Thursday, August 30, 2012

2013 Lowcountry QDMA - Camera Survey workshop

National logo over wood grain
Speaker Kyle Jones with some nice buck mounts
The Lowcountry branch of the Quality Deer Management Association held a Deer Camera Survey workshop on August 29 at the Fort Johnson Baptist Church. QDMA founder Joe Hamilton was in attendance along with a handful of deer hunting enthusiasts. Speaker Kyle Jones is a wildlife biologist working at a 2500-acre private plantation in Berkeley County and he shared his experience with camera surveys, starting with the definition that a survey is not a census. Deer cam surveys are just another tool for deer herd managers to utilize like a spotlight survey and an annual harvest data logbook. Jones relayed that annual camera surveys reveal trends in deer populations, sex ratios, fawn survival and more. These surveys also record other species like turkeys and problem animals like wild hogs and coyotes. August is an ideal month to do camera surveys but if you want to get down to work in September, Jones says to divide the property up into 100-acre blocks and then place a deer cam in the center of that block. Use corn to bait the camera station for two weeks before beginning the survey, and then run the survey for 10 to 12 days. Remember to point the camera either due north or south to avoid unwanted glare at sunrise and sunset, and check the cameras half-way through the survey to make sure they are working fine. Avoid checking the cameras daily due to human scent contamination of the area, which would skew the survey findings. Two times to avoid camera surveys is during the acorn drop since deer are scattered, and after February 1 when bucks have shed their antlers. After the deer cam survey is completed, organize and separate the buck photos into different age classes. This helps anyone sharpen their 'aging deer on the hoof' skills, and can also help to formulate a 'shoot or don't shoot' plan for that particular year. Jones actually prefers flash cameras to Infrared cams because of the higher picture quality at night. One lucky attendee won a brand new deer cam during a raffle, and everyone else who attended is sure to be heading to check their cameras with renewed vigor!!

To view past blog entries about Lowcountry QDMA click here.
Don Hammond and friends

Welcome sign

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2013 ACE Basin QDMA - Native Vegetation Workshop

Dr. Craig Harper and QDMA's Joe Hamilton

BIG award for small ACE Basin branch

QDMA in SC logo

Workshop attendees
To read my feature article on the native vegetation workshop click Colletonian.

Days after speaking in Walterboro, Dr. Craig Harper was injured in a tree stand fall. Te read his account of that incident click QDMA.

To view past blog entries about the ACE Basin branch of QDMA click here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Caramba wins 2012 Governor's Cup Billfishing Series

Guy Harvey t-shirt design sums up the lure of offshore angling
Caramba wins the 2012 S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series, despite no individual tourney wins. Rather, it was a steady work ethic from owner Bob Faith and Captain Dale Lackey in each of the five individual events that allowed them to accumulate the most overall points. This team also won the S.C. Governor's Cup Billfishing Series in 2010 and in 2006, fishing from the 57-foot Custom Carolina boat built by Sunny Briggs. To read my feature article about Caramba's 2012 title click All At Sea.

Bob Faith at the Georgetown tourney

Capt. Dale Lackey and SCDNR's  Amy Dukes
To view past blog entries about the 2012 Gov. Cup events click here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SCDNR Sea Turtle Trawl Reflections

Loggerhead comes aboard in net with Mike Arendt
Bycatch is cataloged and returned to sea
It has been more than a month since going to sea with the SCDNR sea turtle trawl program, and the lessons learned are still worthy of sharing with others. It's funny how when nature reveals some of its natural beauty, it often takes a bit of time for that experience to be absorbed, and thus is cause for reflection. Thanks again to SCDNR for entrusting Lowcountry Outdoors with the honor of documenting their work on behalf of our coastal resources. The 75-foot Lady Lisa shrimp trawler offers   those aboard a safe and stable work platform, but it does not offer a whole lot of elbow room, especially over a five day sea turtle cruise. However, some simple rewards such as sunset and sunrise while at sea, set the stage for a unique week of work while encountering some of the largest and longest-lived species of sea turtles found off the southeastern coastal waters. To read my feature article on the SCDNR sea turtle cruise click All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about the SCDNR sea turtle cruise click here.
Hootie and the ???

