Saturday, March 30, 2013

Turkey with double-beard gobbles once; Veteran hunter shoots once

Jay Cantrell with his trophy tom from 3/29
Jay Cantrell at his SCDNR day job
Turkey hunts can reveal many different paths to both glory and disappointment. Good fortune comes if the turkey hunter is even in the vicinity of a male turkey, and then fate follows up with the frequency of his gobbling activity. Woods wise hunters know that gobbling activity comes in peaks and valleys, and that there is no blanket coverage that all the birds in on area will gobble on the same days. In Hampton County on March 29 day broke with a cold 32-degrees, but the winds were calm, and a three-day warming trend almost assured the best gobbling of the young 2013 season. Speaking with several veteran hunters at noon time, some reported gobblers 'tearing down the woods' with repetitive gobbling, while others heard very little noise. A younger bird may be more prone to gobble readily, and thus may be easier to harvest. An older bird, with trophy characteristics, will be less likely to announce his every step and thus becomes much more elusive. Jay Cantrell with the SCDNR
Cantrell also serves as short order cook some days
is having a banner turkey season, having already dispatched an Oceola turkey down in Florida, and then he sets up on 3/29 on a Lowcountry plantation, not knowing he was about to cross paths with a trophy tom. Cantrell reports that the bird was quiet in the roost at dawn, but that he heard some turkeys fly down, and he called lightly towards them. He reports the boss tom giving one gobble, and then shutting up. Nervous minutes ticked by as Cantrell scratched the leaf litter around him, which is a tried and true method to calm nearby turkeys without making any more turkey calls. The beautiful and majestic tom came into view and Cantrell was ready with a load of turkey shot - One gobble, One shot! The bird weighed 21-pounds, and sported a double-beard of 10-inches and 6-inches respectively, and carried 1.25-inch spurs. Good work!

To view past blog entries about turkey hunting success click here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Husband and wife tag team two gobblers

Bruce and Rhonda Compton on 3/27/13
1.5-inch spurs found on the BIG BOSS TOM
The COLD and BLUSTERY winds of March 25 and 26 abated for just enough on Wednesday morning the 27th for hopeful turkey hunters to go afield. The second week of the 2013 wild turkey season has been a frigid one with sunrise temps right around freezing for five straight days - C'mon Spring! Don't forget that the area saw 4.2-inches of rain and flash flooding over the weekend to further bolster the width and depths of Lowcountry swamps. Leave it to Bruce Compton and his wife Rhonda to get out on a Wednesday morning in order to practice their mantra of Hunt Hard but Hunt Safe. By 10:30 a.m. they had slayed a pair of thunder chickens and completed a rare husband and wife turkey slam. Compton reports no gobbling activity while the birds were still in their roost trees, but by 8:30 the toms on the ground started to fire up as the sun rose higher and took the chill off the ground. Moving from their original set up location, Bruce Compton was able to harvest his bird before 9 a.m. and the tale of the tape reveals a 1.5-inch set of spurs! Woo Daddy, that would put a bunch of gamecocks to shame, not to mention a pack of two-year old toms. His bird weighed 20-pounds and sported a 10-inch bird and came from Bamberg County. It was Rhonda's turn next when she called in a fooled a boss gobbler at 10:30 a.m. that weighed 19-pounds, sported a 10-inch beard and had 1.25-inch spurs. Son B.J. Compton was at work messaging with Lowcountry Outdoors about how all the turkeys at the hunt club would be cleaned out by his parents before he could go hunting again this weekend! Not too many folks can say that about their folks, so B.J. is in a unique position and I know he cherishes them very much. Bruce Compton is a moderator on SCoutdoornews and is a volunteer for the Take One Make One program.

To view past blog entires about early season turkey hunting success click here.

