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Outdoorsmen begin crafting a 2015 Journal

Good friends share stories by the fire after a day of outdoors adventure.  Photo by Jeff Dennis

Good friends share stories by the fire after a day of outdoors adventure.
Photo by Jeff Dennis

Each and every year the outdoorsmen of the Lowcountry get to write a new chapter in their sporting journal. Some factors that frame our outdoor pursuits each calendar year are related to work and family commitments, but setting some goals can help to make the most of any free time. Success can come in many forms and whether hunting or fishing, sometimes the outdoor experience can outweigh any harvest.

Think the last day of deer season on New Year’s Day means that your pursuit of a trophy buck will be put on hold? Not a chance, because as many dedicated deer hunters know, scouting can often provide the intelligence necessary to cross paths with a mature buck. Any time after the New Year, bucks begin to cast their antlers, and so sportsmen should be out hunting for shed antlers.

Finding a shed antler equates to turning up an important clue regarding the mysterious whereabouts of a buck. A great place to look for sheds is in food plots that are planted with winter crops, the kind of green growth that attracts white-tailed deer well after corn piles are left unattended. Once the pressure of hunting season shuts off on January 2, don’t be surprised if deer return to old haunts and become more visible. The only question is if these clues are seen by a hunter with an agenda in 2015.

There certainly will be plenty of fishing options in the New Year for those more inclined to get on the water and wet a line. The up and down rollercoaster of winter weather these days means that there will always be sunny and warm days to go saltwater fishing. Anglers can study the weather before heading out to target spotted sea trout or sheepshead, and a redfish can be rounded up nearly 365 days a year.

Freshwater fishing options slow to a trickle during winter, but spring brings renewed enthusiasm to enter the rivers and swamps of the ACE Basin in pursuit of redbreast, brim and crappie. Catfishing at night is a niche sport, but it offers more of a big game type feel since setting the hook on a 50-pounder isn’t out of the question. Striper fishing in the Santee Cooper lakes offers another option for those who seek variety.

This outdoor enthusiast has immediate plans to spend time behind a brace of pointing dogs in search of bobwhite quail. Watching the weather for the coldest possible conditions will be a part of the routine for January and February. Small game hunting for squirrels and rabbits will always be an option when the opportunity arises. In each of these endeavors, the wild game meat will provide sustenance against the chill of winter.

Any time spent in the field this winter that reveals the whereabouts of a wild turkey can be utilized in March and April during turkey hunting season. One of my most memorable journal entries from turkey season involves three roosting toms on the eve of the season opener. The gobblers nearly walked across me before flying into the trees right above my position, and it was well after dark before I decided to slip out of the woods. I was late for supper that night, but the allure from that close encounter remains tasty.

With the return of May it is planting season once again, and dove hunters will be prepping fields that will host dove shoots beginning in September. Neotropical songbirds will migrate in May, making it the Super Bowl of birding for 2015. Offshore fishing season kicks off in May too, when the mahi mahi run thick ahead of the blue marlin season and the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. Yes, May is the gateway into the summer season when those who spend time in the outdoors learn how to stay cool while taking advantage of the bounty of natural resources found in the coastal plain.

With that being said, summer gives way to fall and then it will be time to chase that mature buck once again. Some may be planning to write the most outdoor entries ever in their 2015 journal, while others will be trying to simply make a few token notes. My plans include writing so many outdoor stories that the 2015 journal becomes thick enough that it resembles a book. I also hope to have at least one good reason to visit the taxidermist this year. Whatever your outdoor journal is going to look like in 2015, we hope that you will keep up with the outdoor sports that will be featured in The Colletonian all year long.


Jeff Dennis, Contributor (394 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com