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Lancaster County Ducks Unlimited 1st Annual Frog Gigging Tournament

This past weekend Lancaster County Ducks Unlimited had its 1st annual frog gig. It's the first one ever in the state and it turned out really well. Some have asked and perhaps you are reading this and wondering… why a frog gigging tournament? So before we get into the details of the competition I’d like to give some backstory to this event.

A few months ago the guys and I were at a Ducks Unlimited planning meeting sitting around thinking of ways we could raise some money for DU and we were specifically brainstorming ways we can raise support other than having a dinner banquet or a hunter’s party. We wondered what we could do to attract some new people. We had to think outside the box. After thinking a little while I said “Guys what about a frog gigging tournament?” They all kind of questioned it, but the more we read into in and studied frog gigging the more we found people doing it. And that was all we needed to get the wheels in motion.

So we all set the date and event venue. We decided to do it in July because it's hot out and the ole bull frogs would be out on the hot summer nights. We set the venue to one of the committee members’ farm and that proved to be a perfect location. The weigh-in site was a big open pole barn with a large man cave attached to it. We advertised about the frog gig a lot of folks showed interest. We were fortunate enough to have Heybo Southern donate some of their famous frog gigging tees and hats. They are a faithful supporter of our DU Chapter in all our events. So with all of the promotions and logistics set the only thing left to do was to have the event and gig some frogs!

We had 32 teams enter the contest which exceeded our expectations. We had first through third place for the 20 biggest frog and a cash pot for the biggest frog.

The Winners were as follows:

  • 1st Place: Team Bass – Matt & Trevor Banks – Weight 11.54 lbs
  • 2nd Place: Rich Hill Frog Stoppers – Jacob Shrader & Colby Adams – Weight 11.43 lbs
  • 3rd Place: Team Rich Hill – Matthew Mungo & Andrew Baker – Weight 10.93 lbs
  • Biggest Frog – Team Tradesville – (Colt Ellis & Ryan Griffin) – Weight .89 lbs

The prize packages were as follows:

  • 1st place: A pair of DU edition savage 17 caliber rifles.
  • 2nd place: A pair of k2 20 quart coolers
  • 3rd place: A pair of gigs, head lamps.
    • Also each place had a Heybo prize pack included

Everyone I spoke with said they had a wonderful time at the event and they also mentioned that they look forward to doing it again. We made DU some good money and we all had fun doing it. And one of the best parts was that there were a lot of parent-child teams. We always love to see youth involved in the outdoors.

Thanks again to everyone who participated

Patterning Guns and Scouting Turkeys

As you are most likely aware Turkey season is upon us. Everyone will be hitting the woods soon chasing thunder chickens, but there are still a couple things that need to be done before getting after that gobbler! I had yet to pattern my gun, scout for turkeys and get my gear, calls, and decoys together. These are all things that should be done before the season and if you’re like me you’re scrambling looking for time to get it all done.

The first task was to get comfortable with my gun and to do some shooting to test out the best shot and choke combination. When it comes to pattering a gun I think it’s best to first select your shell and choke tube combination as your starting point and then do some testing. When Blakely patterned her Winchester sx3 she used the Primos jelly head choke tube. She shot Kent, Remington, and Hevi-shot magnum blend. After shooting each shell 30 yards it was clear the Hevi- shot magnum blend is the shell for her gun. I shoot a Beretta A391 Urika. I'm using a pure gold choke tube shooting Hevi-shot premium blend also. I don’t think there is a right or wrong combination necessarily, but you just have to find what works best for you.

Once we felt good about our guns and ammo then came time to do some scouting. Recently I have been working a lot of overtime so haven't had as much time to scout as I would like. Blakely has been checking her hunting property and it show good signs. The areas that I have had time to check have all showed signs of turkeys as well. When we scouted we saw signs of turkey tracks, scratching, and droppings. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed and keep working on our calling.

So get your gear, gun, and turkey tags ready. Come April 1st I hope to see a lot of turkey pictures on here on the site! Good luck everyone and stay safe! Hopefully it won’t be too much longer til I get my first gobbler.

