Friday, January 31, 2014

Urban Adventure with Toyota Highlander in Charleston

The all new 2014 Highlander at Urban Adventure HQ
Test driving lunch at Poogan's Porch
Tasked with bringing out of town journalists to the Holy City during the winter blast of 2014, Toyota execs and public relations faced a significant challenge when the airport closed. With the headquarters for their Urban Adventure program at Market Pavillion hotel, they were able to weather the storm in style, rolling with the punches when travelers could neither fly into or out of Charleston. Our mission during the unveiling of the all new 2014 Toyota Highlander was to drive pre-ordained courses downtown and stop at local businesses along the way, similar to a scavenger hunt. My media group lost  a day of test driving when the roadways were too icy to allow anyone to cruise around in brand new Highlanders! Our fleet of vehicles even included the not-for-sale yet hybrid Highlander with three battery system. We had multiple meetings with the Toyota professionals who shared all their knowledge with us about the 2014 Highlander which is available at dealerships right now. The auto is bigger now, nearly three-inches longer and one-inch wider. The front end was widened and beefed up to appeal more to the male demographic. Higher end models now include features that include super-size moon roof, captain's chairs and cutting edge driving sensory tools. Points of interest we visited in Charleston included Market Pavillion Hotel, McCrady's, Poogan's Porch, Mac and Murphy, Sock and Charleston Cooks. Look for more information soon about the outdoor destination that I was able to drive to in the Highlander to better test the all-wheel drive on the 2014 Limited edition.

Eating Tilefish at The Long Room at McGrady's
To view past blog entries about Toyota USA click Tundra or Tacoma.

To view the Super Bowl TV commercial pairing the Muppets with the 2014 Toyota Highlander click here.

Urban Adventure colleagues and friends

Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Bear Island WMA duck hunt in ICE

Pretty pintails on display with trademark sprigs crossed

The end of waterfowl season included a memorable hunt for thirteen duck hunters lucky enough to be on the final hunt at Bear Island WMA on January 25. The cold winter and the polar vortex phenomenon brought plenty of ducks to the impoundments of Colleton County that are under the care of SCDNR’s Ross Catterton. The coldest night of the year so far added the challenge of icy conditions to the hunt, but waterfowlers are known for their persistence and often yearn for such sporting conditions.
Happy hunter with a rare limit on drake pintails - Thanks SCDNR!
It was seventeen degrees in Walterboro when it came time for the 4 a.m. departure to Bear Island, and the 5 a.m. safety meeting given by Catterton. The prior day’s weather had been cold and freezing temps were in effect by nightfall. A long night of freezing weather allowed for nearly the entire Bonny Hall Pond at Bear Island WMA to freeze up, making our paddle to the blind an invigorating one.
Breaking ice in order to put out a decoy spread tested the thickness of our waders and the muscles in our legs in a way that is rarely seen here in the Lowcountry. In December of 2010 I recall hunting ducks when it was 18-degrees and we faced similar challenges in regards to ice. As shooting time arrived shortly after a magnificent sunrise over the Edisto River, we were waiting in the duck blind watching helplessly as the ice began to reform in our decoys.
Ducks were flying around by this time and the first pair to notice our decoys pitched in and literally slid across the ice sheet briefly before breaking through into the water. This scenario provided us with a good laugh, but it was a sign that the weather would play a role during our hunt. At the far corner of the impoundment a raft of ducks had found open water and soon scores of other ducks began flying over our frozen position to join that flock.
Drake Wigeon duck for me too!
We enjoyed a limited amount of pass shooting but the take away from those early moments was the wonder of duck migration. Witnessing 5000 or so ducks pitch into the Wildlife Management Area makes one grateful for the work of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Clearly the natural resources of Colleton County are special, and citizens should make a point to support better funding for SCDNR so that the tradition of public duck hunts at Bear Island and elsewhere can continue with success.

