Friday, February 25, 2011

Shooting Events at McConnell Hall Outfitters

Photos by L. Ross of Richard McConnell shooting and in McConnell Hall

McConnell Hall Outfitters will host a pheasant tower shoot fundraiser at 9:00 a.m. for the Calvary Home for Children on Feb. 26. Funds will help to maintain the cottages and provide homes for youth in a Christian-based atmosphere.

Calvary Home was established in 2002 and is providing a great service to the children that it houses and to the community at large.

The Outdoor Dreams Foundation is sponsoring two fundraisers on March 5. The first is a "Shoot for Dreams" event that will be held at 9:00 a.m. at McConnell Hall Outfitters at 3502 Midway Road, Anderson, SC. The shoot will feature 12 teams of four participants each and each team member has to raise $300 in contributions in order to shoot.

Larry Csonka, NFL Hall of Fame and TV outdoor host, will be on hand as a continuing supporter of Outdoor Dreams Foundation.

Outdoor Dreams is a non-profit organization that provides memorable hunting and fishing opportunities for kids with life threatening or terminal illnesses. The foundation was established by Harold Jones, former football coach at T. L. Hanna High School and a subject of the movie "Radio".

At 6:30 p.m., at the Anderson County Fairgrounds, "An Evening with Larry Csonka" event will include dinner, live auction and raffle. Tickets are $30.

For more information: contact Brad Jones (864) 260-9786, Harold Jones (864) 226-8775 or Mary Beth Parker (864) 844-3829.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beaver Control

I happen to be rather fond o
f beavers. They create excellent ponds for puddle ducks. However, it is understandable that the increasing population is a problem for landowners due to destruction of trees and sometimes damaging dams as well.

In past years, control was not a problem. The interest in pelts for use in the fur trade made trapping very lucrative. With the reduced interest in fur for the last few years and the ruckus created by groups such as PETA, the population is out of control.

There is a parallel with the nutria population as well. They are not native to the U.S., but were imported with hopes that they would be a valuable furbearer. The same decline in fur value caused a similar increase in nutria population. They reproduce rapidly, voraciously destroy plants with tubers and can severely injure dogs. Retrievers are the most common victims of these confrontations.

An attendee to the recent Primitive Crafts classes at the YMCA PEAK conference sent me some photos of beaver that have been trapped and shot on family property. Bryce Ball is featured in the photos that he provided as well as some large beavers.
We often learn that when some species outproduce their predators ability to control the populations, problems arise. This is true of many wildlife species and is part of DNR's role to propose regulations concerning these species.

As a hunter, beaver are an asset to me, but to landowners, they represent a problem that needs to be controlled.
Thanks to Bryce for sharing his photos.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Photos show a selection of birdhouses built by Ross this spring and ready for new residents. Also, a photo of Ross starting a fire with a bow drill at the YMCA PEAK Conference

It seems that as sportsmen, we are always looking ahead to the next season. With the passing of deer season, our minds turn to stripers, trout, gobblers and bream on the bed.

Each season has its allure, and it would be hard to pick one over the other. Sorting through gear and dreaming of great days afield is not as good as actually being there, but it is a good substitute.

Along with the anticipation of coming seasons, we had a great time at the YMCA PEAK (Preparing Educators for Adventures with Kids) conference and got to teach some primitive skills to a great group of young people. It was gratifying to see the eagerness they had to learn outdoor skills.

If you get an opportunity to be a mentor for kids, don't fail to take the opportunity. It will yield great rewards.

If you are a birdwatcher and feeder, it's time to clean out the bird boxes and put up new ones. Bluebirds and other species are already scouting for nesting sites. You should build boxes so that the door, side or bottom opens easily so that the old nesting material may be removed. This will reduce parasites and the fledglings will be healthier.

Check out my website for more information on bluebirds. Also, nesting boxes are available from this site.

Don't get so caught up in daydreaming about outdoor adventures that you sit back and let opportunities slip by. Note on your calendar and journal upcoming events, seasons and things of interest so that you can take advantage.

Get outdoors and have more fun!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Charleston writer featured in CCA's Tide Magazine

Foothills Outdoors Founder in CCA Tide Magazine

Congratulations to Jeff Dennis for his continuing excellence in outdoor writing and photography. Jeff is a prolific writer and continues to reach new readers as his talent in recognized by an ever wider circle of publications. Good work, Jeff!

Jeff Dennis, outdoor writer and founder of Midlands Outdoors, Lowcountry Outdoors, and Foothills Outdoors, has a feature in the latest issue of CCA's Tide Magazine. This high-quality magazine is available in print and online. Check out Jeff's article on page 44--Tide Magazine.

