Thursday, January 31, 2013

SEWE awards 2013 S.C. Junior Duck Stamp Winners

Best of Show for 2013 S.C. Junior Duck Stamp Contest

In an example of SEWE promoting the outdoors, they continue their partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the SCDNR to facilitate the S.C. Junior Duck Stamp Contest. The 2013 winners were recently announced with 14-year old Emily Knudson of Thomas Cairo Middle School in Mount Pleasant winning the Best Of Show title with her depiction of a preening redhead drake duck. Hannah Massar won the first runner-up award for her close up of a merganser. Elizabeth Chandler, age 15, of Sumter, S.C. won the second runner-up prize for her painting of a drake wood duck in flight. This exhibit will be at the public library on Calhoun Street. and for the list of all the winners click here.
1st runner-up for Best of Show
The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is also keeping their preservation credentials in good order in 2013 with the announcement on January 28 of a new Lowcountry Conservation Initiative. SEWE is joining forces with other local conservation groups in accepting a $100K grant check from BP of America that is intended to promote the natural world. It provides for injured birds of prey to be rehabilitated, and to promote outdoor education in schools in Charleston County. For more details click here.
2nd Runner-up for Best of Show
There are always loads of fun times at SEWE, but tickets won’t cost loads of cash. A three-day general admission ticket for Friday, Saturday and Sunday costs just $40. One-day admittance on Friday or Saturday from 10 until 6 p.m. costs $20, with Sunday admission from 10 until 5 p.m. offered at the discount rate of $10. Don’t forget the kids under the age of 10 can enter free with adult, and the SEWE tickets include free shuttle bus rides from each event location. So you can park once and then enjoy the rest of your day. For a full rundown of SEWE events view my feature article in the Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the S.C. Jr. Duck Stamp Competition click 20152014 - 2012 - 2011.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wood Duck soup recipe

Soup with pasta is ready to add wood duck meat
With the completion of duck season, it's time to make use of any harvested wood ducks while they are still their most succulent. Since wood ducks consume large amounts of acorns, they have less of a gamey taste than some other ducks, but those wishing to pre-soak the wood duck breast medallions may still do so. Cold weather is always great for serving piping hot soup, but sometimes the soup needs a hearty dose of protein to stick with you. This recipe combines a grocery store soup with the duck meat.

Take Bertolli Italian-Style Wedding Soup with meatballs, bacon pieces, carrots, spinach and ditalini pasta.
Add one cup of water and warm over medium-high heat on the stove top.
Take five wood duck breast medallions (serves 2).
Presoak the duck breasts in salt water from one to six hours proir to cooking.
Pour off the salt water and add 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar and 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce.
Marinade in this mixture for 30-minutes.
Place enough olive oil in sauce pan to cover the surface.
Gently cook the medallions on medium-high heat for approximately 15 minutes, or to desired doneness.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cut medallions into pieces and add to soup

Wood duck etching

Recent wood duck harvest 
Serve with garlic bread, and enjoy!

To view past recipe blog entries click here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Quail hunting with a purpose

Great quail hunt thanks to CHESTER!
With duck and dove season now completed, a clear focus on quail hunting emerges through the end of February. Fortunate to have the will to train a bird dog, my real life experiment with my English setter named Chester continues. The weather on January 27 offered near perfect quail hunting conditions with a cold 30-degree start, and light northerly winds. The cold weather serves to keep the bird dog from tiring, and the steady breeze aides him in his quest to dissect the woodlands in order to locate with pinpoint precision the location of the released quail. A big woods voice announcing 'WO' tells the livewire bird dog that the hunter must be allowed to get next to the huddled quail in order for two things to happen. First, the bang of the gun which bird dogs LOVE, and second the feel of bird feathers in the mouth of the bird dog. Any bird that is flushed prematurely must be allowed to leave - yielding neither a BANG or feathers - and hopefully a lesson learned by the eager to please bird dog. On this day both the birds and the bird dog cooperated and a respectable 11 out of 12 quail were harvested, with one bird  flushed far outside of gun range - and thus left to fly into the possibilities of what might have been for both hunter and canine.

Can you spot Gentleman Bob?
To read my feature article on bird dog training click Charleston Mercury.

To view my past article about bird dog training click here.
Chester points a quail in the open

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Black Swamp duck hunt in the SRP

Jeff and Frankie with a stringer of ducks

This annual end of season duck hunt brings together waterfowl hunters who share a common love for the outdoors and forestry. Hampton County and the Savannah River Preserve (SRP) are home to Black Swamp where the woodies love the hardwood swamps along the river. The woodies fly early and the mallards fly later, keeping those in the duck blinds on the lookout for a shooting opportunity. A cold morning temp of 30-degrees greeted the hunters and their canine companions. Guide Bill Mixon delivered us to the duck blind and helped us get to the country breakfast afterwards. This is a fine way to end another duck hunting season!

