Thursday, September 30, 2010

Making an Osage Orange self-bow

These photos show some of the tools and steps in making a self longbow. A "self" bow is a bow made from one piece of wood, as opposed to a laminated bow. It is the most primitive type of bow, but can be very accurate and perform well when made of a desirable wood such as Osage Orange. Osage is a very dense, hard wood that is in great demand by bowyers.
If you are lucky enough to have access to Osage Orange trees, you can cut and cure a bow blank. This is very time consuming, and if you are as impatient as I, you would be better to purchase a blank.
A blank will be a roughed out stave and will require a lot of work to finish, but will be a project well worth undertaking. The basic tools required will be a band saw, rasp, round file, tillering stick, form for imparting reflex, sandpaper, leather for grip and lots of elbow grease.
The band saw will be used to taper the width of the limbs to the proper dimensions. It would be wise to use a template in order to make them symmetrical. If the blank is thick enough, you could cut out an arrow shelf to make it more of a center-shot bow, but many primitive archers "shoot off the fist" without a rest. You can use a piece of Osage or leather to form a rest to glue to the grip if desired.
The rasp will be used to remove wood from the belly of the bow to get it to the desired draw weight or poundage. No wood should be removed from the back of the bow. The belly faces the shooter and the back is facing away from the shooter. The back will be more flat and the belly will be somewhat rounded. The resulting cross-section would be "D" shaped.
"Floor tillering" is next. Each tip of the bow is alternately placed on the floor and flexed while the handle is firmly gripped. Both limbs should flex evenly with no hinge or stiff points. As you approach the poundage desired, you will need to place the bow on a tillering stick and use a rope and pulley to flex the bow to observe that it is flexing symmetrically. Use the rasp to remove wood to make flexing uniform.
When the desired weight is reached, the bow may be sanded. The only exception would be if you desire to add reflex to the limbs. If so, a curved form will be used. The handle should be clamped to the form and the limbs heated, with a heat gun, a few inches at a time and clamped against the form with the back against the curve. After both limbs are fully clamped, allow the bow to cool overnight before removing from the form. If you have a form with 3" of reflex, you may end up with 1" to 11/2" after cooling and relaxing.
Final sanding, wrapping the grip with leather, filing the nock grooves and applying finish are the remaining steps. Nocks may be re-enforced with buffalo horn, antler material, or synthetics to make them stronger and decorative if desired. Tru Oil gunstock finish is a good finish for bows, but there are many good options.
The only thing left now is to practice, practice, practice to become a better archer. For the ultimate challenge, learn to make bamboo and wood arrows as pictured in the photo.
Photos are by L. Ross of a bow that he is currently making.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

National Hunting and Fishing Day Successful

Duke's World of Energy in Seneca, SC, sponsored exhibits and activities for youth and adults to promote National Hunting and Fishing Day last Saturday, Sept. 25.
The event was well organized and attendance was excellent. Major organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl, Upstate Forever and many other had exhibits and demonstrations for attendees.
Kids got to shoot bows at various types of targets and learn to fly cast as well as observing fly tying, and other crafts. They also had an opportunity to get in a kayak (many for the first time).
It was a wonderful chance for kids and adults not familiar with outdoor skills to sample the activities and hopefully develop a desire to pursue them in the future.
This was the fourth year for this venue and we can only hope that is it will continue for many years to spread the word about outdoor fun.
Photos of archery, pier fishing and fly fishing instructonal area by L. Ross.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Governor's Cup Awards - VIDEO

The 2010 South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Awards were held at the Governor's Mansion on September 26, and was punctuated by the winning team's owner donating $20,000! Caramba won the 2010 Outstanding Billfish Boat award and Bob Faith made a grant towards the 2011 Gov. Cup Series and challenged future Series winners to make this kind of support a tradition. For more on the 2010 Governor's Cup awards on click this link.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Elizabeth, Jessie and Amy are part of the SCDNR Gov. Cup Staff; Jim and Wendy Goller represent the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Foundation; This blue marlin plaque was given to Governor Sanford for hosting the Gov. Cup awards for six years; John and Emily Horton represent the Georgetown Landing Marina.

VideoByJeffDennis: SCDNR Board Chair Mike McShane recognizes Governor Mark Sanford

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Outdoor Dream Foundation Event

You just have to love kids and their enthusiam for outdoor sports. They love to be involved. The photo of this fellow says it all!

Photo by L. Ross.

Saturday, Sept. 25, the Outdoor Dream Foundation is sponsoring a fishing trip for kids. Capt. Rick Owen, a popular fishing guide at Hartwell Lake, advised that they will have 20 boats leaving Broyles Landing between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. for an exciting morning of fishing.

