The Coyote Hunting Competition is next week. We are excited and getting ready for it! As we lead up to the competition we are going to share some videos that we used as part of our presentation last year at SCDNR's annual expo, The Sportsman's Classic. These videos were used throughout the presentation and were accompanied by a thorough PowerPoint slide deck. If you're interested in us giving the same presentation to your group, just give us a shout, we'll be glad to.
In this first video we set the stage for why we need to hunt coyotes. We interviewed a local hunter and a local farmer, both of which are being affected by coyotes. These individuals are an example of what's happening in our local community, but there are people just like this in every area of South Carolina.
As you can see it's important for us to hunt coyotes! So join us in raising awareness for the Coyote Hunting Competition!
On Our Way to Okeechobee
We woke up around 4:45am and headed west. We would be putting in on the southern end of the lake in a town called Clewiston. Since it was so early it was of course dark, but I as we approached the town of Clewiston I could smell the smell of smoke. I asked Matt what that smell was and he said “Oh that’s the Sugar Cane farms, they burn the sugar during some part of their harvesting process”. It was interesting to smell that smell for a good ways, but yet not be alarmed that something was on fire or wrong. Late on in the day we found out that the sugar cane farmers actually burn the fields before they even harvest the sugar. The sugar cane fields spanned for miles and miles and miles. It was a neat sight.
Roland Martin Marina & Marine Center
We were set to meet our guide, Mark King, at the Roland Martin Marina. Once we started getting near the landing you could see the Christmas light decorations that were in the shape of a bass hanging in the streets.
Of course as “foreigners” we didn’t know which was the Marine Center and which was the Marina, but we learned pretty quickly. We went inside and saw several boats, tons of fishing lures, hats/shirts, and just about anything you could think of. Roland Martin’s name was everywhere and the marina had about what you would expect as well. There were restaurants, boats, weekend rental apartments, tiki bars, and of course fish on the walls and they even had 2 swimming in a tank.
Mark King, Bass Fishing Guide
We met the guide Matt lined us up with, Mark King, at the Marina. Mark was a very nice guy who definitely knows how to bass fish and he knows that lake like the back of his hand. Mark’s been guiding for 18 years and has all the accompanying honors and accolades that anybody would want a guide to have. Learn more about Mark’s guiding service at http://markkingfishing.com
Mark didn’t waste any time and we all hopped into his boat, which he already had waiting on us in the water. We rode through the locks and around the edge of the lake as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful sight.
Grass Paths in The Lake
Mark then made a left turn ducking into the grassy reeds of the lake. One thing I noticed throughout the day of fishing was the grass or weeds that were in the water. Of course I’ve seen grass in a lake before, but the lake had a lot of these on the edges and the paths that the boats ride leave carved out tunnels of sorts that were like hidden paths to bass hotspots if you will. I’d never really thought much about it, but these weeds or reeds were something that stuck out to me about the lake and when I think of Lake Okeechobee I’ll envision the grass in my mind. Anyways, we rode through these carved channels and we were head to a specific destination. I had the feeling that Mark knew these paths just as good as I know my way to some of my deer stands.
The Fish Were Biting
We got to our first stop and it wasn’t long before we had fish biting. We were using live bait, minnows, for our bait and they worked really well. I’d say we’d been stopped for about 5 minutes before we had corks going under. Mark told us to wait until the cork went under, count down from 5, then set the hook. This was obviously to let the bass get the minnow in their mouths really good before we set the hook. Even though we definitely wanted to let the bass get ahold of the minnows really well before setting the hook, you could see your cork darting off back toward the depths of the grassy weeds. It worked on my nerves a little bit to have a bass on and let him run back into that stuff, but I trusted the guide!
We set up right on the edge of the grassy reeds and would throw right out beside them. In every spot we fished in it wasn’t long before a bass would come out of that stuff and hammer the bait. We probably caught 15 bass the entire day and we constantly had action. There may have been a few minutes of lulls in action, but just as soon as I would turn around to look at something Mark would say “You’re down” and boom we’d have a fish in the boat.