Bag tie knot - my first!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Big Rock's blue marlin man - exclusive interview

Angler Todd Baxley and the blue marlin that won Big Rock
Crew of Flybuoy at 2012 Big Rock
The 2012 Big Rock blue marlin tournament saw Flybuoy etch their name into history as the 54th team to trump all others with the heaviest fish at this prestigious tournament. Angler Todd Baxley is as humble as they come, but when pressed for the details of their tournament winning blue marlin, we learned a lot. Turns out Baxley was the one who chose and rigged the baits, struck the fish and reeled it in, before having to change gears in order to gaff the fish and muscle it in through the transom door of the 60-foot Ocean sportfisher. With only four people aboard including owner Gary Davis, Capt. Robert Hollingsworth and wife Kathy Baxley - it was up to Todd to be a saltwater Iron Man for Flybuoy. Their blue marlin was caught on the first day of competition and weighed 499.3-pounds, and it held up during the week-long event to win. Baxley told me that being the winning angler at Big Rock had long been on his bucket list, and that he owes some thanks to his friend Marlin Parker in Kona, Hawaii who has taught him a lot about how to raise, hook and catch blue marlin. Baxley also told me that he appreciates Big Rock tourney director Randy Ramsey with Jarrett Bay boats, and ALL of the North Carolina fans that congratulated him and his team. Lowcountry Outdoors would like to echo Baxley's sentiment that North Carolina is doing a fabulous job with the Big Rock tourney and it is worthy of high praise. As for the immediate future, look for Baxley and team to be back on the bluewater this fall fishing aboard Flybuoy. This team has been fishing together for fourteen years, and they won the 2003 MegaDock tourney with a 494.40-pound blue marlin. To read my feature article and exclusive interview with angler Todd Baxley click on All At Sea.

Big check and all smiles for Flybuoy

Big Rock's dramatic flair on display
For a past blog entry about the 2012 Big Rock blue marlin tourney click here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Congressional Friends of saltwater anglers

Graham and Rep. Jeff Duncan enjoy the Lowcountry Outdoors

Cover from October 2012 issue
A recent feature article concerning the Politics of Fish, recognizes the Congressman who are standing up for the average recreational angler. Author Jeff Angers is the President for the Center for Coastal Conservation, and is a native of Louisiana. Jeff Angers has offered this blogger counsel and friendship, and I appreciate his work ethic. The fact that his feature article appears in the October issue of Sport Fishing Magazine, sends a clear signal that editor Doug Olander also appreciates the work that Jeff Angers is doing in D.C. on behalf of the average recreational angler. In Olander's Editorial entitled Movers and Shakers, he states that while Jeff Angers' name might not be familiar to many readers, he has become well-known in D.C. for voicing concern on behalf of marine-fish conservation and sport fishing. Furthermore, South Carolinians (my home state) can be proud that Representative Jeff Duncan is highlighted in this important article. Duncan was active in S.C.'s natural resources long before he migrated to D.C. and is now a strong supporter of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation. On a recent trip to D.C. for the DU 75th anniversary I found Duncan in attendance, and he greeted me warmly and told me that I could assure readers that he would look out for the interests of hunting and fishing. It seems that Angers' article would validate what Duncan, and the other deserving Who's Who of Congressional saltwater sportsman, are doing to safeguard those interests. To view the feature article click The Politics of Fish.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bird Season Primer and Sandy Island Deer Hunts

         The traditional start date of August 15 for deer season is here and sportsmen across the Lowcountry are able to target male deer. Presently, there is no limit on bucks, but remember that the season for doe deer does not begin until September 15. For wingshooters, the arrival of September 1 will renew their favorite pastime of shooting doves, which is accompanied with fellowship time among sporting friends. 

Marsh hens harvested in 2011
          Whether shooting doves with a 12-gauge automatic shotgun or a more sporting 20-gauge double barrel gun, hunters will need plenty of shotgun shells. A good option to tote those shells is Browning’s Wild Boar shell pouch, which attaches around your waist via an adjustable belt with quick release buckle. There is nothing wrong with looking good in the dove field by wearing a little pigskin.
            With no dove vest, hunters will need an easy way to move around with their harvested doves. Sure you can grab a limit of doves by the wings or legs, but that leaves hands often bloody and covered in feathers too. Try out a game strap, by TangleFree products, which is designed to hang the birds by the neck in the loops that cinch down, allowing an easy way to handle your birds, and a great way to show them off.
             September weather means afternoon showers, and you can't go wrong with a stuffable camo rainsuit from Frogg Toggs. An umbrella in the dove field is too cumbersome and really limits one's range of motion while pass shooting. To view the feature article on the September bird seasons click Charleston Mercury. The article also includes all you need to know about how to obtain the free permit to deer hunt on Sandy Island.

