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Travelers Rest High School Bass Fishing Team Blows Away Competition at Lake Okee

Devildog Anglers Clark and Smith Post 26 pound Bag including Two 10+ Pound Bass

During an otherwise dismal week-end of bass fishing to start the TBF/FLW High School bass fishing season, Travelers Rest High School bass fishing team members Daniel Clark and Jacob Smith scored an impressive win on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee held January 17 during the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open.
The duo weighed an impressive 5 bass limit weighing 26 pounds, 8 ounces which included a 12 pound -1 ounce largemouth that claimed the tournaments big fish award and another bass over 10 pounds.
Florida’s Lake Okeechobee is renowned for it’s impressive fish populations and sizes but also for subjectivity to adverse weather which was the case during the tournament. Heavy winds and rain prior to and during the event prompted tournament officials to delay the start of the high school tournament for an hour as well as restrict high school anglers, who must fish with a designated boat captain over the age of 21 in the boat at all times, to fish only the Kissimmee River portion of the area.
“When we found out about the restriction, we got on our phones and checking our mapping apps for a good place to fish the river since nobody had really pre-fished there,” said Jacob Smith, a junior at Travelers Rest. “We saw this drainage ditch up the river that was about a 15 minute run and figured with rain and current coming in, that might be a good place to start.”
The drainage ditch the pair arrived at before any of the other competitors was both a good place to start and finish. On his third cast with a Livingston Crankbait in Guntersville Craw color up near the rocky area where the water was coming in, Daniel Clark hooked into the 12 pound bass that would have won the tournament for the team by herself.
“We both started casting toward this one rock that sort of marked the edge of a ditch with weed mats on either side,” said Clark, also a junior at TR. “We caught another 2 – 3 pound fish and then a few casts later we hooked a 10 pounder. It was unreal, we were both having trouble just trying to get those fish in the boat while other teams around us were watching.”
The pair finished out a 5 fish limit, only catching 7 fish from the honey hole, but the combined weight was enough to place them an even 16 pounds over the second place finisher.
During the three day week-end, FLW professional anglers through it’s affiliate programs with the Costa Del Mar Series, couldn’t touch the success brought to the scales by these two high schools anglers on a one day basis.
“It was great to see a High School club from South Carolina come down to Florida and catch two monster largemouth and win the tournament,” said FLW spokesperson Joseph Opager. “Their 26-pound, 8-ounce five-bass limit was larger than any limit weighed in from the 250-boat Costa FLW Series tournament held that same weekend, and that was a three-day event. We’re looking forward to the FLW/TBF High School Fishing Carolina Open next month in South Carolina.”
Back at home after the event, both Clark and Smith indicated they were excited about the great start to their high school bass fishing season. The win at Okeechobee provides the two teenagers a berth to compete in the High School Fishing Southeastern Conference championship on Lake Cumberland in Somerset, Kentucky on September 16-17. In the meantime, there are high school club events as well as local high school tournaments the pair are planning to compete in.
In Other News
The 46th Annual Upstate SC Boat Show will be held at the TD Convention Center on January 28-31, 2016. Show hours are Thursday & Friday: 12pm – 9pm, Saturday: 10am – 9pm, and
Sunday: 12pm – 6pm. Admission and parking is Adults $7, Seniors (65+) $6, Students (6-18) $6, Children Under 6 FREE, Parking $5. For more information, call 864-233-2562
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week, Upstate Outdoors will be broadcasting live from the SC Boat Show at the TD Convention Center.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.
The Travelers Rest High School bass fishing team of Jacob Smith and Daniel Clark, brought a five-bass limit to the scale on January 17, weighing 26 pounds, 8 ounces, to win the 2016 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Florida Open on Lake Okeechobee. Photo courtesy FLW.
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Winter White Perch Jerking

