Monday, December 27, 2010

Change of pace for outdoor fun

Abbeville Squirrel with blond tail - Photo by L. Ross

Fleeing squirrel and handgun kill photos by L. Ross

Now that big game season is drawing to a close, it is a good time to concentrate on small game. For a real challenge, try hunting with a high velocity pellet rifle or a handgun for squirrels.

Some of the new pellet guns are super efficient, especially using PBA ammo. This ammo is lighter in weight and doesn't deform as lead does. You may have seen promotions on TV showing hogs up to 180 pounds being taken with head shots by pellet guns.

Scope-sighted pellet rifles are good for 30-40 yard shots and head shots are not difficult. One advantage of hunting with these guns is the quiet report. You can shoot a squirrel and remain quiet and soon they will be moving again.

Another option is to spot and stalk. After a shot, a short move will have you approaching another squirrel that has not been alerted to danger.

Great fun can be had with .22 caliber handguns hunting squirrels. This provides more of a challenge, but is great practice to improve your handgun skills.

Don't mope around the house when deer season ends. Hit the woods with pellet rifle or handgun from some great action. Squirrels are abundant and the small target will be a challenge to your skill.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hunting Geese in S.C.

The reports of migratory waterfowl are going strong this year, including two fabulous goose harvests over the weekend. First off the Wrecking Crew guide service in Rock Hill got in a good 'whack and stack' hunt when 100 Canadian geese worked their deadly decoy spread. Then a couple of experienced duck callers in Elloree saw these snow geese working an ag field and use throat vocalizations to draw them near enough to harvest! Keep FoothillsOutdoors in mind for waterfowl harvest reports and keep a check of the waterfowl forum on here.

PhotosSubmitted: Canada geese stacked like cord wood in the foothills, a pair of snow geese in the midlands

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

YMCA Conference at Camp Greenville

The Greenville YMCA will be holding the annual PEAK (Preparing Educators for Adventures with Kids) at Camp Greenville. It is a great opportunity for educators, camp directors and mentors of youth to participate in sessions dealing with subjects that will broaden their horizons in subjects of interest to that age group.

Last year's keynote speaker was Rudy Mancke, former host of Naturescene on ETV. This year's list of speakers and presenters will cover a range of interests and offer topics that will help to prepare attendees for the challenges of working with young people.

L. Woodrow Ross had primitive craft exhibits at last year's conference, bt will be a presenter this year. He will offer a pre-conference session on Feb. 10. This will be an extended session and will offer hands-on activities for participants in primitive crafts from how-to sessions on making bows, arrows, natural fiber cordage, atlatls, fire-starting, flint knapping and more.

On Feb. 11 and 12, Ross will be leading sessions on "Introduction to Primitive Crafts" and "Writing for Publication".

In addition to the sessions, a new booklet entitled "The Outdoor Life and Primitive Crafts" will be available, along with previously published books and booklets on various outdoor topics.
Photos above by L. Ross show arrow and stone points knapped by Ross, bow drill starting fire, illustration of cordage making and a knife by Ross with stone blade and Osage Orange handle.

Rimini duck hunt in 18-degree weather

The state democratic caucus annual duck hunt was held a the South Carolina Waterfowl Association facilities in Rimini. The state legislators shared the camaraderie of the duck blind the morning after their planning meetings for the 2011 General Assembly. With unusually cold December weather already in S.C., some unusually good duck hunting has been on tap this year. Waterfowlers always yearn for cold weather up north to bring some migratory ducks down to South Carolina, and temperatures in the teens may be even more than most folks wish for, since it freezes up a lot of the duck hunting ponds in the area. For a detailed report on what was in the bag on Tuesday 12/14 visit the waterfowling forum on here. How cold was it? Hunter Tony Wielicki coined a new phrase yesterday - a 'bloodsickle' is when you pick up your harvested duck and the blood coming out freezes in an icicle formation. Strange but true!

