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Phillip Gentry of Upstate Outdoors

Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on WORD 106.3 FM. Contact Gentry at pgentry@entercom.com.

Speculation Over Cabela's Bid By Bass Pro Shops

Late last month, Bloomberg Business reported that activist investor Elliott Associates had disclosed that it had acquired an 11 percent stake in Cabela's, one of the country's leading outdoors, hunting and fishing retailer and that with the controlling interest, the investment group may push for a shake-up or leveraged buyout of the outdoor retailer.
The news immediately sent Cabela's publicly traded stock prices soaring by as much as 17% over the next few days. Elliott reported in a filing that it was considering several options - a change in the company's financial structuring, an outright sale of the company, or remodeling of the company's management and operations structure.

Cabela's stock prices had slumped nearly 40 percent before the substantial interest was disclosed by Elliott. The retailer has had less than desirable earnings last quarter after it's fall footwear and clothing lines emerged. Prior to that, the company had seen considerable growth and profit from record firearms sales that have steadily risen through the last eight years.
One facet of Cabela's capital structure that Elliott believes may be attractive to investors is Cabela's home grown credit card business. Unlike most retailers who outsource their credit card underwriting to outside banks and investment firms, Cabela's owns and services all of it's retail credit card accounts. The outdoors retailer reportedly owns more than $4.5 billion in credit card loans.
The most likely suitor in an wholesale purchase of the retailer would be it's primary competitor in the outdoors sporting goods market, Springfield, Mo-based Bass Pro Shops. A report by Reuters indicated that several sources familiar with the matter have said Bass Pro is currently working with an investment bank to come up with a potential offer.

Back in December, Bass Pro Group, the owner of Bass Pro Shops, announced it had signed a deal to acquire Fishing Holdings LLC, the manufacturer of Ranger, Triton and Stratos fishing boat brands. Given the sluggish earnings from the last two quarters across the board for many retail industries, Bass Pro may have more than it can chew to indoctrinate these marine brands into it's current marketing scheme, rendering an acquisition of it's nearly same size competitor unfeasible.
If Bass Pro were to be successful in purchasing Cabela's, speculators say the company will have firmly increased its grip on the outdoor retail market, although it isn't clear how Bass Pro might handle the merger of the two companies should the acquisition be successful.
Here in the Upstate South Carolina market, Cabela's won the race in establishing a retail location on Woodruff Road in Greenville, although Bass Pro had more than it's fair share at that opportunity in year's prior but decided to move forward with a North Charleston location rather than an Upstate store once Cabela's made it's intentions known.

In 2014, Bass Pro Shops announced it had acquired land off Interstate 85 at Highway 101, between Spartanburg and Greenville with the intention of building a newly re-designed 120,000-square foot retail outlet complete with nautical themed bowling alley and full scale restaurant.
Nearly two years later with little to no progress to show, speculators are saying the future Bass Pro Shops may not come to fruition. Indications are that the store would not be permitted to utilize the location as a boat dealership without infringing on territorial rights already established with marine dealers who already market the boat brands owned by Bass Pro Shops.

Currently, Cabela's has three retail stores in the region, the Greenville store, a store in Fort Mill, another store in Augusta, Georgia and an announced location to build a store in Summerville by the Fall of 2016. Bass Pro currently has locations in Myrtle Beach, Concord, NC, Savannah, GA and Lawrenceville, GA. At some point, the question of market penetration becomes an issue if the two brands were to merge.
Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week's guest on the show will be Mark Coleman from The SC Bobwhite Initiative. Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

Outdoors retail giant Cabela's made a splash in 2014 when it opened it's first retail location in South Carolina on Woodruff Rd in Greenville. Now, controlling interest acquired by an investment firm has made the company a possible merger-prospect with Bass Pro Shops. Photo by Phillip Gentry.
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Pool Noodles- Friend of The Outdoorsman

With retail stores pausing just long enough to display Halloween candies and costumes before the big rush is on pushing Christmas items on their shelves, now is the time to be searching the close-out and clearance corners for an item that has become synonymous with summer barbeques, pool parties, and swimming – the pool noodle.
Hard as it may seem to believe, the ubiquitous pool noodle runs a close second only to duct tape in its number of alternate usage to the outdoorsman.
A pool noodle (also known as a water log or woggle in the UK) is a cylindrical piece of polyethylene foam, often hollow. Pool noodles are used by people of all ages for floatation while swimming. Pool noodles are useful when learning to swim, for floating, for rescue reaching, in various forms of water play, and for aquatic exercise.
The good news is when retail stores pack away their summer items, you can usually find them for cheap and in abundance. Let's take a look at how sportsmen can turn a $3 kid's toy into sporting gold.

