Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Toast to 2016

December 2016 Diver Duck hunt results,
Ringnecks and Lesser Scaup
Cheers to the year that was 2016, and my 8th annual year end post looking at what transpired on the Lowcountry Outdoors blog. I remain thankful for the newsprint publications that continue to carry my byline including 13 years with the Charleston Mercury, six years with the Colletonian, and Tideline too. My regular contributions to magazines like Guy Harvey and Mossy Oak Gamekeepers keeps me sharp on subjects ranging from saltwater fishing to wildlife habitat management. I stay watchful for Field Notes, and as a Field Expert for Drake Waterfowl my duties included filming for Migration Nation TV.

I have 201 blog followers and my social media presence continues on Facebook and Google +. For those within earshot of I93.7 FM in Walterboro, I am on the air with weekly radio updates about the outdoors on Wednesday mornings with Uncle Miles Crosby. Working with SCDNR and conservation groups like CCA and DU always offer a great way to raise awareness for the general public about the traditions associated with hunting and fishing. Weather trends in 2016 ranged from Hurricane Matthew to widespread drought.

December 2016 Quail Hunt
It was a productive year to travel around South Carolina to experience and share what other regions (besides the Lowcountry) have to offer in regards to the outdoors, lodging, dining and hospitality. For the 2016 visits click on Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center - ACE Basin NERR - Abbeville - Seabrook Island - Rembert - Boykin - Kershaw County

I look forward to working in 2017 towards more blog entries about sporting tales from the outdoors, and I remain ever grateful to those who share their stories during outdoor pursuits. Live well in 2017, and keep one's health and reputation in mind at times!

To view past blog entries from my New Year's Eve Toast click 20152014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Quail Season Hunt Tips and CRP incentive

Temps in the 30's are ideal for upland hunts
A few quail for the iron skillet
Whether hunting private lands for bobwhite quail, or visiting a shooting preserve, the quail hunt know how is similar. Starting where your shoe leather meets the earth is a good place to have multiple options for upland hunting. I have a pair of lightweight hiking boots that are specifically for quail season, and when I have them on it just feels right. However, I choose to modify my footwear based on conditions, and while waterproof snakeboots aren’t nearly as comfortable for woods walking they are prudent when hunting during any warm spell of weather.
English Pointer in action

While quail hunting is not a social occasion on the scale of a dove hunt, it does offer outdoor recreation for even non-hunting participants. Some folks like to walk along with the group simply to observe the bird dogs at work, since canine interaction in the field is so special to view. Others may want to make some photographs of the dogs, their favorite hunters, or any other memorable encounters in the natural world. Socializing more people to quail hunting is always a winning proposition.

Wingshooter and bobwhites in flight
For those that are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to plant pine trees, a new incentive was just announced on December 9 to improve that same habitat to benefit bobwhite quail for future hunting. The USDA CRP tree thinning incentive will pay $150 pre acre on top of revenue from any timber harvest for those already enrolled in the program. Michael Hook is the small game program leader with the SCDNR, and a part of the S.C. Bobwhite Initiative.

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

To view past blog entries about quail season opening click on 2015 - 20142013 - 2012 - 2010 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Christmas Eve Dove Shoot

Notice dove hunter sitting behind livestock
Comes from keeping shells in my bird pouch
Unusually warm weather and full sunshine caused temperatures to soar into the 70's for our afternoon holiday dove hunt, and that caused the grey game birds to seemingly soar into the stratosphere. Late season dove hunts are notorious for doves that fly high as a result of a season of shooting pressure on them. But warm weather means that they can stay away from the feed and fly high and lazy, which underscores that any dove hunt is simply a chance to gauge what the birds are doing on any given day. My first two shots resulted in two downed birds, but as the birds flew higher and higher, I wasn't able to connect anymore. Lots of shooting all around the field at only a single dove or a pair of birds is a signal that not many doves were being harvested. The corn in this dove field at Polk Hunt Club was blown down by Hurricane Matthew, but the brown top millet crop was fully mature and offered a good amount of seed. A grand holiday tradition was observed during our Christmas Eve dove hunt, and holiday hunting remains a special time in the outdoors.

To view past blog entries about Christmas Eve Hunting click on 2012 Waterfowl - 2011 Deer - 2010 Oyster Roast - 2009 Dove

Millet seed

Christmas Eve Hunt Host

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Hunting Double Dose to Finish 2016

Running 8-Point Buck from 12/17/2016
The to do list heading into Christmas week means last minute shopping for Christmas gifts for almost everyone, but for deer hunters it also signals a last chance to harvest some venison for the freezer. With both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve falling on the last two Saturday’s of the calendar year, it’s like getting two extra special chances at tagging a buck or a doe. Other seasonal pursuits can easily be mixed in such as a holiday dove hunt, watching bird dogs work for quail, and don’t forget the Christmas goose.

Most holiday hunting is enjoyable due to cooler temperatures and the arrival of winter, but the 15-day forecast through Christmas and New Year’s Day looks to be unusually warm. With only one hard freeze so far in December, there is a chance that we don’t see more frost until 2017. Deer hunters will have to make the most of it though since the clock on the final season without buck limits is ticking down to a conclusion at the end of the day on January 1.

A lack of cold weather could translate into a lack of deer movement, and less need to feed heavy at corn piles and food plots. A buck with an 8-point rack likely knows that it’s a waiting game now until the hunting pressure drops off like a stone falling into a wishing well on January 2. But it’s never too late to take down a quality buck, and my personal best late harvest came on December 29 of 2011 when an 8-pointer stepped out, after a season of paying dues.