Thursday, February 28, 2013

SCDNR encourages night hunting for invasive species

An opportunistic harvest of a coyote during turkey season
The call for control of invasive species is growing louder. Hunters are some of the best conservationists around, and they are now being called on to aid South Carolinians by expanding their hobby. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is opening up a new night hunting season that is history in the making. From February 28 until July 1 those hunting private property will be able to hunt at night over bait for hogs, coyotes and armadillos. Many Colletonians see these three species as a menace in the Lowcountry, giving pristine lands new scars with digging and rooting, while taxing our game species with their predatory skill. Furthermore, electronic calls, artificial lights and even night vision equipment will be legal to use during this new night hunting season. Any legal firearm, bow or crossbow may be used, with centerfire rifles only allowed when hunting from an elevated position at least 10 feet from the ground. Remember that an advanced notice of 48 hours must be given to SCDNR for each hunter before practicing this new hunt option. That notice shall include hunter information including name, date of birth and hunting license number. Applicants must also provide the location of the private property with a street address or road numbers that border a rural property when applicable. Call SCDNR at 803-955-4000 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to register.

To view the rest of my feature article click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about hunting invasive hogs click here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SSI dinner at Boathouse on Breach Inlet

Prosciutto-wrapped roasted scallop with black risotto
Chef Greenberg, Colleen O'Connor and David Hutto with Boathouse
The S.C. Aquarium partners with local restaurants to promote their sustainable seafood initiative (SSI). The Boathouse on Breach Inlet has been a long time partner with the SSI program, and the Aquarium rates them at a platinum lever for the high percentage of sustainable seafood they carry on their everyday menu. On Tuesday, February 26 Chef Aaron Greenberg prepared a five course meal for Aquarium patrons, and a local vinter offered wine pairings to accompany the food. The first course was smoked amberjack and crab salad, which reminded me a lot of eating smoked marlin, and the fried goat cheese crumbles went well with the seafood. The Hedges Sauvignon Blanc from 2010 was sweet, in contrast to the smoky and salty AJ. The second course of littleneck clams came from Tobias Seafood, and was paired with a 2010 Pinot Blanc from the Sass vineyard. The main course was golden tilefish, from Abundant Seafood, served with a rosemary polenta cake and shitake mushrooms. The 2010 Chardonnay from Independent Producers was clean and free of oak influences, allowing the mushrooms and fish to stay front and center on one's palate. My favorite course was served with a 2009  Pinot Noir from Edna Valley, and came in the form of a prosciutto-wrapped scallop. Standing out on the plate was my first encounter with black risotto with an apple habanero syrup on top. The ham did not overpower the scallop, and was a delightful change from all of the 'bacon-wrapped' entrees found elsewhere. Even the red wine was dubbed sustainable, Sustainable In Practice, or SIP. For dessert, a chocolate bread pudding and vanilla gelato cups were served with a 2010 Muscat de Rivesaltes.

To view past blog entries about SSI click here.

Nifty sunsets are always on the menu at Breach Inlet
Grilled golden tilefish with polenta cake

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 State Youth Coon Hunt

Coon Hound baying up a tree with a coon in it!
Despite wet weather and swamps that were completely filled with water, the 2013 state youth coon hunt at the Webb Center near Estill went on as planned. A shooting competition during the day was canceled due to rain but the nine casts of youth hunters that went out to coon hunt that night never had any doubts about completing their mission to go raccoon hunting. Don't forget, just to make it to the state competition these youth have had to compete in regional events and qualify for this season ending contest. And while winning is everyone's goal, the actual largest trophy goes to the Sportsmanship winner, which teaches these youth about lessons in the field. To view a past blog entry about youth hunters and lessons in the field click here. In the senior division, the Sportsmanship Award went to Collin Long from Prosperity. Finishing in first place was D'Rell Miller from Camden, second place was Josh Kinsey from Bamberg, third place was Phillip Whetstone from Cope, fourth place was Manning Taylor from Heath Springs, and fifth place was Savanna Shuler from Santee. In the Junior Division, the Sportsmanship winner was Jacob New from Saluda. Finishing in first place was Hugh Arthur from Lincolnton, Georgia. Finishing in second place was Jacob New, in third place was Kevin Barnes from Fairfax, and in fourth place was Hampton Beard from Orangeburg. Congrats!!
Of course there is a large cadre of people working towards making this hunt a success including SCDNR staff, members of the Lowcountry Coon Club, parents and leaders with the S.C. Coon Hunter's Association. Johnathon Barnes fed about 100 folks before the hunt, while a raffle for a .22-rifle, sporting prints and coon hunting gear raised funds towards future hunts. Lowcountry Outdoors is glad to share the message that the state youth coon hunt program is doing a great job of training our future outdoor enthusiasts.