Rhonda Compton is ready to fire

A stealthy hunter on pine tree slays the turkey

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crosby store still making hunting memories

Crosby family building as it appears in 2013
Wood Duck taxidermy inside the old store
The Colleton suburb of Mashawville, just south of the county seat of Walterboro, has always been a travel corridor involving Charleston and Savannah. This story involves former Mashawville resident and carpenter Herman H. Crosby Sr. and his life after World War II. First drafted when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Sergeant Crosby was stationed in Europe until the end of the war. Upon returning to the Lowcountry, Crosby decided to start a small business similar to a country store, and he used his family land to log and mill the pine and cypress trees to construct the store building in 1945. Despite a decent business, opportunity knocked for Crosby in 1949 when the local game warden position became open, and despite some duress about night hunting at that time, Crosby accepted the challenge. Let the record show that the night hunting was addressed by the game warden in record fashion and that he went on to pass a love for the outdoors along to his sons, including one son going on to follow in his footsteps as a game warden. In 2006, local realtor Miles Crosby secured ownership of the building his father had constructed, and he hired a moving company to transport it back from Highway 64 and deeper onto the family property where he now resides. The building now serves as a meeting place for the Crosby family and members of the Crosby Brothers hunt club. The hunting memorabilia and decorum inside makes it a natural gathering place before or after any hunt next door at the club where Miles serves as huntmaster. Sitting on the porch of the old building, and glancing across the freshly burned pines over to the duck pond, I can see how the wooden building is going to be central to serving up more family memories.

Cypress paddles and heart pine flooring
Herman Crosby Sr. served in WWII and as an S.C. Game Warden
To view the rest of my feature article click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about Colleton County family history click here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sustainable Seafood at Pink House in Savannah

Crispy scored flounder is flaky and tasty
Historic home now serves Savannah as a favorite restaurant
The Olde Pink House Restaurant, located in historic Savannah on Abercorn Street, was built in 1771 as the private residence for the Habersham Family. Known for the fresh coastal seafood they serve, it was good fortune that brought me for a culinary visit. Our server informed us that we were dining in what had been the master bedroom of the house, which was in immaculate condition complete with a gas fireplace. The full bouquet of the 2010 Kaiken Ultra Malbec wine from Mendoza, Argentina also helped to ward off the chill from a wet weekend. As a Charlestonian, it was my duty to taste the she crab soup, and I can report it to be both creamy and salty. A server offered finely grated pepper and sherry to suit the taste of each customer, and I accepted the sherry which mingled perfectly with the chunks of crab in my bowl. An appetizer of shrimp with county ham served on a cheddar cheese grit cake was delicious. The signature dish is a crispy scored flounder with apricot shallot sauce served with geechie boy grits and collard greens. The flash fried fish meat flaked out by the forkful at each scored section, and the sauce reminded me of a sweet and sour taste. Don't forget that flounder has meat on both sides of the fish, making this is a large portion plate. Flounder is a sustainable seafood in the South and the flatfish preparation at the Pink House is a 'score' and almost as exciting as a slam dunk during March madness. Finally, locals recommend the sea scallops smothered in herb butter, mashed potatoes and green beans. The scallops were browned and not blackened and they ate with the tenderness that should be expected with these jumbo and sustainable seafood medallions. This historic building also served as a bank around 1821, but diners can still 'bank' on good service, tasty food and a fine all-around experience at the Olde Pink House.
Sustainable sea scallops, greens and starch

Our server granted a wish for our photo with Mr. Habersham's horse

To view past blog entires about sustainable seafood click here.

To view a blog entry about the Planters Inn, a historic inn of Savannah, click here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Historic Savannah and Planters Inn report

Savannah City Hall on 3/23/13

A portion of Savannah that rivals the Holy City of Charleston
Savannah's cable stayed bridge along the river
Thanks to the Planters Inn on Abercorn Street
 The spring season is a good time to visit Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia. Timing and location mean a lot and this visit takes place just days AFTER the St. Patrick's Day madness, and nearly at the peak of the azalea bloom. Flocks of cedar waxwings fluttering around live oaks without any leaves was another sure sign that the coastal plain was springing forward. Despite a dreary forecast the sun did manage to shine for more than half the weekend, helping patrons of the Savannah Music Festival beat the odds while attending folk and jazz concerts or modern dance at the Lucas Theatre on Abercorn Street. Located right around the corner from the theatre along Reynolds Square is the Planters Inn of Savannah, which is also an easy walk from famed River Street. Each day includes a continental breakfast and a wine and cheese social, with bellmen on duty 24/7 to assist with valet parking or room service. Hotel management made the visitors from the Holy City feel welcome in what is being billed as the haunted city. Savannah offers a wide array of haunted house tours, haunted pub crawls and one outfit even offers tours in the back of a black hearse! If ghoulish tricks are not for you, I can recommend some good clean fun to be found at The City Market, Forsythe Park and places like the Ships of The Sea Museum. Downtown Savannah is  planned out on a grid with more than twenty community squares which offer outdoor opportunities for their more artsy citizens to perform, and we saw examples like a dance squad, horn players, guitar pickers and more. It's been said that Southern living is easy, and as Savannah moves into the summer tourist season I can see that many will seek out the city for their amenable climate and kinship with coastal living. Those who enjoy the Lowcountry outdoors may try to visit nearby Tybee Island beach for a maritime experience or the Savannah Wildlife Refuge for birding along the marshes of the Savannah River. 

