Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The South Carolina Adventure

I haven't had time to really sit down and come up with a comprehensive yet brief description of our recent trip. A good friend of Luke and Will's named Alan had invited them to go with him and his Dad Steve to South Carolina on a feral pig hunt. These pigs have been around for a long time and are very prolific with the sows having their first litter of piglets before their first birthday, and typically two litters a year after that. They have almost no natural predators so one can see how quickly they could multiply out of control. Secondly, they are very destructive, tearing up good farmland and eating a lot of crops and natural foods like acorns that people would rather have available for the deer.

We flew to Minneapolis, then Atlanta, and finally to Charleston, SC. The plantation was about a 90 minute drive up the coast.

The history of this place is staggering. The original distribution of lands had occurred at the discretion of the King of England in the late 1600's. Not too long into the 1700's these lands were sold and subdivided into smaller farms which eventually became plantations. The names were charming (and optimistic): Prospect Hill, Oak Hill, Fairfield, Clifton, Rose Hill, Forlorn Hope, George Hill, and Bannockburn. President George Washington stayed at Clifton during his southern tour in 1791, and President James Monroe stayed at Prospect Hill in 1819.

During the slavery years the cypress swamps were cleared and a system of canals and gates was used to regulate the flow of water to the rice fields. Vast fortunes were made growing rice with slave labor. The Civil War brought the downfall of many of these plantations. Most were confiscated and poorly used by both armies, and the end of slavery meant the eventual demise of the rice plantation.

In 1906, a wealthy Pharmacist and entrepreneur from Baltimore bought Prospect Hill and over the next two decades added 7 more adjoining farms. This property consisted of 12.000 acres of Hardwood forest, several miles of riverfront and several miles of beautiful South Carolina beach. The family lived in the original Prospect Hill house (which his great-granddaughter inhabits today!) while most of the other homes were razed or allowed to fall into disrepair.

30 years ago, about 4,000 of those original acres were sold to developers for what became gated communities with Golf courses and many multi-million dollar homes. The family, however, still owns about 3/4 of a mile of the only undeveloped beach in South Carolina. Around 2005, they signed an easement on a portion of the property that will keep it undeveloped in perpetuity.

And it was into this history that the twins and I entered. We stayed in a beautiful rustic cabin which has some windows and doors taken from the Clifton House. We met the man who manages the property for his mother, and also met his wife and daughters. In spite of being total strangers, we were welcomed with that famous southern hospitality and made to feel right at home.

The first morning was cool and we hunted from tree stands. Nothing was really moving so we knocked off and went into Georgetown for lunch with some friends of Steve's from when he had lived there in the early 90's. Later that night, Alan got the first pig (and only sow) of the week and then Will shot two five minutes apart in another field. We went to the slaughterhouse and cleaned the sow and met some locals who had come to weigh a whitetail deer they had shot. That evening we had a cookout at our cabin and many old friends of Steve's and their families were invited. It was a wonderful time.

The next morning (Saturday) we decided to split up a little and do some walking. Luke and I saw the only big black hog  we were to see from a 1/4 mile away. As we tried to sneak on him he disappeared, but look did take a shot at a pig through the trees. These are very heavy woods so unless your target is standing in a clearing the odds are prtetty slim that you'll miss all the trees and actually get your pig.

It was getting quite warm, the eventual high was 71 degrees, so we were given a driving tour of the forest, saw an enormous flock of ringnecked ducks on a large pond, and got to play at their beautiful beach. That night our hosts took us for a finre seafood dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Our final hunting day was Sunday, and the weather again was uncooperative in that it was too warm and so the pigs were out in the swamps/old rice fields and not in our prime hunting spots. we did a lot of walking and exploring but found no pigs. In the afternoon we were invited over to the gated community where there is beach access and a swimming pool which we enjoyed. We watched Pelicans cruise over the surf, and saw some diving birds go after a large school of baitfish off the shore. That evening (our last) was uneventful with no more pigs taken.

We got up Monday morning, thanked our gracious host, and set out for the Charleston airport.

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