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Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew

Guest Blog: I Found Love through a Rifle Scope

The below is a guest blog submitted by Dan Berkholder

I have a kind of funny story to tell. My wife and I have been married for a long time. We have met a lot of new people, and it seems like every time we meet someone, they ask us how we met. Each time this happens, we kind of look at each other, and wait for the other person to pipe up first. We didn?t meet in the most normal of ways.

I was out hunting with a few of my friends. We were all dressed in our  camo and blaze  looking for deer in the early part of the season. We had hiked in to this area four or five miles with our packs on, and thought that there was no chance we?d run into anybody else.

We came up on some deer tracks and followed them deeper into a thick wooded area. As we followed the tracks, they became fresher. We knew we were getting close. Not long after, we had found him. This deer was going to be the next trophy of someone in the group. Only 75 yards out she stood. I looked down my rifle scope, and began to line up my shot. Before I could get my crosshairs on the deer, I heard a gun shot.

The shot didn?t sound close enough to be anyone I was with, but it wasn?t far away, either. I looked around at my friends. Nobody even had their guns in their hands. I asked if any of them took a shot, and they all said they were waiting for me. I looked back down my scope at where the deer had stood. He had dropped. Someone else had taken my deer out. I was furious.

As I continued to stare in disbelief through the scope on my rifle, I watched two other hunters walk into the clearing and examine the shot. As I realized I was looking at another human being down my scope, I decided to put my gun away and pull out my binoculars. I wasn?t able to see much, so I decided I?d go and give those hunters a piece of my mind.

When I got to the hunters, I realized I wasn?t going to be able to say anything rude. The one who had taken the shot was a girl about my age. She was hunting with her father and couldn?t be more proud of her kill. I congratulated her on the kill, even though I was quite spiteful, and told her that I could have taken that deer out with my eyes closed. She said ?You?ll have to show me that next time we go hunt together.?

The rest, as they say, is history. We are now happily married with two children. Our relationship was built on hunting, and it?s a tradition we?ve kept alive. We take our kids hunting with us as often as possible.

Author Bio: Dan Berkholder is the Online Hunting Product Manager at  Sportsman's Warehouse. He enjoys edible landscaping, and is a devoted big game hunter.

Finding the Mark at Moree?s

The below blog entry is a guest blog entry by Scott Efird

  WeHuntSC.com - A guide at Moree's Preserve in Society Hill, SC

It was late on a winter afternoon, and my computer screen was buzzing with unanswered emails and reminders of upcoming appointments.  Just as I grab my coat, I reluctantly open the last email.  It wasn?t the content of the message, but rather the memories that immediately flashed through my mind when I read the note from Mike Johnson, the general manager of Moree?s Sportsman Preserve.  The hum of the computer disappeared and I had already forgotten about the stress of the day as I glanced over to a picture on my credenza of four guys standing beside a wooden cabin, laughing with a new spirit filling their souls. 

There are few weekends that I remember more clearly than the one I spent last February trekking through the sun drenched hills of South Carolina with my Benelli M2 twelve gauge on my shoulder and three good friends along my side.  It was quail season and it was time for a guy?s trip to a place we?ve never been and for a hunt we?ve never experienced together.

It all started with a call to Moree?s Sportsman Preserve in Society Hill, SC.  The Preserve is about forty miles outside of Florence, so it was within range for a weekend trip.  It was already late in the season and I was sure Mike Johnson, or as I soon would be calling him, ?Big Mike?, was going to turn me away within a minute or so.  Luckily enough, there was a recent cancellation and we were slotted for the A-Frame cabin, which is nestled on the edge of a large pond stocked with catfish and surrounded by acres upon acres of rolling hills and straw grass.  Moree?s offers all kinds of hunts ranging from guaranteed big game hunts including deer and wild boar to guide-led hunts for upland birds.  We were slated for an all day quail hunt with a few Chinese ring-necked pheasants to boot.  As I hung up the phone, I was already mentally rifling through my hunting gear searching for an excuse to make a run to the Bass Pro Shop.

WeHuntSC.com - Scot Efird & friends at Moree's PreserveA few short weeks later, we loaded up the truck and headed out of town in search of the thrill of the hunt and the tranquility of the preserve.  We pulled up to the main lodge and were welcomed by Big Mike, who was sitting on the front porch flanked by a few guys who looked like they?d spent the morning in a duck blind.  If there were a hundred people in a room, I have no doubt that you could pick out Big Mike without ever having met him.  With a red checked shirt, jeans and an old John Deere cap, his smile spread from ear to ear.  He wears his age on his face but his grin and welcoming spirit remind you of a much younger man.  He carries himself with ease and without premonition.  With such a large preserve to manage including the reservations, guides and various hunts, I expected him to cut the meet and greet short, get us on our way and move on to the next group.  I couldn?t have been more wrong about Big Mike and soon appreciated the humility and grace that he showed to every hunter.  It was almost as if he knew something that we didn?t and I was determined to figure it out. 

Big Mike lined us up with an afternoon at the skeet range so we could get warmed up for the morning hunt on the following day.  Moree?s sports a ten-station skeet range equipped with top of the line side by side ATVs to transport you from station to station.  We were challenged by every type of shot you could imagine, including picking off skeet that sailed just above the water.  After a friendly competition and a few jabs at one another for errant shots, the sun had retired for the day, so we headed back to the cabin to fire up the grill and wet a hook. 

The shooting was incredible at the preserve, but standing on the dock casting a spoon in an opening by the pier as steaks sizzled in the background may be my favorite memory from the trip.  The office wasn?t calling, the kids were safe and healthy, my wife was at home and texted me she loves me. A sense of true gratitude and appreciation of the blessings in my life just came over me and to this day, that is what draws me back to the preserve.