To view past blog entries about travel destinations click here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Southern Girls Got Game TV films in Lowcountry

Danielle Worthen, Taylor Hopkins and Debbie Le Gette with SG3
Julian Ohmer with Disabled Outfitters and his SG3 gal pals
The Disabled Outfiiters organization run by Jeff and Julian Ohmer of Colleton County is known for the deer hunt they conduct each fall. New for 2013 they expanded the hunting menu for wheelchair bound sportsmen to include a wild turkey hunt. Ohmer is active in the outdoors industry and enlisted some turkey guides from a band of female role models with a brand new TV show titled Southern Girls Got Game. The turkey hunt in Williams took place the morning of March 16 but without any hunters completing the harvest of a wild turkey. Friday afternoon brought plenty of excitement however as the Southern Girls Got Game crew, or SG3, arrived at hunt camp. These gals are based in South Carolina, and are proficient with Dead End Turkey Calls, but they needed some time to scout the woods they would be hunting, and to set up ground blinds for the disabled hunters. What could be more exciting than having a female turkey guide in your blind? I first met the one of the five SG3 gals at the 2012 Hank Parker Invitational for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes fundraiser. Danielle Worthen, age 13, was fired up to be shooting a round of sporting clays with Parker and a few of his celebrity friends like NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough, Nashville singer Rachel Holder and NFL kicker Ryan Succup. Worthen professed that she was giving up on her 9-year dance career to made her fame in the outdoors industry. When Danielle Worthen and I met again at the 2013 Hank Parker Invitational she had delivered on her promise to become a television star. She introduced me to her younger co-star Taylor Hopkins, and Debbie Le Gette who is a graduate of Clemson. Worthen’s father followed their every move with a video camera filming the Hank Parker event to air on a future episode of SG3. All three gals were polite and possess the talent to appeal to other outdoors-minded women who watch their show. And when it comes to the Lowcountry outdoors, I have no doubt that Southern Girls Got Game!

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

To view past blog entires about outdoors filming in the Lowcountry click here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 Early Season Tactics for Wild Turkeys

Good fortune is a dividend after prescribed fire
This gobbler weighed around 18-pounds and carried a 10-inch beard
With persistent cold fronts, weather observers are witnessing a bit of a double-standard concerning the onset of spring. Flowers such as azaleas are almost at full bloom along the coastal plain, yet leaves have yet to push out on hardwood trees in the swamps that were flooded with the record rains in February. Turkey hunters notice all such trends and pre-seaon observations with flocks of turkeys still together, which is a late-in-winter pattern, is still the norm rather than having separated into distinct groups of males and females. What this means to the average turkey hunter during the opening week of the season is that any plan for success calls for dealing with multiple birds, and using maximum concealment to combat the excellent eyesight of that many turkeys. My own opening week success story involves calling to the hens, in order to draw them close enough so that the gobblers will be 'dragged' into gun range. Some expert advice from Scott Hammond is to repeat the sounds that the lead hen makes in order to get her attention and perhaps her ire - whatever it takes to get them CLOSER. Of course, when shooting into a flock of turkeys, marksmanship and sportsmanship can play a role. PATIENCE must rule the day until a clean and clear shot at a gobbler is presented. If that shot does not develop, then simply keep the gun on safety and wait for a different result to develop next time. Battling a flock of turkeys reveals interactions within the flock that nature observers can cherish just as much as a trophy beard and spurs. Taken altogether, this type hunt will have hunters counting their blessings that they were able to witness one of the best big game spectacles available in the Lowcountry outdoors.
One inch spurs and my handy turkey tote cord

