As the sun sets on another year, it's time to reflect on the 2010 season. One thing that I always like to think about is what happened during the season that has never happened before. These "firsts" are the things that keep me motivated, inspired, and excited about future hunts. For me it always seems like my deer seasons are full of "first" time events. I've been hunting for about 19 years and every year something happens during a hunt that makes me say, "I haven't seen that before.", or "That's the first time I've ever...".
Early on it was easy to accumulate "firsts", like the first deer stand that Dad and I built. At the time we didn't know that this "first" built stand would become a stand that led to the "first" buck for three hunters, including myself. My "first" buck was a four point that I shot when I was 13. It was an October day and I had just settled into my deer stand. Earlier that day I bought my "first" grunt call and pulled it out to see how it worked. After blowing on the thing for about an hour (I had no clue), I saw a buck coming straight at me. It stopped at about 30 yards and I shot. The buck bolted and then hit a pine tree at full throttle and broke off both sides of its antlers. That was probably a "first" for the pine tree.
This year hasn't been short on "firsts". I had an opportunity to take my "first" "Wall Hanger", which was an eight point buck for another "first". I also took my cousin on his "first" deer hunt and he saw his "first" deer while hunting. We will have to work on his "first" kill next year. We also saw a little snow which for me was a "first" as far as hunting in it. My year was also filled with the not so usual "firsts". I got buzzed (within inches) by a red tail hawk at sunset that nearly scared me to death. I also saw a possum while hunting. That was one that I had to think about for awhile.
What "firsts" did your year of hunts have? Hopefully, your year and past years are filled with as many "firsts" as mine.
Just wanted to post a quick update to the blog page regarding the predator competition. Remember YOU MUST BE SIGNED UP IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN THE COMPETITION! If you show up to the check-in and have not registered then you won?t be able to win?and with all of these prizes, I?d hate for that to happen to you. So if you plan to participate?register.
Now that the disclaimer?s out of the way?time for the good news. The good news is that since the first blog about the predator competition we?ve received some more good sponsor donations for the competition! The following organizations have donated the prizes listed below:
I?m pumped that the predator competition is getting such a warm reception from both hunters and outdoor organizations. I hope to see you and your team at the check-in!
Over the course of the Food Plot Journey we?ve been demoing the GroundHog MAX as well as planting a lot of Tecomate Seed. We?ve demonstrated that average Joes (and rookie food plot web people like myself) can even use these products and get a decent food plot to come up. All of the products that we?ve used can be purchased online, but recently a new outdoor store right across the NC line opened up that carries these products and more!
The Springs Wild Game Center is located in Mineral Springs, NC and is run by Bryan McCarver. The Wild Game Center is a sister company to the local Feed and Seed company in Mineral Springs. It takes about 25 minutes to get there from Pageland and is also not a bad ride from Buford or Lancaster. It sits right off of highway 75 just across the train tracks. The store is relatively new and is really nice. From cities like Pageland?s perspective, it beats driving an hour to Rock Hill or to a store in the Greater Charlotte area and it?s a nice ?country? drive along the way (Google Map to Springs Wild Game Center).
The Wild Game Center carries both fishing and hunting products and is also going to carry guns in the near future. As I mentioned, the store hasn?t been open too long and has some plans for some really neat things such as an archery course and even a 3d archery course?so it?s good now and will only get better in time. The Wild Game Center is also one of the few places where you can find another emerging product in ?BuckYum?.
We had some WeHuntSC.com decals up there earlier, but they?re out now. We?re working to get some vinyl decals offered permanently in the store as well. Best of all you can go there and pick up a GroundHog MAX or a McKenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag and even some TrueTimber camo! You can give it a look and touch/feel it before you buy if you want. Bryan and the guys at the store can also get any flavor of Tecomate Seed that you want.
If you?re on the NC/SC border then you ought to give the Springs Wild Game Center a look at some point. We like to use our site to promote good places and good people and this place definitely meets both of those criteria! If you go, be sure to tell them that you heard about them from WeHuntSC.com! Once the 3d range gets set up I?m going to go back and shoot some video of the place to give you a feel for what it?s like too!
Over Christmas break I traveled a lot spending time with family?probably similar to what you may experience during the holiday season. Since I got married a couple months back this year was the first year of incorporating another family into the schedule. Since my schedule was a little more filled, I was unable to hunt during the snow that fell the day after Christmas, but I was able to hunt the day after the snow fell when some snow was still on the ground. I?ve always wanted to deer hunt in the snow, but I also didn?t want to mess up the schedule on the first year with the in-laws either!
