Thursday, July 3, 2014

America

A few months ago, while we were shed hunting, I noticed a bald eagle circling high above us monitoring the waters of Winyah Bay and the Intracoastal. Occasionally, it would dip out of sight behind the marsh grass as it dove for a fish. I kept hearing another eagle's call (well, scream, really - such an intimidating noise), but couldn't figure out where the noise was coming from. Taking  my shed hunt to another area, a little further from the water, I spotted the eagle again, sitting high on an outstretched pine tree branch. I got my binoculars out to zoom in for a better look, and noticed the big ol' bird was eying a nearby pine. As I shifted my gaze, I saw a giant mass of sticks, moss, branches, and leaves making up one heck of a nest. And when I say "nest," I mean the size of a queen mattress. And what did I see poking out of the top? A littlle fuzzy grey head, looking around full of curiosity. He really was the cutest thing. I (quietly) called to John to come take a look, and as we watched, the adult eagle jumped from his perch on the pine and joined the little guy in the best. Not 5 minutes (and about 30 clicks of my camera) later another adult eagle came swooping in to join the nest party. Apparently, we had the entire family! Mom and dad both kept a sharp eye out while the little guy got some grub from mom for lunch.
 
Isn't he just the cutest little thing? Mama wasn't too impressed with me, it seems...
Through the binocs and super-zoomed in camera lense, we got to watch a pretty cool scene unfold in nature. These awesome, powerful birds could be so gentle with their young one, yet it wouldn't surprise me if thy had the power to pick Marmaduke up off the ground and get him into that neat. This might be something I will never see in nature again, and I'm thrilled to have caught it on camera. Sheds weren't my only great find, huh?

What a fitting #tbt to kick off our 4th of July weekend - nothing says "America" like a family of bald eagles. 
I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th! 



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

perfect timing - weekend recap

You know... Sometimes things just work out exactly like they should. And when it comes to potential injury being avoided, that's always a good thing in my book. With the exception of 1 or 2 friends (Reebs, love you, glad your foot is cast-less!), I am one of the most accident-prone people I know. Most of the time, it's because I am being an idiot, but other instances prove [somehow] unavoidable.

As you have seen before, snake boots are a necessity. Once the weather starts warming up and you find yourself getting fields and duck ponds ready for the upcoming seasons, you definitely want to make sure you're prepared to at least see a snake or two (hopefully from somewhat afar). Even a warm day during turkey season proved to give me the willies, thankful that I had on more than my usual flip-flops. Turns out, this past turkey season was probably the last good season I would get out of my old snake boots. Like anything else, over time, they wore out/began to dry rot, etc. and I began to tell that they were no longer waterproof. As luck [?] would have it, my dad and John were both in need of a new set of kicks as well. A little bit of searching later, and trusty ol' Dad found these boots - comfortable, light-weight, cool enough for South Carolina spring/fall summer weather, and water-proof.
Now, on to the weekend. Rainy day or no, it was 4-wheeler time. We hopped on and headed out, snake boot clad and all.
 How pretty is this? We will be duck hunting here in T-minus 4.5 months. The blinds are just waiting to be put in their places!
I should preface - No, I did not get bitten by a snake. Nor did a snake strike at me. But damn if we didn't see a big fat cotton mouth within 10 minutes of getting on the 4-wheeler. And when I say "saw," I mean our tire missed him by about 6 inches. The only reason I saw him in the grass & reeds was because he had his big, white, fanged mouth wide open, just staring at us! Needless to say, I had a minor panic attack, which seemed to scare him enough to slither away before I came to my wits to get my phone out to snap a photo. This was the best I could do.
I haven't seen a [poisonous] snake out there in ages. I mean, black snakes and little green ones, sure, but nothing like this guy. I know that doesn't mean I haven't walked right by one, of course, but I just found it so fitting that the first day I donned my new kicks was the first day we saw a snake that could do some serious damage. Yikes!