PhotoByJeffDennis: SC House Minority Leader Rep. Harry Ott, Phil Bailey, Rep. Ted Vick (Chief of the SC House Wildlife committee), Sen. Vincent Sheheen and Matt Nichols; SCWA's wetland wildlife center sign welcomes hunters; Rep. Ted Vick and Jeff (in True Timber camo) are dressed for the extreme cold weather and managed to take their limits in wood ducks; Tony Wielicki and his dog Moon with his black duck and woodies

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

QDMA founder up for Bud conservation award

Did you know that the Quality Deer Management Association was formed right here in South Carolina? Joe Hamilton of Walterboro started the very first QDMA chapter in the Lowcountry, and it has now become an international entity. To read more about Hamilton and to use the Bud link to vote before Dec. 17 visit here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Carolina Bay Duck Hunting

Andy Stevenson and his son, Mac, have experienced a successful beginning to the 2010/11 waterfowl season. The photos, courtesy of Andy, show a good mixed bag on a couple of hunts and one photo shows Mac with a nice black duck that he killed.
Black ducks are some of the wariest of puddle ducks and the populations are not huge, so it is an accomplishment to add one to the bag.
The Stevensons hunt on a unique property. The family farm is the location for a Carolina Bay. These are interesting natural occurences thought to have been created thousands of years ago by asteroids. They are usually eliptical in shape and the depressions usually contain water and some plant types that are not found anywhere else on the planet.
Andy says they they refer to it as the "Three Holes Bay" and it offers some excellent duck hunting. Judging by the photos, I'd say he is correct!
Reports around the state seem to indicate that the waterfowl numbers are good and hunters are experiencing a good success rate.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oconee hunter take nice 10 point buck

Photo provided by Ken Lundin

Three times was the ticket for success for Ken Lundin in Oconee county on a November 23rd hunt. Lundin has seen the buck two times before and even shot and had a clean miss the second time.
On opening day of gun season, Lundin was hunting in a favorite hollow. The buck appeared below his position and winded him and quickly disappeared. The second sighting was in the same area, but Lundin was hunting farther down the hollow and the deer came out above him and stopped between two trees. He shot and missed cleanly and the buck disappeared again.
On November 23rd, Lundin moved to the position where he had last sighted the deer. He hunting from the ground on this occasion. He heard snorting and grunting and soon a doe appeared with the buck trailing about 20 yards behind her. He stopped broadside at about 50 yards and Lundin dropped him with one shot from his .30-.30 with a 150 grain slug.
It looks like the third time was a charm and he took a trophy that would make any hunter proud.

Successful Events for Upstate Mobility Impaired Hunters

Photo: L. Ross

Two special hunts were held at 45 private tracts of land in the upstate this deer season. A total of 138 hunters participated and 55 deer were harvested. No application fees or other costs were involved for the hunters.

The two hunts (two days each) were scheduled in October and November. They were the result of cooperative efforts of private landowners, timber companies, sportmen's preserves, hunt clubs and SCDNR.

On these hunts, requirements are that participants must have severe and permanent mobility impairments. Each participant may bring a non-hunting person to assist them. All hunting is from ground blinds.

All participants were also invited to a barbeque lunch at either Tyger Ranch in Union County or Quaker Creek Farm in Laurens County for a time of fun and fellowship. Overnight accomodations were available at some of the hunt sites.

In addition to the other sponsors, the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund and Wounded Warrior Project were involved in supporting this project.

These events provided a unique opportunity for a very deserving group of individuals.