Catfish bait - The term "noodling" for catfish takes on a different meaning when applied with any number of dip bait/stink bait concoctions. The baits are semi-liquid, with the consistency of peanut butter and require a medium to adhere to the hook. The noodling part comes in when somebody decided that a slice of pool noodle makes a great medium for the dip baits to stick to. Cut the noodle into chucks like you would a pineapple, slather on the sticky catfish bait and put it on the hook. The noodle floats the bait off the bottom where the fish can find it easier.

Deer Stand Padding – Unfortunately pool noodles don't come in camo colors, but since duct tape does, slice the noodle lengthways and cut to fit over side rails and shooting rests on ladder stands and lock-ons. Wrap the noodle in camo tape or spray a dull color. The padding keeps the rails from sticking into your back, makes for comfortable arm support, muffles any foot shuffling and provides a steady rest for shooting off the stand.

Rod Storage – This hack requires the hollow core style noodle with an opening relatively the same size as the end of your fishing rods. Cut the noodles into lengths that equal the distance of the rod below the reel. Tightly pack numbers of these noodle lengths, stood on end, in a plastic crate so they all support each other and insert the rod ends to store fishing rods vertically without tangling lines.

Hook Organizers – Similar to the deer stand hack, fit sections of pool noodle over grab rails or insert through rod holder stems to provide a spongy area that you can stick fish hooks, jigs, or crankbaits in to keep them separated and off the floor of your boat. Hooking and de-hooking into the noodle will eventually deteriorate the foam, but it's easily replaced with newer pieces at the end of the season.

Floats, Jugs, and Markers – Since the primary purpose of pool noodles is to float, smaller sections can be cut to use for marking brush piles, water hazards, or attaching to floating lines to use for night time catfish jugging and trot lining. South Carolina requires such markers to be white in color with a capacity between one quart and one gallon.
Other expensive fishing and boating gear such as hand-held scales, gaffs, landing nets and fishing pliers can be attached to a small section of pool noodle so that the items can be retrieved if accidentally dropped over the side of the boat.

Canoe and Kayak Racks – Pool noodles also make excellent padding to place between luggage racks or the roof of your car or truck for car topping canoes and kayaks. Place sections between the boat and the vehicle while securing the boat with straps.
Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week's guest on the show will be Rick Durham from Whitetails Unlimited Taxidermy in Simpsonville. Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.
From fishing bait to padding for your deer stand, pool noodles have hundreds of alternate uses for the outdoorsman. Photo by Phillip Gentry.
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Get Ready To Cook Some Early Goose

The official start of “hunting season” opens with a 30 day early goose waterfowl season that runs the entire month of September. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

If you live on a lake, or really any body of water, or even just have a sizeable lawn, chances are you’ve been visited by a flock or two of the Upstate’s most non-welcome resident inhabitants – Canada geese. They seem to be everywhere nowadays, but that wasn’t always the case.

Following a period of severe population decline along their annual migratory routes stemming from commercial harvest during the early 1900’s, state wildlife agencies began looking at ways to protect the populations that remained. In the early 1960s, small groups of the "giant" Canada goose were rediscovered at a number of refuges in mostly northern states, and federal and state agencies began a concerted effort to rebuild populations in South Carolina.

“Basically, the people of South Carolina missed seeing geese in the air and in their local waters and hunters missed the opportunity to harvest geese when the migratory population declined” states SCDNR waterfowl biologist Dean Harrigal. “Geese were captured from states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and moved into our state with the intention of establishing a resident Canada goose population.”  

“The effort has been a tremendous success; the initial populations we originally established back in the 1980’s have morphed into what is now a statewide population of resident geese.”  

The result has created new hunting opportunities for water fowlers and a bit of a challenge for wildlife managers. 

“We do get a few calls about nuisance geese from mostly urbanized areas, golf courses, public parks, and mall parking lots” Harrigal notes “While people enjoy seeing 3 or 4 geese in a scenic setting, they get a little upset when that population turns into 25 or even 50 large birds. For the most part hunters have enjoyed the additional opportunity to harvest geese and state residents can again enjoy seeing geese flying over our state.”

It’s or this reason that SCDNR established an “early goose” season that starts on September 1 and runs till the end of the month. The season allows a liberal bag limit of 15 birds per day per hunter with the goal in mind of helping manage the resource.

With the hunting opportunity in place and the support of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources behind them, the only remaining question for South Carolina water fowlers is how to hunt them. 

“I’ve hunted Canada Geese in this state ever since there was a season established” claims veteran waterfowler Scott Emery. “We used to see them on the area lakes and some farm ponds that we hunted for ducks during the winter.  We really didn’t do anything different, if they came into the spread we’d shoot them. Eventually, as we started seeing more of them, we’d add a couple of goose decoys over to the side of our duck spread and we started increasing the size of our steel shot. Where we used to use mostly size 4 for ducks, we’d start carrying size 2 and sometimes carry a few rounds of BB size for the times we saw geese.”  

