Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Savannah River Invitational

Custom box calls are the prizes after bragging rights
Art Fileds - winner of the 2012 SRI

Billy Farrior and Ervin Harriatt

Art Fields, Ted Rainwater and Jerald Sholar
This fundraiser for Tall Timbers S.C. Quail Project was held March 29 at Oak Grove in Hampton County. The 2nd annual Savannah River Invitational (SRI) enlists turkey hunters who are willing to raise awareness about the restoration of grassland habitat that benefits Northern bobwhite quail, as well as a host of songbirds - and turkeys too! The entry fee goes towards the continued work of Jerald Sholar to reach willing landowners in S.C. who want to focus on understory management of their forestlands. Limited to only 30 teams, the SRI uses a scoring system involving beard length and spur length in order to determine who will have their name etched into the SRI perpetual trophy. A beautiful morning allowed the two-man hunting teams to disperse into their favorite hunting grounds in search of the elusive boss gobbler, with some mosquitos and warm temps in the mix. The action got off to an interesting start when Scott Rhodes began calling for turkeys and a coyote came over about 8 a.m. to try and slip up on any unsuspecting turkey. Rhodes did the right thing and rolled the coyote over into his grave with one shot, but neither Rhodes (of Beaufort) nor teammate Gene Simmons (of Walterboro) were able to harvest a turkey. Next up was hunting team Johnny Evans (of Orangeburg) and Art Fields (of Charlotte) who employed the 'divide and conquer' method of two-man team hunting, with Evans going one way and getting henned up with nothing but jakes. Meanwhile Fields ended up in a good spot with toms gobbling early from the limb, and after flydown too. With one hen in his view, he called with his MAD calls aluminum slate and the hen sauntered into gun range while dragging three gobblers with her and BLAM he was able to harvest the biggest one at 25-paces using his Pure Gold choke tube and HeviShot load. A bit later in the morning it was time for Billy Farrior (of Charleston) and Ervin Harriatt (of Estill) to get in on the action. Harriatt was calling with a Homewrecker crystal slate call when they heard a tom gobble at 11 a.m., and with hunting over at 12 noon he knew that time was running short. Harriat said they were 75-yards form a deer food plot planted in rye, oats and wheat when the strutting tom circled them and he switched from yelp calls to a cackle in order to convince the big turkey to come closer. Farrior harvested the bird at 35-yards and said that his heart was racing since it was the first turkey for him since 2009. The weigh-in was conducted by SCDNR biologists Jay Cantrell and Ted Rainwater and Farrior's bird weighed 20-pounds, taking the 'Heavist Bird' custom box call home. The overall winner was Art Fields since his bird had greater combined beard and spur length - CONGRATS!!

To view past blog entries form the Savannah River Invitational click here.

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