November WMA duck harvest report

It looks like the waterfowl hunting in S.C. during November of 2010 was far better than say the last four or five years. With drought conditions nearing, it's hard to predict why this year the ducks think our habitat is looking good. Possibly it's because nature revolves in cycles and the replenishing rains of last winter have made a difference in the quality of our forage this year - just a thought for readers to consider. For a full report of the tally number on click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Scenes from past Bear Island WMA draw hunts

Friday, December 3, 2010

Savannah River Site 12/1 Hunt Report

The "Deer Control Activity" draw hunt at the SRS near Aiken, S.C. is likely the largest driven deer hunt in the Southeast. With roughly the same amount of acreage as the Francis Marion National Forest, the Department of Energy has consistently held about 10 hunts a year for the past few decades in order to control the deer population. Safety is the hallmark of the SRS hunt with more than 50 standers and 50 dog drivers in the woods, each hunt begins with a thorough safety meeting that drives home what is expected from everyone. Lowcountry Outdoors first visited the SRS for this hunt in 1998 and found it to be well attended by like-minded hunters from other states like Georgia, North Carolina - and even Alabama, Louisiana and beyond. While not for everyone, the SRS draw hunt has stood the test of time as a worthy endeavor and a well-run program. To see more pics on click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: William McClure of Mooresville, N.C. with his 237-pound hog; Kym Gainey with one of the fine bucks harvested at the SRS; A hunter admires his harvest; Two S.C. men drag their buck to their truck

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Jones Gap State Park Adds 305 Acres

Photos by L. Ross of species found in Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park was recently expanded by a gift of 305 acres from the Naturaland Trust. The gift was worth $1.8 million. In addition, another 200 acre is expected to be given by the Nature Conservancy in the future.

The gift includes Grassy Top Mountain, the second highest peak in South Carolina at 3,268 feet. Grassy Top is only 300 feet lower than Sassafras Mountain, the location of a recently constructed observation deck.

This pristine property will be protected from development and will be available for public access. The tract is east of Jones Gap State Park and 40 miles north of Anderson, SC. It includes the headwaters of Tankersly Branch River and the elevation offers a spectacular view.

Tommy Wyche, a Greenville attorney and founder of Naturaland Trust and his son, Brad Wyche, founder of Upstate Forever, were instrumental in obtaining and arranging easements assuring that the Jones Gap area will be enlarged and protected from development. In addition, they were involved in helping to protect 1,900 acres at Asbury Methodist Camp near Caesar's Head three years ago.

These new additions will provide wilderness areas that may be used for recreation and enjoyment by citizens and we owe our continuing gratitude to those responsible for helping to protect them.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hunting and Fishing the "Edges"

Unfortunately, the images above are all that some hunters see when they are pursuing wild game or fish. There are some tactics that will make you more successful.
My late father-in-law said that he never found a recipe for preparing a meal from tracks. He had a point. Just like the unsuccessful hunter on TV that said he would have to eat "Tag Soup".
If you're not bagging game consistently, you are using the wrong tactics or you're in the wrong place. You need to analyze what you're doing wrong and make some corrections.

Most game animals and even fish are found much of the time in "Transition Zones" or "Edges". For example, when hunting deer, look for habitat where several types of vegetation or terrain meet. This could be mature forest where it meets a cut-over or a field. Fields with weeds and shrubs around the perimeter that meet woodlands are examples.

These places provide cover. In the off-season, you may observe deer feeding in fields or food plots, but when the season opens, much of this activity is nocturnal. You will be more successful if you find "Staging" areas around the perimeter of these food plots. The deer will move into these areas before dawn prior to moving to bedding areas and also prior to dusk before moving into the open field.

Fish are also creatures of the edge. They will hold in areas where slack water and swift water meets. They expend a minimum of energy until they see food in the current, move out to snatch it and retreat to the slower currents.

These edges may also be behind rocks that break the current or dips in the bottom structure that allows the faster current to move over the pocket.

Charles Waterman, noted wildlife writer, even mentions fish being more responsive at the edge of day and night (dawn or dusk) and at the edges of weather changes.

When you are scouting, remember those key words, "Edges" or "Transition Zones".
This will be your ticket to success.

Hunting and Fishing the "Edges"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Boat Raffle to benefit S.C. Ducks Unlimited

Da Boat from SC DU is going to be a special year-end fundraiser where 100 tickets are being sold at $100 each, and the winner will be drawn on Christmas Eve. Talk about timing - just get some gas and some lucky waterfowler could be shooting ducks Christmas morning in his new rig!