Though, the first chance I got I rushed back to the house to get my stuff together and slipped down to one of our stands in a nearby field. Since I was late and rushed this stand was a good fit because it?s relatively easy to get to, I can be quiet on the way in and it?s a box stand so it wouldn?t be too cold. I finally got situated in the stand and I sat in the box overlooking a field covered in snow. It was a unique site and one that we don?t get to see too much during deer hunting season in SC.
One of the gifts I received during Christmas was a book titled ?The Christmas Sweater? by Glenn Beck. Early in my life I hated to read, but as the years go by I?m finding myself reading a little bit more and not hating it so much. During the free time I had in between visiting family, opening presents, eating, and traveling I started reading the book that I had received. Reading a book about a Christmas sweater didn?t really seem to appealing to me, but I had some free time so why not check it out. I would have been scolded if I had pulled the computer out in front of the wife!
I read about 2/3 the way through the book during the Christmas break and I brought the book with me in my bag in case I decided to read some more. I sat in the box looking at the field and snow and in between looking out the windows I read the rest of the book. The book actually turned out to be very good! As I mentioned, I wasn?t too pumped about reading it at the site of the title, but once you get into the book then you understand why the title is what it is.
In case you like to read I won?t ruin it for you, but the book tells a vivid story that?s symbolic of Beck?s life and childhood. He changed some names and locations around and combined some concepts for symbolism to embolden the meaning of figures in his life. The Christmas sweater was a gift from his mom that symbolized a lot for Beck and throughout the story he uses a lot of allegory to talk about life, relationships, faith, and hope. I really like the conversations that Beck had with his Grandfather in the story because I feel like I?ve had some of those same conversations with people in various times of my life.
Through this short story of a kid?s Christmas experience one can gain knowledge, insight, and wisdom about life in general. If you?re into reading I would give it a look. Very rarely do I finish a book in 2 days, but I did with this one. The story was good and kept me engaged the whole time.
Do any of you read while hunting or am I the only nerd out there?
It's not too often that WeHuntSC in the SNOW! I made a little extra time to get in the stand on Sunday because there was a little white stuff on the ground. A good bit had melted during the afternoon but it was still enough on the ground to get me excited.
The wind had picked up during the afternoon which made it the coldest hunt I had been on this year. As I sat in the stand I thought about how cool it is that in South Carolina our deer hunting season extends from late summer to early winter. Thunderstorms to Snow is how I like to think about it. Well this season has definitely provided both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.
The hunt was successful in my book because I saw deer. Four doe eased out of the cut-over and into the hardwood funnel my stand was in. They seemed very cautious as they entered the hardwoods. I'm not sure if it was the wind or if they were wondering why the woods had been highlighted in a blanket of white powder. They definitely stuck out like a sore thumb against the white backdrop. Well they moved on and so did I. It was a pretty fun hunt. Did anyone else have chance to get out and hunt in the snow? How did it go?
Just recently, me, my dad, and good friend Robbie Boone headed out to Stuttgart, AR for the Intermediate World Duck Calling Contest. There were 26 contestants from all over the United States between the ages of 14-16 who had high hopes just like me.
After enduring the 12 hour ride, we finally arrived around 8:00 pm and Macks?s Prairie Wings was still open so we took advantage to stretch our legs and look around at the enormous display of waterfowl supplies. After dad and Robbie purchased a few items, I called my duck calling mentor and good friend Butch Richenback of RNT Calls , to see what time I could come by the RNT shop the next morning for a call tune up and for him to listen to my routine.
So the next morning we stopped by the RNT Shop where Butch re-tuned my call and worked with me for about 30 minutes prior to being overrun with other callers and store customers. This particular week was Stuttgart?s annual ?Wings over the Prairie Festival? with an estimated 50,000 people in attendance which was huge for not only Stuttgart but the state as well.
After we left Butch and the RNT shop, we headed to Main Street so I could register for the World Contest. Once I registered, we had a small lunch (nerves were starting to set in) for both me and my dad. At 1:30 they called back all of the contestants for to go over all the rules and to begin the contest.
While we were getting ready backstage, the callingducks team was setting up their video equipment which would be giving live video footage for their site www.callingducks.com. This allowed other family members and friends who were unable to come , to watch and see what it?s all about .
Once the contest started, and I was #3 to come out, boy the nerves really started buzzing. When my number was called out, I said here we go, and just blow clean. I blew a solid routine and was tied for 4th after the 1st round and was called back in the top 12. I drew #6 for the second round and surprisingly found myself less nervous.