Unless they spent time in the low country, most old time anglers don’t remember catching white perch in the Upstate. Old timers wax poetic about white bass fishing on Lakes Greenwood and Hartwell but a white bass and a white perch is not the same thing.
If you ever fished out west, a white perch was actually a white crappie and out there it’s mispronounced as “crah-pee” rather than the correct pronunciation crappy, which is synonymous for the weather we’re having.
A white perch is actually a member of the true bass family. It’s related to white bass, striped bass, and step-cousin to the hybrid bass. Like striped bass, white perch are anadromous, meaning they can live in both fresh and salt water. That factoid might explain why there are white perch in the Santee-Cooper Lakes, which has a direct connection to the ocean via the Santee River and a frequently opening fish lift at the St. Stevens dam.
But why are there white perch in Lake Greenwood? Why are they in even smaller lakes like Lake Robinson, Cunningham, Bowen and Blalock?
The answer there lies in the anglers who like to catch them. Fisheries managers state that white perch are migratory in nature but not to the extent they have infiltrated much of the southeast. The only answer is that they were moved from areas like Santee-Cooper inland either as bait for other species like stripers and catfish and then released or were intentionally released to establish populations.
“White perch are not native to our inland lakes,” said SCDNR Fisheries biologist Dan Rankin. “In fact, they are classified as an invasive species and several years ago were de-categorized from the gamefish list, so in effect, there are no size or creel limits on them at all.”
The upside of white perch is that the aggressive fish school in large numbers and readily bite most anything. The fish also tolerate cold well so when other species are shivering on the bottom and uninterested in feeding, white perch are raring to go.  This, plus the fact that many anglers relish the taste of white perch as table fare, has made the species a fan favorite, particularly when other species are not as active.
Anglers targeting panfish with artificial baits will have more success enticing a reaction bite from these fish which, though highly dormant, will strike out at baits as they die and spin off of the school or flutter to the bottom. Jigging spoons, down-sized Alabama rigs, and drop-shot rigs with small plastics are best bets.
Anglers preferring to use live baits should equip themselves with small and medium minnows, roughly equating the same size threadfin shad the fish are eating. Fish these baits vertically on one or two hook rigs. A Kentucky rig, with up to a 1 ounce bait on the bottom and two loops tied inline sporting #2 light wire hooks, is effective for making contact with the bottom, then reeling up to the desired level.
Drift or slow troll through schools of bait, paying particular attention to each end of the bait schools rather than the middle. The white perch bite will be more aggressive, even in cold water, than that of other species, such as crappie or largemouth bass which may frequent the same pattern. White perch will move off to one side while crappie will simply inhale the bait and likely spit it when resistance is detected.
Regardless of popular opinion, upscale line to 8 to 10 pound test. At depths of 30 – 40 feet, white perch are not particularly line shy and the higher tensile strength will up your chances of landing that big blue catfish, largemouth, or striped bass that inevitably didn’t get the memo that you were on a perch jerking trip.
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 members of the Travelers Rest High School Bass Fishing Team.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

Winter doldrums can be quickly relieved by the tug of a feisty white perch, which are known to bite throughout even the coldest of conditions. Photo by Phillip Gentry.
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Clemson/Alabama Home to More Than Just Great Football