Wood duck pair and dekes

Widgeon decoys and mallard ducks
To view past blog entries about Black Swamp duck hunts click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Lowcountry Hunt - hunt weekend photos

Chasing hounds
To view more blog entries about the Lowcountry Hunt click here.
Joint Masters of the Lowcountry Hunt

Margaret Hankley of Tallahassee, with
Allison Daniels and Ruth Morton of Albany, Georgia

Sara Bateman, Sandra Dawson, Casey Bartman,
Laurene Mann and Sue Migliore

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Lowcountry Hunt - hunt weekend story

Tally Ho during the Lowcountry Hunt fox hunt
Barry Limehouse and little Barry in the saddle
The annual hunt weekend of the Lowcountry Hunt fox hunting club was held January 17 – 20. Fox hunting enthusiasts from multiple states came to Colleton County to experience a Lowcountry fox hunt on three plantations. In a classic example of how conservation is feeding the local economy, the fox hounds gave full cry when viewing wild game like a coyote or a fox, and the visiting hunters on horseback were right behind them. Friday's hunt at Hayne Hall was sponsored by host Parker Tuten. Saturday's hunt at Ravenwood was sponsored by host Nina Burke. Sunday's hunt at Airy Hall was hosted by Buck Limehouse. Each of these hosts are an example of a person who cares enough about the sport of foxhunting to entertain guests from out of town at their homes, for the benefit of the sport. And we're not talking just a few guests either. The fox hunt on Friday saw 99 hunters on horseback!! This event is a major fundraiser for the Lowocuntry Hunt, and it features three plantations in Colleton County, home to the ACE Basin and a strong conservation and preservation ethic - which in turn bolsters the local economy.

The field gathers and is ready to HUNT!

Fox cupcake and Lowcountry Hunt logo
To read my feature article on hunt weekend click on Colletonian

To view past blog entries about the Lowcountry hunt click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 1/22/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:

Tim Schryver with an 11-pound sheepshead
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West share what we all knew - those warm temperatures could not last forever in January! The silver lining is that since water temps had warmed up a bit during that week of Indian Summer temps, now the cooling back off period is setting off another flurry of trout action. For quality trout results, remember to fish creek mouths and shell rakes in 4 to 8-feet of water with moving current. Several trout in the 20 to 23-inch range have been caught using a free-lined DOA shrimp. Also the local Trout Trick is a go-to bait, and Zman 4-inch paddlerz remain popular. Sheepshead reports are still good using fiddlers and live shrimp while fishing around heavy structure anywhere from 6 to 25-feet deep. Some stud sheepies that meet the ten-pound mark have been caught! Redfish reports have them schooled up in large numbers, which is the same trait that inspired locals to call them 'channel bass' in winter. Though they are experiencing 'lock-jaw' in these colder temps, we know that it won't be long before the S.C. redfish begin to chew again. Keep your live minnows and cut mullet close when that happens, and maybe some Gulp jerkshads. Scott has new colors for Gulps including the Punk Prawn, Satay Chicken and BBQ sandwich. Sounds like a smorgasboard in Scott's neck of the woods! For all the latest seminars and information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

David Peralta at the West Ashley location of The Charleston Angler shares that the last few weeks have been a roller coaster of warm and then cold temps, but that the schooling redfish on the flats continue to consistently stretch out fishing lines! Look for a combination of of low tide, high sun, and light wind to almost guarantee lots of shots at hungry fish. If you don't see any fish, make long casts and hop / drag a Z-man Paddlerz along the bottom with a 1/8-ounce flutter hook. My favorite color for this fishing is the Houdini but we have been selling a lot of Bad Shad and Redbone colors lately. Trout fishing has been good regardless of up or down temps, and customers report catching at least a dozen nice ones every trip using the Slayer Swim Tail and 1/4-ounce jighead. Other plastics that are working fine are the Z-man Minnowz, DOA shad tail and Gulp. Make sure to fish around current and keep the jig near the bottom. Don't rule out a flounder this time of year either, since David picked up enough for Sunday dinner just last week! Farther up the Cooper River the catfish are biting well and that is a good way to spend some fishing time when the flats are blown out. A few reports of shad are beginning to trickle in, so it's not too early to get after them before the crowds show up. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Offshore Report: David says to get your offshore gear in order, since it won't be long until spring trolling season is here.

