Friday, October 29, 2010

CCA Banquet--Lexington

The Lexington Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) held its annual conservation banquet last night at the Lexington Municipal Conference Center. Raffles, auctions, great food, and fellowship highlighted the fundraising event.

Seared tuna, pork BBQ, catfish, and shrimp were some of the items on the menu, which was catered by Charleston Bay Gourmet. One comment overheard about the seared tuna was "I don't know; it looks raw," but followed by "hey, that's gooooood!" My taste buds left me no choice but to agree.

Two Yeti Coolers with the CCA logo were raffled off, and a set of CCA Frogg Toggs joined several other prizes that went home with CCA members lucky enough to have their raffle tickets pulled. And the grand raffle prize was an outdoor kitchen consisting of a stainless still grill, steamer, and turkey fryer.

Some of the items auctioned off included a two-man, two-day hog hunt, an evening of sporting clays at Hermitage Farm, a young and eager-to-please German Shorthaired Pointer, a handmade oyster table, and artwork.

CCA is a grass-roots, non-profit organization made up of fishermen and other conservationists who volunteer their time and efforts to ensure our angling heritage is properly looked after for our present and future generations. This is done in a variety of ways, from being a watchdog on national and local fisheries issues, to coordinating oyster shell restocking, which replenishes habitat for sealife.

To get involved and see the schedule of other CCA banquets across the Palmetto State, check out CCA South Carolina's website at

PhotosByBrianCope: The German Shorthaird Pointer was a big hit!This redfish was part of the silent auction. This .17 bolt action rifle was given away in the 'deck of cards' raffle. This piece of artwork brought over $200 in the live auction.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quail Hunting

 Quail hunting season is in full swing, at least on South Carolina's quail preserves. While the population of wild native quail in South Carolina is virtually nonexistant, many property managers are doing all they can to see that change. In years past, most preserves released a certain number of quail--usually about 100 birds per 4 hunters--just before a hunt. Not much thought was given to what happened to the quail that made it through the hunt, and most were killed by fire ants, hawks, and foxes.

But these days, thanks to quail restoration programs and seminars offered by the National Bobwhite Technical Committee and Quail Unlimited, many plantations are taking steps to help these released quail make it as full time inhabitants of their land, leading to breeding populations of the bobwhite. Planting native grasses and doing controlled burns are a couple of practices land managers can engage in to boost survival chances of released birds, and attract what few wild birds may be in the area.

Bulk releases are also becoming popular on hunting preserves. Instead of just releasing 100 birds prior to a hunt, quail are released in bigger numbers several times a year. While this is a bit more expensive up front, it will pay off in the long run as long as other measures are taken to help restore the population of this important gamebird.

PhotosByBrianCope: A Sumter County hunting party stands over their collection of quail and a few chukars. Dog on point! A hunter watches the dogs who are eagerly awaiting to hear their command to flush.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deer Video

Midlands outdoorsman Joel Boykin sent us this video of a nice buck on his property in Red Hill. This is the kind of buck land managers strive for when implementing trophy management practices, such as those promoted by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). QDMA is a national organization which promotes safe and ethical hunting practices, conservation, and educates hunters and land managers on management procedures which will enhance deer hunting now and for future generations.

Video: Thanks to Joel Boykin for sending in the video and for practicing QDM procedures.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fishing with Drew

I took a fishing trip with professional kayak angler Drew Gregory last week. Gregory is the founder of the River Bassin' Tournament Trail which held its inaugural season in 2010. The trail's title sponsor is Bass Pro Shops, and the 2010 tour featured 5 tournaments, all with their captain's meetings and weigh-ins at Bass Pro Shops stores in 4 different states.

The River Bassin' Tournament Trail is all about catching bass on river from human powered craft, be they canoes, kayaks, float tubes, or even just humans standing on shore. Gregory, who fell in love with river fishing at an early age while fishing with his dad, had trouble finding the perfect craft for river fishing, so he teamed up with a relatively young kayak company and designed his own river craft. The Coosa, by Jackson Kayak, is a revolutionary fishing kayak. Instead of using base model touring kayaks and slightly modifying them for fishing as most kayak manufacturers have done, Jackson Kayak put Gregory in charge of developing their very first fishing kayak from scratch.

The result is a dream craft for river anglers. It's extremely stable, allowing anglers to stand and even make a few steps forward and turn around. It also features a molded in area for installing a retractable drag chain, an important feature for river anglers who up until now have always had to rig up their own drag chain system.

The Coosa also has a lockable rod storage compartment and a locking mechanism to secure it to your truck or car top. A 2-position seat allows you to sit higher while fishing and lower when running through rapids. The seat also removes completely so you can use it as a camp chair when sitting around the fire after a day of fishing.

To check out the rest of the unique features on the Coosa, check out Gregory's website at or see it at Jackson Kayak's website, And check out the River Bassin' Tournament Trail at

By the way, we caught a few fish on the Catawba River just below the Lake Wylie dam. It's a good time to go, and will be even better once the water temperature falls low enough to start killing some Lake Wylie shad, which get sucked through the dam and discarded into the river, where the bass know they can get an easy meal.