This “learn as you go” practice, adapting duck hunting techniques to goose hunting,  worked well enough over the years and is still pretty successful today. Problem is, hit or miss winter time tactics don’t work near as well in September.  In addition, there is no coinciding duck season to supplement shooting opportunities.”

There are amazing similarities between successful tactics for both early geese and mourning doves, for which the season also opens in a few days.

Scouting is key. Scout your prospective hunting areas and see where the birds want to be. Food sources are paramount for hunting geese and doves on land. Goose hunters are often successful hunting geese around water through the mid morning to late afternoon hours when they return to the water to loaf and drink.

Public hunting land abounds in South Carolina as almost all of the state’s reservoirs are fair game. Hunters need to bear in mind that certain bodies of water require written permission  from the owner for hunting within 200 yards of a residence. Even with that stipulation, plenty of unpopulated land remains with the state’s largest owning entities; South Carolina Electric & Gas, Duke Power, and the US Army Corps of Engineers maintaining a right of way around the water’s edge and across any islands that exist in the reservoir. 

These areas have been granted public access but if unfamiliar with a particular body of water, it’s best to inquire with the local game warden if it‘s OK to hunt there. More information can be found on the SCDNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/migratorybird/regulations


 Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week's guest on the show will be SCDNR Deer Project Coordinator Charles Ruth. Contact Gentry at pgentry@bellsouth.net.


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Preparing Wild Game & Fish

Planning for a great wild game or fish dinner begins well before an outdoorsman steps foot outside. Photo courtesy Phillip Gentry.

Most sportsmen inevitably become at least proficient in preparing wild game and fish entrees for the simple fact that spending so much time hunting and collecting it makes you want to eat it. 

While wild game and fish recipes run the gamut from no preparation at all to extravagant marinades and cooking that require several days, there are a few common denominators that can spell the difference between a meal fit for a king and one that makes the dog sick.

Without going into great detail about recipes and methods of preparations, here are a few key tips and pointers that can help you make the most of the meal that you collected from the Great Outdoors.

Dressing the animal in the field – Whether the entrée in question, is fish, fowl, mammal or some other form of protein, getting the best flavor out of the animal starts the moment you get your hands on it. While some fish or other seafood might be transported alive, it is generally best to cool the game immediately so that the meat does not begin to spoil.

Methods for Cooling - Adding ice or moving the meat to a cold area where practical will facilitate preserving the meat and reducing spoilage.  Cooling often begins with removing the entrails which heated the animal while it was alive. Doing so will allow the meat to cool naturally and discarding the entrails from the rest of the carcass will prevent waste from getting to the meat.

In the case of some fish and fowl, also allowing the carcass to bleed out after harvest will both cool and remove potential contamination as some species have strong bloodlines that can taint the meat.

Refrigerating and Freezing – Wild game and fish has no preservatives inherent to it. This is one reason why this type of meat is desired by naturalists and health conscious consumers. 

Accordingly, fish and wild game tends not keep under refrigeration and while frozen for as long as other processed meats. When thawing frozen fish or game, allow the meat to thaw completely without the aid of water, ambient heat or heaven forbid - a microwave oven.

Cooking – The number one mistake most preparers make when cooking any kind of wild fish or game is cooking it too long and or cooking it too fast. The mistake comes in thinking the “wild” meat needs to be more thoroughly cooked to reduce chances of bacteria or other contamination. The truth is that wild game, duly tended, has a much less chance of contamination than meats processed in bulk in large plants. Cooking wild meat slowly until just done will result in better table fare. 

Methods of preparation – Grilling is probably the number one method of preparation but only if you follow the reasoning that the majority of hunters/anglers are male and most males are more comfortable with a grill than any other cooking appliance.

Again, slow and thorough are generally the best advice. Another note is that since wild game and fish tend to have lesser fat content than other meats, preserving the fat content by searing, covering in foil or other containment, or combining wild meat with other ingredients that will preserve moisture is good advice.

Ingredients – It simply does not make sense to combine wild caught or killed meats with processed or preserved ingredients. With an abundance of fresh grown and whole foods available in supermarkets, farmer’s outlets and other natural food venues, using fresh ingredients in wild game and fish recipes will allow a unique meal to be even better.

When planning an outing where wild game or fish is a likely result, make sure you have good ingredients needed on hand to prepare a fresh meal as soon as possible.

Recipes –Though wild game recipes are a matter of trial and error to find the ones you like, here are two of my favorite wild game recipe sources. Each month, South Carolina and North Carolina Sportsman magazines feature an outdoor cooking column written by my friend Capt Jerry Dilsaver entitled “Cooking On The Wild Side”. In addition, every Saturday on Upstate Outdoors on 106.3WORDFM, my radio show co-host Tommy Springer presents “The Roadkill Café”. Both are great venues for getting seasonal wild game recipes that cover both the woods and waters.


Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week's guest on the show will be Danny Buxton, Wildlife Consultant at Scofield Game Management.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.