Fine china and the big game it depicts

To view past stories about turkey hunting success click here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 3/19/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
A happy customer with sheepshead and tag from Capt. Mike Waller
Charleston Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West says potential for a bountiful spring of trout fishing is coming true with customers reporting specks in the 20 to 22-inch range, which could be a sign of back-to-back mild winters. Catch numbers average 10 to 15 specks per trip and live shrimp or Trout Tricks have been the ticket lately. Redfish continue to be found in good numbers on the shallow low tide flats, and during the last new moon high tides some anglers even reported redfish tailing. Cut mullet, live minnows, Zman paddlerz and Live Target baits from Scott's store have been working over the reds. Sheepshead in the 2 to 6-pound range are still plentiful around bridges and rock piles using fiddlers and live shrimp. The nearshore reefs have started to take off with sheepshead and black drum reports, with live fiddlers being the no fail bait option. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point. AND for those keeping track, Scott has harvested two turkeys thus far into the spring season - Congrats!!

Bart Manley at the Summerville location of The Charleston Angler reports that water temps are increasing into the high 50's and that redfish are beginning to react to the warming trend. Their schools and pods should start breaking up, and bait like mud minnows and Zman minnowz in bad shad coloration are already working well. The trout are liking Trout Tricks lure rigged on a 1/8-ounce jighead and DOA shrimp. Also, the sheepshead bite is good using clams and fiddler crabs. For all the latest seminar infomation visit the Internet at The Charleston Angler.

Hilton Head Report: Josh Boyles at Southern Drawl Outfitters reports that the redfishing has picked up after a couple of pitiful weeks. The reds are coming out of their winter time coma just a bit, but Lowcountry Outdoors tried the nearby Beaufort River on Monday and struck out! Fish mud minnows and Gulp swimming mullets for redfish. The sheepshead have been biting great but Josh relays that with the persistent cold fronts it has been a challenge to get fiddler crabs for bait, so his customers are going with Good Ole' Lowcountry Oysters on the hook!! Boyles is on the board for the HHI wahoo shootout with a 62.5-pound HOO caught on 3/18 in what he identified as a 'wad' of wahoo. For more store information visit the Internet at Southern Drawl.

Offshore Report: Bart says to concentrate around structure for blackfin tuna. If anglers are looking for mahi, push offshore around the temperature breaks in the Gulfstream. Troll different color lures until you unlock which one is working that day. Use purple and black or red and black for targeting wahoo. Remember to let extra line out on your long riggers and your center riggers because the tuna can be very boat shy.

WAAAHHHHOOOOOO! Scott says to fire up the grill, because the pelagics that yield nice wahoo steaks are hanging out in 150 to 250-feet of water, just waiting for a ride back to the docks. Despite a chill in the air yet, reports of 2 to 7 Hoo's per trip creates plenty of action to warm up anglers. Another report has blackfin tuna at the Georgetown Hole / SouthWest Banks area, with their size in the 15 to 20-pound range. Troll smaller baits WAY back off your outriggers for best success with these blackfin tuna. Spinning outfits and topwater plugs will come in handy if a school of blackfin begin busting at the surface, which can produce some electrifying action!

To view past Lowcountry saltwater fishing reports click here.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Report Swallow-Tailed Kite Sightings

Swallow-tailed kite soaring on St. Patrick's Day, 2013
Spring is the time when the black and white raptors known as Swallow-Tailed Kites are most visible in our area as they move up from Florida. South Carolina is in the upper reaches of their breeding range, but since Lowcountry habitat is favorable to them their population trend is on the increase. The Center for Birds of Prey in Charleston is managing a Citizen Science Project that rely's on input from the public about sightings of the bird. Their long, scissor-like tail is what sets them apart from other birds and they can be a barometer for the health of surrounding bottomland hardwoods and grasslands since they won't frequent any areas that don't provide adequate nesting and foraging zones. One dividend of spending time in the turkey woods is the observation of the natural world, and so far in 2013 I have observed this raptor for three days soaring over recently burned pines associated with agriculture fields and a creek with hardwood bottomlands.

