Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quail Season finale at White Point Plantation

Beautiful place to be in the field hunting quail
Continuing a tradition of hunting quail right up until the end of quail season, which is Feb. 28 on private lands, I traveled to southernmost Charleston County. The sedge grass covered fields at White Point Plantation were the setting for a clear and cold morning of hunting over three pointing dogs. There has been so many gloomy days in February that the entire month seemed so, but this final hunt for 2015 was under blue skies and surrounded by the maritime beauty of majestic live oaks and palmetto trees.

A few cock birds from the day's harvest
Hunting partner Babe Hiott and hunt guide Seborn Rogers brought the dogs owned by Mark Steedley. After getting the ATV trailer unstuck from a muddy pothole we were able to enjoy the hunt. All along the hunting ground were ditches and hedgerows that serve to keep the sea islands well-drained even during the wet times of winter. The quail flushed in the open areas, but if a missed shot occurred then the birds tended to get into the thicker hedge areas. After that, it took more than dog power to get them to fly again.
Babe Hiott with Seborn Rogers and GSP

While we were blessed to be hunting in the shadow of Edisto Island, we were mindful of the recent passing of Edisto Beach Mayor Burly Lyons, who was an avid quail hunter himself. Hiott, Steedley and Rogers all had the privilege to hunt with Lyons, while I never knew of his affinity for Gentleman Bob. When we connected with our feathery targets on our good shots this day, it was a salute to all those who went before us in the field. For the missed shots, we were able to keep walking ahead to locate that next covey or to track down singles, and at the end of the day... to begin waiting for the next quail season to arrive.

To view past blog entries about the quail season finale click 20142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid travels for Wildlife and B.A.S.S.

Camry SE hybrid goes to the SEWE gala at Charleston Place
The redesigned Toyota Camry comes in a hybrid model that really knows how to stretch the gas mileage out a LONG way. This car is not on the same level as the Toyota Avalon hybrid, since it is a good bit smaller and lighter with less bells and whistles. However, the car has some serious pep when you step on the gas and take it from eco mode into power drive.

Camry and Tundra
First up for the Camry that was listed as blue in color was the Dock Dogs at Brittlebank Park, the most dog-friendly portion of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition held in Charleston over Valentine's weekend. The cold February winds howled as the two-tank competition began on Friday and finished up Sunday afa'noon. I was able to find a parking space for my compact Camry underneath the sagging limbs of a live oak tree, where an SUV like the Highlander had no chance of sneaking in.
Cool sponsorship with B.A.S.S.

The 2015 Camry hybrid SE sedan lists at $27,995 but has additions that ran it up to $32,987. These include the EnTune premium audio with satellite radio and navigation features. A power moonroof, a very cool illuminated Door Well and the remote start option. The 40 miles per gallon factoid hides the fact that this car is real stingy with gasoline. The monroney info states the the owner will save $4500 in fuel costs over five years, which is GOOD NEWS!

Love this truck at the 2015 Bassmaster Classic
While the Camry is FUN to drive, it is most likely not for families with grown kids or for folks with dogs that need at least some transport. This car color was listed as blue, but the man on the street tends to say it looks more like purple. Well this purple sedan is powered with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that has the pep and pizazz necessary to dash through traffic better than the rest. Only time will tell how the Camry hybrid holds up in the maintenance category, but the Toyota track record for such issues is very good.







Happiness Walkers - From Raleigh to Myrtle Beach to Savannah



Paula Francis and Linda Wheatley smile at Hampton House

The Happiness Walk is powered a duo of long-distance lady walkers from Vermont who recently traversed Highway 17 through the ACE Basin. They are walking from Vermont to Florida for their cause, but they are doing it in stages with this most recent excursion going from Raleigh to Savannah. These dynamic ladies stay somewhere different each night and on February 17 they stayed at the Hampton House in downtown Walterboro.
            
When they stopped walking on February 17th they were near Sheldon and elected to stay in Walterboro for the night. It was their first visit to town and an impromptu welcoming party broke out that evening with neighbors from Hampton Street. Despite the cold weather gripping the Lowcountry at that time, the Happiness Walkers told me that they had received a warm welcome everywhere during the Lowcountry leg of their journey.
            
