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.

Lowcountry Dreams: New state law utilized for youth deer hunt

Lowcountry Dreams: New state law utilized for youth deer hunt

The very best of South Carolina’s outdoor values and traditions of friendship and love of the land were on display at the Lowcountry Dreams Youth Deer hunt.

by David Lucas

Donations from sponsors provided participants in the 2017 Lowcountry Dreams hunt with the equipment and extras needed for a successful outdoor adventure. SCDNR photo by David Lucas

Donations from sponsors provided participants in the 2017 Lowcountry Dreams hunt with the equipment and extras needed for a successful outdoor adventure.

SCDNR photo by David Lucas

Jacob New, from Saluda, S.C., can flat tell a story.  The young man with bright red hair and a splash of freckles across his face might even have a career as a professional comedian when he grows up, but right now he’s simply a hunter through and through, albeit one whose infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors and the pursuit of game will bring a smile to your face in a hurry. 

Time to get serious -- Jacob "P-Nut" New and his Dad, Leroy, get ready to get down to business. SCDNR photo by David Lucas

Time to get serious -- Jacob "P-Nut" New and his Dad, Leroy, get ready to get down to business.

SCDNR photo by David Lucas

On a recent Friday afternoon – one of those spectacular early-fall Lowcountry afternoons where the setting sun seems suspended in the western sky forever and if you’re quiet you can just hear the sound of acorns hitting the ground with every welcome breeze – Jacob and seven other youth hunters got ready to head into the field with parents and volunteer guides at historic White Hall Plantation in Colleton County. The young hunters and their families were participants in the 2017 “Lowcountry Dreams” hunt organized by White Hall property manager Tommy Crosby and his wife Tammy. White Hall’s owners, the Chilton family of Connecticut, donated the use of the well-managed 8,500-acre plantation for the hunt, and a long list of sponsors and volunteers contributed their time, money and resources to make it happen.

All of the participants in the hunt were sponsored by the Outdoor Dream Foundation (ODF), a volunteer-driven non-profit organization based in Anderson, S.C. that works with sick and injured children from all across the United States and has a close working relationship with three pediatric oncology centers located in South Carolina. ODF organizes and sponsors outdoor adventures such as hunting and fishing trips for young people who are dealing with serious, and in some cases life-threatening, illnesses. Earlier this year, ODF’s efforts at getting these boys and girls and their families out into the field for a big dose of outdoor fun – the kind that can make a kid’s (or even a grownup’s) eyes light up with delight and excitement – got a welcome boost when the S.C. General Assembly passed a new law that allows the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to waive license fees for ODF youth hunters and anglers. The SCDNR has long been involved in sponsoring youth hunting opportunities through its Take One Make One and other youth education programs.

P-Nut knows how to tell a good hunting yarn, y'all. SCDNR photo by David Lucas

P-Nut knows how to tell a good hunting yarn, y'all.

SCDNR photo by David Lucas

Just before time for the standers to load up and go to the stands, a group of volunteers stood listening to Jacob, or “P-Nut” as he is affectionately known by friends and family, animatedly telling a story about a hog hunt he had been on recently. In no time flat, P-Nut’s mile-a-minuteacted-out descriptions of a recent encounter with a group of wild hogs that would have done Jerry Clower proud had everyone in earshot doubled over with laughter. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and that, along with a lot of camaraderie and a shared love for the outdoors and the hallowed traditions of the hunt is what the experience of an ODF-sponsored hunt here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina delivers.

The outdoor adventures that his son, Dawson, age 14, has been able to experience since the family became involved with ODF have been a real blessing, said Steven Swaney of Pendleton.  In addition to the White Hall hunt, Dawson was also able to participate in a fishing tournament earlier this year.  The time spent together in the field is something both father and son look forward to. When a serious illness that requires multiple visits to doctors and specialists and time spent in the hospital hits a family, those necessary priorities can make it difficult to plan other activities such as hunting or fishing. ODF makes that possible.

The group hunted Friday evening and Saturday morning before tucking in to a hearty breakfast of eggs, grits, bacon and sausage gravy cooked outside by volunteers, including quite a few off-duty SCDNR officers and members of the agency’s “Take One Make One” (TOMO) youth hunting and mentorship program. Before breakfast, SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor spoke to the group about the new law and thanked all the volunteers and sponsors that make hunts like this possible.

Volunteers, including some SCDNR Officers, kept hunters and volunteers well fed, with 15 gallons of chicken bog Friday night and huge Lowcountry breakfast Saturday evening. SCDNR photo by David Lucas

Volunteers, including some SCDNR Officers, kept hunters and volunteers well fed, with 15 gallons of chicken bog Friday night and huge Lowcountry breakfast Saturday evening.

SCDNR photo by David Lucas

 “The opportunity to be a part of this is just great for SCDNR, said Taylor. When you look at the list of people involved in this you realize very quickly it’s ALL about partnerships and people working together. Last year, with the help of many of you here, and the bulldogging efforts of [retired SCDNR law enforcement officer and ODF board member] Chip Sharpe, we were able to get the law passed that allows me the opportunity to grantlicense waivers for these families that are taking part in these hunts. Our officers have been a part of these hunts for years, and we will continue to be huge supporters of what happens here.”

SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor and S.C. Natural Resources Board member Mike Hutchins of Lexington spoke to the assembled group about the new Outdoor Dream Foundation license fee waiver law and the importance of volunteer partnerships to the agency's mission of increasing youth involvement in hunting, fishing and the outdoors. SCDNR photo by David Lucas

SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor and S.C. Natural Resources Board member Mike Hutchins of Lexington spoke to the assembled group about the new Outdoor Dream Foundation license fee waiver law and the importance of volunteer partnerships to the agency's mission of increasing youth involvement in hunting, fishing and the outdoors.

SCDNR photo by David Lucas

During the hunt, three white-tailed deer – including two nice bucks – were taken, as well as two wild hogs. More importantly, some lasting friendships were made, and the enduring power of spending time in the great South Carolina outdoors in fellowship with family and friends, a tradition as old as the Palmetto State itself, created some lasting memories that these young hunters will carry forward with them for the rest of their lives.

Below:  Photos of Friday night's successful hunt courtesy of Lowcountry Dreams.

On Top of Reedy Cove Falls

On Top of Reedy Cove Falls

A Rising Tide: boat manufacturing in South Carolina sees steady growth

A Rising Tide: boat manufacturing in South Carolina sees steady growth