Sandy Island map from TNC

Essential bird hunting gear

To view past blog entries about early season deer gear click here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lowcountry Fishing Report - 8/21/2012

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:

Shannon Elias with a 51-pound HOO caught at FFM
Charleston Inshore: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West dares anglers to pick your poison since there is a fish ready to suit almost any desire. Redfish are still the typical summer target, located under docks and along structure at low tide. Tailing redfish in the grass at high tide can be targeted via boat, kayak or on foot using a flyrod or light tackle. The trout bite is still very strong, with juvenile trout mixed in with 3 to 4-pound specks. Use live minnows or shrimp under a popping cork for a sure bet, but for the challenge of casting an artificial try the new Trout Trick lure or a Zman Paddlerz in 'bad shad' color. Target trout around creek mouths and shell rakes in 3 to 6-feet of water at high tide, or target them at low tide around hard bottom areas with humps, lumps and ledges. Spanish mackerel continue to jump just past the jetties. The flounder bite is going strong around inlets and rock piles. The tarpon bite is WIDE OPEN right now especially at inlets like Bulls Bay, Deveaux Bank and Stono Inlet. Use large mullet or live menhaden when targeting the silver king. For all the latest seminar reports visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Bart Manly at the Summerville location of The Charleston Angler measures water temperatures in the middle to upper 80's now. Redfish are tailing well and have been chasing bait like shrimp and fiddlers with a vengeance. Fishing for reds on the flats the next couple of weeks will be favorable for wading due to flood tides. Fly anglers should use bright and flashy flies, especially ones that imitate fiddler crabs. Spin fishermen would do well to use soft plastics like a Berkley Gulp in New Penny with a lightweight jighead. The trout bite continues to be good, and customers use a D.O.A. shrimp under a popping cork or go with live mud minnows for steady results. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at The Charleston Angler.

WELCOME to Josh Boyles from Southern Drawl Outfitters in Hilton Head! Josh reports that redfishing has been the best early in the morning and then again later in the afternoon. Big tides have made for great fly fishing action in the grass. Be one the lookout for BIG jack crevalle that have moved into Calibogue Sound, and are blowing up topwater poppers. As an option to the poppers, try a Shimano Waxwing swimming jig. Tarpon have been spotty up until now but they seemed to have turned on jus this week in Port Royal Sound. Target tarpon at the mouth of the sound and at the Broad River bridge. Speckled trout are making a fantastic comeback with far more customers bragging this year about the fun of catching them with a live shrimp fishing under a cork. For the latest store information visit the Internet at Southern Drawl Outfitters.

WELCOME to Stump from Pawleys Island Outdoors who reports that oxygen-depleted waters are being attributed to a major flounder bite in the surf along the grand strand! The trout bite has been decent and the reds are on fire in the creeks and in deep channels. The tarpon have pushed inside the bays and rivers and are now accessible to everyone. Also, the nearshore wrecks are loaded with spadefish, flounder and sheepshead. For more store information visit the Internet at Pawleys Island Outdoors.

Offshore: Josh says to find the scamp grouper, head out to 160-feet of water. Drop down cigar minnows and hold on because the bite has been great.

Bart shares that the offshore results for wahoo and dolphin are still decent, but weather has become a concern. Anglers might have a smooth ride offshore, but storms can churn the ocean quickly making for a long return leg. Black sea bass are being found in 55 to 100-feet of water and the grouper bite is doing well over live bottom in 90 to 120-feet using cigar minnows and live pinfish.

Scott says anyone looking to wrangle in some sailfish should head out now and get it done! Reports of 4 to 8 shots per day on sails is not uncommon, with the best action in 250 to 400-feet of water. Wahoo numbers are good with 2 to 5 per trip coming from 150 to 250-feet of water. There is even some dolphin and blackfin tuna still available at the offshore buffet. King mackerel are full grown in August, just reference the two 40+ pounders at the recent Fishing For Miracles tourney. Target kings in the shipping channel out to 120-feet of water. On the down side, the bottom fishing fleet  are using live baits for grouper in 75 to 110-feet of water. Butterfly jigs provide an option to live baits.