Linda and Paula taking a walk down Myrtle Beach
Dropping by for coffee the following morning I was able to visit with these two ambulatory ladies. Linda Wheatley was the Director of the Vermont Leadership Institute for 14 years, and shared that her experiences led her up to this latest endeavor. Paula Francis served as a consultant for philanthropic giving that focused on community well being. They both left those careers to form this non-profit group in 2009, which led to doing these incremental walks beginning in 2012.

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

To view past blog entries on fitness click Green River Games - SE Coast Paddling Trail

To view blog entries about places to visit while walking click on Lonesome Valley - OBX Lighthouses - Barnsley Resort - The Orchard Inn - Bald Head Island - Planters Inn 

2015 Battle of Broxton Bridge - Civil War Reenactment at 150 Year Mark


Civil War era encampment lasts all weekend

Students of history know that this month is the 150th Anniversary of General Sherman’s march through South Carolina near the end of the Civil War. The northern army had superior numbers and equipment at this time and their engineers devised plans to defeat the fortifications at Beaufort Bridge, Broxton Bridge and Rivers Bridge. The owners at Broxton Bridge Plantation are hosting the 14th reenactment of this battle all weekend in what is a family fun environment.
Artillery at Battle of Broxton Bridge
             
Georgia Regiment in attendance
The three-day event will begin on Friday February 27 with a living history day tailored for schoolchildren. Broxton Bridge owner Jerry Varn told me that busloads of kids will be coming on Friday to witness the Civil War encampment and to visit the twelve stations that will teach history through tactile learning. Examples of calvary, infantry, horse-drawn artillery and field hospitals will be part of the education day. There is no fee for admission on Friday which runs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
            
The ORIGINAL American Sniper!
Saturday February 28 and Sunday March 1 will include a $10 admission for adults, with the grounds open from 9 to 5. Each day at 2 p.m. the Battle of Broxton Bridge will be reenacted in what is usually the main draw. What’s interesting is that the battle takes place on the exact same ground where it occurred 150 years ago. The Civil War breastworks at Broxton Bridge remain intact and the Salkehatchie swamp remains a formidable natural formation for anyone to navigate.

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

To view past blog entries from the Battle of Broxton Bridge click on 2009.

To view past blog entries about the Civil War click on Sesquicentennial in Charleston 





2015 Bassmaster Classic - S.C. Native Son Gets It Done


Pro angler shows off his Bass while emcee whips up the crowd
during the Day Two weigh in
Mike Iaconelli rolls into the Day One weigh in with STYLE

The annual Bassmaster Classic freshwater fishing tournament puts an exclamation point on an entire year of B.A.S.S. circuit fishing. The 2015 Bassmaster Classic returned to Lake Hartwell for the first time since the inaugural visit in 2008. Challenges in the form of single-digit weather and ice confronted all of the anglers during Day One fishing on Friday before the weather improved incrementally over the weekend. After Sunday’s weigh-in at the Peace Center in downtown Greenville, it was hometown favorite Casey Ashley lifting the Bass Classic trophy overhead.
            
A packed house of bass fanatics at Peace Center
Casey did fish in the 2008 Bassmaster Classic but fell short of winning on his home waters at Lake Hartwell, just a few miles from where he lives. But that effort left him hungry for another shot and things went so well for the 31-year old professional bass angler this time that he came off looking as cool as the lifestyle brand Costa Del Mar sponsorship on his bass boat. Casey even caught his fish on some homemade spinner baits that his Dad rigged for him special for the 2015 Classic.
            
Thanks to Toyota for getting me to Greenville
The story goes that Ashley prefers to fish with a jig, and has actually won past tournaments doing just that, but with the cold weather keeping the fish somewhat shallow his father’s lures proved to be the proper prescription for success. After two days of weigh-ins Ashley was in fifth place with an aggregate weight of 29-pounds and 14-ounces, but his Sunday bag of 20-pounds and 3-ounces launched him into first place for good. Ashley collects $300K plus bragging rights for the year, and a chance to compete in the future to become a multiple Classic winner, with only four other anglers ever having achieved that feat.

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

To view past blog entires about Bass Fishing in S.C. click on FLW Tour / Forrest Wood Cup.

To view past blog entries about fresh water click fishing tips - North Santee River - King Kat.

