Everybody has Christmas lists; if not, our economy would suffer through the winter when people aren’t as active, opting to remain indoors and let whatever winter weather we have dominates our lives.
Outdoorsmen who hunt and fish in South Carolina’s woods and waters deserve to have a few Christmas wishes filled, and far beyond the boots and camo, duck calls and shotgun shells that might fill our stockings or fit under our trees.
On the material front, I’m always in the market for turkey calls — I usually come home with a half-dozen new ones from the hunting/fishing/boat shows that pop up during the winter. Now that I’m regularly following my son and Buckshot, his black Lab, to hunt ducks, I could probably use a directly line to the Duck Commander guys.
The best present I could get this year is at least one new place to hunt. Three of us lost a piece of property a couple of years ago that we’d hunted for 10 years. It was a special place; I called in the first turkey my son killed, and he killed his first archery buck there. I knew it like the back of my hand. It sort of changed ownership; the elderly man and woman who had let us hunt there both passed during the same summer, and a grown daughter moved her husband and kids into her parents’ house and declared almost immediately, “Nobody hunts on my land.” So I’ve been bouncing around like an unwanted relative the past couple of years, patching together invites from friends with temporary access to little tracts that only last one turkey season, maybe half a deer season.
Now grown, my son has a contact at work with whom he’s negotiating for a nice piece of land about an hour’s drive from home that’s full of deer, turkeys and black bears. Who could ask for anything else, except maybe a waterfowl impoundment full of woodies and greenheads? Please, Santa, bring a signed lease!
But for hunters and fishermen in general, there are a few things we can wish for that can’t be bought at stores. First, answers to what’s happened to our turkey population. Along with most other Southeastern states, South Carolina turkeys are no longer flourishing. Harvests are off. Hatches have been poor. Can we figure it out and reverse the trend?
Can we settle on the kind of deer season and bag limit we really need? That’s still up in the air as the next legislative session approaches. Can we cut down enough pine trees across the state to create cutovers and jump-start the deer population? We got into the timber business as a state 35 years ago; now, we’re at a stage when old-age stands don’t support as many deer as they used to. And can we kill enough coyotes to protect the fawns?
And while we’re at it, can we have a little dry weather so that soggy feeling disappears?