Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Clark Family Ties and Tales from the Duck Marsh

Thanks to the Clark Family for sharing their vintage photos!
Nestled in the South Lowcountry of Jasper County is the lower part of the Coosawhatchie River.  A swath of that coastline belongs to Spring Hill Plantation, and while the duck ponds located there are mostly dormant now, they hint at the rich waterfowling heritage of the Clark family. Mr. Jocelyn (Josh) Clark is 95 years young and he is still hunting all manner of wild game, and he shares some of his experiences from a lifetime spent in the duck marsh.
His story begins with the knowledge that the Clark family resided up North, and that his grandfather Louis Crawford Clark owned a duck marsh in Vermont on the border with Canada. “I started shooting ducks with him in 1935, and I think the limit was 18 ducks per day,” said Clark. “The marsh he owned was around 2500-acres and neighboring owners were from Boston and Pittsburgh. We hunted out of canoes that went inside a floating blind.”
The ownership eventually went to his father Julian, and Josh spent endless amounts of time hunting there with him. His father was remarkable when it came to being a duck hunter, a passion that helped inspire him to author an act of conservation that remains intact today. “You see, my father had polio as a child and would never walk the rest of his life,” said Clark. “He commissioned a most able canoe man to take him hunting in the marsh at Highgate, and he went on to kill several thousand ducks.”
“I’ll never forget when John Tracy the canoe master, gave me my first paddling lessons in that marsh,” said Clark. ‘If the hunting slowed, my father would send us out so that I could learn to paddle. He loved that damn marsh so much that he sold a portion of it to the federal government in 1945 to form a refuge.”

Josh Clark with Lilla Lane Clark on 11/22/2009
Today the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge has ballooned to become 6,729-acres of prime duck habitat, the kind of place that is ducky by nature. The 900-acre pitch pine bog found there is unique, and the refuge garners accolades from various pillars of conservation. The Audubon Society designates it as an Important Birding Area (IBA) and it holds the Ramsar distinction of being a Wetland of International Importance. The refuge estimates that 25,000-waterfowl migrate through the refuge each year.

To view the entire feature article, with duck hunting tales from Jasper County, seek out a copy of the Charleston Mercury magazine.

To view past stories about waterfowling conservation click ACE Basin 25th Anniversary

To view past blog Field Notes click January 2017 December 2016 - June 2016 - February 2016December 2015 - October 2015 - September 2015 - August 2015 - July 2015 - June 2015 - February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011   

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