They will return to the dock at 12:30 p.m. for lunch, followed by awards and prizes.

The Outdoor Dream Foundation was founded by Coach Harold Jones. He and Brad Jones are the driving force of this group along with the support of dedicated sportsmen that offer free trips and outdoor adventure to children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. Learn more about this wonderful organization at

Former NFL great, Larry Csonka is a supporter of the foundation and joins the other generous sportsmen in making dreams come true for these children.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Northern Lady takes Southern GATOR

This is a story of determination because even though Mary ellen Christian was not able to harvest a gator in 2009, she came back to give it another try in 2010 and her efforts were rewarded with a MASSIVE gator that she harvested with her husband Mark and Guide Kevin Davis of Black's Fish Camp in Cross, S.C. To read the entire story on South Carolina click this link.

PhotoByKevinDavis: Mark and Mary ellen with the hanging gator

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Archery season opener is successful

Self photo by L. Ross

September 15th dawned clear and cool, but the daytime temperature would soar. As always, the pre-season jitters kept me awake the night before in anticipation of the adventure ahead.

The canoe moved silently through the pre-dawn stillness. The only things stirring were the beavers that swam nearby and the slap of their tails on the water signalling their disapproval of my presence. Further up the river, luminous eyes peered at me from the darkness of the foliage along the shoreline.
Despite getting an early start, the sky was beginning to have a pale glow preceding full light. I hurried to the hunting site and unloaded the climbing stand, backpack, bow and quiver. After stringing the bow, a quick visit to the trail cam revealed recent visits by several does.
The stand was hung, ascension was accomplished. hooks inserted into tree for backpack and quiver and now the waiting began. Fear that the slightly late arrival may have spooked some nearby deer ran through my mind.
The stand site was a natural funnel between a large pond and the river. The corridor was about 75 yards wide connecting nearby hardwood upland with a lush, overgrown marshland. Three trails coursed through the funnel---one near the river, one along a small outlet stream from the pond and another along the edge of the pond. The stand site was along the outlet stream.
About 30 minutes after taking the stand, a doe was spotted moving along the trail bordering the pond shoreline. It was too far for a shot, so I used a can call to make a bleat. The doe stopped immediately. I called twice more. She turned and backtracked into heavy vegetation, out of my sight. My guess was that she would move stealthily toward me to check out the strange doe call.
The guess was right. She emerged from the brush and moved quietly along the stream. A large fawn and three more does followed single file behind her. I locked onto her and slowly raised my bow. The arrow flew at the release, but went under her. She jumped and moved about 5 yards father away and I shot again, missing another time. She disappeared into the brush to my right and the others spooked back the way they had come, from my left.
Disappointment is just a word, but it was real to me at that point. I had blown my chance! Probably no more deer would come my way this morning.
To my surprise, about 45 minutes later, a movement was spotted to my left. Watching intently, the movement turned into a deer. It came along the same trail as earlier and jumped to my side of the stream. Again, I could seen the others trailing her. I couldn't believe she was back. As she passed by at 18 yards, the arrow was released from the longbow and smacked her with a thud. It hit a bone and didn't pass through, but part of the shaft broke off as she brushed against a tree.
After 30 minutes, I climbed down and hunted the first two arrows to let more time elapse before trailing the doe. Luckily, both were recovered.
The site of the hit was located and the partial shaft was found, covered with blood. Due to striking a bone and not passing through, the blood trail was non-existent. Looking at the trails and the logical direction the deer would travel, I followed slowly, looking ahead in case of a wounded animal. In less than 50 yards, I spotted her laying still in the underbrush.
A moment of thanks, a drag back to the canoe and a few photos, then it was time for field dressing. After wrapping her in a mesh bag, it was into the canoe, to the truck and off to the processor.
The bow used was a James Parker Bamboo Dragon longbow. It pulls 61# at 31". The arrows were Port Orford cedar that I had fletched, crested and tipped with 125 grain Woodsman broadheads.
James Parker is a skilled North Carolina bowyer and master flintknapper. He is also a black belt in a couple of martial arts disciplines. Check out his website at:

Friday, September 10, 2010

New State Record AJ caught out of Isle of Palms

On Tuesday September 7th Captain Michael Owens and long-time fishing friend John Beauford went offshore fishing in S.C. waters for the first time. As luck would have it, they promptly reeled in a new state record 123-pound monster Amberjack. They had planned the trip for a week and a half, looking over charts, etc - and then they went out and executed - gotta give them credit! To read the entire story please click this link.

