Monday, March 31, 2014

Talkin' Turkey in Georgia's Goin' South

Click for more on this
double-bearded gobbler
Spring 2014 issue
There sure is a lot of talk associated with the spring turkey season. Turkey season opened in Georgia on March 22, and I was fortunate to hunt at Spring Bank Plantation. The Lowcountry's Game Zone 6 season began on March 15, when I attended a special youth turkey hunt. And the rest of S.C. is set to hunt on April 1 - and that's No Joke! Also, the state WMA properties that are open for public turkey hunting will be open for the month of April. Strutting toms and an increase in gobbling activity are all a part of the first two weeks in April, producing more opportunities for sportsmen in both states to get a taste of the REAL March Madness.

To view past blog entries about Georgia's Goin' South click 2013, 2012 or 2011.

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Bahamas Billfish Championship - New Fishing Format and President

Big blue marlin at the transom during the 2013 BBC

After completing its 40th season of competitive billfishing in 2013, the Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC) continues to evolve. The 2014 series will consist of four tournaments equally spread across the months of May and June, with each event focusing on the renowned fishing grounds of the Abacos.

New tourney President and director Jennifer Dudas has been with the BBC for 21 years already, and should bring a steady hand to their long term tradition of quality. “First I want to thank Al Behrendt for producing the Bahamas Billfish Championship for the past 20 years,” said Dudas. “The first-hand knowledge I learned from him, plus my own passion for offshore fishing, will give me the tools to take the BBC to the next level.”

“We will begin a slight format change in 2014 with a reduction in fishing days,” said Dudas. “We will discontinue the practice of a lay day, where competitors choose which day to stay in port during the BBC. So now everyone will be fishing for three days in a row, which will streamline our tournament.” This move also gives businessmen who typically own these sportfishers another day in the office to work.

Second Place at the 2013 BBC goes to Blue Sy from S.C.
One such angler is Greg Smith of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina who will travel to fish in the Bahamas Billfish Challenge opener at Guana Cay on May 7. “We fished this same tournament in 2013 and had a blast,” said Smith, who owns a 56-foot Viking named Blue Sky. “We ended up taking second place and doing pretty well in the calcutta, but the intangibles are what made us decide to come back in 2014.”

The tournament schedule for each event begins with a Captain’s meeting on Wednesday night, followed by three days fishing from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. An awards banquet on Saturday night will recognize the top anglers and serve to round out the tournament scene that anglers, their families and tourists will take part in. The 2014 dates begin in Guana Cay on May 7 – 10, and upon completion of the four events the overall winners will be recognized at the final Saturday awards banquet on June 21.

To view the feature article in the April issue click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about fishing on the Blue Sky click here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Elco Cruisette Still Generates Nautical Memories

My image of the Annalee is on the cover of the March issue

The Electric Launch Company, later shortened to Elco yachts, was in operation from 1893 to 1949 building classic wooden boats. They are known for their handsome interior woodwork and handsome lines. Stepping onto an Elco does provide a tangible connection to boating’s history and makes for a head-turning boat ride too.
Vintage Voyages is a boutique business in Beaufort, S.C. using the Elco for sunset cruises, wedding occasions and more. “We specialize in intimate cruising experiences with between two and six people,” said Mare Deckard. “We used to live on Lake Norman near Charlotte, N.C. and loved to sail and powerboat. Then we moved to Beaufort in 1999 so that my husband could run a charter fishing business.”
Captain Tim Deckard pilots the Elco when she is chartered and Mare rides along for each cruise as well. “In order for the Captain to remain focused while at the helm, I will take care of all the service duties while underway,” said Mare Deckard. “This includes photography, cleaning afterwards or perhaps decorating the boat for a special occasion. I especially love to dress up the yacht with wedding bells and white lace when we are providing one of our bridal deliveries.”
A couple enjoys the Elco Cruisette at sunset
With a max speed of 10-knots after repowering with an electric motor, the Annalee is willing to travel around Beaufort to provide dock-to-dock custom cruises, but they are not suited for long trips. “This is a unique vessel and we are very hands on with her,” said Captain Tim. “She has had only five owners in her history and we only found a handful of companies that offer any insurance for this type of craft.”
So what type of experiences can one order up while in Beaufort? How about a sunset cruise under the Dock and Dine model, where the Annalee goes to a restaurant that brings the food to the boat. A small table on the aft is the perfect place to enjoy a meal or maybe even a sunset cocktail. The Annalee does not serve alcohol, but spirits can be brought aboard by approved caterers and restaurants, or customers may bring their own bottle. The Annalee is open-air so dress accordingly for the temperature on the water.
To view the feature article in its entirety click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries on Tall Ships click on Spirit of Carolina - 2009 Charleston Harborfest