On a side note, I have to mention that it takes roughly three consecutive years of applications to be drawn for an SCDNR waterfowl draw hunt. My hunting party, and most everyone else had been waiting three years to have access to the state-owned property for a hunt, and demand is only increasing. The SCDNR waterfowl advisory committee is aware of this trend and is working towards a solution, but for now hunters must practice patience in this process.
One of the reasons for the high demand is that SCDNR managed lands provide a high quality hunt experience with a chance for a mixed bag of ducks worthy of praise. Father Sully Johnston and 15-year old son Maddox were glad to be on the Bear Island hunt and came away with a great bag that included green-winged teal, gadwall and more. “We had a long trek to our blind through the ice but we had a lot of shooting early and easily picked up our 6-duck limits,” said Johnston. “As we were leaving the blind a little later we began to see a lot of pintails.”
Old School Waterfowler
In our frozen pond we decided to make a move and paddle our john boat through the ice in order to get closer to the ducks on our pond. It must have been about the same time that Johnston saw the majestic pintails arrive because it was soon that I harvested my limit of two bull sprig pintails, while my hunting partner took one pintail drake and one pintail hen. A drake widgeon and a mottled duck with a federal leg band added some real color to our mixed bag.
A mighty wind began to blow my mid-morning and we had to work hard to move the 14-foot john boat around to pick up our downed ducks and our decoys by the 10:30 hunt ending. The physicality required for this hunt that made it seem more real, or perhaps more earned. Being in the right place at the right time was literally a luck of the draw. But the icy conditions and pristine habitat served to illustrate a banner day in the field that will generate hunting stories for years to come, and helps to continue the heritage of hunting.

To view my feature story in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from Bear Island WMA click draw huntyouth duck hunt, birding and drop tine buck.

Friday, January 24, 2014

SEWE awards 2014 S.C. Jr. Duck Stamp Winners

2014 winner by Rose Holstein, age 14 of Mt. Pleasant
Canada goose artwork
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs the federal duck stamp program and the Junior duck stamp program each year to choose the conservation image that will help define each waterfowling season. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) and marketing director Mary Roberts are now heading up the South Carolina portion of the national Junior Duck Stamp competition! SCDNR remains a partner in this program, but the Charleston-based SEWE will now administer the contest and provide for all the winners to be displayed in in a special exhibit during February at the Wildlife Expo. Students from grades K - 12 can submit entries into four different age class categories. The S.C. 'Best of Show' will then be entered into the federal Junior Duck Stamp final competition. Art teachers at schools are an important part of this type program and Lowcountry Outdoors applauds the Junior Duck Stamp competition as a way to educate youths about our natural resources, and to better prepare them for the inspiration that one naturally derives from interacting with nature. For ALL of the contest winners on the SEWE website click here.

To view past blog entries from the Jr. Duck Stamp competition click 2013, 2012, 2011.

Shoveler or Spoonbill; AKA Hollywood Mallard
Blue-winged teal at sunning their wings

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fire Break Maintenance Pointers in Tideline Magazine

Page 41 in Tideline Magazine !

I was glad to contribute some fire break maintenance pointers in my feature article in the January / February issue of Tideline Magazine. The Post Season Tips for Hunt Club Chores also includes the subjects of deer herd management, deer stand relocation, road repair and trapping of predators. Pick up a free copy of Tideline to read the entire article.

While I was not present for the photo shoot, I am so glad to see
Scott Hammond, Connie Villacres and Kara Slick made it!!

Plowing firebreaks and the use of prescribed fire will keep woodlands not only healthy, but in a state that provides ease of use in future months. Ideally firebreaks should be plowed in fall ahead of any wet weather. Leaves, pine straw, limbs and other debris that filters in after that will require a second pass before any prescribed fire is set, but that final inspection will provide valuable knowledge about trouble spots where vegetation has grown thick. With the benefit of time land managers will learn through experience where woodlands fire likes to spread, but until then its best to keep a few things in mind. If young pine trees are at risk of damage next to a controlled burn area, simply double the width of the firebreak on that boundary. If trees or other cover won’t allow for the extra width right along the fire line, then get creative and disc a serpentine break as near as possible. One firebreak is all you need in the textbook sense, but this second line allows for those monitoring the fire to have just a few more minutes to catch up to and stop any wayward fire. If a redundant fire line hasn’t saved your bacon once already, then you haven’t set out enough prescribed fire.

To view past blog entries about prescribed fire click here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 Black Swamp Plantation Duck Hunt in the SRP