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Upstate Team Win Georgetown IFA Redfish Event

Upstate Team Win Georgetown IFA Redfish Event

Phillip Gentry

On Saturday, August 29, Glenn Finley and Dodd Wood of Belton claimed over $30,000 in winnings after finishing in first place in the IFA Redfish Tour tournament held in Georgetown. Photo courtesy IFA.

On Saturday, August 29, Glenn Finley and Dodd Wood of Belton claimed over $30,000 in winnings after finishing in first place in the IFA Redfish Tour tournament held at the Carroll A. Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown. The team finished ahead of 83 other competitor boats from around the country to take the top spot. This win marks the 5th top place finish that Finley and Wood have won on the IFA tour in the last 4 years including the coveted IFA Redfish Tour Championship in 2008 in Panama City Beach, Fla.

The Upstate pair weighed a two-redfish limit that totaled 8.7 pounds to win the final regular-season event for the Atlantic Division of the IFA Redfish Tour, finishing just .21 pounds ahead of second place team of JD Nobles, from St. Johns, Florida, and Kyle Craven, from MacClenny, Florida, who weighed a total of 8.49 pounds of redfish to net a check for $4,555 for their efforts, including $1,377 in Anglers Advantage cash.

Unlike other fishing tournaments where anglers compete to find and catch the biggest fish available of a particular species, each two-man team weighs a two redfish limit that must measure within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches in a Redfish Tour event. So rather than pursuing only the biggest fish they can find, anglers must target a certain age class of fish. Finley said knowing how to locate such schools of fish is one key to why he and Wood were successful.

“We fish hard from daylight till dark during 3 – 4 days prior to the event,” said Finley. “Redfish are a notoriously schooling fish and we catch the majority of our fish in South Carolina waters in less than 2 feet of water. When we find a school, we mark where we find it and then try to catch one fish. If that fish is in the 20 – 22 inch class, we make a note and we’ll come back on tournament day, but we try not to beat a school up during pre-fishing.”

Finley said he and Wood have spent most of their lives bass fishing and it’s that bass fishing “run-and gun” mentality that he feels makes them successful when competing in redfish events. The team doesn’t mind covering water and put their 20 foot Ranger Z520C Intracoastal Saltwater Fishing Boat paired with a Yamaha 250 outboard to the test during their latest win by covering more than 60 miles of water during the event.

Finley said redfish can get spooky from fishing pressure which is why he and Wood ran the 100 mile circuit to find un-pressured fish on the south end of Bulls Bay. Then it’s a matter of finding the right fish in the right locations and putting together a pair of short, fat spottails that are typically required to get a win.

“We don’t do a lot of wide-open flats marsh fishing,” said Finley. “We do best finding a sparse grass flat that lies adjacent to a creek or ditch. Then we look for a shallow flat or shelf between those two areas. The only protection a redfish has from being eaten by dolphins, which prey heavily on them during low tide, is to lay up in real shallow water.”

Since tournament rules allow only artificial baits, the team does a lot of blind casting in South Carolina’s typically turbid inshore waters to find and catch fish.  The pair used 3-inch white Berkeley Gulp! shrimp under popping corks to catch their fish.

“We redfish like we bass fish, we throw a lot of spinnerbaits, a lot of crankbaits and jerkbaits, but the Gulp! Shrimp under a popping cork was the only thing we actually landed fish on in this tournament,” said Wood.

Finley, who is a general contractor and owns Finley Builders in Belton said he and Wood have received a lot of support from Upstate fans and sponsors, despite the four hour, or sometimes longer, trips he and Wood must make to fish saltwater events.

“People get what we do,” said Finley. “We’re just old bass guys who have learned to tailor freshwater bass fishing to inshore saltwater fishing. Along the way, we picked up national sponsors like Ranger Boats, Yamaha Outboards, Power Pole, typical fishing sponsors, but also local businesses like IMS of Belton and Palmetto Insurance of Anderson. I think people like to see non-traditional anglers compete and do well.”


Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week's guest on the show will be SCDNR Alligator Project Coordinator Jay Butfiloski. Contact Gentry at pgentry@bellsouth.net.


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Past Due For Deer Limits

With exactly one month left before opening day of the 2014 whitetail deer season, it would seem that answers to basic questions such as “What is the limit on deer?” would be easy to answer.

Frequently, we get calls on Upstate Outdoors, the outdoors radio program that I host on Saturdays from noon till 2 on WORD 106.3 FM, with exactly that question. Truth is, I have trouble providing an answer. First I need to know if you are hunting on public or private land, what type of weapon you are hunting with, what day of the week you are hunting on, and which Game Zone you are hunting in.

Sadly, the question is easy to answer if you are hunting most places below Columbia because there is no limit on deer. It’s printed in the rule book – no limit. That information comes amid announcements over the last few years that the numbers of deer in the state are in decline. This flies in the face of true sportsmen who understands that our natural resources, whether they be fish, game, flora, or fauna, are not limitless.

