter of 2012 but we managed to collect our 20 quail and enjoy the vistas of the ACE Basin along the way. Quail hunting on a barrier island is certainly a successful formula throughout the Lowcountry and Edisto Island's Quail Club should have many more 'meetings' in the future!

To view past end of season quail hunt blog entries click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 Salkehatchie Longbeards banquet

NWTF's Mike Hoffstatter congratulates Rusty Kinard
The 14th annual conservation banquet of the Salkehatchie Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation was held February 25 in Walterboro. The Chapter is in its fifth year under the leadership of President Rusty Kinard of Lodge. In 2010 this chapter had nearly 100 sponsor members and was awarded 3rd place in the Best of the Best Chapter competition by NWTF. But they topped that in 2011 by reaching the 100-sponsor mark and were awarded Highest Superfund Contribution and Highest Net Income (for S.C. Chapters). A capacity crowd that came from Colleton, Hampton, Dorchester and Jasper counties filled the armory building to enjoy a fried seafood dinner and multiple raffles, silent and live auctions. Many outdoorsman in the Lowcountry are beginning to notice the habits of local flocks of turkeys, since the opening day of turkey season in the Lowcountry is fast approaching on March 15!

Full Strut Longbeard

Sporting arms on the general auction in Walterboro

To view past blog entries about the Salkehatchie Longbeards click here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Williams Wildlife offers hog hunts, great guide

A 100-pound boar hog was my target
Warm weather and the lull between small game season and turkey season makes for a slow time for hunters. But hey, anticipation of upcoming hunts is one of the best parts of being an outdoorsman, or relishing the success (or misses) of the past. However, Williams Wildlife in Lodge, located in western Colleton County, offers year-round hog hunting for those who would like to stay sharp with their rifle or bow marksmanship while collecting a little game meat. The best part of visiting the hog hunting operation, is long-time guide Billy Cooke who is a true man of the woods. Cooke will meet you, educate you about how the operation works, then guide you during your hunt. Hunters who wish to stay overnight in the hog hunting lodge can also take advantage of southern hospitality and good food thanks to Cooke's staff. Cooke's son-in-law Lee Card was on hand to help round out any scouting or hunt chores that might arise, and was just as friendly as Cooke. Williams Wildlife is a working farm that is insulated by the Salkehatchie swamp and has plenty of hogs.

A lady bowhunter takes a nice sow

Guide Billy Cooke and I after the hunt
To view past blog entries about hog hunting click here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

FCA expands into outdoors ministry

Cale Yarborough listens as Ryan Succup witnesses after lunch
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes held the Hank Park Invitational Shoot on February 2 at The Clinton House hunting preserve. Their mission is to expand their christian ministry into the outdoors realm, and with fisherman Hank Parker as the honorary spokesman, their campaign got off to a blessed start.

FCA patrons with Rachel Holder and Forrest Parker
FCA Outdoors sporting clays

My shooting team under lucky # 13
To view past blog entries about FCA Outdoors and to see photos from the Hank Parker shoot click here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mark Prudhomme talks turkey; wins calling contest