Every fish we caught was healthy and nicely sized. We didn’t catch any state records, but we caught a nice mess of fish. One thing Mark told me was that the entire lake was only about 5 feet deep. I figured it would be deeper, but it wasn’t. Because it’s not that deep a lot of the boats there have unique anchoring systems called the “Power Pole” http://www.power-pole.com. You may be familiar with that type of anchor, but I wasn’t. I’m used to just throwing out something heavy and waiting until it hits the bottom.
Here are a few pics of fish we caught:
We Had a Blast
Needless to say, my friend Matt and I had a great time. We enjoyed being out on the lake and Mark was definitely effective as a fishing guide. I hope to be able to get back down there and fish with him again at some point. If you’re ever down in that area, be sure to give Mark and shout and tell him that you read about him here. You won’t be disappointed!
The Long Walk In
I knew bucks would be in the area near the stand and I knew it was time to make the trip deep into the woods. Yesterday I sprayed down really well and carried a bag of corn down to the stand and poured it out in the shooting lane. I felt sure deer would be moving in the area and I just wanted the corn there to potentially get a deer to pause in case I needed to make a shot.
I was eager to get in the woods this morning and since I had to make a long trip in, I got up a little extra early. It was about 40 degrees and the wind was blowing 3 mph in the direction I needed it to be blowing for a chance. The only thing that wasn’t cooperating was the moon. It was very bright… it looked like a flash light in the sky. Since I had a long walk in I unzipped the zippers in my legs and my chest to let my body heat out as I walked. I hate walking a long distance with multiple layers on, getting to the stand and being all sweaty, only to have the sweat dry on me then be freezing. I walked half way in just by moonlight.
The Arrival & The Wait
As I hit the edge of the woods near the stand I sprayed some buck bomb on the sides of my boots. I arrived to the stand and got situated in the stand and left my zippers open until I cooled off. I could hear dogs barking off in the distance and slowly the sun started to rise. As time passed I wasn’t seeing or hearing anything. I felt like I should be seeing deer. I started hearing rifle shots off in the distance and then close by. I bet I heard 7 shots all around me before it was all over. I started getting a little down on things thinking I shouldn’t have hunted that stand. I felt as though the streak would be over. Then around 10 minutes after 7 I heard something. It wasn’t a stick pop or rustling of leaves, but just some sound that caught my attention and I looked to my left. This deep in the woods it’s really thick with oaks and pines so visibility wasn’t the best. I saw something brown moving behind some trees and tree limbs. It was a deer!
My heart instantly started pounding. At first glance I thought it was a doe, but yet it was alone. The deer was probably 40 yards away from me to my left and moving at a steady walking pace. Initially I thought any deer I saw would be heading toward a fresh pile of corn. This buck could have cared less about that corn. He was heading in the opposite direction. The deer went behind a large oak tree and I put my gun up. The deer came out on the other side of the tree and I found it in my scope. Antlers! I could tell it was a buck, but it was so thick I couldn’t get a clear view of the deer’s rack. The deer stopped and stared at me. I wasn’t moving at all and the wind was blowing towards me so the deer couldn’t be smelling me. Regardless, the deer knew something wasn’t quite right.
The buck stood behind some small trees and limbs and continuously moved its head up and down trying to check me out and wind me. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the deer bolted out of there. I’ve seen this scenario happen one too many times. I needed to know if this deer was big enough to shoot as on our club we have game management rules. The deer stood directly facing me and turned its head slightly to the left. This gave me a view of the tines and I could see the thickness in the tines. I knew it was a shooter. I pulled the trigger and the deer ran about 15 yards and dropped!
I tried to calm down and then I climbed down out of the stand. I walked over and found a nice 8 point awaiting me. Here is the picture of the deer as I found it laying
Just when I though the streak was over this buck came strolling through and helped me keep the streak alive.
3 Things I Learned From This Hunt
So now the pressure is really on for next Thanksgiving! If somehow I get 4 in a row I don’t know what I’ll do. I can say this though, Thanksgiving weekend in Chesterfield County sure is a good weekend to hunt from what I’ve seen.