WeHuntSC.com - A view of the field on a quail hunt at Moree's Preserve in Society Hill, SC

The aroma of freshly brewed Starbucks woke me in the morning and the other guys are already decked out in their bird vests and blaze orange hats.  We geared up and met Larry, our guide for the day, out in the field designated for us.  Immediately, I knew we had a great guide.  Larry?s blaze orange was more of a faded pale yellow with worn boots and a steel whistle dangling from his neck.  No doubt about it, Larry knew these hills like the back of his hand and his control of the dogs was something to admire. The birds are pen bred and placed earlier that morning throughout the hills and near the ponds.  Every so often, we?d duck into the woods to spot a few of the quail that we missed on the first attempt.  For the most part, the hunt is out in the open and it?s then when you realize the expanse of the preserve and its beauty.  Larry ran between two and three dogs over the course of the day and the dogs seemed to have no limits.  I remember as we were climbing up a hill, the dogs led us to a small pond and the lead dog pointed.  In obedient fashion, the other two dogs pointed directly behind the lead dog.  I flushed the covey and three quail darted left with one solo skirting to the right over the pond.  No one but me saw the solo bird, so I quickly adjusted my stance and dropped the quail in the middle of the pond. Without hesitation, the lead dog leapt in to the pond and paddled all the way to the bird and back dropping it at my feet.  I could see Larry smiling off to the side as he turned to help the others retrieve their birds. 

WeHuntSC.com - Scot Efird & friends quail hunting at Moree's Preserve in Society Hill, SC

As the hunt winded down, we came upon a ridgeline in the hills and Larry told us to be ready for pheasant.  When you?ve spent the day shooting at 5-7 ounce birds and you see a beautiful Chinese ring-necked pheasant soar from beneath the tall grass, I?m telling you ? your jaw drops.  We almost didn?t even shoot the first pheasant as we all stood in surprise and awe.  At the end of the day, we bagged all 150 quail and five pheasant, mostly thanks to Larry and his dogs for their tireless efforts to track down every single bird. 

WeHuntSC.com - Bird dogs after a long day of chasing quail at pheasant at Moree's Preserve in Society Hill, SC

Back at the cabin, we didn?t have the energy we did the first night, so we sat around the fire, cooked some Wahoo on the grill and swapped stories of the hunt.  By the morning all of the birds were cleaned, iced and ready for us to take home.  Big Mike helped us load the birds in the truck and saw us off.  From the moment we arrived, everything at Moree?s that we experienced was first rate.

As we headed back to the big city, I smiled to myself as I finally figured out Big Mike?s secret ? what he knew that we didn?t.  Moree?s isn?t just a preserve for the sportsman, it?s a sanctuary for renewing friendships, remembering your core values and appreciating God?s beautiful landscape. 


Guest Blog: Jimmy Bradley?s Iowa Hunt at Southeast Iowa Outfitters

The below blog entry was submitted by Jimmy Bradley of Pageland, SC

   WeHuntSC.com - Southeast Iowa Outfitters Lodge

I?m like many people reading this blog entry. I?m just a good ?ol country boy from a small town and I love to hunt. I spend my time chasing deer, turkeys, and everything else around South Carolina. I?ve hunted in South Carolina all my life and I?ve never paid to go on a guided hunt before, but my recent trip to Iowa was my first exception. I was really excited to be going and, as you may imagine, I also had a lot of concerns because I had no idea what I was getting into.

It was a long trip to arrive to Iowa, but the whole time my mind was thinking of the hunts that potentially lied just ahead of me. When we arrived to the lodge I was very pleased with the place, it looked like a picture out of a magazine! The rooms had two bunk beds along with two private showers and a bathroom. I looked at the craftsmanship of the beds and noticed that they were uniquely built. An Amish guy local to the area of the hunt had built the beds and he also built a huge dining table along with a lot of trim work on the inside. The hand crafted wood work was really nice, almost to the point of artwork. As one would imagine, there were plenty of nice deer heads on the wall and around the fire place too. It was what you would imagine in a quality hunting lodge.

WeHuntSC.com - The crew at Southeast Iowa Outfitters lodge   

Tom Bomell was our guide and he was also the main person who set up all the trail cameras on the property. He did plenty of scouting and research and had several monster bucks on film for us to look at on the computer before we even arrived to the lodge. It was very important for us to know what animals were on each farm so we could look for specific deer. Tom worked very hard taking us out to the stands and picking us up after the hunts. He was also a very big part of why our trip was so nice! On a side note Tom was very proud of some of the nice bucks his son has taken. He showed us some pictures of two awesome bucks that his son had recently taken one. He son shot a really nice buck with his bow. I can?t blame him for being proud about those and I?m glad he shared those images with us.

Our host was a gentleman named Brenton Clark along with his wife Rachel. They were very friendly and were always ready to help us in any way they could! Brenton really takes pride in getting his guests trophy bucks and he and his wife do everything possible to ensure guests have a good experience. Their hospitality was part of what made our trip special.

  WeHuntSC.com - Snowfield at Southeast Iowa Outfitters

Every morning we had a buffet breakfast usually consisting of eggs, bacon, ham or sausage, and pancakes. They made sure we didn?t hunt on an empty stomach! For lunch we would have a lighter sandwich type meal. Since we hunted from day light to dark we carried our lunch with us out on the hunt.  At supper time we returned back to the lodge and met in the dining room for another great meal and everyone talked about the day?s hunt. We all discussed what happened on our hunts and we usually had a lot to talk about!