Guy Harvey Magazine dolphin tagging article

Guy Harvey is well-known as a marine artist, but he is also an advocate for conservation of all ocean species. Whether donating a portion of his profits to a special cause like the Gulf Oil Spill, or the long-term funding of his oceanographic institute in Florida, there can be no denial that he puts an emphasis on financial support of his causes. When the first edition of Guy Harvey Magazine came out, about the time of the opening of Guy Harvey's restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Jeff Dennis knew that the story of S.C.'s local dolphin-tagging guru Don Hammond needed to be told. And the story goes something like this, Hammond's local program is going worldwide and Guy Harvey magazine, which is billed as 'The Art of Ocean Conservation," is helping to raise awareness about dolphin tagging for research purposes. Jeff's story on Hammond's program is posted under the 'conservation' section of the Guy Harvey Magazine website.

PhotosByJeffDennis: This Guy Harvey dolphin print is on the cover of his latest magazine; Don Hammond takes measurements and records data on dolphin that are brought back to the docks to extrapolate the current health trends as they migrate past South Carolina; Guy Harvey Magazine bears the unforgettable signature of the man who advocates conservation for the world's oceans; Offshore anglers love to fish for dolphin to enjoy fresh mahi mahi when they return to port

Saturday, February 5, 2011

SCWF welcomes NEW Board Chair


Oldest Statewide Conservation Organization Welcomes Four New Board Members and a New Board Chair!

COLUMBIA, SC South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF) announces the addition of four new members to the board of directors this year. The board of directors also elected a new Chair on Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

New Chairman Dan Scheffing is the Senior Project Manager of the Forestry Division at Sabine and Waters, an integrated forestry/environmental consulting firm. He is a SC registered forester. Dan first joined the SCWF Board of Directors in 2006 and resides in Andrews, SC.

New board members include: Valerie Carter-Stone of West Columbia; William Fairey of Charlotte, NC; Peyton Sasnett of Columbia; and Ed Wilson of Columbia.

Valerie Carter-Stone graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1999 and continued her education at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to earn her Master of Science in Forestry. She is the Resource Management Biologist for SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism in Columbia. Valerie’s primary professional and educational interests are threatened and endangered species and the habitat management needed to protect and restore these wildlife and fisheries populations.

William Fairey grew up in Columbia and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business-Economics from Wofford College in 2007. He is a Portfolio and Management Officer for Bank of America. An avid outdoor enthusiast, William spends much of his time giving back to his community. William is the youngest member of SCWF’s Board of Directors.

Peyton Sasnett earned her Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University.Currently Peyton teaches science classes at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School. She was named South Carolina Independent School Association’s Teacher of the Year in 2008. Not only is Peyton a well published teacher, but she also coaches girls basketball and softball.

Ed Wilson earned his Ph.D. in Industrial Forestry Operations from Virginia Tech, and received his B.S. and B.A. from West Virginia University. He is Vice President and co-founder of Outdoor Underwriters Inc. Presently, he manages operations for all of the forest-related insurance products offered by Outdoor Underwriters. Ed is a certified forester and a member of the Society of American Foresters.

The South Carolina Wildlife Federation is South Carolina’s oldest and largest statewide conservation group. Formed in 1931 to find ways to reverse the trend of dwindling game and fish populations and to promote outdoor ethics and stronger conservation laws, the Federation is still a strong proponent of its original values in addition to resolving today’s pressing environmental issues. The mission of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation is to advocate for wildlife, habitat and the environment, educate citizens in the conservation ethic, and support outdoor traditions. The Federation has over 10,000 supporters.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Atlatl – more than just an unusual name

Photos of atlatls and darts constructed by L. Ross. Photo of Gene Cunningham in the process of casting a dart with an atlatl. Photos by L. Ross.

The atlatl is a unique weapon developed in Europe over 30,000 years ago. It eventually spread around the globe. It was the first serious weapon system developed by humans. As opposed to primitive clubs or crude hand thrown sticks and spears, it was a sophisticated weapon offering improved range, accuracy and killing power.

The bow and arrow, compared to the atlatl, is a relatively modern weapon. It was developed about 2,000 years ago. It was still used by North American natives when the first European explorers reached these shores. By then, the bow had been developed in Europe and the atlatl had fallen into disuse. It had proved to be a formidable weapon and caused the demise of many of the Spanish Conquistadors who had never been exposed to the power of an atlatl dart.

