Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District Awards

Stephen and Emily Harter with daughter Emily
 and essay contest awards
Poster Contest Entry

One group in Colleton County that promotes the education of the public regarding conservation practices is the Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District. (CS&WCD) Each year they ask students in the County to participate in essay writing, photography and poster contests in order to address a certain topic. This year’s topic was Watershed awareness – asking the question Where Does Your Water Shed?
A director of the Willow Swamp watershed, Mr. John Holland Barnes, was recognized as the 2013 Conservationist of the Year at the CS&WCD dinner. Chairman Marion Rizer read a detailed statement about how Barnes had served his community for 50 years, and his son and Clemson extension agent Marion Barnes and wife Carmen were in attendance. We all live in a watershed of some kind, and their importance is heightened during wet years like 2013 when they greatly affect our natural resources.
2014 Winners!
Mr. Ralph Wilbanks was the guest speaker and he used his lifetime of underwater exploration to educate the audience about the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. Longtime CS&WCD commissioner I.M. Benton invited his old friend Mr. Wilbanks to speak when he learned that his Normandy findings will be on a PBS TV episode of NOVA to air on May 28 at 9 p.m.
Barnes family celebrates Conservation Award

To view this story in the newspaper click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the Colleton Soil and Water Awards click 20152013 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/29/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
James Cawley with a nice mahi from April 27 
fishing with Knot @ Work Charters 
Inshore Report: Craig at Buck, Bass and Beyond shares that the water temps dropped dramatically two weeks ago due to all of the rain and cold temps but has climbed back up to close to 70 now. However these extreme tides and rain have also taken away the great water clarity which helps with our sight fishing which really hurt the redfish bite. No recent reports on trout, but keep trying live mud minnows under corks along grass edges and around oyster banks as well as D.O.A. shrimp in all the same places. I'm hearing reports of some nice catches of whiting being caught on cut shrimp and squid off of the local piers. The sharks and rays have moved in too.Try using cut mullet on a Carolina rig just about anywhere you can get to the saltwater.The Cobia ARE HERE!! Just not in huge numbers yet. I've heard a few have been caught in the Broad River in the usual places. There are many techniques to use, the most popular is bottom fishing with cut baits or live Greenback Herring or Menhaden if you can find and catch them.If you choose to bottom fish the key is to chum, chum and chum some more!!! Keep a bag on the surface and one on the bottom, shaking them and stirring them up often is important. Keep fresh chum out all the time. If the sharks invade your spread move to another spot. Also make sure you have lines in the water an hour and a half before and after the tide switch! If sight fishing cobia is what you want to do, start early and cover a lot of water. Have a couple of rods rigged and ready to cast. Try using live American eels, jigs with large soft plastics like the Hogy 5-inch flounder, or a Gulp jerk bait or swimming mullet. Cruise the rips and channel markers looking for wakes and fins. If you see a fish approach cautiously making sure to get ahead of the fish. Cast farther than the target reeling the bait quickly getting the attention of the cobia, getting him to chase it. Stop reeling and let the bait dive as if trying to escape. If the fish is hot and the presentation is right it will dive straight down and will hit your bait on the drop, which gives an added sensation of having played the cobia well, before the BIG fish fight even begins. For more store information visit the Internet at Buck, Bass and Beyond.

Offshore Report: Craig is hearing thatthe bite is excellent, with several large Wahoo being caught as well as blackfin tuna and lots of dolphin. The triple ledge and south hole seem to produce consistently. For dolphin look for some floating debris or grass. Reports say most are on the smaller side but there are a few bigger ones mixed in. Try trolling small to medium ballyhoo with blue / white and green / yellow skirts .Remember to keep a small casting rod rigged and ready to cast to the schooling dolphin. I like small 1/4 oz. jigs with soft plastics, rattletraps,  Paul Brown's soft dine suspending jerk bait or a Zoom soft plastic jerkbait on an Owner Twist Lock hook or Gamakatsu weighted flutter hook. And of course the Amberjack bite is phenomenal but if you are trying to catch something to eat then who cares but for an awesome rod bending time you can't beat them. The bottom fishing has been great, with reports of really nice Vermillion Sanpper, Triggerfish, Porgies and Black Sea Bass. A great customer of ours has been catching some huge Grouper and can't wait for keeper season to open. He uses a custom jig that we sell here at Buck, Bass and Beyond called the Gator Man Jig - so come and get it!