The hunting was as good as it gets. We hunted out of nice, huge box blinds with heaters in them. These stands overlooked corn fields, soybean fields, and several types of planted food plots. It was not uncommon to see 30 + deer a night in these fields! After being in a stand for the first 30 minutes of the first day, I knew I wasn?t on my typical kind of South Carolina hunts.

They also had ladder stands and lock-on stands that overlooked trails and food plots. The guide took us in every morning and he would either pick us up at lunch or at night depending on whether you wanted to hunt all day or not. I wanted to get the most out of my trip so I hunted all day long on 4 of the 5 days we were there.

There were a total of 13 guys in two different camps and we had 5 deer killed over 140 inches and one that went 166! Then we had another 2 guys miss and one made a bad shot and just winged the front leg on another buck. Some great deer were harvested while we were there.

WeHuntSC.com - A large whitetail buck taken at the Southeast Iowa Outfitters

I should mention that we also had a camera man with us at the lodge. One of the best parts of my our trip was meeting editor and camera man Nathan Delong! He works with Lee and Tiffany Lakosky and the show ?The Crush? with Lee and Tiffany! Nate lived only a half a mile from the lodge we stayed in and was like one of the family there. It was a pleasure to meet him and he gave his testimony with us and shared his story of how he became a part of the show. He also told us all about Lee and Tiffany and how hard they work to make their farms so good. He told us how they work from day light to dark on their food plots and also how strict they are on what they shoot! He told us about the various food plots they plant. He also told us that Blake Shelton is a hoot in camp and always ready to make you laugh! My friend Tony said he could have sat and talked to Nate all day!

WeHuntSC.com - A huge whitetail buck harvested in Southeast Iowa   

I saw 16 deer the first day of my hunt, 3 of which were good bucks, and I was in hog heaven. I saw 3 bucks and 2 does the second day and on third day I saw 21 deer! The third day brought 5 bucks and 2 of those were over 140 class, but I could not get a shot! On the fourth day I saw 15 deer and had a nice 130 class 8 point walk by me at 30 yards! On the final day I saw one doe on the morning hunt then we changed farms and went to one that had not been hunted for the afternoon hunt. This location had two stands on it and I went to the bottom stand and at 4:15 had a 170 class buck called the ?Big 10? come out 40 yards from the other ladder in the field! Yes I was SICK!!!!!! He never came my way though because he got busy chasing a doe and left with her! My heart was in my throat. It was an awesome experience in the woods.

Over the course of my trip I never pulled the trigger. Even though I did not kill a deer this was still the greatest time I have ever had deer hunting! It was so amazing to sit in a stand and know at any time you could see the deer of a lifetime. The owner and his wife made every effort to see that I killed a deer and it just didn?t come together. The food, the lodge, the hunts, and the hospitality was awesome and I?m already scheduling my trip back next year. If you are looking for a hunt let me know they only take a certain amount of hunters and it fills up fast. The cost to hunt is $3,500.00 and the tag is like $590.00. Yes, it is a lot of money, but it is also a chance to have a hunt of a lifetime.

Going on a guided hunt to somewhere you have never been is hard and it keeps you wondering the whole time did I make the right decision? Well I can honestly say in my case I did and I was very pleased with the whole experience!

For more information check out http://www.seiaoutfitters.com

Guest Blog: Squat ?N Stalk Hog Hunt

The below blog entry is a guest blog entry posted by Andy Hahn

WeHuntSC.com - Andy Hahn riding through the woods chasing some SC boarsWhen friends work together toward a common goal we can accomplish amazing things. I have severely limited mobility because of ALS, but my good buddy Ron Wagner always finds the time and energy to help me enjoy the outdoors.

In April 2009 we were hunting at Bang?s Paradise Valley Hunting Club in Ehrhardt, South Carolina, when I told Ron I wanted to take a hog with my Horton Hunter HD 175 crossbow. Our timing was perfect because another guest at the lodge was Matt Miller of Covington, Virginia, who works as a pro-staffer for Horton Crossbows.  Although he was at Bang?s to pursue turkeys, he gave up his own hunting time and volunteered to help us that morning. Another friend, Matt Lindler (editor for National Wild Turkey Federation publications), joined us to take photos.

Our guide, Tom Collins, mapped out a game plan in the dirt like a sandlot quarterback.

?There?s a game trail here...Set up the blind on this side of it. The hogs bed down in the swamp here. I?ll give you guys 20 minutes, then I?ll come in from this end to push the hogs your way.?

Matt M had the pop-up blind open by the time Ron had wheeled me through 50 yards of mud and deadfalls. Ron quickly assembled my BE-Adaptive gun support and stood by to aim the crossbow with my scope camera/monitor system. Tom tromped through the swamp and his plan worked?sort of. Several hogs went past us, but they ran by too quickly for a shot. Then Tom called on the radio to tell us he saw two hogs hiding in a brushpile. Knowing that hogs tend to sit tight when burrowed into cover, he asked, ?Can you guys get Andy over here??

If the hogs hunker down, we?ll go after ?em; we call this method ?squat ?n stalk hunting.? Ron grunted my wheelchair through 150 yards of palmetto scrub, over logs and around fallen branches while Matts L and M carried the crossbow and other gear. One of my tires went flat from a thorn we picked up somewhere along the way. When Ron apologized, I told him flat, muddy wheelchair tires are much better than clean ones that never go outside.

When we found Tom, he pointed at a nasty brushpile and said, ?One of the hogs is right there.? Where??? Oh...There! All I could see was a dark spot through a 10-inch-diameter opening in the tangled branches. Ron affirmed he could thread the needle at a range of 20 yards and send a bolt through the narrow gap. I trust my point man, so we set up for the shot.