DU's website recently underwent an upgrade and here is a link to the state contacts for S.C. DU

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Belfast WMA Dedication

It was a special day today at Belfast WMA. The event was a dedication of the property to serve as recreational and educational area for present and future generations. The 4,664 acres is a wonderful addition to the wildlife management program.
Speakers included: Michael McShane, Chairman, S.C. Department of Natural Resources Board, Representative Mike Pitts, District 14, Larry Selzer, President, The Conservation Fund, Marvin Durant, Executive Director, South Carolina Conservation Bank, and John Frampton, Director, S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
Marvin Durant spoke of days gone by when outdoor opportunities abounded. He said, "We have bought back part of the past by purchasing Belfast Plantation."
John Frampton said, "The number one priority of the SCDNR board has been habitat protection." He went on to say that Belfast will be unique in the was that it is used to provide educational opportunities for youth, access for "wounded warriors" and as a special place to be utilized by local residents. He assured that revenue generated by sound timber management practices would be used for upkeep and improvement of the WMA and not channelled back to the agency.
South Carolina has seen a loss of public hunting and recreational property in past years, but it was stressed in this meeting that over 145,000 acres have been purchased during the current board's tenure.
Larry Selzer gave an inspirational talk about the need for children to get outdoors and experience the healthy activities of nature. There is a "dullness" in many of today's children. An average if seven hours daily in front of electronic devices has contributed to increases in obesity, diabetes and other problems.
Loss of habitat and places to recreate ourselves is becoming more of a problem daily. Setting aside jewels such as Belfast will help to stem the tide and hopefully we can see a re-awakening of the desire to experience nature.
Photos by L. Ross above show Belfast Plantation house and John Frampton.

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 SCOPe conference

The photos above were taken last weekend at the 2010 South Carolina Outdoor Press Association's 2010 fall meeting by L. Ross.
As you can see from the photos, outdoor activities and seminars covered a wide array of topics and activities. The left photo is noted turkey call maker Irving Whitt working his magic with a "suction call" which is a variation of the old turkey wingbone call. He and Steve Mann each donated a box call for the SCOPe auction and gave talks and demonstrations of their skill at fooling old tom.
The center photo shows Brian Cope with a nice shellcracker (red-eared sunfish) taken on a side trip to Lake Murray. Jim Casada and guide Doug Lown are shown in the background. The morning was cold, but as the temperature warmed in mid-morning, the shellcrackers responded to our offerings of nightcrawlers presented on ultra-light gear.
Guide Doug Lown is shown in the photo on the right holding another nice specimen. He is a well-know guide on Lake Murray and pursues largemouth bass and other species successfully. Capt. Lown is very personable and competent and will provide a great experience on the water, whether you are a novice or experienced angler. Contact him at (803) 321-9026 home or (803)924-8946 cellular to schedule a trip.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red Drum action at Oriental, NC

The photo on the left is Vernon Bennett of Anderson, SC, holding a 43" red drum that was later released. The photo on the right is Bennett and Craig Caldwell of Denver, NC, holding two North Carolina citation red drum of 44" and 45". Photos are courtesy of Capt. Price.

They were fishing with Capt. Craig Price of Denver, NC. Capt. Price is a fishing guide based on Lake Norman and books seasonal salt water trips in the Oriental, NC area. On this trip, they were fishing at the mouth of the Neuse River when a large school of red drum surfaced near them to feed on menhaden. They were bottom fishing with cut mullet and tossed some chunks of mullet near the school to attract them. They proceeded to catch seven of the giant drum before the action subsided.

That, my friends, is a good day on the water!