To view past fishing reports for the coastal Lowcountry click here.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

2012 Fishing For Miracles winner Sweet Sarah IV

Team Reelin' on Day One
The Day One lead for Sweet Sarah IV out of Beaufort held up during the second day of the 2012 Fishing For Miracles tournament, and they claimed the 1st place prize money of $16,250. The second place boat from Day One also kept their position and Ripple Effect took home $4875 in prize money.
2011 Champs Team Sperry / Net Profit on Day One
Saturday's weigh-in did see a new third place fish, and a new top lady angler as well, when Courtney Taylor brought her 38.11-pound king to the scales. Team No Patience from Moncks Corner fish out of a 31-foot Cape Horn boat and shared that their fish hit a double-menhaden rig fished right behind the boat in about 140-feet of water. Other crew members include Bryan Taylor, Leia Elias and Shannon Elias, who oh by the way reeled in a 51-pound wahoo as well. Third place pays $3250. Team Reelin' slipped one spot from Day One and finished in fourth with a $1300 payday. Team Lowcountry native weighed in a smoker 35.18-pound king on Saturday to finish in fifth place and win $650.

Roc Doc on Day Two

Eren's Addiction on Day One
To view blog coverage from Day One of the 2012 Fishing For Miracles click here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

2012 Fishing For Miracles - Day One Fishing

Mick Russell, Tom Ogle and leading angler Ellis Hamm

Trent Calder with his 43.25-pound king mackerel

Karen Poots of Team Final Approach

Like a fine bourbon, FFM keeps getting better
CCA's annual king mackerel tourney to benefit the MUSC Children's Hospital is being fished out of Ripley Light Yacht Club. The sea conditions were nearly flat calm today and plenty of feisty fish were biting, just not all of them king mackerel. Some boats had sailfish behind the boat, and others caught cobia and wahoo. When the weigh-in began on Friday at 2 p.m. it was Team Ripple Effect on a Freeman 33 that was first to weigh-in, and Trent Calder set the bar high with his 43.25-pound king mackerel. The next boat to weigh in was Sweet Sarah, and they trumped Calder's fish with one of their own that went 43.93-pounds at the scale. Ellis Hamm was the angler on the 23-foot Key West out of Beaufort that fed a pogie to the Day One leading king about 8:15 in the morning. Plenty of other boats came to the docks before the weigh-in was over at 5, but none overtook the top two kings! Weigh-in on Saturday is from 1 to 4 at Ripley Light Yacht Club.
To view past blog entries from Fishing For Miracles click here.

Grown 8-point shedding velvet / 2012 Opening Days success story

Blair Williams and his opening day buck in shredded velvet

Wonderful buck caught shining his antlers
Close-up view of 18-inch spread with dripping velvet
Side view of antlers
Seasoned hunter Blair Williams of Beaufort put it all together on opening day of deer season to harvest a once-in-a-lifetime buck that was caught in the act of scraping velvet from his antlers in the last light of day. Hunting near Yemassee with friends, Williams' morning still hunt did not fare as well. After he climbed in his treestand at first light, he paused for a moment of prayer, giving thanks for another deer season. When he opened his eyes a buck with a decent rack was within view, however it kept moving away and did not offer a shot. Property manager Comer Morrison collected the morning hunters and they elected to move one of the deerstands, giving it a quick coating of camo paint in the process. The friends took a break from the woods through the middle of the hot and sunny day, and returned to their stands at 7 p.m., with Williams climbing into the relocated stand at Morrison's request. The stand was in mature woods with a mix of pines and hardwoods, that lies between a cornfield and the bottomland running alongside it. Williams reports that the conditions were hot and that his Thermacell worked overtime on the bugs. After seeing no deer by 8:30 he began to pack his gear to leave - and then he heard one twig snap behind him! No less than four bucks emerged with a small 8-point passing very near to his stand, with two more bucks behind him. Then a thrashing noise startled those three bucks, causing them to scamper off, and when Williams' raised his .260-caliber rifle to look through the woods at the last light of day, he saw a mature 8-point buck lifting his head up from a large fallen limb being used to 'shine up' his antlers. The buck was about 30-yards and quartering away when Williams' made the decision to shoot, and the buck dropped down into the dwarf palmettos. When his friends arrived to view the buck, the tale of the tape revealed an 18-inch inside spread, and the fine buck was weighed to be 195-pounds, which is the heaviest buck Williams has ever harvested. "It was just an awesome hunt," said Williams. "The best part was hunting with friends on quality deer management land, and I am very grateful for that opportunity."