To view past blog entries about classic wooden boats click GraceAphrodite - Osprey -WindyHinckley

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Bank Plantation - Opening Day Turkey Hunt

Turkey Rock overlooks the Cave Field
Mature gobbler with longbeard and snood

The terrain in the foothills of North Georgia is quite different from the Lowcountry and so are the turkey hunting tactics. The pre-planning for the March 22 opening day hunt for wild turkey at Spring Bank Plantation included prescribed fire and lots of scouting. Wet weather may have hampered the start to the S.C. turkey season, but the Georgia forecast for longbeard success was more reliable.
Spring Bank Manager Lyle McClure and Guide Rusty Gwin
Visiting Spring Bank Plantation in Bartow County I spoke with manager Lyle McClure the afternoon before our hunt. The Georgia Forestry Commission was on site and the quail woods were on fire according to the property’s management plan. “We have plenty of turkey hunts booked for our season which runs until May 15,” said McClure. “I expect the turkeys will move from the north end of our 1800-acres over into this burned section before too long.”
“It will be daylight here about 7:20 tomorrow, and I’ll have you meet your guide at 6:30 at the clubhouse,” said McClure. “Rusty Gwin and I go way back in terms of turkey hunting and you’ll be in good hands with him.” I could only agree since he had been my guide for a Spring Bank quail hunt on a previous visit. Rusty Gwin is a full-time firefighter for Bartow County and is a hunting guide on his days off. When Gwin broke out his smart phone and showed me a topographical map of the hunting area and pinpointed that we would begin by setting up on a nearby hilltop, I knew I was in for something completely different.
“I roosted a gobbler yesterday evening and he is past the hilltop, so we will set up there and call to him,” said Gwin. “A turkey in this area prefers to use the advantage of height to leverage his keen eyesight, and this is one of the first tactics I learned while turkey hunting with Lyle’s father as a youth.” Despite a near silent ascent of the hilltop and a picturesque set up, that roosted tom gobbled once and left the area quickly that morning. Gwin and I both knew that we were now entering Plan B territory.
At daybreak we had heard another tom articulate a triple gobble from his roost tree when the vocalizations from a flock of Canada geese caused him to shock gobble.

Georgia Forestry Comm. on station at Spring Bank Plantation
 With no leaves on the hardwoods due to winter, and with the gobbler at the same level on the adjacent hillside, this added dimension of topography increases the challenge in the chess match between turkey and hunter when learning these foothills. Moving on to the next hilltop in pursuit of our prize, we soon bumped a full strut tom that scurried off over the ridge upon seeing us. Only a quiet confidence kept our spirits up after this second disappointing encounter with a gobbler.
Continuing on to the crest of the hilltop, Gwin used his Redhead optics to glass the Cave Field roughly 80-yards below our position. He told me to set up on a nearby tree since he spied a flock of hens, and used his Woodhaven mouth call for a series of yelps. A gobbler answered quickly and began coming towards our position, with Gwin spotting him first and instructing me to be ready. Going in and out of full strut during his approach, the tom hung up at 25-paces. At 8:37 a.m. I closed the deal on my first Georgia turkey hunt, and the gobbler weighed 20-pounds and sported a nine-inch beard.
To view this feature article in the newspaper click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from Spring Bank Plantation click for quail or pheasant.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Barnsley Plantation Resort - Sporting Clays Course and Amenities