University Bass Fishing Clubs Represent Schools Well

While Clemson University and The University of Alabama are undeniably home to some great college football programs, it might come to a surprise to some that both universities also support two up and coming college bass fishing programs. These programs are not alone with the number of major universities sprouting fishing teams growing each year.
In the wide world of sports, professional bass fishing has become a major entity boasting in the millions of dollars in economic impact with tens of thousands of fans. In recent years, organized bass fishing teams on a collegiate level have also made a name for themselves due in large part to support from the professional ranks.
“We see college bass fishing as an up and coming franchise that has already begun to supply the professional ranks of bass fishing with the next generation of anglers,” said Joseph Opager, media manager for FLW Outdoors.
While the big name sports like football, basketball, and baseball are D-1 sporting programs at both Clemson and Alabama, the bass fishing teams are officially organized as clubs, led by student-athletes who represent their schools through a university advisor.
Because bass tournaments award valuable prizes such as boats and cash to tournament winners rather than just trophies, taking such a competition from a club level to an NCAA affiliated program would have it’s challenges.
“On one hand, we have to pay all of our own expenses for travel to the tournaments,” said Clemson University bass fishing team president Isaac Nesbitt. “But when one of our teams wins a check or prizes from a tournament, that stuff is ours to keep.”
College bass fishing teams have no shortage of competition to choose from. Both FLW and Bassmaster sponsor a collegiate level tournament trail that fish all over the country. College teams can register for as many or as few events as they can handle. Both offer no entry fees but require that all participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a college fishing club.
Unlike some major sports, the anglers get no allowance for tutoring while traveling to destinations to fish and most indicate it is at the discretion of the individual professors how much leeway the student-anglers get for time out of the classroom.
“It helps if you go to your professors early on and let them know you’re on the bass fishing team and representing the university,” said University of Alabama fishing club president John Bryant. “most of the time, they will let us turn stuff in early or work online so if we have a tournament somewhere, we can go a couple days early to pre-fish.”
Both technology and the team concept of college bass fishing facilitate student anglers getting to both attend the university they represent while pursuing the sport that requires every bit of the dedication asked of any other competitive college sport.
“We take turns driving if we’re going on a long trip,” said Clemson’s Nesbitt. “One guy drives the truck with the boat in tow behind us while the other guy works on his laptop and turns in homework or maybe even takes a test online.”
With the start of the 2016 college bass tournament season already underway, Clemson bass anglers as well as other local colleges are looking forward to FLW holding it’s national championship this year on Lake Keowee.
The 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship will be hosted by the Mountain Lakes Convention and Visitors Bureau on Lake Keowee in Seneca, S.C, March 17-19. Registration for the 2016 season opened on  December 14, 2015, for teams from clubs represented in the 2015 FLW College Fishing National Championship. All other teams began registration beginning December 15, 2015. Anglers can register at FLWFishing.com.
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 Randy Morrison, tournament director for SC Upstate Chapter of Fishers of Men Bass Tournament Trail.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

College bass fishing may never gain the widespread appeal of college football, but today’s student/angler/athletes are no less dedicated to their sport. 
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Winter Time Means It’s Time To Maintain And Organize Your Gear

Most outdoorsmen look at the beginning of January with disdain. The long 3 – 4 month deer season is over and most of the better fishing is still several weeks away. Suffice to say unless you are a die-hard duck hunter or still in the woods trying to rid your property of the wild pigs or coyotes that seem to get more and more plentiful each year, you probably have a little time on your hands.
January is a great time to head out to the garage or wherever you store and stage most of your hunting and fishing gear and do some cleaning and organizing. It’s a great time to clean all the guns up and store them for the season and start taking a critical eye toward any fishing gear that needs attention.
Today’s fishing rods and reels are so expensive, ignoring any problems early on can cost you in the long run. Try to take an inventory of which reel might have been giving you some problems and break that reel down and give it a really good cleaning. While you are at it, take this opportunity to check your rod guides for any nicks or abrasions that can cut or damage line when under pressure – like when you have that big pre-spawn bass or striper hooked up.
Cotton swabs or balls wiped on the guides will quickly show any picks you have in your guides so you can work on those. Since most manufacturers are not too fond or you opening the casings on the reel because of warranty violations, make sure you lubricate each reel and if anything needs work, now is a good time to box it up and ship it in for service.
Back in the old days, dad and grandpa had one giant tackle box with fold out trays that held all of the tackle they owned. Today’s anglers realized that it was much easier to stock specific use clear tackle trays and load them into a larger bag depending on the species and pattern you wanted to fish on a particular outing. Whether you have only a handful of these tackle boxes or half a garage full, now is a good time to open all of those boxes and re-sort lures, hooks, weights and terminal tackle back into the box they go in.
Reorganizing your tackle will also remind you of which staples of lures you’re getting low on and which ones you thought you’d use but are just taking up space. You can tell which ones produced best because the bodies will have love bites on them and the hooks will be dull and bent. Take the time to either re-hook those lures or file the points back to razor sharpness and give them a shot of WD40 to prevent rusting.
For those of you who don’t change fishing line very often, now is the time to get in there and strip off all the old line from your fishing reels and replace it with fresh line.
One last remark about organization and maintenance is don’t forget the big stuff, your 4 stroke outboard motor oil needs to be changed, the wheel bearings on your trailers, and you might as well include the utility trailer your wife is going to want you to haul mulch in, will all need attention. Hopefully that just means topping off the bearing hubs with some fresh grease and not having to get in there and re-pack the whole wheel bearing.
Kind of makes you yearn for those lazy fall afternoons when all you had to do was sit in a tree.
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week’s guests on the show will be members of the Clemson and University of Alabama bass fishing teams.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.
With a small gap between deer season and spring fishing, now is the time to maintain and organize your outdoor gear. Photo by Phillip Gentry.
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The 2015 Outdoors Year in Review