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Clemson Student tags her FIRST Gobbler

Megan Shuler and her prized S.C. Turkey

Megan Shuler is the latest inductee into the spring madness known as turkey hunting. On her first ever turkey hunt, she allowed her boyfriend to coax a longbeard into shotgun range, and the rest as they say is history. Amazingly, they went back to the woods the very next morning and she made it a two-fer on turkey harvests.

Shuler is a blond-haired veteran of the beauty pageant system and was the 2012 Teen Miss South Carolina. Her philanthropic work during that year benefited the Palmetto Children’s Hospital, raising awareness for those in need of medial care. Today she is a student and a Teacher’s Assistant for Shotgun and Riflery at Clemson University and she shoots a Benelli 12-gauge shotgun.

The setting for her fateful first turkey hunt in Darlington County, S.C. included hardwoods where the turkeys preferred to roost and a nearby field edge where she and Josh Stuckey set up to hunt. The tom gobbled from the roost at dawn, but not convincingly. Then at 6:45 the howl of a lone coyote seemed to stir up the gobbler and he began to vocalize a good bit louder.

By 7 a.m. they could hear that the bird was down to the ground, and some hen calls were mixed in too. Stuckey began his calling routine and the hens started coming towards Shuler’s position, with that tom turkey following along in strut. “I pulled the trigger when that gobbler was at 45-paces,” said Shuler. “At first I was completely in shock and my heart was racing. To say the least, I am now addicted to turkey hunting.”

After taking the time to make some photos, the tale of the tape showed that the boss tom weighed 21-pounds, sported a 10-inch beard and 1.5-inch spurs. Plenty of veteran hunters would fall apart at the sight of such a majestic tom within gun range, but Shuler credits her familiarity with the gun range as helping her to seal the deal. Or perhaps the glare of the pageant lights helped this young lady to shine when that full strut tom turkey took center stage.

To view more blog entries about turkeys click public hunting OR 2014 Georgia opening day hunt.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2014 CIA / Charleston Inshore Angler Sheepshead Tournament

The BIG winners from the CIA tourney
Chance Jones and winning sheepshead
On a day that was quite windy inshore, yet pleasantly sunny and warm, the annual CIA or Charleston Inshore Angler sheepshead tourney went into the record books. Angler Chance Jones tipped the scales with a whopper of a sheepshead that weighed 12.26-pounds, and his boatload of friends took home some of the other top awards too, making them the top overall team for the 2014 sheepshead tourney. They swept the first three spots in the sheepshead competition and then added the 6th place sheepie for good measure too. The good vibes continued when 6th place angler Roy Owens won the SCDNR drawing for a FREE fishing reel after the otolith bone studies were completed from the fish racks. They continued their HOT HAND by winning the youth angler division with a 4.5-pound sheepshead AND for having the heaviest dogfish, a 2.48-pound BEAST - both caught by Hayden Cooper. Second place sheepshead went to Lloyd Green with a 7.72-pound fish, third place went to Paul Pundt with a 7.70-pounder, fourth place went to David Hutchinson with a 7.03-pound sheepie and the fifth place finisher was Donna Gerke with a 6.98-pound sheepshead.

To view past blog entries from the CIA sheepshead tourney click 2013, 2012, 20112010 or 2009.

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town - Kuchar Chips In To Win

Matt Kuchar at media interview after Thursday
Jordan Spieth walks by the RBC logo on Hole No. 10
The Thursday round at the RBC Heritage of Golf renewed the long tradition of PGA players coming to this sea island town on the coast of South Carolina. Hilton Head's popularity has made it one of the fastest growing urban areas on the East Coast, and the southernmost development on HHI called Sea Pines continues to shine today as a job well done by Greenwood Development. The first tee times on Day One and Day Two call for an early 7:20 a.m. start and it was Matt Kuchar who teed off at 8:30 who was able to turn in a scorecard that read 5-under par to be the leader in the clubhouse. It was a windy day at Harbour Town and Kuchar told media afterwards that it was a 2--club wind in some places  and that he personally thought this course was a challenge whether the wind was up or not. Two other players, Scott Langley and Willie McGirt ended up at 5-under and atop the leaderboard on Thursday. The featured group teed off at 12:40 and Tom Watson, Davis Love III and Jordan Spieth drew a large gallery wherever they went on the course. This same group will tee off early on Friday, but a weather forecast for heavy rain is likely to interrupt play Friday and perhaps Saturday at the RBC Heritage. It has been quite a few years since the golf tourney faced the possibility of washout type conditions that would leave the parking lots and golf course quite soggy. Of course, no visit is complete without stopping by the marina to say hello to friends with boats. Thanks to Bobby Garmany for having me aboard the Benchmark for some hospitality, and it was good to see Trust Fun and Reel Patience too. Megayachts on hand included Rice Quarters from Charleston, Top Five, and Magic (which visits MegaDock frequently). Good Luck to all the golfers teeing it up in pursuit of the plaid jacket and who continue to support South Carolina's golf heritage.