Enjoy the outdoors and shoot a few shells
Skip is the on site Sporting Clays Pro and Caesar Guerini dealer
One simply cannot exhaust all of the outdoor options when visiting Barnsley Plantation Resort, and a glaring example was my absence from the sporting clays course. The expansive 2000-acre property allows for the course to be located far enough from your lodging that you need a car to travel to it, but not so far that you can't hear the gunshots which is why the resort has a strict noise ordinance policy. After checking in at the Shooting Sports clubhouse at the resort, I had a driving map in hand and a clear understanding abut what to expect. A golf cart with a key in it would be waiting, but I should bring my own water and someone to operate the clay target machines during shooting. A twelve-station clays course is set up in a heavily wooded area where only one path exists for golf carts or personal UTV's. The shooting stations were framed up well, defining the limits of any gun barrel swing through, and lots of broken targets were on the ground showing about where to break them. We saw true pairs, report pairs and plenty of crossing targets that totaled up to a 100-shot round. One of the dividends of having a resort property with elbow room is the amount of wildlife that exists there, and despite our shooting we saw six white-tailed deer while on the clays course! Later in the day we had a chance to explore some walking trails that led to the Barnsley cemetary, and we had a chance encounter with the resort's Fairy Godmother. What's that you say? Denise Webb is a wonderful soul who is on hand to simply help out with special requests for families and guests. When we crossed paths she was literally in the middle of a scavenger hunt for youths. We exchanged pleasantries and moved on, but such an encounter at Barnsley is good fortune, and I later received a special yet anonymous note that reeked of the FGM. For dinner we chose the historic Rice House setting, and while the dining room is an addition, the actual house was built in 1854. It was moved to the resort property 140 years later in 1994, but anyone familiar with these structures know that they were built to last. Dinner began with great wine service, allowing us to taste some house wines like the Migration Pinot Noir until we were able to decide on the Stag's Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon. I began with a succulent South Carolina fried boneless quail served on grits and collards, and then dined on a North Carolina flounder with green french lentils, rainbow chard and a tasty reduction. Seafood dominates the menu including shrimp, scallops and cod but a steak dinner and even a vegan plate can also be ordered. The Rice House is the sort of place where you want to linger for dinner, and perhaps enjoy a discussion about the wonderful history of the South, a history that is not forgotten in Adairsville.

Breaking clay targets is fun, but challenging

There are lots of amenities to choose from

To view past blog entries from Barnsley Plantation Resort click here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

White Wing Label - Camo Gun Case and No Leak Soft Side Cooler

New White Wing Label shotgun case, blends right in with my
old Herter's down coat and 10X dove vest
Road trip boots and shotgun case in Highlander
Whether traveling for work, or just taking care of business at home, those of us who appreciate the outdoors want quality gear that is good looking too. White Wing Label bags out of Texas came across my radar at a local trade show and I came to know about their Made in the U.S.A. mantra. Two brothers created this merchandise label, and learned along the way about the perseverance it takes to succeed. For use in the field they sell a game belt, pistol case, dog collar and more but I started with a shotgun case. There is nothing regular about this case made with handy and attractive leather handles, including one zipper pocket for a hunting license. The dimensions are 52-inches long by 7-inches wide and it holds my Wingmaster shotgun perfectly. I chose the vintage duck camo pattern with smoke trim, and customers can pick a variety of cloth and trim colors for the gun case and for all of the White Wing Label products.