Mark Prudhomme demonstrates his turkey calling style

With the turkey season opening day of March 15 just around the corner, Mossy Oak Pro Staffer Mark Prudhomme of Georgetown shares how woodsmanship and calling should work together to tag a tom. Early season gobblers that may not have experienced hunting pressure yet, are often flocked up in big groups and are therefore less likely to come to the lonesome yelping of a wistful hen away from the group.
            “Before opening day, put in some time doing what I call low impact scouting,” said Prudhomme. “Ride through your hunting property on your tractor or pick-up because wildlife doesn’t spook easily around these common sights. Glass large fields from afar with optics and monitor when different spring food sources start sprouting without setting foot in them.” Remember, before calling comes into play, its woodsmanship that helps to get set up close to roosted turkeys.
Prudhomme's Pro Staff shirt is COOL
            “Being in the right place on opening day means being where the flock is likely to travel to from the roost trees,” said Prudhomme. “You have to be careful about getting too close to the roost because the flock will have a lot of eyes looking down on your position. After I hear the first sounds from the roosted birds, I yelp softly to mimic being the first hen on the ground, and to give any fired up gobbler an early option.”
“The dominant toms are going to follow those hens in the early season once they fly down, although some younger toms may peel off and readily come to your calling,” said Prudhomme. “Remember to save some of your calling tactics for another day when hunting opening day flocks.” Meaning that if you educate all of your turkeys on the opener with your entire repertoire of turkey calls, then they will no doubt remember you and decline any future invitation to strut, spit and drum into your turkey hunting dreams.
Think Prudhomme is good? Prudhomme just won three calling titles at the 2012 NWTF convention in Nashville. He won in the owl hoot contest, the team calling contest and then was crowned the Champion of Champions .... for the fourth time! Knight and Hale calls has a Mark Prudhomme owl hooter call available and Lowcountry Outdoors can recommend its authentic sounds of the barred owl. The best thing about Georgetown's native son, is that he acknowledges that he can still be whipped by an old tom boss gobbler on some mornings. Ain't that the truth for ALL of us!!

To view past blog entries about Prudhomme in the S.C. Duck Call contest click here.

To view past blog entries about Prudhomme in the NWTF contests click here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lowcountry Fishing Report - 2/21/12

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:

Charleston Inshore Report:  Bart Manley from the Market Street location of the Charleston Angler tells me that high winds like yesterday can make finding fish a challenge since the redfish are still in schools. Pick calm and sunny days to ensure the best success, and know that water temperatures continue to hover in the upper 50's. For live bait go with blue crab quarters or shrimp fished on Carolina rigs. For artificials the 4-inch Z-man Paddlerz in Smoky Shad color is number one with other dark patterns working well too. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Danny Cisson with a 9-pounder from the Wando River,
while fishing with Capt. Brian Garris
Scott at Haddrell's Point West says that it may only be the latter part of February right now, but anglers are starting to see a springtime pattern in the redfishery. The large winter schools are beginning to split up into smaller pods of fish with 4 to 12 fish each. Many anglers will target these fish in shallow flats, but other anglers are turning in plentiful redfish encounters from the docks, rock piles and jetties. Live shrimp, blue crab and cut mullet are easy and natural baits of choice. If anglers prefer artificials, then Scott refers them to the Yo-Zuri HD shrimp, Gulp jerkshads or Z-man Paddlrez. Sheepshead are being found around bridges and rock piles using fiddler crabs. The trout bite is becoming more consistent around shell rakes in 4 to 7-feet of water. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Captain Brian Garris wants anglers to know that the sheepshead bite is on fire in the Charleston harbor, ICW and Wando River. He is looking for structure like docks and rocks that have lots of barnacles and oysters. Sure the sheepshead are going to eat fiddlers, but Garris says that he is having his best luck with clams on his Owner 1/0 circle hook. Garris says to remember that the bite on a clam is more of a steady pull than the usual bump of a sheepshead, so keep a sharp eye on your line because any movement up current is a good sign that the convict fish is about to steal your bait. The best bite occurs two hours before before and two hours after low tide, and Garris says to keep a shovel on board to rake some shells off the structure and into the water for chum. For gooey chum take several clams, wrap them in something, and then pummel them with a hammer, before dropping them overboard. To fish with Garris and ask him other sneaky ways to get a sheepshead to bite your line call 843-200-9795 or visit the Internet at Reel Deal Charters.

Charleston Offshore Report: Scott tells me that a handful of calm weather days allowed for several different boats to slip out on the big pond. Quality wahoo reports came back with anglers visiting the southwest banks area along the ledge. Some blackfin tuna reports are coming in from the Georgetown Hole, which is always the first sign of the offshore bonanza from that northern locale. If any sportfisher wants to go well South, a hot blackfin bite is going on right now off the Beaufort / Savannah area in the 'triple ledge' and 'deli' formations. Pull smaller baits for blackfin, like the Jr.-size cedar plugs or small ballyhoo rigged with a Sea Witch skirt.