When my number was called out, here we go again, and blew a solid routine again but with combining scores of the first two rounds, put me at finishing 7th in the world.
I would like to congratulate Seth Hartman for winning and two of my good friends Devlin Hodges who finished 2nd, and Greg Hubble JR for finishing 5th. Way to go guys!
I would also like to thank everyone at Drake Waterfowl, Decoy Outdoors, WinnTuck, and the team of WeHuntSC.com but especially Butch Richenback of RNT Calls for all of the support giving to me . I could have never finished 7th in the World without you.
Good Calling & Hunting - Blake
The potential change in the South Carolina deer regulations as highlighted in the blog by Clint titled "South Carolina Buck Regulations?" has a lot of people talking about buck limits, fees, and the one I'm most interested in, PREDATORS.
I had the opportunity earlier this year during trapping season to watch what I would call a professional trapper at work. If they were to give trappers a degree, this guy would have his Masters. For the purpose of this blog, I will refer to him as Master Trapper. His main goal was to trap wily coyotes from a friend?s property and he didn?t disappoint. My buddy told a story of a few days before when they noticed Master Trapper abruptly stop his ATV and examine a spot on the pasture fence. My buddy said they stopped and asked him what he was looking at. Master Trapper replied, ?coyotes are crossing here.? He spotted a single coyote hair on the fence while traveling 40 mph on his four-wheeler. That?s impressive.
Over the past few years, the coyote has expanded his range and is often seen in places you wouldn?t expect. I read an article this morning on CNN of coyotes in New York City. I wouldn?t have believed that a few years ago. I also have seen them in my backyard, which just a few years ago would?ve been unheard of. According to SCDNR, ?populations in South Carolina were established in Pickens and Oconee counties in the late 1970?s by houndsmen, and coupled with natural immigration, have since expanded to include all counties in the State.?
The question that often is asked is ?what impact do coyotes have on deer/turkey/predator populations?? Based on my research there are various opinions on this question. The scale goes from those that say that we need to eradicate coyote populations to those that say they have no impact at all. Personally, I don?t think it?s rational to say they have no impact at all. I found an interesting article called, ?Coyotes in the East: Are They Impacting Deer?? which was done by the USDA Forest Service. Its research has found that coyotes do have a significant impact on deer fawn populations. In its research they monitored 60 fawns and noted that 44 of these fawns didn?t survive until the fall season. During the research, they were able to attribute 36 of the 44 (80%) fawn deaths to coyote predation. That sounds significant to me. They are still conducting research as highlighted in Clint's Blog "South Carolina Buck Regulations?" . I also found an article at Outdoor Life magazine, which showed a series of pictures in which a coyote caught a fawn. This just gave me a visual of the research done by the USDA Forest Service. As with everything, I feel that the impact depends on the situation, but you can?t ignore that there is an impact.
The next question would be ?What does a landowner do?? Let?s face it, the coyote is here to stay, but there a measures that can be done to control them. SCDNR has a good publication that gives a history of the coyote and how they can be controlled. I got to see this done first hand by Master Trapper and it?s something I will not soon forget. Let?s remember that they don?t call them Wily for nothing.
Personally I'm not against buck limits because I usually don't reach the proposed limit. I usually will kill a doe or two for meat and then hunt for a "Wall Hanger". That's just me though. What impact do you think coyotes have as it relates to the proposed change in buck limits?
If you read SCDNR?s page then you are aware of their recent article about hunters requesting changes to the management of deer in our state. In case you haven?t seen the article, I have pasted the text from it below.
This article can be seen on SCDNR?s web site here: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/news/yr2010/dec23/dec23_deer.html
December 20, 2010 Deer hunters request changes to state?s deer management approach
South Carolina deer hunters are asking for changes to the state?s deer management approach based on public opinion data gathered by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Much of the discussion among hunters is related to concern over the unregulated harvest of antlered bucks, and an estimated 25 percent decline in the State?s deer population over the last 10 years according to DNR biologists. Currently there is no enforceable limit on the number of bucks a hunter can take during the season.
Public meetings, mail surveys, and more recently telephone and internet based surveys of the state?s deer hunters indicate that a minimum of 70 percent of hunters support the concept of a reasonable limit on antlered bucks and the implementation of a tagging program that would provide for enforcement of such a limit.