My old Orvis battenkill briefcase may need replacing one day, but for now I decided to go with what they simply call a 'Cooler.' You can stop right there, and let me add that his is simply the finest looking soft side cooler
White Wing Label cooler bag in tow at Barnsley Plantation Resort
I have encountered, and it comes with your last name embossed in leather on the top of the bag. My cooler is in forest color with smoke trim and furthermore, this is the first soft-side cooler I have owned that DOES NOT LEAK. Using a thick cut of 22-ounce vinyl as a liner it handled my demands for three consecutive days, and it did it with no sweat. As I emptied the melted ice each day to replenish the supply on my wild turkey meat, I simply emptied the cooler by turning it to the side. If the water contents are bloody, you want to take care not to spill it on the exterior of the cooler. Also, when storing after use, the thick liner has some folds in it that need to be blotted and then air-dried. It looks like their wine tote might be the perfect companion for the cooler, and a leather key fob with your initials embossed on it looks sharp. Don't overlook the high-quality products of White Wing Label, because Texas isn't too far to go when looking for the 'right stuff.'

I found that the breast meat from my Gerogia turkey,
fit perfectly in the soft side cooler that DID NOT LEAK

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Highlander tackles trip to Rocky Top Tennessee

Highlander at World's Fair Sunsphere
Tennessee loves their Volunteers !
Keen for a return trip  to view the mountain escarpments of Eastern Tennessee, I elected to drive a 2014 Toyota Highlander up to Rocky Top. This late March visit for the Professional Outdoor Media meeting was only my second time in Knoxville. The first visit came in 1998 when I witnessed an SEC football game to remember between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium, set along side the Holston River. The Volunteers victory that day assured that we heard 100 roaring renditions of the song Rocky Top that night! Staying downtown near the World's Fair Sunsphere for this trip, it was easy to look towards the river and view the top of the football stadium as it towers over the city and reminisce. Leaving South Carolina the weather was cold and misty enough to where I needed to run the windshield wipers on the intermitent setting all the way until I crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains, where blue skies returned. The totally redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander has some features that came in handy like the heated seat and heated steering wheel features that I utilized. Once on the Saluda Grade stretch of I-26 in North Carolina I was nearly tempted to stop in at the Orchard Inn for some home made scones, but decided to press on. The 18-wheeler trucks stack up on the higher gradient roadways, leaving the sole passing lane to navigate, but the intuitive driver safety system of the Highlander signals to the driver when a vehicle is in the proverbial 'blind spot' so that an unwarranted lane change is not conducted. While the tech and spec talk could continue on, in laymans' terms I drove the Highlander in tight turns up and down the mountains and passed truck after truck in an effort to reach Knoxville in time for my meetings. The Highlander spirited me to Rocky Top safely and the satellite radio kept my foot tapping along, except for going through the tunnel on I-40 heading into Tennessee. The fuel economy was worth noting as well on my 3.5-Liter V6 engine, with twenty-one miles per gallon coming from my 16-gallon fuel tank. To watch a fun 30-second video with the Muppets and the 204 Highlander click here.
Highlander visits The Hill at University of Tennessee

To view a past blog entry about Highlander in the Lowcountry click here.
First visit to Neyland Stadium since 1998

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 Professional Outdoor Media visit Knoxville, Tennessee