In June of 2010 I wrote a blog titled “The Convergence of Technology & Hunting” that elaborated on the emergence of technology in the hunting industry and discussed how technology can give hunters advantages. A lot has happened in the technology world since I posted that blog and the evolution of technology continues to advance. Though, the one thing I didn’t anticipate is that I would be participating in the evolution in a way related to physical products.
The “Tech-Turkey” is a project I’ve been working on for a little while now. If you’ve noticed that it’s been kind of quiet around WeHuntSC.com lately, a large part of that is due to me investing so much time learning and building what you see in this blog post, an automated, internet controlled turkey decoy. The process has been both fun and challenging!
This decoy system gives you the ability to control your decoy from your cell phone, tablet, computer, or anything connected to the internet. This project is a work in progress and currently in prototype phase as I continue to enhance the solution. The roadmap for the project has some slick enhancements already lined up as well.
You may be reading this and wonder “Why would I want to control my decoy from a cell phone?” Well there are a few advantages to having your decoy be controlled through the internet ie: your smart phone:
To best communicate what the turkey can do, check out this video that we made of the decoy in action
I am excited about this project and am indeed looking for a few field testers for the upcoming spring. I want to get the technology out in the field on some live hunts and get feedback from actual hunting scenarios. I definitely won’t be able to give everyone a decoy to test with, but I would like to work with a few of you to get your thoughts and opinions of the decoy. It is definitely helpful if you can provide me with a YouTube link of some of your hunting videos as I will want to get some quality footage of the decoy in action in live hunting scenarios.
If you’re interested in field testing the Tech-Turkey just submit the form on the “Tech Turkey” page.
It’s been relatively warm in our area of South Carolina thus far this year, but this past weekend we had the first cold snap of the season. And that’s all our family needed to get pumped up to go deer hunting!
I guess I should back up a little though… We live in Chesterfield County tucked just inside the SC line right along highway #9. Just across the NC line a new outdoor store called Reel Determined Outdoors has opened and people from our town have slowly been checking it out. Last Friday I went up to the store and learned that they were hosting deer competitions so I signed me and my son up! I signed myself up in the adult division and I signed my oldest son up in the youth division!
Reel Determined was giving away cash for the biggest buck and biggest doe in the adult division and a crossbow for the biggest buck and biggest doe in the youth division! Needless to say this had us pumped up even more to go hunting and to harvest a great deer!
Saturday morning finally arrived we all got up early and put enough clothes on to keep us warm with the freezing temperatures. Caiden, my oldest son who is 8 years old, wanted to hunt a tripod stand where he had killed some does earlier in the year. Yes, he hunts by himself with a 308 rifle! Over the past few years we have worked hard with him to learn about hunting and firearm safety and the right and wrong of a firearms.
His papaw Tim took him to his stand and got him situated. His Uncle Cody, his Papaw, and myself went and got in our stands that pretty much surrounded him. We specifically told Caiden not to shoot anything unless its body was bigger than the deer he shot earlier this year. We told Caiden that the bucks should be moving and to try to hold off on a doe if he could stand it.
In the stand it was cold and I just knew one of us was going to be successful. I got in my stand and had been sitting there for about 20 minutes and I decided to hit the grunt call! It worked just like it was supposed to. A nice buck with a one side of his horns broke off came running in like clockwork. I froze up and didn’t know what to do!! I pulled up on him and clicked the safety off but just couldn't bring myself to shoot the deer because I couldn't see exactly how big he was! Oh what a mistake after the fact. Yea I so wish I would have pulled the trigger but hey the good Lord has bigger plans for me!
My morning didn’t go so well. The rest of the morning I didn’t see or hear much until about 7:30am when I heard Caiden shoot! I was so happy and thought sure he had killed a monster! So I took off towards him and I find his Uncle Cody there also wanting to go see why he had killed. We got to him and asked what did he get and he tells us “I don't know but it’s a lot of meat for the freezer!” Oh Jesus not what I wanted to hear!