WeHuntSC.com - Andy & the guys spotted a boar in the brush

Studying the image on my scope cam, we held a powwow with Matt M to determine where to aim. We estimated where the ribs would be, but the shadows made it a tough call. I squeezed the cable release and the bolt disappeared in the brush. We saw the hog?s rear legs twitch, but we couldn?t see the bolt. Had we hit it?

WeHuntSC.com - Andy Hahn debating if they could squeeze an arrow into the brush

Our second bolt deflected off a branch and careened away harmlessly. The third one stuck the pig but we couldn?t tell exactly where. We had no more bolts, so somebody would have to walk up and check things out. Matt L stood to our right, with his pistol drawn. Tom stood 20 yards to our left, holding his .44 mag revolver. Matt M, carrying Ron?s 9mm pistol, went behind the brushpile.

?I see tusks on that boar,? he warned.

Then he jammed a 7-foot branch in the pile to flush the hogs. I said, ?Somebody yell PULL! When the pig runs we?ll have pulled pork.?

A 130-pound sow stepped out, looking for a victim. She paused, chose Tom and charged directly at him. He tried to sidestep but the hog veered to keep him in her path. POW! Tom fired at a range of 3 feet and closing fast. He hit it between the eyes and had to jump aside as the hog, dead on its feet, tumbled under him.

The other hog, which turned out to be a 135-pound boar, never moved. We discovered that the first broadhead had penetrated the skull just behind the right ear for an instant kill. (I guess we can call that shot a ?no brainer.?) Our third shot had struck the hip of the already immobilized hog.

WeHuntSC.com - The post hunt photo

Back at the lodge I almost fell off my wheelchair when Ron asked, ?Hey Bang, do you think Jeremy [of Three Mile Creek Taxidermy] can mount that boar with the arrow stuck in its head??

When we returned to Bang?s later that year, we found that Jeremy had indeed prepared the mount to meet Ron?s request.

Here?s how it looks: Our Squat ?N Stalk Arrowhead Hog.

WeHuntSC.com - Andy's boar mounted with an arrow in it's head!


Guest Blog - Gifford Watkins' Hunting Adventure

The below entry is a guest blog from a friend of mine from Nova Scotia, Mr. Gifford Watkins

When I was a seminary student at Southwestern Baptist Theological School (Fort Worth) I took at job as an intern at Park Cities Baptist Church.  After working there a few weeks I got to know the mailman, who said due to his recent divorce he had extra room in his house.  I thought since most of my life was in North Dallas it would be a good idea so I moved in.  My fiance at the time thought it would be ideal for us to spend Thanksgiving at their ranch in South Texas.  As I packed a weekend bag, I heard the door slam and the footfalls of my new housemate.  I really didn't know that much about him at the time, but after I mentioned heading to a ranch for the weekend, he asked if I was going hunting.  I said I was not planning to, I didn't have a gun, or bullets, or a license to hunt in Texas, to which he said, "Puh, you don't need a license, do you want to borrow a gun?"  I asked what sort of gun and that was when the fun began.  His name was Troy.  Troy led me to a wall in the living room where he pushed and out came a door; the door to his cache. A huge steel cabinet with decals I cannot describe (Death from Above might ring a bell with some) was unlocked and inside, was well, the inside.  I chose a Smith and Wesson .41 caliber hand cannon with a scope and 6 bullets; three hollow points and three full metal jackets. I loaded these into a stainless steel carrying case and headed out the door.

The ranch was 100+ acres of Texas scrub; mule deer and turkeys ran rampant as I surveyed the surrounds looking for the right place to hunker down the next day.  Train tracks ran through about 300 yards away from the ranch house and I thought it a good vantage point being about 15 feet above the fenced fields to the south, so I returned to the ranch, sat with the family and drank with the grownups til twilight.  It was time.  I grabbed my silver kit and headed toward the tracks, taking a round about route so I could approach downwind North.  I loaded the cylinder and sat down to wait.  Within a half hour I heard the pift, pift, pift of footsteps approaching down below west of the open fields.  The gradient slope down from the tracks was heavily grassed breaking only at the nearest fence line, about 150 yards away.  A small rack of horns emerged and out stepped a mule deer about 140 pounds or so.  I braced off, still sitting, one knee up to rest my right elbow and sighted in.  Not wanting to spoil the kill I took aim at the front of the right shoulder and drew in a breath, held it, waited for the lilt and gently squeezed. The recoil was enough to jumpstart my heart and the sight of the buck dropping enough to move my legs into action. Running with the .41, I scrambled down the hill, through the tall grass, grabbed a post with one hand and hopped the fence (feeling a little bit like Mel Gibson in one of his crazy cop movies), eager to investigate the damage.  In a few seconds I was next to the deer kneeling down.  I put my index finger into the hole as far as I could and grinned wide looking around to see if anyone had seen this magnificent feat.  I didn't have a holster so I transferred the .41 to my left hand and grabbed the horns.  With about 250 yards to drag, I started lugging the carcass to the ranch.  Still trembling, excited, and glad to have something to show the freezer at home, I dug deep and pulled and pulled until I was about 100 yards out still hugging the fence line.
Suddenly, and I mean in a split second, I wasn't dragging the buck... it was dragging me; I held on for a few seconds before realizing what was happening and let go. Now I was on the ground and the deer was above me, disoriented and panicked. I tried crabbing backwards but the buck was running round in circles and the .41 was near useless as I tried to sight it in at 5 yards BAM miss, 10 yards BAM miss, back to 5 yards BAM another miss; I was now a Nova Scotian matador with nothing to hide behind.  Finally it straightened out ran full tilt into the barbed wire fence, toppling upside down and if it could have been any more panicked, it was, as it bolted up and over the train tracks where I had just been lying 5 minutes ago.  I stood in my place alone, not grinning, so glad there was no one around to witness this horrible twist of fate.  I hung my head, walked back to the tracks looking for blood, but found nothing except the case I had left behind; the walk back to the ranch was very long and as I approached folks came out to see what I had accomplished on my outing.  My fiance said, "So how did my hunter man make out this morning, we heard shots fired."  I held up one bloody finger and said, "I got one, I was dragging it home when it got up, scared me and ran away."  The seasoned hunters were soon laughing so hard that my ears burned, my face reddened and my shoulders slumped even more.  They didn't have a good dog, so tracking was out of the question.  As the laughter died down, I said, "Well, I shot the thing, other than that what was I supposed to do?" The response: "gut it." But I didn't have a knife.
That Christmas as we opened gifts, I was surprised to see a box from the soon to be in-laws. Pulling off the wrapping paper revealed a tidy brown box with gold embossed letters: KASUNA. Inside was a buck knife.
Thinking back on that day I can only offer one explanation.  The first bullet out of the chamber must have been a full metal jacket, a bullet that passed right through the neck of a 120 pound 6 point buck.  It was a great shot indeed, but unfortunately the wrong ammunition.  I did go out later that day (in the evening) and bag a 100 pound doe; this time I aimed behind the right shoulder from high atop a tree.  It seemed completely uneventful after the morning's incident though.  I returned home to Dallas and every time I opened the freezer, thought about the buck that got away.
The moral of the story is... don't borrow a gun from a disgruntled, divorced, African-American Viet Nam vet turned disgruntled postal worker. Just my humble opinion. Happy hunting South Carolina :)

