Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He Thought He Could Walk On Water

He just did not have the faith.

Let me first explain that we all have our fears.  Mine is spiders and most of the guys here at Briary River are terrified of snakes.  I respect snakes but I am not afraid of them. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Between Seasons Drag

I noticed a couple weeks ago that the between seasons drag was back. It never fails. We have all kinds of big plans for what needs to be done. After duck season ends Joe is always gung ho about getting everything done right then. After a couple weeks that passion fades and the amount of things getting done slows down. This year it took the slow down a little longer to start. The excitement of starting something new pushed up a little farther than normal.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Duck Pond Etiquette

There are rules and etiquette to hunting anywhere.  A beaver pond is no exception.  In fact private land is where they are the most important because it can cost you your hunting buddies


We all know the guy.  The one no one wants to hunt with because he is a pain in

the butt.  He always wants the best blind, he always takes the wrong shots, and he kills every bird he points his gun at (or at least he thinks he does).  Well this is your chance to not be “That Guy”.

Sunday, April 17, 2011



Owning a retriever is not something that suits all hunters. Well trained retrievers are expensive. However, it is possible to train your own retriever. If you have a job and a family, it’s tough to train you own retriever. Having a retriever that won’t embarrass you in the field takes a lot of time. Time is something you may be short of if you have a job and family. But if you are short on cash and want to have a retriever to find all those birds downed in tough spots, training your own retriever may be your only option.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Perfect Season

You always hear of the perfect storm, the storm that happens when God decides to line everything up perfectly to show you a glimpse of his awesome power. Hunters are always searching for a perfect season, that season when God’s grace lines everything up for you perfectly, and you have an awesome season.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Food and Fellowship

I’ve hunted for as long as I can remember. As my brother so eloquently put, “It’s all I know, it’s in my soul.” What I’ve noticed the most over the past ten years is how the things I enjoy most about hunting have changed. Years ago it was the thrill of the hunt itself that I most enjoyed. However, over the past few years it has been the fellowship of the hunt that I find I enjoy the most.

The beauty of enjoying fellowship is that it does not have to end with hunting season. We have found through the years that food brings fellowship. In our area sportsmen have certain signature foods that they cook. We get together throughout the year and cook. We enjoy cooking the local sportsmen’s foods, and we have also added a few new things to the line up of things that we cook.

Here are the things that you can expect to learn how to cook if you keep up with our blog:

Purlow: A food found almost exclusively in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. It is a rice dish not to be confused with chicken-and-rice or chicken bog.

Bar-B-Que: If I make you mad, then so be it. If it ain’t red, then it ain’t Bar-B-Que. If you base your sauce with anything but vinegar, it’s sacrilege. That’s just the way it is around here. I’m not saying that there is nothing else cooked on a grill that is good to eat, but I am saying that I wouldn’t call it Bar-B-Que.

Low Country Boil: This can be called by several other names, like Frogmore Stew. This combination of shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes satisfies the seafood lover in you.

Dutch Oven Delights: We had never cooked with a Dutch oven until Joe introduced us to one last year. Nothing fosters fellowship like sitting around a fire on a cold night with the scent of cooking corn bread or cobbler lingering in the air.

All of these foods foster fellowship. Unlike duck hunting which can only be done during hunting season, you can cook year-round. Year-round fellowship, that’s the Briary River Way.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kids and hunting

Bo and Cindy after a hunt.
The sun was up the dogs were running (just not to us.) Daddy and I were sitting on the side of the middle road (a dirt road on the hunting club)and he was teaching me how to whittle.  We didn’t kill any thing that day, I don’t even remember if we even saw a deer that day but I was hunting and that was all that mattered.  This is one of the earliest clear memories I have of hunting.  And one that will stay with me for a long time.

I remember waking up, going into my parents room, waking my daddy to ask if it was time to go hunting.  I returned to my bed disappointed and tried to go back to sleep but the anticipation was killing me.  Being a young boy I was unable to tell time and it was only 12 o'clock (this was only one of many trips to their room that night to ask that question).  Some of the fondest memories of my childhood involved hunting with my daddy.  In fact it is still some of the fondest memories of now, and hopefully still to come.