Video: Knoxville is a great for a meeting about the outdoors
Josh Wolfe, POMA Exec Laurie Lee Dovey and Mitch Strobl
I got the Hook Up at POMA Camps!
The annual member conference foe the Professional Outdoor Media Association, or POMA, came to Knoxville in late March. The good folks in Tennessee made these outdoor enthusiasts feel very welcome and shared the message that they place a high emphasis on the quality of their outdoor areas. We visited a nature center near Knoxville that provides education of birds of the woodlands, including a duo of ivory-billed woodpeckers preserved via taxidermy. The POMA conference included two days of meetings at the Knoxville Convention Center, located next to the World's Fair Park. Many of the leading companies from the outdoor industries sent representatives to meet with the writers, videographers and bloggers that provide content offered up for public consumption. A distinguished group of editors held multiple panel discussions with POMA members about how best to navigate the perils of publishing. Attention to grammar and proper writing style will never go out of style as we enter into an age of TXT MSGS. One session asked if Mobile devices is the new future of the Internet, and the answer is a resounding yes. In 2014 it is predicted that half of all Internet traffic will be from mobile devices including tablets. The POMA staff works hard to make sure that the conference speakers address these cutting edge conundrums so that members will be at the vanguard of new media. At the same time, special consideration is given to our senior members during one social hour where these 'greybeards' are invited to take the microphone and tell one entertaining stories from their career in the outdoors. Another night includes the Pinnacle writing awards and a live and silent auction that is the biggest fundraiser of the year. POMA Chairperson Tammy Sapp was able to take home two of the coveted awards in 2014 and it is worth noting that POMA will visit her home town of Springfield, Missouri for the 2015 conference.
Welcoming QDMA newbie Hank Forester to POMA

To read past blog entries about the Professional Outdoor Media click here.
Ivory-Billed Woodpecker taxidermy

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 FCA in S.C. and the Shooting Sports

FCA shooting team with youth shooters and observers

On March 12 the Fellowship of Christian Athletes held the third annual Hank Parker Invitational Shoot. The Foothills Coordinator for FCA is Alan Welch and the event is held on the S.C. / N.C. border near Charlotte in order to draw Christians from both Carolinas. The fundraising is directed towards the unique purpose of Christian outreach into schools, exposing students to God’s plan and the fun derived from the outdoors.
ACTION awaits at the FLURRY station - Notice FIVE targets in the air !
Hank Parker is a well known fishing celebrity, having won the Bassmaster Classic twice and now producing two popular TV shows. Parker has a strong Christian faith that led him to be the title sponsor for this FCA event, and he witnesses to the crowd after lunch about how the tribulations of his immediate family shaped him. His message about the slippery footing in life is powerful, especially where it concerns today’s youth.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a national organization and celebrates 60 years of existence this year. Since 1954, FCA has been challenging coaches and athletes to utilize the powerful vehicle of sports to impact the world in the name of Jesus Christ. This outreach is already practiced in high school, college and professional sports, and FCA in South Carolina wants to continue to recognize team sports as important, but also to introduce outdoor options such as the shooting sports.
B-Ball's Phil Ford, FCA' s Alan Welch, and Michell Hicks
Shooting a shotgun at clay targets is good clean fun, and several rounds of sporting clays were shot on March 12. Several students were in attendance with their teacher and I was fortunate to be a part of this shooting team. The high school male made the breaking of the targets look easy, while the female needed more coaching about how to put one’s chin against the gun stock for better accuracy.

I guarantee that they both had an excellent experience and will tell their friends about it, and another young lady came along simply to observe our activities. No doubt she will pick a shotgun and shoot when she is ready, but this is a perfect example of how some positive exposure to shooting may be the first step towards her taking a long term commitment to the outdoor sports.

“FCA can help save children in the school system from mistakes, simply by sharing the hope provided by Jesus Christ,” said Hank Parker. “I am not 99-percent committed to this, rather I am ALL IN. We are challenged to give our all to God since he gave his all to us. Spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing any of us can do.” 

Hutch Eckerson shoots clays for FCA 
Other celebrities attend the Hank Parker Shoot to help bolster the FCA message, and NFL kicker and former Gamecock Ryan Succop is one of those leaders. Succop tells how his days at Carolina transitioned easily to joining the Kansas City Chiefs since he was involved with FCA at both locations. Succop told me that their Super Bowl run ended one game too early this year, but that he is excited for future competition. Succop brought Hutch Eckerson to the shoot this year, an ex-Chiefs teammate and former Gamecock, and we hope he will bring the Lombardi trophy with him next year!