Mallards in the late January sunshine

With the end of duck season just a few days away, waterfowl hunters will be very active this weekend. The end of season duck hunt at Black Swamp Plantation in Robertville will bring together a large group of hunters to gun for released mallards, but also to eat afterwards and enjoy fellowship. Using up the last of your steel shot shells while picking up a limit of four mallards helps to end the season on a good note.
Manager Bill Mixon sends Bullet to retrieve a duck
This Jasper County property is under easement with Ducks Unlimited and it drains a large volume of water that is heading to the nearby Savannah River. Otherwise known as the focus area Savannah River Preserve or SRP. Owned by the timber consulting firm Wise Batten Inc. in Estill, the property is actually made up of several historic inland rice impoundments. These areas have since been converted into pine tree production and hardwoods, but Wise Batten is reclaiming these areas for the sake of duck hunting endeavors.
With nearly 200-acres of new ground fields that can be flooded, the loggers have been busy on Black Swamp in their quest to open up this niche in the flyway that welcomes wood ducks and teal to drop by. Stumps have to be removed prior to planting for waterfowl but manager Bill Mixon has a knack for setting the table in order to attract wildlife. For our hunt on January 17 we had a special guest from Beaufort in our midst. Brantley Harvey is a former Lt. Governor who enjoyed state politics during his law career. Harvey did not hunt, but rather he regaled us with his stories and brought young gun Kevin Dukes from his Harvey & Battey law firm to get in a duck blind. Slightly north of 80 years old, it’s always exciting to be around an octogenarian that will still rise early and take part in waterfowl rituals because of his love for the outdoors.
Breakfast at the Gathering Shed after the hunt
A full moon guided our footsteps as we walked to the duck blinds before sunrise, in the cold and clear conditions. Wood ducks were seen flying the treeline before shooting time, and when the first shots were fired it stirred up a bonanza of release mallards. Instructed not to take any low shots, a drake greenhead I knocked down wasn’t quite dead yet. Dukes questioned whether I could walk to the duck and retrieve him before he got away, but when I returned to the blind with my quarry I explained that I am at my best when in the field.
Traditions like any end of season duck hunt will tide us over until next season when we will eagerly anticipate the migrating ducks that have come South to meet us once again.

To read this eature story in the newspaper click Colletonian.

Hunt host Wise Batten and happy hunting friends

To view past blog entries from Black Swamp Plantation click 2013, 2012.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 1/21/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Stalking winter redfish in the shallows using stealth is a good game plan for success
Inshore Report: Shane Clevenger at the West Ashley location of The Charleston Angler wishes everyone to acknowledge that the New Year brings the best inshore fishing of the year! He shares that we all know that wind is key when it comes to spreading seeds, pollinating plants, and flying kites, but can we all agree that it serves no purpose on the water. That said, there’s nothing worse than white caps inshore but that’s what we had this past weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday brought us cool temps and bone chilling gusts in the 20mph range. Now, do these complex casting conditions keep you on the couch…OF COURSE NOT. You know why, because this is the time of year when the water is crystal clear and the redfish are ready! Now that water temps are in the mid to low 50’s we’re seeing these reds congregate in their massive wintertime schools. There’s not a prettier sight in the Lowcountry than seeing a couple hundred redfish pushing down a mud flat at low tide. When fishing these schools, the last thing you want to do is splash the pot by casting right in the center of the group. Instead, toss a Zman Minnow (darker colors work best this time of year) on an eighth ounce jig head just outside of the school and let the fish come to you. This way you can fight the fish off to the side instead of spooking all of his friends. Only a few more weeks of this cooler weather to deal with and it’ll start to warm up again. You won’t find many places in the U.S. that have an all year round fishery like we have right here in the Lowcountry. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at The Charleston Angler.

Scott Hammand at Haddrell's West Ashley reports that COLD water does not always equal a slow fishery here in the lowcountry! Late January provides a great time of year for the avid fly angler who likes to sneak up in the shallows to sight cast to schooling redfish. Those redfish push onto the shallow water mud flats on sunny days to warm themselves, since water temps there may be 4 or 5 degrees warmer since the dark mud absorbs the heat from sunlight. Conventional anglers can use mud minnows or Gulp 3-inch shrimp on spinning gear near those same shallows, and they might be surprised at how strong the bite is this time of year. A solid sheepshead bite is going on at the jetties, bridge pilings and nearshore reefs using live fiddlers and live shrimp, but even a freshly shucked oyster can serve to tempt the toothy sheepshead to chomp down on your hook. The trout begin to get lethargic when water temps hit the low 50's but they can still be found in deep holes at low tide casting and retrieving lures VERY SLOWLY. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: Scott adds that winds from the West have been howling lately, causing the fleet to sit in port. On days when the wind allows, a few anglers have been out bumping along the bottom for sea bass and triggerfish in 60 to 90-feet of water. Others are still high-speed trolling for wahoo along the ledge, with some HOO in the 60-pound class being caught. The wahoo fishery off the S.C. coast in winter is like the energizer bunny - it just keeps going ON and on and on and ON!!