To view the latest Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report click here.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 2/24/2015

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
John Archambault with a nice Tail Race shad
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond from Haddrell's Point West asks if you have EVER run your motor in freshwater before? His question comes on the heels of the Super Bowl of freshwater fishing just having been fished on Lake Hartwell at the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. However, Scott says that you don't have to leave the Lowcountry to find shad that have made their diadromous run from saltwater up into the freshwater confines of the Tail Race Canal. The shad offer great sport on ultralight gear, some 1/16-ounce Zman jigheads and a two-inch curly-tail grub. If you can't bear to leave the salt flats then grab some cut mullet and Gulp Peeler crabs before looking to chase redfish in the shallows at low tide. Scott's third and No Fail option for wintry mix type weather is to shuck some oysters..... no not for yourself, but for the Fish! The stud-sized sheepshead relish cold weather and are along bridge pilings and rock piles in 10 to 25-feet of water just waiting to eat more mollusks. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: Non-stop strong winds and COLD weather have kept almost all the boats inside the safety of the harbor. Captains are working on their boats and planning trips to Florida so that they can at least work on their boats in warmer weather! Historically speaking, when the weather allows, anglers should find wahoo and blackfin tuna scattered along the ledge. And bottom fishing options abound in 50 to 80-feet of water.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

ACE Basin - National Estuarine Research Reserve


Otter Island aerial image courtesy SCDNR

Boaters traveling the Intracoastal Waterway through southeastern South Carolina have always known about the scenic sea islands with their natural look and a maritime forest ecosystem. Three rivers feed into St. Helena Sound between Beaufort and Edisto Island, forming a framework for a larger area that became known 25 years ago as the ACE Basin. The watershed for the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers are now constantly monitored in the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) network.
            
The ACE Basin NERR encompasses more than 93,000-acres of uplands, wetlands and everything else found in this river system basin. The ecological significance of the ACE Basin became magnified in 1989 when recognized as critical habitat for migratory birds. In 1991, the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge was formed after purchase and protection of the Grove Plantation. In 1992, The ACE Basin NERR was formed, becoming just the 20th such site under the watch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Located at Bennett's Point in Colleton County
            
A partnership between private landowners and other parties began to blossom in the ACE Basin with an intense focus on conservation. The Nature Conservancy listed the ACE Basin as one of the World’s Last Great Places in 1994, and bought South Williman Island (2765-acres) and placed it under conservation easement. Several more barrier islands were purchased and protected from development and placed into the ACE Basin NERR including Otter Island (1889-acres) and Ashe Island (1722-acres).
Official Signage
            
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages some of these islands in their Heritage Preserve system now, which allows public access by boat for daytime visits. Some islands have pristine beaches where birds like the piping plover can stopover and where loggerhead turtles continue to nest. Others offer historic sites concerning Native Americans and rare plants that evolved over time in this temperate and salty section of the South.

To view the entire magazine feature article click on All At Sea.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2015 SEWE - Miller Collection features Wildlife Carvings

Sunbird by Marc Schultz is a stunning piece of wood carving
Each year the SE WIldlife Expo brings something new to the experience and even seasoned SEWE attendees must keep their eyes peeled. In 2015 it was the eye-popping wooden sculptures of avian subjects in the Miller Collection that had visitors gushing with appreciation. 

Collector Doug Miller
Miller broughty a collection of jaw-dropping masterworks to show, he shared how he and his wife offered inspiration and financial support to some of the most talented carvers he encountered so that they would be better able to excel over time.


2015 SEWE Brochure
In short, Mr. Miller’s love for the art form of decorative bird carving, and his passion for collecting offers a win win for both artists and those who appreciate wildlife art. When I spoke to Mr. Miller he was certainly affable and polite, and I asked him if he knew the late artist Jim Foote, since I saw a bronze woodcock by Foote in his collection. “Yes, I knew Jim Foote very well, and to my knowledge that is his only woodcock bronze,” said Miller. “I bought several duck decoys from Foote at the same time, and he encouraged me to attend an International Decoy Carving Contest in 1972. The rest is history because that show changed my life, and I’ve been collecting ever since.”