To view past blog entries about the Swallow-Tailed Kite click here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Attention - Turkey Season begins in the Lowcountry

A turkey harvest from 2012

Pre-season scouting is now complete, with wild turkey hunting season beginning at dawn on March 15 – be there or be square. Although March came in like a lamb, cooler temperatures have continued, which bodes well for hunting in March. With a wet month of February, mosquitoes will be present with warmer weather. Insects and migratory songbirds are just part of the sights and sounds of spring, which are punctuated by the strutting and gobbling of wild turkeys. With the cooler temperatures, it seems that the larger flocks of turkeys have yet to break up. With the onset of mating season the gobblers will break off into bachelor groups. For instance, during the mild winter of 2012, this automatic split up and ranking of the top gobblers and hens was already underway. Until the flocks disperse, hunters can expect to see multiple turkeys when hunting, including jakes, hens and gobblers. Making memories of positive experiences in the turkey woods is what it’s all about and one favorite story involves roosting three gobblers before the opening day of the 2004 season. Those three longbeards decided to roost in the trees right alongside me, and I ended up face down in the dirt and throwing a sufficient number of fallen leaves over me to blend in until I could execute a stealthy escape from the woods at HARD dark. My father and I harvested an opening day gobbler that year, but the heart-pounding close call on the eve of that season is the sporting memory that sticks with me.

To read the rest of this feature article click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about hunting wild turkeys click here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Madness and Wild Turkey Season

Tom Anderson, Curt Hall and Jeff Dennis
The elusive wild turkey gobbler
Each spring elements of the natural world heed the call to mate and thus continue to live wild. The male turkey puts on a display that is part vocalization and part puffing of feathers. This display can have an effect on sportsman, creating a spike of desire to be outdoors, like a Geiger counter arm swinging towards meltdown. This madness involves chasing big game by using both mental powers and woodsmanship to fool forlorn gobblers. With the February of 2013 being one of the wettest on record, it’s a safe bet that rivers and swamps will be full of water on the March 15 opening day of turkey season. This is good news for those who know from past experience where turkeys like to roost over these flooded haunts. Meaning that when the turkeys fly down in the morning, a hunter positioned on high ground near the roost will be executing a full court press. For some, turkey season is the ultimate pursuit here in the Lowcountry where we must balance the blessings of both woods and waters. Turkey hunting can become a life long passion and on the final day of the 2012 season I was fortunate to be in the turkey woods with Curt Hall. This gent is 90-years old and still on the hunt for wild turkeys, often with his son Chip Hall at Plantation Services. May we all have such fortune when it comes to hunting and longevity!

To view more of my feature article on March Madness for turkeys click Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about turkey hunting click here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Prescribed Fire in March

Signage on a paved road alerts passersby
Wind can be used to keep woods smoke off roads
Well only 11 days after receiving 11 inches of rain in February, the woods are burning well again when prescribed fire is applied. Each year brings new lessons to fire managers, and the timing of rain can make a big difference. In 2013, the rains fell as the Lowcountry outdoors are heading into spring, which seems to speed up the drying process. How? With a combination of sunshine, March winds and trees drawing sap from the ground for new foliage. Sure there might be low spots where the fire does not burn hot, but the flames can 'walk' around any such roadblocks. A constant breeze, staying steady in its direction, can also help fire managers to run the fire through the woodlands. This type breeze also aids in keeping woods smoke off of nearby paved roads, which is called smoke management. Needless to say, there was not much controlled burning in February, but the good news is that the woods are burning well in March and its not to late to set the prescribed fires that are so beneficial for wildlife and our native ecosystem in general, which evolved over eons with fire as an important component.
A regular regime of fire over years is desirable

To view past blog entries about prescribed fire click here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 Salkehatchie Longbeards banquet

Cease Family from Hampton volunteer at the banquet

Guy Harvey's LOG JAM print on the live auction

Turkeys gobble and fly down at dawn

Jimmy Fitt's catering crew
With the anticipation of wild turkey season building to a fever pitch, the Salkehatchie Longbeards of Walterboro held their 15th annual NWTF conservation banquet on March 9. The National Guard armory was packed with patrons, waiting to dine on Jimmy Fitts catering and to watch NWTF's Mike Hofstatter conduct the raffles and auctions that will raise money for wildlife habitat. Chapter leaders Rusty Kinard and Rhonda Bailey worked with others to line up a record 117 sponsor members, which was recognized with a chapter excellence award. Of all the sponsors, there are but two diamond life sponsors, so special regards go to Scott Crosby and James Piper. Attendees were able to sign up for conservation seed incentives to plant on their own lands, when the fields dry out after a soggy month of February. Sitting at my table were others I knew to be deer hunters and dove hunters first, but they will make some time in the spring to chase a gobbler, before getting the food plots ready for next fall. Sculpture, furniture and artwork were prevalent on the live auction and was glad to partner with Guy Harvey Inc. to donate a framed and signed limited edition print to help raise funds for conservation. Special auction items included a dove hunt at a renowned farm in Western Colleton County, a youth duck hunt, a youth turkey hunt, and a plantation quail hunt. After the eating and the bidding was complete, everyone was one step closer towards the elation that accompanies the March 15th opening day of turkey season in the Lowcountry Outdoors.