To view my feature story about Kuchar's dramatic win click Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the RBC Heritage click here.
To view past blog entries from The Masters click here.

Landmark Lighthouse at Harbour Town

Kevin Na's caddy directs him to hit it 'over there'

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 Log A Load Shoot at Broxton Bridge

Niedlinger Logging Team at Fighting Crows station 

Forestry professionals can sometimes be scarce since they spend a good bit of their time in the outdoors. Convenient or not, sometimes even their cell phone signal will not work in remote woodlands. These same loggers and foresters came together on April 9 to send a clear signal that they support the local Log A Load for Kids event. Nearly 100 of them shot sporting clays at Broxton Bridge, raising $20,000 for the Children’s Hospital in Savannah.
Brian Crosby and Lin Houck check in the shooters
The Log A Load For Kids program is popular in the Southeast and their website at states their mission to raise funds to improve children’s health through treatment, education and research. All of their efforts are a partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals like the Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. The local event raised around $17K in 2013, and the event has been steadily growing over the last decade.
Any fundraiser like this one is going to require someone being the Chief leader to hold the reigns while other volunteers rally the day of the event. Lin Houck with Collum’s Lumber Products has been heading up this local event for many years now, and is glad to give his time to support the Children’s Hospital. “The top individual shooters at the 2014 shoot were Palmer Townsend, Chandler Gray, Sloan Gwaltney and Jamie Ayer,” said Houck.
Beautiful blue skies and great weather for this day!
But this ‘Klays For Kids’ shoot is really more for fun than a proper competition. It all started with a 2 p.m. registration in Ehrhardt at Broxton Bridge Plantation, when owner Jerry Varn gave a shooting safety talk to the group. “Only two shells in your gun at one time, and only load your gun when in the shooting station,” said Varn. When each four-man shooting team paid their fees, Houck and Varn sent them over to the course that requires exactly 100-shots per gunner.
I joined a three-man group from Georgia with Thomas Neidlinger Logging that had come to support the event. Logger Ricky Neidlinger told me that he had been shooting at this event for seven years and that his company was also a sponsor. The more sponsors there are, the more funds will be raised, and Houck makes sure that there is a sponsor drawing for prizes each year. Neidlinger and friends Victor Weston and Seth Zeigler enjoyed shooting their rounds of sporting clays, but like most others were glad to store their guns and join in some socializing.
There is a Sneaky Snipe in those woods!

A 6 p.m. supper brought everyone over to the historic dining room where Varn had cooked up seven pots of Beaufort Stew for all to enjoy. The shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn were well seasoned and the shooters were able to leave with a belly full of good groceries to go along with the satisfaction of shooting guns for a worthy cause. 

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

To view past blog entries from the shooting sports click Hank Parker  or  Palachucola or Barnsley Plantation  or  2013 U.S. Open

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/15/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Emma and Capers Cauthen with an April red snapper release
while fishing with William Dotterer on the Dog House II
Inshore Report: Shane Clevenger at The Charleston Angler in West Ashley reports that the fishing is getting better and better as the water temps reach the upper  60’s. The redfish are beginning to break apart from the larger schools and a few  have already been caught tailing on the flats. We’ve had great Sheepshead reports from guys catching them around structure and docks using fiddler crabs for bait. Setting the hook on a sheepshead is a little  different than most other fish. When you feel the nibble, gently pull up on the rod  tip until the line goes tight and you’re good to go. Target trout at small creek mouths using a Deadly Combo from DOA Lures, and don't forget to ring that dinner bell. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

