Sunday, November 29, 2015

Snake Boots and Duck Season Don't Mix

Cottonmouth from Nov. 20, 2015
The calendar shows December, but woodsmen must pay heed to the temperature when stomping into the swamp in search of waterfowl. Some call it an Indian Summer, but the weather felt more like summer over the weekend with ample sunshine and calm conditions. Warm weather and duck season don’t go well together at all, kind of like taking a banana on board during a saltwater fishing trip, the two simply don’t go together.

Opening Day wood ducks from Nov. 21, 2015
Duck season opened on Saturday November 21 and the day before I had a close encounter with a cottonmouth snake. Slipping into some back woods to scout some likely water where wood ducks might congregate, I knew that the weather conditions had been warm enough for snakes to be out. I wore my snake boots that morning, and I carried my waders in a bag to put on once at the water’s edge.

My solution for opening day was to hunt ducks in a much more open setting, since I would be wearing waders and needed maximum visibility to spot Mr. No Neck. The hunt went fine and the first wood ducks of the season came into view just after shooting time. While my aim was rusty from the long off season, the waders kept me dry and my Drake camo kept me well concealed. While wood ducks are mainly local birds, it will take much colder weather to bring migratory ducks down to the Lowcountry. 

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

To view past blog entries about duck hunting click 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 20102009

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 SCI Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt

TOMO hunter Jackson Thorpe with SCDNR's Mark Ferrell
For Veterans, Disabled and Youth hunters 
With ten years of experience putting on a whitetail deer hunt for U.S. veterans and others, organizer Mark Peterson had to postpone this special hunt for the first time ever. Wet weather had turned Lowcountry dirt roads to mud and the originally scheduled hunt dates of November 9 and 10 had to be pushed back one week. Changing logistics in such a drastic manner proved to be no obstacle though for this deer hunt and its core of volunteers who conducted the entire event with military precision under sunny skies.

Therapy Dogs work the event each year
While the Lowcountry Chapter of the Safari Club International (SCI) is the host organization for this annual Wounded Warrior deer hunt, they also choose to partner with other groups. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources sent Take One Make One (TOMO) director Mark Ferrell to the Lowcountry this year in order to take some youths hunting. White Hall Plantation hosted these youngsters and Jackson Thorpe was able to harvest a huge 8-point buck on that hunt.

Part of the mission statement for this annual hunt is to show the participants that hunting deer can be a therapeutic outdoor activity. As someone who has been attending the hunt for eleven years now, I’d say that goal is always accomplished. You can factor in the hospitality of the volunteers, and the beauty of the plantations of the ACE Basin, but it’s the natural resources of the Lowcountry that always shine brightly.  Finally, this hunt is a fine way to express appreciation for the patriotism, service and sacrifice of the Wounded Warrior hunters and it’s going to stay an important date on the deer season calendar, come rain or shine. 

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

Caterer Ben Moise and Organizer Mark Peterson
To view past blog entries on the SCI Wounded Warrior deer hunt click 20142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

To view past blog entries on SCDNR whitetail deer management click here.

2015 Business At The Backwater

Jamey Copeland and musician Bruce Standiford
The eleventh annual Business After hours at the Backwater in Walterboro was held on November 13. Jamey Copeland from The Flower Barn and Old Seed Counter hosts the event that draws Colleton County's finest networkers to visit his Turkey Run Farm in the country.

To view past blog entries from Business at the Backwater click on 2014.

Sharon Copeland, Liza Catterton and Jim Nolte

Hanna Lane, Ashley Burris and Kay Eustace

Hot Dogs Paul Pye and Stuart Goodwin

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Drake / Field Expert - Hunting Canada Geese in Grain Fields

Daryl Hodge and Blake Hodge after a Father / Son hunt
Daryl Hodge is a seasoned waterfowl hunter based in the Upstate of South Carolina who teams up with his son Blake for outdoor adventure, known as the Wrecking Crew. These two are into a little bit of everything from duck calling contests, guiding hunts and always relentlessly scouting out the next field to hunt Canada geese in. Daryl Hodge is the South Atlantic Flyway Field Expert Manager for Drake Waterfowl Systems, and he will travel to hunt geese in different states from Arkansas to Virginia.

Canada goose season opens up in S.C. on November 21 – 28, and then comes back in from December 12 – 31. “The latter part of November is when the lower flyway in South Carolina will see Canada geese beginning to trickle in,” said Hodge. “These groups will be different from early season geese because they fly a lot higher, are in larger groups, and they stay tighter. We scout likely locations such as cut corn fields, winter wheat fields and even some pastures. Any of those places that also have a pond nearby are likely to attract migratory Canada geese.”

“Remember, the easiest flying conditions for migratory waterfowl like Canada geese is directly ahead of a front,” said Hodge. “Also, they frequently will choose to migrate in the night during a full moon phase since the extra light aids their visual navigation. When we have harvested Canada geese with federal leg bands in the past, most of the Atlantic Flyway birds come down from Ontario, New York and Maryland, so watching for hunt reports out of those areas can also give clues about peak migration times.”

To read the entire article in the newspaper click on Colletonian

To view past blog entries about Drake Field Experts click on February 2013September 2013 

To view past blog entries about hunting Canada geese click on 201420122011 - 2010

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

American Surrealist in the ACE Basin

Barbara and Duke Hagerty stand with 'Aniche'
The Colleton Center in downtown Walterboro welcomed Dr. Duke Hagerty of Charleston on Thursday November 5. Jean Harrigal invited the now retired plastic surgeon to exhibit some of his artwork in the gallery, so that art patrons could review his style before the ACE Basin lecture. The new coffee table book American Surrealist captures four decades of colorful madness, which is the art of Richard Hagerty.

The book signing sometimes includes offhand sketches
The Hagerty family owns land on Edisto Island and they are conservationists and stewards of the ACE Basin, so he was glad to visit Walterboro to speak and to sell books. Walterboro resident Marsh Johnson was shopping at the local Goodwill Store and found a piece of modern art that she appreciated, by Duke Hagerty. Johnson was one of the first to have her copy of American Surrealist signed by Hagerty, and the artwork she purchased at Goodwill was on display too. That piece was dated 1998, and is just one of the hundreds of creations that Hagerty has put on canvas thanks to his prolific rate of production. 
Coffee-Table Book with 40-year retrospective

A keen birdwatcher, Dr. Hagerty showed a photo during his lecture of a Sandhill Crane that visited his Edisto Island pond in September. “I don’t hunt and I don’t fish, but I do watch the birds while mowing, and I do an awful lot of mowing out there,” said Hagerty. Serving a term on the board of the EdistoIsland Open Land Trust, Hagerty contributed to the strong conservation ethic found on the entire island today. To view my latest Lowcountry Birding Journal Observations click Sept. / Oct. 2015.

The image ‘Aniche’ on page 121 of the book was painted in 2008 and the premise is that Charleston will eventually disappear under rising sea water. Given that 6 of the top 18 all-time high tides recorded in Charleston came during October and November of 2015, this premise doesn’t seem all that outlandish.  Of the more than 20 distinct images present in Aniche, the prominent depiction of the now-extinct Carolina parakeet signifies Hagerty’s vision that change is already underway. For more information visit the Internet at

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

Art patrons attend the Colleton Center
To view past articles on the ACE Basin click on Trapping - 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 - USDA Under Secretary - National Estuarine Research Reserve