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

To view past blog entries from the FCA Hank Parker Invitational click 2014 or 2013 or 2012

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 3/18/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Humorous wooden sign found outdoors at a fishing pier - Isn't this always the way!

Inshore: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West shares that Spring is starting to kick into gear and we the fish are starting to show signs of transition as well. Redfish are beginning to slowly break out of the large winter schools and beginning to spread out amongst the lowcountry estuaries as the water temps continue to climb. Trout have begun to show back up in a little bit of shallower water from 5-8ft, with numerous reports of 20+” fish being caught. Surprisingly enough, we have even seen some pictures of a few flounder being caught in the past week….just another sure sign that spring has finally started to descend on the Lowcountry. Fort all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Ed. Note: Special Congrats to Scott Hammond for tagging a boss gobbler on opening day when most were unable to do so due to winter weather holding out. He told me that his three weeks of continuous scouting made the difference on opening day, and while the tom was in  full strut, he was not saying much. Cast and Blast enthusiasts can rest easy that warmer weather lies ahead - good for turkeys and redfish!

Speaking of redfish, here is a nifty recipe from the Coastal Conservation Association: Redfish Sliders.

Offshore: Scott relays that early season trolling reports usually mean two main-stay species being targeted: Wahoo and Blackfin Tuna. While only scattered reports of blackfin have been coming in, the wahoo bite has really begun to take off along the ledge with reports 2 to 8-fish days.  Try high speed trolling to cover more territory in order to locate the fish. Bottom fishing continues to produce some very large sea bass in 60 to 100-feet of water, and the nearshore reefs are still producing some decent reports on the sheepshead and black drum, that is when you can get a bait past the sea bass!

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Fur, Fish, Game Magazine - Dixieland Bob and NBCI

Beautiful Cover Art - and Timely Too, 
for the March 2014 edition

Like turkey hunting, quail hunters get to walk across the land as they go, and this reveals so much about the natural world to the observant outdoorsman. While I love to sit in a tree stand and wait for deer to appear, and I cherish time spent in a duck blind, they cannot match the feeling of physical exertion that comes with an ambulatory quail hunt in the Southern pines. You carry your gun, your game bags gets heavy with each added quail, and yet with each hunt your stamina builds to a level where the hunt routine becomes easier and easier.           
With an English Setter now five years old and in his prime, and pine woods that have been thinned, burned and sprayed to at least emulate quail woods, the best days may yet lie ahead. During the summer mowing season a return of bobwhite quail calls came from many different directions including the pine woods, the back of the pasture and even in the neighbor’s yard. If the bobwhite is poised to make a comeback, then others and myself are taking the management steps to steward them during their recovery journey.
I am waxing poetic about the positive news as it concerns,
Gentleman Bob
The 2013 State of the Bobwhite report by the NBCI announces that S.C. will begin a new plan in 2014 aimed at broader quail population recovery in the Palmetto State. These landscape-scale projects are important to identifying quail strongholds. “We’ve formally established these NBCI focal points based on the analysis of bobwhite habitat potential,” said Billy Dukes. “We’ll use public lands as anchors for the focal areas and build the habitat out from there in partnership with landowner cooperatives.”
South Carolina isn’t alone in the plight of the downward bobwhite quail population trends, but with public efforts underway like the SouthEast Study Group to restore their early successional habitat it seems better than average that the whistle of the bobwhite quail will be returning to many different tracts of upland in the near future. But it will take time. Quail numbers have been declining since the 1960’s and like the prescribed fire corollary above, it may take just as many years to restore quail numbers.
Whether quail restoration reaches complete recovery or not, the anticipation for each coming quail season is being looked forward to with renewed vigor. When bird dogs and double guns are once again a regular part of the conversation between hunters, then the challenges highlighted by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and others will have been heard. The good old days for small game and quail hunting may soon come around again.