Before you pick up the phone and call the  DNR, let’s point out that even in the Game Zones and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that have limits published in the rule book, there is no method in place to account for how many deer a hunter has taken from any location or by any method. As such, deer hunters are asked to limit themselves, based on an honor system backed up by little if any accountability. The end result is a deer limit that is not enforceable even where one is posted.

You’re also wasting your time by complaining to the DNR, because their hands are tied. For several years now, Charles Ruth, who heads the Deer Project for SCDNR has presented a comprehensive plan for deer management that includes a tag system for any and all deer taken by deer hunters across the state. The plan has been presented several times to the state legislature who sets the game laws in South Carolina, not the DNR. The plan, which is well thought out and has the backing of over 85% of the deer hunters in the state, would end the wasteful situation we are in today with this most valuable natural resource. Unfortunately, the proposal has fallen on deaf ears in the General Assembly.

“If we could get a buck and doe limit and institute a tagging program where all deer are tagged and logged in, perhaps using a telephone check in system that is employed in other states, we could regulate and manage our deer herd a whole lot better than we are doing now,” said Ruth. “Pursuing such regulations remains a priority with the Deer Program and DNR will be seeking support from the State Legislature in the upcoming session.”

As a first step toward that end, DNR has stopped waiting on the state legislature and has instituted some deer limit changes on the only lands they do have control over – the state’s WMAs.  Recent changes in deer hunting regulations will modify antlerless deer harvest limits on public land and the number of either-sex days on both public and private lands. Ruth indicated these limits were designed to impact the way DNR will manage the state’s deer herd. Included in these changes is a move to improve consistency across the state’s Wildlife Management Area program as well as provide a uniform bag limit for deer on WMAs.

Public land deer hunters will be limited to a season wide harvest limit as well as changes in the number of antlerless deer that can be harvested in a single day.

“It’s what we’re referring to as the 5-2-2-1 rule,” said Ruth. “That comprises a statewide WMA limit of 5 deer, no more than 2 can be bucks, no more than 2 deer per day can be harvested, and only one of those can be an antlerless deer.”

The changes will more dramatically be felt by archery hunters who will have to abide by gun hunting regulations during open gun seasons. This includes a requirement to use doe tags beginning October 11 when gun season opens in Game Zones 1 and 2 and after September 15 through the remainder of the state when does become legal for harvest.

Game Zones 1 and 2, the Mountain and Piedmont Units, are the only areas in the state with segregated seasons that provide for archery and primitive weapons-only seasons.

In seasons prior, archery hunters were allowed to harvest antlerless deer without the requirements to adhere to either-sex days or using doe tags. This season archery hunters across the state, hunting either public or private lands, will have to adhere to antlerless deer regulations including the reduction to one doe per day.

“This effectively closes a law enforcement loop hole whereas an officer had to judge whether a doe was killed by gun or bow,” said Ruth. “Now all hunters, regardless of weapon, will have the same requirements during open gun seasons.”

Ruth said the changes are a first step in adjusting to declining deer populations in South Carolina. Wildlife surveys have shown maturing pine forests and an increase in predators such as coyotes as having a negative impact on deer numbers over the last several years.

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People : Charles Ruth


Using Your “Eyes” In The Woods and Water

In days gone by, Grandpa caught fish and was successful hunting game because he had put his time in. Back in the day, there was no substitute for experience in the woods. Grandpa also knew where the fish were because he’d caught them there before and it made sense to him that certain conditions would bring them back to the same, or similar, locations.

Looking back, most sportsman wouldn’t have a clue how grandpa did it back in the day because we have been able to replace his time and efforts in the woods and on the water with advanced technology. What Grandpa knew instinctively, we now keep up with electronically, using pre-programmed software and data that all but point out where the action is.

Today’s technology allows sportsmen who are pressed for time, or who want to get out in the woods and water more often than Grandpa did, to hit the ground running. The only sin to be confessed should be by those who are not taking advantage.

Doug Goins, Mathews Archery certified bow hunter and owner of J & S Gun Depot & Archery in Easley sets out on foot this time of year to do his scouting. When he hits the ground, he’s not looking for places to hunt. He uses some high tech tools to pattern deer well before opening day.
“I put out remote game cameras that will give me specific data to pattern the deer that are using an area,” said Goins. “I start with the game cameras sometime around the end of July, they will allow me to thoroughly scout the area without bumping and pushing deer.”

The data that Goins wants to collect with his trail cameras is the direction deer are coming from and going to as well as the frequency of travel. He will also get some idea of the number and size deer using the area.

“If I can get an idea of sex ratios, how many does versus how many buck are in this area, I can use that information to plan later hunts when mature bucks will be more interested in the doe herd,” he said.