Guest Blog: Anyboy Else Hunt Squirrels?

WeHuntSC.com - Klay with some of the squirrelsThe below blog entry is a guest blog entry by Andy Hahn:

Some folks say they hunt squirrels because it hones their stalking and shooting skills, making them better big-game hunters. Other guys tell me they only hunt squirrels because their kids enjoy it. Well, I need no such excuses. I go squirrel hunting because I love to hunt squirrels.

As a teenager in Pennsylvania I used to rush home from school, grab my single-shot 20 gauge and orange vest, and head for nearby woodlots in search of bushytails. When I was in my mid-20s, I lived in Philadelphia. Every Saturday in October and November I?d wake up at 3:30, drive to State Game Lands in south central Pennsylvania and greet the dawn on a hardwood ridge overlooking the Susquehanna River, squirrel gun in hand. My pulse always got to racing at the glimpse of a tail flicking among the branches or the sound of a small critter shuffling through fallen leaves?and it still does!

In 2006 I was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig?s disease), a neurological condition that has put me in a wheelchair and rendered my arms nearly useless. Now I hunt with the help of friends and adaptive shooting equipment. While a ?point man? handles the rifle, we watch the sight picture via a special video camera and monitor that show with a scope?s-eye view, crosshairs and all. When things look right, I squeeze the trigger with a cable release.

WeHuntSC.com - Andy Hahn with his adaptive rigThree years ago my buddy Ron Wagner and I were hunting the last week of deer season at Bang?s Paradise Valley Hunting Club in Ehrhardt, SC. We commented that many of the stand sites seemed overrun by swarms of grey squirrels. ?No wonder my corn bill is so darn high!? joked the lodge owner, Bang Collins. ?Maybe you guys can help me by thinning out the rodent population.?

We needed no further encouragement. Bang lent us a Ruger 10/22 and the following day we started collecting the main ingredients for a big pot of Brunswick stew. That evening as we talked about our ?rodent-control project? I noticed a youngster listening with wide-eyed attention. Nine-year-old Klay Elixson had come to Ehrhardt with his grandfather Rick Hires, another regular visitor at the lodge with whom we?d become good friends. I asked Rick, and when he gave his permission I invited Klay to join Ron and me for a tree-rat safari.

The next dawn found the three of us in a pop-up blind, anxiously waiting for some squirrels to appear. We didn?t have to wait long. We used the Ruger and my shooting equipment, which kept everyone involved in the hunt.  Ron aimed while Klay and I took turns using the cable control to squeeze the trigger. Klay displayed fine hunting skills by keeping still, spotting bushy-tails and patiently waiting for high-percentage shots. The scope camera proved an excellent teaching tool as we followed squirrels on the monitor and discussed why different situations and angles made for good or bad shot selections. Our apprentice soon earned the title of No-Playin? Outa-the-Wayin? Lead-Sprayin? Squirrel-Slayin? Machine.

Sharing our knowledge and watching a young hunter enjoy himself, Ron and I probably had more fun than Klay that morning. Time in the woods with an enthusiastic kid also showed me that despite having special needs, disabled hunters can and must take responsibility for helping pass on our outdoor heritage to the next generation.

WeHuntSC.com - Klay, Andy, & RonWeHuntSC.com - The Squirrel Eraser

The following season I bought a Marlin Model 917 VSCF .17 HMR, added an Alpen Kodiak 6-24x50 scope and dubbed it ?The Squirrel Eraser.? Ron, Klay and I now get together at Bang?s once a year for a tree-rat roundup.

Last year a deer hunter scoffed at our small-game pursuits: ?I don?t waste time hunting squirrels.?

?Me neither,? I replied. ?I enjoy every minute of it.?