PhotoByBrianCope: Drew shows off a nice 4+ pound largemouth he caught on a buzzbait just a few hundred yards below the Lake Wylie dam.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blake Hodge and The Duck Commander visit Schofield's

Schofield's Hardware in Florence hosted a couple of duck-calling champions on Oct. 8th. Blake Hodge, the teenaged duck-calling phenom from Lancaster and Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander were both on hand to sign autographs and talk to fans about duck calling and the gear they use. Federal Ammo, Drake, Winn Tuck, and Benelli all had promotions going on, and Cooks for Christ served up a chicken bog.

Hodge is no stranger to pressure when it comes to duck-calling. He's won numerous awards, including the N.C. State Championship in Canada Goose calling (adult division), and the N.C. State Championship in the Youth Main Street Duck calling competition. But he felt a few butterflies in his stomach at Schofield's Hardware when he was surprised to hear The Duck Commander introduce him to the crowd, then ask him to put on a calling display.

After Hodge's calling demo, the Duck Commander gave one of his signature inspirational speeches. Then it was back to signing autographs and promoting hunting and calling gear. Mud Flap, the radio personality for Florence radio station Eagle 92.9, did a live broadcast with Hodge while shoppers stocked up for hunting season.

For more information on Duck Commander gear, and about Robertson and the rest of the The Duckmen, visit

Schofield's Ace Hardware is the premier hardware and outdoor supply store in the Pee Dee. Drake, Winn Tuck, Columbia Sportswear, Duck Commander, ThermaCell, Mountain Hardware, and Keen Footwear are just a few of the brands they sell. They also have over 1000 firearms in stock. Stop in now to load up on ammo for deer and duck season, or to purchase supplies on your way to do some great fall fishing along the Grand Strand. And don't let your experience stop there--log on to and post photos of your game and fish on their Brag Board.

PhotosProvided: Duck Commander makes premium calls and other gear, and Schofield's is a dealer for the brand. Blake Hodge smiles just before being introduced by the Duck Commander, who gave an inspirational speech to the crowd at Schofield's Ace Hardware.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lee County Outdoorsman Bags 13-ft Gator

Lee County outdoorsman Anthony Messier paired up with Tail & Scale Outfitters to search for a gator on the waters of Lake Marion. Seeing several gators in the 8-9 foot range, Tail & Scale's Capt. Jordan Patrick and Trey Courtney told Messier they could do better than that, so they didn't pull out the crossbow until day 2 of the hunt, when Messier sent the crossbow bolt, which had a buoy attached, into the body of a 13-footer.

Messier then shot the gator with another bolt that had a bigger buoy attached and the fight was on--and what a fight it was! Once the gator was boatside, it took 3 hits from the bangstick to subdue the gator so the crew could hoist it aboard, leaving little room for Messier and the Tail & Scale team, but nobody was complaining.

Once ashore, the gator was taken to Cordray's Processing, where it was weighed and measured before being processed. The big Palmetto State lizard was 13-ft, 1-inch long and weighed 580 pounds.

PhotoProvidedByAnthonyMessier: Messier, who stands 6'4" tall, is dwarfed by his Santee gator.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

210-lb Sumter County Buck

Many midlands outdoorsmen hunt their whole lives and never kill a buck that reaches the 200-lb mark, but on a hunting trip this weekend, 13-year old Lane Zeagler bagged a 210-lb buck. The 8-pointer fell to Zeagler's .270 from about 100 yards away early on Saturday morning, October 2nd.

Zeagler, who was hunting in the Sumter County hamlet of Horatio from a two-man stand with his dad, knew the buck was a shooter, but said the deer didn't look quite that big through the scope, but was glad he misjudged its size.

Sumter County outdoorsman Marshall French summed up Zeagler's feat. "I've killed over a hundred deer in my life, and I've never killed a 200-pounder," said French.

An avid hunter and native of Savannah, Georgia, Zeagler was on his first hunting trip in the Palmetto State, but I doubt it will be his last. Great job Lane!

PhotoByBrianCope: Lane Zeagler poses with his buck, a 210-lb brute killed in Sumter County.

Friday, October 1, 2010

42-lb Flathead Caught on Santee

Gill Cook booked a trip with Capt. Wayne Vining of Catfish'n'Fool Charters and landed a nice catfish at Lake Santee. Cook reeled in a 42-lb flathead and said he will definitely be booking another trip with the Catfish'n'Fool. He was 3 pounds shy of getting that next trip on the house. Capt. Wayne has a policy that awards a free future fishing trip to anyone who catches a catfish of 45-lbs or better while on one of his trips.

Cook doesn't seem to mind missing out on a free trip, and I don't blame him. Check out the photo of this catfish at the South Carolina Sportsman Magazine's website.

PhotoProvided: Capt. Wayne and Gill Cook show off the big flathead they caught on Lake Santee.