Return to the mountain

Posted 7/22/18

"I am in," my friend John answered enthusiastically, then followed with another text that read "that's awesome that we got it!" My answer was "yes, we got the lease, and now we have to pay for it."

I've sent him pictures of "the mountain" and …

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Return to the mountain

Posted

"I am in," my friend John answered enthusiastically, then followed with another text that read "that's awesome that we got it!" My answer was "yes, we got the lease, and now we have to pay for it."

I've sent him pictures of "the mountain" and described the place, but he hasn't seen it yet. I know that he will not be disappointed.

Of course, the land has been here for ages. Native Americans would have hunted and lived on the land. There are terraces that the early settlers built into the slopes to manage runoff and farm some of the land. It is mostly heavily wooded now.

Others have leased the land. An acquaintance once described a place to me that seemed too good to be true. It was a "mount" in the High Hills that had good roads around the base. Beautiful hardwoods and pine timber covered the slopes. Deer and turkeys were plentiful. But bickering among the club members caused them to lose the property. I think it was our mountain.

There are other established hunting clubs around, and I've looked at a few. Some are in the Wateree Swamp, but those properties tend to flood throughout the year. Some club properties are timber company land with industrial monoculture forest that are intensely managed for timber production.

I've managed a small hunting club with land in Clarendon and Sumter counties for several years, but the hunting opportunities have been limited to still hunting for deer. I own some private land in Clarendon County that we flood in the late winter and manage for wood ducks. We limit the deer hunting there in the fall to family members. Turkeys nest there during the summer but are usually absent in the spring.

More than 20 years ago, I started looking for property or clubs in the Lowcountry where I could hunt turkeys. The Lowcountry opened turkey season March 15, and the rest of the state opened April 1. I didn't want to sit home watching cartoons when I could be turkey hunting somewhere.

I've been a member of a club in Colleton County for several years. We have land on the Edisto River. Some of the land is timber company property that has changed hands three times since I've been a member there. Each time the new owner cuts some timber to help pay for the land purchase. It was all big timber when I joined. Now it's all cut-over.

The private property leased by the club has not been cut and still holds a few turkeys. But the turkey season has changed. Now it opens March 20 statewide. There is no particular advantage to be in a Lowcountry club now, and the long drive is beginning to wear on me. I will keep my membership there for the river access, the dog drives and the friends that I have made. And yes, even for the limited turkey hunting.

The mountain will be a new adventure, and it is close to my home. There is much work to be done. The roads need some work, and the clubhouse needs to be cleaned up. The big dove field will need to be plowed and planted. There are food plot areas scattered throughout the property and along the big powerline. They will need to be plowed and planted. Stands will need placing. The pond will need to be fished.

I've hunted the swamps and piney woods all my life. Now I will need to learn how to hunt the hills and ridges of this new place. There will be new people to hunt with, new friends to be made. I'm looking forward to it.

This land has the potential to make a great hunting club. It is late in the year to start a club, but it can be done. It will be done.

A new day will return to the mountain.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.