Bart says that offshore results have been mostly limited due to weather and federal regulations. Closures on certain species have made choices limited until later this spring. Trolling with Ilander lures rigged with ballyhoo are the best option presently for wahoo fishing. With higher fuel costs in the forecast for 2012, many offshore anglers will be sitting tight until the bluewater action reaches peak levels.

To view past fishing reports click here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Shooting Sports Field Day at Palachucola

One on one shooting instruction is helpful for youths 
The annual Shooting Sports Field Day at the Palachucola shooting range on February 11 was sponsored by SCDNR and the 4-H club. Firearms, ammunition, targets and archery equipment were provided for use free of charge at all of the shooting stations. Participants bring their own firearms and bows if available. No centerfire (high-powered) rifles are allowed at the Palachucola range on this day. All firearms and bows must be unloaded and cased at all times at the event except when on the ranges. The Webb Center's Jay Cantrell reports that Range Day was a success, with 85 youth and 62 adults in attendance under the supervision of 14 SCDNR staff, Two Clemson 4-H staff and a handful of volunteers. Activities included firearms safety briefings, skeet shooting, .22-rifle shooting, airgun target shooting, archery skills and even a shooting simulator! 

To view past blog entries about the shooting range at Palachucola click here.

.22-rifles offer a big boom with little kick

Skeet shooting skills last a lifetime

Sunday, February 19, 2012

SEWE Soiree / Sunday

Shagging at the SEWE Soiree
The 30th anniversary of the SouthEastern Wildlife Exposition ended Sunday on a soggy note, with an all night rain leaving the outdoor venues soaked. Those SEWE patrons that ventured out found plenty of elbow room at Brittlebank Park and Marion Square, while the main body of patrons headed indoors to the Mills House, Charleston Place and the Francis Marion Hotel. The rain began on Saturday night about the same time that wild game was being served for supper in various locales in the Holy City. At the SEWE Soiree the menu called for quail legs, chili, barbecue ribs and everyone enjoyed the pig pickin' stations. The weather called for outdoor clothes Saturday night and Sunday, the same type of clothes that outdoor enthusiasts love to dress in. The world class wildlife art festival enjoyed a successful Pearl Anniversary!!

Jason Fowler holds Birdie for Diana Westerman

Wood ducks buzz the cypress

These gals loved making me laugh at the SEWE Soiree
To view past blog entries about the 2012 SEWE click here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

2012 SEWE Saturday photos

Best of Show in the Jr. Duck Stamp contest
Sunny skies and warm temperatures drew record crowds to Marion Square on Saturday to visit food vendors, birds of prey, and the conservation tent. Meanwhile at the Gaillard Auditorium, patrons perused a bounty of wildlife-themed art and home furnishings that they might like to purchase. Food cooking demonstrations are conducted outside under the S.C. Agriculture tent, and local food vendors bring their very best menu items to SEWE each year. The outside venues offered delightful experiences to all on SEWE Saturday!

Earl and Anna Pope support SCDNR

The SEWE southern breakfast drew schools of art fans

Rich King of the documentary Landlocked

Ashley Harwood of Turning Native woodworks
TO view past blog entries about 2012 SEWE click here.

2012 SEWE DU Oyster Roast

Friday night at the Wildlife Expo brings the annual Ducks Unlimited oyster roast, where the East Cooper Chapter of DU brings together about 2000 revelers to raise money for the conservation of wetlands. A huge silent auction and a bounty of live auction items always ensure that funds for the ducks would be ample. The patrons enjoyed oysters, shrimp and grits, fried catfish and other Lowcountry tastes prepared by Jimmie Fitts catering. Their can be no forgetting that while SEWE celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, the conservation organization known for conserving wetlands is celebrating their own DU 75th anniversary. Another large crowd in attendance for the DU event helped to mark both milestones in sporting fashion.

To view past blog entries about the 2012 SEWE click here.