On subsequent visits to check his cameras, typically done during mid day when deer are more likely not to be in the area, he can adjust the camera locations further up or down the trail. This not only helps him pattern deer for hunting but also for further scouting.

“You’ll quickly learn where and when to scout so you can go in and verify food sources and bedding areas and be confident of not bumping deer,” he said.
Flipping the coin, anglers use just as advanced technology to get real-time information on the world below their boat. One of the ways tournament anglers stay on top of the tournament boards is by mastering the latest tactics and technology.

As an example, Kent Driscoll, pro-staff manager for B’n’M Poles, who lives north of Atlanta, recently fished and won a major crappie fishing tournament in central Georgia that he hadn’t laid eyes on in over 10 years. He and his partner beat a home crowd of local anglers who knew the lake very well. So how do you show up on the home turf of some of the best fishermen in the area and beat them on their home lake? Driscoll has mastered the art of reading side imaging sonar technology.

Using a  Humminbird 1197 sonar unit, Driscoll was able to see fish up to 100 feet on either side of his boat and figure out a way to catch them.
“Me and pretty much everyone else in the field knew that big slab crappie would be stacked up on ledges and edges that litter the bottom of the reservoir,” said Driscoll. “We caught a ton of fish but figured out the bigger crappie were holding on little fingers that stuck out into the main channel” he explained. “Then it was just a matter of tracking down those areas—which were clearly visible on my digital mapping software that’s loaded in the unit. Once we got to an area, one pass down the channel with the side imaging and we could see both the stumps the fish were holding on and even the fish themselves.”
It’s safe to say, we no longer live in Grandpa’s world. The question is, if Grandpa lived in our world, would he be sticking to the old ways or taking advantage of our modern electronic advantages.

In Other News
Anthony Gagliardi from Prosperity, SC, fishing on his home waters of Lake Murray, won the FLW's Forrest Wood Cup and its $500,000 first-prize money by a single ounce during last week-end’s highly touted FLW Championship. Gagliardi's final round catch on Sunday of 13 pounds, 14 ounces, gave him a four-day total of 51 pounds, 2 ounces, enough to win the event by one ounce.

Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., took second place and  $60,000 with a final-day catch of five fish, 13-14 -- for a 51-1 total. Third-round leader Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif, weighed in 11-10 to take third at 50-11, Casey Ashley of Donalds, SC moved up a spot from fifth to fourth with 15-0 for 50-7, and Steve Kennedy of Auburn, AL, had the biggest single day catch of the week, 20 pounds, 2 ounces, to finish at 50-7.


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Clemson Bass Fishing Team Qualifies For The Big Dance

In a game winning play every bit as exciting as a 4th quarter drive into the end zone, Alan Howatt set the hook on a largemouth bass that garnered he and team mate Bryan Carroll a top 15 finish in last month’s Bassmaster College Series Wildcard tournament held on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. The finish will advance Horwatt and Carroll, both seniors at Clemson University and the flagship team of Clemson’s Bass Fishing Club, to the prestigious Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship being held this week-end on Lake Chatuge in northern Georgia.

“We knew we needed another 2 pound fish to finish well enough to advance to the Championship,” said Carroll. “We were in the final 5 minutes of the Pickwick tournament when Alan made the last cast of the day and stuck a 2 pounder and hauled him into the boat. If it wasn’t for that fish, we probably would not have made the cut.”

On Monday, the pair reported for practice at Chatuge, a deep, clear mountain lake that straddles the border between Georgia and North Carolina. With three days of open practice under their belts, and one day of competition fishing yesterday, the Clemson team will fish hard today and hopefully make the cut at the end of today’s fishing that will allow them to stay in the tournament for the narrowed down field and compete in the final round on Saturday.

“Throughout the year, anglers put their skills to the test in hopes of earning a chance to fish the Bassmaster College Series National Championship, and this year’s qualifiers are a true representation of the best college bass fishermen in the circuit,” said Hank Weldon, B.A.S.S. college tournament manager.

In the world of college bass fishing, each team competes as one angler, and are only allowed to weigh one five fish limit that will score as one team. After the championship round, the top four teams will be divided up, and each angler will be placed individually into an eight-angler bracket. They will fish for three days, Aug. 3-5, in a single elimination format until only one remains.  The winning angler will be invited to fish in the biggest event in bass fishing – The Bassmaster Classic- which will be held next February on Lake Hartwell with weigh-ins taking place in Greenville at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

“Last year, a team from Auburn University had to fish head-to-head to see who got to fish with the big boys in the Bassmaster Classic on Guntersville,” said Horwatt, who will individually be making his third appearance in the National Championship. “I’d like to see that happen again this year since both Bryan and I consider Hartwell to be our home lake.”
One variable that has weighed heavily on the minds of the college contenders has simply become known as “the rat.” In the 2013 National Championship fans watched as Auburn University at Montgomery’s Tom Frink and Jacob Nummy heaved a 6-inch chunk of wood known as “the rat” and enticed some of the biggest fish in Chatuge to jump onboard for a ride to the weigh-in. Though the unusual bait was only one punch of a two-part combo that included drop shotting, the big lure stole the show. It piqued enough interest that a mass-produced composite rat — the BBZ-1 Rat — was just released by Spro at the ICAST trade show in July.
Teams will take off from The Ridges Marina in Hiawassee, Ga., at 6:30 a.m. ET today. Weigh-ins for the championship will be held at Young Harris College and are set to begin at 3 p.m. ET.