A Best In World carving in the Miller Collection
Carver Marc Schultz created the Best of Show winner from the 1997 Northern Nationals. His depiction of the medium-sized sunbittern, which occurs in both Central and South America, is titled Sunbird and it is stunning from any viewing angle. Simply choosing a subject like the sunbird shows the artist’s confidence that even nature’s most expressive avian displays are possible to be interpreted, and Doug Miller wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

To view past blog entries from the 2015 SE Wildlife Expo click on To view more blog entries from the 2015 SEWE click on Charleston Place Gala - Mills House - Game Dinner - Saturday Photos - Sunday Photos






Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 SEWE Sunday Photos - Sporting Round Up

To view past blog entries from SEWE Sunday click on 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009
Cypress Knees, Canoe and Striper Bronze from Hibernian


Winning Image for Duck Stamp
at Charleston Place
To view more blog entries from the 2015 SEWE click on Charleston Place Gala or Mills House Reception or Game Dinner or Saturday Photos
White or Red - Choices, Choices at Mills House

Luna Moth carving with Lunar Moon at Marriott 
and part of the Miller Collection

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 SEWE Saturday Photos - Marion Square

African Yellow-Billed Kite Soars over Marion Square Park
To view past blog entries from SEWE Saturday click on 20142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009.

Woodpecker Totem Pole

To view more blog entries from the 2015 SEWE click on Charleston Place Gala or Mills House Reception or Game Dinner
Euarasion Eagle Owl Wows SEWE Crowd

Saturday, February 14, 2015

2015 SEWE Game Dinner at The Drawing Room

Crispy Frog Legs with greens and garlic cream
Chad Poppleton creates artwork during dinner
The new ownership at the Vendue Inn renewed the tradition of a Game Dinner during the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, which is celebrating 33 years of success. What's better after a first and full Friday of SEWE, then a grand dining occasion with friends and like-minded patrons? This special evening included much more than the culinary talents of Chef Jon Cropf and the wine pairings from Duckhorn Vineyards. A 6 p.m. reception held in the new art gallery at the Vendue Inn included music by the principal cellist from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and active painting by Chad Poppleton, the SEWE Featured Artist for 2014.

Crossing Vendue Street and entering The Drawing Room Restaurant on the first floor, we were greeted by the sound of Spanish music with a gringo playing a 12-string guitar during dinner. SEWE Executive Director John Powell addressed the diners before the Duckhorn Vineyards representative explained about the four wines that would be served with each course of the game dinner.

SEWE patrons from Charlotte greet Chef Jon Cropf
In my opinion, the first course Migration label 2012 Chardonnay was by far the best wine. Perfectly chilled, this white wine offered a crisp hint of grapes on the palate and it left no bitter finish whatsoever. Two large crispy frog legs served with pine smoked sunchoke yielded chunks of white meat that were tender and visually appealing. A fork and knife worked fine for this course at The Drawing Room, but using ones fingers may be the ideal way to get the jump on these tasty morsels.

2015 SEWE Game Dinner Menu
Four Ways Of Duck with duck breast and broccoli, puffed rice, plum jam and Chinese five spice filled the second course plate. While the 2011 Goldeneye Pinot Noir and its light pink coloration reminded everyone on this Friday the 13th that Valentine's Day was almost here! The main course was hearty with a boar bacon wrapped venison pate' and a braised bison short rib that had been slow-cooked for 24-hours. These meaty offerings went well with the 2011 Paraduxx Winemaker's Series red wine that was full-bodied and offered an oaky finish.

Four Ways of Duck
Dinner table conversation included great dinner and wine experiences from the past, and even sporting matters like how the decline in bobwhite quail numbers has been such a disappointment to many. Other topics in the mix at the Duckhorn Dinner at The Drawing Room included conservation, art, and what to do next at SEWE! As the final course of spiced chocolate soup was poured in front of each diner, the 2011 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc served to sweeten the deal on what had been a sweet day at SEWE.

To view past blog entries from the SEWE Game Dinner click 2010  ; or Fresh On The Menu

To view more blog entries from the 2015 SEWE click on Charleston Place Gala or Mills House



Friday, February 13, 2015

2015 SEWE Gala at Charleston Place Hotel

Things got interesting when this Sandhill Crane
came by to check out the Sandhill Crane artwork
The most anticipated evening of the year for wildlife enthusiasts is always the black tie Gala on Thursday night of the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. This serves as a preview for the artwork on display in the ballroom at Charleston Place Hotel, with artists on hand to inform art lovers and art collectors about what makes their work unique. Patrons dined on seafood and soaked up the electricity of the night, with fine wine and spirits in the mix, celebrating the 33-year history of SEWE.