To view past blog entries about the S.C. State youth coon hunt click here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Shooting Sports Field Day at Palachucola

Jay Cantrell with SCDNR gives sighting advice

The new SCDNR shooting sports big rig

Youths learn archery during the 2013 range day

Ted Rainwater supervises target shooting
The S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources and the S.C. 4-H program conducted a shooting sports field day on Saturday February 9 at the SCDNR Palachucola Firing Range near Garnett.  The event was a great way to introduce novice shooters, both youth and adult, to shooting sports, firearm safety and hunting.  After registering, each person attended a short firearms safety briefing and then was free to move on to the different activities. The activity stations included: skeet shooting with shotguns, archery, .22 rifle target shooting, a pellet gun range and a virtual hunting simulator.  Each station offered a different experience and included one on one instruction and supervision from SCDNR staff and Certified 4-H Shooting Instructors. The day was considered to be a great success with a total of 116 participants, 63 of which were youth. This annual event is open to the public and has had participants from Georgia as well as S.C.

To view past blog entries about the Palachucola WMA shooting day click here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Hank Parker Invitational - Photos

Hank Parker shares his testimony as a christian man with others at the FCA Outdoors event

Hank Parker can light up a room
Jim Blair with Coach Sam Wyche

Eric Richey with Sovereign Sportsman TV,
 Ryan Succup with Kansas City Chiefs,
 and Jeff Dennis with Lowcountry Outdoors

Coach Art Baker and friend at Meadow Wood farm

To view past blog entries for the 2013 Hank Parker FCA Outdoors event click here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 FCA Outdoors - Hank Parker Invitational

Hank Parker and christian fellowship during the tower shoot 
Cale Yarborough and Sam Wyche lead the shooters wagon
The second annual Hank Parker Invitational for the Carolinas chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) reaches out to those who would spend time in God's creation of the outdoors. Moving the event to a location right on the SC / NC border near Charlotte (and near Parker's home) allows FCA to draw participants from a wider spectrum of the Carolinas. Of course if Hank Parker is involved, there has to be at least some bass fishing involved! I had the honor of following Hank Parker around a private pond at Meadow Wood while he proceeded to tell his tales and cast his lures. While the big fish got away, Parker had his sights set on fishing for men later in the day when christians would come together for some shooting sports. Football coaches Sam Wyche and Art Baker need no introduction and they helped contribute to the celebrity flair at the FCA event. NASCAR Hall Of Fame member Cale Yarborough was there too, joining former MLB players Bob Bolin and Billy O'Dell. Current NFL kicker Ryan Succup and golf coach Larry Penley represented the Carolina / Clemson folks. After a meal with prayer and a testimony by Hank Parker, the FCA patrons participated in a tower shoot for ring-necked pheasant and a round of sporting clays, topped off with a round of 'flurry.' A silent and live auction helped raise funds for the FCA Outdoors ministry in the Carolinas, which is poised to spread the message of the gospel to those who would listen and acknowledge that the time they spend outdoors can bring them closer to the Lord. Amen!
Hank Parker fishing for bass - beautiful 

To view more photos from the 2013 Hank Parker Invitational click here.

To view past blog entries form the 2012 Hank Parker Invitational click here.