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Warrior Tribute duck hunt in Santee Delta

Jeremy and Brian with a bunch of released mallards and woodies
Manager J.P. with Alex Quattlebaum after the hunt
The third annual Warrior Tribute duck hunt in the Santee Delta continues the celebration of U.S. military servicemen who wish to enjoy the outdoors as relief from stress and as a positive way forward in life. The Georgetown Chapter of Ducks Unlimited puts on the hunt and partners with the Patriot Hunts organization and Ken Barnard from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. DU's Brett Baker, James Meadows, Dan Ray and others respond by hosting the hunters on private properties (mostly under easement with DU) to feed, house and hunt the veterans. On Friday January 17 an oyster roast was held at Estherville Plantation for the dozen servicemen that made the three-hour trip South to the Santee Delta. A small crowd of DU volunteers including hunt support staff and plantation managers enjoyed outdoor fellowship in clear and cold conditions. Each visiting hunter was given a camo blind bag with essentials like a duck stamp and steel shot shells, plus the University of South Carolina donated a shirt, hat and more from their Wounded Warrior Program merchandise. Thanks to the Lumpkin family for once again hosting this important oyster roast that serves to break the ice with the honored guests, and where hunters are assigned to properties for lodging and hunting. Two such servicemen were dispatched to Arundel Plantation on the Pee Dee River and we drove 30-minutes with hunt host Alex Quattlebaum to the 1300-acre property that is under easement with Ducks Unlimited. Sitting around the fireplace that night we were able to visit with both of these warriors. Since they are 'Special Operators' there are strict rules about what I can share here, but Brian and Jeremy are both SFC's who are instructors at the special warfare center at Fort Bragg. With tours completed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Phillipines their war stories are real and tangible. The weather forecast for the morning hunt was a daunting '30/30' with 30-degree temps and a 30 m.p.h. wind, and were grateful that we would at least sleep warm that night. Manager J.P. met us at 6 a.m. and rode us to our duck blinds via golf cart putting Brian in the alpha blind since he was an experienced hunter and Jeremy in the next best blind. It was Quattlebaum that fired the first shot of the hunt at a sneaky wood duck, but soon Brian was knocking down every duck in sight as the bonanza of released mallards at Arundel began to flank his position. Jeremy wasn't connecting on his shots, but a shrewd move to change his location ended up paying dividends as he soon caught up in the harvest tally - including the only drake woodie of the hunt! Jeremy had stated the night before that he had never shot a wood duck and that he would mount a drake wood duck if he were fortunate to harvest one. In a nutshell, that's what this hunt is all about - saying thanks by giving these soldiers the options to do something they might not otherwise get to do. Being able to share my viewpoint with readers is heartening and it really is amazing what these Special Forces guys are made of and the contribution they make towards the nation's freedom is often below the radar. Cheers to them!
Visiting Warriors from Fort Bragg at the oyster roast

To view past blog entries about the Warrior Tribute hunt in the Santee Delta click 2012 or 2011.

Josh Waters and Alex Miller bookend this group of VIP's

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Barnsley Plantation Resort - Fine Spirits and Amenities

Service with a Smile at Woodlands Grill
The Spa is Open to Men and Women
Adairsville is located an hour north of Atlanta in the foothills of North Georgia. In the 1850's a 2000-acre plantation was carved out of this pristine area by Godfrey Barnsley. Historians record that the Barnsley Manor was the headquarters for Maj. General J.B. McPherson and that a skirmish with the 2nd Alabama cavalry occurred on May 18, 1864. The entire history of the property has been recorded in a book that is for sale at the now modern resort which offers first class amenities on site including golf, sporting clays, horseback trail riding and pond fishing. All lodging is provided in cabins and duplex style homes, so there are no hotel rooms. The apartments are nicely decorated and include features like a bear claw tub in each bathroom, and a wood burning hearth in each common area. If one needs firewood, ice or some other needs a quick phone call to guest services can get the ball rolling, or perhaps a visit to the small retail store in the Registration Office. This area of N. Georgia is remote, and that's the central point of the resort's charm, so that once you arrive you don't have to leave the property until check out. The cottages do not have kitchen areas but there are two restaurants available, including the Woodlands Grill which overlooks the golf course, lakes and piedmont setting. Breakfast includes items on a menu or visitors can choose the buffet option, one that includes omelette station and about fifteen more choices running the gamut from pancakes to fruits and pastries. Believe me when I say that this extensive buffet could challenge the appetite of an NFL lineman and for a more average person, this buffet is so filling that it makes lunch plans an afterthought. But maybe that is the plan at Barnsley so that guests can be outside enjoying the gardens and trails on the property during the day. Besides, dinner is going to close out the day and proper dress at the Woodlands Grill sets the mood for an upscale experience. We dined on filet mignon and lobster tail, and viewed more seafood on the menu than one would expect while in the mountains. The extensive wine list, including bottles in the $500 range requires some thought, but manager Bryan Walls helped us out by selecting wines by the glass. Walls also enlightened me that the proper spirits to enjoy while on site is the 'Private Selection' Barnsley Garden blend of Woodford Reserve whiskey, and I found this Kentucky offering to be a the type of intangible factor that makes returning to Barnsley Resort worthy of consideration.
To view past blog entries from Barnsley Resort click trail riding.
Coffee and custom omelette; So Good
To view past blog entries about hunting pheasant click Spring Bank.