100-Pound Wahoo boated April 11 link
Robert Garmany at Haddrell's Point West said water temps are steadily on the rise and into the mid 60’s now, and along with that the inshore bite is also on the rise. Trout reports continue to get better and better, with even some people starting to pick up quality trout throwing top water baits such as the brand new yo-zuri 3D pencil baits and Heddon’s chug-n-spook. After the early morning topwater bite a vudu shrimp or live target shrimp fished under a popping float has been deadly on the trout in 5-6ft of water. Reds are breaking out of their large winter schools and being found along structure as well as on the flats, and while a chunk of cut mullet is always a go-to for the reds, the new savage gear shrimp and Zman ultra shrimp have also been deadly for those throwing artificials. Sheepshead reports continue to be strong at our nearshore reefs as well as along bridge pilings inshore using fiddlers and clam strips. Another sure sign that spring is kicking into high gear is the flounder reports starting to come in. Target your flounder during spring around the lowcountry’s many inlets as they begin moving in from offshore into our inshore estuaries. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: Garmany reports that spring time typically has offshore fisherman giddy with excitement as the season begins to kick off and they wait for the first few good reports come in before they fuel up and make the journey out. Well wait no longer as we have already had some solid reports of dolphin coming in from 400-1200ft of water, blackfin tuna holding in 130-200ft, and some STUD wahoo coming in from the ledge recently. If you have never tried it, be sure to carry some surface chuggers and vertical jigs out for the blackfins. When the blackfin are feeding on top there is nothing more exciting than watching a 30# tuna explode on a surface plug, and when they sound later in the day vertical jigs become deadly when you can mark the fish 100ft below the surface.  In addition to the trolling, many have been doing some bottom dropping on the way home and reporting back great catches of large sea bass and triggers.

Shane says it’s still early, but we’re already getting great reports. Capt. Trey  Kemmerlin from our West Ashley shop, went about 60 miles out to the ledge this  past weekend and did some damage on the Wahoo, Mahi and Tuna. Trey says to push out  further looking for temperature breaks and weedlines and make sure to drag those  smaller baits far behind the boat for your best shot at hooking up. Make sure to use  wire leader for Wahoo so they don’t cut through the line, while Flouro leader is best for  Tuna.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 QDMA ACE Basin branch banquet

Nicole Garris and Donna Hamilton with QDMA volunteers
Collectible knife on auction
The fifth annual ACE Basin branch banquet of the Quality Deer Management Association was held Friday April 11 at the Walterboro armory. Jimmy Fitts catering brought roast beef, shrimp and grits, friend fish and jalapeno poppers to the dinner table, and I washed it down with some sweet tea. One vendor was in attendance and Cordray's Taxidermy brought a display of critters that included an otter that people wanted to touch - so obviously that furbearer has educational value. Others wanted to talk about the big bucks from last year, while some prefer to discuss food plots. Of course the silent auction and raffles demanded everyone's attention, before the auctioneer in the 10-gallon cowboy hat took over and drove the bidding up for items like knives, deer hunts, guns, coolers and sporting accessories for ranch and home life. Donna Hamilton was in attendance and told me how glad she was that a large contingent of youth from their Rack Pack club was at the banquet. Thanks to Guy Harvey Inc. for partnering with Lowcountry Outdoors in an effort to raise awareness about marine conservation. Whether it be on land or at sea, conservation is the key to the future of our outdoor heritage.

To view past blog entries from the ACE Basin branch of QDMA click here.

American flag and QDMA

Guy Harvey print; deer hunt on live auction

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Charleston Race Week - Photos and Results

Inshore Racing at 2014 CRW
These are the most popular sailing classes
The wind gods faltered at first and then delivered in a big way on Day Two for the nearly 300-boats in 16 classes on Saturday - and they managed to complete three of four scheduled races. The third and final day of races also had light wind conditions that caused some races to begin only to be canceled shortly afterwards. Sunday always determines who takes home the bragging rights for Charleston Race Week and the custom trophies and Gosling's booty that goes along with it. For more in depth coverage visit CRW or click here for video or results.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 20142013201220112010, and 2009.