ESPNU will present coverage of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship beginning Aug. 10 at 11 a.m. ET, and the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket will air beginning Aug, 17 at 11 a.m. Fans can follow the action live at www.bassmaster.com/tv-schedule.

In Other News
Summer is not over! With plenty of warm weather left to enjoy, safety around the water is essential. Sign your family up for a free boating safety class through the SCDNR. Upcoming classes are as follows:
July 29 at Sycamore Town Hall
July 31 at the Fort Johnson DNR Office
August 7 at York County Law Enforcement Training Center
August 9 at Clemson DNR Office
August 11 at Murrells Inlet Fire Department
August 16 at US Coast Guard Auxiliary Class Daniel Island Library
September 6 at the Fort Johnson DNR Office
You can also check our website for other classes and outdoor educational opportunities offered by the SC Department of Natural Resources at http://www.register-ed.com/programs/43  or call 1-800-277-4301.

Photo Caption
The Clemson Tigers Bass Fishing Team will be represented by Bryan Carroll (left) and Alan Horwatt (right) in this week-end’s Bassmaster College National Championships on Lake Chatuge in north Georgia. Photo courtesy Alan Horwatt.   

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Understanding Thermoclines, The Key To Summertime Fishing

I’ve long held with the belief that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. The reason that saying rings true is that those 10 percenters understand that 90% of the fish are found in only 10% of the water. Professional tournament anglers have a process they go through while pre-fishing for a tournament that they refer to as “eliminating water”.

While that process sounds more disgusting than it really is, “eliminating water” means verifying that fish either are or are not holding to a given pattern in the 10% of the water that se anglers seasoned anglers would expect them to be in.

During the summer months when fishing can become extremely difficult, much of the 10% of the water that anglers are looking to find fish in is related to a thermocline.

A thermocline is a layer of water more often found in a large body of water, where the temperature gradient is greater than that of the warmer layer above and the colder layer below. To understand the concept, a quick physical science lesson is in order.

A typical reservoir may have uniform temperatures throughout the lake, from top to bottom, for only a short time in the spring and again in the fall. In the summer, most lakes with sufficient depth (usually 30 -40 feet) are stratified into distinct, non-mixing layers of different temperatures. The top warmer layer is referred to as the epilimnion and the colder bottom layer is known as the hypolimnion. These two layers are separated by the metalimnion layer. The metalimnion, better known as the thermocline, is a zone of rapidly changing temperature.

You’ll understand the concept better if you have ever dove down into a lake while swimming and found substantially colder water several feet below the surface. Fish thrive in this cooler layer because it has the best balance of dissolved oxygen. The colder water below, the hypolimnion layer, is actually devoid of oxygen. Because little sunlight reaches the hypolimnion, photosynthetic oxygen production is negligible and decomposition of dead plant and animal matter on the lake floor leads to declining oxygen levels as the summer progresses.

At this time of year, any lake that can and will develop a thermocline has done so. This means that 90% of the fish will most certainly be holding at specific depths in stratified reservoirs to take advantage of the cooler water that provides the highest dissolved oxygen.

To understand the seasonal movements of fish in our local reservoirs – striped bass, largemouth and spotted bass, and even larger catfish species, during the expansive summer months, you have to be constantly on the water monitoring them. As the temperatures and water inflows change, so do fish movements.

The best way to determine the level of the thermocline is by adjusting the sensitivity on most of today’s modern sonar units. The cooler, denser water will rebound the signal and chart a slight line across the graph, marking the depth level. If fish are present in that area of the thermocline, it will also be the level where most of them are residing.

Another way to judge the thermocline is by the life of live bait such as herring, a typical striped bass favorite, or bait shop minnows, frequently used for bass and crappie. If you raise the minnow up too high, the heated water will quickly kill the bait. If you drop the bait below the thermocline, the lack of oxygen from the decomposition of plant and animal material on the lake floor will also kill the bait. This is an important consideration when fishing any live bait vertically beneath the boat.

The next step to finding fish is locating where the thermocline layer meets suitable fish cover.

Anglers often confuse the terms “structure” and “cover”. Simply stated, structure is any terrain feature that crappie, bass, stripers, or other fish will find favorable given the time of year. Cover is a physical object, a stump, tree, rock pile, bridge piling or boat dock, that usually rises vertically in the water column to either break current or provide a hiding place.