Contact information for Capt. Price is:
Capt. Craig Price
PO Box 1623
Denver, NC 28037

Sunday, November 7, 2010

WNC Fly Fishing Expo

Saturday was a great day at the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Expo. We had a good time and saw some old friends. It was informative and good to see the latest new gear.
With the moving of the 2011 show from Charlotte to Raleigh, the WNC show will probably be even bigger next year.
There was a good crowd, but the tough economic times seemed to be affecting sales. There were a lot of lookers, but it appeared that sales were slow.
We talked with noted fly tyer Harrison Steeves, a Virginian, and were regaled with his funny stories. He is a "hoot" and very entertaining as well as being one of the leading fly tyers of terrestrial patterns.
Steeves has been a guide and biology professor, and is a writer and contract fly designer for Umpqua as serves on the pro staff for several companies. He ties at about five major fly fishing shows a year.
If you ever get a chance to see and talk with Steeves, don't miss a wonderful opportunity.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CCA 30 day tagged fish tourney

This November CCA members are eligible to enter the 2nd annual Lowcountry tagged redfish tournament, to look for the five redfish in the waters surrounding Beaufort that have been tagged with special CCA South Carolina tags. For the entire story on click here.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Jon Wood and Danny Rourk of Tail Wind Charters are fishing for the tagged CCA redfish in Beaufort, seen here pre-fishing 10/30

Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Expo

The selection of photos by L. Ross shows some of the opportunities, equipment and visual enjoyment of fly fishing. If you enjoy fly fishing and all its trappings, don't miss an opportunity to attend the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Expo on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 6 and 7.
The show will be open from 9-5 Sat. and 9-4 on Sunday. Parking is free and admission is $10 for adults. There will be equipment vendors, food service and a special micro brewery beer tasting on Saturday evening.
The show will feature noted speakers, including my friend Jim Casada, noted outdoor author and fly fishing authority. Speakers will be highlighting opportunities on western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee fly fishing waters.
In addition, there will be casting instruction, fly tying demonstrations, fly tying materials and equipment for sale and dealers there to answer your questions. Instructional information will be available and Casada will be glad to autograph copies for buyers.
Due to the moving of the January Fly Fishing Expo from Charlotte to Raleigh, this will be an opportunity to visit a show close to home. This is the second annual show at the North Carolina Agricultural Center, off highway 26 at highway 280 (near Asheville, NC, airport).
Check it out. You should not miss this event if you are a fly fisherman or have aspirations of becoming one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding area offers one of the greatest opportunities for the wildlife photographer. It is a unique experience to drive the narrow roads and view great numbers of bison and elk. Mule deer, coyotes and eagles are more chance sightings, but are not uncommon.
The photos above by L. Ross illustrate but a few of the species that are seen daily as one passes through the park. We have seen a grizzly on a bison kill, black bears, moose, bison, antelope, eagles, coyotes, geese, swans, sand hill cranes and many other special animals.
Fall is an excellent time to visit the area. Lodging is much less expensive and the crowds have left the park and the atmosphere is more casual and unharried.
Expect few delays from tourists viewing animals from the road.
Yellowstone Park is in the southwest part of Montana and several good day trips are available. Jackson Hole is a great trip and a side benefit is passing through Tetons National Park and viewing the mountains with the Snake River or Jackson Lake in the foreground. The wives always enjoy the shopping as well.
Cooke City is at the northeast corner of the park and is a nice drive and a good place to have lunch. In the winter, a webcam shows snowmobiles travelling on the streets.
Big Springs, Idaho is a preserve and the headwaters of the Snake River. Enormous Rainbow trout swim undisturbed in the waters and flocks of mallards swim in the crystal clear water. We have seen moose feeding in the springs on the succulent vegetation on several trips.
The fishing on the famous rivers is exciting, and big fish abound, but they are not easy to catch. They are pounded by many fisherman, even in the colder months and present a challenge to fly fishermen. Many of the waters are restricted to fly fishing only.
For a vacation of a lifetime, consider Montana. For a special, up close experience with the wildlife, a visit in the fall would be my recommendation.