We went down to where he shot and we find a 112 pound doe! Yep he couldn’t stand it long enough to hold off for a buck, but I’m sure we all remember those days. And in retrospect I’m so glad he took the deer.
We got the deer loaded up and took it up to Reel Determined Outdoors to be weighed in for the competition. They weighed it and put his name on the board and at that time he was in first! We were going back Saturday afternoon to try and get on the board again but it didn’t work out for us! After our afternoon hunt, Caiden's papaw and his uncle took him up to Reel Determined to see if he had won.
They called me at 8 pm and told me that Caiden had won and he got a Carbon Express Covert Crossbow! Wow what a setup! They told him to come back and get it sighted in and instructed on how to use it. Of course on Monday we were on our way right back up there to get it all taken care of so he could shoot it. The guys at Reel Determined Outdoors were so professional and patient with us. They gave us a Crossbow 101 and I am very pleased with everything. If you get a chance you should really stop by and see them. Not only do they have a nice store, but they are willing to help you with any of your hunting and fishing needs.
And we sure do have one happy young crossbow hunter in our house now. Thanks Reel Determined Outdoors!
If you follow the site then you may remember the Thanksgiving 9-Point that I got last year on Thanksgiving Day. Well, it’s been a while, but I recently received the mount back from Carlyle Sutton at Sutton’s Taxidermy in Pageland, SC.
Carlyle always does a good job and is very detail oriented. I thought my deer was big until I saw some of the other deer he is currently working on! Man his shop is full of deer and he’s gotten so good that people are bringing him animals from all across the world. I would tell you the names of the animals he’s mounting, but they are so rare I don’t know what their names are! If you ever are in the area you should stop and visit as it’s neat to see what all Carlyle is doing.
With this buck in particular Carlyle worked some magic on the antlers. The buck had a specific tine that was broken off and I asked Carlyle to see if he could rebuild it somewhat. When I picked it up I could hardly tell which antler was the one that had been worked on. He’d done a great job with fixing it and making it look realistic.
If you’re ever in need of a quality mount, be sure to consider Sutton’s Taxidermy and tell them we sent ya!
Here are some pics of the mount:
Every year hunters highly anticipate The Predator Challenge, our annual competition focused on reducing the coyote population. This year we’ve been receiving emails about the competition, getting asked in-person, and we even had a team register to the competition before it was announced! So yes, there is a lot of excitement around the competition. Last year at the check-in one of the participants told me that his team looks forward to the competition every year because it’s a weekend they plan ahead for, enjoy spending time together, and going hard competing against Mother Nature and other hunters in the state. He said it was an annual tradition for them and that was great to hear.
Why a Coyote Hunting Competition
It’s important to keep in mind the ultimate reason why we host this competition. We spend time and energy hosting this competition to help raise awareness about the damage that coyotes are doing to our game populations and to farmer’s livestock across the state. SCDNR’s studies based on tracking fawn mortality rates related to coyotes have shown that coyotes are a “player” in the landscape of deer management. We all know they are getting after more than deer though. So, we host the competition to give everyone a weekend to focus on coyotes, to meet other coyote hunters, and to spread the word about the growing sport of coyote hunting.
Many of you reading this are familiar with the competition and simply want to know what’s new this year and the logistics of the competition. So here you have it:
If you want to read the complete list of rules then see the Coyote Competition page.
As we all are aware SCDNR is hosting public meetings around the state to discuss the deer management legislation (Senate Bill 454) that’s up for vote. If you haven’t attended a session I encourage you to do so to let your voice be heard. I support the bill and think it will be a good thing for the state given the condition of our deer population and tendencies of some of our state’s hunters.
Last night I attended the meeting held in Lancaster, SC. I really didn’t know what to expect as far as how many people would attend and what the discussions/comments would be like. I know that hunters feel differently about the legislation and for some it gets pretty personal and emotional. I was interested to attend and hear the data from DNR as well as the reactions from the crowd.
