THE GREAT OUTDOORS: HUNTING

Hunting: A Q&A with Louis Chavis

‘There’s something about seeing the sunrise’

June 24, 2012 

  • By boat There are nearly 435,000 boats registered in South Carolina. It only seems like they're all on Lake Murray during the Fourth of July weekend. Here are some other interesting boating tidbits: • South Carolina ranks eighth among states for number of registered boats, impressive considering we rank 24th in population. • All sailboats, motorized boats, motorized personal watercraft and outboard motors 5 HP or larger are supposed to be registered with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. • All boats must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable type personal floatation device (life jacket) for each person on board or being towed. • You can find a list of all the public boat ramps in the area (and the state) at www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/boatramp/ www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/boatramp/
  • More information By the numbers About 140,000 people hunted for deer in South Carolina in 2011, and they killed about 226,000 deer, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The top five counties for deer hunting success were Orangeburg, Williamsburg, Colleton, Laurens and Hampton.

Editor’s note: We asked Columbia outdoor enthusiasts to share, in their own words, a favorite recreational experience. Here, Louie Chavis on hunting.

Louie Chavis is an Indian chief (Beaver Creek tribe). He’s a member of the S.C. Minority Affairs Commission. He’s a consummate story-teller.

But most of all, he’s an outdoorsman. On a freezing winter morning, he’d rather be in a duck blind sipping steamy coffee than sitting in a comfy chair in his house in front of a fire.

We put a tape recorder in front of him and asked him to talk about hunting, and he took off.

“Part of the reason you would want to hunt would be for the excitement about the chance to actually shoot something, whether it be a duck, a deer, a dove. But it’s also the friendships, the acquaintances made, life-long with people you might never have thought in your world you’d ever be friends with, but you’re sharing some of the same thoughts, the feelings for the moment.

One story: On a guiding adventure with the S.C. Waterfowl Association over here in Rimini, I had a daddy with me. We actually had hunted together several times. On this occasion, he had brought two of his four boys, one of them named Marshall and one named Landon. It seemed like daddy was in such a great mood to go duck hunting. We put the decoys out. We got everything lined up by that 30 minutes before sunrise when you could start officially hunting and not break any laws.

I noticed that the first several volleys that were shot were by the children, and both of the boys had done killed them a couple of birds. It finally got good and light about quarter after seven, and I happened to take a look around at Gov. (Mark) Sanford, and he still had his gun in his gun case. I said, ‘Look here, I thought you had planned to come out here and shoot some birds.’ He said, ‘Not really, I’d rather my children have a chance to have shot and hunted. I’ve had an opportunity to shoot some birds.’

Who in the world would have thought that of all the people, I’d have a friendship with Gov. Sanford?

The other thing to myself about hunting is to completely get away from everything. I don’t have to listen to a phone. I don’t have to watch for traffic. I try and be quite observant and watch whatever the birds are doing.

It about having your dog, your retriever, with you, that you’ve spent all your time in the summer in years past training. The dog does exactly what he or she is supposed to do on the retrieving part after you’ve shot a bird. Jump out the boat. Go and retrieve it, bring it back to you, and get on the front of your boat and shake. They inevitably are going to shake to get that cold water off. But the whole time they keep the bird in their mouth until you say drop. That would be another great part of it.”

“I’m afraid most people never get to see a sunrise. I’m not sure they’ve ever seen a bald eagle catch a fish in South Carolina with his talons. I’m not sure they’ve seen an osprey, a fish hawk, catch a fish with his talons. I’m not for sure they’ve seen an otter swimming, playing, either by himself or with a couple other otters. There’s something about seeing the sunrise with great anticipation about it’s going to be a phenomenal, wonderful day.”

“I’ve had a chance to hunt many times in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Chesapeake Bay. But my favorite spot of all would be somewhere on Santee Cooper. It’s home. You have got a great idea about where you’re going. You’ve ridden around the afternoon before you actually went there to hunt, and you’ve actually seen the birds using this particular spot. And again I have to go back to a term, it’s home. It’s always been so good to me.”

Compiled by Joey Holleman

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