I started hunting with my dad when I was just a little boy.  I could not have been much more than five, probably younger.  I learned many lessons there and created many memories.  I learned to sit still and listen (although I still struggle with that, ADHD and all) how to safely handle a gun, that you only kill what you are going to eat and much more.  These lessons helped shape me into the man that I am. 
To many kids hunting is a foreign idea to them.  Many of them will not learn to love spending time in nature.  Nor will they learn to respect nature and firearms the way we did.  From a very young age I knew what a gun was and what it was capable of doing.  I was not scared of it but I knew not to mess with it. Partially because I knew what my daddy would do if I did mess with it.  But he taught me to respect it.  This generation is enveloped with video games and computers.  The only thing they know about guns is what they see on Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. 

This is why we have to take the time and introduce hunting to kids.  Our sport is a dying one.  It is also the sport with the biggest target on its back.  Without kids learning to hunt and fish it will not last 50 more years.  Besides can you think of a better way to spend time with your kids than to take them hunting.  To be there and enjoy Gods creation with them.  To teach them the lessons they will carry throughout their lives.  To see the excitement on their faces when they see their first animal that they are hunting.  To witness their first kill.  In doing this both of you are making memories.
BO with Mallards from one of his first hunts.
It may not even be your child.  So many kids these days are growing up without fathers to take them hunting.  They have no one to tech them these lessons and show them how to enjoy nature.  And they so desperately need it.  Without this, they will grow up not knowing what we hold so dear.  And they very well could be the ones that grow up and try to take it away from us.  Or worse they could become the guy/gal in the tree not far from you who has no clue what he/she is doing, using their rifle scope as a set of binoculars to see what you are doing.

Over the years we have taken many kids hunting with us.  We have watched them grow from kids who have very little knowledge of the outdoors into true sportsmen.  They learned how to handle themselves and how to be safe.  Yes when we first take them hunting it means that we have to miss out on some of the action ourselves but it is worth it.  I would rather watch a kid kill a duck than to shoot one my self.  To see how their eyes light up and the pure awe on their face.  If you have never saw that then you do not know what you are missing.

Even if they are too young to hunt themselves they are amazed by what you do.  Buckman takes his son BO with us regularly.  Now BO is too young to shoot a gun on his on but he loves to watch his daddy shoot ducks.  In fact Buckman says that it is the only time you can get him out of bed without a fight.  And he is learning fast.  When we meet in the morning we ask him where he wants to sit.  He always answers “I want to sit at the fish pond, Daddy shoots better at the fish pond”.  He has also learned how to watch for ducks and that I am the resident duck caller ( I never said I was any good, I just got stuck with the job).  When he sees ducks, and with his young eyes it is usually before us he starts calling out “Blow Joe Blow”.  And at the end of the hunt he can always tell you who killed what.  Except for the green heads he normally claims those for himself.

As you may know, all of this started as us chronicling what we are doing to improve our duck pond.  What you may not know is why.  Yes we want to shoot more ducks.  But more importantly we want a place where our kids can learn to hunt ducks.  BO is already on his way to becoming a great duck hunter but we want to make sure that Bernie's girl Heyleigh and my daughter Molly as well as any other kid we pick up along the way has a place where they can learn to love the outdoors as much as we do.

I the end it does not matter what game you are chasing or what method you are using. All that matters is that we bring a new generation to the sport and make memories.  So take a kid hunting because if you don’t teach them, you never know who or what may.  That’s the Briary River Way.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The First Annual Briary River Boys Upland Bird Hunt

For years we have wanted to go on a hunt outside of our duck pond. We would like to go on an Arkansas duck hunt. Then of course there is my dream to shoot birds in Argentina. With almost all of us being teachers, we just don’t have the money to go on these hunts.

This year I went to the guys with the idea of hunting a quail preserve. This was our opportunity for a hunt after duck season was over. There are also preserves near enough by that we didn’t have to spend the night and at a price that was reasonable enough that we could afford it.

I did a quick search on the internet and found several preserves nearby. I compared the options available at each preserve, and their prices. I found a preserve that especially peaked my interest. Spring Grove Preserve near St. Stephen, South Carolina. Since Coach Taylor has a lot of contact in the St. Stephen area, I turned the number over to him so he could check the place out. Coach talked to several of his friends who live near St. Stephen. They all spoke highly of Spring Grove, so Coach got in contact with the owner to see what dates he had available. We ended up reserving the afternoon hunt on March 26.

A few weeks before our scheduled hunt we drove out to Spring Grove to check out the facilities. We found an exceptional clubhouse. Behind the clubhouse is a small pond. Sporting clay stations surround the pond and clubhouse. Everything was exceptionally nice.