Many professional anglers and guides have made a living fishing break lines – an underwater ridge where the bottom drops away to deeper water. As a method of locating fish at a particular depth, get on a specific break line and just follow it all over the lake. Since we already know that fish are more inclined to suspend at the level of the thermocline, the key is to put your baits right in the top of the thermocline and then follow the break line until you come across the fish holding on or above some kind of structure.

In Other News
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Enoree District of the U.S. Forest Service, will host a special youth dove hunt in Union County on Saturday, Sept. 6.

The Sept. 6 youth dove hunt will be at the U.S. Forest Service Herbert Field about 5.6 miles southeast of the town of Carlisle. Only youth 17 years of age or younger will be allowed to shoot, and youth must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older. Adults must remain in the field and closely supervise participating youth at all times.

For questions on the youth dove hunt, or for more information, contact the Union office of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at (864) 427-5140 or contact the U.S. Forest Service Enoree Office at (864) 427-9858.

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More Than Two Sides To The Kendall Jones Debate

Last week the internet controversy over Kendall Jones, a 19 year old Texas Tech cheerleader who has dedicated her Facebook site to exhibiting her kills of big game animals in Africa, hit a critical mass as news reports and public response to the issue from both sides of the right-to-hunt debate mounted. Jones has received death threats from site viewers extolling the villainy of her African safaris. The result has been a galvanizing of viewers and a rekindling of the hunter vs anti-hunter debate in the news media.

The antis rally to the side that any and all killing of animals is wrong. Some leeway is afforded when hunters reply with the argument of money that is paid to participate in the safari hunts goes toward conservation and wildlife management, feeding of the local population, and funding law enforcement that keeps poaching of the animals at bay. However, years of cable television documentaries have swayed the general public to the point that many viewers feel that any big game animal is endangered and should never be hunted.

When pressed for an opinion, hunters will take the same stand with big game hunting in Asia and Africa that gun owners take any time a gun issue is presented, basically the right to bear arms (or in this scenario hunt) shall not be infringed.

To the dismay of some, hunters are harder on themselves and their peers than many outsiders suspect. An example of this is white tail deer hunting. The entire group will rally in support of the right to hunt deer but archery-only hunters in the group frequently look down their noses with disdain at gun hunters who use long range, scoped rifles to basically do the same job the archer does with different gear. In these cases, it’s for the end user to determine what is “sport” and what is not.

You also don’t have to travel to Africa or even outside the state to find the same controversy over what level of hunting some find acceptable and others don’t. For the last 6 or 7 years, the SCDNR has operated a lottery draw system for hunters to apply for tags to hunt alligators in the lower part of the state. Once an endangered species, the American alligator has rebounded back to sustainable populations where the number of human/alligator encounters often makes the news. Wildlife management officials have sought to control the rising population of alligators by allowing limited harvest of these animals.
Regardless of the science behind the motive, anti-hunters frequently come out against the state’s alligator hunters who hunt and harvest a particularly large specimen that garners enough attention to make it into the mainstream media.

An additional hotly contested example is the legal hunting of black bears in both the Upstate and Low Country where biologists cite that number of black bears in the Appalachian chain has reached or exceeded the social carrying capacity. Two week long seasons for bear hunting in the Upstate are provided by the DNR and likewise, when news and photos of bears harvested by hunters hits the mainstream media, the outcry over killing “cute and cuddly” or “defenseless creatures” always rears it’s head.

One side of the Jones debate that even divides the general hunting population is that African safaris costs range in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for one single animal. Most hunters don’t have that kind of money to spend on a sport and simply write Jones off as a spoiled rich girl out spending Daddy’s money.

The subject of fair chase rarely arises when connected to African safaris. American hunters who hunt high-fence or pen-raised animals for sport are placed on a lower social hierarchy by both the hunting and general public. These areas are maintained as private preserves and the cost to hunt within, as well as the likelihood of success, are high.

Perhaps the general public nor the anti’s would be so quick to judge Jones if she were truly a Sheena Of The Jungle who scouted, patterned, and then stalked and hunted her African prey without the aid of outfitters, guides, and the like. In the meantime, it’s an issue that neither side is likely to sway the opinion of the other over.

In Other News
According to a wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, dove hunters still have time to plant fields to attract doves during the upcoming season. The Upstate has an abundant population of resident mourning doves and the best way to attract the speedy, acrobatic birds is to plant an abundance of good dove foods in an environment conducive to feeding by doves.

Individuals interested in dove field planting recommendations should contact the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Small Game Project in Columbia at (803) 734-3609 or their local regional wildlife biologist. A planting guide for dove hunters is available, as is the South Carolina Migratory Game Bird Hunting Guidebook which contains information on field preparation and frequently asked questions.
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