The Exchange

In the first blog entry of this series I detailed the theme of this blog series and mentioned that Blakely Byrd was going to be my guide. There are 2 sides to every story and one reason Blakely is helping me out chasing turkeys this spring is because she happens to like fish and is interested in fishing with me on one of my upcoming trips on the coast. The fishing trip on the coast leads me to the next item I’d like to share and that is to give a shout out to my friend Ja Malphrus.

Ja happens to own a guide service and is great fishing guide. I met Ja a year ago down in Beaufort, SC and he took me and some of my friends out to catch some red fish. It was a first for me something I've always wanted to do. Ja knew what he was doing cause he really put us on the fish. It was an enjoyable experience and I've already booked a few trips this year… one of which includes Blakely because she is, as you read in the first entry in this series, helping me to hopefully bag my first turkey. Hopefully we’ll have a successful spring in the field and then another successful fishing trip as well! So if you’re thinking about catching some reds look my friend Ja up and tell him Robbie sent ya.

More About Ja and his Fishing Charters
Shore Thang Charters is a fishing adventure that starts in the backwaters of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort. Ja has a 18 foot Maverick Master Angler edition that can fish three anglers on a sturdy platform as well as stay dry if we were to come across rough conditions.

In the low-country the season is the determining factor on what species of fish will be biting. No matter what time of year redfish are always the main sought after species. Trout and Flounder are highly sought after as well in spring, summer, and fall. The Port Royal Sound has one of the largest cobia runs on the east coast that generally starts in mid-April and runs until mid-June and the tarpon run starts right after that from July to October.

The Hilton Head and Beaufort area provides an outstanding fishery with something different to explore every time you get out on the water. You can find me on Youtube and you can also check my website out at ShoreThangChartersHHI.com. Along with the fishing, we also offer quail and turkey hunting at Old House Club which is located just 20 minutes away from both Beaufort and Hilton Head just outside of Ridgeland. We do quail hunts for up to 4 guns, morning or afternoon, and our turkey hunts usually just two hunters at the time.

Below are some pictures from my last fishing trip with Ja

The Journey to My First Turkey – Blog Series Intro

Turkey season is right around the corner. With Clint’s encouragement I’m going to do a, hopefully short, blog series on the journey to getting my first turkey. I hope that you will follow along as I learn more about turkey hunting and hopefully get my first turkey.

To begin I should tell you why I haven't really gotten a turkey up until this point in my life. I've previously been close to getting a turkey, but haven't ever sealed the deal. I've only been into hunting turkeys for past 3 years and my first year was trial and error. The second year I almost got a nice tom, but of all things to happen the hunt got messed up by a deer. My third turkey hunting season one of my friends Daryl Hodge took me. I helped him scout and we located the birds. They came in and we got into position. I was shaking like a leaf. Daryl worked his magic, the birds came into range. I gently squeezed the trigger and click. I didn't know what to do. I watched the turkeys walk away. Daryl came over to me and asked me what happened. I knew I had a shell in the chamber so I kicked the shell out and the primer had a dent in it. It didn't fire. I was sick to my stomach. I probably could have shot 2 of the 3 toms in front of me. It was a good and definitely a memorable hunt as well. So I’m 0 for 2 so far and after that hunt I never got to hunt anymore last season after that due to work. This season I hope to change my luck!

Here's me turkey hunting in previous seasons

Another reason I'm excited this year is because I have a new hunting partner. If you are active online and in the outdoors in SC then you may already know her. Her name is Blakely Byrd and she is a pro staff member for several different companies including Banded. She owns the Sportsman’s Consignment shop in Columbia called “Catch and Release” which is also where we had this past year’s Predator Challenge Check-in. I met her at a Ducks Unlimited meeting and we have been friends since. I was recently telling her of myself never killing a turkey and she told me she could help me with that. She has some land down in Columbia that has been burned off and has several food plots and is a turkey paradise. It has produced several nice toms for her every year.

Blakely has definitely gotten her share of turkeys before

We will start scouting next week locating birds. With the new growth from the burning the turkeys will be in looking for insects and new tender growth to eat. There will be a lot of walking but I'm up for the challenge. So there is a lot to be done before April 1st, but I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading and I hope that this series will be helpful to you in some way. I’d also like to thank this blog series sponsor HeyBo Southern Apparel and Catch and Release Sportsman's Consignment for sponsoring this journey with me.