Barnsley Garden's own whiskey blend

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ruddy Ducks and Ringnecks at FeatherHorn Farm

Trio of duck hunters ready at FeatherHorn Farm

The ranks of duck hunters looking to increase their chance of success by hunting in impoundments managed for waterfowl is increasing due to the popularity of Duck Dynasty. Sixty miles to the north of Walterboro, Clarendon County offers just such a property in FeatherHorn Farm with 200-acres of flooded corn and chufa. Owned by a wildlife biologist with a passion for waterfowl, this hunt club has a lot to offer.
Humble blogger and his three drake ringnecks
My visit to FeatherHorn to meet with owner Jimmy Lee began with a property tour, evening meal, included overnight accommodations and a morning duck hunt. Not all of the 1400-acres is contiguous, but rather the impoundments are located nearby and a quick trip in a convoy of trucks will brting duck hunters to their destination. Having a number of ponds helps to keep a regular rotation to prevent overshooting any one pond, and a new pond is already in the works for next year!

Drake ringneck and drake ruddy duck
A native of Summerton, Lee brings a compelling message of family tradition and returning to the home place he grew up hunting on, after a stint of more than ten years in Atlanta where his skills as a builder helped to bolster that metropolis. However, with the now infamous housing bubble, and a yearning in his heart to return to his roots, Lee moved his family to Summerton.

“That was two years ago, and now my family loves hanging around the farm,” said Lee. “But it would be crazy not to call this work.” Well removed from the separate challenges of planting season, Lee appreciates his hunters and strives to bring them an old school duck hunt experience. Lee and his guides work long days that include serving continental breakfast and coffee at 5:30 a.m., conducting a duck hunt, and getting the cabins ready for the next group coming in.
By 6:00 a.m. Lee and his top guides, Rip Sanchez, Ethan Wimberly and Juan Sanchez had our group of hunters heading for the duck pond. My end of the duck blind was tested first by a small band of five ringnecks that collapsed out of the sky and turned on a dime when I rose to shoot. I recorded two clean missed shots, but upon their return I was able to splash down the first drake ringneck of the day. The spent shells in the bottom of the duck blind were a testament to past duck hunts.
Jimmy Lee and his boykin retrieve a duck

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from FeatherHorn click here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Barnsley Plantation Resort - Ga. Horseback Trail Rides

Good weather and good company adds to any trail ride
Horses return to the barn at Barnsley Plantation
The landholdings assembled by Godfrey Barnsley before the Civil War are still intact today and known as Barnsley Plantation Resort. Amenities abound on the 2000-acre property such as a golf course, hiking trails, fishing lakes, sporting clays course - all of which offer easy access whether by foot or perhaps via golf cart. Hidden behind the ruins of the Barnsley Manor, across the secret fishing pond where I once wet a line, lies the horse barn constructed of nostalgic hand-hewn logs that date to 1840. Climbing into the saddle allows guests a different perspective as they traverse the resort property sitting about 16 hands high. This trail ride took place under sunny morning skies with temperatures in the 30's where a jacket feels good but the chill is still refreshing. Trail ride boss Bet Ramsay led us straight up a large N. Georgia foothill that saw us crossing two creeks and traversing red clay that was riddled with rocks, but our equestrian friends knew the route well. Once atop the hill we were afforded a view of the resort, golf course and lakes that is only available during winter when the leaves are off of the trees. It seems that each season offers a different reason for a trail ride with the spring green colors, and of course the maple red colorations in fall. Trail rides can be customized to fit one's desires, including having a picnic at some remote location, and there is a special trail used for wedding proposals, but one of our horses lost its footing shortly before the turnoff for that one. As an adult I can relate that the trail ride is fun, but the largest draw for these rides are that they provide great family fun, and we saw a family of four getting set for a ride when we returned to the barn. There are still a few outdoor activities that can be considered good clean fun and a trail ride where someone else is handling the tack, clean-up and care for the horses is most definitely one of them.
View of the Manor ruins as seen from horseback

To view more about horseback trail rides click Barnsley Plantation.

To view past blog entries about hunting pheasant at Spring Bank Plantation click here.