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 Professional Outdoor Media visit Columbia, S.C.

Jim Zumbo in S.C. at POMA with Jeff Dennis

Heather Stegner and Whitney Tawney from Ducks Unlimited

The annual member conference for the Professional Outdoor Media Association, or POMA, came to Columbia on March 7 - 9. This meeting draws media pros from across the U.S. to South Carolina in 2013, as they rotate through different states every year. Why do outdoor media gather indoors for a conference? Those present are ready to accept the challenge to produce quality content focused on the outdoors and the positive message that our outdoor heritage conveys to so many Americans. POMA President Tammy Sapp of Aiken has brought together a dynamic staff of speakers to address topics like digital photography, video, TV, social media, and professional image styling. Conference sponsors will share information about their products including optics, camo, cookware and much more. The S.C. tourism folks have done a good job of welcoming these media pros to the Palmetto State, and they will make stories about their outdoor experiences here and carry them back to the readers in their home state, and on their websites. Thanks to all the conservation groups that turned up to support these outdoor media.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2013 S.C. State Duck Calling Contest

Blake Hodge, winner Ed Paul and Mark Prudhomme

Cody Singleton, winner Benjamin Biddle and Jonah Brown
The South Carolina state duck calling contest is held at the end of winter in Georgetown during the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival. Contest organizer Mark Ackerman of Cottageville brings a panel of judges with him, and contestants from around the Palmetto State assemble for the one day competition. A trio of duck calling experts rounded out the top three spots in 2013, with Ed Paul from SCWA taking the top spot. Some duck calling enthusiasts come to compete in the state contest simply to check it off their bucket list. While others like Ed Paul dare to claim the first place prize, which sends them on to Stuttgart, Arkansas for the National Calling Contest. Paul, now 27,  is no stranger to higher competition, having competed in and won the Junior National Contest title back in 1999. Ed Paul blows a Force competition call made by Big Lake Duck Calls in Elloree. It was ironic that Big Lake callmaker Hugh McLaurin was also in the finals of the state duck contest, but finished in fourth place. “I am so happy that Ed will be blowing a Big Lake duck call in Stuttgart,” said McLaurin. “The national contest is at Thanksgiving every year, so he will have lots of time to practice his competition routine.” Finishing in second place was Mark Prudhomme of Georgetown, and third place went to Blake Hodge from Lancaster, with the Wrecking CrewThe junior state duck calling contest for youths age 15 and under is also run by Ackerman. At the end of the competition it was 10-year old Benjamin Biddle of Conway who took home the first place trophy, earning a trip to Stuttgart. In second place was Jonah Brown, and in third place was Cody Singleton, both from nearby Conway, South Carolina

To view my feature article on the 2013 state duck calling contest click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about the S.C. state duck calling contest click here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 3/6/2013

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Charlie Beadon on the Lucky Hooker with Capt. Jason DuBose
Charleston Inshore Report: Bart Manley at the Summerville location of The Charleston Angler was a busy man on March 2, with the 13th annual Spring Fling day at his store, and then attending the Fly Fish Film Tour that night! He told me that water temps are back down in the lower 50's due to the recent cold and wet weather. Redfish are therefore in the large schools that earn them the nickname 'channel bass' by locals who chase them all year round. A stealthy angler can find success though and Bart recommends the 4-inch Z-man in Smoky Shad if not opting to fish with live mud minnows under a cork. Fly fishermen have an advantage now, since their casts make a softer presentation to the sluggish reds. Getting it close makes a difference and smaller, darker patterns seem to be working well. I hope that someone is out filming our channel bass for a future showing in the F3T! Trout can still be caught, but not in any large numbers since the cold has slowed them down. With spring on the horizon, the fish will tend to react with vigor with each warm snap, so anglers should watch for three-day warming trends. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West reports that is has been a rainy and windy cycle. A couple of clear fishing days brought some good fish reports through his doors. Large schools of reds can be found on the flats, with a few intrepid reds gravitating towards docks and rock piles. Cut mullet is the go to bait right now, but try artificials like Chatterbaits and Gulp flats worms. The real surprise was some flounder being caught right at the first of March! Good-sized trout are being found in 5 to 10-feet of water using Trout Tricks and Zman Paddlerz at creek mouths and shellrakes. Sheepshead reports have been somewhat hit-and-miss lately with the best action coming in 8 to 20-feet of water using live shrimp and fiddlers. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Josh Boyles at Southern Drawl Outfitters in Hilton Head shares that his guys that battle the wind and rain are catching some redfish and sheepshead. But it seems like when the wind stops, it rains, and then when the sun comes out it's blowing a gale. The S.C. Wahoo Series Tournament is underway for the south Lowcountry, and consists of two-fishing days in March and then two shoot-out days to decide a winner in April. For more details and store info visit the Internet at Southern Drawl.