Checking Duck Boxes and Finding Sheds

This past Saturday morning my friend Chad Channell (aka “Slowpoke”) and I set out to check some duck boxes we’ve been working on. He met me at the house and we loaded up the Team Carolina Power Sports Polaris Ranger and a few supplies and headed out. If you’ve read any of my blogs thus far then you our first stop was breakfast! A lot of my friends and I love to eat at Buford’s Little General on Saturday mornings. Not only is the food great, but there's always some good discussions going on amongst the crowd.

After that wonderful breakfast we headed out to our first stop. We unloaded the Ranger and loaded a few supplies and started out toward our first duck box. After a short ride we arrived at a duck box on one of my private ponds. We walked up to the box and easily opened the lid and checked for a hen duck or the presence of any eggs. The first box showed neither so we topped it off with more shavings and moved on to the look for more boxes on the next property. The next box also showed no hen or eggs. So we made some minor adjustments to the box and again topped this one off with some more fresh shavings. We were 0 for 2 at this point, but you can’t really predict or control nature.

We then took a short ride through a freshly cut field to another pond. As we approached the box a hen flew out of it. I was excited! Slowpoke saw it as well and said “What was that?” This is his first year helping with duck boxes so he’s still learning bits and pieces here and there. I told him that it was a hen wood duck and that she was laying eggs. We opened the side door and there was a mix of feathers, shavings, and eggs. I snapped a quick picture and closed the door and we walked away. We just wanted to know if eggs were present, but we didn’t want to disturb them or bother the hen duck. We had all the info we needed at this point and we moved on.

As we got off in the distance I explained to Slowpoke why it was important to check boxes during the laying season. We try to proactively check duck boxes to help ensure that the sport we love so much will be around next year and for future generations of hunters. As hunters we can help contribute to the success of the species and this is one of the few things we can do to help. One of the reasons we check the boxes is because if a Songbird goes in the box and lays an egg the duck will abandon her nest. As you can imagine this is not a good scenario so keeping a close eye on the box can pay off. If you keep boxes checked and catch that scenario in time you can clean the nest out and usually another duck will come and use box.

We checked around 25 boxes that Saturday and had only one hen with a clutch of eggs. We were not discouraged though as it is still early at this point in the year. They usually start laying eggs around mid-March.

After checking duck boxes we walked and rode some trails on our hunting land. While exploring we found a few nice shed antlers too. All in all it was a great day and I enjoyed my time outside. My Heybo fitted hat kept the sun from burning my bald head and my WinnTuck sunglass lanyard kept my Costas in place to keep the sun out of my eyes. It was another great day in the outdoors!

My First Quail Hunt

Recently I was involved in my first quail hunt. Being a rookie quail hunter I really didn’t know what to expect. I went on this hunting trip with some of my good friends and some, now, new friends that I met on the hunt.

We all gathered at the cabin Friday afternoon and got settled in. We had a good time sitting by the fire pit telling hunting stories and shooting the breeze. It wasn’t too long before dinner time arrived and man was it a delight. We had grilled salmon, 1inch thick rib eyes, salad, and potato dinner that that Kevin prepared. It was really good! After dinner the hunting stories continued until it was time to turn in for the evening.

Everyone woke Saturday morning to a quick and light breakfast. We didn’t load up too much because we had work to do. Everyone got there hunting gear on and got their equipment ready to go. The guys with the dogs arrived and our hunt began.

We started off in a cutover and it didn’t take long for the dogs to get on’em. The dogs pointed right away and it was really neat to see the dogs in action. We hunted all morning long and then we stopped for some grub. From the morning hunting we killed 33 birds. We paused for a nice lunch and hunted again after lunch and got 27 more quail. It was a fun day in the field.

It was a great experience being out there watching the dogs work and learning about quail hunting. I hope to be able to do it again soon. If you have never gone quail hunting you should give it a try at least once because it’s really addictive. After my first experience hunting quail I must say I'm now hooked.

My Friend’s First Goose

I have a friend named Mark that had never killed a goose. He has gone goose hunting with me a couple times, but other guys in the group never gave him a shot and he’s always ended up with the short end of the stick so to speak. Any honest man can’t have a goose hunting friend that has never killed a goose so we decided to get my friend his first goose!