From an outdoors perspective, looking back at 2015, the past year had some dramatic effects on the current and future state of the outdoors, both locally, state-wide and even globally.
The year opened with a lot of buzz surrounding one of the biggest events in the outdoor industry making a stop in the Upstate. While the announcement was made a year or two prior, many of the local non-outdoors industries got a taste for what the Super Bowl of bass fishing was about when the Bassmaster Classic made it’s stop at The Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the TD Convention Center, and Lake Hartwell.
The Classic has an economic impact of at least $17 million on the Upstate economy and showed 103,091 attendance at all the events associated with the tournament including the highly popular weigh-ins at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena. According to BASS officials, the 2015 Classic now ranks No. 3 for the best-attended Classics.
To top it off, local pro Casey Ashley from Donalds won the event, a feat that had only been achieved one time prior, in 2014 of a local pro winning on his home lake. In fact, the state of South Carolina made a distinction in the local pro category as FLW, the other major league bass fishing tournament trail, hosted it’s national championship on Lake Murray in August of 2015 and crowned it’s winner in local pro in Prosperity native and Clemson grad Anthony Gagliardi.
On the hunting side of things, a piece of state legislation that would dramatically affect turkey hunting in the state was passed. The turkey bill, S57, introduced early in the 2015-2016 session by Charleston Senators Chip Campsen and Larry Grooms, will standardize wild turkey season dates across the state while reducing the current bag limit for turkey from five to three per hunter. The new season dates would open turkey season state wide on March 20 and close on May 5 beginning this year.
A similar need was recognized by the State Legislature with support from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources regarding limits on whitetail deer.
The South Carolina Deer Management Bill, S 454, also introduced by Sen Campsen and Sen Ross Turner of Greenville, seeks to establish limits for four bucks and four does per hunter on a statewide basis. Currently, Game Zones 3 – 6 have no limit on buck deer and allow for the harvest of does based on a schedule of either-sex days, doe tags or through the use of a doe quota program. Game Zones 1 and 2 do have a limit of 5 bucks per hunter but without a tagging system in place which makes enforcement of the limit nearly impossible for law enforcement.
If passed, the deer bill would establish a tag program where each hunter could purchase a set of four buck tags and four doe tags for $15. The current doe tag program allows hunters to purchase up to 4 doe tags for $5 each.
Bill S454 made it through the Senate but was held over in the House sub-committee when the legislative session ended in June. House members requested for SCDNR officials to conduct public meetings and surveys to obtain public consent on the suggested changes.
These meetings were conducted through the fall both in person at scheduled locations and online with a reported approval rating of 80 – 90% being recorded from deer hunters in favor of instituting bag limits on deer. The House will resume deliberation on S 454 when the session resumes in a few days.
Finally, the situation outdoors took a warm and wet turn during the final quarter of the year with record high temperatures and a 1,000 year flood levels being breached in some areas of the state. This has resulted in some debate over the future of climate change and it’s affect on all activities both outdoors-related and other wise.
Fishing reports were dismal and both deer and duck hunters ended the year complaining of 80 degree temperatures on the days when activities weren’t washed out.
On a final bright note, preliminary reports obtained during the week before Christmas indicate that a possible state record deer, a 180 inch typical 10 point buck harvested by Woody David Swaney of Pendleton may be in the running. Swaney killed the deer on December 19, but the deer’s rack will have to undergo a 60 day drying period before it can be officially measured on the Boone and Crockett scale.
Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM.  Contact Gentry at pgentry6@bellsouth.net.

Local angler Casey Ashley, who won the 2015 Bassmaster Classic held on Lake Hartwell last February, was one of the top outdoor highlights during the past year, Photo courtesy greenvilleonline.com
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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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