Scott reports that calm weather allowed offshore anglers to go out on the big pond recently. Trolling reports consisting of lots of bonita biting along the ledge, and some wahoo coming from 250 to 400-feet of water. High-speed trolling for wahoo is working the best, but overall the wahoo bite is nothing like the fantastic all-winter bite experienced last year. Reef fishing reports remain the same in that it is tough to get past the phalanx of black sea bass in order to catch a fish you can keep, like black drum and sheepshead. Looking for a drag screaming challenge on light tackle? Grab your spinning gear and get to 60-feet of water and look for the false albacore schooling on top of the water. Small silver spoons and casting jigs are a can't fail option for these silver bullets, and pound for pound they offer one of the best sporting and rod-bending options during winter.

To view past Lowcountry saltwater fishing reports click here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 SCWA Walterboro - Conservation banquet

Drake Young Guns show off some dekes!
SCWA Committee members
With one week left to go in duck season, some 200 waterfowling enthusiasts came together at the Walterboro armory for the annual S.C. Waterfowl Association banquet. Staff Ed Paul, Mac Bagnal and Jennifer McNeely were in town to work with the Walterboro committee in their commitment to raise funds that will help send kids from Colleton County to Camp Woodie. This family friendly event, with dinner from Park Land Seafood, also featured a ladies only raffle and special one-of-a-kind hunts on the auction. Duck hunting in the morning and raising funds in the evening can make for a long day, but on this occasion plenty of sportsman from Colleton County answered the call to participate in the outdoors and then to rally for conservation.

Ladies raffle items
Looking down the gun barrel with Joe Hamilton
and Madison Utsey
To view past blog entries about SCWA Walterboro click here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Late season wood duck hunt

Three happy hunters and their wood duck limits

A slog into the swamp for woodies

Comer Morrison retrieves a drake wood duck

Always on the lookout for wildlife!!
The next to last Saturday of duck season is reason enough to rise early and try one's luck for waterfowl. A cold 32 degree morning graced the coastal Lowcountry and a foursome of friends headed into a natural vegetation pond in central Yemassee. A forecast of Fast and Furious wood duck activity at shooting time did not disappoint as three swamp gunners took a limit of woodies.
To view past blog entries about hunting wood ducks click here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Quail Supreme recipe

Quail birds in brown gravy
Quail, green peas and potato mash
The fun part of the Quail Supreme occasion involved taking a bird dog into the woods and conducting a hunt for pen-raised quail. No bird dog? Don't worry, farm-raised quail are quite similar and can be purchased at your grocery store!

Quail Supreme:

6 to 8 quail or quail breasts
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon papper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup cooking sherry

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Flour quail. Melt butter in a large baking dish. Lay the quail breast side down in the dish of melted butter. Bake 30 minutes or until brown. Turn quail and add cream of mushroom soup and mix with the sherry. No sherry? Substitute 1/2 cup red wine. Bake until bubbly. Reduce heat to 350 and cover dish with foil. Bake 1 hour. Serves four.
Add a side of cornbread too

Harvested quail, ready to be cleaned

To view past recipe blog entries click here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wood Duck hunting in the late season

A drake wood duck harvest is always a success story
Extra! Extra! Practice makes perfect!

Hooray for the wood duck! 2013 proves again that the Lowcountry duck hunter has much to be thankful for when considering the wood duck. The daily limit for wood ducks is three per gun, which was increased by one duck from a limit of two woodies per gun just a few years ago. The daily limit for a mixed bag of ducks is six per gun, but right now Colletonians will be hard pressed to find that kind of success. However, three wood ducks in the bag is not too far-fetched to conceive. Wood ducks are very adaptive to habitat scenarios such as rivers, creeks, swamps and even isolated wetlands. Unlike other ducks that prefer wide open spaces, wood ducks are not only fine with woodland environs, they thrive in them. A wood duck can dodge tree limbs and branches with agility, and is just big enough to absorb a few glancing blows from branches if need be when landing. Woodies can offer some great wingshooting! Finding water right now can often mean finding some wood ducks. Drought conditions persist in the Lowcountry, despite several inches of rain in late December. The lack of water holes in the woodlands can serve to concentrate wood ducks, so if you can identify a water source, then you may find some ducks. Look around the edge habitat of the pond for feathers, and the acorns, which are their number one food source.