To view past blog entries from the SEWE Gala click 20142013,  201220112010, or 2009.

This Great Crested Kara Kara was a SEWE Gala favorite

Mother Carol Leuder and daughter Liz Lewis

English Setter Bronze by Liz Lewis

Thursday, February 12, 2015

2015 SE Wildlife Expo Begins at Mills House

Corporate Patrons from Obviouslee Marketing support SEWE
The annual VIP event that kicks off the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition each year on Wednesday evening at the Mills House Hotel went off in wild style. This venue features local artists all weekend long, so they offer a Lowcountry welcome to all the SEWE patrons that travel into Charleston. Thankfully there was no wicked ice storm outside as in 2014, but the weather forecast for the entire SEWE weekend includes clear skies but very cold temperatures. Of course, weather is never much of a hindrance to the SEWE faithful who understand that the elements add flavor to each experience.
2015 SEWE Ice Sculpture - MEOW!

The SEWE team served a mix of finger foods, prime rib carving station and a special dessert too. The gathered patrons looked hard at all the local art, as they anticipate a three-day smorgasbord of wildlife and sporting art. Whether looking for original paintings, prints, sculpture or even practical household items, the SE Wildlife Expo has something for everyone. For instance, the Mills House showcases Landrum Tables by local Capers Cauthen, where his artistry comes in the form of rough hewn and distinctive pieces designed for everyday use.
What is 13-feet long and comes in Acrylic on Wood? 
Alligator No. 3 by Christina Louise Hewson

The 2015 SEWE hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 to 5 on Sunday. Don't forget that a SEWE ticket is affordable and gives you a free bus shuttle access that takes patrons to each of their venues located in downtown Charleston, where parking is always a challenge. NEW for 2015 is the Born To Explore educational program with Richard Wiese at the Charleston Music Hall.

To view past blog entries from SEWE at the Mills House click on 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2009




The Find Life offers African lifestyle items 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ACE Basin - Trapping Takes Hold Over Time


Outdoor Writer and trapper John Nolan hoist a beaver harvest

When Walterboro resident John Nolan makes his rounds to private properties around the Lowcountry he calls on both predators and nuisance critters. Cold weather makes for the best trapping weather and February has offered consistent temps when setting traps for coyotes, bobcats and beavers. Just as an avid deer hunter must focus during the rut, a trapper must be vigilant to work long hours while checking his traps and I caught up with Nolan during his annual two-week stretch run.
            
Jeff Young and Nolan with trapping tools of the trade
Nolan is an active duty U.S. Marine and deserves a salute from the public for his dedication to military matters. As a lifelong trapper he honors a commitment to the outdoors by taking two weeks leave in February to run trap lines. His contributions in the ACE Basin have some private landowners giving him another salute for his effectiveness when it comes to predator control. 

When it comes to talk about trapping for beavers Nolan’s strapping frame comes to attention. “Beavers have always fascinated me, and I have had some memorable encounters over the year’s trying to remove nuisance beaver colonies,” said Nolan. He speaks of this adversary with the respect one gives your enemy when waging an ongoing campaign, with 2015 just one chapter in the larger novel of beaver battles.

Timber managers know that hardwood timber cannot be flooded for twelve months of the year because it kills the trees. On one property, Nolan’s assignment was to infiltrate the beaver swamp, locate the den and then trap out the colony of beavers that had created a large area of dead trees. We donned full waders to access the area where Nolan had his traps and good fortune came in the form of a double-harvest on beavers.

What's better than one beaver harvest? Two!
When it was my turn to go from observer to guest trapper, Nolan wanted me to check the next underwater leg trap secured with a drowning rod. Once the rod come unstuck it wasn’t hard to lift it out of the water, but what followed was a heavy trap that was covered in vegetation and attached to a dead beaver. Steel traps don’t produce results without a knowledgeable trapper running them, and passionate professionals like Nolan will benefit the ACE Basin with their skills over time.

To read this entire article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past articles on the ACE Basin click on 2015 Duck Finale - 25th Anniversary - 2012 Update / John  Frampton - 2013 Waterfowl Warrior Hunt - ACE Basin QDMA - Friends of Nemours - Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt - Colleton Plantation Tour - Mottled Duck Study - Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers.