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Posts from September 2016

G-Man Wins 2016 Bassmasters AOY, Longer Rods Legalized for 2017

With the 2016 season coming to a close, Bassmaster Elite veritable favorite Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Alabama claimed his second Angler-Of-The-Year title when the dust settled at Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota. 

Swindle, known to fans as “The G-Man” didn’t have his best performance at the final event of the 2016 tour, but his five fish limit of smallmouth bass weighing 22 pounds on the final day of the event put him in 10 place, enough to maintain the surmountable lead in points he had accumulated throughout the Bass Elite Season and finish ahead of Keith Combs, Randall Tharp, and Jacob Powroznik.

Swindle also won the AOY title back in 2004 and won the Bass Pro Shops Southern Open in 2011, but surprisingly has never won a Bassmaster Elite event in his career. Swindle credits consistent finishes, a hard work ethic, and abundant support from his friends, fans, and family for winning this year’s title.

“My parents were in the crowd to watch me win AOY,” Swindle said. “And my wife has stuck by me, through thick and thin — she’s kept my head in the game and helped me stay focused when it was most important. I’m so thankful for the support I receive from her and my family. This is a team sport for the Swindles, and it’s a victory we all get to celebrate together.”

The AOY title automatically placed Swindle in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic which will be held on Lake Conroe, a 21,000-acre impoundment of the San Jacinto River in Montgomery and Walker counties and will weigh in at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.

In other news from the Bassmaster camp, a 40 year standing regulation regarding the allowable length of fishing rod legal for use in Bassmaster tournaments will be extended, literally. Starting with the 2017 season, anglers will be allowed to use rods as long as 10 feet.

The current rule allows competitors to use one casting, spin casting or spinning rod (8-foot maximum length from butt of handle to rod tip) at any one time. The long standing rule is somewhat of a throwback to days when two competitors fished from the same boat in the same tournament category. It was thought that using a rod longer than 8 feet might give one of the competitors, presumably in the front, a greater advantage. 

These days, Bassmaster Elite anglers are accompanied only by a tournament marshall or cameraman who does not fish. Open tournaments involve a pro angler or “boater” who is fishing for a larger prize and a co-angler or “non-boater” who is restricted to the back of the boat and the two do not compete.

The change was sought by several anglers who specialize in fishing tactics that would benefit from the use of a longer rod. Some tournaments in western states had already began allowing the use of longer rods to take advantage of the growing popularity of casting large, heavy swimbaits and spoons for largemouth bass as well as several smallmouth bass presentations.

“I don’t have anything against the new rule, it’s probably not going to be something I use because that’s just not the way I fish,” said 2015 Bassmaster Classic champion Casey Ashley from Donalds, SC. “Some of those guys in the western regions throw those big baits. So long as it’s legal for everyone, I’m OK with it but I’m not sure I could fit a 10 foot rod in my boat.”

The new rule will apply to all B.A.S.S. trails, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens and all B.A.S.S. Nation and youth events.

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week, local Bassmaster Elite angler Casey Ashley will be on the show.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

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Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, AL claimed his second Bassmaster Elite Angler-Of-The-Year title last week following his 10
th place finish at the final event held in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of BASS.

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Primitive Weapons?

Advancements in design, manufacture, and function make these deer hunting weapons far from primitive.

Love them or hate them, regulations that govern the public and private lands in the Upstate of South Carolina provide for specific weapons requirements during the early weeks of the whitetail deer hunting season. 

In Game Zone 2, which comprises the majority of the Upstate from Abbeville to York and all counties in between, archery season for deer opened on September 15. Next weekend, on October 1, the “primitive weapons” season will open. 

Primitive weapons are defined as any black powder propelled firearm that is loaded through the muzzle of the gun. In many instances the season, which runs through October 10, is also referred to black powder or muzzleloader season.

On an odd note, the definition of archery was amended several years ago to include both vertically held bows and horizontal bows, more commonly known as crossbows. The twist is that archery significantly pre-dates any “primitive” firearms by several centuries. 

On October 11, the modern firearms season commences and is an allowable weapon through the end of the whitetail deer season which ends at dark on January 1. Each weapon category has a specific start date each year but is allowed through the progression of seasons. 

Contrary to the name, “primitive” is probably way down the list of terms used to describe both inline black powder guns and even today’s crossbows.

The modern inline black powder rifle made popular by Tony Knight back in the mid 1980’s as well as the adaptation of “shotgun” 209 primers and pelletized powder has turned muzzle loading from a primitive weapon to a high tech weapon. 

Pre-measured powder pellets are dropped into the rifled barrel, followed by a belted or saboted slug, pushed into place with an aluminum rod, and fired using a modern firing pin to impact the primer which delivers an equal spark through a breech plug. In most cases, the rifle has a composite stock and is aimed using any number of modern rifle scopes which provide dead on accuracy out to 200 yards.

The same type advancements can be found in today’s archery tackle, particularly crossbows which have given rise to more early season deer hunters in the woods come September because the bow can be cocked and locked, aimed very similarly to a gun, and fired using a trigger mechanism without the required movement of drawing the bow, sighting in with an aiming pin, and releasing the string manually.

“Speed is the key in both situations,” said Robert Mayfield of Greer, an avid deer hunter who takes to the woods on September 15 with his Barnett crossbow in hand and trades it on October 1 for his Thompson Center muzzleloader . “The crossbow is as fast or faster than any compound bow without the strain of draw weights that might require 80 pounds of pull.”

The one leveling factor across the board, whether the hunter is using the most modern crossbow or inline muzzleloader, is in 90% of occurrences shooting at a live target, the hunter gets one unhurried chance to make the shot count.

“It’s still mostly a one shot deal. It takes a fair amount of effort and movement, including getting a foot up in the stirrup of the crossbow to re-cock it,” said Mayfield. “With the muzzleloader, you still have that 5 – 10 seconds of blindness when that blackpowder fogs you in and you can’t see anything till the smoke clears. Most times the animal is long gone if you missed the first time.”

“I guess that’s why they call it hunting and not killing,” he said.

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On Friday September 23, the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians will have a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Grand Reopening of its museum located at 210 Main Street Bryson City, NC at 2:00 PM followed by several guest speakers and a museum tour. On Saturday, September 24th, at Noon, the Museum will have its first Hall of Fame induction ceremony preceded by a luncheon. Tickets are $35.00/person. For more information, contact the Bryson City Chamber of commerce at 828-4788-3681 or Bob Nanney at fearnofishbob@att.net

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week, the show will be broadcast live from Carolina Motorfest at the Greenville/Pickens Speedway.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

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Today’s modern blackpowder firearms come complete with advancements in firearms technology that lend little credence to the term “primitive weapons”. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

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Hunters For The Hungry – Putting Meat On The Table For Those In Need

One of the more popular perks of being a deer hunter is that it provides food for the table. Venison is widely touted by even the most die-hard gluten-free, antibiotic free, lean meat advocates as a valuable source of protein. With deer season opening this week across most of the Upstate, the annual supply of venison in the households of hunters and those lucky enough to know a successful deer hunter starts to soar. 

But what about those, less fortunate, who don’t get enough food to eat, the truly hungry that live right here in our own communities?

Another great value of the available supply of venison also helps the less fortunate, those deemed truly hungry thanks to a statewide organization known as South Carolina Hunters and Landowners for the Hungry (HLFH). This organization, which is based in Pacolet, SC, provides deer hunters in South Carolina a great opportunity to help with feeding the hungry by providing processed (ground), frozen meat to food banks throughout our state.

The organization enlists the help of a number of deer processors across the state. These processors collect donated venison from hunters and provide them to the organization. In return, HLFH solicits donations from both hunters and non-hunters alike to provide funding to compensate processing, storing, and distribution of the meat to food banks around the state.

“As the 2016-2017 Big Game Hunting Season approaches, we are asking you to consider a sponsorship of or donation to the South Carolina Landowners and Hunters for the Hungry,” said Harold Campbell, president of HLFH. “All monies received go to our sole cause, which is to provide venison to needy persons here in South Carolina, a nutritional source of food. No one in Hunters For The Hungry receives any compensation for his or her efforts. We are all volunteers.”

In the organization’s 12 years in operation, HLFH has delivered nearly 1,500,000 meals to needy families and charities in the upstate. At its inception, the founders of the organization realized that hunger is a reality in both urban and rural areas and that 1 in 5 families across the state are impacted by real hunger. Each year, tens of thousands of emergency meals are provided to South Carolinians every month from meat donated to food banks by HLFH, nearly half of those impacted are children.

It began as a vision by the group who saw a way that the sport and tradition of deer hunting could give back to the community. As the sport of deer hunting grew in popularity, the deer hunters and land owners in the community who founded HLFH recognized an opportunity. 

Some deer hunters found themselves in possession of more fresh meat than they needed or wanted. This resource could be organized to benefit those in the community who were hungry, and who otherwise would do without, could be provided with quality meat.

Secondly, in a day and age where deer hunting often gets undeserved negative attention, providing this service to the community would generate positive publicity for hunters and the tradition of deer hunting.