Offshore Fishing: Scott says that the bluewater rigs parked in local driveways are about to come out of hibernation. SOLID reports of wahoo are here now in as little as 130 to 140-feet of water. Yep, that's close! Water temps around the ledge and just inside it have been hanging around 68 to 69-degrees, which is just warm enough to hold wahoo, and the sustainable seafood that anglers love to feast on. The nearshore reefs are yielding black drum and sheepshead for those willing to battle through the armada of black sea bass, which are still off limits. A lot of false albacore are over live bottom areas from 60 to 120-feet of water, and they offer a sporting fight on light tackle.

Bart reports that not many boats are venturing out these days, with wahoo being the main target. Trolling with Ilander lures rigged with ballyhoo is the mainstay combo. Anywhere along the way, a chance to hook up with false albacore can appear, which calls for light tackle to tangle with what Bart calls silver 'speed demons.'

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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wild Game Cook Off for Smith Endowment

Family and friends work together towards this endeavor

Custom paddle on the live auction

One wild game cooking team at the benefit
Quail hunting at Maxfield from the live auction
Miss Calista Lynn Smith's birthday is February 22, and with her passing into heaven in 2012, an educational endowment fund has been established. The inaugural fundraiser for the endowment was held on February 23 in the form of a wild game cook off at the Odum farm in western Colleton County. Family and friends of the Crosby / Smith family gathered for a silent and live auction despite a rainy end of a wet month. Congressional candidate Teddy Turner was on hand to lend support. A private jet ride to watch the Braves in Atlanta, and a skeet shot at Kinloch Plantation were on the auction. Plenty of hunting and fishing trips were sold, and the SCBT cooking team was judged to have the best wild game offerings - largely on the accolades of their venison tenderloin, that was soaked in secret ingredients! This will be an annual event until the first scholarship is awarded in 2017 for a Colleton County student heading to college. Lowcountry Outdoors would like to share this tribute from Mark Odum about Miss Smith.

To view past blog entries with wild game recipes click here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

2013 Winyah Bay Heritage Festival

2013 Event poster

Break Time for Palmetto Gun Dogs

Dock Dogs is always a fun event

Flintlocks by gunmaker Bob Hill
The 6th annual Winyah Bay Festival in Georgetown celebrates the outdoor heritage that has alwasy been associated with the area. From Winyah Bay to the Santee Delta, the lands in Georgetown County remain a sportsman's paradise, especially for fishing and duck hunting. The two-day event runs on Saturday and Sunday, with the finals of the dock dogs competition on Sunday afternoon. Cold weather always seems to be in the mix for the Winyah Bay festival, which makes the coffee and chicken bog served up for lunch all that much better. Outside vendors were selling camo dog beds, custom wooden handle fishing rods, and classic sporting firearms. Inside, the exhibitors included turkey call maker John Taner, duck call maker R'N'T, and many talented decoy carvers. Tideline Outfitters served up varied oystaflage accessories and Carol Leuder offered  fine finishings for the sporting cabin or home. Always a good time to catch up with friends about the past hunting season, and unfortunately about the lack of waterfowl found in the Palmetto state this past year - which has become a disturbing trend. New to the festival this year was a retrieving dog demonstration both days from Palmetto Gun Dogs, with H.B. Marshall of Camden and Alan Wooten Jr. of Rembert in town with their favorite labs. With a birds of prey photo op and a youth duck calling clinic put on by Hugh McLaurin of Big Lake duck calls, there was plenty of entertainment for a boatload of lads all dressed in camo.

To view past blog entries from the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival click here.