For past blog entries about bucks in velvet antlers click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012 Deer Season is IN

Great bucks from 2011
The opening day of deer season returns to the Lowcountry outdoors on August 15, and is looked forward to with much anticipation by big game hunters. Sportsmen across the Lowcountry are able to target male deer. Presently, there is no limit on bucks, but remember that the season for doe deer does not begin until September 15. Ample summer rains have caused crops to grow, food plots to explode, and general deer browse to flourish - ALL of which should serve to grow some big bucks this year; both in weight and antler class. Whether driving with dogs, still hunting with a rifle or using any number of primitive hunting methods - be careful out there in 2012!

New for 2012 is the Men’s Safety Hunting Jacket by Famars, which has international orange panels on the jacket, that can be covered if need be. Essentially this is an olive waterproof hunting jacket of the highest caliber, with a zippered game bag in back. Carrying one jacket around in the truck is more convenient than needing two different coats.
Blaze-orange lined hunting jacket by Famars
OraFor instance, let’s say that a sportsman wants to enjoy a dog drive for deer in the morning, and then try a still hunt later in the day. This one jacket can be used for both occasions, allowing the orange panels on front and back to be displayed during the deer hunt.  Then zip the flaps shut later, in order not to spook any wildlife in the afternoon. For jacket photos and specs click Famars.
To view past blog entries about the opening of deer season click here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Ryder Cup - Team Captain is Davis Love III

Davis Love III and PGA President Allen Wronowski
Eight members of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup team 
The conclusion of the PGA Championship provided the perfect time to reveal the top 8 players for the 2012 Ryder Cup. Team Captain Davis Love III held a press conference to discuss the players who automatically qualified for the U.S. Team (see photo), and how he will use his judgement to pick an additional four players. "Both the U.S. and European teams will be deep with talent, so I have to pick the remaining players for the U.S. team by considering who has previous experience and who blends well with our marquee players," said Love III. Players may also be considered based on how well they handle pressure since the bi-annual tourney between the top European players, like Rory McIlroy, against the top U.S. players can become hotly contested. Love III assured those present that all the pro golfers are friendly to each other before and also after the Ryder Cup, which will be played at Medinah Country Club near Chicago on September 28 - 30. After the Ryder Cup, Love III will host the McGladrey Classic in October at St. Simon's Island in Georgia.
Davis Love III  after media conference

Davis Love III at the 2012 PGA
To view blog entires from the 2012 PGA Championship click here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy at a media center press conference
The final round at the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island was a runaway victory for 23-year old Rory McIlroy. The 2011 U.S. Open winner is now halfway to a career grand slam (winning all four majors) and is beating his fellow competitors the way that Tiger used to rout the entire field. The Ocean Course played tough for everyone except McIlroy who possessed an overall grasp of the game that allowed him to dominate in every phase, winning by an all-time record of 8 strokes. Congrats Rory!

To view my feature story in the Colletonian click here.

To view past blog entries from the 2012 PGA Championship click here.

To view past blog entries about golf in 2014 click Tour or PGA Tour or Champions Tour.

Rich Beem celebrates a birdie with style!
David Toms and company watch an incoming ball flight
The 2012 PGA Championship - Glory's Last Shot

Saturday, August 11, 2012

2012 PGA Championship - Round Three

Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott jawing
The third round of the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island saw play suspended a litle after 5 p.m. due to stormy weather with rain and lightening. If play is unable to resume to complete Round Three on Saturday, then the third round will be completed first thing Sunday morning, ahead of the fourth round - to determine who will win the final major of the year!

Private club on the back nine

Bubba Watson takes relief and drops his ball into play

The PGA championships flag
To view past blog coverage of the 2012 PGA Championship click here.