PhotoByAmyDukes/SCDNR: Angler John Beauford is on the left

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Master Knifemaker still active

In the mid 1970's, I heard of Tommy Lee, a custom knife-maker, and read about him in South Carolina Wildlife magazine and other publications. Later, a friend of mine purchased one of his knives and I admired the workmanship.
Several years passed and I was in a knife shop and saw some knives on consignment. A lovely damascus drop point hunter caught my eye and it became one of my treasured possessions.
Many years later, Tommy moved to the upstate and became friends with one of my friends. We met through this common acquaintance and have become good friends.
Tommy was out of production for a while due to health problems, but has resumed making knives and attends several shows a year. I have the good fortune, through his generosity, of owning several of his works of art now and they are very dear to me.
Tommy is an interesting person to talk with as he tells of his adventures in Zimbabwe, Africa, hunting big game. He is modest, but the trophies on his walls tell the tales. He has hunted in the U.S. west and taken mountain lion, mule deer, mountain goats and many other trophies.
Tommy says that knife making opened a lot of doors to hunting adventures and opportunities that he probably would not have had otherwise. He has met many friends through the trade shows and contacts in the course of his career.
Tommy has taken game with bow, handgun and rifle. Many animals fell to his bow, but he tells me that he is only hunting with the rifle now.
I visited with Tommy in early September and made some photos of him with his dog. She keeps him company when he is working in his shop at home and is a constant companion.
It is a privilege for me to call Tommy Lee a friend, and a bonus to own several of his knives as well. If you get a chance to meet this legend of the knife world, you will be privileged as well. He is a great craftsman and a man with strong beliefs in God and country.
If you are interested in purchasing a knife from him, contact me and I will provide contact information to you.
Photos by L. Ross

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

National Trout Unlimited awards David Van Lear "Distinguished Service Award"

David Van Lear, long-time member of the Chattooga River Trout Unlimited chapter, received recognition by Trout Unlimited organization. He received the 2010 "Distinguished Service Award" for over 30 years of outstanding service and dedication to restoring and preserving cold water fisheries in North America.

Van Lear will receive the award at during an annual TU meeting on September 17, in New Hampshire.

We met Van Lear at an electro-shock survey of small streams that are part of the "Back the Brookie" project. This is an effort to restore the native Appalachician strain of brook trout to southeastern streams. This is only one of the many projects in which he has been involved to evaluate and improve habitat.

"Hats Off" to Mr. Van Lear and his dedication to make the world a better place for trout fishermen and sportsmen in general.
Photo of Rainbow trout on Soque River, Georgia, by L. Ross

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 Dove season opener in S.C.

Maybe the most anticipated opening day among hunters in South Carolina, September 4 saw droves of dove hunters surrounding grain fields in order to shoot their way to a legal limit of 15 doves. The usual scorching hot weather that accompanies opening day activities was somewhat stifled by a cool breeze and a break in the weather forecast. Do gun barrels still get hot when shot 50 times or more? You bet they do! All hunts for the first three days in S.C. are afternoon hunts according to migratory bird laws, but beginning Sept. 7 dove hunts can be conducted any time of day during legal shooting hours. Fortunate to attend an opening day hunt in Richland County at Longbeard Farms, I can report seeing plentiful numbers of doves, and for those that drew a bead on the grey game birds - a limit was certainly there for the taking. Sportsman Robin Stamps shot his 20-gauge over and under shotgun from his position under a powerline in the main field, and did not stray too far from the Mojo Dove that Patrick Stamps deployed. Ten youths were also in the field this day with their mentors and young Taylor Ray told me that he killed three birds and that he 'crippled' two more while hunting with his father Mitch.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Robin Stamps stands along the treeline looking for doves; Brothers Mike and Robin Stamps with some opening day doves; two doves that fell after a 'double' by Jeff Dennis; Father and son Mike and Todd Stamps with Sandy the 11-year old yellow lab

For more photos, or to make your own report, visit the SCsportsman forum.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dennis joins Sportsman Network Staff

The celebration of future hunting and fishing endeavors for sportsman in the Palmetto State will now have a South Carolina native working on their behalf. The founder of LowcountryOutdoors has joined the Sportsman family of magazines as the Internet Coordinator, and will focus on new media for

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricane Earl misses coastline

Hurricane Earl missed the Carolina coastline, but surfers enjoyed the big waves. There was no serious damage, but the spectacle was enjoyed by beach visitors and residents.

These scenes were photographed by L. Ross at Ocean Isle Beach, a few miles north of Calabash, NC.

Waves crashed onto the shoreline from mid-day to late afternoon and surfers were eager to brave the rough water and rip tides to catch a big wave and experience the abnormally big wave action for the east coast.

Saturday morning, the shore was littered with massive numbers of shells and flotsam. Collectors were out searching for trophies.

By mid-day, all was quiet and sunbathers had taken over the beach.