I met coyote slayer Gavin Jackson there and upon arrival it was obvious that DNR had a heavy presence at the meeting. I bet there were 25 to 30 DNR representatives and officers present. There were also some gentlemen wearing business coats who sat down at the front. I assume they were politicians, but am not sure as they didn’t say much, but seemingly were just there to observe.
Charles Ruth was the presenter for DNR. Charles is a Wildlife Biologist at SCDNR and he is over the turkey and deer programs. He went through several PowerPoint slides pretty fast to start the presentation. He gave some background on the current state of deer hunting and regulations within the state. One thing he pointed out early on was that buck limits are not a function of SCDNR, but rather it's voted on at a higher level in government. DNR simply enforces the laws that are adopted by government. Even though he stated that fact, some obviously didn’t understand it, but more on that shortly.
In the “Background” section Mr. Ruth highlighted a lot of information. He noted that the declining deer population in our state was due to several factors. The factors he noted were:
Regarding the lack of a reasonable bag limit Mr. Ruth pointed out how much of an outlier SC is. He noted that just about every state has some type of tag program and the states that don’t have tag programs have “antler restrictions”. South Carolina and Hawaii (which Hawaii doesn’t have native deer) are the only ones with really no type of regulations, tag programs, or antler restrictions. From that perspective it’s easy to see that SC is an outlier.
Mr. Ruth also noted that while we have fewer deer now and deer harvest numbers are down… we still lead the southeast in terms of harvest per square mile. Since he went through his slides quickly I wasn’t able to jot down all the data points, but I did capture a few that I thought were interesting:
Mr. Ruth also noted that DNR conducts surveys and polls + they have worked with independent agencies to conduct surveys over the last few years. From the polls and surveys they have been able understand both quantitative and qualitative data as it relates to deer hunting across the state. Some of the sentiment and data they gleaned was:
Current Status of Bill 454
Senate Bill 454 was filed on DNR's behalf in January and has passed the senate. It’s up for vote in house shortly in the upcoming session. Mr. Ruth noted that the proposal may not please everyone, but DNR had to come up with 1 proposal that attempts to please everyone. If the bill is passed in the next session it will still take a year to implement. If it doesn’t pass then the process will have to start over.
The legislation would provide the following:
Open Forum Q/A Session
After Mr. Ruth’s presentation he wanted to get to the questions from the audience and he also wanted to conduct surveys both via raise of hands and via paper. During this session I was reminded that I was in Lancaster as several of the audience members were interrupting each other, complaining that DNR was trying to “Help the rich man and hold the poor people down”, and just not being courteous to one another in general.
Some audience members asked about reviving the check-in locations, rolling big-game license cost & tags into same fee, call-in harvest reporting, and wanting punishment for people caught with illegal deer. Mr. Ruth answered the questions as best he could. As the session went on the environment became more animated.
I was glad that I attended the meeting and got the info and am up-to-date on the current state of Senate Bill 454. I was also disappointed in some of our fellow outdoorsmen that were present and I think we collectively owe Mr. Ruth an apology. Several audience members were disrespectful to Mr. Ruth during his presentation. They made snide comments, interrupted him, asked him questions and then didn’t let him answer before interrupting him again. Even worse some crowd members were essentially holding Mr. Ruth solely responsible for the way the government works, the way the legislation is written, and how laws are interpreted. It was as if they didn’t understand how our government currently works and what DNR is trying to do. Mr. Ruth and DNR are trying to help the deer population and hunters across the state, but the way some interacted with him you could tell they didn’t understand.
It was also obvious, at least to me, that everyone came and voiced their own unique perspective, but yet didn’t consider the scope of the greater task at hand for DNR. Whether it was a bow hunter that was mad about when the season starts in various game zones, or a processor worried about tagging deer in his cooler, a person who wants to blame coyotes for everything, or just a redneck in general who changed positions on a question half way through his response… all attendees had an individual perspective and concern that was voiced. There seemed to be a disconnect in that DNR has to collectively consider all of the unique perspectives, but yet the audience didn’t care about other hunters perspectives, rather they only considered their own. I did not envy Mr. Ruth’s position on stage last night, but I do respect him for delivering the info and taking the misdirected heat. It was impossible to please a room full of 60+ hunters from one area of the state so I can’t imagine trying to please all hunters across the entire state in 1 bill. Though, even though the crowd was animated during the survey session the majority of the crowd was in support of adopting the new legislation, which was a positive.