Two woodies in the woods on 1/17/2013

To read more of my feature article on the end of duck season click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about wood duck hunting click here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quail hunt with Red Fish Brand

Curtis Hart before entering the quail woods
The Lowcountry Marsh and Field clothing outfitter known as Red Fish Brand is serious about getting out to enjoy hunting and fishing traditions. What began with a quest to reignite America's passion for the cotton duck hunting jacket, has expanded into functional pants, shirts, belts and the new waist coat or cotton duck vest. Stepping into the upland pine woods in search of bobwhite quail, each step on the upland trail holds unknown dividends but lots of anticipation. This first-time English setter owner, enjoyed Curtis Hart's descriptions of the bird dogs he owned in the past. Some things never change regarding the admiration of these working dogs, even though some days require a healthy dose of understanding that the  bird dogs are not perfect. Leather boots and leather gloves were put to the test during the hunt, and stories about favorite shotguns were shared. The sighting of a mighty buck that had stayed safe during deer season gave us pause to give thanks for all the blessings of the Lowcountry. Cold weather is the best time to enjoy the double-thick Red Fish Brand Field Trial Waist Coat. The wet conditions of the woods hampered the flight of the pen-raised quail this day, limiting the harvest of birds for the frying pan, but we will endeavor to try and try again while quail season continues.

Red Fish Brand jacket and waist coat after the hunt

Cotton Duck cloth garments made locally

To view past blog entries about quail hunting click here.

To view past blog entries about Red Fish Brand click here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 SouthEastern Wildlife Expo - Preview

2013 SEWE poster

Get SEWE Tickets HERE

Mary Roberts and Molly Dunn of SEWE on King Street
It's time for another romantic notion about Wild Life in the Holy City during Valentine's Day weekend! That reality will come to fruition for the 31st time thanks to the SouthEastern Widlife Exposition, the largest sporting arts festival around. From February 15 to 17, SEWE will feature wolves in 2013, and will bring back the popular Dock Dogs, while adding a classic duck decoy auction that is sure to reverberate throughout the plantations of the Santee Delta and the ACE Basin. To view the latest video promo click 2013 SEWE. Visiting the SEWE booth at the Second Sunday on King Street, where they partnered with the Charleston Animal Society offering puppies for adoption, I spoke with SEWE Director John Powell. The phone lines have been burning up with vendors finalizing their booth space at the sporting village, and the artists of SEWE will be coming in from all across the USA! And don't forget the retriever demos, birds of prey displays, oyster roasts and all around Lowcountry fun that is to be found on SEWE weekend. Bring the family and get in touch with other outdoors enthusiasts who appreciate wildlife and art equally.

To view past blog entries from the 2012 Southeastern Wildlife Expo click here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saltwater Seminar Series in Charleston Feb. 9

George Poveromo with a yellowfin tuna
The magazine that focuses on saltwater fishing is bringing its acclaimed National Seminar Series back to Charleston for 2013. Host George Poveromo is a senior editor at Salt Water Sportsman magazine, and stars in the World of Saltwater Fishing TV show on the NBC Sports Network. It may be frigid outside on Saturday February 9, making it a great day to attend class indoors all day about how to catch more saltwater fish. The seminar begins at 9 a.m. and will conclude by 4 p.m., and will have a cadre of experienced fishing captains sharing their knowledge. In 2010 the auditorium at Charleston Southern University was packed with about 300 saltwater anglers eager to learn more about fishing tactics and tackle, and they will use the same location this year. I first attended the National Seminar Series in 1995, and the 2013 edition will be the 26th year for this popular saltwater event. The fee to attend is $55 and is considered a good deal considering it includes six hours of instruction, a course textbook and a one-year subscription of Salt Water Sportsman magazine. Is a saltwater textbook valuable? You bet it is, and I can still put my hands on my 1995 copy. Bad weather days, when one cannot go saltwater fishing, offer the perfect time to pour over books about tactics and let that knowledge sink in, while checking to make sure your tackle box has the correct equipment. Attendees will also receive a goodie bag with boat cleaning products, fishing line, offers for tackle discounts and more. Plenty of fishing equipment will be given away on February 9 during door prize drawings. In 2010 the giveaways included gear from sponsors like Sperry shoes, Penn reels, RayMarine electronics, Suffix fishing line and Rapala fishing lures. Best of all, you will be with a room full of saltwater enthusiasts who are ready to share fishing stories, and excitement about upcoming fishing trips.

To view more of this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about the Saltwater Seminar Series click here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wood Stork populations recover naturally

Wood Stork in isolate wetland in Colleton County

Three wise wood storks contemplate a day in the Lowcountry
When witnessing a nesting colony of wood storks and their rookery a casual observer might remark that it is simply a place bustling with bird life. While some are taken in as if gripped by the lapels, and give thanks to the Creator who saw fit to provide such a mechanism that protects our mighty feathered flock, so that they can reproduce and grace our wetlands with their stunning and chiseled beauty forever. Amen.