Ring-necked pheasant cock and FCA logo
To read my feature article on the 2013 Hank Parker Invitational click here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shrimp, Collards and Grits - Southern Recipes

Author Pat Branning of Beaufort at the Mills House during SEWE
One of the hallmarks of the SE Wildlife Exposition is that outdoor enthusiasts are drawn together, where an open-minded synergy can take place between two parties. Locating Pat Branning and her book of culinary recipes at the Mills House during SEWE, I found out that the author from Beaufort and I had quite a few things in common. While the main dish suerved up at SEWE will always be wildlife artwork, a healthy side of food and fellowship are positive dividends. Her book was published to coincide with the Tricentennial Celebration of the founding of Beaufort in 1711, a place she and her family have made home since moving there in 1971 from Atlanta. I like the fact that Branning relates that the words in a recipe have no real flavor, rather it is up to a practiced hand to make come life. And I am glad that why we have these Southern recipes to savor, they perhaps best serve as a remembrance for our apron-clad grandmothers who made their kithcens such a wonderful place for each of us to develop a culinary sense of smell, touch and taste that proves to last a lifetime.

To read my review of Shrimp, Collards and Grits click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries with recipes click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tips for Booking a Fishing Charter

Beautiful mahi caught by lady angler during offshore charter

Mahi fest from 2007 charter, with sole wahoo reeled in by Jeff Dennis
One of the most frequent questions posed to Lowcountry Outdoors is how to book a fishing charter? There are plenty of reasons why to book a fishing charter, but just WHO does a good job as a professional charter captain? I am always glad to make a recommendation for a charter captain once I learn of the person's desired fishing location and targeted species.  This feature article is intended to share some guidelines for others, about what to look for when booking a fishing charter. Also, what to expect on that trip and what can be expected of each party. In general, recreational anglers who fish with a guide will get a big bang for their buck, in terms of fishing success. But there is never a guarantee with fish! I know from working with many of them, that fishing guides keep long hours and aren't scared of hard work, and for that they have my respect.

To view my feature article on Booking a Fishing Charter click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about fishing for mahi mahi in May click here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 2/19/13

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Nice mural from Out of the Blue Fishing Charters
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West wonders if anglers have seen a winter slow down? He figures that we are through the bulk of winter weather now, and a solid trout bite never waned! Even this past week, trout in the 15 to 19-inch range were boated using Trout Tricks, live shrimp and Zman Paddlerz. During cold spells, target the trout just a little deeper in 5 to 12-feet of water at spots like creek mouths associated with shell rakes. Scott's PRO TIP  for slow bites during cold weather is to slowly bump the bottom with your baits at the deepest part of the creek mouth. Sheepshead continue to provide solid action on fiddlers and live shrimp, and though there have been a lot of smaller fish than big ones, the numbers reported approach 50-plus sheepies per trip. Redfish are still in tight schools on the shallow flats, and more than anything else anglers report that good ole cut mullet is working the best right now. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Bart Manley at the Summerville location of The Charelston Angler marks water temps hovering in the middle-50's. Redfishing has become inconsistent even though they are most likely found sunning themselves on mud flats around oyster beds and shell rakes at low tide. Be stealthy when approaching these schools if you want to hook into them, and it only takes one or two mistakes of spooking them to learn this lesson. For good results try Z-Man Paddlerz in smoky shad on a flutter hook and work it slowly. Fly fisherman can take advantage of 'schoolers' by using smaller flies and dark patterns. The sheepshead bite is still good when using fiddler crabs. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Josh Boyles at Southern Drawl Outfitters reports that the steadiest bite in the Hilton Head area has been sheepshead. Both inshore and nearshore the sheepshead action has been very steady, with fiddler crabs the number one bait of choice. His PRO TIP is to use oysters left in the sun to dry out briefly, since they have been out-producing fiddlers for those in the know! The redfish bite has been tough to figure. Lower tides are revealing ample numbers of reds, but they have become extremely tough to catch. The new 'Airhead' lure by D.O.A. are giving the redfish something new to look at it, with their fat body and extended paddle-tails. No reports on trout means that they have likely shut down due to cold weather. For more store information visit the Internet at Southern Drawl.