I thought Mr. Ruth handled the increasingly animated crowd very well and was very professionally even when some members hurled insults at him and his organization. Kudos to the DNR team for hosting the event, remaining professional, and working to get this bill passed. I think the future of deer hunting in our state will benefit from it for years to come. I for one appreciate your efforts and recognize that the challenge before you with this legislation is not an easy one to get across the line. Thank you!
We then climbed down and located the deer. It was a nice 7 point with a 19.5 inch spread that ended up weighing 190lbs. Once we located the deer Jason got on his knees and he praised Jesus for it! He had made what we thought was impossible, possible, like He always does! It was a birthday hunt that we’ll never forget.
In many ways the story of this hunt parallels the way God often works in our lives. We often make “our” plans and adhere to “our” own envisioned timelines and schedules. We go out and when things don’t work as we think they should or when we think they should we get frustrated. I’ve sat in a deer stand many days when I thought I should be seeing deer and didn’t see anything just like I’ve looked at life many times and felt like things should be different than my current circumstances. Though, we can’t impose our schedule over God’s schedule. His timing is perfect, ours is not. So just when you think you’re down and you don’t see any way to move forward… stay positive and keep listening to those uplifting you and speaking biblical truths to you. Just when you think the light is fading you may just experience God’s grace.
If you’ve been a member of WeHuntSC.com for any amount of time then you know that change is somewhat constant. As technology evolves and new functionality becomes available I’m constantly working on and tweaking something with the site. Well the time came again where the site needed to be upgraded, updated, and leverage some new functionality.
In order to stay current the software that runs the site needs to be updated. I’ve updated the software to the latest version which should give us some speed & security improvements.
Spam User Blocking
We were getting hit with some spam account creation towards the end of last year. I’ve taken some steps to block the spam users from creating accounts. If you ever get friend requested from a spam user, please let me know.
Photo & Video Galleries
Users like the “Activity Stream” on the home page + Photo Galleries so I’ve updated the site with a photo gallery that will update the Activity Stream whenever images are posted. Going forward, whenever you want to post a picture you will no longer do it in the home page activity stream, but rather in the Pics section. When you post a picture in the Pics section it will automatically update the Activity Stream with a reference to your photo. Pictures can also be rated and each picture has comments available too. I also added a few “Recent” pics areas to the right of the home page activity stream to make it easy & quick to see recent visuals uploaded by users. Also, video continues to become popular among hunters. Each year more and more hunters carry video cameras into the woods. Once posted to YouTube the videos can easily be added to the site on the “Videos” page. I look forward to seeing some of your videos from this year.
With this update I’ve migrated all blog data to a new integrated blogging system. This system provides more flexibility for authors and previous blog entries should be a little easier to find within the blogging section of the site.
Fixed Data Corruption Affecting Search
Until I started the upgrade process I didn’t know there was any data corruption within the site. Soon though it became apparent that several blog entries and other site content was not being returned in the site search. I dug around the database and found the issues and have corrected them in this release of the site. Now all site content should be accurately returned in search.
All hunting resources and competitions still remain as well.
So What Was Removed?
In the last update both Group functionality and Gaming Mechanics were provided but neither were widely adopted and leveraged by site members. So I’ve removed those to reduce clutter and focus on the things that site members really like such as the visual aspects of the site – Photos, Videos, & Blogs and of course the competitions.
Still to Come
There are still some things that need to be updated and I’ll continue to work on that. I’m still working on a Q/A or Message Board functionality, but at this point I needed to turn the new site on. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks/months. In the meantime, hope you enjoy the new functionality.