Charleston Harbor Resort hosts Charleston Race Week

The only ALL-ladies sailing team is from Ohio

Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Charleston Race Week - Sailing Begins

Friday Offshore Course Race Start

The calendar changes to April 2014, but the venue remains the same, as Charleston Harbor comes to life with the largest sailing regatta on the East Coast. The 2014 Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week is held out of the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, under the watchful eye of dockmaster Kelley Poe. Race Director Randy Drafts looks over the on-the-water action, which includes presiding over multiple classes of sailboats competing simultaneously over five courses, including three inshore and two offshore. The strong winds from Thursday subsided and shifted just a bit on Friday, but all races were able to be conducted in good order. Riding on a 44-foot cabin cruiser to the offshore course with the media photographers, afforded me a close up look at the action alongside the tournament committee boats. The Charleston Race Week schedule began with a Gosling's Rum beach party on Thursday night, and continues with more onshore activities each evening until the CRW awards on Sunday afternoon. And make plans to get on the water to view the regatta on Saturday  and Sunday.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2013201220112010, and 2009.

Lots of color out there on the ocean!

Media Coordinator Dan Dickison and CRW intern

The Gosling's Rum first family and friends

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Masters - Eisenhower Tree Removed But Legacy Intact

Welcome to Augusta National

Think the ice storm of February 2014 was bad in the Lowcountry? The Augusta and Aiken areas are said to have been dealt a more painful blow than others and a fabled tree at the Augusta National Golf Club was damaged beyond saving, and had to be removed. The Masters holds on tightly to its traditions but the tee shot on the 17th hole will no longer be guarded by the massive pine tree with a Presidential past.
Golfers in the Lowcountry will be checking the pulse of the PGA Tour golf events for the next two weeks with renewed fervor. First up is The Masters from April 10 – 13 and then it’s the RBC Heritage at Hilton head from April 17 – 20. Many will make trips to visit one tournament or the other for a chance to see elite professional golfers play for the first major title of the year and the coveted green jacket. Of course, the plaid jacket from the Heritage would be a nice wardrobe addition too.
Masters Champions Dinner in 1963
As a veteran reporter from The Masters I can relay that only very subtle changes are allowed to occur on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club from one year to the next. History has a way of slowly taking shape at The Masters since they cherish tradition. The Eisenhower pine tree, a landmark rich in tradition, was judged as unsafe and in need of removal after the 2014 ice storm.
2014 Masters Menu prices 
The loblolly pine tree stationed about 200-yards from the 17th tee was decidedly blocking the left side of that fairway, and thus testing the players as they hit their driver club. A pine tree often grows tall and straight, but a tree such as this one that is left in open space, can grow just as wide with limbs as it grows tall. It didn’t just test the pro golfers, it tested the Augusta National members too.
Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was known to love the game of golf and came to be a member at Augusta National Golf Club in 1948. The story goes that his ball flight on the 17th tee hit that pine tree so often, that he campaigned as a member to have the tree removed. In a now famous decision, the governing board at Augusta National turned down his request, and the tree was forever nicknamed the Eisenhower Tree.

The Eisenhower Tree on Hole. No. 17 BEFORE Ice Storm
The 2014 Masters tournament will still deliver floral and landscape beauty despite the loss of the Eisenhower Tree, and the pro golfers will find plenty of other tricky shots on the course to have to deal with. My favorite spot to sit and watch is on the 16th green, and that includes a walk under the Eisenhower Tree on my way there. This year I’ll take that same walk, but the old pine won’t be there. Only time will tell how this one tree makes the transition from shaping golf shots, to shaping Masters history.

After attending the Saturday round of The Masters I can report that only a longtime shade line lingered on the 17th fairway where the canopy of the grand tree used to be. Otherwise, there is no sign of the former landmark.

Congrats to Bubba Watson for winning the 2014 Masters and becoming just the 17th player overall to win TWO green jackets!

Vintage 1965 Patron Guide in mint condition
To view my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from The Masters click on 2013, 2012, or 2009.
Have a Coke and a Smile - '77 Masters Mug

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 Family Circle Cup - Finals / Andrea Petkovic Wins

Andrea Petkovic at All Access
Media Hour on March 31
The tournaments 14th ranked-seed survived a topsy turvy week of up sets to triumph on Championship Sunday at the Family Circle Cup on Daniel Island. Andrew 'Petko' Petkovic wins here first big name WTA tournament in straight sets of Jana Cepelova, and is toasted afterwards by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and S.C. Governor Nikki Haley. Meredith Publications in New York and their family circle of magazines sponsored another great event, and director Bob Moran tells me that things are really rolling along for the FCC now. I remember in my youth traveling South to Hilton Head Island to watch the same ladies tennis tourney and feel a strong connection to this particular event that migrated to the Charleston Area. The predicted rainfall on Sunday held off for the finals match, capping what had to be the best weather week ever at the FCC, where not one drop of rain fell, and the sunny weather drew record attendance numbers during the weekday sessions. As an added bonus, it was revealed the Petko's father had played tennis at USC and so Gamecock nation could chime in to applaud the final result.
Petko stretches out in the Semifinals match

Mark your calendar for April 4 - 12, for the 2015 Family Circle Cup.