Guest Blog - Hog Hunt

WeHuntSC.com - Hogs under the feederThe following blog is a guest blog submitted by Andy Belk...

After a year of discussing a hog hunt, my buddy Michael Rodgers of Latta,SC and I were finally able to put together a June hog hunt. Michael recently purchased a two man boat so we decided to turn the afternoon into a combo fish/hunt. The crappie cooperated with us catching a nice mess of crappie in less than two hours. Afterwards, we loaded the boat and headed to the stands. The videos tells the story of the hog hunt. Truly, a great day to be in the outdoors, a rare day when everything comes together. 

Andy Belk






Thanks for the the submission Andy!



Guest Blog - Pee Dee Gobblers
The below is a guest blog submitted by Andy Belk
Armed with my vest of tricks and my trusty old 835 I coined "mule" due its ability to dislocate shoulders, I found myself in a familiar spot at daybreak with the first bird gobbling on cue right where expected (or hoped). I slipped around the edge of large oak/cypress stand bordering a cutover, finally stopping in front of a large wide bottom popular tree surrounded by budding iron wood trees. After several minutes of the gobbler sounding off at every crow and owl vocalizations, I gave a soft yelp to present my location also. He responded so my plan was to sit tight and quiet until fly down before engaging in any further turkey dialogue with the single gobbler, until another bird gobbled behind me spoiled that plan. In an attempt to be greedy I turned my head and gave a louder yelp in the direction of the new player, which responded with an approval gobble. With the two very vocal birds still safely on a tree limb and me setup close things seem to be shaping up to be a classic hunt when I noticed the familiar sight of a white head sneaking through the swamp paralleling my location, ?ahh?, the typical silent 2 year old gobblers attempting to beat the boss gobbler to a lonely hen. Sneaky walked to within 50 yards of my setup to take a peek but wasn't content not seeing a hen and continued on his search for love. Right behind him was another white head in tow also showing little interest in the ghost hen. As he passed, I let out a yelp followed with a soft purr. He returned to take a closer look hopping up on a deadfall for a better view, I quickly contemplated the range, "45-50 yards, gosh dang", as much I wanted I could not close the distance or increase shotgun range with telepathy alone. As a bowhunter I should know this well by now. I made the correct, albeit difficult decision, not to squeeze off. Nothing was left to do but watch the lonely gobbler wander back in the same direction he came.
As I sit thinking of what could have been, a group of crows harassing a hawk provoked the first cold shoulder gobbler into hammering out a gobble. He was now a couple hundred yards away, overcoming the anxiety of a boss gobbler in the area he gobbled once more, then again. He was obviously now strutting on an old logging road behind me. I gave another soft yelp and he responded. This correspondence of calls lasted 15 minutes with neither of us budging. With the situation not evolving I abandoned my favorite tactic of passive and sparingly calling and I threw out a hard cut to the locked up gobbler. He responded with a gobble, then another, and the second gobble was much closer. I gave one more loud cut with the same eagerness to hear a response. I readied the gun. I knew he was committed and within minutes a white head appeared. He was coming closer but attempting to swing in behind me. As I followed him with a bead drawn the increasing extreme angle to my left continued to pull the gun off my shoulder onto my bicep. As he stopped to look for his lady, I was well aware of the whollop that "mule" packs even in the midst of the excitement. Knowing unavoidable immense pain was in my immediate future as I squeezed off, the 2 year old gobbler flopped at the kaboom and I scrambled to my feet. I felt blood dripping from my nose, but no time for minor issues like loss of blood because the battered gobbler was attempting to regain his feet...and I was too! As he stumbled to his feet to make 3 or 4 more steps a second round from the mule out ran him to seal the deal. 13#, 9.5" beard and 1/2" spurs. (Those deep river swamp birds seem to weigh on average 4-5lbs less than field birds and even Piedmont birds).
WeHuntSC.com - Andy Belk's 1st Turkey
But the story continues.......
After breasting out the first turkey, there was no need to head home so early. It seemed as many of the hens were nesting and the boys were out looking for love so I headed to one of prettiest river flats in SC. This area is a favorite hangout for turkeys and hunters. Waking slow and deliberately, I allowed the live crows the due diligence of locating turkeys as not to "bugger up" turkeys by blind calling in a location fellow club members will certainly hunt later on.  However, 300 yards from the river I decided to toss out just one yelp since the pesky crows were drawing very little attention from any nearby toms.  I was answered by a turkey across the slough about 400-500 yards east, right where I began my search for a love sick gobbler.  As I rapidly moved back up the slough, the crows keep the gobblers pinpointed.  All they needed was a little sweet talk to overcome their case of late morning lockjaw. There was no way to avoid wading across the slough with snake boots that lost the waterproofing many miles ago.  A little murky water and wet feet was certainly not a valid reason to miss out on a chance for another Pee Dee gobbler.
I made my way across the slough and setup beside a large cypress which casted the perfect shadow to conceal my outline. The swamp looked almost magical in a sense; it is simply a beautiful place to be especially on a spring morning.  After another yelp from the diaphragm there was a quick answer from an old tom seeking a date for brunch. He was coming closer with each gobble then suddenly became silent which is often the tale-tale sign a weary bird is sneaking in.  Twenty minutes passed in a standoff of silence.  Finally, I saw a red head 60 yards out.  He was looking desperately, but seemed disappointed to not see his lady. I gave a soft purr, but with no visual he was not committing so he moved on angling away.  I was quite dejected at what transpired, until the obvious pounded me over the head. The younger bird at daybreak required aggressive calling to close the deal.  With hindsight fresh on my mind, I mustarded up the best sounding cut I am capable of producing and my effort was rewarded with not only a double gobble, but a gobble from two toms.  I replied again and they responded with the same enthusiasm.  Just like the first turkey, nothing to do now but allow them to make the final decisions. The next few minutes seemed like hours, and then finally I saw the same red head appear through the tall swamp grass.  It was too late this time, his eagerness had drawn him within too may footsteps. I had the gun shouldered and resting on my knee. I squeezed off with both beads of the barreled aligned on his neck.  At the blast my turkey sprung to the air, followed by his partner in crime.  An instant thought of "How in the heck, there's no way", then Flip, flop, there was my bird anchored like I expected.  My disheartened surprise soon changed to a much better surprise of realizing 3 gobblers were hanging out together rather than two, my target was DOA.
WeHuntSC.com - Andy Belk's 2nd turkey
15.5#, 1-1/16? spurs, 10.5? beard
With a two bird limit in that county, my season was finished in less than 3 hours. Next time down I will have the luxury of working a call only, but there are 3 tags left for other counties, if time will allow. 
Every day is a blessing, but considering some of the personal trials over the two previous springs kept me from the "spring turkey woods", I can't help but to believe the Lord smiled down me this one day and allowed me to take home two of his creatures and provided an awesome day in His creation.
Guest Blog by: Andy Belk, Lancaster SC