To read my front page article on the wood stork population recovery click on Charleston Mercury.

To view a past blog entry about Whooping Cranes in the Lowcountry click here.

To view my most recent Birding Journal Observations blog entry click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 1/8/2013

Lowcountry Outdoors redfish and CCA hat
First up is the news that the Coastal Conservation Association of South Carolina has announced their 2013 state convention for the weekend of February 1 and 2 on Daniel Island. To view past blog entries from the CCA State Convention click here. Lowcountry Outdoors is glad to support CCA, recently becoming a silver sponsor at the Sea Island CCA chapter banquet: for photos click here.

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West last wrote that cold mornings have kept some anglers in the house and in bed, but this latest forecast should have everyone on the water and fishing again this weekend! Sheepshead continue to be a Go-To target in January, with great success coming from locations like bridges, shallow reefs and the jetties. Fiddlers remain the most consistent bait of choice, but live shrimp will also prove deadly during the cooler months for sheepshead. Using a slip-float style rig with live shrimp along rock piles inshore this time of year is one of Scott's favorite ways to probe for sheepshead. When heading to the reefs he prefers fiddlers rigged carolina style, since you will blow through a lot of bait while out there. The trout have become more lethargic with the colder water temps that arrived around the New Year. Try working finesse baits for trout right now in 5 to 10-feet of water, like the Trout Trick or the "Ralph Phillips Special" made by Z-man. Don't know what that one is - then you better check with some Jim Isle locals!! Redfish are schooling up in big numbers, which honestly can make them a little harder to locate, but once you find a school you can work them for a while. Live mud minnows, live shrimp, Gulp baits and Zman Streakz are great options to throw to schooling redfish on the shallow flats. And when all else fails, DON'T FORGET to bring some cut mullet!! For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Hilton Head Inshore Report: Josh Boyles from Southern Drawl Outfitters reports that some of the redfish schools have developed lockjaw. Customers report massive schools of big fish that just won't eat. Josh finds that when fish are like that, the best method is to clean up your rig presentation. Josh's favorite rig this time of year is a 5 to 6-foot flouro leader of 20-pound test with a 2-ought light-gauge circle hook. No swivels, no lead weight , no nuthin' to spook the fish! Sounds like a great Pro Tip right there!! If he absolutely has to use a weight then he goes with a pinch-on weight that is only heavy enough to cast the needed distance to reach the outer edge of the school. He recommends putting the rod and reel into the rod holder, and simply waiting until a redfish comes and picks up the bait. The trout bite has been consistent using Bass Assassins on a jig head, and while everyone has a favorite color it's hard to beat the good ole' trusty Electric Chicken coloration. The sheepshead bite is going good but anglers state the the black sea bass closures have their population at a smothering level, meaning it takes about a dozen fiddlers to land one sheepshead for all the sea bass bycatch. It's simple, if you can't keep a sheepshead bait on the bottom, then you can't catch a sheepshead. For all the latest store info visit the Internet at Southern Drawl Outfitters.

Offshore Report: Scott tells us that with a good portion of our bottom fishing species under closure there has not been much activity in the deep water. However good reports of triggerfish are coming from 65 to 100-feet of water, with plenty of black sea bass and porgies to fight off along the way. In the nearshore area, the shallower reefs in 25 to 35 feet of water are starting to aggregate a lot of sheepshead right now.

Josh shares that blackfin tuna continue to be the main targeted species. The new style of vertical jigging has remained effective. The boats that are trolling are having a hard time keeping the bonitas off the hook long enough to catch a blackfin. Another option involves casting topwater plugs, after marking fish in the upper 50-feet of the water column. Start throwing plugs because it is nothing for these little speed demons to come to surface and begin thrashing your offerings.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Vero Vellini - Gun slings and more

Vero Vellini bino strap

Vero Vellini gun sling
Vero Vellini cartridge case

Cartridge case inside view

Know anyone who likes to go deer driving in the morning and then head to the treestand later in the day? How often does the change in ammo from shotgun to rifle require that hunter to search for the right shells to carry? I recently found a neat item by Vero Vellini gunslings that will serve both purposes. The brown suede cartridge case attaches to your belt conveniently and holds four buckshot shells and six rifle bullets, keeping one organized and ready for that next possible deer hunt. Of course Vero Vellini is known for their neoprene shotgun and rifle slings, plus they offer a darn good binocular strap. I have used the non-slip bino strap for the past five years and I can relate that it holds up well, and is the most comfortable binocular strap I have seen offered. If you are looking for a new gun sling I recommend the regular width sling and not the wide-top version by Vero Vellini. To see a full selection of slings and cartridge cases visit