The morning of March 26 was a cool morning. A nice change from the hot days we had been having. There was the promise of a great day of hunting ahead. Bernie, Joe, and I had planned to leave home by 9:30 am so that we could meet up with Coach Taylor in Kingstree by 10:00 am, in time to grab an early lunch before heading to Spring Grove for an early bird hunt.

As it is with most of our well laid plans, this plan was not meant to be. Joe like usual was running late. Bernie had to go get shells. Me, well, in a frenzy to try to get everything straight I locked my keys in my house. By the time we got everything together we didn’t have time to eat lunch with Coach, so we stopped by Hardee’s to grab a quick biscuit on the way to Kingstree. We finally got to Coach’s house around 11:30 am.

We reached Spring Grove shortly after 12:00 pm, well within time for our afternoon hunt. Upon our arrival we got all our paperwork straight. We then waited on the back porch where there are plenty of rocking chairs and even a porch swing. Bernie, Coach and I were entertained by Joe, who threw a tennis ball for Dexter, the friendly retriever who greets guests at Spring Grove, and Buddy, a young French Brittany Spaniel. For the next hour or so we enjoyed the back porch, the rocking chairs, the cool breeze, a lot of old stories and lies, and Spring Grove’s resident entertainers, Dexter and Buddy.

When the time came for the hunt we left the lodge and drove to the hunting grounds where we were introduced to our guide, Doug. None of us knew quite what to expect, we had never been on a hunt like this. After a short greeting Doug told us to get our vests, guns, and shells, and to get ready. Doug got a small French Brittany Spaniel from the truck and asked if we were loaded and ready to go. We loaded our guns and followed Doug into the well kept and thinned woods.

It only took a minute for the dog to point the first bird. Joe and Bernie pushed Coach and me to shoot first (not that it took much pushing). Doug showed us where to get, then he flushed the bird, which was a pheasant rooster. The bird flushed to my side, instinct took over, I made the shot, and my first pheasant fell to the ground. I rotated to the back and the other guys killed pheasant. When I made it back to the front, the pheasant never flushed to my side again, so I did not get to take another pheasant. Bernie and Joe each managed to get a clean kill on a pheasant, and the guys tag teamed three more.

We also got the opportunity to hunt chucker. Just like with the pheasant, I was up front when the first pair of chucker were flushed. I fired two shots from my 28 gauge side by side, putting both chucker on the dirt. At that point Doug, who did not know everyone’s name yet, pointed out, “Ya’ll better pick up the pace, the guy shooting the double is on a hot streak!” We ended up with twelve chucker. I killed five of the twelve.

Shooting coveys of quail was fast and furious. I lost count of how many quail I killed quickly, but we all had fun. I guess I was getting my fair share. At one point late in the hunt Doug, who knew us all by name now, pointed out that I certainly had shot in my gun. That was twice he pointed out my ability to take birds. I don’t remember him pointing that out about any of the other guys.

Doug is a great guide. He has a marvelous sense of humor he is also a wonderful story teller. At the beginning of the hunt you could tell that he wanted to figure out how precautious we were with guns. A pair or chucker flushed between Doug and Coach. You could see him cringe waiting for our reactions. You could also see his relief when everyone froze until the birds cleared. After a while you could tell, he figured out we were experienced gunmen, we understand that no bird I worth putting someone’s life in jeopardy, and he seemed to relax a little around us. In fact he would step in front of all of us to flush a bird.

What amazed me most about Doug was his ability to mark birds. When I mark a bird, if I take my eyes off it, I loose it. Doug would mark every bird we knocked down and still know where all of the singles went down. It was a real pleasure to have a guide like Doug.

Coach Taylor and Joe shot 12 gauge automatics. Bernie shot his 16 gauge automatic, while I, on a different note shot a 28 gauge side by side. Bernie and Coach shot high power 7 ½ s. Joe shot high power 6s. I shot field load 7 ½ s at the pheasant and chucker and field load 8s at the quail. When we go back next year I am going to try to find some high power 6s for the 28 gauge the shoot the pheasant and chucker and stay with the field load 8s or possibly 9s for the quail. I think a heavy field load in 6 or 7 ½ would be fine to shoot the big birds with a 12 gauge. The 12 gauge high power shells were too much shell for the quail. I think game load 8s or 9s would work well for quail in the 12 and 16 gauge guns.

All in all we had a lot of fun on our first upland bird hunt. We may not be able to afford to go to exotic places to hunt, but we were finally smart enough to figure out that we can stay close to home, take a hunt that we can afford, and still have fun, the Briary River Way.