A Hunt for Strength

The following is a guest blog by Laura Byrd McKenzie

It was the best adventure ever! We waited anxiously- shaking from nervousness, yet stiff with excitement! We had put so much of ourselves into thishunt? planning, preparing, saving and sacrificing. Finally we could see him coming out.  His head was down. He didn?t even notice we were there. At just the right time we made our move!  And, in an instant, Eddie-Ramzie was part of our family! A child from the other side of the ?big pond? (Atlantic Ocean) was ours forever and there was no looking back.

The feeling we had that day at the airport when we first held the 2-year-old little one who became our ?Eddie-Ramzie McKenzie (ER)? was a first that can never be matched.  Much like the day he had his first kill, it was a day we will always hold ?deer!?

Eddie-Ramzie started hunting with his dad, Eddie, in the Fall of 2010. Considering that most of ER?s summer was spent swimming and playing video games, he was quite bored on the first few hunts. I imagine the act of sitting in the tree stand might have seemed like a trophy in itself considering the effort put forth just to get there.  Eddie-Ramzie triumphs daily through a forest of adversities in his quest to walk and otherwise actively enjoy life like any other young boy near rural McBee, South Carolina. Though he has to be careful as his bones break easily, he?s known for also breaking medical milestones and defeating the odds.

After several hunts and countless arguments, his dad hammered into Eddie-Ramzie?s hard head that eventually he would learn to love hunting.  His dad didn?t understand why hunting should be so difficult to tolerate for Eddie-Ramzie. After all, he had endured over two years in the lonely wilderness of an orphanage near Russia?s Black Sea. He had bravely survived a hunt in the US and Canada for skilled doctors who continue to perform his repeated bone surgeries. He firmly and patiently grasps the cold metal of a walker and wheelchair almost every day.  He masters each school day by overcoming a mischievous ?big mouth? to make straight ?A?s?. 

If he could tolerate all of the above, he was darn well going to calm down, keep his mouth shut, and overcome a little boredom to embrace the metal of a rifle and eventually break the stride of a deer?  hopefully without breaking his own shoulder.

Eddie-Ramzie was already aggravated from the last hunt when his daddy set up his AR-15, which was borrowed from longtime friend Patrick Griggs. ?The Big-One? had strutted from the thicket and posed for a shot, only to leap away in laughter as a loud CLICK yielded nothing. ER protested as he caught a familiar piggy-back ride on his dad in order to hike back to their hunting golf car, ?It was YOUR fault, Daddy! You didn?t set up the gun right. It was your fault I didn?t kill that buck!?

Over the next several hunts the quiet sign language between the two guys became heated as ER insisted that his dad was not using the new deer caller correctly. ER insisted that according to the directions he read on the package, ?You don?t know what you?re doing, Daddy!?

One Saturday morning, October 30, Dad decided to let his son sleep late after one of ER?s many rough nights of bone pain. Eddie-Ramzie insists that it had more to do with Dad?s whining for more sleep than with anyone?s pain. Regardless of who won that edition of ?The Biggest Whiner,? the two men pulled their camo clothing from the proven McKenzie ScentFanDuffle bag.  They had argued the night before and ER won as they settled on using dog fennel for the cover scent in the bag?s cartridge/fan system.

They set out on the mid-morning hunt. As ER had killed enough time in that deer stand while reading a tree?s-worth of books, he decided to bring along a thicker book.  After reading quite a while, another grey argument began to stir in those colorful woods. ERs hands and fingers gestured sharply that his dad was once again using the deer caller incorrectly. Fed up with his son?s 10 year-old ?know-it-all? attitude, Dad gave the call to the Smarty Pants beside him, and motioned as if to say ?just do it yourself.?  Eddie-Ramzie snatched up the device and proceeded to use it according to the words so clearly printed on the package. He settled back into the comfort of reading. Within about two minutes, a handsome doe crept from the briars.

ER lifted his trembling arms to aim. He was sure the gun had been secretly snacking on his cousin Jeanie?s famous homemade pastries because it suddenly weighed a ton.  Time slithered like the snails on the front porch as he remembered how his older sister, Bobbi, boasted that she had killed her first doves at age 7 which was a much younger age than he had. His sister Jessi?s voice screeched in his mind as he recalled her laughing that she looks much better in camouflage that he ever dreamed of looking. He hunted for strength in his hands as his stomach felt as jiggly as the strawberry jello dessert his mom, Laura, sneaks before diner.