Crossing a mountain stream in style

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Spring Bank Plantation Pheasant Hunt - Photos

A Four Rooster Pheasant Flush for this humble hunter with Caesar Guerini shotgun
Manager Lyle McClure uses a 4X4 to pick up birds
The Continental Pheasant Hunt at Spring Bank Plantation in Adairsville, Georgia went off without a hitch thanks to property manager Lyle McClure. Fortunate to be on the plantation for a quail hunt a day earlier, I could see that preparations were already underway. McClure was lining up retrieving dogs to fetch the birds downed by wingshooters, since they must stay at their shooting stations during the hunt for the sake of safety. Spring Bank has an affiliation with Ceasar Guerini Italian shotguns and McClure was kind to loan me a 12-gauge over and under CG to utilize during the hunt. A storm front had passed by that morning, and the hunt conditions by 2 p.m. were excellent. A brisk breeze seemed to have an effect on the pheasants as they took flight and my first three shooting stations were upwind and thus not very productive. However, my shooting partner Willis Willey from Memphis, Tennessee was an accomplished waterfowler and we enjoyed visiting about our shared passion for ducks, and my sweetie Elizabeth Holland was right behind me to make photos or offer support after a missed shot. We witnessed a lot of pheasants flying high and some of those flew out of the hunt zone and into safety. On the second station I cut down a pheasant that was inbetween our station and the next, and the other station had been shooting as well. It appeared that my pheasant load had hit the target and after the safety horn I visited with the gunners next door, and I appreciated their candor saying that they had already spent their four shots before I fired that fateful shot. Two stations later a hen pheasant overflew the ring of hunters but made a mistake when it set wings and came back towards the hunting ground in order to set down, resulting in my one good clean shot of the day. Again, the downwind stations were seeing most of the shooting and that is why the rotation rule is in effect, but that does not guarantee that everyone will see equal shooting. All around the shooting stations we witnessed excellent retriever work and expressed gratitude for the dog handlers that gave of their time so that we could enjoy the shoot, and of course their dogs looked awfully pleased to be in on the action as well. Their rolling hills terrain is well suited to this style of hunt, but it can take a toll on ankles, knees and even equipment, since we had an ATV and a Suburban break down once in the field. Again, McClure did not bat an eye, and we were all back at the barn before sundown and the guides cleaned the pheasants for us to take home.
A pheasant I downed that was retrieved nearby

To learn more about the Continental Pheasant hunt visit the Internet at Spring Bank.

Click to view past blog entries about hunting pheasant and hungarian partridge.

This happy couple worked two dogs to retrieve birds

Monday, January 13, 2014

Spring Bank Plantation Pheasant Hunt - Info

Proper dress by Braeval, DuBarry, Orvis and Le Chameau;
Jeff Dennis, Willis Willey and Perry Taylor
Pheasant brace at the Spring Bank outpost
A Continental Pheasant hunt was conducted at Spring Bank Plantation in Adarisville, Georgia on Saturday January 11, after a nearly two-inch deluge of rain fell during a rare January thunderstorm. The rumble of thunder and the downpour of rain could be heard beginning around 1 a.m. and lasted until nearly 10:30 that morning, before the sever weather front passed and the skies began to clear. With a 2 p.m. start time the pheasant hunters felt fortunate that they would take aim at the pheasants under sunny and breezy conditions. A dress code and double-guns were part of the invitation issued by hunt organizer Perry Taylor to 24 able gunners. Two-men per station stand behind two large hay bales downhill of the release location on top of a knoll in the quail hunting course at the 2200-acre Spring Bank Plantation. The hunters rotate thought twelve stations to ensure equal chances for all parties, with safety ensured by a loud siren sounding off at the beginning and ending of each shooting session. Broomstraw engulfed the shooting area with tall pines surrounding the field, situated among the rolling hills of North Georgia. The January 2014 edition of Gray's Sporting Journal lists Spring Bank Plantation among its best bets.

2014 Gray's Sporting Journal listing
To learn more about the Continental Pheasant hunt visit the Internet at Spring Bank.

Click to view past blog entries about hunting pheasant and hungarian partridge.

Enthusiastic pheasant hunters take to the field

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quail Feathers Fly at FeatherHorn Farm