With the knowledge that the end of season was near I scouted some new crop land I recently acquired and found some geese. I got a game plan together and called up three of my friends and out of those three, two of them declined! It didn’t matter to me because we were on a mission and wouldn’t let people backing out on us deter us. If you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve probably had some hunting buddies back out on you before so you can identify with the feeling. We still had geese to chase and season wasn’t over so there’s always a chance and having found some geese on my scouting trip I knew that we had a really good chance.

I had Mark to meet me at my house early in the morning. We loaded two Avery power hunter blinds and two bags of Avery GHG pro grade full body decoys. At about 5:30am we arrived at our hunting location, which was a winter wheat field with a large pond in the center. We got our blinds and decoys set up and awaited shooting light.

As shooting light approached we heard geese in the distance. I gave a couple calls on my RNT G3 goose call and my calling brought a small group of three birds right into the decoys. I quietly said “Take'em Mark!” He shot 2 of the 3! And in that moment my friend has shot his first goose! After the initial excitement calmed down I told him to go get the birds real quick. As he went to get his first ever geese I heard a honk. I yelled “Come on back!” He threw the birds back in the brush and got ready for round two. I started calling again and this time Mark started calling with me on his RNT warbird goose call. As it got closer I noticed it was a single. I told mark to get ready. The bird decoyed and Mark took him with one shot. About 15 minutes later we had one more single come in and low and behold Mark got it as well. The birds decoyed beautifully that morning. It was a great hunt and our mission was complete!

I was honored to help a great friend harvest his first four geese on the last day of duck season. He was one bird short of a one man limit. We waited around for more, but none ever showed. Spending time with friends in the outdoors on hunts like this is what I really enjoy and now my friend has the monkey off his back!

Here are some pics of our setup and of Mark with his geese

Arkansas Duck Hunt

Just wanted to take a minute to tell you guys bout my Arkansas duck hunting trip. We left out on a Monday morning with the truck and trailer loaded with gear. It was me and three other buddies and we set sail for Arkansas. All the information we had been given denoted that the birds were gone. I'd been watching the weather and saw where the cold front was moving down so I knew it had to be pushing waterfowl down with it. 

So we drove into Mississippi on Monday evening and we stopped there for the night. We got up on Tuesday and drove on in to Dewitt, Arkansas. The Sky and waterholes were missing ducks and geese. My smile was turned to a frown. That Tuesday we got settled into the historic Schoolhouse Lodge and drove into Stuttgart to visit Macks Prairie Wings because two of my guests have never been to Arkansas so we had to visit Macks. We did our shopping and toured the town a little and headed back to the lodge for the evening. 

The trip back to Dewitt showed a different outlook. There were tons of geese and ducks pouring in to fields and bodies of water that evening. I guess we had it timed right. We got up Wednesday and killed a 4 man mallard limit over some rice fields. On Thursday we got a 4 man 6 bird limit, which 1 bird was a mallard/ pintail cross over rice fields. 

Got up Friday morning and did something a little different… we went goose hunting. We got a guide named “Hoot” and had to meet him at 4 am that morning. We assisted him in putting out 1200 decoys and layout blinds. Come shooting light we had our limit of specks and some snow geese in a soybean field. It was a great hunt!

Saturday morning we hunted a 900 acre private reservoir and didn't limit out, but we killed a nice mixed bag. After the hunt we packed up and headed back to South Carolina. Although the word on the street said that the birds were gone our trip ended up being a good one thanks to some colder weather pushing the birds down. It’s always good to hunt, have fun, and hang out with friends. I had a great time and we made some memories.

Below are some of the pictures from the trip

A Good Day in the Swamp

This past Saturday morning three friends and I left the house for a little North Carolina swamp (one of our honey holes) hunt around 5 am. My friend Kevin and I had scouted the hole several days before our hunt and it looked promising. We got to the hole that morning and geared up got in position. It was the calm before the storm as we were waiting for shooting light.

Once shooting light arrived we shot into several groups and had a nice harvest of green heads. Following the hunt we headed up to the historic Dukes grill and had breakfast then headed home. It was a good hunt with great friends and that’s what it’s all about.

Pictured below Robbie Boone, Kevin Stilwell, Hal Crenshaw and Ken Starnes

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