Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Youth Shoots First Dove on Season Finale Hunt

Happy to celebrate 11-year old Axel Gruber's First Dove on Jan.12
Dove hunting season extends into the middle of January, outlasting the South Carolina deer season by a full two weeks. If maintaining a dove field to hunt is a marathon, then the final two weeks of the season is more like a sprint to the finish line. At one season finale hunt an 11-year old youth made a pretty passing shot on a dove, sending the grey bird on its rainbow arc descent to the ground with feathers flying. The youth let out a whoop over this rite of passage, resonating with all the wingshooters in the field.

Capturing the moment with Uncle Charles Waring
My longtime colleague CharlesWaring elected to bring his 11-year old nephew Axel Gruber of Charleston to the dove hunt. Gruber has been with his uncle on a deer drive before, but he had never been to a dove hunt and was eager to attend. The two hunters would share a stand in the field and Waring would mentor everything from how to use hearing protection and rising up to shoot his double-barrel 20-gauge shotgun. A lone dove crossed the field, flying past the powerline at his stand, and Gruber took his shot. The bird folded and finished well away from his position, which is a sign that the bird had some momentum. Julian Clark and myself echoed the youth's boisterous yell because we both had a clear view of the momentous occasion.

Late season doves in the bag
Gruber took advantage of this opportunity by harvesting his first dove on the last day of dove season, and just one month before his next birthday. It’s hard to believe I don’t recall the exact age when I shot my first dove, but I know that I was very young and that I was with my father, who took me dove hunting early and often. With decades of dove hunting notched on my belt now, I know that it takes much  effort to prepare a dove field and that each hunt opportunity is a blessing.

We also had an 80-year old gentleman hunting with us that day. Any outdoor activity in life where people with a 70-year age range can participate together has merit. The older hunter doesn’t take a day in the field for granted, while the younger hunter often taps into a more heady experience of achievement. Traditions like these make Saturday afternoons during dove season extra special, and wingshooters will be counting the months until Labor Day restores them to the sporting calendar.

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

To view past blog entries about dove season opening click 20162014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009  

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2019 Grand American Coon Hunt - Treeing Walker Wins

2019 T-shirt Logo
The 54th Annual Grand American Coon Hunt played out under wet hunting conditions on Friday night January 4, but Saturday’s Coon Fest enjoyed lots of sunshine. When the December edition of American Cooner magazine mails out to coon hunting enthusiasts, the two-page registration form for the Grand American hunt on page 10 is prominent. The United Kennel Club administers the hunt and the first weekend of the New Year always seems to be the perfect time to gather hunters together, to let their canines give voice, demonstrating why they choose a certain breed of coonhound to represent them in the woods.

Lots of bench show trophies are awarded
The South Carolina State Coonhunters Association supports the Grand American through leadership from David McKee, and by providing locations to send hunting parties. They are raising awareness all year round in South Carolina by sponsoring a S.C. Coonhunters vanity license plate that is available from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. They are sponsoring another bench show and coon hunt in Manning, S.C. coming up on Jan 18 and 19, billed as the Hall of Fame hunt. For more information contact David McKee at 803-528-9050.

Coonhounds on display and for sale
At the end of the Championship night hunt competition in Orangeburg it was a Treeing Walker named All Night Polo winning the Overall Title, for owner Eddie Huntley and handler Dillon Bradshaw from Marshville, North Carolina. Second place went to another Treeing Walker, while third and fourth place went to English coonhounds. South Carolina finished with the most hounds in the Top 20 each night of the competition but Virginia and Tennessee hounds also scored well. The love of coonhounds and the hunting heritage that they stand for is being passed along to the next generation during this event, which is just one of the reasons that make the Grand American a great hunt tradition. To view all the 2019 winners click on UKC dogs.

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

To view past blog entries from the Grand American click on 20182017 - 20162015 - 2014 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2019 DUx Day at Bear Island WMA

Learn to I.D. migratory ducks at DUx Day 
A new idea to raise awareness about revenue from vanity license plates is being offered by the South Carolina chapter of Ducks Unlimited. The first ever DUx Day will be held in Colleton County at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area. The Ducks Unlimited funding helps the SouthCarolina Department of Natural Resources to improve the waterfowl habitat atBear Island WMA and participants will be able to view these projects. The timing for this event could not be better for those wanting to see lots of migratory ducks, and the program includes birding and a box lunch with biologists.

A vanity license plate through the S.C. Dept. of Motor Vehicles is a separate source of funding for the state chapter of DU, with those funds staying in South Carolina. The vanity plate funds go towards the DU mission of protecting, conserving, restoring and managing wetlands and associated habitats. The vanity plate fund also presented a check for $25,000 on December 21 to help conserve Crab Bank in Charleston Harbor, working with the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program.
The DUx Day on Saturday, February 9 requires the purchase of a $35 ticket and only a limited number are available. Duck hunting season ends on January 27, and the February 9 date is significant because this is the first day that the WMA is once again open to the public for bird watching, after the long duck season closure. Participants can expect to view lots of ducks but they might also see tundra swans, avocets and all manner of water birds. Having a biologist beside you really helps the identification process when large flocks of ducks are encountered.

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

To view past blog entries from Bear Island WMA click on 2014 Duck Hunt - 2012 Youth Waterfowl Hunt - 2012 Droptine Buck - 2010 Birdwatching - 2009 Duck Hunt - 2009 Birdwatching