Hello, and welcome to South Carolina Natural Resources, a blog created and maintained by the staff of the S.C. Department of Natural Resource’s Office of Media and Outreach.

Over the coming months, we hope to bring to our readers a lively daily discussion on topics related to natural resources conservation, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism, SCDNR projects and initiatives, and other news and information that will be of value to our state’s sporting and conservation communities. It’s just one more way the SCDNR is working to fulfill its mission as the primary steward of and advocate for our state’s amazing natural resources.

Whether you are lucky enough to be a Sandlapper by birth, or are one of the many thousands of folks who have “voted with their feet” to make South Carolina their adopted home, you know without a doubt that this is one special place. With the responsibility for managing more than 1 million acres of wild public lands (and counting), the SCDNR has a huge responsibility to the present and future citizens of this state. And we know that it is the sportsmen and women, the hunters and anglers, and the other individuals who love spending time in the outdoors, who make wildlife and natural resources in this state and in the United States work. Without the funding provided through hunting and fishing licenses and permits and the excise taxes paid on outdoor sporting goods equipment, firearms and ammunition, as well as the working partnerships with landowners and sportsman’s groups, our amazing conservation efforts would be a fraction of what they are today. So for that we say, “thanks,” and please come back and visit often to find out what your state Department of Natural Resources and the larger outdoor community in South Carolina are up to.  We value your input, so if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered here, please contact site administrator David Lucas at lucasd@dnr.sc.gov. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sportsmanship's the Ticket at the State Youth Coon Hunting Championship

Sportsmanship's the Ticket at the State Youth Coon Hunting Championship

Youth hunters from across South Carolina and neighboring states gathered with family and friends at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Webb Wildlife Center on Saturday, March 4, 2017, to compete in the 22nd annual State Youth Coon Hunting Championship sponsored by the S.C. Coon Hunters Association and the SCDNR.

Judge Reba Hughes (right) and Junior Division 3rd place finisher Mason Dexter look carefully to locate a raccoon treed by hounds deep in a bottomland swamp.  

Judge Reba Hughes (right) and Junior Division 3rd place finisher Mason Dexter look carefully to locate a raccoon treed by hounds deep in a bottomland swamp.

 

The Senior Division was won by Waylon Welch of Ridgeville, age 13, hunting with “Tonic,” and Wil Johnson, age 15, of Whitmire took home the Senior Sportsmanship trophy hunting with “Gracie.” In the Junior Division, Luke Stock of Tabor City, N.C., age 12, took first place honors hunting with "Mickey." Hunter Seymore, age 7, of Anderson took home the Junior Sportsmanship trophy hunting with "Jake."

Youth hunters qualify for the state tournament by competing in a series of regional qualifying hunts sponsored by local raccoon hunting clubs and can earn scholarships as well as trophies and prizes. In accordance with competition hunt rules, no raccoons are killed during these competitions, which are non-harvest events. Sportsmanship, hunting ethics and fellowship are emphasized at these events, where knowledge of this storied outdoor tradition is passed from one generation to the next.

Adult guardians and family members listen to a pre-hunt presentation by members of the S.C. Coon Hunters Association.

Adult guardians and family members listen to a pre-hunt presentation by members of the S.C. Coon Hunters Association.

Good sportsmanship and fair play are the primary lessons that the organizers hope the youth hunters will take away from their participation in these tournaments, according to S.C. Coon Hunters Association President David McKee. That, and a keen appreciation for the outdoors and the joy of being in the woods with their fellow hunters and canine companions.

“Did you have a good time, that’s the most important thing,” said McKee. “We try to place as much importance on the sportsmanship aspect of the hunt as we do on the points – who’s ahead or who’s behind.”

Before the hunt, Senior Division participant Joshua Knotts of Sumter was recognized with a $500 dollar college scholarship for his performance during the regional tournament season leading up to the state championship. Abby Grace Amaker of Orangeburg won one for the Junior Division.

“Taking my friends who have never been coon hunting before and showing them how much fun it is,” said Amaker, when asked what her favorite aspect of the sport is.

 


Gallery: The 22nd Annual S.C. Coon Hunters Association Youth Championship Hunt


 

Neither competitor is quite sure yet what they intend to do after high school (still some years away for both), but the scholarships will be there for them when the time comes, as will the lessons learned in a sport that fosters hard work, dedication and cooperation among its adherents – life lessons that should serve all of these young competitors well in the future.

Junior Division Awardees: 1st place – Luke Stock, age 12, Tabor City, m.C. with “Mickey.” 2nd place – Austin Black, age 12, Moncks Corner, S.C. with “Hitman.” 3rd place – Mason Dexter, age 11, Ridgeville, S.C., with “Girl.” 4th place – Eli Cook, age 8, Nichols, S.C., with “Deuce.” 5th place – Grahame Behie, age 10, Dorchester, S.C., with “Koy.” Sportsmanship Award – Hunter Seymore, age 7, Anderson, S.C., with “Jake.”

Junior Division Awardees:

1st place – Luke Stock, age 12, Tabor City, m.C. with “Mickey.”

2nd place – Austin Black, age 12, Moncks Corner, S.C. with “Hitman.”

3rd place – Mason Dexter, age 11, Ridgeville, S.C., with “Girl.”

4th place – Eli Cook, age 8, Nichols, S.C., with “Deuce.”

5th place – Grahame Behie, age 10, Dorchester, S.C., with “Koy.”

Sportsmanship Award – Hunter Seymore, age 7, Anderson, S.C., with “Jake.”


Senior Division: 1st place – Waylon Welch, age 13, Ridgeville, S.C. with “Tonic.” 2nd place – Joshua Knotts, age 16, Sumter, S.C. with “Judge.” 3rd place – Madison Whetsone, age 17, Norway, S.C., with “Ty.” 4th place – Brian Smith, age 14, Branchville, S.C., with “Hoss.” Sportsmanship Award – Wil Johnson, age 15, Whitmire, S.C., with “Gracie.”

Senior Division:

1st place – Waylon Welch, age 13, Ridgeville, S.C. with “Tonic.”

2nd place – Joshua Knotts, age 16, Sumter, S.C. with “Judge.”

3rd place – Madison Whetsone, age 17, Norway, S.C., with “Ty.”

4th place – Brian Smith, age 14, Branchville, S.C., with “Hoss.”

Sportsmanship Award – Wil Johnson, age 15, Whitmire, S.C., with “Gracie.”

A bell by any other name…is still a beautiful wildflower!

A bell by any other name…is still a beautiful wildflower!

Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve — an Update

Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve — an Update