The calendar changes in January, but you can argue that March marks an end and a beginning for most hunters and fishermen across South Carolina.
First, March is the month when freshwater fishing really takes off across most of the Palmetto State. It’s big-bass month, big-crappie month, and it’s the month when striped bass start to make their annual spawning runs upriver and to the headwaters of reservoirs.
Second, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources holds antler-scoring sessions across the state throughout the month, culminating at the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic in Columbia at the end of March. SCDNR uses this as an opportunity to gather information about big bucks, including where and when they’re killed, to add to a database that’s 40 years in the making.
The antler-scoring sessions typically put an exclamation point on the previous deer season as we finally figure out where the trophy bucks we may or may not have killed rank and who gets to puff out his or her chest the most. The Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic often presents hunters with opportunities to begin thinking about the next season, especially after they tour the state fairgrounds and learn about planting food plots and sample the newest in hunting equipment. Say, wouldn’t that 2-man ladder stand look good up against that big hickory tree at the corner of the little broomstraw field in the lower 40 — especially if that field was disced, plowed and planted in clover or chicory, wheat or lablab?
More and more, hunters are learning that one of the best things they can do to improve their deer hunting — and hunting for other species — is to manipulate the habitat on the properties they control to provide plenty of protein and nourishment for wildlife, as well as maybe attract a few more animals. About 25 years ago, I heard a “famous” deer biologist tell an audience at a hunting-show seminar that the only thing hunters cared about in terms of wildlife management is “managing” to get an 8-pointer under their deer stand. I thought that was a bit of an audacious statement then, and I certainly do now.
More than ever, hunters are doing more before and after deer season than ever before. When we introduced Jeff Burleson’s “Greener Pastures” column several years ago, it was because we recognized that hunters were interested in having more quality animals to hunt, and that habitat improvement was the best way to get at that goal.
Oh, did I mention that turkey season opens in the Lowcountry this month? Is that not reason alone to love March?