Ethan Wimberly, Jimmy Lee and Rip Lambert with quail
Duke on point for Jimmy Lee
Somewhere north of Summerton, but in the shadow of Rimini is FeatherHorn Farm. This 1400-acre property is a hunting club that helps outdoorsmen with access to great hunting. Founded on the traditions of hunting with family and friends the name FeatherHorn speaks to the primary species of gamebirds and whitetail deer. Mr. Jimmy Lee is the owner of FeatherHorn Farm and he is a wildlife biologist. "First and foremost we are stewards of this land and know that hard work will increase the opportunities to pursue and harvest the game that we love and cherish," said Lee. A weekday afternoon invitation to come for a quail hunt had my hunting party on the property by 2 p.m. on an sunny afternoon that was sandwiched by two nights of freezing temperatures - giving us ideal upland hunt conditions. A trio of bird dogs patrolled the dove field and did find a covey of quail for us, but not before the birds escaped into a thick cover. Two dogs and Lee all but disappeared from view and my gun safety stayed on since there would be little chance for any quail to leave that stronghold. Quail 1 and Hunters 0. We loaded up the THING II jeep and headed to another field of broomstraw that is bordered by young pines and light briar thickets. This time the bird dogs had the quail hemmed up and Lee directed me to walk ahead of the pointed dogs in order to shoot the flush. Late in the day the sun had begun to hang low on the horizon and sure enough two quail rose and flew in a line that had me swing my gun looking into the sun. My first shot was errant, but I regained my vision enough that the second shot dropped the trailing bird. BINGO. Lee followed up by making another connection on the subsequent flush, and the guides bag was soon bulging with game birds. We hit more than we missed, and under a time constraint, we came away with a feeling of accomplishment - not to mention we had supper in hand. Thanks to Duke the English Setter for showing the way that afternoon. FeatherHorn Farm has their own kennel and keeps finished dogs, started dogs and is always on the lookout for the young dogs that will be on point in future season. If you like quail hunting and appreciate bird dogs and the labor of love associated with them, you will enjoy the company of Mr. Jimmy Lee and his passion for the heritage of sporting dogs.
Jimmy Lee and I in the late afternoon sun

To view past blog entries about quail hunting click here.
Deer and Ducks on the FeatherHorn Logo

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 S.C. Waterfowl Stamp portrays history and religion

S. C. Duck Stamp with State Dog Boykin Spaniel with Black Duck wearing Jack Miner band

Ducks and religion may have become “quacked up” on the A and E channel, but they mix well in South Carolina, especially considering the 2013 S.C. duck stamp depiction of a Jack Miner band one with a message from scripture. A duck’s migration history is revealed only when it carries a leg band, also known among hunters as jewelry. The 2013-14 S.C. duck stamp portrays the first ever recovery of a Jack Miner duck band, something so rare that 99 percent of hunters will never see one.
There is something special about duck hunting the late season dates of January. The allure of harvesting a duck that comes from Canada or some far off place makes the 5 a.m. alarm easier to heed. Waterfowlers scout and plan with a religious zeal long before the hunting date arrives. The chief ink-stained wretch and his outdoor correspondent are in the hunt this month with a Bear Island WMA drawn hunt. The SCDNR public duck hunts often offer a high quality opportunity for many sportsmen to have a proper hunt experience.
Waterfowl hunting in S.C. is an old game, and stories concerning Jack Miner relay just how interesting the waterfowl world was more than 100 years ago. In 1904 this Kingsville, Ontario resident managed his family property as a migratory waterfowl refuge. Then in 1909 he pioneered the banding of migratory waterfowl, a new concept that was proven as valid when an S.C. duck hunter harvested the first duck with a Jack Miner band.
That band was on a migratory black duck that traveled from Canada to Anderson County where history shows that a Dr. Bray reported the band in January of 1910. Amazingly, this waterfowl tagging and data recovery success led to greater awareness about duck migration, paving the way for the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 between Canada and the United States. The Miner bands inspired the popular waterfowl banding program administered today, which has been expanded into the banding of all sorts of winged creatures. 

While Jack Miner bands are still being employed by his Foundation today, they are much more rare than federal leg bands. From the onset the Jack Miner bands were inscribed with a short Bible verse due to his strong religious beliefs. Some examples from these bands include “Be not afraid, Only Believe” from Mark 5:36, “Behold I come Quickly” from Revelations 22:7, “God is our Refuge” from Psalms 46:1, and “Ye Must Obey God” from Acts 5:29.
Given the firestorm of controversy on social media regarding Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty show related to stating one’s religious beliefs, it could be said that Jack Miner pioneered the pairing of religion and waterfowl. Jack Miner passed away in 1944 and a record of his tagging efforts and of his Biblical verse choices may be found on the at
To view the entire feature story in the newspaper click on Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about hunting ducks click here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Grand American and Youth Coon Hunt dates

Southern Belle celebrates at the 2014 Grand American 

The 49th annual Grand American took place over the weekend at the Orangeburg County fairgrounds. Rain on Thursday gave way to cold conditions for the night hunts on Friday and Saturday. The United Kennel Club and American Cooner magazine team up with local coon hunting clubs to run this competition. Besting over 340 dogs entered, the 2014 Grand American Champion is ‘Southern Belle’ owned by Adam Mattson of Aiken.
 Mattson is glad to share that he has a partner named Chalmers Carr for their dog, Nite Champion Fogles Southern Belle. “Winning the Grand American is something I have always wanted to do,” said Mattson. “We are very proud of Southern Belle. She is a five-year old Red Tick coon hound.” Southern Belle was the only coon hound that committed no mistakes during the Saturday night ‘playoff’ hunt.