There is no link to read this feature article in its entirety. Seek out the March issue to do so.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tony Chachere adds spice to Turkey Season Supper

Chef Jeff stirs the pot with Tony Chachere
Crawfish Etoufee that was made ALL DAY
Opening Day of turkey season means plenty to residents of the S.C. Lowcountry, but others come from  neighboring states to enjoy our early season start, liberal bag limit and southern hospitality too. Rusty Kinard of Lodge plays host to this annual turkey season opening supper and enlists the help of his celebrity friends to begin another year of success for the Salkehatchie Longbeards. Pro Caller Steve Cob gave out mouth calls to all the youth, and industry rep Mark McBride of N.C. shared his knowledge of hunting optics, and Tony Chachere drove over from Louisiana to cook up a creole supper for everyone. Of course, they all will be spending plenty of time in the turkey woods too. Chachere's creole cooking team stirred the crawfish etoufee all day long to make sure it was just right by the 7 p.m. dinner hour and it was served with dirty rice, cajun green beans and a steak. This food was so good there was a line to take home a taste of the leftovers! Tony told me that his grandfather was a legendary game chef back home in the Chafalaya Basin and was known simple as 'The Old Master' - and was the inaugural inductee into the La. Chef's Hall of Fame before his passing. Tony also shared that he has duck hunted all his life and really enjoys bass fishing now, but that his love for all of the outdoors is what makes him glad to visit the S.C. Lowcountry again and again. We certainly wish Tony well as he carries on his family's legacy of Making Everything Taste Great!
Rusty Kinard, Steve Cobb and  Russ Kinard,
with Tony Chachere and Mark McBride

To view past blog entries from 2012 click Turkey Season Supper or hunting.

The motherlode of cajun seasoning

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2014 Jakes Turkey Hunt in Ridgeland

 C.J. Cleland, Anna Price, Wyatt Melton and Cody Day;
They all found opening day success - Congrats!
Nice 1 and 1/8-inch spur on Anna Price's gobbler
The first Saturday of the month just happened to coincide with opening day for turkey season in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Mr. Hal Wall hosted the 8th Annual Jakes turkey hunt. Using Roseland Plantation in Jasper County as the hunt HQ, a record 50 youth hunters fanned out across the county with their guides in order to hunt turkeys. The temperature was a cool 50-degrees and completely overcast skies kept the woods feeling clammy  - and quiet too! The weather conditions were not very conducive for gobbling, especially considering the high winds of the previous two days. Most hunters did not have an encounter with a wild turkey, while a lucky handful of youth hunters were able to harvest an opening day tom. The sole female hunter to have success was 16-year old Anna Price of Columbia, and she was using a 20-gauge when she killed her first ever turkey with a single shot at 7:50 a.m. after guide Dal Dyches called the bird in. Keep in mind that Anna is legally blind, and still managed to connect on a 30-yard shotgun blast to the head of a Boss Gobbler. Her turkey weighed 19-pounds, had a 10.5-inch beard and 1 and 1/8-inch spurs that I considered to be the trophy of the day. Her younger brother Jay was in the turkey woods too, but he did not get a shot on the jake bird that he saw. Their father Scott Price was very grateful for this opportunity to get in the woods in Ridgeland, adding that they ride right by it when vacationing at Hilton Head. Four other youths were able to tag a bird, and then everyone met back at the hunt camp on the Coosawhatchie River to enjoy a hunt breakfast cooked by a team of volunteers. Hunt stories were swapped and lots of smiles could be found on those who had spent opening day in the turkey woods, regardless of the outcome.
Julian Clark with the Price family

To view past blog entries from the Jakes turkey hunt in Ridgeland click here.
Lee and Austin Pack of Sumter

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 FCA Outdoors - Hank Parker Invitational