To view past blog entries from the Family Circle Cup click  20142013201220112010, or 2009.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 Family Circle Cup - Quarterfinals Freeforall on Friday

Eugenia Bouchard strokes a winner VS. Jankovic
When the Friday matches were over at the 2014 Family Circle Cup, so were the chances of having a former champion return to glory, while the crowning of a new ladies tennis winner was assured. In college basketball March Madness involves filling out a bracket of teams heading into the playoff scenario. The singles draw at the FCC is very similar, and it's a safe bet that these four names were not the final scenario on anyone's brackets - Bouchard, Petkovic, Bencic and Cepelova. The day began with No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard defeating No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic in three sets. Jankovic is a past champion and a fierce on-court competitor. She told me at Monday's All Access Media Hour that she will watch videotape of herself after a match and she hardly recognizes her on court persona - surmising that it is like watching another person. With No. 1 seed Serena Williams knocked out, Jancovic seemingly was in the driver's seat, but that seat turned out to be an ejector seat when 20-yeard old Bouchard from Canada came to play on Friday with a tidy game that saw her striking clean winners and making the kind of nifty moves that players can when they are feeling in the groove. An example would be the last point of the second game in the second set, easily the best point I have seen at the 2014 FCC, when Jankovic clipped the tape on one volley and Bouchard returned it while Jankovic moved up to the net and they traded two more volleys before Jankovic dumped a shot into the net. Jankovic did win the second set, but lost the first and third and Bouchard calmly advanced.

In other results, Andrea Petkovic defeated Lucie Safarova.
Belinda Bencic defeated Sara Errani.
Jana Cepelova defeated Daniela Hantuchova.

To view past blog entries from the Family Circle Cup click 20142013201220112010, or 2009.

Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 Family Circle Cup - Thursday Sees WTA Stars Bounced

Errani ran all over Stadium Court with feverish play Thursday
Cepelova advanced by tracking down every ball
The week-long tennis tournament on Daniel Island began the day Thursday much like the famous martini drink ordered by 007 spy James Bond - the FCC was Shaken But Not Stirred. Gone from the line up was the world No. 1 Serena Williams after her poor play on Tuesday, but plenty of WTA veterans and FCC past champions advanced on Wednesday. But by sunset on Thursday only a few of the players we have come to know as contenders at the pro women's event in Charleston were left. In the first match of the day it was No. 3 seed Sara Errani of Italy defeating Peng of China. Errani has not even been to the FCC in several years, though her star is on the rise on the European courts, and her fiery play on Thursday shows that she can elevate her game to Championship level. Meanwhile on the Althea Gibson court WTA vet and No. 12 seed Daniela Hantuchova made easy work of her opponent, and then exited the court before the heat of the day. She earned a night match on stadium court on Friday in the Quarterfinals, and possibly has the surest route into the semis on Saturday, partly due to her schedule allowing her lots of rest and playing during the cooler hours of the day. Venus Williams was ousted by No. 6 seed Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in a stadium court match that saw flashes of brilliance from Venus, only to have youth served in the end. Jana Cepelova bested No. 13 seed Vesnina of Russia in a match where the veteran Vesnina just couldn't put it all together, playing easy winners on some shots and then missing easy volleys and giving herself a stern talking to in her native tongue. In other developments, past FCC Champ Sabine Lisicki was beaten by Andrea Petkovic, past FCC champ Sam Stosur was beaten by Lucie Safarova, and only past champion Jelena Jankovic advanced to the Quarters by beating an opponent in a match she was favored to win.