Ladies of the Lowcountry support DU

Fishing friends at the DU oyster roast

2012 SEWE - Friday at Sporting Village

Dock Dogs competition in full flight on Friday
Brittlebank Park on the peninsula of Charleston is bordered by the Ashley River and plays host to the sporting village, full of vendors that promote the outdoors. What a great spot to spend the day under sunny skies with friends who share a like-minded spirit. The dock docks competition began on Friday and continues all three days until the finals on Sunday. Corporate sponsors like John Deere and Chevrolet are the anchor booths at Brittlebank, but the South Carolina vendors tend to shine bright in this setting. Tideline Outfitters brings their new oyster shell camo pattern for everyone to see. Hugh McLaurin of Big Lake Duck Calls came to blow his custom duck calls, which continue to garner new fans each year. Bird dog enthusiasts gathered to view the live quail at the Quail Unlimited booth headed by Tim Long. Scott Whitaker of CCA was present, and friends Mark Castlow and Jimbo Meador of Dragon Fly Boatworks from Florida were on hand to display their flats skiffs and their new paddleboards and custom dry boxes. Retriever demos, casting demos, wood carvers rounded out the sporting village offerings while a country band played music for everyone.

Mark Castlow and Jimbo Meader from DragonFly Boatwaorks

Bart Key with his niece and their oyster shell camo

Hugh McLaurin of Big Lake Duck Calls

The Lowcountry Chapter of Quail Unlimited
To view past blog entries from 2012 SEWE click here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 SEWE Preview Gala and Sale / Hanna video

Faith Stowe, local artist Kevin LePrince and September Welborn at the SEWE gala
With the three-day SEWE festival set to begin on Friday morning, Thursday night is always reserved for the black tie Preview Gala and auction. Charleston Place is the setting for the event that welcomes world class wildlife artists to meet with the adoring crowd of SEWE patrons that appreciate them. Whether it be wood carvings, bronze statues, volcanic sandstones, oil paintings or truly unique mediums - SEWE kicks off during the Preview Gala. Always fabulous celebrity Jack Hanna was on hand to show off animals with him from the Columbus Zoo and to make photos and sign autographs with VIP's. Food offerings included baked brie, seafood and rice perlot, ham and beef steamships and a table full of confections. A silent and a live auction were conducted and TV weatherman Tom Crawford served as emcee for the occasion. Politicos, publishers, bankers and all types of movers and shakers are on hand to celebrate the sporting art of SEWE at the Preview Gala, and the artist's are glad to be approached for conversation whether about their art or their travels. Most out of town artists offer a confession that being in warm Charleston during February is one of the best fringe benefits of SEWE. Local artists usually confess that it takes this influx of visitors to raise the bar to the highest level of wildlife art appreciation.
To view past blog entries about 2012 SEWE click here.

Alligator tail was on display at the SEWE gala

Tom and Julie Hund enjoy the SEWE gala

2012 Dog & Horse Gallery Sporting Exhibition

English Setter Profile by Beth Carlson
The 7th annual Sporting exhibit at 102 Church Street began with an opening reception on February 16. Atrist Beth Carlson is in town from Maine for the entire SEWE weekend to share her portraits with patrons at the Dog & Horse Gallery. Whether Carlson is painting a rustic cabin on a plantation in Yemassee, or across the big pond for assignments in England, she is able to convey what the upland sportsman takes in during a day of working bird dogs in the woodlands. Owner Jaynie Spector provided venison treats for customers during the reception in the form of venison jalapeno sausage and a venison tex mex dip, paired with a fine red wine. A special guest at the reception was golden retriever Maggie, and her owners who had commissioned Carlson for a dog portrait. With dogs in the gallery, food for the palate and plenty of paintings to view, the Dog & Horse gallery is on point.

To view a video of the entire sporting exhibition click here.

Steve and Barbara Rockefeller with artist Beth Carlson

 To view more blog entries from the 2012 SEWE click here.
Setter and Quail by Beth Carlson

To view past blog entries about the Dog & Horse gallery click here.