Well... That was my rant about snakes and snake boots. Bottom line - just go ahead and wear them. I know I will. As always, there was much more wildlife to be seen on our excursion. A few minutes later, we jumped some black-bellied whistling ducks. I'd never seen one before (that I know of), so that was really a treat.
Then, it was on to check the crab trap...
And finally, a nice roam through the woods to look at good spots for trail cams/stands for the upcoming deer season.
I promptly tripped over an old barbed-wire fence... Typical. Snake boots to the rescue, again! 
 
Do you see her?
Aaaand there she goes! This was one of probably 10 deer we saw throughout the woods. I love the rusty brown color they are this time of year, before their coats turn greyish brown for winter.

All in all, I would say it was a pretty eventful afternoon! I absolutely love summer, but this definitely got me a little more excited for fall. What are you doing to get ready for deer season? 



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

an interesting read

So I am not sure if I ever mentioned that the Rascal (seen here, here, and here) currently holds the bragging rights for South Carolina's state record blue marlin. Pretty cool, huh?! They caught this bad boy back in 2005 (unfortunately before I came on the scene :)), and there is a great mount of it as you get to the dock at Georgetown Landing Marina.

Fishing, like anything else, ebbs and flows in terms of success - hey, that's why they call it hunting fishing, right? Well, John sent me this article earlier in the week, and I found it to be a pretty interesting read. This article from the Post & Courier breaks down the South Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series over the last 10 years  in terms of which boats have been the front-runners over the past decade. It also takes a look at the number of billfish released vs. brought back to the dock during that time. It's a short article, but definitely an interesting one. Take a look, and let me know what you think!
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140601/PC20/140609810

Hey - Do you see that Big Marsh Guides ad to the right over there -> ? That's Douglas Miller, pictured here (left). Click on the ad to find out more about charters.

I think the last line in the article is my favorite. (!!) Read more about the Rascal's record catch here.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

honey thyme muffins

Are you ready for a delicious breakfast recipe that's perfect for hot summer mornings? I made these honey & thyme muffins a couple of weeks ago for the guys aboard the Rascal for the Bohicket Tournament, and they were a hit! In fact, they're currently out in the open ocean fishing in the Carolina Billfish Classic. These grab and go muffins are light and fluffy, with a touch of tang and just enough sweetness - a perfect way to start your early morning trek off-shore. Grab one and get fishing!

INGREDIENTS: 

Muffins
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 tbsp
3 tsp baking powder
14 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup honey
1.5-2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Lemon Honey Glaze
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice 

1. Preheat oven to 400*
Remove the thyme leaves from their stems and finely chop. In a small bowl or measuring up, add thyme to milk and set aside to blend.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk butter, sugar (except the 2 extra tablespoons), egg. This is where the room temperature ingredients helps - everything whisks together by hand super easily. Next, add milk/thyme & zest to the butter/sugar mixture. Finally, get everything into one big bowl, and whisk it all together until just combined. I really like the word "whisk," by the way. Hmm.
3. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray, the add muffin liners, and spray one more time. You can't be too careful, and no one wants half of a muffin stuck to the paper. Don't you hate it when that happens? Fill each one to just under the top of muffin tin - maybe a little more than 3/4 of the way up. They don't rise too much. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top to finish them off before baking. 
4. Bake 400* 12-15 minutes until tops are springy and toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool a tad, remove from muffin tin and finish cooling on baking rack. Don't try to taste one yet. :/
Aren't they delicious-looking? Just you wait.

While these puppies are baking (or cooling), you can whip whisk up the glaze for them in a jiffy.

1. You can do this in a saucepan with simmering water, but it's just as easy to heat honey in microwave for 5-10 seconds to thin out, then add lemon juice and whisk to combine...

....That's it. Really. Takes less than 1 minute.
Use a pastry or basting brush and brush the tops of the muffins with the glaze. Don't be stingy... It's worth it. 
Looks good enough to eat, huh? I kept two for myself and took the rest to the Rascal guys. I couldn't give them allllll of these golden beauties. Come on... Even though they are the reason I caught my first (and only, to date) blue marlin. Maybe I should make more next time.

My bowl of cereal from this morning is looking much less appetizing than it seemed 5 hours ago. And fishing sounds much more fun than not... Ahh. Such is life. 
Good luck, Rascal!