Hank Parker takes a bid on the shotgun
 held by FCA organizer Alan Welch
FCA is celebrating 60 years in action
The third annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Outdoors event was postponed from February until March due to the ice storm. But that didn't stop a wide array of athlete celebrities from turning out to demonstrate their support for christianity, chief among them being two-time Bassmaster Champion Hank Parker. Other supporters included football coaches Art Baker and Sam Wyche, NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough, NFL kicker Ryan Succop, basketball's Phil Ford and baseball greats Bob Bolin and Billy O'Dell. Gathering at Meadow Wood in Union County, N.C. the participants enjoyed shooting clay targets, quail hunts and even a pheasant tower shoot. Live and silent auctions kept patrons mindful that this event is about raising funds that will be utilized by FCA to reach out to kids in schools who might be interested in sports and / or the outdoors. Hank Parker addressed the crowd during a lunch hour prayer meeting and said that if we can reach the youths with the word of God some of them may decide to live a christian life and seek firm footing in life, and not a path that leads to chaos. Ryan Succop and others witnessed too about how FCA helps them to stay grounded and since I have seen them at this FCA Outdoors event for three years straight, their actions help to show their commitment. It is impressive to see this gathering of christians enjoying the shooting sports.

To view past blog entries from the FCA Outdoors Hank Parker Invitational click 2013 or 2012.

Christians gather for safety briefing before shooting

First-class sporting clays station at Meadow Wood

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ten Year Mark as Outdoor Correspondent with Charleston Mercury

Ten Year Mark achieved in March of 2014.
For more milestones from 2013 click here.

Article Number ONE dated March 18, 2004 in Charleston Mercury. 
For my most recent article in March of 2014 click here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where there's Hens there will be Gobblers

The whereabouts of hens in springtime is important

When the spring turkey season opens on Saturday March 15 it will mean different things to individual hunters. Some may begin to scout, while others may begin to locate the gear leftover from past seasons. But for a select few, opening day of turkey season will be the most important day of the year, fitting for fireworks and fanfare. For these folks, scouting is a year round way of life, and the golden rule of spring states that where there are hens, there will be gobblers.
Speaking of rituals, Colletonians enjoy the annual conservation banquet of the National Wild Turkey Federation at the armory prior to the hunting season. On March 8 the Salkehatchie Longbeards chapter was once again recognized for having over 100 sponsor members, making this Walterboro area chapter one of the best in the nation. It’s worth noting that outdoor pursuits like turkey hunting continue to serve up this type of good news from Colleton County.
If the cold weather is responsible for less pre-season strutting and gobbling by male turkeys, then hunters need to remember to keep a sharp eye out for hens. Male turkeys know without any reminders that spring is hunting season, the time of year that they see and feel pressure from man. They become slippery, and can materialize and dematerialize from your woods with great mystery.
Remote control Crazy Jake by Red Head
At times like these I place much more emphasis on the whereabouts of hen turkeys. Hunters scout for turkey tracks for sure, but they also looks for scratching areas in piney woods, utilization of food plots planted with chufa and telltale droppings too. A gobbler’s track is larger and longer than the hen turkey track, making it easy for a veteran hunter to identify. If you aren’t seeing much in the way of gobbler tracks, but you are seeing some hen activity, then there is at least some hope for a successful hunt in the near future.

A couple of new tools I’ll have in my turkey hunting arsenal this year includes a side zip boot from Irish Setter that is camo and snake proof. The Outrider Viper boot has been proven by me to be waterproof, and I have already spotted the first snake in the woods reminding me that it is time to get back into the habit of wearing protective boots.

Water proof and snake proof 
Also new for 2014 is the Crazy Jake decoy with motion stake by Red Head. The one-piece decoy with a hard shell has detailed paint and a fake beard that is short, depicting a young male. A synthetic tailfeather fan comes with it, but hunters may choose to insert a fan of real feathers from a past harvest. The crazy jake is in full strut and turns360-degrees once activated by remote control.

To read this feature story in the newspaper click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the 2013 Turkey Season click here.