• February 2008 - Volume 3, Number 2


    A daughter got a chance to witness her father taking his first buck – and what a buck it was!

    On an unseasonably warm day this past November, Richard DesJardins of Mt. Pleasant slipped into his deer stand and downed his first buck ever.

    Nothing restores your balance of “brownie points” with the spouse like a Valentine’s Day oyster roast. Here’s how to go get them yourself.

    Well, deer season ended a month ago, and turkey season is still a long ways away.

    What few “brownie points” you had after deer season were spent on that duck-hunting trip or the redfish outing.

    What’s a sportsman to do?

    Take a tip from a pro, and set up a spider-rigged boat to catch crappie at Jordan Lake.

    While the weather outside may be the coldest of the year, crappie anglers can enjoy some of the year’s hottest action at Jordan Lake.

    Writers use many clichés to describe February’s wintry conditions, including references to a well digger’s backside or a witch’s bosom. The bottom line usually is the air temperature frequently hovers below freezing and the water temperature may be in the low 40s.

    During February, nearshore waters at Swansboro become gin clear, and sight-casting to red drum draws crowds.

    There was a raw-edged chill in the air, cutting to the cheekbones as Capt. Jeff Cronk steered his 21-foot Triton center-console out boat to sea through Bogue Inlet.

    For a couple of reasons Cronk had left Dudley’s Marina dock well after the sun was above the Atlantic Ocean. First, while many of his summer trips begin early because that’s when it’s cool, colder temperature were the last thing he wanted to feel this winter’s day. The second reason was the sun’s distance above the eastern horizon.

    Wild pigs, which have become a nemesis for terrain and wild game, offer an additional challenge to N.C. hunters.

    When Hurricane Floyd hit the southeastern coastline and veered north along the East coast Sept. 14-18, 1999, it inflicting its greatest damage in eastern North Carolina.

    Floyd produced more human misery and destructive environmental impact in the state than any natural disaster in memory. The 15 to 20 inches of rain that fell across the eastern half of the state flooded every river and stream. National deaths (57) attributed to Floyd stretched from the Carolinas to Maine and damage estimates totaled $6 billion. Many rivers set new flood records after the hurricane that meteorologists dubbed a 500-year storm.

    Local fishermen believe the Bassmasters Classic will result in big catches, no matter how the weather turns out.

    Randy Childers isn’t sure which will prove more difficult — helping other fishermen prepare for February’s Bassmaster Classic or actually being a spectator at the event.

    Heritage Preserve Complex offers excellent opportunities for squirrel hunters in tracts along the river.

    In what was once a swamp, a hunter sneaked along, making his way around a greenbriar tangle. The scratching of a dried leaf by the nail-hard, needle-sharp, black tip of a thorn alerted a gray squirrel. He probably couldn’t see the hunter, who wore a blaze orange jacket with a black camouflage pattern, but something made him scramble for cover, making an almost inaudible chirring sound.

    This monster buck made a splash at the recent Savannah River draw hunt.

    Jimmy Morrison of Shelby, N.C., drove a long way to hunt in Aiken on property managed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

    But he didn’t need an Act of Congress to bag a beautiful buck-of-a-lifetime on Nov. 14 on a dog drive on the Barnwell County property.

    North Inlet redfish are there for patient fisherman in the depths of winter.

    The groundhog pops out on Feb. 2, and if he sees his shadow, he goes back in his hole to prepare for six more weeks of winter weather.

    But that’s in Pennsylvania.

    February is last bit of paradise for Palmetto State hunters who love bunnies and beagle music.

    Hunting over dogs can involve various kinds of game in the Lowcountry. Dog drives for deer come to mind, along with hunting quail over pointers or setters — or maybe treeing raccoons with hounds.

    Greensboro’s trio of city lakes offer bass fishing that often rivals or surpasses N.C.’s larger impoundments.

    When fishermen think of big bass, they often focus upon large lakes and will drive hundreds of miles to cast lures into sprawling impoundments often besieged by other anglers.

    In many instances, they overlook lunker largemouths that linger in smaller, less-pressured municipal water-supply reservoirs in their own back yards.

    Calm winter days with a warming sun can produce big catches of weakfish.

    Even in the dead of winter, there can be some lively “gray” days for fishing at North Carolina’s southeastern coast.

    The sun smiles, melting the clouds and fills the air with warmth. The wind gods even seem to take a break, making the ocean’s surface seem as smooth as silk. Anglers must be prepared to take advantage of these not infrequent Indian summer/winter weather days.

    During winter, when most game fish become sluggish, stripers and hybrid bass are heating up at Lake Thurmond.

    “Winter is definitely my favorite time of the year to be on the water chasing hybrids and stripers,” said Wendell Wilson, a guide at Lake Thurmond. “There are lots of fish, they’re relatively easy to find, and they tend to run a little bigger.

    This hunter’s persistence paid off in a big way on public land.

    Charles Ruth, the deer biologist for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, has predicted that some noteworthy bucks would start to show up from public lands across South Carolina.

    The lack of hunting pressure and the difficulty accessing the expanse reaches of wilderness provide big bucks with a safe harbor from the common hunter, allowing deer to reach maturity.

    Three fishing techniques aid anglers in catching yellowfin, blackfin and bigeye when the season cranks up this month.

    Mention tuna to anglers, and it might bring mental images of a small section of boiling ocean as yellowfins feed relentlessly. For some it evokes memories of aching backs and sore muscles; for others the vision is a lightly-seared steak coming off a grill or a piece of sashimi lightly seasoned with soy and bristling with the raw bite of wasabi.

    Preserves not only extend waterfowl season, offer opportunities for kids to hunt and training for dogs but have saved family farms.

    Wayne McDowell sloshed through shin-deep water while behind him trailed a dozen mallard decoys tied to monofilament lines, banging together like plastic drums. With one eye on the sky, he placed the decoys with serious intent while watching for early arrivals.

    Does South Carolina have an offseason? No way. There's plenty of action to keep the outdoorsman in the field or on the water this month.