To view past blog entries for the Grand American click on 2013, 20122011 and 2010.

Youth Coon Hunt Schedule:
A youth coon hunt will be held on Saturday January 11 in Bowman. The hunt is sponsored by the Orangeburg County Coon Hunters Association. For more info on this AKC youth hunt contact Allen Shuler at 843-533-1370.
A youth coon hunt will be held in Ridgeville on Saturday February 1. The hunt is sponsored by the Summerville Coon Hunters Association. For more info on this hunt with limited entries contact Ed Kimmons at 843-619-5265.
A youth coon hunt will be held in Barnwell on Saturday February 8. The hunt is sponsored by the Salkehatchie Coon Hunters Association. For more info on this hunt with limited entries contact Dallas Zorn at 843-671-2359.

To view this article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 1/7/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Michael Wolf of Savanna CCA with a winter redfish
Charleston Inshore: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West forecasts that these record cold nights will drop the water temps in the harbor down into the lower 50's. It's too soon to tell if this is a bad thing though, since it may motivate the redfish to school up on shallow tidal flats where they offer easier access for anglers armed with mud minnows and Gulp shrimp. Sheepshead are turning on with the recent arrival of the 'arctic vortex' and anglers can always bundle up like a Polar Bear in order to access them. Fiddlers have been luring the sheepies from 2 to 10-pounds to bite and the flood of good reports underscores that deep-water structure is the place to be. Trout reports have tapered off just a bit lately, but decent numbers of specks were being found in 6 to 10-feet of water while working finesse baits such as Trout Tricks, Zman Streakz and the always faithful live shrimp fished under a slip float. For the latest in seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Beaufort Inshore: Craig Lupton at Buck, Bass and Beyond reports that the trout bite has slowed up a bit  due to cold rains and arctic temps, but there are still some smaller specks biting, but maybe a few less keepers. Try fishing the usual live baits, jigs and shrimp imitations around some docks especially the ones that reach out into the deeper water. Start shallow and work near the grass and fish all the way to the floating docks. Another technique is to put a white buck tail jig with a live minnow or mullet strip, and pitch it to each and every piling letting the bait free fall to the bottom then work it slowly back to the boat. This is also a great way to catch flounder. The Trout Trick with an 1/8th oz. round head jig is deadly pitched under docks letting it sink; then lift and repeat all the way back to the boat. Black Drum are biting good using cut bait on a Carolina rig in the deeper holes and near structure, and the sheepshead bite has been excellent lately. Use fiddler crabs on a light wire long shank J hook with as little weight as you can afford or go with a small live shrimp fished on the same rig. Fish any submerged trees, pilings, seawalls and floating docks which are covered with crustaceans. Some people scrape some barnacles off of the structure they're fishing to chum the fish up also a bag full of crushed oysters works well. Redfish are on the mud flats schooled up and soft plastics like a Zman Paddlerz, Zman holographic shrimp and Gulp shrimp in natural colors work well. Rig them on a 1/16th oz. Owner twistlock hook, which is perfect for a stealthy presentation, which is key to flats fishing success when the red drum are schooled up. Boat positioning is keyand you have to stay clear of the school but within casting distance. Determine which direction the fish are heading and present your bait ahead of the school. Cast, leave bait in position and wait until the fish are close, then twitch the bait. If that does not attract a bite start swimming the bait back to the boat. For more store info visit Buck, Bass N Beyond.

Nearshore: The near shore wrecks and reefs are still producing black sea bass, weakfish, flounder and sheepshead.. Use mud minnows on Carolina rigs for the flounder, weakfish and sea bass. Usually the sea bass will eat anything and everything before you can get near any other fish.

Offshore Report: Scott relays that solid bottom fishing reports keep coming in when the wind will lay down. The colder weather is the best part of the report since it decreases the distance needed to run to get on some quality fish. From 60 to 90-feet of water anglers are finding beeliners, black sea bass and triggerfish and they are scarfing down squid, cigar minnows, and an assortment of jigs too. Only a few boats are offshore these days but high-speed trolling reveals that the wahoo are still out there hanging around in water 150 to 300-feet deep. Some blackfin tuna are mixed in, and some anglers like to try kite fishing when targeting these tuna.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.