• Volume 7 Number 10 - October 2012

    Features

    If it’s legal to take more than one deer a day, why not? Here’s how to double your pleasure — and your venison.

    Whitetail deer are elusive animals with highly developed survival skills. It is a great achievement when a hunter takes a deer in a fair-chase hunting situation.

    South Carolinians are fortunate to have very liberal bag limits for deer. Not only is the annual limit generous, but hunters are allowed to take two deer daily in most locations. However, taking advantage of this opportunity is not always an easy task. Taking two deer on any one set-up is sometimes a matter of luck, but in order to do so consistently requires skill and an intimate knowledge of deer habits.

    Clarks Hill, aka Lake Thurmond, offers great fishing for a number of species in the fall. Here’s where to find them.

    At almost 71,000 acres, Clarks Hill Reservoir, the largest manmade body of water east of the Mississippi River, is still surprisingly undeveloped compared to many of the other impoundments across South Carolina.

    Clarks Hill, or Lake Thurmond if you prefer, was built between 1946 and 1954, just a few years before Lake Hartwell and some 30 years before Lake Russell, the other two impoundments upstream on the Savannah River system.

    As a fishery, Clarks Hill has a reputation as a better-than-average destination for a number of species. Professional bass tours frequently make stops there, and a growing number of crappie and catfish tournament circuits are also becoming regular visitors. One of the more sought-after species, at least as far as recreational anglers are concerned, are striped bass. Stripers and their test-tube cousins, hybrid striped bass, were first introduced into Clarks Hill during the late 1960s. The fishery was to their liking, and the lake produced a state-record striper in 1993 that wasn’t topped for eight years.

    Flounder are on the move this month, heading toward the ocean. Intercept them and you’ll receive a huge reward.

    There are no caissons, no buglers or regimental flags. No cities have been ransacked along the way, no crops put to the torch.

    Still, there’s a march to the sea every autumn along South Carolina’s coastline that’s more predictable than Gen. Sherman’s little walkabout almost 150 years ago.

    When the first cold snap of the fall hits, when the days start to get shorter, when the mercury starts to crawl toward the bottom of the thermometer, flounder that have been living in creeks and ditches and bays and rivers start their own migration; they march to the sea.

    The two rivers that outline Edisto Island like parentheses are full of redfish, but the tactics required to catch them are very different. Here are the basics to put more fish in the boat.

    It’s not exactly a civil war, but if you’re headed to Edisto Island to catch redfish this fall, you need to decide which side you’re on. The North Edisto and South Edisto rivers, they’re similar only by name. They fish as different as night and day.

    A look at the map offers some explanation. The Edisto River rises independently in two forks in Aiken County and flows across the lower third of South Carolina as a freshwater river. Below Willtown Bluff, where the river transitions from brackish to saltwater, the river splits — at least in name — and flows on either side of Edisto Island. The South Edisto retains the bulk of the flow, while the North Edisto splits off into a significantly smaller branch to join with the much-larger Wadmalaw River. Other than a little freshwater drainage from the Toogoodoo and Caw Caw Swamps, the North Edisto, via the Wadmalaw, is almost entirely a saltwater system.

    When it comes to big bucks, before you start to dream, you may want to start with a field of beans.

    The images on the trail camera didn’t lie. Silhouetted against the waning moonlight were three definite shooter bucks, two of which may be destined for record-book status, based on the expansive antlers encased in velvet.

    For most deer hunters, the eye is automatically drawn to the headgear. But the secret is what you can’t see in the photo, three mature bucks, standing in a freshly planted field of beans.

    The next photo tells the rest of the story — the photo of Heath Rayfield, posing with three mounted deer heads. At the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ scoring session held at last year’s Palmetto Sportsman Classic, two of them did make the record books.

    South Carolina hunters won’t find a better time to tangle with a trophy buck than during the transition between summer patterns and the rut. Here’s how...

    One of the most-confusing and least-understood segments of the season for many deer hunters is the transition from the pre-rut to the peak of the rut. Between predictable summer patterns and the peak of the rut, deer behavior undergoes major changes. Deer behavior undergoes major changes from the predictable summer patterns to peak-rut patterns, but it doesn’t happen overnight; it occurs over a period of several weeks, and these changes and increased buck activity actually creates some of the best hunting of the season — if hunters make the commitment to stay with the deer movements. Consider the change from a biological standpoint. Charles Ruth, deer-project supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources said that most hunters across the state will have deer in this transition period late September through approximately Oct. 20.