Offshore Report: Bart shares that offshore results are picking up where it concerns wahoo. Troll Ilander lures in dark colors rigged with ballyhoo for best results. He also predicts that the mahi bite should pick up sooner rather than later with signs of an early spring everywhere. Of course some anglers will see these rising fuel prices as good reason to hold off on trips until the mahi become thick. Go see Bart and his walk-in bait cooler to stock up before the offshore season blitz arrives.

Scott says YES there is in fact some offshore action once again. Longtime customer Randy Cowart slipped out in his Regulator and found 69-degree water temps along the ledge. He also found the wahoo were in feeding mode in 250-feet of water just off the ledge, though the hoos were the only meatfish caught while trolling. Anglers looking for light tackle action can find false albacore over live bottom areas in 60 to 150-feet of water. Cast small silver spoons for falsies until your forearms ache! For anyone unfamiliar with this fishery, it is not unlike casting to schools of Spanish mackerel.

Josh knows of blackfin tuna being caught offshore, plus a few dolphin from the South Lowcountry. The wahoo that made a few strikes were all broken off before reaching the boat.

To view past fishing reports for the coastal Lowcountry click here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dubarry boots, at SEWE and in the field

Staffers standing in a bucket of water at SEWE
 to demonstrate that these boots are waterproof

Before the hunt with the joint master of Lowcountry Hunt 
The finest waterproof leather boots for the Lowcountry come from DuBarry of Ireland. Celebrating 75 years of dedication to craftsmanship, these handsome and functional boots do not compromise in terms of quality. The soft leather of the Galway boot covers the foot with the fit of a fine shoe. The upper portion is loose enough to provide the easy on and off that town and country folks appreciate, though once they are on there is little reason to remove these light and comfortable boots. The tanned leather and gore-tex ensure that feet stay dry, with the same effectiveness as a rubber boot. Equestrian enthusiasts have known for a while that DuBarry boots are great in the saddle, and also excellent for the clean up after riding when the hose wets the horse and seemingly everything else, except their feet stay dry. DuBarry boot soles are molded to the leather cowhide upper without gluing or stitching to create a one-piece look and feel. The Galway boot comes in several shades of brown with the walnut shade the most popular for men. The DuBarry boots come in European sizes only, and to view their US boot size conversion chart, visit the Internet at Since I have been wearing Dubarry I have had plenty of questions about it being difficult to get 'stovepipe' boots on and off. My answer is that the soft leather of these boots make it quite easy to take them off whether standing or seated. Also, Dubarry sells a bootjack, and I do find that this useful tool can make taking these boots off even easier. Look to the 2014 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) for lots more DuBarry presence for southerners to experience. 

To view past blog entries from 2013 SEWE click here.
DuBarry after the hunt!
DuBarry boots by the Lake!

2013 SEWE Sunday - game / art

SEWE owls ice sculpture
Smoked game birds ensemble by Ben Moise
The final day of the 2013 SE Wildife Expo came with clear skies and crisp near-freezing temperatures. A throng of patrons ruled the Holy City over the weekend, and as Sunday temps rose - so did the participation of patrons. The finals of the Dock Dogs on Sunday saw fearless dogs jumping into icy waters while their owners shrugged off the cool breeze coming off the Ashley River. Marion Square activities included birds of prey displays, fun and games for young ones, and a food court. The Francis Marion Hotel seemed to have renewed vigor at SEWE in 2013 since many of the exhibitors from the Gaillard Auditorium (now under construction) were moved to the historic locale. Many custom knife makers were present, but a closer look revealed antique wooden boxes, sporting lamp shades, bronze artwork, attire by William Lamb and reading materials like Covey Rise magazine. Of course the fine art at Charleston Place is always worth a last look before the end of SEWE, with firearms by Griffin and Howe qualifying as artwork with a purpose. Of course, an eyeful of art can not sustain one long, so it is always nice to dine on wild game offerings during the weekend such as duck, venison, shrimp, buffalo, fish and quail.