Bouchard warms up to the Stadium Court atmosphere
Friday's tennis matches begin with a doubles match at 11 a.m. followed by the Quarterfinals.
Bouchard VS. Jankovic
Safarova VS. Petkovic
Errani VS. Bencic
Cheers of - Way To Go Dani - follow Hantuchova
Cepelova VS. Hantuchova

To view past blog entries from the Family Circle Cup click 20142013201220112010, or 2009.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

South Carolina offers Quality Public Waterfowl and Turkey Hunts

Thanks to artist Jim Turlington for use of his artwork

The opportunity to give a tip of the cap for a job well done does not come often enough in regards to the state-managed game lands. The high quality of public draw hunts for waterfowl is backed up by the harvest totals announced in late February. Big game season returns on April 1 to many of the same managed lands, and taxpayers will have a fair chase towards filling a turkey tag. From the beurocratic decision makers to the folks with boots on the ground, thanks to those who steward the natural resources of South Carolina.
With an abundance of rural resources in the Palmetto state it is a shame that we are not purchasing and protecting more lands to manage for the sake of future hunts. The appeal of high quality hunting has the lottery system so backed up that it takes about three years to be drawn to hunt waterfowl. After attending the Waterfowl Advisory Committee meeting at Pon Pon Plantation this fall, I can report that they are keenly aware of this congestion and some innovative options are being vetted.
In terms of waterfowl harvest from Category 1 public lands, the average was 3.3 birds per hunter, with Bear Island WMA holding down the top spot. Wood ducks remained the number one duck in the game bag accounting for 34-percent of the total harvest. Just think how many hunts are saved by one, two or maybe even three wood ducks harvested on a hunt when other ducks do not appear. Since wood ducks sometimes select wood duck boxes to bolster reproduction, it seems logical that more emphasis should be placed on woodies.

The spring turkey season now upon us and some state-managed game lands will be open to turkey hunting from April 1 to May 1. Some will host youth-only draw hunts for turkeys, where a high quality experience will be a dividend regardless of any harvest. Only the private lands in Game Zone 6, or the south Lowcountry, began turkey season on March 15 with the remainder of S.C. Game Zones opening on April 1.
Poor reproduction due to extended wet weather in the spring and summer of 2013 has the turkey hunting forecast meager for now. “The state’s turkey population remains about 25-percent below record levels of 10 years ago and we need better reproduction for several years to get the population back up,” said Charles Ruth, SCDNR turkey biologist. Turkey predation by coyotes is also a new factor to consider in the past ten years. To find public turkey hunting opportunities visit the SCDNR website, or run a search for SCDNR Managed Lands Turkey Hunting. 

To view this feature article in the newspaper click Charleston Mercury.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2014 Outdoor Options are Readily Available

Mature bald eagle and immature bald eagle over the Daniel Island Golf Club on April 1
The month of April is bursting at the seams with outdoor options including events scheduled due to our pleasant Spring weather. Whereas other activities are served up by Mother Nature, April 1 marks the beginning of turkey season on state-managed lands across the entire state of South Carolina. Tennis in Charleston, Golf in Hilton Head, Birding on Edisto Island and Criterium Bike Racing in Walterboro are all coming in April.

Some April traditions are unlike any other!!
The first weekend in April brings a double-header of outdoor options in Charleston with the Cooper River Bridge Run and the finals of the Family Circle Cup. You don’t have to race in the Bridge Run to attend the festivities all day long in Marion Square Park. You  can be there simply to support the those who will be racing. The final matches for the Family Circle Cup will be played on Saturday and Sunday at the stadium court on Daniel Island.

The ACE Basin branch of the Quality Deer Management Association will hold their annual conservation banquet at the Walterboro armory on April 11. QDMA found Joe Hamilton lives in Hendersonville and this particular banquet is special to locals who remember when the QDMA organization was based solely in Walterboro. 

April 10 - 13 marks the return of Charleston Race Week - perhaps the largest regatta on the East Coast and always a top notch sailing event.

The Masters is the premiere event in men’s pro golf, and after the first major of the year is concluded at the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, the tour players converge on Hilton Head Island. The RBC Heritage golf tournament runs April 17 – 20 and is as much a social affair as it is a golf tournament. The boats at Harbour Town marina add a coastal flair to the Sea Pines golf course the finishes with Hole No. 18 along Caliboque Sound. The short game is important on this short and narrow golf course, so  players with dramatic shot-making skills will always have a chance to slip on the plaid jacket.

The Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT) will hold their annual Spring Migratory Bird Watch, the same day the pro golfers and making birdies down at Hilton Head. EIOLT members will meet at 8 a.m. and join ornithologist Dr. Sid Gauthreaux and biologist Carol Belser to seek out neotropical migratory songbirds. With the daylight cycle lengthening it is a great time to kick the winter blues and get outside!

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