The atlatl is a wooden spear thrower. The spear is usually referred to as a dart, although in reality, it is somewhere between the size of an arrow and a hand-thrown spear. The dart has fletching to stabilize it in flight and is fitted with various types of points, depending on the end use. The atlatl is a wooden shaft that has a hook on the end that fits into a nock hole on the dart. It may be flexible to develop more power, but is also made in rigid forms. It acts as a lever to allow throwing the dart faster and farther with the minimal energy. It is reported that a dart can be thrown with 200 times the force and 6 times the range of a hand thrown dart. A dart can exceed 100 mph and equal the force of a 60 pound compound bow.

The atlatl is used in 20% of U.S. states to hunt various kinds of game and fish, up to and including deer. Montana is currently considering a bill to legalize atlatls for hunting.
Some schools today have made a sport of atlatl competition. Competition includes keeping records for distance and accuracy. Throws of 850 feet have been recorded.

Atlatls are constructed in traditional forms, some are elegantly carved and some modern ones are constructed with modern materials. Similar devices are used in the South American sport of Jai Alai to propel a ball. Many atlatls have bannerstones attached to the midsection. These date back to prehistoric times and the use is debated as to the actual purpose. Some say that it stabilizes the atlatl. Others say that it helps to “load” the atlatl and thereby increases velocity and downrange energy. Having made both styles, it appears that it does add some stability, but as to adding velocity, that is questionable.

Darts for atlatls are more slender than traditional spears and actually bend and oscillate during flight which adds to the velocity. Thick-walled species of bamboo make excellent darts. A crude atlatl is very easy to construct from bamboo. A piece of bamboo of approximately 1 ¼” in diameter can be cut lengthwise leaving about 6” for a grip and the last nodule on the opposite end. Remove the inner nodules from the halved sections and you have a crude atlatl or spear thrower.

There are other inexpensive ways to make atlatls. The most basic is to cut a sapling of approximately 1 ¼” in diameter with a limb growing at a sharp angle from the trunk. Cut below the limb and about 24” above the limb. Trim the limb to about ¾” in length and taper it to fit the nock hole in the end of the dart. This is one of the most basic forms and easy to construct in a primitive situation.

If you are interested in securing an atlatl and darts, contact Ross at or call (864) 238-1944.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birdwatching and Feeding

photos by L. Ross

If you enjoy wildlife but have never been a birdwatcher, you have missed a treat. The antics of birds competing for food at feeders can be very entertaining. The timid Titmouse and Chickadees dart in to the feeder, steal a seed and fly to a nearby branch where they hold the seed under their foot and peck it to get the tender heart.

Finches and Cardinals have stronger beaks and remain on the feeders for extended periods as they turn black oil sunflower seeds (the most versatile bird food) expertly in their beak. They rotate the seed, crack the edges to get to the heart, drop the husk and never miss a beat.

Nuthatches and woodpeckers are clinging birds and will often hang upside down on feeders and suet cakes as they feed.

Bluejays are the bullies of the bird community. When they glide into the feeders, the other birds scatter and allow them to gulp the seeds whole. It usually doesn’t take them long to fill up and depart.

Doves and squirrels perform clean-up services by eating seeds that fall to the ground. Squirrels are fun to watch, but if they access your feeders, they will waste seed and damage the feeders. You will need to place feeders where squirrels cannot leap from nearby tree limbs or rooftops to access them. Also, place guards on poles to keep them from climbing to the feeders.

A combination of tube feeders, platform feeders and suet will attract the largest selection of species. Smaller birds such as finches, Titmouse, and Chickadees prefer tube feeders. Cardinals and other larger birds will eat from them, but prefer platform feeders. You can construct one easily by building a wooden frame with a screen for a bottom. A roof is a good addition to give the birds some security from hawks, and it will keep rain out.

Most birds like suet, but the clinging birds such as woodpeckers and nuthatches flock to suet cakes. Cold weather requires a lot of energy for keeping their bodies warm. Fat in the suet is important for these species. Food becomes more scarce for birds as winter begins and feeders are a good supplement. They are well worth the time and expense and will repay you by entertaining you through the long winter days.

If you own property with timber, consider leaving dead snags in your timber stand. Many animal species use dead snags for shelter. Woodpeckers drill holes in dead trees for nesting and shelter as well as searching for beetles and other insects. Other species of birds, squirrels, bats, owls and kestrels often take over cavities in dead trees for nesting.

SCDNR recommends leaving four or five snags per acre. They may be unsightly to some, but they will be a boon to wildlife.