Custom totes by Elliott bags

Life size turkey flock at Charleston Place
To view past blog entries from 2013 SEWE click here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 SEWE Saturday - Sporting Village

Long-jumping Dock Dogs perform Saturday morning, with this pooch landing 20-plus feet out
Willie LaDue, Earl Pope and Angus MacBride of SCDNR
Day Two of the SE Wildife Expo was a day with two differing weather stories. The morning was clear, sunny and mild with the afternoon forecast for falling temps, cold winds and precipitation. Heading to Brittlebank Park for the 10 a.m. start time, large crowds assembled right away at the Dock Dogs jumping competition to watch a range of sporting dogs. While some dogs did not jump more than 8-feet, others soared quite far with big splash-downs pleasing the crowd. A large food court served up cajun creations and other fairground foods, while outdoor vendors such as John Deere, Chevrolet and Express boats shared their products with SEWE patrons. Inside the big tent is the 2013 Sporting Village filled with hunting guides / programs that range from the Lowcountry to Africa. Conservation groups like QDMA, SCI, SCWA and even the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Clothing vendors like Tideline Outfitters, DuBarry of Ireland, Griffin and Howe, and several camo dealers were on hand. Turkey calls, duck calls, and every kind of hunting accessory can be found here, along with plenty of print publications such as Gray's Sporting Journal and Virginia Sportsman. Other outdoor exhibits include Charleston Angler tackle shop, Boykin Spaniel Society and wooden furniture. When the wind picked up it was time to walk across the street to the Marriott Hotel and visit the sporting guns collections, antique decoy displays and vintage book dealers. SEWE can offer an unexpected boon for those who are always looking to add a special treasure to their personal collections. Large crowds at all of the Saturday venues demonstrates that a little wintry weather does not deter these outdoor-oriented folks, and for those with a keen birding eye it was noticeable that flocks of cedar waxwings are now criss-crossing the Holy City, one of the surest signs of Spring!

Lowcountry Branch of QDMA at Sporting Village

USFWS staffer with corn snake
To view past blog entries from 2013 SEWE click here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2013 SEWE Friday notes / Decoy Soiree

Julie Scardina shares a teachable moment with a volunteer
Conservation exhibit materials share wisdom
The first full day of the 2013 SE Wildlife Expo began with a special early bird viewing hour for VIP's at 9 a.m., with all of the venues and booths opening to the public at 10. Eager to see celebrity Julie Scardina and her animal display, a large crowd assembled at the John Street Music Hall for her 10:30 show which included an otter, penguins, a pelican and even an opossum! Crossing into nearby Marion Square just after 11, in time for the Birds of Prey flight display, the same story seemed to play out. One of the birds flies into a nearby perch and decides to hang out, while the staff keep an eagle eye out for the wild red-tailed hawks that seem to show up each year at SEWE. Of course, the wayward bird is eventually retrieved, and the show goes on, but the script is never the same! Educational booths in the tents at Marion Square share a message of conservation, something that SEWE is serious about promoting, since the love of wildlife and sporting art is derived from pristine natural surroundings which we can visit, touch, taste, smell and take away feelings of the bigger picture in life. As the sun set the place to be Friday evening is the Charleston Historical Society's soiree at the Aiken-Rhett House to celebrate their antique duck decoy display 'The Allure of the Decoy', said to be some of the best examples anywhere in the world. Many fine sportsmen were in attendance and it's only natural this time of year to compare notes from the field about past waterfowl seasons, and how to better pursue such endeavors in coming years.

