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I really hate this time of year. Some folks are happy to see the hustle and bustle of the holiday season pass, but I’m definitely not one of them. I remember how, as a child, it was quite depressing to get to the start of a new year and realize that the return of the jolly man in the red suit wasn’t happening for a long time.
As I grew up, this January depression only became worse for me because the list of things that were slow to return only grew. Two of the biggest parts of my life, college football and deer hunting, are gone until September.
It’s just too darn cold to fish. Some folks do hit the water, but I’m of the opinion that you’ve really got to love it a whole lot more than I do to want to spend time out there now.
Of course, turkey season will be here in April but right now that seems so far out that I really can’t even get any satisfaction out of thinking about it just yet.
So what can an avid outdoorsman do to get some relief from these wintertime blues?
Although there is no cure for cabin fever, the avid outdoorsman can come up with a few things to help pass the time if he/she is willing to get a bit creative and make a few plans. Consider taking part in a few of the following activities and I think you’ll quickly see that the first quarter doesn’t have to be nearly as dull as you thought.
If you love to hunt, there’s still plenty of opportunity out there. Coyote hunting can be a great way to get yourself back into the field and taking a few out does an awful lot of good for the rest of our wildlife. This is especially true since the “yote” is a non-native species that we now know is wreaking havoc on our deer population.
Other than a couple of predator calls and maybe a decoy or two, coyote hunting doesn’t take much more than what you use for deer hunting and I’m willing to bet that there are quite a few landowners that would be more than happy to allow you onto their place to help them get rid of some.
As if those rascals weren’t enough of a problem already, feral hogs are now working their way into York County. These destructive critters may well turn out to have an even bigger negative impact on our area than the coyotes but we don’t quite have a huntable population of them yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t start honing your skills for later though.
Hogs have been running the land of the Lowcountry for hundreds of years now. Jump on the internet, find an outfitter that offers hog hunts in the lower part of our state and take a trip. It’s typically a cheap hunt.
I can guarantee you that you’ll not only have a great time doing it but you’ll bring back some good meat for the table, too.
Because of the fact that there’s not much going on right now, this time of year is when the “show season” kicks off and if you’re willing to travel a little you can easily find something hunting or fishing related to take part in at least once a month. In fact, I’m attending the Archery Trade Association’s annual show as I type this from my hotel room in Louisville, Ky.
Each February brings the National Wild Turkey Federation’s National Convention and Sports Show to Nashville’s Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. If you’ve never been before this is one of the greatest events that you could ever want to attend.
The show features aisle after aisle of hunting related merchandise, the Grand National Turkey Calling Contest, loads of seminars from some of the biggest names in the hunting world and tons more. The dates for the 2013 edition are February 14th through the 17th and I can guarantee you I won’t miss it.
More information can be found by visiting their web site at www.nwtf.org.
Youth coon hunt
The York County Coon Club is sponsoring a youth coon hunt to be held on Jan. 26. The hunt is part of a series of nine youth hunts being held throughout the Palmetto state and run by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the S.C. Coon Hunters Association.
According to a press release issued by DNR, “These youth coon hunts serve as regional qualifying events for the State Championship Youth Coon Hunt. The youth hunts are designed to teach ethics and sportsmanship through low-intensity competitive events. The top two hunters in each age bracket (6-12 and 13-17) and “Sportsmanship” winners will qualify for the annual South Carolina Youth Raccoon Hunting Championship at the Webb Wildlife Center in Hampton County, scheduled for Feb. 23, 2013.”
These hunts are “non-harvest” events, meaning that no raccoons are killed and guns are not allowed. There is no cost to participate and youth hunters are responsible for bringing their own coon dog.
For more information on the hunt in McConnells, contact Don Cassidy at (803) 984-9798.
Other youth coon hunt locations, dates and contacts are:
• Feb. 2 – Ridgeville, sponsored by Summerville Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Ed Kimmons at (843) 619-5265. Limited to 24 entries.
• Feb. 9 – Barnwell, sponsored by Salkehatchie Coon Hunters Association. Contact: Dallas Zorn at (803) 671-2359. Limited to 24 entries.
• Feb. 23 – State Championship Hunt - Webb Wildlife Center, S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Contact: Jay Butfiloski or Patty Castine at (803) 734-3609. Hunters must qualify at one of the regional hunts to participate.