If he could make this shot, then finally he could brag about his first deer and how much smarter he is than his Daddy. After all, he had chosen to read and follow directions, unlike Big Eddie! And most important of all, he was reading his Bible when God brought out the deer just for him!  His strong little fingers squeezed the cold trigger as his trophy submitted herself by expiring at his feet on the ground under the tall pines that his Papa Byrd had raised from saplings.

Finally, it had happened! And, all was right with the world! Faster than a pine cone can bounce from a squirrel?s tail, a text was sent to announce his kill. Vehicles could be heard skidding over the sandy cordoury bumps of Jesse Byrd Road.  Truck doors slammed, digital cameras flashed and friendly waves abounded as a large crowd of at least 3 people gathered to greet him: nevermind the coincidence that the crowd was in fact the three females in his family who compete to boss his every move.

His mind echoed like the hills and hollow near the creek that trickles beyond the barn we call the old ?tenant house!?  Yep, my Mema Byrd will surely hurry to get dressed so as not to be late for tonight?s green-carpet gathering at the local Hardee?s Restaurant. The top story on her agenda will be to proudly announce to her friends that her grandson, Eddie-Ramzie, has once again accomplished his goal and brought home adventure, strength and love.

WeHuntSC.com - Eddie Ramzie with his first deer

WeHuntSC.com - Eddie Ramzie McKenzie with his dad Eddie McKenzie

Adventure, strength, and love can be found through a multitude of experiences and within countless lands and seas throughout the world. However, no adventure is quite like the outdoor life this skinny young boy experiences in the Sand Hills of Middendorf Community, USA.  No strength is quite like that which comes as a result of brokenness. And no love is quite like the love Eddie-Ramzie McKenzie feels for his daddy, his God, and newest of all, deer hunting!

Laura Byrd McKenzie

Stickman drops the hammer

The below blog is a guest entry by J.D. Bonnette

The wind was slightly blowing in various directions, the rut was in full swing, and daylight was burning fast.  I had just gotten permission the day before to take my brother-in-law, Jamie, to a new honey hole.  Jamie and I have been hunting a lot this year and he was determined to take a deer with his rifle.  He had taken deer while dog hunting with a shotgun, but never with a rifle.  We had a big buck run some does by us a week or so prior to this hunt.  Also, the Saturday prior to this, Jamie shot at a big doe while dog hunting and missed.  All of that was enough to make him lose some sleep for a few days. 

I picked him up at 3 that afternoon and we were on our way.  Got to the stand about 3:30 and spread some doe urine around to spice up the place a bit.  The setting had us sitting in cleared pines with head high dog fennel all over with a small food plot with corn scattered about 40 yards from the stand.  15 minutes into the hunt the wind stopped completely?you could hear a pin drop a mile away.  For the next hour and a half nothing except birds moved in the area.  The sun soon dropped behind the trees at 5:15 and that?s when the pace picked up a bit.  We started to hear shuffling and the occasional stick breaking.  Finally, I saw a tail flicker in the tall brush.  We had already agreed that Jamie would shoot a mature doe or a decent buck.  We sat there for a little while, but nothing popped out.  I started to wonder if the flicker was a bird or some other little critter.  My initial instinct was right?it was a deer.  It started coming towards the corn through the dog fennel and I could tell it was past mature doe/small buck size.  Jamie got the .243 up on the rail and aimed.  The deer popped out just past a small pine and looked straight at us.  CLICK!!!  I almost passed out when I realized that he still had the safety switch on the little single shot rifle on safe!  I reached out and flipped it over, popped the hammer back again and??BOOM!  The deer turned and bolted for cover.  ?Were you on him?? I said.   ?Right behind the shoulder, I know I hit him good.?  Jamie replied.  ?You better have hit him good, I don?t feel like trailing one all night!?  I said with a slap on his shoulder. 

We climbed down and commenced the fun part of deer hunting, trailing blood.  I was certain the deer hadn?t run far after finding a good splatter of blood right where he shot him.  Good blood here, little here, good blood there.  You never realize how tough deer really are until you trail one for 70 yards pouring blood from a double-lung shot.  While we?re looking for this deer, Jamie loses a boot sole.  Now he?s got one boot and one moccasin on his feet and I got a good laugh at his expense.  Shortly thereafter I found him!  A nice 5 point buck weighing about 120 pounds!  It might as well have been a 10 point that weighed 250 pounds for all I cared.  I was happy as a pig in slop!  This was the 7th hunt we had been on and finally success!  On the way out, we stopped by the landowner?s house to show him the deer.  He told us that Jamie could hunt that stand for the rest of the year if he wanted.  The land-owner quoted ?Hunt it like it?s yours.? So guess where we are going to be every chance we get now?!?! 

Many of you are probably wondering why two grown men shooting a young buck is such an awesome event, so allow me to explain.  Jamie ?Stickman? Cornwell was an up and coming horse trainer and jockey for almost 10 years.  He had won a few big races in Maryland and was becoming known as a very persistent and tough horse jockey.  He was traveling up and down the East coast and ?Stickman? was well on his way to becoming a very successful jockey.  Jamie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March of 2009.  Tumors were found in his lungs at the same time and there was no possibility for surgery.  He has undergone chemotherapy for a little over a year now and there have been no decreases in the size of the tumors.  There are other treatment options that are going to be put in place now to try and fight off the cancer.  God will take Jamie when he is ready for him, until then, he?s gonna be dropping the hammer a couple more times!  It?s sharing hunts like these that make it that much more special.

WeHuntSC.com - Stickman with his deer



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