As a service to both the community and as a management tool for one of the state’s most valuable resources, having a venue to allow unwanted or donated meat from the annual deer harvest in South Carolina can be used more effectively efficiently by eliminating waste.

 “We will be holding our annual banquet this weekend,” said Campbell. “It’s going to be a great family event and we invite everyone, not just deer hunters, but anyone who wants to contribute to this good cause, to come out and help us help the needy in our community.”

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This Saturday, September 17, the South Carolina Hunters and Landowners For The Hungry will be hosting its 11th Annual Benefit Banquet featuring US Representative from South Carolina’s 4th District, Trey Gowdy.

The banquet will be held at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Pauline, SC at 6:00 pm. Dinner will be provided by HLFH. Door prizes will be donated by local area merchants. Donations will be accepted at the event and all donations are tax deductible.

For more information, call 864-585-9218 or visit schuntersforthehungry.org

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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 outdoor legend Hank Parker.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

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Deer hunting is not only a popular tradition in the state, it also provides food for the table. Thanks to a local organization, it also provides food for those in need. Photos by Phillip Gentry

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No Rest for the Weary

With Labor Day in the rearview mirror and the official end of summer here, it’s time to get serious about the upcoming deer season. For the majority of the Upstate, Game Zone 2, that means next Thursday, September 15 is opening day if you take to the woods with archery tackle. If you are not a bow hunter, you have a 2 week reprieve and possibly 3 ½ weeks if you are not a fan of muzzle loader hunting. Gun season, which includes modern rifles that don’t require black powder, opens on Tuesday, October 11.

In that short time, there is much to be done if you plan on having a decent season this year. Private land hunters have it a bit easier than public land hunters. First off, you can start planning locations for stand placement and even erect those stands, put out trail cameras to make sure you’ve made a wise choice, and even begin sweetening the site with bait if so inclined.

Public land hunters will need to reserve doing anything permanent or even semi-permanent to the land you intend to hunt and baiting is not allowed. The biggest difference will be preparing private lands to try to coerce deer to show up where you want them to versus scouting and trying to figure out where deer will be naturally and making plans to hunt those areas on public land.

Either way you go, the first suggestion is to locate food sources. Early bow season will find deer making use of soft mast and browse foods – wild berries, honeysuckle, muscadines, and green browse plants. By the time gun season rolls around, you can expect acorns to start falling and deer will walk away from a fresh pile of store-bought corn to eat acorns. 

Now is the time to find those trees that are laden with hard mast and decipher which direction deer are most likely to enter and exit those areas. Once well-worn trails are identified, stands that offer concealment and are located downwind will be the most beneficial. It is not a hard and fast rule, but here in the Upstate, winds tend to be from the south when the weather is warm and stable and from the north when things are changing or cooling off.  

If you have the opportunity to establish food plots, now is the time to be doing that. Don’t be overly concerned about the noise or traffic of a tractor bush hogging, plowing, or planting an area. Deer will discover soon enough that it is hunting season and the appeal of ripe greenery, which if planted now will sustain your hunting activities beginning around Thanksgiving, will give them reason to overcome the intrusion.

Finally, if you have areas where permanent stands are erected, now is the time to inspect those stands for safety. Ropes, chains, and straps used to secure the stands need to be checked and invariably, some burgeoning timber will need to be manicured so you can see the approach of deer around the stand.

As stated, hunting season is here. Last week-end’s dove shoot and the area lakes becoming deserted will have to wait. Days spent toiling now will pay off in spades once the weather cools and quiet crackle of leaves means more than just an inquisitive squirrel.

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Game Zone 2 - Private Lands

Buck Limit: 2 per day, 5 per season (all methods and hunt periods combined)

Antlerless Limit: One (1) per day on either-sex days or with individual antlerless deer tags. Archers may take either-sex during primitive weapons seasons (including archery only season) without being required to tag the animal.

Archery Only: September 15 - 30
1 antlerless per day - 2 total.

Primitive Weapons: October 1 - 10 
Muzzleloader is buck only, except Antlerless on October 1, 8 or with individual antlerless deer tags. 1 antlerless per day - 2 total.

Gun Hunts: October 11 - January 1 
Buck only for all weapons except on either-sex days or with individual antlerless deer tag. 1 antlerless per day. Total 5.

Either-Sex Days: October 15, November 12, 19, 26; December 31; January 1

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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 Kyle Clark from Doc’s Deer Scents.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

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With deer season just a week or so away, deer hunters need to spend some time planting and scouting for food sources that will produce deer throughout the season. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

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