Additionally, a minimum of 70 percent of hunters indicate that they would support paying a modest fee to implement such a tagging program as long as the fee was used to administer the program and for deer research and management. A complete summary of DNR?s efforts to document public opinion on future deer management can be found online.
DNR?s governing board has discussed this issue on numerous occasions this year, and at the Dec. 17, 2010 DNR Board meeting voted to support a statewide limit of 4 bucks per hunter per year, and a mandatory deer tagging program whereby all harvested deer (bucks and does) must be tagged at the point of kill with tags provided by the department. A nominal fee of $5 per tag for residents and $25 per tag for nonresidents is proposed.
Although DNR can make recommendations, any changes to the current deer hunting laws require action by the South Carolina General Assembly. The DNR Board proposal will be incorporated into the DNR?s Legislative Proposal for the 2011-12 session.
Do you want a regulation on bucks in SC and do you think this will help or hurt hunting in our great state?
Let me first say that I'm excited to be able to share my outdoor adventures with WeHuntSC.com. I was born and raised in Lowrys, SC (Chester County) and I have had a passion for the outdoors since I was a little kid. Hopefully, I can paint a picture of some of my hunting memories that illustrates my passion for South Carolina and Hunting. I will start out by telling you about a deer hunt from earlier this year.
Every hunter dreams of harvesting a Trophy animal or as I like to say, a Wall Hanger. I've always had the mindset that the glass is half full. With that thought, I've never judged the success of a hunt on whether I killed a "Mature" animal. A "Trophy". A "Wall Hanger".
Now for the whole truth. Over the past few years, I've started to wonder if taking a "Wall Hanger" would ever happen. Let me remind you that a trophy is in the eye of the beholder. To me a trophy is a mature animal. Period. I'm not worried about Boone and Crockett status. To me a "Trophy" whitetail is defined by more than just how many inches of antler are on its head. Anyways. My chances to harvest a trophy animal have mounted over the past several years. The most recent "chance" happened during the opening day of the 2009 season. A perfect quartering shot put the deer down, only to have him disappear without a trace. That haunted me for an entire year.
Fast forward to October 16, 2010. The morning was cool and crisp and the air was still. I started to my stand about an hour and a half before first light. I wanted to get in early because I had to cross a soybean field which usually held deer during the night. By going in early, I thought if I were to spook deer going into my stand the woods would have time to quiet down before light. Well, on the way in to my stand it was quiet. No spooked deer was a good start. As I got settled into the stand, I put on my face mask and gloves and prepared for an hour of sitting in the dark. You would think that this would be a boring hour, but it was actually quite exciting. A pack of coyotes made themselves known with a sequence of howls that sent chills up my spine. Then a few hoots from several owls made me feel like I was not the wisest one in the woods that morning. After all that fuss, the crunch of the leaves signaled that a deer was approaching. The deer cruised through without pause and the crunch of leaves faded into the dark. It was too dark to see but my suspicions led me to believe that this was a buck heading to the soybean field to check his scrapes.
As the horizon started to brighten, the silhouette of several deer moved through the soybean field. I was on full alert. Several deer moved through the hardwoods to my left and eased into a cut over that I was facing. It seemed that the deer were all around. The next deer I saw was a doe on the far edge of the soybean field. She was by herself which to me signaled that a buck could be following . She stopped for a split second and then moved on. Then I saw him. WOW! I immediately got into position because I knew that my window of opportunity was small. He stopped and worked a scrap for a second. It was as if time stood still. Here was my "chance" to redeem myself and silence those haunting memories. He then turned and started to walk off. I put the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed. BOOM! The buck jolted and ran out of sight. My heart and mind were racing at this point. Do I get down or do I wait. That wasn't a hard decision. I jumped down, literally. I made a quick pace to the edge of the field and there he was. I put a quick stalk on him to make sure he was down and then I woke up the woods. BBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOYAAAAAAAAWWWWW! (Can you tell I was pumped?)
My glass was now full! That mindset that the glass was always half full started to be an excuse. Of course I love to be in the woods and yes it's not all about the kill, but every hunter dreams of harvesting a "Mature" animal. A "Trophy". A "Wall Hanger". Well, now I have mine!
Just wanted to drop a quick blog and let everyone know that soon you will be reading the outdoor stories of a new blogger! Chester area hunter, Tommy Darby, is going to join the WeHuntSC.com blog crew and we?re glad to have him on the team. Tommy hunts a little bit of everything and also is into fishing and may post some fishing blogs in the off-season. We?re excited to add a new blogger and see what goes on in the Chester area of SC!