A crested caracara at SEWE
Gordon Valentine and Dillard Salmons with decoys
To view past blog entries from the 2013 SEWE click here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

2013 SEWE Gala and Auction

Miss S.C. Ali Rogers welcomes SEWE patrons at the Gala

Mark Sanford and TV 2's Josh Marthers

Missouri artist Vivian Boswell with pileated woodpeckers

Elizabeth Holland, Jim Elliott and Eurasian eagle owl
A black tie gala at Charleston Place hotel helped to launch the 2013 Southeastern Widlife Expo. Live music, live auction and lively conversation concerning sporting art, all played a big role at the gala. Charlestonians welcomed artists and patrons from far away states, and sales were going briskly for individual artists. Birds of prey were on display, fins shotguns by Griffin and Howe too, and the 99 bottles of wine exhibit depicted wildlife-themed labels that are worth a closer look. Ali Rogers is Miss South Carolina for 2012 and she took the stage with two titans of SEWE, Jimmy Huggins and Neal Robinson, to kick the evening into high gear. Several candidates for the First Congressional district were in attendance, along with a bevy of state legislators. A packed house for the Gala demonstrates that even in their 31st year, SEWE is thriving and the three-day weekend is set to blossom under clear and cold weather conditions that are conducive to the outdoors crowd.

To view past blog entries from the 2012 SEWE Gala click here.
To view past blog entries from 2013 SEWE click here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Quail season hitting full stride

English setter on point and ready to hunt!

Small game season shines brightly in February, partly because it’s the only game in town. The final days of waterfowl season expired on February 1, and sportsmen can still hunt for squirrel, raccoon, rabbit and more during what is supposed to be our coldest winter month. Despite warm weather spells, February is also the crescendo of quail season, with bird dogs rounding into shape, and shotguns sounding off in the back woods.

To view the entire feature article click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about quail hunting click here.

2013 SEWE begins at Mills House Hotel

Brother Kim and sister artist Anne Bradford
Liam Duffy and Kathleen Anderson
The opening reception for the 2013 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is held at the Mills House Hotel in historic Charleston. Local artists anchor the exhibits at the Mills House and the benefactors that attended enjoyed viewing a wide range of art including furniture maker Landrum Tables, book author Pat Branning, brackish bowties, and even featured artist Pete Zaluzec stopped by. Wild game offerings was served along with SEWE label win, and plenty of canvas art featuring avian art in the Lowcountry was on display and for sale. Familiar faces are always a part of this merry crowd as the 31st SEWE kicks off another long weekend that brings together a huge collection of wildlife art that draws patrons from across the country to share their love of artwork depicting the natural world.

SEWE director John Powell with Nancy and Len Capel
Cindy and Dr. Louis Costa with red-tailed fox
To view past blog entries from SEWE at the Mills House click here.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Venison Recipe with The Sporting Chef

Venison recipe from the Sporting Chef Scott Leysath
Venison meal fit for an outdoor writer!

Fig-stuffed venison loin with balsamic reduction  (Serves four)

The ‘backstrap’ is a favorite cut of meat for venison lovers, and is great for stuffing.
Those who grind it into burger should lose their hunting license.

1 1/2 pounds venison loin, trimmed of silverskin
salt and pepper
1 cup fried figs, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
6 – 10 fresh sage leaves
butcher string
olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon blackberry preserves
1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water

  1. Lay the venison on a flat surface. With a sharp and thin-bladed knife, cut along the bottom third of the loin from one end to the other, but not all the way through. Done correctly, the loin will open up like a book with a ‘hinge’ in the middle. One side will be thicker than the other. Starting from the inside of the hinge, slice into the thicker side, leaving another hinge. When done, you should have three sections joined together by two hinges.
  2. Season the venison liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay it flat with the inside of the meat facing up. Arrange figs, bell pepper and sage over meat. Starting at one edge, roll the loin up while keeping the stuffing intact with your fingers. Tie the rolled loin securely with the butcher string (or secure seam with toothpicks).
  3. Place a thin layer of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once heated, add venison and brown evenly on all sides. Add vinegar, wine and preserves to pan. Remove venison from pan when cooked to desired doneness. Reduce liquid to about 1/4 cup, then whisk in cornstarch mixture until thickened and smooth.
  4. The Sporting Chef Scott Leysath visits Lowcountry
  5. Remove string from loin and slice into 1/2-inch thick medallions. Spoon sauce onto plates and arrange medallions over sauce.

To view past blog entries with cooking recipes click here.